Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dutch Records Regarding Thomas Pell's Settlement at Oostdorp, Known by the English as the Village of West Chester

The story of the first English settlement planted on the lands acquired by Thomas Pell from local Native Americans on June 27, 1654 is fascinating.  The settlement was known as West Chester by the English.  It was known as Oostdorp (East Village) by the Dutch. It was located near today's Westchester Square in The Bronx.  I have written about this settlement on many, many occasions, given its importance to the history of our town.  Here are a few of many examples (including one published as recently as day before yesterday).

Fri., Apr. 24, 2009:  Dutch Authorities Remove the Settlers At West Chester in March, 1656.

Fri., Jan. 02, 2009:  An Account of the Dutch Capture of Westchester in 1656.

Thu., Oct. 18, 2007:  April 19, 1655 Dutch Protest Against Thomas Pell's Efforts To Settle Englishmen on Lands the Dutch Called VreedLandt.  

Mon., Oct. 16, 2006:  17th Century Papers Relating To Westchester County Published in 1849 Contain References Important to Pelham.

Thu., Apr. 13, 2006:  Rumors in 1657 That Thomas Pell Manipulated Local Native Americans To Protect His Land Acquisition From Incursions by the Dutch.  

Mon., Aug. 17, 2015:  Buyer's Remorse:  After Thomas Pell Bought Pelham From Native Americans, He Wanted His Money Back!

For a general history of the English plantation once known as Westchester, West Chester, Oostdorp, Oost-Dorp, East-Town, East-Towne, Easttowne and by many more names, see the following: 

The Borough Towne of Westchester -- An Address Delivered by Fordham Morris, on the 28th Day of October, 1896, Before the Westchester County Historical Society, in the Court House at White Plains, N. Y. (White Plains, NY:  Privately Printed, Ca. 1896).  

Thomas Pell’s successful negotiation of the so-called "Indian Deed" with local Native Americans for the purchase of the land that subsequently became known as the Manor of Pelham had enormous implications for the dispute between the English and the Dutch over control of the area. The tract was vast -- about 50,000 acres. The Dutch claimed some of it.   Effective dominion over the lands could block any further northward movement of Dutch settlers – at least along the shore of the Long Island Sound westward to an area just beyond the Hutchinson River.   As one judicial authority has said in examining the acquisition, Thomas Pell’s purchase was “a bold attempt to extend English hegemony in the New World at the expense of the Dutch.”

Pell soon arranged settlement of a portion of the area near its western / southwestern border directly on the fault line between the feuding Dutch and English colonies.  The Dutch called the larger tract within which the settlement was located "Vreedland.”

Within months after Thomas Pell obtained his so-called "Indian Deed" to the land, he made land available to English settlers who planted a settlement at the mouth of today’s Westchester Creek in what is known now as The Bronx.  The Dutch and others later called the little settlement “Oostdorp” or “Easttowne”.

The enormity of Pell’s move was not lost on Dutch authorities.  Almost immediately they took steps to halt it.  At a meeting of the director general and council of the New Netherlands, it was resolved:

“that whereas a few English are beginning a settlement at a great distance from our outposts, on lands long before bought and paid for, near Vreedlant, to send there an interdict, and the attorney general, Cornelius van [Thienhoven], and forbid them to proceed no farther, but to abandon that spot. . . .”

In April 1655, van Tienhoven, served a formal protest dated April 19, 1655 on the settlers at Vreedland.   According to Lockwood Barr, who wrote a popular book on the history of Pelham and its surrounding area, the protest was served on Thomas Pell.  That is unlikely since it seems to have been served on leaders of the community in which Pell never resided.  Written in Dutch, the protest laid claims to the lands Pell had bought.

The response, reportedly delivered on behalf of the settlers at Vreedland, suggests both their strength of character and resolve on behalf of the Commonwealth and, presumably, for personal gain. The Dutch official named Claes van Elslant who delivered the protest returned to the Dutch authorities with the following reply ascribed to the settlers:

“Why doth not the Fiscal write English?  Then we could answer in writing; we expect a settlement of the boundary between Holland and England; until then, we abide under the State of England.”

The Dutch were unwilling to ignore such a dismissal of their demand.  They invaded the settlement and removed many of the Englishmen to a prison ship near Fort Amsterdam.  Eventually, the settlers were released and forced to pledge allegiance to the Dutch in order to be permitted to settle in the area under Dutch authority.  In March, 1656, however, the Dutch Fiscal presented a statement to the Director-General and the Council of New Netherland summarizing Thomas Pell’s “intrusion” at West Chester and asking that he be ordered, once again, to quit the area.

When the tiny English settlement was overrun by the Dutch and the ringleaders of the settlers were captured and hauled away to a prison ship, Pell saw the fruits of his labor -- the acquisition of about 50,000 acres of land -- beginning to slip away, at least at the western end.  When the English settlers of Westchester agreed to give allegiance to the Dutch, Pell was infuriated.  He began to stir up the local Native American population by threatening to seek return of the consideration he had paid for the land unless they kept the promise contained in the Indian Deed.  In that deed, the parties had pledged to each other as follows:  "And doo herby ingage our Selves to make good our selves against all Claymes intayled either by Dutch or Indyans wt ever."  

Pell clearly sought to use this pledge to force local Native Americans to enforce his rights.  By January 1, 1657, the settlers of Westchester complained to a representative of the Dutch authorities that Pell had stirred up the local Native Americans and that those Indians were "daily" threatening to destroy them.  They sought arms and protection from the Dutch authorities.  

Later as the English strengthened their control over the region and as Dutch dominion waned, Pell engaged in an apparent ploy designed to strengthen his original title to the entire tract he originally acquired from local Native Americans.  He prevailed on the settlers at Westchester to transfer their rights to him, which they did as an apparent formality since the next day Pell agreed to permit them the fullest improvements of their labors in the settlement.

The story of the tiny settlement of Westchester is a story of an English plantation authorized by Pell to sit near the extreme western border of his land -- immediately between two nations, in effect:  the Dutch and their colonial empire known as New Netherland and the English and their colonial empire known as New England.  Pell's apparent plan to plant a settlement at that border seems carefully calculated.  Not only was the settlement created only months after Pell acuired his lands, but one of the English witnesses to the Pell Indian Deed, John Finch (known as John Ffinch), was one of the original settlers in Westchester. 

Map of the Town of Westchester in 1868.
Source:  Beers, Frederick W., "Town of Westchester,
Westchester Co., N.Y." in Atlas of New
York and Vicinity from Actual Surveys By and
Under the Direction of F. W. Beers, Assisted
by A. B. Prindle & Others, pg. 14 (Philadelphia,
PA:  James McGugan, 1868).  NOTE:
Click on Image to Enlarge.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog collects a few English translations of some of the seventeenth century Dutch documents relating to the history of tiny English settlement of Westchester.  Occasionally I have included quotes from later secondary sources describing developments in the history of the settlement.


It is resolved in Council:

Whereas some Englishmen begin to settle and establish a village far within our boundaries upon the lands bought and paid for by us a long time ago at Vreedland, the law-officer of the Hon ble Company, Fiscal Cornelis van Tienhoven shall issue an interdict, ordering them to desist from further proceedings and to remove.

Done at New-Amsterdam, November 5th 1654."

Source:  Fernow, B., Documents Relating to the History and Settlements of the Towns Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (With the Exception of Albany), From 1630 to 1684 and Also Illustrating the Relations of the Settlers with the Indians, Translated, Compiled and Edited from the Original Records in the Office of the Secretary of State at Albany, and Other Sources, Under Direction of the Hon ble JOSEPH B. CARR, Secretary of State, p. 36 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons and Company, 1881).  


19th April 1655.

Cornelis van Tienhoven, by virtue of his commission as Fiscal for the Province of New Netherland and Attorney for its authority and jurisdiction, etc etc.  

To you, Thomas Pell or whom else it may concern.  

Having been directed to proceed to and upon the lands of Vreedlandt, taken possession of during the time of the late Hon ble Director-General Kieft and bought from and paid for to the actual owners and proprietors, natives of this country, as the Book of Deeds and their signatures prove, I inform and warn you and all, whom it may concern, herewith, that you and your associates have not only settled upon lands, bought many years ago by the Dutch nation and occupied by the late Hon ble Director Kieft by virtue of the title deeds, but that you also occupy it by usurpation, contrary to the agreement made at Hartford and to the peace concluded between the two nations in Europe, against the will and consent of the Director-General and High Council of New-Netherland.  

Therefore, I, the Fiscal, give you and all, whom it may concern, this public notice in the name, and on behalf of their Noble High:  Might:  the States General and the Lords Director of the Priv. W. I. Company by the bearer hereof, Claes van Elslandt, Court Messenger, chosen and appointed to execute this errand, to warn you not to proceed with building, clearing, pasturing cattle or cutting hay or whatever else may be necessary for the cultivation of the soil upon the aforesaid purchased and long possessed lands contrary to the agreement made at Hartford and to remove within fifteen days after the service of this notice from the lands within the jurisdiction of New Netherland with your people, servants or bound slaves, furniture, cattle, implements and everything brought there by you or yours as your property, under the penalty, that if you or any of you shall be found after the date aforesaid to have acted contrarily, of being prosecuted, you and all whom it may concern, according to law.  In the meantime I protest against all damage, injury, mischief and trouble, which through your actions may arise, while we declare before God and the World to be innicent thereof.

Done at Amsterdam in New Netherland on the date as above.

Whereas the present situation does not permit, that the Fiscal of N. Netherland should serve the foregoing notice and protest in person, therefore the Court Messenger, Clase van Elsland, is authorized to do it.  Done at Amsterdam in N. N. date as above."

Source:  Fernow, B., Documents Relating to the History and Settlements of the Towns Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (With the Exception of Albany), From 1630 to 1684 and Also Illustrating the Relations of the Settlers with the Indians, Translated, Compiled and Edited from the Original Records in the Office of the Secretary of State at Albany, and Other Sources, Under Direction of the Hon ble JOSEPH B. CARR, Secretary of State, p. 39 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons and Company, 1881).  

"Upon the twenty-second of April, 1655, we find the following account of an interview between the Dutch officer Claes van Elslandt and the English intruders:--

'Claes Van Elslandt went to protest against those of Vreedlant.  Four armed men came to meet them on the creek, asking what he willed?  He answered, he wished to land near the house.  They told him he should not land.  He rejoined, allow me to go ashore, I am cold; whereupon he sprang ashore, where he and Albert the trumpeter were warned not to come a foot higher.  The commander came up to us with a pistol in hand with eight or ten armed men, to whom he read the protest and handed it to him.  He answered, I cannot understand Dutch; why did not the fiscal or sherif [sic] send English?  when he sends English, then I will answer.  We expect the determination on the boundaries, the next vessel.  Time will tell whether we shall be under Dutch government or the Parliament; until then we remain here under the state of England.  Van Elslandt saw their houses and settlements, also the English arms hanging from a tree; they were carved on a board (plank.)  Van Elslandt was left in a house on the shore, well guarded with men.'"

Source:  Bolton, Robert, The Hisotry of the Several Towns, Manors, and Patents of the County of Westchester, from Its First Settlement to the Present Time Carefully Revised by its Author, Vol. II, p. 276 (NY, NY:  Chas. F. Roper, 1881) (citing "Alb. Rec. Hol. doc. ix. 261, 263, 4.  See Document, relating to the Col. Hist. Holland, Doc. 1657, 1678, vol. ii. p. 163, 4.").


6th March (1656).

The orders of the Lords-Directors and their letters of the 23d Oct 1654, 26th April and 26th May 1655 show and the Director-General and Council have been reliably informed, that the English in the village, by them called Westchester, situate upon the Vreedland about 2 leagues from this City, not only harbor fugitives and robbers, preying on this Province, but that also, as can be proved by the copy of a certain letter, their chief officer Lieutenant Wheeler has been in communication with the barbarians at or about the time of our last dreadful rencontre with them.

It has therefore been resolved for the welfare and advantage of the country and for the maintenance of the right of the Lords-Directors against such usurpers, to take up the said Englishmen, or at least their leaders in the most secret and civil way, to make the rest remove with their movable property and to commit the execution hereof to the valiant Captain Frederic de Coninck, Capt. Lieutenant Brian Nuton and with them to the Fiscal Cornelis van Tienhoven, who is to serve his protest in this case and have some fugitives and theives arrested.

Done at Fort Amsterdam in New-Netherland, date as above.


7th March  Instructions for the Valiant Capt. Frederic de Coninck, Capt. Lieut. Brian Nuton and the Fiscal Cornelis van Tienhoven commissioned in pursuance of the Resolution of the Hon ble Director-General and Council of the 6th of March 1656 to go to Westchester and execute their orders.

They are to proceed to-night with the detailed detachment of soldiers to Vreedland and after having taken possession of the houses of the Englishmen, settled there upon the Hon ble Company's ground, direct them to remove with all their movable property and cattle.

If the English do not immediately prepare to break up and leave, they are to make them leave willingly or unwillingly and if some of them should offer resistance by shooting or otherwise, they are to meet force by force and proceed against the usurpers as against enemies, in accordance with the orders from the Lords-Directors.

The houses are to be demolished, with the exception of 3 or 4 for shelter of the goods and soldiers; the principal fugitives and criminals, who have fled there, are to be sent here as soon as possible.

They may leave if they think fit, some of the less prominent men to watch the goods and command them to remove with all their property and cattle within 3 days, at the risk of being proceeded against according to law.

They are to prevent all thieving, plundering and similar doings, as much as possible and forbid it to their soldiers.

If they meet savages, which is not expected, they must either act on the defensive or attack them, as the situation may require it.

Done in Council at Fort Amsterdam in N. N. on the day as above.


Source:  Fernow, B., Documents Relating to the History and Settlements of the Towns Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (With the Exception of Albany), From 1630 to 1684 and Also Illustrating the Relations of the Settlers with the Indians, Translated, Compiled and Edited from the Original Records in the Office of the Secretary of State at Albany, and Other Sources, Under Direction of the Hon ble JOSEPH B. CARR, Secretary of State, pp. 62-63 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons and Company, 1881).


14th March (1656)

Concerning the English prisoners, lately brought down from Vreedland out of the village, by them called Westchester and imprisoned on board of the ship 'De Waagh', it is unanimously  agreed and resolved, that all, who have formerly been under this Government and had sworn obedience and who have run away either on account of debts or for other reasons or against whom the Fiscal as public prosecutor believes to have any charge, shall be placed in close confinement by the said Fiscal, who is hereby authorized thereto and who shall proceed against them according to law.  As to the others, who have come from New-England or elsewhere, misled by either Mr. Pell or somebody else, and have settled within the agreed boundaries and against whom the Fiscal has no other charge, these are to be detained in civil arrest at the City Hall or elsewhere until further examination and order.  The people, who have remained in the said village, are to be warned, that they must remove.

Thus done in Council at Fort Amsterdam in N. N. date as above.


Source:  Fernow, B., Documents Relating to the History and Settlements of the Towns Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (With the Exception of Albany), From 1630 to 1684 and Also Illustrating the Relations of the Settlers with the Indians, Translated, Compiled and Edited from the Original Records in the Office of the Secretary of State at Albany, and Other Sources, Under Direction of the Hon ble JOSEPH B. CARR, Secretary of State, p. 63 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons and Company, 1881).


March 15th, 1656.

To the Noble Hon ble Director-General and Council of New-Netherland.

Not only your Honors but everbody else living in this Province know, that many years ago the land called Vreedland has been settled by several persons under patents from your Honors' predecessor and peacefully occupied under this Government until the war of 1643.  Now one Mr. Pell, a resident of Onckeway in New-England, has against Christian law and custom dared lately to repurchase these lands from the same natives, from whom years ago they were bought and paid for through your Honors, as the Book of Deeds shows, and to enter upon them in his own name and live there contrary to the settlement of the boundaries agreed upon with the United Colonies of New-England in 1650 and without your Honors' knowledge or consent.  Against this usurpation the Fiscal has protested ex officio in the name and on behalf of his superiors, but notwithstanding this protest duly served, Lieutenant Wheller [sic], who commands there as chief officer, remains there with the rest of his associates and continues to build and plant, receiving and sheltering several fugitives, vagabonds and thieves, who on account of their bad behavior had to fly.  Thereupon your Honorable Worships, following the instructions and orders of the Lords-Directors and in order to maintain the agreement of Hartford, have resolved, to dislodge the said Wheller [sic] and his people by a troop of soldiers.  These persons met, according to your Honors' declaration of the 14th March, the Hon ble General, there present with the rest of the soldiers, they had drawn up in line under arms and showed themselves unwilling to remove, saying the land belonged to them.  Thereupon the said Englishmen were deprived of their arms and 23 of them were brought as prisoners on board of the ship 'de Waagh' on the same day, while a few with the women and children were left behind, to take care of their goods.

The Fiscal therefore requests, that your Honors will please to send the Courtmessenger with one or two of the oldest men to Vreedlandt, who are to warn the remaining Englishmen, that they must remove and take away everything brought there by them, at the risk of being proceeded against according to law, if they do not obey; also that the aforesaid Lieut. Wheller [sic] and his companions pay, before being released, the expenses incurred by your Honors through their acts and disobedience in coming hither in boats and with armed men and further that they sign an act, promising never again to come and live, build, plant, sow or mow without your Honors' consent and special order upon our Lords' land, situate at Vreedlandt, which they have lately called Westchester, or upon any other land within the boundaries, agreed upon at Hartford, under penalty of suffering corporal punishment according to the exigencies of the case, if found to have disobeyed.  

The above written application and motion of the Fiscal, as plaintiff and attorney, against the imprisoned Englishmen, arrested lately at Vreedland, by them called Westchester, having been read and considered together with the humble remonstrance of their wives here annexed and taking into consideration the dangerous situation and the inclemency of the winter, We, the Director-General and Council of New-Netherland, have resolved for those and other weighty reasons, to release the English prisoners, after they have promised under oath and by their signatures, to remove from the lands of Vreedland and out of this Province with their property and cattle within six weeks and not to come back in to this jurisdiction, without our special consent.  After having sworn to and subscribed this, the Fiscal is authorized and directed to release these Englishmen, against whom he, as public prosecutor, has no other charge than that of usurpation, as soon as they have satisfied him for the expenses incurred, to be estimated by impartial men, and this shall be his sufficient warrant.  As to the fugitives or other criminals, also those who refuse to sign the aforesaid promise, they must be apprehended according to the resolution of yesterday and be proceeded against according to law.

Thus done in Council held at Fort Amsterdam in New-Netherland date as above.


Source:  Fernow, B., Documents Relating to the History and Settlements of the Towns Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (With the Exception of Albany), From 1630 to 1684 and Also Illustrating the Relations of the Settlers with the Indians, Translated, Compiled and Edited from the Original Records in the Office of the Secretary of State at Albany, and Other Sources, Under Direction of the Hon ble JOSEPH B. CARR, Secretary of State, p. 65 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons and Company, 1881).


Honoured Sr with the Rest of your honoured Court, the Gouernour and Court to the New Netherlans [sic].  

May you be pleased to take in to your Consideration the humble request of your pore and humbell petisiners that wheras it doth appeare that you make claim to the plase where we ware to bee the writ of the hye and myghtie States of the Netherlands, wee whose names are underwritten are willing to submit ourselves unto the government of the said Netherlands soe Long as we Continow within theyr Jurisdiction provided that wee may injoy our Liberties in chusing our ofisers for the administration of such Lawes as may be maid for the good of our tounship, which wee now inhabit as alsoe wee may haue our armes Restored according to your promise, which ware taken from us:  whereby wee may be abell to attend ourselves fro such as may unjustlie a salt us and to make such Lawes and orders as may be for the particular good and welfare of the said place not being Repugnant to the Generale Lawes and to distribute our Landes unto the inhabitants none admitted according to first proposition as Lyckewyse to Reseve such inhabitans as may be comfortabell to us in particklar and the good of the generall as far as we are abell to judge.  March 16, 56.


The Director-General and Council of New-Netherland having read and considered the foregoing petition, grant to the petitioners, that upon taking the oath of allegiane they may remain as good subjects of this Province and live at the place called Vreedland, under such conditions and patents, as other free people in the villages of Middleborch, Breukelen, Midwout and Amesfoort enjoy; they shall also have the right of nominating a double number for officers and magistrates for the better government of the said village of Vreedland, whose selection and confirmation is reserved to the Director-General and Council, conform to the general orders.  Thus done in Council held at Fort Amsterdam in N. N. date as above.


Source:  Fernow, B., Documents Relating to the History and Settlements of the Towns Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (With the Exception of Albany), From 1630 to 1684 and Also Illustrating the Relations of the Settlers with the Indians, Translated, Compiled and Edited from the Original Records in the Office of the Secretary of State at Albany, and Other Sources, Under Direction of the Hon ble JOSEPH B. CARR, Secretary of State, p. 65-66 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons and Company, 1881).


Whereas Lieutenant Thomas Wheeler and soe of his associates have lodged and settled themselves upon the land, called by our Principals Vreedland, and have voluntarily submitted to the Government of New-Netherland as good subjects and whereas care must be taken of the administration of justice and good order obsevered in all cases, while the act of their privileges is being drawn up and until it is definitely ascertained, who will remain there and who intends to remove,

Therefore the Hon ble Director-General and Council of New-Netherland have appointed and commissioned the said Lieutenant Thomas Wheeler as chief magistrate there to represent the Hon ble General and to see, that everything is done justly and fairly and if anybody should disobey him he is to have him arrested and send him hither, to receive condign punishment as an example to others and all this till further order.

Amsterdam in New-Netherland March 16th 1656.


Source:  Fernow, B., Documents Relating to the History and Settlements of the Towns Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (With the Exception of Albany), From 1630 to 1684 and Also Illustrating the Relations of the Settlers with the Indians, Translated, Compiled and Edited from the Original Records in the Office of the Secretary of State at Albany, and Other Sources, Under Direction of the Hon ble JOSEPH B. CARR, Secretary of State, p. 66 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons and Company, 1881).


March 25.  Saturday (1656).  

The Director-General and Council of New-Netherland have read the answers given in their examination by the Fiscal Cornelis van Tienhoven by Capt. Richard Panton, William Elit, Black Marchand, Jan Gray and Rogier Whealer, all Englishmen, detained for having taken up arms against the Hon ble Director-General and his command at Vreedland on [the 14th inst], and having heard the report of the Commissaries directed to be present at this examination, the Director-General and Council resolve, in consideration of their surrendering on our promise of good treatment, to forget their former misdemeanor and to release the said prisoners from arrest, ordering them to remove out of the boundaries and jurisdiction of New-Netherland, unless some of the inhabitants of the village desire to be their bondsmen and give bail for their good behavior.

Thus done in Council at Fort Amsterdam in N. N. on the day as above."

Source:  Fernow, B., Documents Relating to the History and Settlements of the Towns Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (With the Exception of Albany), From 1630 to 1684 and Also Illustrating the Relations of the Settlers with the Indians, Translated, Compiled and Edited from the Original Records in the Office of the Secretary of State at Albany, and Other Sources, Under Direction of the Hon ble JOSEPH B. CARR, Secretary of State, p. 67 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons and Company, 1881).

Of BRIAN NUTON, Capt n Lieutenant; CORNELIS VAN RUYVEN Secretary and CARE; VAN BRUGGE Commissary, appointed by the Heer Director General STUYVESANT to go in a boat a second time to Oost-dorp.

[Translated from the Dutch.]

Anno 1656, 29th Decemb r Having received our instructions from the Heer General we rowed out with the boat of the Hon ble Company's ship from before Fort Amsterdam on the 30 ditto. about 7 O'Clock in the morning to proceed on our journey to Oostdorp, accompanied by Claes Bordingh as pilot, as the Companys Skipper was never through Hell-gate, and the Skipper of the Company's bark and a Sailor to row us thither.

Manhattan Island being passed, our sailors said the tide was ebb; that they could perceive it in the rowing.  Hell-gate being neared in the meanwhile, we found indeed by the strong current which ran through it that the tide was ebbing and that our people had not well calculated the tide.  We were, therefore, obliged if we would prosecute our journey, to await the Tide on this side Hell-gate; for we still hoped to arrive betimes in the evening at Oostdorp and to accomplish our Mission, and to row back with the return tide in the night from there to the Manhatans so as to be home on Sunday, but we found ourselves sorely deceived  in our expectation, as appears by the sequel--

Having gone ashore during the ebbing of the tide, on this side of Hell-gate where William Hallet's house & plantation formerly stood, which were laid waste by the Indians about September of the year 1655; we made a fire there by aid of spunk which we had; found in the shallow water on the strand some Oysters which we fried and ate, whilst thus engaged, a fine herd of Cattle came right by us feeding along the beach; there were about sixteen cows both old & young, and 5 @ 6 horses.

Having viewed these as well as the land which is there quite flat and apparently of good soil; and having eaten of what we had brought with us, it became low water.  We ambarked again in our boat, and passed through Hell-gate and by the fast anchored Brothers 1 [Footnote "1" reads as follows:  "1 The 'Brothers' are two small islands in the Sound, situate near the South Easternmost extremity of Westchester County. ED."]  to the Kill in front of Oostdorp into which we pulled and hugged to our sorrow close on the west bank of said Kill, when after rowing up a short way, we ran ourselves aground.  Our people looked for deep water but found none.  As our pilot calculated that there would be still an hour and a half of ebb, we were obliged to row ashore as we were not willing to remain with the boat in the Kill in such cold weather; we went ashore on the west bank and built a fire there, the land being apparently barren and stoney.  Standing here together around the fire, we heard an Indian call. Some of us going out, on hearing the noise, found two Indians lying in a canoe, fishing, in front of the kill; as soon as the Indians saw us they paddled away in their skiff.

Being on the strand we found the kill entirely dry except a Channel which we descried on the east or left side of the mouth of the Kill, which appeared to us to be so deep and so wide, that a boat could be rowed up through it at low water.  Having remained there about two hours we found the water increasing.

We entered our boat and rowed toward Oostdorp where arriving we went to Mr Newman's house.  We were met, on the way, by John Lord one of those elected as Magistrate, who went with us to Mr Newman's, where on our arrival we found all abed.  Thereupon John Lord invited us to his house whither we proceeded because Newman was abed, and we did not wish to trouble him, being a man of 72 years.

On arriving at John Lords we communicated to him the object of our journey, and requested him to have the Inhabitants summoned in the morning at day light by an Indian.  He answered us -- 'Tis our Sabbath morning; the Inhabitants will not come.  We asked him to learn the opinions of the principal settlers at once, as we could explain our business in half an hour, without hindering their service.  Which he proceeded to do.  But brought us for answer, No -- that they were in no way so inclined.  Although we would fain reach hoe by Sunday noon, we were obliged to remain there until Monday, as they would not be prevailed to assemble on Sunday.

31st ditto.  Sunday.  Went to examine the Village somewhat.  It is a very stoney place, thickly covered with trees.  At noon were invited to dine at Mr Newmans.  After dinner Cornelis van Ruyven went to the house where they assemble on Sunday's, to observe their mode of worship, as they have not as yet any clergyman.  There I found a gathering of about 15 men and 10 to 12 women.  Mr Baly made a prayer, which being concluded, one Robbert Basset read a Sermon from a printed Book composed & published by an English Minister in England.  After the reading Mr Baly made another prayer and they sung a Psalm and seperated.  In the evening we were invited to supper to Robert Basset's, and having taken our leave we went to sleep at John Lords house : neither he nor any of the members of his family came home this night, which much surprised us.

A o 1657.  1st January.  He came home an hour after daybreak.  He said he remained abroad in order that we may have more room.  We requested him to have the drum beaten forthwith to get the people together; to which he said, he had given orders to beat the drum, and the majority of the Inhabitants being assembled we communicated to them the object of our mission, and that the H r Director general of N. Netherland had from the six persons named by them elected three as Magistrates for Oostdorp viz. Mr Newman, Mr Lord, & John Smith, and exhibited and read to them the commission granted to the Magistrates.  After the reading was concluded, one Robert Basset requested to speak a word, which being allowed, he said there was one among the Magistrates who was unfit to fill the place; that notwithstanding he should respect him as a Magistrate so long as he resided there, as he was selected by the Director General.  Therupon we should have demanded of him who that was and wherein his unfitness consisted; but in order not to make any trouble about him nor to separate leaving the business unfinished and other considerations, we merely answered that he had the nomination of the whole town and was elected with the others by the Heer General; consequently they were bound to acknowledge the whole three as Magistrates, and turning to the Magistrates we requested them to take the oath, which they presently did, one by one, without any objection.  This done, we wished them luck and prosperity in their office, and further pursuant to our Instructions requested the actual Inhabitants to take the Oath of Allegiance according to the formulary which we read to them.  Whereupon many of them made answer that they had all taken the oath at the Manhattas when they had been carried prisoners thither.  Among the rest, Robbert Basset abovementioned said, that he should not subscribe that form, but he should promise to obey as long as he remained in our province, the Director General and his appointed Magistrates and laws so far as these harmonized with the laws of God.  Whereupon we asked him if he would subscribe on these words being added.  He replied yes.  Therefore as we saw no other chance we determined to write his words; this he said he should do himself.  He therefore drew up the writing hereunto annexed, being the sense as before stated in which he signed.  This all the Inhabitants then present offered to subscribe, and it was signed, as appears therefrom, by 15 persons, and the oath we read to them was taken by the 3 Magistrates and signed by one of the Inhabitants named George Reith.  One of the settlers present named Anthony Gill would not sign either the one or the other.  We told him, therrefore, in the name of the Director General & Council of N. Netherland, pursuant to our Instructions that he should depart within three days from Oostdorp and within 3 weeks from the Province of N. Netherland, which he said, he should do.  Six persons were gone from home to other places, viz. Edward Waeters, Richard Pointom, Samuel Barret, Jonathan Writh, Tomas Stievens, Rochier Wyls, and one was sick, Robbert Roos.  These are all the present Inhabitants of Oostdorp, but they told us that 3 @ 4 families more would soon come.

The preceding being accomplished, divers of the Inhabitants made the following complaints which they requested us to present to the H r General & Council, in order that a timely remedy may be applied : --

Firstly, regarding the insolence of the Indians; that they daily threaten to destroy them if they repair under the Dutch which some told us proceeded from Mr. Pel [sic] who purchased that piece of land from the Indians on this conditionu, as they said, that the Indians should deliver it to him unembarrassed, and maintain him in it against all who may have clais to it, and that the said Pel [sic] now daily importuned the Indians to return his money, or otherwise that the Indians according to Deed of Sale, should free him from the Dutch nation who claim it as their property. 

Secondly, That the Heer General had promised them when his Honour had them removed thence, that eaach shoul have his arms restored.  This, they said, was not done, but that many among them yet missed, their arms -- one a snaphammer and the other a pistol, and some a musket whereby they were deprived of arms; Request that the said promise may be fulfilled.

Thirdly, That they were never well supplied with arms and were stripped, as aforesaid, of the few which they had; therefore, should the Indians make any attack on them, they must immediately surrender; they, consequently, request that the Village be provided with some muskets, powder, lead & match which they would preserve in a Magazine for the Town.

We promised to Communicate the whole of this Remonstrance to the H r Director General & Council.

The business being completed and leave taken, we went to Mr Ferris' who invited us to breakfast.  This done, the tide being favorable after breakfast, we resolved to depart though it rained hard.  We, accordingly took our leave both of the inducted Magistrates and Inhabitants generally, and rowed according to our Calculation about 12 o'Clock out of the Kill; passed Hell-gate with a favourable tide and landed about 3 o'clock at the Manhatans; reported our return and delivered these in Amsterdam in N: Netherland the 1. January, 1657.



This first January A o 1657:  In east towne in the N. Netherlands.

Wee hose hands are vnder writen do promes to oune the fouernor of the manatas as our gouernor and obey all his magastrates and lawes that ar mad accordin to god so long as we liue in his Juridiction.

Robbert Basset
George [His Mark] Reith
John Finch
John Wilson
Richard Horton 
Thomas Taylor
Hendrick [His Mark] Cornelyssen
Thamis Martin
Nick Lookerly
John Quimble
Josiah Gilber
Obodiah Gilbert
Jonathan Llockwood
Robert [His Mark] Meacker
Jeffery [His Mark] fferris


Wee humbly Des r and request that you wold be plesed to send vs a Court Booke and those 12 Mvskets which you spak of with the rest of the ammounishon for the use and safgard of ovr plantation with the orders and Laws which we are to walk by that wee may know how to akt


from Este towne the 1 of January 1656"

Source:  The Documentary History of the State of New-York Arranged Under the Direction of the Hon. Christopher Morgan, Secretary of State, Vol. III, p. 557-60 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons & Co., 1850).  See also Gehring, Charles T., Correspondence 1654-1658, p. 113 (NY, NY:  The Holland Society of New York, 2003).

"The Directors having received, by this time [early in 1656], information of the encroachments of the English at Oyster Bay and Westchester, sent out orders to erect a fort at the former place, and to repel, even byy force, all attempts to settle on the Company's lands in violation of the treaty of 1650 [i.e., the so-called Hartford Treaty that was never ratified by the English], which the States General formally approved this spring. 2

Feb. 22. [1656]

Pursuant to these instructions the Director-general took the necessary steps to vindicate the Company's rights to Vreedlant.  The English of that settlement ('which they called Westchester,') were not only in the habit of entertaining fugitives from justice, but had kept up, during the recent Indian excesses, a constant correspondence with the savages. 

Mar. 6. [1656]

To put an end to these irregularities, Captains De Koninck, Newton, and the Attorney-general were sent secretly to that quarter with a suitable force to arrest the leaders and destroy all the buildings, except three or four, permitting the other settlers to remove their furniture within three days.  Those of the expedition who should be guilty of plunder were to be most vigorously punished.  This party set out immediately, and on reaching the place, were met by Lieut. Wheeler and other settlers, prepared for resistance, 'as the land was thei r own.'  They were forthwith disarmed, and removed, twenty-three in number, to the Manhattans, where they were placed on board the Ballance.  Those among them who were runaways were afterwards sent to prison.  

Mar. 14. [1656]

The others, who had been inno-

[Footnote for Page 312]

2  Hol. Doc. viii. 122, 124; Alb. Rec. iv., 207; De Witt, iii., 192; Thurloe, iv., 526; Hazard's State Papers, ii 549.

cently lured to settle on the Company's lands, were placed under civil arrest, and lodged in the City Hall. 

Mar. 15. [1656]

'On the remonstrance of their wives,' and in consideration of the inclement season of the year, the Director and Council ordered that they should be set at liberty, on promising, under oath, to depart with their goods and chattels within six weeks from the district, not to return again without permission.

Mar. 16. [1656]  

On the following day the arrested parties addressed a petition to the Director-general and Council, expressing their willingness to submit to their government 'so long as we continue within your jurisdiction,' provided they should be allowed the liberty of choosing their officers for the administration of such laws as may be enacted for the good of the township, and have their arms restored.  They likewise asked the privilege to make laws for the regulation of their town affairs not repugnant to the general laws of the province; and to divide the lands among the townsmen, none being admitted except according to the agreement which had been made among themselves on commencing the settlement. 1 [See footnote 1 below.] They were told, in reply, that they should be allowed the same privileges 'as the freemen of the villages of Middleborough, Breukelen, Midwout, and Amersfoort were enjoying.'  They should be permitted to nominate a double number of persons to fill the offices of magistrates, from which the Executive would make a proper selection.  

Mar. 25. [1656] 

Capt. Raith. Paxton, William Elliott, Black Marchand, John Gray, Roger Wheeler, 'all Englishmen,' who had taken up arms against the authorities, were discharged and ordered to quit the province, unless some of the other towns were willing to receive them and remain security for their good behavior.

Mar. 23. [1656]

Westchester sent in its first nomination of magistrates shortly after the date of the above agreement.  2  [See footnote 2 below.] 

[Footnotes for page 313]

1  Signed, Thomas Newman, Thomas Wheeler, Robert Bassett, Isaiah Gilbert, John Rose, Robert Rose, Therwod Caniff, [in another entry, Davis,] Uncles Bill, William Benfall, John Jenner, Robert Meaker, [Bartholomew Meares,] Obadiah Gilbert, Roderick Osbert, John Broundith, [Landish,] Edward Waters, Samuel Morris, Samuel Hart, William War.

2  These persons were Lieut. Thomas Wheeler, Thomas Newman, John Lord, Josiah Gilbert, William Ward, and Nicholas Bayley.  The application was signed Richard Bassett, Robert Rose, John Jenner, William Benfall, John Smith, Joseph Laugton, and John Richardson.

The settlers petitioned at the same time that no farms nor villages should be granted or established within two Dutch miles of the centre of their settlement; that such as had land granted them may select it where they considered most convenient; that they may have power to admit or reject new settlers for just cause; that such lands as were not entered on within six months should be forfeit; that actual setlers [sic] be obliged to contribute to the common expenses in proportion to the extent of their farms; that they be permitte to choose, within themselves, officers to execute justice according to law, and to maintain peace and manage town affairs; also officers to discipline the settlers 'in a military way.'  They requested a copy of the laws of the country 'drawn out in English,' that they may know how to conduct themselves, when they transgress the same, and how to punish evil-doers, with power to make orders for town matters 'not repugnant to the fundamentals of your laws.'  They finally craved arms and ammunition for self-defence, on paying therefor, and that whatever writings may pass between themselves and the government be in English, so that they 'may fully and perfectly understand them.'  

Mar. 28. [1656]

Thomas Wheeler, Thomas Newman, and John Lord were selected as magistrates, but the conclusions on the other demands were postponed until the Director and Council should have an opportunity to consult the petitioners.  Thus happily terminated a misunderstanding which threatened, at first, a different issue.  This settlement was henceforward called 'Oostdorp' by the Dutch, and East-town by the English.  1

[Footnotes for Page 314]

1  Alb. Rec. iv., 187; x., 38, 39, 250, 315, 316, 321, 322, 328-331, 335-337, 340, 343-346; xi., 283-285, 291, 300-303, 308-313, 318-321; xvi., 303.  When the English appeared before New Amsterdam, (August, 1664,) the inhabitants of Westchester addressed a petition 'to his Majesty's Commissioners for the affairs of New England,' in which, after setting forth the purchase of this tract by Pell, they refer to the arrest of the twenty-three settlers by Capt. De Koninck, who they say 'were committed prisoners to the hould of a vessel, where they continued in restraint from all friends, for the space of thirteen days, fed with rotten provision, creeping with worms, whereby some of them remained diseased to this day, after which they were carried away in chaines and laid in their dungeon at Manhatoes; that they had perished with famine in the said imprisonment for the relief obtained at other hands,' and 'that when the said pretended powers had freed the said prisoners and introduced their own government over the said plantation, they drove away such as would not submit to their pretended authority, to their great endamagement, and the enslaving of such as remained.'  Book of General Entries, i., 11.  This statement has been copied by some English writers, without, however, any reference to the real statement of the facts.  By comparison with the text, it will now be seen how blinded these men have been by their own passions.  Capt. De Koninck set out from New Amsterdam on the 7th, and returned about the 10th or 11th of March.  The prisoners were landed on the 14th, and conveyed, tho0se who had been fugitives from justice, to prison; the others to the City Hall.  They were, therefore, only about three or four (instead of thirteen) days about the Ballance.  The story of 'the rotten provision,' &c., is, it is to be presumed, of the same character as this representation.  On the 15th, the day after they landed, all were liberated except five, who, having taken up arms against the authorities, were allowed to settle in the other towns of the province, on giving security for keeping the peace.  The privileges granted to the town, show that the settlers were placed on a par with the other settlements in New Netherland, and do not in any way substantiate the representations made to his Majesty's commissioners.

Dec. 29. [1656]

At the close of the year, another nomination, in conformity to their patent, was sent in, and Messrs. Newman, Lord, and John Smith were appointed magistrates.  Capt. Brian Newton, Secretary Van Ruyven, and Commissary Van Brugge, were sent thither to administer the oath of office to these men, and that of allegiance to the other inhabitants. The latter, however, objected to taking the oath in the absolure sense in which it was drawn, and would promise obedience only to the law provided it was conformable to that of God; their allegiance was to continue only 'so long as they remained in the province.'  

1657.  Jan. 1.

This form having been agreed to, was signed by fifteen of the settlers.  The whole population at this time amounted to twenty-five men, and ten to twelve women.  Six of the former were absent when the commissioners visited the place, and Anthony Gill refused to sign the declaration.  1

[Footnotes for Page 315.]

1  This first day of January, Anno 167 :  In East towne in the New Netherlands:  Wee hose hands are onder writen do promise to owne the Gouernor of the Manatas as our Gouernor and obey all his magistrates and lawes that are made accordin to God so long as we liue in his jurisdiction.  (Signed) Robbert Bassett, George x Reith, John Finch, John Wilson, Richard x Horton, Thomas x Taylor, Hendrick x Cornelysen, Thoas x Marsin, Nick Loobey, John Quimbee, Josiah Cibber, Obadiah Cibbord, Jonathan Llockwood, Robert x Meacker, Jeffery x Fferris.  The meeting to sign the above paper was called by beat of drum.  The commissioners were desirous, for dispatch sake, to have the people assembled on Sunday, but they would not consent:  'It was their Sabbath.'  Of their mode of worship the commissioners give in the journal of their expedition, the following account:  '31 Dec. After dinner Cornelis van Ruyven went to the house where they held their Sunday meeting, to see their mode of worship, as they had, as yet, no preacher.  There I found a gathering of about fifteen men, and ten or twelve women.  Mr. Baly said the prayer, after which one Robbert Bassett read from a printed book a sermon, composed by an English clergyman in England.  After the reading, Mr Baly gave out another prayer and sung a psalm, and they all separated.'

The people complained seriously of annoyance they experienced from the Indians, who, having guarantied the quiet possession of the land to Mr. Pell, were now displeased that the settlers had submitted to the Dutch, especially as Mr. Pell insisted on having either his money returned, or the conditions of the sale honestly fulfilled.  On this account they insisted on the restoration of their arms, which, they said, were not all returned according to promise.  In their present condition they were exposed to great danger, should the Indians attack them, and therefore they demanded means to protect themselves.  1  

Jan. 3. [1657] 

The Council thereupon sent them twelve muskets; a dozen pounds of powder; the same quantity of lead; two bundles of matches, and one writing book for the magistrates.  2


Throughout the various vicissitudes New Netherland had hitherto experienced, there was one blessing it possessed, from the contemplation of which the benevolent mind derives some consolation.  There, at least, conscience seems to have enjoyed comparative repose, and those who bled in New England for its sake, could retire here, and for once find in the wilds of America liberty to commune with their Creator according to the dictates of their own hearts.   Of this high honor New Netherland was now to be bereft.  Poor human nature was again to be driven forth, to find, like the dove of the ark, no place on which to rest the sole of its foot; for Stuyvesant, forgetful of that wise and tolerant policy which enriched his native country . . . . [End of transcribed text; footnotes for this page appear immediately below.]

[Footnotes for Page 316]

1  'Honored Sir, wee humbly desire and request that you would be pleased to send us a count book and those twelve muskets which you spak of, with the orders and laws which we are to walk by that wee may know how to act From Este towne the 1st of January, 1657, Thomas Newman.'

2  Alb. Rec. xv., 8."

Source:  O'Callaghan, E. B., ed., History of New Netherland; Or, New York Under the Dutch, Vol. II, pp. 312-16 (NY, NY:  D. Appleton & Co., 1855). 

"In 1654-55 some New Englanders settled at or near Westchester without Stuyvesant's permission. On the 19th of April, Van Tienhoven, the Fiscal, issued a writ commanding Thomas Pel, or whomsoever else it might concern, to cease from trespassing and to leave the premises, and intrusted the writ to Claes Van Elslaut, the court messenger, and promptly on the 22d Claes arrived at the new village which was building at Vreedelandt. Four armed men came to meet him at the creek and demanded what he was after. Elslaut asked, 'Where can I land near the houses?' The reply was, 'You shall not land.' The messenger said, 'I am cold, let me land,' and he sprang ashore. Albert, the trumpeter, was with him, and both were placed under guard by the settlers and told not to advance a foot. The commander of the party advanced with a pistol in his hand and with eight or ten men following. The faithful messenger did his duty; he read the protest or warrant and handed it to the leader, who said, 'I cannot understand Dutch; why did not the Fiscal send it in English? If you send it in English, then shall I answer in writing.' He added, 'But that's no matter; we expect the ships from Holland and England which are to bring the settlement of the boundary. Whether we are to dwell here under the States or the Parliament time will tell; furthermore, we abide here under the States of England. If we had a sup of wine we should offer you some, but we have not any.'

They then discharged their guns all round. Elslaut tried to see their houses and fixtures, and also the Parliament's arms, which the English said were hung on a tree and carved on a plank, but the people left the messenger standing in a hut on the shore well guarded by men. The messengers were finally permitted to return and Van Elslaut made his report.2 [FN. 2: N. Y. Col. Docs., xiii. 36.]

Such treatment roused the indignation of Stuyvesant. On the 6th of March, 1656, he and his Council instructed Captain Frederick de Conninck with Captain Lieutenant Brian Nuton and the Fiscal, Van Tienhoven, to proceed to Westchester or Ostdorp [sic] by night with a detachment of soldiers and take possession of the houses of the Englishmen, and direct them to remove with all their movable property and cattle; they were to proceed against them by force, if necessary, and the houses were to be demolished. A lieutenant --Wheller or Wheeler -- seems to have been, the principal man at the settlement, which, according to Van Tienhoven's account of the population, consisted principally of fugitives, vagabonds and thieves, who, on account of their bad behavior in New England, had fled to Westchester. The expedition ordered on the 6th reached Westchester on the 14th of March, and were met there by the people, who had drawn up in line under arms, and showed themselves unwilling to remove, saying that the land belonged to them. Captain-General Conninck deprived them of their arms and took twenty-three of them prisoners, and brought them to New Amsterdam on the ship 'de Waagh.' Only a few, with the women and children, were left behind to take care of the goods. The wives of the captives, however, plead for their husbands' release, and the soft-hearted Governor and Council finally resolved to release the prisoners after they promised, under oath and over their signatures, to remove from Vredelandt and out of the province within six weeks, and not to come back without the consent of the Dutch government. The prisoners were also required to pay the expenses of their apprehension.3 [FN. 3: Idem, 65.] The petition of the captives, though quaint in language, is almost pathetic. They beg that the Governor and Council will be pleased to take into consideration the humble request of the poor and humble petitioners, and that 'whereas, it doth appeare' that the government does make claim to the place where they were settled, they state that they are willing to submit themselves unto the government of the Netherlands, so long as they continue within that jurisdic- [Page 771 / Page 772] tion, provided they be allowed to choose their own officers for the enforcement of laws which may be made for the good of the township. Their petition was granted and on March 16, 1656, they were allowed to depart for Vredelandt and also to nominate a double number of officers, subject to the approval of the Director-General and Council. They at once organized and elected Lieutenant Thomas Wheeler as their magistrate, and his selection received the sanction of the director on the game day. Some of the party, however, were ordered to leave the province unless they gave bail for good behavior.1 [FN. N. Y. Col. Docs., 67]"

Source: Scharf, J. Thomas, ed., History of Westchester County, New York Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge and West Farms Which Have Been Annexed to New York City, Vol. 1, Part 2, Chapter XX. Westchester Town by Fordham Morris, pp. 771-72 (Philadelphia, PA: L.E. Preston & Co. 1886).

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