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This digest of charitable legislation in New York, embracing references to such enactments from early colonial times to the close of the nineteenth century, has been prepared at the instance of the State Board of Charities, and under the direction of the Secretary of the Board, because it is believed that such a publication is not only desirable but is necessary to an intelligent study and understanding of the history of charity legislation in this State. From no other work can this important information, having so direct a bearing upon the welfare of thousands of people in this State, be secured.

While it has been possible to give only a brief digest of most of the laws affecting the poor and the administration of charity in this State, it is hoped that this volume will furnish the basis for a more detailed and comprehensive study of these laws that will explain the causes which led to their enactment and the principles or policies upon which they were based.

The State Board of Charities believes that opening this field of information to the student will stimulate interest in and encourage the study of the charity laws of the State, thereby awakening an intelligent spirit of inquiry that should be productive of beneficent results.

For compiling the greater part of the information contained in this volume the Board desires to give credit to Edward H. Leggett, Esq., of the Attorney-General's office, and for valuable assist. ance in the preparation of the material to Mr. Wellington D. Ives, Chief Clerk in the office of the Board.

This digest is divided into three general parts covering respectively charitable legislation under the Dutch, under the English, and during the period of American Statehood, and is also carefully indexed.

ALBANY, N. Y., January 13, 1904.




1609 TO 1664

Comparatively little of importance has been found with relation to the administration of charity under the Dutch in the colony of New Netherland. Not, how. ever, that ordinances and customs did not exist, following those of the mother country, but the records are fragmentary and give a partial view only of the charitable work of the colony. Possibly many of the missing records were part of the documents of the Dutch West India Company, which, it is said, were sold at public auction in 1821, and could not be found when Mr. John Romeyn Brodhead, the agent of this State, made his investigation in 1841-43 of the archives of the Hague in search of material relating to the History of New Netherland. The following chronological references to Dutch ordinances and documents relating to the relief of the poor are taken from various works relating to the history of the early colonial settlements in this State, to which credit is given in each case:

Poor people not permitted to participate in the ex 1630-1638. emptions, privileges and freedoms granted to the patroons.

"All private and poor people (onvermogen personen) are excluded from these exemptions, privileges and freedoms, and are not allowed to purchase lands or grounds from the Sachems or Indians in New Netherland, but must repair under the jurisdiction of the respective Lord Patroon.” (From the grant of privileges, exemptions and freedoms to the Patroons of New Netherland from the manuscript without date, in the Royal Archives at the Hague; file entitled “ West Indie, 1630 1635." * Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York." Vol. I, p. 100. O’Callaghan.)

Penalty for paying out or receiving any unpolished 1641. . wampum to go to support of the poor.


“ Whereas very bad wampum is at present circulating here, and payment is made in nothing but rough unpolished stuff which is brought hither from other places, where it is 50 per cent cheaper than it is paid out here, and the good, polished wampum, commonly called Manhattan wampum is wholly put out of sight or exported, which tends to the express ruin and destruction of this country; in order to provide in time therefor, we do, therefore, for the public good interdict and forbid, all persons of what state, quality or condition soever they may be, to receive in payment, or to pay out, any unpolished wampum during the next month of May except at Five for one stiver and that strung, and then after that Six beads for one stiver. Whosoever shall be found to have acted contrary hereunto, shall provisionally forfeit the wampum which is paid out and ten guilders for the poor and both payer and payee are alike liable. The well polished wampum shall remain at its price as before, to wit, Four for one stiver provided it be strung. (“ Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland.” p. 26. O'Callaghan.)


Cornelius Melyn and Joachim Pietersen Kuyter being charged with mutinous conduct toward Governor Kieft and other high officials, were indicted, and, after due trial, convicted.

Melyn was condemned to seven years' banishment and to pay a fine of three hundred guilders ($150); one-third of which was to be given to the poor, one-third to the church, and the remainder to the attorneygeneral.

Kuyter was sentenced to be banished for three years and to pay a fine of one hundred and fifty guilders, which sum was ordered to be distributed in the same manner as the other fine.

(“ History of New Netherland.” Vol. 2, p. 34. O'Callaghan.)

Poor supported by collections in the churches, fines and voluntary offerings--No hospitals or asylums for children or for old men.


“ The Poor, who, however, are best provided for, have nothIng except what is collected in the church in addition to a few fines and voluntary offerings from the inhabitants; but a considerable portion of the money is in the hands of the company, who took it from time to time and retained it. They

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