Petrus Stuyvesant's career as a colonial administrator for the Dutch West India Company began in 1635 on an island off the coast of Brazil, but he soon came to serve on Curaçao. Stuyvesant was appointed Curaçao's commissary of stores (which included booty captured from Spanish ships) in 1638; four years later, he became the director of Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba. Although Stuyvesant left Curaçao for medical reasons in 1644, he continued to serve as director of the ABC Islands, even after he was selected to lead New Netherland in 1646.
The documents in this collection were retained by Stuyvesant and therefore they reflect his responsibilities and concerns. Among them are a wide variety of document types, ranging from resolutions of council to bills of lading, recording such events as the unsuccessful attack on St. Martin (a result of which was the amputation of Stuyvesant's right leg) as well as a revolt and piracy involving the crippled slave ship St. Jan.
The Curaçao records document the West India Company’s activities in the Caribbean during the
seventeenth century, supply information about the administration of affairs on Curaçao, and depict the commercial relationship between the islands and New Netherland. Records of the first period include instructions from the West India Company to Stuyvesant and his council detailing how Curaçao should be regulated and resolutions representing the administrative decisions of Stuyvesant and his council from January 5, 1643 to November 9, 1644. Records of the second period relate to the management of affairs on Curaçao, particularly during Matthias Beck’s tenure as vice-director, and include instructions from Stuyvesant to Beck and correspondence between Beck, Stuyvesant, and the WIC directors in Amsterdam. Also included are commercial records such as bills of lading, manifests, orders, memorandums, charters, accounts, lists of supplies requested from New Netherland, and receipts for items received.
This is the seventeenth volume of the Dutch Colonial Manuscripts at the New York State Archives and the sole volume in the series Curaçao Papers. In the 19th century, E. B. O'Callaghan reorganized the original 49 record books of New Netherland into this series based on document type and time period. These documents were translated by Charles Gehring and transcribed by Jacob Schiltkamp circa 1987.
For more on the arrangement and publication of the Dutch Colonial Manuscripts, see the compilation of the introductions to the New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch / New Netherland Documents Series.
Volume 17, Curaçao Papers, 1640–1665 translation (the pagination in this volume is different from the published book; additional edits have also been made to the text)