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Contract between Kiliaen van Rensselaer and Gerrit Theusz de Reux, June 15, 1632

Contract between Kiliaen van Rensselaer and Gerrit Theusz de Reux

Contract between Kiliaen van Rensselaer and Gerrit Theusz de Reux

Other, SVM_hs-2179_fol11
 
Document Description
Contract between Kiliaen van Rensselaer and Gerrit Theusz de Reux, June 15, 1632
 
Translation
Contract made and entered into by Kiliaen van Rensselaer, as patron of his colony (named Rensselaerswyck, situated on the river Mauritius or North River of New Netherland, above and below Fort Orange and on both sides of the said river), with Gerrit Teeusen de reux, as farmer of a farm to be established on the Fort Orange side near the fourth creek now called Blommaerts kit, situated above or to the north of Fort Orange, this 15th of June in the year 1632 in Amsterdam
 
First the aforesaid Gerrit de Reux shall bind himself  by oath and on forfeiture of his stipulated wages and the goods which he may have in that country that neither he nor his men shall trade in prohibited furs, especially in otters or beavers, or obtain the same by way of present or other means without express consent from the West India Company and his aforesaid patroon. The patroon shall furnish Gerrit de Reux aforesaid, out of the animals which he has in that country if they are still alive and to be had :
four horses, if it is possible the same which Gerrit aforenamed used before
also three cows as above
also two heifer calves as above
also four sows as above
The aforesaid de Reux shall further do his best with the assistance of the smiths and the carpenters of the Company that the aforesaid house may at the very first opportunity be erected, roofed and surrounded by wooden palisades. Also that he may be provided with wagon and plow by the wheelwright.
And what he thinks can not be obtained in that country, he shall buy here at the expense of the patroon, taking care on the voyage over that the purchased goods shall be well kept. On the ship he shall with his men look after the calves which the patroon shall send thither by the ship on which he is to sail.
Further, the aforesaid Gerrit shall be bound to engage here a good farm servant and a boy at the expense of the patroon, and on his arrival there still another servant shall be added if possible. The patroon shall pay the wages and board of the servants and boy till the first of May 1634 and shall pay him, Gerrit de Reus, 180 guilders a year, from the time of his arrival in that country till the first of January 1634. All the crops and increase of live stock, likewise milk and butter and all other profits till the first of January 1634 shall therefore be for the behoof of the patroon.
After the first of January 1634, Gerrit de Reux shall obtain out of the aforesaid stock four horses, four cows, two heifers and so many sheep and hogs as he can raise and this on the following conditions, for four years, without leaving the service in the meantime on forfeiture as above; and from that time on, he shall no longer receive wages. The wages and board of the laborers, boy and the house servants from the first of May 1634, and also all other expenses whatever they may be called, as well as the damage and loss of live stock, wear and tear of wagons and plows, in short anything and everything, from the first of January 1634 on, shall be paid out of the common fruits, products, milk, butter, cheese and increase of stock; and of the surplus one half shall be for the aforesaid patron and the other half for the aforenamed Gerrit de Reux, it being understood that the increase of the stock shall be reserved for the patroon on condition that he may compensate the said Gerrit for the same at the rate fixed heretofore by the West India Company.
Every two years an inventory of the stock shall be taken and for one half of what shall be found above the four horses, four cows and two heifers, gerrit de Reux shall as above receive compensation, the patroon having however the privilege of taking the said increase for himself or not, and if there be less than the above number, the aforesaid de Reux must try to raise so many that he reaches that number and shall not be entitled to any profit till the said number is again complete.
The aforesaid de Reux shall raise as many sheep and hogs as possible, and of what he sells thereof one half the proceeds shall go to the patroon and the other half to himself.
Of the winter wheat which is to be sown in the fall of 1633, one half shall be for the benefit of the aforesaid Gerrit de Reux on condition that the last year he deliver to the patroon, first of all, as much grain as he received the first year.
As to the butter, cheese, grain and other products which he may have on hand the first of January 1634, the same shall be appraised and accounted for to the patroon out of the common expenses.
Concerning the passage over, the patroon shall urge as much as possible that Gerrit aforesaid may receive the wages of a boatswain, but if this can not be arranged they must both see what they can do about the passage.
But the patroon shall pay the board of the servants during the passage.
Gerrit de Reux aforenamed shall also cause the yearly manure to be distributed over the land in the most advantageous manner, without wasting it.
The patroon shall provide the aforesaid de Reux with two good firelocks, on condition that each pay half.
Thus done and passed in the city of Amsterdam, and for all that is aforewritten, the said de Reux pledges and binds all his personal possessions, movable and immovable, present and future, none excepted, subjecting the same to the execution of all the honorable courts and judges; in witness whereof it is signed by him on the 15th of June 1632, new style.
[signed] The mark X of Gerrit Teeusen de reuse
 
 
Questions
  • What is GerritTheusz de Reux contracted to do for the patroon?
  • What does de Reux get out of the contract? What does the patroon get?
  • Who decides what kinds of crops and livestock are on de Reux’s farm? Who supplies them?
  • What might de Reux’s crops and livestock be used for?
 

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 Kiliaen 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 role did farming play in the life of the colony at Rensselaerswyck?
 
 
Check for Understanding
Imagine you are a farmer in Rensselaerswyck in the early years of settlement. Write a letter to your family back in the Netherlands describing your daily life and work.
 
 
Glossary
Baldric – a belt designed for holding an object such as a sword on a person’s hip
Skipper – the captain of a vessel
Freight – the cargo of a vessel
Innocent – an article of clothing
Doublet – a man’s snug-fitting jacket
Jan Saterdagh – a type of sword
Yacht - boat
Milch – milk
Foaled – born as foals
Stave – a narrow strip of wood or iron used to band together a barrel or other vessel
Increase – the offspring of animals or people
Heifer – cow
Yearling – a horse between one and two years old
Untimely – happening at the wrong time
Detriment - disadvantage
Remedy – fix
Forfeiture – the act of surrendering something as a penalty
Merchantable – able to be sold
Stipulated – agreed to
Aforesaid – mentioned before
Palisade – a defensive fence made from wooden stakes
Behoof - benefit
Sow – female pig
Boatswain – a ship’s officer
Compensate – pay
Firelock – a type of musket
Subjecting – placing under the control of