New Netherland Family History

Using New Netherland documents to explore your ancestry


It should not be forgotten that New Netherland was at heart a commercial enterprise and, though a Dutch colony, had residents from many other places. The records reflect this focus on commerce, with frequent mentions of goods moving into and out of the colony. Other records detail which items colonists were allowed to trade and who was allowed to make and sell certain products.

Whereas Gijsbert van Imborch has shown by petition that in the year 1652, he brought here for the service of the commonalty a certain quantity of printed books consisting of bibles, testaments and many other pious homilies, and whereas there was little or no demand for the aforesaid books, he requests permission to establish a lottery for these books ... (Council Minutes, 1655-56, p. 21 [6:19b])

The reach of the empire meant that residents of New Netherland could also enjoy the bounty of Curaçao.

List of the following which was also sent by the vice-director with the ship Diemen to the following [people]:

To the honorable lord director-general P, Stuyvesant: Four barrels of scum salt marked: Four casks, to wit: two with preserved lemons and two of the same with lemon juice with the same mark. Four parrots in two cages. Twenty-four parakeets.

To the honorable Jacob Alrichs on the South River: One barrel or hogshead of scum salt marked: Two casks, to wit: one with preserved lemons and one of the same with lemon juice with the same mark.

To the honorable Nicasius de Silla: One cask of scum salt marked:

To the honorable secretary Cornelius van Ruyven: One cask of scum salt marked:

To the newly-wedded Mr. Johannes van Brugh with Miss Rodenborgh: One cask of scum salt. One cask of preserved lemons. One of the same with lemon juice marked. One parrot. Twelve parakeets. (Curacao Papers, 1640-1665, [36b] pgs. 122-123)

Trade was not limited to the home country or its colonies, and the residents of New Netherland traded with people in other North American colonies.

Before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary of New Netherland, appeared Mr. Jonatan Brewst, residing at New Plymouth in New England, who acknowledges that he is well and truly indebted to Mr. Willem Turck, merchant, at present residing here in New Netherland, in fifty-one whole and one half good, merchantable, winter beavers, arising from the purchase and delivery of one hundred and three ells of duffel cloth, the receipt of which from the hands of the aforesaid Mr. Willem Turck before the execution hereof the said Mr. Brewst acknowledges. The aforesaid Mr. Brewst promises to pay and to deliver the said fifty-one whole and one half beaver skins here on the island of Manhatans, free of costs and charges, without contradiction or exceptions ... (Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1642-1647, [160l] pgs. 447-448)

About the New Netherland Institute

For over three decades, NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. More


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