Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Do you have any ancestors who hail from what became the Empire State, particularly from the city now nicknamed “The Big Apple?” If you believe they did, you may discover helpful information in the reprint of NEW YORK HISTORICAL MANUSCRIPTS. MINUTES OF THE MAYORS COURT OF NEW YORK, 1674-1675. Edited by renowned genealogist, Kenneth Scott, the book contains material that had previously been unpublished until Scott discovered the overlooked volume and brought it to the attention of researchers.

     The Minutes of the Mayor’s Court during the late seventeenth century deal with numerous cases that arose from attempts by former owners to recover possessions that the Dutch had confiscated. Legal suits occurred in the city of New York because it was the seat of government for the area. But it also served as the colony’s chief port. So the significance of the cases extended beyond the city limits and, thereby, furnished insight into the disruptions created as the government changed hands from Dutch to English rule. An order in 1674, for example, stated: ”The Court finding great inconveniencies attending them by the bringing in writings and papers written in the Dutch language doe therefore Order that for the future noe papers shall be brought to this Court in Dutch, on the penalty of having them throwne out, Excepting poore people who are not able to pay for translating.”

     By chance, this set of minutes also demonstrates that the court represented several ethnic groups, including many English, who lived in the city. Many of the participants in the cases belonged to the upper class of citizens. The case of Richard LOCKWOOD, plaintiff, versus John CAVELIER, defendant, is a sample of the topics found in the minutes. Lockwood declared that Cavelier was “indebted unto him for passage of his wife and Childe from Virginia to Boston the sume of forty shillings....” The plaintiff won. A few recurring names in the records are BAYARD, BEDLOO, CARMAN, COOKE, CRAY/CRAYE, CREGIER/CREGIERS, DAVENPORT, DE HAERT/DE HART/ DE HARTE, ELLIOTT/ELLIOT/ELLOT, GIBBS, LAWRENCE/LAURENS/LAUWERENS/LOURENS, LOVELACE, MEYER/MAYOR, VAN BURSEN/VAN BORSUM, and WESSELL/WESSELLS.

     Scott enhances the legal information with biographical details obtained from other sources. Thus, facts supplied in the “notes” section may give a person’s vital statistics, occupation, and alternate forms of names. The editor, for example, lists in the index five different spellings of the surname Peterson.

     In addition to providing interesting data concerning family, social, and legal history in the colonial era, this material helps to fill in a partial gap in local records, due to a fire in 1911. Genealogists seeking facts about their seventeenth-century forebears in what is now the Empire State may find invaluable information in NEW YORK HISTORICAL MANUSCRIPTS. MINUTES OF THE MAYORS COURT OF NEW YORK, 1674-1675.

     The 87-page work has soft covers, a preface, an introduction, annotated notes, a list of sources and their abbreviations used in the text, and a full name index. To the book's price of $16.50, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order 8601) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website ).

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