Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini

The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini is a seven volume series edited by Berthold Fernow. The volumes were published under the authority of the City of New York, by Knickerbocker Press in 1897. Each volume is titled, Minutes of the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens, followed by a date range that the volume covers. Volume seven also includes Administrative Minutes, March 8, 1657, to Jan. 28, 1661, Inclusive, and the Index for the entire seven volume series.* Digital versions can be accessed online. Quick links can be found on the PDF page "Links to Published Sources Available Online," which can be downloaded. The abbreviation, RNA, is used for Records of New Amsterdam on this page.

The Court of Burgomasters and Schepens was essentially the municipal government of New Amsterdam. It consisted of two burgomasters, five schepens and a schout. It regulated affairs and was the court for both civil and criminal cases. For more on this court please see this 1909 write up by Henry Wilson Scott, placed online by the Historical Society of the New York Courts. It also includes links to the digitized versions. The courts existence began in 1653, lasting through the Dutch period of rule and through the first period of English rule and the short second period of Dutch rule in 1674. It ended when the English regained control of New Netherland in late 1674.

There are a handful of entries for the surname Brouwer in the index.

Volume 1, page 371 is a tax list dated 12 October 1655. On the list is Willem Brouwer "was excused." On the same tax list is Jan Gerritsen Brouwer "voluntary" - fl. 12. At page 392 of volume 1 is a suit by Willem Brouwer, plaintiff, against Isaac Mense, defendant, in which Willem Brouwer says that he sold the defendant 50 ps. of dry merchantable hides for fl. 700 in good Zeawan (seawant, or wampum), on condition that whoever should go back on the bargain should forfiet a "tun of beer." Isaac Mense, the defendant says that at the time the bargain was made he was drunk, and thought the deal was for 100 hides for gl. 700. Witnesses state that the bargain was to pay 700 gl. for 50 hides, but afterwards Isaac Mense said he was mistaken. The court voided the deal and fined Isaac Mense fl. 25 "for the behoof of the poor with costs incurred herein." The court date for this hearing was 8 November 1655.

Both Jan Gerritsen Brouwer and Willem Brouwer are found in Volume 2. At page 67 we find, Thomas Appelgat, plaintiff, vs. Willem Brouwer, defendant. Defendant's first default (he was not present). "Plaintiff at his request was allowed to sue out an arrest." The nature of the suit is not stated. The court date was 20 March 1656.
At page 26, Jan Gerritsen Brouwer is listed among those voted for, for the position of Schepen, by Allard Anthony. The vote totals are on page 27. Jan Gerritsen Brouwer received just this one vote. The vote was conducted on 31 January 1656. Schepen is a Dutch term for a municipal office holder. In an English municipal government it would most closely correspond to the position of an alderman or councilman. On page 113, Jan Gerritsen Brouwer, plaintiff, vs. Pieter Van der Linde, defendant, with the defendant in default. The case involves a hogshead of tobacco. The court date was 19 June 1656. The case is resumed on 26 June 1656 (page 123). Pieter Van der Linde was an inspector who first marked a certain hogshead of tobacco as "good," but then later marked it as "not good." Since the inspector (Pieter Van der Linde) is appointed by the Director General and his Council, the matter is referred to them.

The only entry in Volume 3 is for Willem Brouwer, or more specifically his wife, whose name is not recorded (page 237). The court date is 9 November 1660. "Burgomaster Allard Anthony, arrestant and pltf. vs. Willem Brouwer's wife, arrested and deft. Deft. in default. Pltf. requests that the arrest be decalared valid. The Court declare the arrest valid." The nature of the case is not stated. This is the last entry that we find for Willem Brouwer in the New Amsterdam city records.

Volume 4 includes one entry for Adam Brouwer. At page 21, court date of 31 January 1662, "Hans Stein, arrestant and pltf. vs. Adam Brouwer, arrested and deft. Pltf. demands from deft. a balance of five skepels of winter wheat according to particulars of a/c" (account). The defendant (Adam Brouwer) states that he sent it off and he requests in writing two arbitrators. The court refers the matter to Joannes de Peister (Johannes de Peyster) and Jacob Strycker, "both old Schepens of this City," to decide the case and reconcile the parties, and if that is not possible to render a report of their verdict to the Court. The case does not reappear in the court records, so the problem was probably resolved.

The last entry for a Brouwer is found in Volume 5 at page 188. The court date is 14 February 1665. Here, Asser Levy (Asher Levy, an early Jewish resident of New Amsterdam), states that he sent a legal letter to the Court of Amersfoort (Flatlands on Long Island) notifying "Aucke Jans that he must obey the order of this Court dated 17th January last, and says, he has not obtained any result therefrom." Asser Levy wants further instructions from the court on what to do next. He also states that "he has attached the monies of Aucke Jans in the hands of Jan Brouwer, which attachment he prays may be declared valid," which the Court does. This Jan Brouwer, would no doubt be Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, L. I.

The surname, Brouwer, is not found in either volume 6 or volume 7.

*Howard Swain has pointed out to me that the Administrative Minutes section of volume 7 is not well covered by the index. It does appear that not all mentions of persons found in the Administrative Minutes are indexed. 

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