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New Netherland, New York Genealogy
Every ship had to anchor at the East River side and had to pay harbour dues. In 1650 a ship had to pay one hundred pounds of gunpowder, worth about 50 guilders.
Willem's note: Sometimes a skipper refused to anchor at the right place. Skipper Jacob Gerritsz. Blenck of the Fortuyn, who came to New Netherland without the consent of the bewindhebbers (managers) of the WIC in Sept. 1643, asked permission to supply some water and food and to sell some of his wine. This was granted, but Blenck refused to pay the import-duty, sailed away and anchored between Fort Amsterdam and Staten Island. The treasurer ordered him to return, but Blenck weighed the anchor at night and left. By default he was sentenced to pay 300 guilders for disobedience
Before anyone was allowed to go ashore the treasurer checked the ship. The cargo was unloaded by smacks to one of the two landing stages and was transported to the WIC warehouses nearby to be checked. Most of the goods were shipped in wooden packing-cases, marked with the initials of the receiver. In the WIC warehouse the cases were measured, opened, and, if the required import duties were paid, the WIC mark was put on it with white chalk.
During the stay of the ship in the harbour the interactions between the ship and those on land were strictly regulated. Inhabitants of New Amsterdam were not allowed on board except with explicit permission and the sailors had to stay on board at night. Beside the transportation of officers, no smacks were allowed in the harbour after sundown. Those rules were often broken. Many sailors who stayed ashore at night as well as inhabitants of New Netherland who went on board a ship were fined. Usually these fines were not very high; often only one guilder.
The check in the harbour by the treasurer did not always run smoothly. The WIC ship the Haring with Captain Symon Jansz. was ready to leave on Oct. 3th 1639. All goods were brought aboard, the Director-General had given permission to sail and while the ship was at Staten Island the assistant-treasurer (whose name is unknown) came on board unexpectedly for a last check. Hendrick Jansen, the constabelsmaat (assistant artillery-master) invited the assistant-treasurer below for a drink, but instead of a glass of liquor, a blanket was thrown over him and he was beaten with a crowbar. When the unfortunate assistant-treasurer later left the ship, someone dropped an iron cannonball. This was enough for his superior, treasurer Cornelis van der Hoykens, to order the ship to return. He then arrested Hendrick Jansen. The entire crew, except for the skipper and the pilot, went ashore to extort the release of their comrade and only the soldiers of Fort Amsterdam were able to return the sailors to their ship. Under the condition of release and no penalty Hendrick Jansen pleaded guilty of beating the assistant-treasurer. The crew had been angry because he confiscated an anchor (about 39 liters) of liquor. The Director-General was impressed by the attitude of the crew and because he was afraid this mutiny would jeopardize the peace in the New Netherland, he ordered the ship to leave and took no legal steps. This was most curious, because mutiny and smuggling were normally severely punished.
The WIC was a trading company, trying to make profit, so smuggling was severely punished. It was very difficult for the authorities to control the harbour and the incoming and outgoing ships. Already before entering the Lower Bay yachts and smacks could have transported cases and barrels to Staten Island or Long Island. Once in the harbour it was not difficult at all to row in the darkness to Long Island or parts of Manhattan, which were out of sight of Fort Amsterdam. The treasurer did check, but loading-bills could be falsified and even the treasurer could be bribed or threatened. The highest penalty was confiscation of the ship. Only in two cases was this ultimate punishment carried out in history of the WIC.
In Sept. 1647 the St. Beninjo was discovered by secretary Cornelis van Tienhoven during an inspection trip on Long Island. The ship was chartered by merchants from Medemblik and was trading with the Natives without permission of the bewindhebbers (managers) of the WIC and without paying the import-duty in New Amsterdam. By the time this news reached New Amsterdam Pieter Stuyvesant had a problem; he did not have the means to take in the ship. Admitting the ship into New Amsterdam and paying all import duties, as captain Cornelis Claesen Snoo had requested, would be a sign of weakness. Since the St. Beninjo was in New Haven in New England by now, Stuyvesant saw another possibility. The WIC ship Swol had been recently sold by Stuyvesant to the vice-governor of New Haven and was to be delivered in October. Stuyvesant sent the ship with some soldiers to take the St. Beninjo in and his stratagem succeeded. The ship was confiscated, but Stuyvesant's relationship with his neighbors did not improve by this incident.
The case of the Jonge Prins van Deenemarcken is somewhat obscure. The ship was equipped in Amsterdam in 1648 under the name Grijze Hengstby Hectoor Pietersz. and Gerrit Ferraers for slave trade on the Guyana coast with WIC permission. Under false pretences they came to Barbados and loaded sugar. Under a new name the ship came to New Amsterdam and tried to sell the sugar without permission. Due to the indiscretion of the crew the fraud was discovered; the ship and cargo were confiscated.
DE SCHEEPVAART EN HANDEL VAN DE NEDERLANDSE REPUBLIEK OP
DE WESTINDISCHE COMPAGNIE TER KAMER STAD EN LANDE
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