BRITISH NEW YORK (1664-1783)



Plan of the City of New York, 1767-1774. (I. N. Phelps Stokes Collection. Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. The New York Public Library. Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations)


Empire and Oligarchy

The surrender of New Amsterdam didn’t, strictly speaking, mean a shift from Dutch to English rule but from that of the Dutch West India Company to that of James Stuart, the duke of York. As its proprietor, the duke of York wielded greater power in his new province than his brother the king did over England. His charter gave him personal title to all its “lands, islands, soils, rivers, harbors, mines, minerals, quarries, woods, marshes, waters, lakes, fishings, hawking, hunting and fowling.” He had “full and absolute power and authority to correct, punish, pardon, govern, and rule” its inhabitants—with no duty to establish a representative assembly and subject only to the requirement that his “statutes, ordinances, and proceedings” conform as nearly as possible to those of England. Landholders in the colony would be his tenants, obliged to pay him an annual quitrent in lieu of personal service. He decided who could trade with his colony, and he could impose duties on its imports and exports. Nowhere else in British America were the rights and privileges of colonists so limited, or those of government so vast.

The harshness of these provisions was mitigated, however, by the Articles of Capitulation, which were the essence of moderation, conciliation, and even compassion. There would be no punitive expulsion of Dutch settlers, no expropriation of Dutch property (including slaves), no assaults on Dutch culture. Dutch settlers could stay or freely leave, with all of their possessions, as they pleased. Those who stayed, providing they took an oath to the king, wouldn’t be deprived of their ships, goods, houses, or land, nor would they be compelled to take up arms against the United Provinces in the future. They wouldn’t have to change their religion, language, or inheritance customs. Contracts between them would continue to be enforced “according to the manner of the Dutch,” and the Reformed Church could still collect taxes, run schools, and hold services in Dutch.

In negotiating the Articles with Stuyvesant, Nicolls had been generous because both he and the duke knew that no useful purpose would be served by acting “rigorous and scrutinous.” With few English merchants as yet residing in New York, and with taxes and customs duties expected to supply the bulk of ducal revenues, the oppression of the colony’s Dutch inhabitants and the disruption of established commercial interests could well ruin the proprietary and leave the duke with little or nothing to show for his efforts. It would certainly damage the fur trade, which depended on satisfying the Indian demand for cheap Dutch duffel (a coarse woolen cloth). Religious toleration, too, made sense if someday the duke wanted to make New York a haven for English Catholics.

The Dutch seemed prepared to cooperate. Not only did few of them leave, but the town’s former Dutch magistrates thanked the duke for sending “so gentle, wise, and intelligent a gentlemen” as Nicolls to be their governor and expressed the hope that he would make New York “bloom and grow like the Cedars on Lebanon.” Johannes van Brugh, an affluent merchant and son-in-law of Annetje Jans, hosted a dinner where Nicolls and his entourage could meet the town’s leading citizens. Nicolls came away more convinced than ever that without “ill usage” the Dutch would make tractable and productive subjects. New York City itself, he told the duke, was “the best of all his Majesty’s towns in America.”


It was the kind of people who asked him to dinner that Nicolls got along with best, and over the next several years he cultivated their good will with numerous courtesies and concessions—above all, allowing them to continue direct trade with the Netherlands. Toward the end of the second Anglo-Dutch war, Nicolls pleaded with the crown to exempt New York completely from the Navigation Acts. He also confiscated what remained of the West India Company’s property, a cause for celebration among the burghers who had for years chafed under company rule. He reaffirmed the law, first embodied in the Burgher Right of 1657, that only freemen of the city could conduct business there. He let the powerful Van Rensselaers keep their patroonship and became fast friends with ex-director Stuyvesant, whiling away many pleasant evenings at his bouwerie outside of town. Nicolls even introduced the burghers to the gentlemanly sport of horse racing, laying out the first racetrack in North America on Long Island’s Hempstead Plain.

In June 1665 Nicolls formally confirmed the right of the residents of New York City to govern themselves “according to the custom of England in other [of] his Majesty’s corporations,” changing the offices of burgomaster, schout, and schepen to mayor, alderman, and sheriff, respectively. Nicolls also filled the new municipal administration with men who wouldn’t be offensive to the Dutch. A majority of the aldermen was Dutch, and the first mayor, Thomas Willett, was an English merchant who had lived in New Netherland for years and become friendly with former director Stuyvesant. The first sheriff, Allard Anthony, had also lived among the Dutch for years and served Stuyvesant as schout. A few years later, New York even got a Dutch mayor, Cornelis Steenwyck. Nicholas Bayard, Stuyvesant’s nephew and Steenwyck’s sometime business partner, held a number of lucrative municipal posts too.

Well-to-do Dutch New Yorkers, pragmatic men and women, began to admit that New Netherland might be gone for good. As Jeremias Van Rensselaer said, “it has pleased the Lord that we must learn English.” In the years that followed, more and more people of his class and connections likewise began to “anglicize”—speaking English, reading English books, observing English holidays, and allowing their sons and daughters to marry into English families.

When the duke called Nicolls back to England in 1668, New York’s most prominent citizens gave him a sumptuous farewell dinner, then escorted him to his ship with a grand procession that included two brand-new militia companies, the first reorganization of the city’s burgher guard since the conquest. If Stuyvesant attended the festivities, he must have marveled at how positively amiable the burghers had become since forcing him to hand over the city four years earlier.

Colonel Francis Lovelace, Nicolls’s successor, proved equally solicitous. To stimulate trade, he slashed import duties by 30 percent and named as customs collector a Dutchman who immediately threw out most port regulations. By fiat, Lovelace gave city merchants a monopoly of the Hudson River carrying trade and ordered Long Island farmers, even those for whom New England markets were more convenient, to ship all their surplus produce through Manhattan. He fixed grain prices to benefit exporters and required that hogs must be brought to the city for slaughter, a boon to local butchers and coopers.

To improve the flow of news, Lovelace arranged monthly mail deliveries between the city and Boston, the first regular postal service in any of the colonies. Near the present intersection of Pearl, Broad, and Bridge streets, where a small bridge crossed the town’s canal and merchants liked to gather for business, he established the city’s first mercantile exchange, complete with a bell and a drop-box for transatlantic mail. Communication with England remained maddeningly unpredictable, even so; Lovelace complained that it could be counted on to occur, like the reproduction of elephants, no more than once every two years.

Besides continuing the horse races on Hempstead Plain, Lovelace strengthened the proprietary’s ties with influential Dutch New Yorkers by organizing one of the town’s earliest social clubs. Once or twice a week its sixteen members—ten Dutch, six English—-gathered at one another’s houses to discuss matters of common concern and drink punch from silver tankards. “I find some of these people have the breeding of courts,” Lovelace later told the king. He didn’t mention that he’d become involved in extensive private dealings with a number of the very same people, including Cornelis Steenwyck. Nor did he reveal that, at his own expense, he’d built a tavern right next to the old Stadhuis, now called City Hall, and equipped it with a connecting door that opened directly into the chambers of the municipal court, a convenience for which it may be supposed the magistrates were often grateful.

By the early 1670s, thanks in no small measure to the attentions of Nicolls and Lovelace, New York’s economy was showing signs of life again, and people with names like Van Rensselaer, Schuyler, Van Cortlandt, and Beekman were both richer and more securely in control of the town than ever. Former mayor Steenwyck, reportedly Manhattan’s wealthiest resident, had just built an opulent house on the corner of Bridge and Whitehall streets that would become famous for its Russia-leather chairs, French cabinets, oils by old Antwerp masters, statuary, and other luxuries.

The rewards of collaboration with the English shone even more brilliantly, perhaps, in the career of Margaret Hardenbroeck. She had first come to New York in 1659 as the agent for an Amsterdam merchant and soon after her arrival married a local trad­er named Rudolphus de Vries. De Vries dealt in such diverse commodities as lumber, bricks, sugar, furniture, tobacco, and wine. He also owned quite a bit of land and was one of a group of investors who in 1660 established the village of Bergen, just across the Hudson from New Amsterdam. After his death in 1661, Hardenbroeck inherited his various interests and went into business for herself, becoming one of New Amsterdam’s richest citizens, known throughout the province for her “miserable covetousness” and “terrible parsimony.”

In 1662 Hardenbroeck married a former West India Company carpenter, now turned trader, named Frederick Vlypse (also spelled Flipsen or Flypsen), with whom she formed a highly profitable partnership. They were among the merchants who pressured Stuyvesant not to oppose the English invasion, and in its aftermath they became intimates of Nicolls and Lovelace, a connection that earned them valuable privileges and exemptions from English trade regulations. In time they owned all or part of fifteen vessels that ranged from Albany to Europe to Virginia to the West Indies with cargoes of furs, lumber, tobacco, hides, and wine. One of Hardenbroeck’s ships was the King Charles, and another, partly owned by Governor Lovelace and Cornelis Steenwyck, was the Duke of York—a choice of names that suggests the lengths she would go to flatter authority.

Ten years after the conquest, Hardenbroeck and Vlypse had amassed an empire that included, besides ships and goods, extensive real estate holdings throughout the lower Hudson Valley and a plantation in Barbados; Vlypse himself was a moneylender, wampum manufacturer, land speculator, and mill owner as well. It was around this time, too, that he changed his name to the more English-sounding Philipse.


Steenwyck, Philipse, Hardenbroeck, and others of their ilk thought the transition from Dutch to English government was going well. Others didn’t, the duke of York among them. He worried that trade with England failed to develop as rapidly as his bookkeepers would have liked. No more than a few English merchantmen were ever in the harbor at once, and in the entire decade following the conquest, only five are known to have made a direct voyage from England to Manhattan.

Some of this was the duke’s own fault. He never actually set foot in New York and, like the West India Company, didn’t always put a high priority on its interests. In 1665, for example, he impulsively gave all of the colony between the Hudson and Delaware rivers to two old Civil War cronies, John Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. They called it New Jersey and began handing out land to prospective settlers. No one informed Nicolls, however, and he had been doling out the same land on his authority as governor of New York. The ensuing legal confusion crippled the development of New Jersey for years. What was more, by removing the west bank of the Hudson from New York’s jurisdiction, the duke foolishly divided an economic whole into political parts.

Communities to the north and east of Manhattan had other reasons to be dissatisfied with the transition from Dutch to English rule. One of Nicolls’s first decisions after the conquest had been to incorporate Long Island, Staten Island, and Westchester into an English-style county named (inevitably) Yorkshire. Its inhabitants assumed that he intended to set up the self-contained, nearly autonomous, English-style local governments for which they had been clamoring over the previous two decades. But at a special meeting in Hempstead in 1665—attended by delegates from thirteen English and four Dutch towns as well as from Westchester—Nicolls promulgated a code of laws for Yorkshire that granted nothing of the kind.

The Duke’s Laws, as they came to be known, made no provision for freemanship (i.e., the right to a voice in town affairs) or for representative government on the provincial level. The code obliged townsfolk to submit to new land surveys and registration fees, to pay taxes they didn’t consent to, and to practice religious toleration. Obviously, Nicolls admitted, this was “not contrived so Democratically” as the codes of other colonies: his goal had been to “revive the Memory of old England amongst us” and establish the “foundation of Kingly Government in these parts, so farre as is possible, which truely is grievous to some Republicans.” The disappointed Long Island towns were indeed crawling with Stuart-hating commonwealthmen, and their staunch opposition to the Duke’s Laws, sometimes spilling over into violence against justices of the peace and tax collectors, caused the proprietary government no end of trouble. As the representative of one of the greatest landowners in the realm in an age of rural insurrection, Nicolls found it all too familiar. “The Late Rebellion in England, with all ye ill consequences thereof, began with the selfe same steps and pr’tences,” he grumbled.

The largest group of malcontents were New York’s five or six thousand Dutch inhabitants, who together constituted almost 70 percent of the population of the colony and as much as 75 or 80 percent of the population of the city. One of their continuing grievances was the conduct of what Stuyvesant called the “dissolute English Soldiery.” Nicolls had had to quarter many soldiers in Dutch households, and their lack of regard for persons or property was a source of frequent conflict. Wherever there were garrisons or posts—in New York City, in Albany, in Kingston—hard words, fisticuffs, and rioting between troops and citizens were endemic.


Maria Abeel Duyckinck (1666-1738), portrait by her husband, Gerrit Duyckinck, c. 1700. Mrs. Duyckinck, who inherited large tracts of real estate around Albany as well as on Manhattan, was one of the many second- and third-generation Dutch residents of New York who did not eagerly accommodate themselves to English rule. (© Collection of The New-York Historical Society)

The major targets of Dutch resentment, however, were the men and women of their own nation who had collaborated with the English. Merchants like Steenwyck and Hardenbroeck were particularly despised for their prosperity and arrogance. Within the Reformed church, anti-English factions regarded Megapolensis and the other dominies as little better than English flunkies because of their friendship with Nicolls and Lovelace. When some congregations attempted to withhold the dominies’ salaries as punishment, their English patrons had them paid out of public tax monies instead—which only made the dominies more odious still in the eyes of their parishioners.


Stung by his failure to defeat the Netherlands in the second Anglo-Dutch War, Charles II had begun preparations for a third. In 1670 he signed a secret accord with Louis XIV of France that committed both nations to combine forces against the Dutch. All he lacked was a plausible excuse to open hostilities, and that came in the spring of 1672, when English and Dutch naval forces clashed in the Channel. Within days, both England and France had declared war. Rallied by the young Prince William of Orange, the Dutch fought back (one of their first victims was Colonel Richard Nicolls, felled by a Dutch cannonball as he stood next to the duke of York on the deck of an English warship). Before the year was out, they had dispatched a heavily armed squadron to raid English and French possessions in America.

In the spring of 1673, led by Admiral Cornelis Evertsen—whose derring-do on the high seas had earned him the nickname of “Kees the Devil”—the Dutch squadron attacked British possessions in the Caribbean, seizing a fortune in sugar and slaves. Evertsen then headed for Virginia and Maryland. In midsummer he entered the Chesapeake, capturing or destroying numerous English ships and making off with thousands of hogsheads of tobacco. His next target was New York.

At the end of July 1673 the Dutch squadron dropped anchor off Sandy Hook just below the Narrows. Some Dutch farmers from New Utrecht made their way out to Evertsen’s flagship to complain “about the hard rule of the English.” They also said that Governor Lovelace was away on business in Connecticut, that Fort James was in no condition to repel an invasion, and that the town would welcome the Dutch. Evertsen decided to attack.

On the twentieth, while Dutch saboteurs spiked the guns on the East River shore near City Hall, Evertsen brought his frigates within range of the fort and ordered its temporary commander, Captain John Manning, to surrender. “We have come to bring the country back under obedience to their High Mightinesses the Lords States General,” he announced. When Manning stalled, Evertsen bombarded the fort and landed Captain Anthony Colve with six hundred marines on the Hudson shore near the present site of Trinity Church. Cheered on by “demonstrations of joy” among the Dutch populace, Colve and his marines advanced down Broadway and took possession of the fort without firing a shot. With “enemy in our Bowells,” Manning glumly explained, resistance was impossible. Evertsen promptly renamed the city New Orange in honor of Prince William. He also declared that the entire colony would again be known as New Netherland and designated Captain Colve its governor-general.


New Amsterdam formerly called New York, 1673, issued shortly after the Dutch reoccupation. Note the soldiers marching along the waterfront. (I. N. Phelps Stokes Collection. Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. The New York Public Library. Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations)

Evertsen sailed off in September to attack Newfoundland, leaving Colve to continue the work of restoring Dutch control—with the assistance of prominent men like Cornelis Steenwyck and Nicholas Bayard, whose patriotism seems to have overcome their close ties to the English. He restored the old Dutch forms of government, administered oaths of loyalty, collected taxes, strengthened the city’s defenses against an expected counterattack, and faced down the English villages of Long Island. For good measure, he confiscated the property of leading English officials and merchants; when Lovelace foolishly returned to town, Colve clapped him in jail on the complaint of some Dutch merchants who said he owed them money, then shipped him back to England. There the duke cashiered him for incompetence and Charles II threw him into the Tower.

But New Orange was a chimera. The Dutch were growing weary of the war—their forces had done well at sea, but French troops occupied four of their seven provinces—and defending New Netherland was certain to require more money and resources than they could afford. (New Orange authorities had in fact warned the States-General that the colony couldn’t survive without prompt and substantial help.) The States-General asked for peace and offered to return all conquered territories, including New Netherland. Charles II, himself nearly bankrupt and under intense pressure from Parliament to recover the colony, agreed. A formal treaty of peace was signed in February 1674.

When rumors of the sellout reached Manhattan several months later, the Dutch were incredulous. Some, in “a distracted rage and passion,” hurled “curses and execrations” at the States-General, demanded a chance to fight, and vowed to “slay the English Doggs”; others vowed “to fyre the Town, Pluck downe the (fortifications [and] teare out the Governours throats, who had compelled them to slave soe contrary to their priveledges.” A small number packed their belongings and struck out for Dutch Surinam, while a few went back to the Netherlands with Colve, who officially surrendered the city in October. Jeremias Van Rensselaer, always the pragmatist, resolved to make the best of it. “Well, if it has to be,” he shrugged, “we commend the matter to God, who knows what is best for us.” He added, almost as an aside: “We didn’t count on such a blow, God knows.”


Although angered by their enthusiasm for New Orange, the duke of York rejected suggestions that his Dutch subjects be relocated to the Albany area or expelled altogether. He did, however, obtain a new charter that enlarged his already considerable powers as proprietor. He also dispatched a new governor in the person of Major Edmund Andros, a thirty-eight-year-old royalist soldier and aristocrat, highly regarded by the king and recommended by extensive experience in the West Indies and the Netherlands (where he had learned to speak fluent Dutch).

Andros was instructed to be firm but forgiving toward the Dutch and to reestablish the proprietary’s ties with the principal Dutch merchants, landowners, and clergymen. Accordingly, Andros promised Colve that the Dutch needn’t fear for their property, that they could continue to enjoy perfect freedom of religion, and that they would never be asked to fight against the States-General—basically the same guarantees written ten years earlier into the Articles of Capitulation.

Andros soon came to terms with the same group of collaborators that had surrounded Nicolls and Lovelace (except Cornelis Steenwyck, with whom he never got along). Frederick Philipse, Steven Van Cortlandt, William Beekman, Nicholas Bayard, Johannes de Peyster—they and a handful of other men, many already linked together by business and marriage, willingly served Andros as councillors, mayors, aldermen, and other officials. He in turn spent much of the next six years transforming New York into a more efficient and more profitable commercial emporium.

Conscious that New York’s economy depended more and more on the export of foodstuffs to Barbados and other plantation colonies of the West Indies—the fur trade had by now dwindled to one-fifth of its peak in the mid-1650s—Andros took steps to protect city merchants from competition. Ignoring cries of outrage from Albany and elsewhere, he ordered that all goods imported into the colony pass through New York City. He then designated it the only place in the colony where cargoes could be loaded for export. He decreed that no one outside the city could bolt (sift) flour or pack wheat, beef, or pork for export, and he appointed a small force of inspectors to see that the city’s reputation in foreign markets wouldn’t be injured by inferior goods. After 1680 its merchants enjoyed a virtual stranglehold on the trade of the entire colony. Of course what was good for them tended to be good, in turn, for millers, bakers, coopers, ropemakers, sailmakers, carpenters, and smiths.


New York from Brooklyn Heights, 1679. Drawn by the Labadist missionary Jaspar Danckaerts, its most conspicuous features are the recently completed Great Dock or mole and the new stone pier. (I. N. Phelps Stokes Collection. Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. The New York Public Library. Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations)

Andros gave particular attention to improving the waterfront. In 1675 residents along the Heere Gracht were ordered to fill in the old Dutch canal level with the street and “then to pave & pitch the Same before there dores with stones.” The foul inlet, reincarnated as what is now Broad Street, was destined to be the city’s principal commercial street well into the next century. Near where the bridge had crossed the canal, Andros erected a new mercantile exchange and covered market, the city’s first. At the foot of Broad Street he built a new stone pier into the East River. On either side of the pier he constructed a massive stone and timber mole, or breakwater, that arced out in two great semicircles from the foot of Whitehall Street and City Hall. Known as the Great Dock, it provided secure anchorage for cargo ships plying the West Indian trade.

And Andros didn’t stop with the waterfront. Because the supply of water for fighting fires had been reduced by filling in the canal, he ordered the digging of six new wells (the brackish water brought up by buckets proved unfit for drinking, however). He moved malodorous tanneries and slaughterhouses to locations outside the city gates. He fixed up Fort James, ransacked by departing Dutch troops, and designated “the Plaine afore the Forte”—now Bowling Green—as the site of an annual fair for the display and sale of “all graine, Cattle, or other produce of the Country.” He made much-needed repairs to the city wall and ensured that its gates were closed every night by nine o’clock. When the city’s twenty-three coopers banded together to fix a uniform rate for casks and barrels, Andros had them prosecuted and fined for violating the law against illegal combinations. Those employed by the city were fired.

When Long Island farmers and stockmen raised the familiar complaint that they had been enslaved to the mercantile interests of the city, Andros likewise told them to pay up or leave the province. He also advised York that it might be a good idea to set up some kind of representative assembly so they could tax themselves. And when New England governments responded sympathetically to appeals for help from the English towns on the eastern end of Long Island, as they had done so often before, Andros warned them off so convincingly that New York’s jurisdiction over the entire island would never again be called into question.

It was under Andros, too, that municipal authorities forged stronger ties with local cartmen, whose one-horse wagons were the principal means of transporting commodities into and around town. In 1667 the cartmen had formed a “fellowship” or guild and contracted with the city to work at fixed rates. In return for this privilege, the magistrates required them to perform “public work as desired”—picking up rubbish from the streets, fighting fires, maintaining roads, repairing the fort, and transporting felons to the gallows. Slaves and free blacks were later prohibited from operating carts in town—a measure that gave the cartmen relief from a troublesome source of competition but also further reduced their independence and hastened their transformation into semiofficial municipal employees.


Andros had been in New York less than a year when the Algonkian-speaking peoples of English America rose up in a last, desperate attempt to stem the advance of white settlement. Perhaps the greatest Indian war in American history, it produced political and social revolution in the Chesapeake colonies and such devastation in New England (where it was known as Metacom’s or King Philip’s War) that complete recovery, economic and demographic, would take a generation.

While his New England and Chesapeake counterparts dithered, Andros acted decisively. He disarmed Long Island Indians, cut off their communication with insurgents on the New England side of the Sound, drilled town militias, and saw to the construction of fortifications. He ordered Westchester Indians to move closer to the city, where they could be kept under constant observation. He summoned sachems of the Hackensacks and other New Jersey Indians to Fort James, making them swear allegiance to the crown and requiring hostages from each to guarantee their compliance.

Andros’s shrewdest stroke was to open talks with the Five Nations of the Iroquois, ancient enemies of the Algonkian peoples who were embarked on a course of imperial expansion not unlike that of the English. Armed with Dutch weapons, they had previously attacked and all but annihilated their Huron rivals to the north; by the early 1660s their power stretched from the Carolinas to Hudson’s Bay.

Between 1675 and 1677 Andros and the Iroquois forged the so-called Covenant Chain, an alliance of English and Iroquois ambitions that would decisively influence the future of New York City. Its terms were simple. Andros agreed to support Iroquois domination of the coastal Algonkians, while the Iroquois agreed to attack Algonkian insurgents in New England; both agreed to make common cause against the French in Canada, and both agreed to respect what would later be called spheres of influence, English to the east, Iroquois to the west.

Early in 1676 Mohawk war parties crossed over from New York to Connecticut and destroyed a major Algonkian encampment. By that summer the uprising had collapsed. The negotiations that followed, adroitly managed by Andros, brought peace to the colonies and ensured the safety of settlements all the way to the Appalachians. The duke’s province came through unharmed. What was more, New York City had become one pole of an Anglo-Iroquoian axis around which the affairs of North America south of Canada and east of the Mississippi would turn for another century. A grateful Charles II rewarded Andros with a knighthood.

For the Lenapes of the lower Hudson Valley, by contrast, the Covenant Chain was a confirmation of their impotence and irrelevance. Jaspar Danckaerts, a Labadist missionary who visited New York several years later, was one of the last Europeans to study its original inhabitants in anything like their original setting, and the observations he recorded in his diary—by turns embarrassed, angry, and despondent—depict a people thoroughly ruined by contact with Europeans. So few were left, Danckaerts wrote, that they would soon “melt away and disappear” from the face of the earth. “I have heard tell by the oldest New Netherlanders,” he noted, “that there is now not i/ioth part of the Indians there once were, indeed, not 1/20th or 1/30th; and that now the Europeans are 20 and 30 times as many.” Legend has it that the last of the Lenapes—known as Jim de Wilt or Jim the Wild Man—died in Canarsie in 1803.


To a casual observer, it might have appeared that Andros had made little headway against the Dutchness of New York. By 1680 the bulk of its four-hundred-odd buildings, even the fine new residences of anglicized families like the Steenwycks, Van Cortlandts, and Philipses, were still built in the Dutch style: high stoops, stepped-gable end to the street, roofs sheathed with the same red and black tiles that graced houses in Holland. The twin peaks of the Reformed church still poked above the ramparts of the fort, Stuyvesant’s former Great House (now White Hall) still commanded the East River shore, the great stone warehouse built by the West India Company still stood on Pearl Street, and the old Stadhuis still served as City Hall. Dutch was still the language of the streets and markets, and Dutch culture was still everywhere in evidence. During the winter of 1678, his first on Manhattan, the Rev. Charles Wolley marveled at the quintessentially Dutch spectacle of “Men and Women as it were flying upon their Skates from place to place, with Markets upon their Heads and Backs.”

But New York was hardly the same place it had been in 1664, or even 1674. It had many more people—around three thousand of them, give or take a few hundred (another sixty-six hundred or so were scattered across Long Island and up the Hudson). The ethnic balance was shifting as well. Immigration from the Netherlands had fallen off sharply, and by 1680 about half of the Dutch inhabitants who witnessed Stuyvesant’s surrender had either died or moved away. During the later 1660s and early 1670s, meanwhile, affluent English merchants had come to Manhattan in pursuit of economic opportunities. Some, like John Darvall, arrived via Boston or other North American seaports. John Lawrence moved in from Long Island, and Robert Livingston came over from Scotland. Still others came up from the West Indies, most notably a rich Barbadian planter named Lewis Morris. By 1670 or so Morris and his brother Richard had established themselves in New York as importers of sugar and flour. They began buying property in and around the city, including a town house on Bridge Street next door to their friend and sometimes business associate, former mayor Cornelis Steenwyck. Another of the colonel’s purchases was the five-hundred-acre Westchester estate once owned by Jonas Bronck; he promptly renamed it Morrisania. The influx of English merchants quickened after 1674, as London mercantile houses began for the first time to take an active interest in the New York market. By 1680, although the English still accounted for under 20 percent of New York’s overall population, they represented nearly 40 percent of the town’s taxable population. Of the forty-eight merchants with estates worth over five hundred pounds, twenty-two were English.

Thanks to these newcomers, New York’s trade improved markedly. After six years in office, Andros reported that the volume of New York’s shipping was “at least ten times” higher than when he arrived. Ten to fifteen vessels now came across the Atlantic every year with cargoes worth in excess of fifty thousand pounds, and by 1684 some eighty ships and boats were owned in the port itself, including three barks, three brigs, and twenty-six sloops. It exported sixty thousand bushels of wheat annually, along with furs, meats, peas, horses, lumber, and fish—more and more of it to the plantation economies of the West Indies.

This expansion meant not only that New York now had “plenty of money,” as Andros put it, but that the city’s merchants were getting a bigger share of its wealth. In 1664 the merchants who comprised the richest 10 percent of New York taxpayers had accounted for 26 percent of its assessed wealth. A dozen or so years later, the richest 10 percent of the city’s 313 taxpayers—some thirty merchants—held 51 percent of its assessed wealth; the richest 15 percent—fewer than fifty merchants—owned fully 65 percent, the richest five individuals alone accounting for some 40 percent. At a time when a merchant worth a thousand to fifteen hundred pounds was “a good substantial merchant,” according to Andros, the wealthiest of them all, Frederick Philipse (who possessed “whole hogsheads of Indian money or wampum” according to Wolley) was assessed at thirteen thousand pounds, about 14 percent of the city’s total. Cornells Steenwyck, now the second-richest man in New York, was assessed at four thousand pounds.

Between 1664 and 1676, by contrast, the assessed wealth of New York’s hundredodd poorest taxpayers declined from 6.6 to 5.9 percent of the total. The assessments of the hundred or so just above them plunged from 23.1 percent to 10.4 percent. Many other inhabitants of the city—casual laborers, apprentices, small craftsmen—were simply too poor to be assessed at all. Still worse off were the city’s four or five hundred slaves, perhaps half again as many as had been present at the time of the English conquest, crowded into garrets, cellars, and outbuildings.

Pockets of poverty now dotted the urban landscape, throwing the prosperity and comfortable residences of the possessing classes into sharper relief. The city’s predominately Dutch carters, who ranked among its poorest taxpayers, lived in shabby dwellings along a back alley called Smith’s Street Lane, not far from the Dutch Reformed church. Shoemakers congregated along Broad Street until Andros banished their tanning pits to the outskirts of town, but a handful of streets crossing Broad—Beaver, Marketfield, Mill—continued to have a disproportionately large share of poor taxpayers. So did places like Smith’s Valley (or Vly), which lay on the East River between Wall and Maiden Lane, and along the roads and trails that led to villages still further to the north. In 1679, when Jaspar Danckaerts visited Stuyvesant’s bouwerie, he passed “many habitations of negroes, mulattoes and whites” who had simply “settled themselves down where they have thought proper” and cultivated “ground enough to live on with their families.” In the following decade, however, a number of free black families would sell or abandon their Manhattan holdings and move to more secluded corners of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

A comparable gap was opening up between the wealth of the city and that of the fishing and farming towns of the Long Island hinterland. Southampton, the most prosperous, was assessed at a total of thirteen thousand pounds—barely more than Frederick Philipse alone. The combined assessments of Brooklyn, Bushwyck, Flatbush, Flatlands, and New Utrecht—the five Dutch towns on the western end of the island—were calculated to be only half that much. Not surprisingly, the towns believed they were oppressed and exploited by the merchants on Manhattan, where the law required them to market their produce. What was more, as population growth and the practice of partible inheritance combined to reduce the size of individual farms, many of their residents were beginning to move elsewhere in search of arable land.


These transformations sharpened the discontent of those Dutch craftsmen, farmers, and small traders who had declined to embrace English ways or ingratiate themselves with their English rulers. After the collapse of New Orange in 1674, they grew more determined than ever to maintain their distinctiveness as a nation, for in an age of conflict and upheaval, who could say they would never again be delivered from captivity?

One index of Dutch intransigence was their low rate of intermarriage with other national groups. In New York City, only one Dutch woman in six married a man who wasn’t Dutch. Dutch men almost never married non-Dutch women; those in Flatbush, for example, were known to range as far as the Dutch villages of New Jersey and the upper Hudson Valley in search of wives. With the passage of time, this pattern of behavior ensured that Dutch families and communities everywhere in New York would be closely linked by kinship networks. These guaranteed that the essentials of communal life—the preservation of order, the settlement of disputes, the care of widows and orphans and the needy—could be handled quietly and smoothly without recourse to external (that is, English) authority.

The intensity of Dutch resistance to assimilation was also demonstrated by their loyalty to Holland’s Roman-Dutch legal tradition. With the resumption of proprietary authority in 1674, the use of Dutch was no longer permitted in New York courts. But Dutch New Yorkers showed little inclination to accept the English notion of a common law or to yield to the unfamiliar procedures of English courts (Dutch courts relied on arbitrators and referees rather than juries). Instead they effectively boycotted the English judicial system for the resolution of commercial as well as private disagreements, often appealing instead to the consistory of the Reformed Church. Dutch residents of New York City rarely sued one another after 1674.

Even more telling was their aversion to the patriarchalism that dominated English attitudes toward property, inheritance, and gender. English practice stressed the descent of both realty (land, buildings) as well as personalty (clothing, household goods, livestock, cash) through the male line. Only in the absence of male heirs did females inherit real property, and their rights to personalty were sharply limited. When she married, a woman became feme covert—legally “covered” by her husband, who thereafter represented her interests. She took his name; he took control of the real and/or personal property she possessed, subject only to the restriction that he couldn’t sell or bequeath her realty. If he died before her, she was entitled as a rule to a “dower right”—the use of or rent from one-third of the real property belonging to his estate (including what she had brought to the marriage). The balance of his estate would be divided between their children and his kin, with real property going to males whenever possible. If she died before him, on the other hand, he kept everything until his death, at which time it passed to their children.

In defiance of the conqueror’s laws, Dutch women continued to use their own surnames rather than their husbands’; some went on doing business in their own names. Dutch husbands and wives still employed the Roman-Dutch mutual or joint wills that kept their common property intact if either one died. Dutch children, daughters as well as sons, still inherited equal portions of the family estate, but only after both parents had died. It “was the manner amongst them,” the Rev. Charles Wolley wrote in his journal, that they preferred “standing more on Nature than Names; that as the root communicates itself to all its branches, so should the Parent to all his offspring which are the Olive branches about his Table.” This proved increasingly difficult in the country villages outside New York City, where farms couldn’t be subdivided indefinitely, and some rural Dutch families did attempt to keep the land in the hands of one son—on condi­tion that he provided his brothers with property elsewhere, and his sisters with tools, animals, furniture, kitchen equipment, and the like. Often, though, it was the youngest who kept the farm, because his older brothers had already moved away. Flatbush and other Long Island towns routinely dispatched expeditions to find land for young men who needed it. In 1677, for example, several dozen residents of Flatbush obtained a patent to settle the eastern part of the town, called the New Lots; another group moved en masse to new settlements on the Raritan and Milstone rivers in New Jersey.

Not every Dutch New Yorker clung to the old ways. One who didn’t was Frederick Philipse, Margaret Hardenbroeck’s husband and by far the richest man in the colony. In his will he would convey his vast holdings in Westchester and New York City to his sons and their male heirs, all of whom he expressly prohibited from breaking up or selling the property. His daughters would inherit no land at all unless both of their brothers died without male issue. No olive branches about the table for Philipse, then: his was an English landlord’s dream of the future—great estates handed down from first-born son to first-born son, unbroken, generation after generation.

It wasn’t the Dutch who put an end to Andres’s career in New York, however, but rather the town’s new crop of English merchants. They criticized his partiality toward prominent Dutch traders and accused him of one crime after another—violating the Navigation Acts, taking bribes, extortion, obstructing trade, and pocketing the colony’s taxes. He in turn excluded them from public office, harassed them with legal proceedings, and threw one or two into jail without trial. In the summer of 1680, bowing to pressure from the merchants’ connections in London—a clear signal of where the fulcrum of New York’s destinies now stood—the duke summoned Andros home pending an investigation of the charges against him. Captain Anthony Brockholls of the Albany garrison tried to maintain order pending the arrival of a new governor, but the victorious merchants, now joined by the English towns of Long Island, declared a tax strike that made a shambles of the colony’s affairs for the next year or two. Frustrated and running out of money, the duke talked of selling the place to anyone who would make him a reasonable offer. His friend William Penn, whose own colony was just getting underway on the banks of the Schuylkill, urged him to hang on a while longer.

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