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GOV. DONGAN'S REPORT
TO THE COMMITTEE OF TRADE ON THE PROVINCE OF NEW-YORK, DATED
220 FEBRUARY, 1687.
* My Lords I have received the heads of inquiry your Lo’ps sent to mee and indeed I have been as industrious as possibly I could to make myself capable of giving you satisfaction. And wherein I am short of answering your Lo’ps expectation I question not but youl pardon it when you consider that to give a distinct answer to several of your queries must require a longer time than I have yet had since their arrival here. However to such of them as I am at present capable to make an answer, I herein give yor Lo’ps I hope the satisfaction required which are as follow
In answer to the first of your Lo’ps Querys urts of The Courts of Justice are most established by Act of Justice. Assembly and they are
1. The Court of Chancery consisting of the Governor and Council in the Supreme court of this province to which appeals may be brought from any other court
2. The Assembly finding the inconvenience of bringing of ye peace, Sheriffs, Constables @ other prsons concerned from the remote parts of this government to New York did instead of the Court of Assizes which was yearly held for the whole Government of this province erect a Court of Oyer and Terminer to be held once every year within each County for the determining of such matters as should arise within them respectively, the members of which Court were appointed to bee one of the two judges of this province assisted by three justices of the peace of that county wherein such court is held. Which Court of Oyer & Terminer has likewise power to hear appeals from any inferior court
3. Trere is likewise in New York @ Albany a Court of Mayor a, Aldermen beld once in every fortrighi from whence their can be noe appeal unless the cause of action bee above the value of Twenty Pounds, who have likewise priviledges to make such bylaws for ye regulation of their own affairs as they think fitt, soe as the saire be approved of by ye Gori ( Council.
Their Mayor, Recorders, town-clerks @ Sheriffs are appointed by the Governor
4. There is likewise in every County twice in every year (except in new York where its four times @ in Albany where its thrice) Courts of Sessions held by the Justices of the Peace for the resp’ive countys as in Engld.
5. In every Town wto ye Government there are 3 Commissioners appointed to hear and determine all matters of difference not exceeding the value of five pounds which shall happen within the respective towns.
6. Besides these, my Lords, I finding that many great inconvienences daily hapned in the managemt of his Mats particular concerns within this province relating to his Lands, Rents, Rights, Profits & Revenues by reason of the great distance betwixt the Cursary settleil Courts of the long delay which thereon consequently ensued besides the great hazard of venturing the matter on country Jurors who over @ above that they are generally ignorant enough a for the most part linked together by affinity are too much swayed by their particular humors @ interests, I thought fit in Feb. last by @ with ye advice @ consent of ye Council to settle and establish a Cuurt which we call the court of Judicature [Exchequer] to bee held before ye Govi @ Council for the time being or before such @ soe many as the Gov' should for that purpose authorize, comissionat @ appoint on the first Monday in every month at New York, which Court hath full power and authority to hear, try @ determine suits matters @ variances arising betwixt his Maty @ ye Inhabitants of the said Province concerning the said lands, rents, rights, profits @ revenues
In answer to the Second. The Laws in force are ye Laws called his Royal Highnesses Laws and the acts of the General Assembly the
Laws in Porce.
most of which I presume yr Lops have seen @ the rest I nouv send over by mr Sprag to whom I refer your Lops in this point
In answer to the Third In this Governmt there are about four thousand foot @ three hundred horse besides one company of Dragoons of which I shall bee able to give a more particular account when the Mustermaster shall make his return.
In answer to the Fourth At New York there is a fortification of four bastions built formerly against the Indians of dry stone @earth with sods as a breast-work well @ pleasantly situated for the defence of the Harbor on a point made by Hudsons River on the one side and by the sound on the other, It has Thirty-nine Gunns, two Mortar pieces, thirty Barils of Powdler five hundred ball some Bombshells @ Granados small arms for three hundred men, one Flanker, the face of the North Bastion, and three points of Bastions (W a Courlin has been done @ are rebuilt by mee with Lime @ Mortar @ all the rest of the Fort pinnd @ rough-cast with lime since my coming here.
And the most of the Guns I found dismounted @ some of them yet continue to bee soe which I hope to have mounted soe soon as the mills can sawe
I am forced to renew all the Batterys with three-inch Plank @ have spoke for new planks for that purpose
And the breast-work upon the wall is so moultered away that its likewise needful to make a reparation thereof. The Officers quarters had formerly a flat roof which I finding to be chargeable to maintain @ that it could not bee kept high, [qu. dry?] have caused a new roof to bce upon it, as alsoe finding water to run through the arch of the Gate I have been forc't to put a Roof over it, I am: forc't every day by reason of the roteness of the Timber @ Boards to bee making reparations in the Soldiers quarters or my own.
The ground that the Fort stands upon @ that belongs to it contains in quantity about two acres or thereabouts about which I have instead of Palisadoes put a fence of Palls which is more lasting
Thò this Fortification bee inconsiderable, yet I could wish the King had severall of them in these parts, the people growing every day more numerous @ they generaly of a turbulent disposition
In this Country there is a woman yet alive from whose Loyns there are upwards of three hundred a sixty persons now living
The men that are here have generally lusty strong bodies
At Albany there is a Fort made of pine trees fifteen foot high @ foot over with Batterys and conveniences made for men to walk about, where are nine guns, small arms for forty men four Barils of powder with great and small Shott in proportion, The Timber @ Boards being rotten were renewed this year, In my opinion it were better that fort were built up of Stone @ Lime which will not be double the charge of this years repair which yet will not last above 6 or 7 years before it will require the like again whereas on the contrary were it built of Lime & Stone it may bee far more easily maintained, And truly its very necessary to have a Fort there, it being a frontier place both to the Indians @ ffrench
At Pemaquid there is another Fort built after the Pemaquid Fort and same manner as I am informed a particular des
cription whereof I am not capable of giving having never been there however its a great charge to this Govermn' without being any thing of advantage to it, having officers there with twenty men always in pay, And which makes it yet more chargeable, I am forced to send from time to time provisions @ stores thither altho' its near four hundred miles from this place If his Ma'y were pleased that I might draw of the men and arms from that place with the guns being of light carriage @ that I might have leave to put them further into the country I would place them where I will give your Lolip an acct hereafter
And then if his Maty were further pleased to annex that place to Boston, being very convenient for them in regard to its vicinity affording great store of Fishery @ Islands fit for that purpose lying all along to the eastward of them-And in lieu of that to add to this Government Connecticut @ Rhode Island, Connecticut being so conveniently situate in its adjacing to us and soe inconvenient for the people of Boston by reason of its being up
wards of two hundred miles distance from thence, Besides Connecticut as it now is takes away from us almost all the land of value that lies adjoyneing to Hudsons River @ the best part of the river itself, Besides as wee found by experience if that place bee not annexed to that Government it will bee impossible to make any thing considerable of his Matys customs @ revenues in Long Island they carry away with'entring all our oyles which is the greatest part of what wee have to make returns of from this place : And from Albany and that way up the river-our Beaver & Peltry.
This Government too has an undoubted right to it by charter which his late Maty of Blessed Memory granted to our present King, and indeed if the form of the Government bee altered these people will rather choose to come under this than that Govermt of Boston as yr Lo’på will p'ceive by their present Govre Tres directed to me
And as for East Jersey it being situate on the other West Jersey. side of Hudsons river @ between us where the river disembogues itself into the sea paying noe custom @ having likewise the advantage of having better land @ most of the settlers there out of this Govermnt. Wee are like to bee deserted by a great many of our merchants whoe intend to settle there if not annexed to this Government
Last year two or three ships came in there with goods @ I am sure that that Country cannot, noe not with the help of West Jersey consume one thousand £b in goods in two years soe that the rest of their goods must have been run into this Government without paying his Matys customs and indeed theres noe possibility of preventing it.
And as for Beaver @ Peltry its impossible to hinder its being carried thither, the Indians value not the length of their journey soe as they can come to a good market, which those people can better afford them than wee they paying noe custom or excise inwards or outwards.
An other inconveniency by the Governments remaining as it does is that privateers and others can come within Sandy Hook and take what Provisions @ goods they please from that side.