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Commission of Gerrit Swart, Schout of Rensselaerswyck, April 24, 1652

Contract, commission, oath of office, and instructions of Gerard Swart (Gerret Swardt) as schout of R’wijck  Commission of Gerrit Swart, Schout of Rensselaerswyck

Contract, commission, oath of office, and instructions of Gerard Swart (Gerret Swardt) as schout of R’wijck Commission of Gerrit Swart, Schout of Rensselaerswyck

New York State Library, NYSL_sc7079-b18-f03
 
Document Description
Contract, commission, oath of office, and instructions of Gerard Swart (Gerret Swardt) as  Schout of Rensselaerswyck, April, 24, 1652.
 
Translation
[Rennelaerswyck MSS.]
Jean Van Rensselaer, hereditary Patroon, and the Co-directors of the Colonie named Rensselaerswyck, on the North River in New Netherland, have accepted as their officer or Schout, in the aforesaid Colonie, Gerart Swart, who also engages himself in that capacity to them, on the following conditions:—
That he shall now proceed, with his wife, maid and servant, passage and board free, in the ship which shall be provided for him, to the aforesaid Colonie, and exercise there and fill the aforesaid office, and follow and punctually observe the commission and instructions which shall now be given herewith, together with those which shall from time to time be sent, and conveyed to him by authority of the Patroon and Co-directors.
He shall use for his dwelling, the house formerly used by the former preacher, situate in Green Bush, and there reside with his family; and exercise and discharge his aforesaid office with all diligence and fidelity, according to the laws, edicts and ordinances already, or hereafter to be enacted there.
He shall also, as is the duty of an obedient officer, be and remain subject to all laws, ordinances, and edicts already made, or hereafter to be made by the Patroon and Co-directors.
Likewise, on condition that the officer there shall not trade nor barter, directly nor indirectly, by himself or others, under any pretext.
And the aforesaid Gerrit Swart shall receive yearly for his wages, to be paid there by the Commissioners, the sum of four hundred guilders, for which he shall support himself in all things. He shall, moreover, receive all fines and penalties amounting to ten guilders or under, but of all exceeding that sum, he shall retain a just third part.
And all this for the term of three years certain, commencing when he shall have arrived in that country; provided that the Patroon and Co-directors reserve to themselves to abridge the aforesaid term, and discontinue the service whenever it shall so please them, without being obliged to give any reasons, nor to convey back either him or his family.
On which condition was here furnished him the said officer Schout, in cash, the sumof three hundred Carolus guilders, which shall be deducted from his first earned wages[Note in original: "This article was altered by the Patroon and Co-directors."]
Finally, when circumstances demand, the Commissioners there shall accord to him a servant.
All which points are agreed to, the aforesaid Gerrit Swart promising to acquit himself in his office honorably, faithfully and honestly, and perform his trust so that neither the Patroon nor Co-directors nor their Commissioners in that quarter, shall have any reason to complain, pledging thereunto his person and goods having and to have; submitting all them and the choice thereof to the judgment of all courts and magistrates, and specially to the jurisdiction of the Court of the ColonieRensselaerswyck.
In testimony of all which, is this, by the parties, undersigned. In Amsterdam, the 24th April, 1652, to the knowledge of the subscribing Notary Public, residing within the aforesaid city, duly admitted by the Court of Holland. Was by their respective hands signed—Johan Van Rensselaer, GiacomoBissel, for the Co-directors: G. Swart.
J. Van De Ven, Notary.
 
 
Questions
Who was Gerard Swart?
What is required of Mr. Swart in this document?
What does Mr. Swart receive in exchange for his services?
 

Historical Context
The West India Company brought the first settlers to New Netherland to gather beaver pelts to sell back in the Netherlands but they had a hard time finding enough people to settle the colony. In an effort to attract more people, the company decided to give private entrepreneurs pieces of land in New Netherland if the entrepreneurs (patroons) promised to ship fifty colonists to it within four years. So, in 1631, a Dutch diamond merchant named Killiaen van Rensselaer bought a large tract of land around Fort Orange from the Mahicans who had long lived there. He established a "patroonship," or private farming community, which he named Rensselaerswijck. Many patroons bought land, but Kiliaen Van Rensselaer was the only one who was able to build a successful colony. His patroonship, Rensselaerswyck, lasted into the nineteenth century, passing down through generations of the Van Rensselaer family.
 
Kiliaen Van Rensselaer never visited America, but he worked hard to make his patroonship a success. Rensselaerswyck grew quickly, with a steady stream of farmers and tradesmen coming from Europe. Farming was the main activity in the patroonship. The products of farming were used to support the growing patroonship, but also the settlers in colonies nearby. Van Rensselaer had thought that the nearby West India Company settlement of Fort Orange, in the area of present day Albany, and his own colony of Rensselaerswyck would be mutually supporting: the fort would provide protection, and the patroonship would supply the fort with goods. Van Rensselaer hoped to make a profit by selling goods to the settlers in the fort. But the two settlements were so close to each other that they competed for profits, leading to a tense relationship between the patroon and the West India Company that controlled the fort.
 
 
Essential Question
What problems existed with this system of authority and how did the leaders attempt to solve these problems?
 
 
Check for Understanding
How does this document help the patroon in the management of the colony?