Santa Fe

Picture above: Photo of San Miguel Church, the oldest church in America, circa 1829-1865, Riddle. Courtesy Library of Congress. Right: Painting of Frontenac and Sir William Phips at surrender of Quebec in 1690 during King William's War, circa 1915, Charles William Jefferys. Courtesy Library and Archives Canada via Wikipedica Commons.

King William's War

Pre-Revolution Timeline - The 1680s


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  • Timeline

  • 1683 Detail

    November 1, 1683 - English colony of New York subdivided into twelve counties.

    Province of New York

    It had been nearly twenty years since the English had wrested first control of the Province of New York from the Dutch in 1664. The Treaty of Breda ending the Second Anglo-Dutch War had stated that in writing. However, the Dutch and the English were not done with war, as soon after, the Third Anglo-Dutch War would start, prompting New Netherlands to regain the territory of New York in 1673, only to lose it again one year later, back to the English, when the Treaty of Westminster would give that nation permanent control of the Province of New York. With all those machinations, it should not be surprising that over the next nine years, progress in the colony lagged behind the other colonies of the crown with less recent conflict. By 1683, the Province of New York did not have a legislative body, nor effective leadership, that could shape it.

    Yes, there had been the impact of the English in the territory that stretched over a larger area than we think of New York State today, reaching much farther in most directions, particularly west, which brought disputes between the English, the Iroquios, and the French, who also claimed it. English common law was now the practice of the Province since 1674. As the first control of New York in 1664, it had been prompted by a gift to the Duke of York, James, and had been part of the Middle Colonies. Its governance, at first, was controlled directly from England. There had been a military governor during their first term, Richard Nicolls, (1664-1668), as well as a second, Francis Lovelace (1668-1673), but neither made a significant impact, although Lovelace purchased Staten Island from the native tribe and improved English defenses. Those defenses did not work when the Dutch invaded and captured New York in 1673.

    Edmund Andros (1674-1683) had been controversial, although effective, overseeing the transfer of power from the Dutch, dealing with border disputes, and establishing relations with the Iroquois, although his tactics caused friction with other prominent men of the colony and neighboring colonies in New England. This led to his recall. The interium acting governor, Anthony Brockholls (1681-1683), was inconsequential for the most part.

    By the fall of 1682, the Province of New York needed a new leader. James, Duke of York, nominated Thomas Dongan on September 30, 1682 to take control of the colony, as well as appointing him Vice-Admiral of the Navy. Dongan had a varied career to this point; born in Ireland, he had served as colonel in the French army under direction from the crown and gained working knowledge of Dutch. His appointment as Governor gave him a manor on Staten Island, now the town of Castleton. Dongan arrived in the Americas at Boston on August 10, 1683, to Fort James, located at the confluence of the Hudson and East Rivers on August 25, 1683. Fort James was the administrative headquarters of the governor.

    Dongan's Actions

    From the point of his arrival, it was apparent that the Province of New York was in bad financial shape, effectively bankrupt, and at the point of rebellion. Thomas Dongan took quick action. He convened the first ever state legislature on October 14 (17), 1683, summoning the freeholders to meet him. The New York General Assembly, under his direction, passed an act known as "A Charter of Liberties," on October 30, 1683, which delineated the rights of the governor, legislature, and constitutional liberties of its citizens.

    So what about those counties? Two weeks after the Charter of Liberties had been passed, the government was reorganized and the state divided into twelve counties on November 1, 1683. Prior to this, in 1665, the English had established ridings, or legislative districts based on seventeen towns and Yorkshire county. With the 1683 legislation, each county would be subdivided into towns.

    Albany County: North and West New York, including the disputed territory of Vermont and lands west to the sea (Pacific Ocean). Cornwall County: Maine between the Kennebec River and the St. Croix River from the Atlantic Ocean to the St. Lawrence River. Dukes County: Elizabeth Islands, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket Island east of Long Island. Dutchess County: now Dutchess and Putnam counties. Kings County: the current Kings County; Brooklyn. New York County: New York County; Manhattan. Orange County: currently Orange and Rockland counties. Queens County: now Queens and Nassau counties. Richmond County: Richmond County; Staten Island. Suffolk County. Ulster County: now Ulster and Sullivan counties, plus part of what is now Delaware and Greene counties. Westchester County: Westchester and Bronx counties.

    Ten of the original counties still exist, with the counties of Cornwall and Dukes subsequently transferred by treaty to Massachusetts in 1692.

    The Province of New York, a proprietory colony, became a royal colony in February 1685 when James, the Duke of York, ascended to the thrown of England as King James II. Thomas Dongan would remain as Governor of the Province of New York until 1688. T-Shirts and Gifts

    A Charter of Liberties

    FFOR The better Establishing the Government of this province of New Yorke and that Justice and Right may be Equally done to all persons within the same

    BEE It Enacted by the Governour Councell and Representatives now in General Assembly mett and assembled and by the authority of the same.

    1. THAT The Supreme Legislative Authority under his Majesty and Royall Highnesse James Duke of Yorke Albany &c Lord proprietor of the said province shall forever be and reside in a Governour, Councell, and the people mett in Generall Assembly.

    2. THAT The Exercise of the Cheife Magistracy and Administracon of the Government over the said province shall bee in the said Governour assisted by a Councell with whose advice and Consent or with at least four of them he is to rule and Governe the same according to the Lawes thereof.

    3. THAT In Case the Governour shall dye or be absent out of the province and that there be noe person within the said province Comissionated by his Royall Highnesse his heires or Successours to be Governour or Comander in Cheife there That then the Councell for the time being or Soe many of them as are in the Said province doe take upon them the Administracon of the Governour and the Execucon of the Lawes thereof and powers and authorityes belonging to the Governour and Councell the first in nominacon in which Councell is to preside untill the said Governour shall returne and arrive in the said province againe, or the pleasure of his Royall Highnesse his heires or Successours Shall be further knowne.

    4. THAT According to the usage Custome and practice of the Realme of England a sessions of a Generall Assembly be held in this province once in three yeares at least.

    5. THAT Every ffreeholder within this province and ffreeman in any Corporacon Shall have his free Choise and Vote in the Electing of the Representatives without any manner of constraint or Imposicon. And that in all Eleccons the Majority of Voices shall carry itt and by freeholders is understood every one who is Soe understood according to the Lawes of England.

    6. THAT The persons to be Elected to sitt as representatives in the Generall Assembly from time to time for the severall Cittyes townes Countyes Shires or Divisions of this province and all places within the same shall be according to the proporcon and number hereafter Expressed that is to say for the Citty and County of New Yorke four, for the County of Suffolke two, for Queens County two, for Kings County two, for the County of Richmond two for the County of West Chester two, for the County of Ulster two for the County of Albany two and for Schenectade within the said County one for Dukes County two, for the County of Cornwall two and as many more as his Royall Highnesse shall think fitt to Establish.

    7. THAT All persons Chosen and Assembled in manner aforesaid or the Major part of them shall be deemed and accounted the Representatives of this province which said Representatives together with the Governour and his Councell Shall forever be the Supreame and only Legislative power under his Royall Highnesse of the said province.

    8. THAT The said Representatives may appoint their owne Times of meeting dureing their sessions and may adjourne their house from time to time to such time as to them shall seeme meet and convenient.

    9. THAT THE said Representatives are the sole Judges of the Qualificacons of their owne members, and likewise of all undue Eleccons and may from time to time purge their house as they shall see occasion dureing the said sessions.

    10. THAT Noe mernber of the general Assembly or their servants dureing the time of their Sessions and whilest they shall be goeing to and returning from the said Assembly shall be arrested sued imprisoned or any wayes molested or troubled nor be compelled to make answere to any suite, Bill, plaint, Declaracon or otherwise, (Cases of High Treason and felony only excepted) provided the number of the said servants shall not Exceed three.

    11. THAT All bills agreed upon by the said Representatives or the Major part of them shall be presented unto the Governour and his Councell for their Approbacon and Consent All and Every which Said Bills soe approved of Consented to by the Governour and his Councell shall be Esteemed and accounted the Lawes of the province, Which said Lawes shall continue and remaine of force untill they shall be repealed by the authority aforesaid that is to say the Governour Councell and Representatives in General Assembly by and with the Approbacon of his Royal Highnesse or Expire by their owne Limittacons.

    12. THAT In all cases of death or removall of any of the said Representatives The Governour shall issue out Summons by Writt to the Respective Townes Cittyes Shires Countryes or Divisions for which he or they soe removed or deceased were Chosen willing and requireing the ffreholders of the Same to Elect others in their place and stead.

    13. THAT Noe freeman shall be taken and imprisoned or be disseized of his ffrehold or Libertye or ffree Customes or be outlawed or Exiled or any other wayes destroyed nor shall be passed upon adjudged or condemned But by the Law-full Judgment of his peers and by the Law of this province. Justice nor Right shall be neither sold denyed or deferred to any man within this province.

    14. THAT Noe aid, Tax, Tallage, Assessment, Custome, Loane, Benevolence or Imposicon whatsoever shall be layed assessed imposed or levyed on any of his Majestyes Subjects within this province or their Estates upon any manner of colour or pretence but by the act and Consent of the Governour Councell and Representatives of the people in Generall Assembly mett and Assembled.

    15. THAT Noe man of what Estate or Condicon soever shall be putt out of his Lands or Tenements, nor taken, nor imprisoned, nor disherited, nor banished nor any wayes distroyed without being brought to Answere by due Course of Law.

    16. THAT A ffreeman Shall not be amerced for a small fault, but after the manner of his fault and for a great fault after the Greatnesse thereof Saveing to him his freehold, And a husbandman saveing to him his Wainage and a merchant likewise saveing to him his merchandize And none of the said Amerciaments shall be assessed but by the oath of twelve honest and Lawfull men of the Vicinage provided the faults and misdemeanours be not in Contempt of Courts of Judicature.

    17. ALL Tryalls shall be by the verdict of twelve men, and as neer as may be peers or Equalls And of the neighbourhood and in the County Shire or Division where the fact Shall arise or grow Whether the Same be by Indictment Infermacon Declaracon or otherwise against the person Offender or Defendant.

    18. THAT In all Cases Capitall or Criminall there shall be a grand Inquest who shall first present the offence and then twelve men of the neighbourhood to try the Offender who after his plea to the Indictment shall be allowed his reasonable Challenges.

    19. THAT In all Cases whatsoever Bayle by sufficient Suretyes Shall be allowed and taken unlesse for treason or felony plainly and specially Expressed and menconed in the Warrant of Committment provided Alwayes that nothing herein contained shall Extend to discharge out of prison upon bayle any person taken in Execucon for debts or otherwise legally sentenced by the Judgment of any of the Courts of Record within the province.

    20. THAT Noe Comissions for proceeding by Marshall Law against any of his Majestyes Subjects within this province shall issue forth to any person or persons whatsoever Least by Colour of them any of his Majestyes Subjects bee destroyed or putt to death Except all such officers persons and Soldiers in pay throughout the Government.

    21. THAT From hence forward Noe Lands Within this province shall be Esteemed or accounted a Chattle or personall Estate but an Estate of Inheritance according to the Custome and practice of his Majestyes Realme of England.

    22. THAT Noe Court or Courts within this province have or at any time hereafter Shall have any Jurisdiccon power or authority to grant out any Execucon or other writt whereby any mans Land may be sold or any other way disposed off without the owners Consent provided Alwayes That the issues or meane proffitts of any mans Lands shall or may be Extended by Execucon or otherwise to satisfye just debts Any thing to the Contrary hereof in any wise Notwithstanding.

    23. THAT Noe Estate of a feme Covert shall be sold or conveyed But by Deed acknowledged by her in Some Court of Record the Woman being secretly Examined if She doth it freely without threats or Compulsion of her husband.

    24. THAT All Wills in writeing attested by two Credible Witnesses shall be of the same force to convey Lands as other Conveyances being registered in the Secretaryes Office within forty dayes after the testators death.

    25. THAT A Widow after the death of her husband shall have her Dower And shall and may tarry in the Cheife house of her husband forty dayes after the death of her husband within which forty dayes her Dower shall be assigned her And for her Dower shall be assigned unto her the third part of all the Lands of husband dureing Coverture, Except shee were Endowed of Lesse before Marriage.

    26. THAT All Lands and Heritages within this province and Dependencyes shall be free from all fines and Lycences upon Alienacons, and from all Herriotts Ward Shipps Liveryes primer Seizins yeare day and Wast Escheats and forfeitures upon the death of parents and Ancestors naturall unaturall casuall or Judiciall, and that forever; Cases of High treason only Excepted.

    27. THAT Noe person or persons which professe ffaith in God by Jesus Christ Shall at any time be any wayes molested punished disquieted or called in Question for any Difference in opinion or Matter of Religious Concernment, who doe not actually disturb the Civill peace of the province, But that all and Every such person or persons may from time to time and at all times freely have and fully enjoy his or their Judgments or Consciencyes in matters of Religion throughout all the province, they behaveing themselves peaceably and quietly and not useing this Liberty to Lycentiousnesse nor to the Civill Injury or outward disturbance of others provided Alwayes that this liberty or any thing contained therein to the Contrary shall never be Construed or improved to make void the Settlement of any publique Minister on Long Island Whether Such Settlement be by two thirds of the voices in any Towne thereon which shall alwayes include the Minor part Or by Subscripcons of perticuler Inhabitants in Said Townes provided they are the two thirds thereon Butt that all such agreements Covenants and Subscripcons that are there already made and had Or that hereafter shall bee in this Manner Consented to agreed and Subscribed shall at all time and times hereafter be firme and Stable And in Confirmacon hereof It is Enacted by the Governour Councell and Representatives; That all Such Sumes of money soe agreed and Consented to or Subscribed as aforesaid for maintenance of said Publick Ministers by the two thirds of any Towne on Long Island Shall alwayes include the Minor part who shall be regulated thereby And also Such Subscripcons and agreements as are before menconed are and Shall be alwayes ratified performed and paid, And if any Towne on said Island in their publick Capacity of agreement with any Such minister or any perticuler persons by their private Subscripcons as aforesaid Shall make default deny or withdraw from Such payment Soe Covenanted to agreed upon and Subscribed That in Such Case upon Complaint of any Collector appointed and Chosen by two thirds of Such Towne upon Long Island unto any Justice of that County Upon his hearing the Same he is hereby authorized impowered and required to issue out his warrant unto the Constable or his Deputy or any other person appointed for the Collection of said Rates or agreement to Levy upon the goods and Chattles of the Said Delinquent or Defaulter all such Sumes of money Soe covenanted and agreed to be paid by distresse with Costs and Charges without any further Suite in Law Any Lawe Custome or usage to the Contrary in any wise Notwithstanding.

    PROVIDED Alwayes the said sume or sumes be under forty shillings otherwise to be recovered as the Law directs.

    AND WHEREAS All the Respective Christian Churches now in practice within the City of New Yorke and the other places of this province doe appeare to be priviledged Churches and have beene Soe Established and Confirmed by the former authority of this Government

    BEE it hereby Enacted by this Generall Assembly and by the authority thereof That all the Said Respective Christian Churches be hereby Confirmed therein And that they and Every of them Shall from henceforth forever be held and reputed as priviledged Churches and Enjoy all their former freedomes of their Religion in Divine Worshipp and Church Discipline And that all former Contracts made and agreed upon for the maintenances of the severall ministers of the Said Churches shall stand and continue in full force and virtue And that all Contracts for the future to be made Shall be of the same power And all persons that are unwilling to performe their part of the said Contract Shall be Constrained thereunto by a warrant from any Justice of the peace provided it be under forty Shillings Or otherwise as this Law directs provided allsoe that all Christian Churches that Shall hereafter come and settle with in this province shall have the Same priviledges.

    Image above: Portion of the lithograph, "A south prospect of ye floushing city of New-York in the Province of New York, North America," 1717, William Burgis, 1746, George Hayward, William Bakewell, D.T. Valentine's Manual. Courtesy Library of Congress. Image below: Montage (inset) Thomas Dongan, 1765. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons; (background) Portion of the engraving, "A south prospect of the city of New York in America," 1761, (based on above lithograph), the London Magazine. Courtesy Library of Congress. Info source: "A Charter of Liberties," 1683, New York General Assembly, from "The Constitutional History of New York from the Beginning of the Colonial Period to the Year 1905, Showing the Origin, Development, and Judicial Construction of the Constitution," 1906, Charles Z. Lincoln via; "History of the Province of New York," 1757, T. Wilcox; "Our Evolving Counties," Anastacia L. Pratt,; Wikipedia.

    Province of New York, Thomas Dongan

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