Negotiating the Surrender of New Netherland

This document recounts how two wives of New Amsterdam council members opened negotiations with English invaders in 1664.

Handwritten, Dutch 1667 testimony of soldiers Martensz and Munnick describing New Amsterdam’s government and popular actions during the arrival of four English ships.

Testimony, 1667. Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Archief van Dr. S. Hart. Translation by Eric Ruijssenaars.

Document Text


Harmen Martensz from the city of Den Bosch and Evert Willemse Munnick, both formerly soldiers of the Dutch West India Company, declared that even before the English came to New Netherland there had been talk of an English army approaching. This is the testimony of two Dutch soldiers who were present for the surrender of New Netherland.
The government gave no orders for special defense measures. Only when four ships arrived at the end of August was order given to bring the city and the fort of New Amsterdam into a state of defense. There were rumors that the English were planning to attack, but no one did anything until four ships came into the harbor.
The sergeants did their best, given the short time, but the people of New Amsterdam were unresponsive. They did not report to their guard posts. When the soldiers saw that the civilians lacked the will to fight the English they withdrew to the fort. The citizens of New Amsterdam did not come together to protect the city.
There were 150 soldiers. . . . Councilman Van Ruyven sent his wife Hillegond to the English because they did not have gun powder to defend themselves and because the English were their friends. Hillegond was accompanied by Lydia de Meyer, the wife of free merchant Nicholas Meyer. Two city leaders sent their wives to talk to the English.
As Hillegond left the fort, she said: “Now these dirty dogs want to fight, now that they’ve got nothing to lose. And we have our property here, which we would lose if we fought.” The women insulted the Dutch soldiers on their way to see the English. They also told the soldiers that their homes were worth more to them than their loyalty to the Dutch West India Company.

Testimony, 1667. Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Archief van Dr. S. Hart. Translation by Eric Ruijssenaars.

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