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commissary-general, or superintendent of the colonie, and acted as colonial secretary until 1642, when he was succeeded by Anthony de Hooges. Brant Peelen, Gerret de Reus, Cornelis Teunissen van Breuckelen, Pieter Cornelissen van Munickendam, and Dirck Jansen were, if not the first, at least among the earliest magistrates of the settlement.
The population of the colonie consisted at this remote period of three classes. Freemen, who emigrated from Holland at their own expense; farmers and farm-servants, who were sent out by the patroon, who judiciously applied his large resources in promoting the early settlement of the country, and in assisting the struggling industry of his people. To accomplish this laudable object a number of farms were set off, on both sides of the river and adjoining islands, on which he caused dwelling-houses, barns, and stables to be erected. These farms were suitably stocked with cows, horses, or oxen, and occasionally, sheep; and furnished with ploughs, wagons and other necessary agricultural implements, all which preliminary expenses were defrayed by the proprietor so that the farmer entered on the property unembarrassed by the want of capital, which often tends to impede the progress of settlers in new countries. Some of those farms were then valued, and an annual rent was fixed, equivalent in some sort to the interest of the capital expended on their improvement, and payable semi-annually in grain, beavers, and wampum. Other farms were let out on halves, or for the third of their produce; the patroon was entitled, at the same time, to half the increase from the stock, reserved to himself one-tenth of the produce of each farm; and in various instances stipulated for a yearly erkentenis, or acknowledgment of a few pounds of butter. The tenant was privileged, however, to compound, by the payment of a fixed annual sum for the tenths of the farm, or for his halves or thirds. He was bound, at the same time, to keep the fences, buildings, or farming implements, in repair, and to deliver them up in the same good order in which he had received them, subject in all cases to ordinary wear and tear, but the patroon bore all risks of destruction of the buildings, cattle and other property which might accrue from war, or misunderstanding with the Indians. Wild or unimproved land was usually leased for a term often years free of rent or tenths, subject, however, to be improved by the lessee, all improvements falling to the patroon on the expiration of the lessee. In addition to the facilities above enumerated, each of the settlers, on leaving Holland, were, like those sent by the West India Company to the Manhattans, generally furnished with clothing and a small sum in cash, the latter to be repaid, at some future occasion, in produce or wampum, with an advance on the principal of fifty per cent. This, however disproportionate it may now seem, can not be considered unreasonable or extravagant, when it is understood that the difference, at the time, between colonial and Holland currency was nearly forty per cent, while between the latter and the value of wampum it was vastly larger. The patroon was bound, at the same time, to supply his colonists with a sufficient number of laborers to assist them in the work of their farms. As compensation for his trouble in engaging these and for his advances in conveying them to America, he was entitled to the sum of sixteen guilders, or six dollars, per annum for each laborer, over and above the yearly wages which the farmer was to allow such servants, and which ranged from forty to one hundred and fifty guilders, and board. This sum provided these servants with necessary clothing, and in the course of time placed at their disposal wherewith to enter on a farm on their own account. It is to be remarked, however, that the first patroon seriously complained that his settlers not only threw altogether on him the payment of these wages, but took large quantities of goods from his store for which they made no returns whatever, though they were bound to settle at the end of each year, and to hand in an account of the produce of the farm, distinguishing the patroon's tenths, halves, or thirds, the amount paid for wages, and their own expenses, so as to allow him to ascertain what his own profits and losses were at the close of each annual term.
In return for his outlay and trouble, the civil code, which, it must be always borne in mind, was the fundamental law of this colonie, vested in the patroon several privileges common to the feudal system. At the close of the harvest, the farmer was bound to hand in a return of the amount of grain which he had for sale, after deducting what was due to the landlord by the lease, and offer to him, or his commissary the preemption of such produce. In case he refused to buy it, then the farmer was at liberty to sell the same elsewhere. The like rule obtained in regard to cattle. When these were to be sold, the first offer was also to be made to the patroon, in order, we presume, that he should have an opportunity of retaining the stock within the colonie. Every settler was likewise obligated to grind his corn at the patroon's mill, and the latter was equally obligated to erect, and keep such mill in repair, at his own expense, for the accommodation of his colonists. No person could hunt or fish within the limits of the colonie, without license from the patroon, who, ou the exchange, sale, and purchase of real estate within his jurisdiction, was entitled to the first offer of such property; or if he declined to resume it, to a certain portion of the purchase money, except such mutation occurred in the natural line of descent. Finally, it was his right, as "lord of the manor," to succeed to the estate and property of all persons who might die intestate within his colonie.
Under the fostering care of its first patroon, and the prudent management of its local magistracy, the colonie of Rensselaerswyck progressively, though slowly, advanced. Portions of its inhabitants occasionally returned to Fatherland, to spread the tidings of their prosperity, and to invite their friends and relatives to join them in their new houses, which from the abundance and cheapness of provisions, deserved truly to be called "a land flowing with milk and honey." A hamlet gradually arose. On account, it is said, of the crescent form of the bank of the river at this point, this hamlet was first called the Fuyck, or Beversfuyck, and afterwards Beverswyck, by which name the present city of Albany was legally known until 1664, though it was familiarly called the Fuyck, by the Dutch, for many years after the entire country had passed into the hands of other masters.
In order to give greater stability to his settlement, and to become better acquainted with its condition, Mr. Van Rensselaer, it is alleged, visited the colonie in person in 1637. His stay in the country, if he ever did come, was, however, not very long. The demise or resignation of Sheriff Planck now required the appointment of a new officer, and the peculiar position of the settlers, surrounded on all sides by rude and unconverted savages, demanded the guardian supervision and solacing comforts of religion, for as yet neither church nor clergymen, existed in Rensselaerswyck. To secure an efficient administration of justice, and to provide a properly qualified clergyman for his people, consequently became a paramount duty.
Adriaen van der Donck, "a free citizen of Breda,"—a lineal descendant of Adriaen van Bergen, part owner of the famous turf-sloop in which a party of Dutch troops were clandestinely introduced, in the year 1590, into the castle commanding that city, then in the hands of the Spanish, by which stratagem that stronghold fell into the hands of their High Mightinesses the States General,— and a graduate of the University of Leyden, was selected as the successor of Sheriff Planck. He entered on the performance of his duties, as schout-fiscaal of Rensselaerswyck, in the course of a month or two after his appointment, having, previous to his departure from Holland, taken a lease from the patroon of the west half of Castle island, oalled Welysburg.
The Rev. Johannes Megapolensis, "the pious and welllearned minister of the congregation of Schoorel and Berge," under the classis of Alkmaer, was duly called to disseminate the light of the gospel among the Christians and heathen in the colonie, and regularly commissioned "to preach God's word there; to administer the holy sacraments of baptism and the -Lord's supper; to set an example, in a Christianlike manner, by public precept; to ordain elders and deacons; to keep and govern, by and with the advice and assistance of the same, God's congregation in good discipline and order, all according to God's holy word, and in conformity with the government, confession, and catechism of theNetherland churches, and the synodal acts of Dordrecht."
The allowance guarantied to this clergyman was free passage and board for himself, his wife and four children, who accompanied him to New Netherland; an outfit of three hundred guilders, or one hundred and twenty dollars, and an annual stipend, for the first three years, of eleven hundred guilders, ($440,) thirty schepels of wheat, and two firkins of butter, or in place thereof, should he prefer it, sixty guilders in cash. The salary was to be further increased by an addition of two hundred guilders a year, for a second term of three years, if the patroon were satisfied with his services. A pension of one hundred guilders per annum was secured to his wife, in case of his demise within the above term, for and during whatever time might remain unexpired of his engagement.
'These preliminaries having been thus arranged, an obstacle was unexpectedly thrown in the way of Mr. Megapolensis's departure by the directors of the West India Company, who claimed the exclusive right to approve of his appointment. To this, however, the feudal lord of Rensselaerswyck demurred; and it was not until after a lapse of several months that a compromise was agreed to, tho directors approving of the appointment under protest on the part of Mr. Van Rensselaer, saving his rights as patroon.
The Rev. Mr. Megapolensis and family embarked, together with Abraham Staes, surgeon, Evert Pels, brewer, and a number of other freeman, farmers, and farm-servants, shortly after this, in the ship the Houttuyn, or Woodyard, which was freighted with a quantity of goods for the colonie — between two and three hundred bushels of malt for Mr. Pels — four thousand tiles, and thirty thousand stone for building—besides some vines and madder, the cultivation of which the patroon was desirous of introducing among his people.1 On the arrival of Mr. Megapolensis at Rensselaerswyck, a contract was concluded for the erection of a dwelling for himself and family, but the contractor having failed in fulfilling his agreement a house belonging to Maryn Adriaensen, constructed entirely of oak, was subsequently purchased for his use, for the sum of three hundred guilders, or one hundred and twenty dollars. For the convenience of the settlers at Tuscameatick, (as Greenbush, at the opposite side of the river, was called by the Indians,) a ferry was next established near the foot of the beaver's kill, (where it still continues to ply;) and as it was the patroon's intention that
1 Mr. Pels erected a brewery in the colonie; Dr. Staes became one of the council in 1643, and was appointed president of the board in 1644, at a salary of 100 florins ($40) per annum. He obtained license to trade in furs, and had also a considerable bouwerie, besides pursuing the practice of his profession. He was the ancestor of the Staats of the present day, the original name having assumed shortly afterwards the termination it now has.