Sunday, December 27, 2015

1655 - Stuyvesant gets over New Sweden


January 20, 1655 - the General Assembly of Virginia rules on the case of Elizabeth Key, the daughter of a white settler and a black slave about the recognition of her freedom.

Elizabeth Key
Born in 1630, Elizabeth had been recognized as his daughter by planter Thomas Key who had made sure before dying that she would be brought up in the best conditions by her godfather Humphrey Higinson. Yet, this one had sold her after she reached full age to colonel Mottram who had an estate in Northumberland County. The latter having died, Elizabeth was then considered as a slave in the inventory of his assets. She was then lucky enough to meet a young lawyer named William Grinstead whom she asked for recognition oh her status as a free woman. This one was granted at first by the County court knowing that her father was white but the General Court decided otherwise and concluded that she was a slave. Grinstead made an appeal of this judgment to the General Assembly which finally decided in favour of Elizabeth.
This judgement could have set a precedent but in 1662 Virginia enacted a law stating that the condition of the children would from now be linked to their mother's.

January 31,  1655 - while he traveling to Barbados to negotiate trade relations, Peter Stuyvesant is retained by an English fleet commanded by William Penn, accused of contravening the Navigation Act.


The English warships left the island on March 31, 1655 and the officials  of the Dutch West India Company were furious to learn that not only Director General  of the New Netherlands was prisoner on the island but that he had not asked their permission to sail to Barbados even though he would have of to focus on the annexation of New Sweden. Peter Stuyvesant made a masterstroke, however, by settling as new vice-director at CuraƧao his former friend Mathias Beck come to take refuge in Barbados after the silver mines that he managed had been seized by Portuguese.

Mars 1655 - John Endecott is appointed governor of Massachusetts in place of Richard Bellingham. It is the seventh time that he holds this position.

March 4, 1655 – Robert Latham appears before the General Court of  Plymouth, accused of beating to death his servant, boy John Walker.


On January 31, the coroner who had examined the body had found much evidence of violence and a fatal blow to the head. It had been proved during the investigation that Robert Latham and his wife Susana were responsible for mistreatment of heir young 14-year-old servant. 
Convicted of murder, Robert Latham managed to escape hanging but was condemned to have hands burned all his goods confiscated. His wife Susana appeared before the General Court  on June 6th for cruelty but her judgment was deferred.

March 20, 1655 - Edward Digges is appointed governor of Virginia to replace Richard Bennett.

Edward Digges - (Chilham Castle (Kent) March 29, 1610 - Bellfield Plantation (York County) March 15, 1674) His father Sir Dudley Digges had been a member of Parliament, Master of the Rolls under Charles 1st and one of the backers of the Virginia Company of London. He belonged to the aristocracy by his paternal grandfather Anne St Leger whose family had been close to the throne of England in the time of Edouard III.
At the end of his studies, he entered Gray Inn in 1637 graduating as a fully-fledged lawyer. Given his links with the royalist party, he emigrated, like many "Cavaliers", to Virginia in 1650 where he bought the Bellfield Plantation in York County. He tried to rear silkworm to compete with the productions come from the East but this experience failed. He was appointed in November, 1654 to the colony Council after showing his loyalty to Virginia and the Commonwealth of England.
He married Elizabeth Page, the daughter of Captain Francis Page whose brother-in-law Francis Wyatt had been repeatedly governor of Virginia between 1621 and 1642.

Lord Baltimore's banner
Maryland colonial flag
March 25, 1655 - Battle of the Severn : encouraged by the friendly attitude of Cromwell, Lord Baltimore orders William Stone to chase away the puritan government of Maryland. He one sends his officers Josias Fendall and William Eltonhead with 20 men to Patuxent take weapons and ammunitions at the governor's office.
William Stone and his army march on Providence where they face the Puritans at the mouth of the Severn. The battle does not last more than one hour. Injured in the shoulder, Stone is defeated and captured. On 225 men under him, 17 are killed during the confrontation and 32 wounded.

Battle of the Severn
Informed of the threat, the people of Providence had taken the precaution to take away the women and the children. The council of the city had appointed captain William Fuller at the head of 225 men required to defend.

The Protestants who had lost only three men claimed victory and brought some prisoners to a War Council. William Stone and 9 of his men were sentenced to death but only 4 were executed: William Eltonhead,Esq., Capt William Lewis, John Legatt & John Pedro.
This battle was the first on the American soil to oppose soldiers of the same country, it was also the first one where was flown a provincial flag, that of the Maryland.



April 8, 1655 - Thomas Welles is elected governor of Connecticut.

Thomas Welles (1598 – January 14, 1660) - born in Essex, he immigrated in 1636 to Boston together with his wife and their eight children. He joined from its arrival the congregation of Minister Thomas Hooker and moved to Hartford in the new colony of Connecticut where he became a judge in 1637. After the death of his first wife, he remarried at Wethersfield with Elizabeth Foote, widow and mother of seven children. He served as treasurer and secretary of Connecticut before being appointed deputy governor in 1654 and governor one year later.


New Amsterdam in 1655
April 26, 1655 - the Dutch West India Company denies Director General Peter Stuyvesant the right to expel the Jews from New Amsterdam.

23 refugees, men, women and children had arrived during the previous year from Recife, Brazil. They were certainly the descendants of some 5000 Jews living secretly from the 16th century in this region of South America. The Dutch who had occupied for about thirty years half of Brazil’s area had just been chased away by the Portuguese, urging the local Jewish community to emigrate for fear of a return of the Inquisition. They were probably sailing to Holland after a stop in Jamaica when their boat was attacked by a Spanish privateer. Stripped of their goods, they made a deal with the captain of their ship, Jacques de la Mothe to go to find refuge in New Amsterdam. Upon their arrival, Peter Stuyvesant, already known for anti-Semitism, did seize their poor clothes and auctioned them. He argued that these refugees would be a burden to the community but, failed, however, to expel them because of the support that granted their compatriots living in the Netherlands.

May 8, 1655 - Edward Winslow who was one of the founders of the Plymouth colony and his agent with the English authorities for many years dies at sea during a mission in the West Indies.

June, 1655 - William Bradford keeps his governorship of Plymouth.

July 11, 1655 - after traveling more than six months in the Caribbean, Director General Peter Stuyvesant is back in New Amsterdam.


July 27, 1655 - the Jews of New Amsterdam deliver a petition to Director Peter Stuyvesant demanding the creation of their own cemetery.

August 3, 1655 - Coming from Holland, the Waag, a warship transporting 200 people arrives in New Amsterdam.

August 26, 1655 – Director General of the New Netherlands Peter Stuyvesant sends an expedition to the Delaware with the order to retake Fort Casimir, fallen to the Swedes in May.

He had waited until the end of the war against England and the return from Amsterdam of the warships King SolomonGreat Christopher and the Waag, a 42-cannon vessel, joined by a French privateer ship, The Hope (L'Espoir) and three yachts. After the Sunday service, 7 boats with on board 317 men (representing a third of all the male population of the colony) set sail in a festive atmosphere amid streamers and banners.
Warned of the departure of this expedition by Indian spies, the Swedes repaired forts in a panic and prepared them

August 28, 1655 - the Council of New Amsterdam forbids the Jews to make a military service.

August 31, 1655 - The Dutch fleet from New Amsterdam headed by Peter Stuyvesant sails into Delaware Bay. Impressed by the Dutch show of force, commander of Fort Trinity, Sven Schute, orders not to fire.

The Swedes were only 37 and had only 2 operational cannons. Some were ready to fight against the Dutch but commander Sven Schute did not hesitate to shoot into the leg of one of his rashest soldiers to make it clear that any defense would result in a massacre.

September 1, 1655 - Peter Stuyvesant orders the Swedish garrison of the fort to surrender. This one complies without firing a shot. The soldiers are made prisoners and taken to New Amsterdam while the fort finds its original name : Fort Casimir.

September 5, 1655 - Peter Stuyvesant decides to apply the guidelines given to him by the Dutch government at the end of the previous year by occupying the New Sweden colony.
Urged by Governor Johan Risingh, the settlers run up to defend Fort Christina but powder and ammunitions are quickly scarce while the Dutch burn houses and kill livestock in the neighboring countryside. The Swedes are overwhelmed when the Dutch go on to attack. Stuyvesant requires the surrender of the fort and asks its defenders to choose to leave Delaware or take an oath of allegiance to the Dutch conquerors.

Fort Christina was evacuated on the day its surrender was signed. Half an hour after the Swedish garrison left the fort, Director Stuyvesant appeared with his officers and his council offering to the Scandinavians to give the place back on condition that the Dutch have unhindered the territory downstream Fort Christina, what would allow to forget the past quarrels. The Swedes would keep all the lands north of the fort along the Delaware, a vast enough area for both colonies.

Governor Risingh was very surprised by this kind of proposal. He replied to the Dutch that their offer seemed to him strange but asked Director Stuyvesant to confirm it in writing, what was made from the next day. The Swedish Council refused it however and thought better to surrender. Steps were then taken to bring the settlers of New Sweden to New Amsterdam. Most of them were Finns who had no intention to return to Europe and they got from their governor a dispensation allowing them to remain the time to sell their property.


 New Amsterdam City Hall
September 15, 1655 – the Peach Tree War
While Peter Stuyvesant is operating in  Delaware Bay, more than 600 Indians including  Susquehannocks, Mahicans, Pachamis, Esopus, Hackensacks and Tappans, attack Manhattan by surprise. For some years, the Metoacs, in particular, has complained about the indulgence agreed by the Dutch to the Mahicans and their Wappinger allies despite havoc they wreak in the other tribes.

Taking advantage of the fact that the Dutch troops were mobilized in Delaware Bay, the Indians hurtled down the streets of New Amsterdam and crossed the Hudson River (North River)  on 64 canoes to Pavonia. They made no casualties but burnt farms at Harlem and The Bronx. The Council of New Amsterdam managed to negotiate their withdrawal but upon leaving, one of them reached former prosecutor Hendrick Van Dyck with an arrow in the back.
Mayor Cornelis Van Tienhoven decided however retaliation to the cry "Murder the Savages". Things were getting quickly worse and the Indians besieged Staten Island burning about 40 farms and killing according to estimates about 50 settlers.
They also burnt the house of Cornelis Melyn who would be held prisoner with his family for several weeks. They left to Paulus Hook  (near present-day Jersey City) after capturing 150 women and children, and having seized nearly 600 head of cattle.

This attack was officially considered as the response to the murder of Tachiniki, a young Wappinger woman by former prosecutor Hendrick Van Dyck who had surprised her stealing him peaches hence the fact that this episode was called Peach Tree War. But it was especially a question for the Indians of showing their solidarity with the New Sweden settlers who had always been loyal trade partners, what was far from being the case with the Dutch.
The Susquehannocks regarded as detrimental to their people the advantages provided by the Dutch to the Iroquois Confederation and were particularly concerned about the fate of New Sweden. Their raid on New Amsterdam was a way to display that they would not agree to be somehow the fall guys. They also showed that they were not alone and could count on allied tribes, all victims of a become somewhat exclusive partnership between Dutch and Iroquois.
The resentment was anyway tenaciously among the Indian population of the region that had particularly suffered from the Kieft’s War led 10 years earlier by the Dutch, considered a real war of extermination, equiivalent to an attempt of ethnic cleansing. Not less than 1600 Natives, men, women and children had been massacred in the time and scars were not yet healed.

Peter Stuyvesant obtained for ransom the release of 70 hostages and decided to make build a fort at Bergen on the western shore of the Hudson River to avoid in the future unexpectedly Indian attacks.

September 15, 1655 - after ten days of negotiations between the two parties, Peter Stuyvesant, the director general of the New Netherlands and Johan Risingh, the governor of New Sweden sign articles recognizing the surrender of the Swedish colony.

It was laid down in the 6th article that "all the officers and free men who did not want to leave the colony with the governor and his suite, were granted a one year and six weeks period to sell their lands and their assets if they did not wish to swear allegiance to the Dutch government ". The 7th article stated that " if Swedes and Finns were not willing to leave, Governor Risingh could take steps to encourage them to do so but they could not be held by force in case of acceptance.” It was finally written in the 10th article that "Governor Risingh had the right to be informed on the behavior of Commander Schute and his officers during the surrender of Fort Casimir."

1st Slave Auction In New Amsterdam
(Howard Pyle, 1917)
September 15, 1655 - the ship Witte Paart docks in the port of New Amsterdam with a cargo of 391 slaves from Guinea.

It was the first time that slaves were directly transported from Africa to New Netherlands. These were previously brought to Brazil (New Holland) to work in the mines and sugar cane, a production that knew a continuous export growth. The loss of Brazil in favor of the Portuguese was reorganizing the Dutch slave trade towards booming Caribbean and European colonies of North America whose labor force requirements were increasing.
On the other hand, the Dutch West India Company reserved for slaves minimum rights as that to be admitted in the Reformed Church, to get married there and have their children baptized children. Families were not separated and their members had the right to testify and to complaint against the whites. The slaves also had the right to work overtime and to be paid in this case like others.

September 24, 1655 - Governor Risingh holds a court martial on Timber Island to judge the Commander Schute’s attitude, blamed for not having given the order to fire on the Dutch while landing at Fort Trinity

Risingh accused him of disobeying his orders and to have convinced some Swedes not to leave the colony. It should be established on the other hand that most soldiers had refused to fight. In any case, likely to be sentenced in Sweden, Schute would rather stay in America.

October 23, 1655 - Governor Johan Risingh with 37 members of his suite leave New Amsterdam to go back definitively to Europe, thereby sealing the end of the New Sweden colony founded 17 years earlier in 1638.

Late October, 1655 - 70 women and children captured the previous month in Manhattan by the Susquehannocks and their allies, are returned to their families. Back in New Amsterdam, Director Peter Stuyvesant assigns a blame to Cornelius Van Tienhoven for attacking the Indians after Van Dyck was injured.

It was a moment planned to replace Stuyvesant, judged too self-important, by Attorney Nicasius de Sille but the Council chose finally to keep him in his position. Van Tienhoven was on the other hand forced to resign and de Sille became the new sheriff.


November, 1655 - Massapequa Sachem Tackapousha denies to Peter Stuyvesant any involvement of his warriors in the Peach Tree War. His messengers send him together with Wyandanch, sachem of the Montauks, a wampum as a token of friendship, recalling him that they have themselves for a long time disputes with the Indians of the Hudson Valley.

December, 1655 – Director of the New Netherlands Peter Stuyvesant denies to the Jews of New Amsterdam the right to settle down in the recently conquered New Sweden colony of New Sweden.

Asser Levy, one of the leaders of the community wrote to his Dutch partners to protest against this discrimination and the Company punished Stuyvesant, specifying him that the Jews of the colony were allowed to trade and to become owners even if they were not authorized to hold a public office or to build a synagogue.

1655 - The General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony enacts "No man shall strike his wife nor any woman her husband on penalty of such fine not exceeding ten pounds for one offense, or such corporal punishment as the County shall determine."

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