Role of the Fiscael in New Netherland

In New Netherland, the [Fiscael] was not originally a member of the Council, but their executive officer; and, besides his other ordinary functions, he was specially charged with the due inspection and enforcement of the revenue regulations of the Colonial Custom-house. He was charged principally with enforcing and maintaining the placards, laws, ordinances, resolutions and military regulations of their High Mighinesses, the States-General, and protecting the rights, domains and jurisdiction of the company, and executing their orders, as well in as out of court, without favor or respect to individuals. He superintended all prosecutions and suits, but could not undertake any actions on behalf of the company, except by order of the council; nor arraign, nor arrest any person on a criminal charge, except on information previously received, or unless he caught him in flagrante delicto. In taking information he was bound to note as well those points which made for the prisoner as those which supported the charge against him, and after trial he saw to the faithful execution of the sentence pronounced by the judges, who, in indictments carrying with them loss of life and property, were not to be less than five in number. He, moreover, attended to the commissaries arriving from the Company’s out-posts and to vessels arriving from and leaving for Holland, inspected their papers, and superintended the loading and discharging of their cargoes, so that smuggling might be prevented. He transmitted to the directors in Holland copies of all information taken by him, as well as of all sentences pronounced by the court, and no person was kept long in prison at the expense of the Company without special cause, but all were prosecuted as expeditiously as possible. This office, perhaps the most responsible in the colony, was filled, during the administration of Director [Pieter] Minuit, by Jan Lampo of Cantelberg.


This text is excerpted from John Romeyn Brodhead’s History of the State of New York, Vol. 2, p 164.

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