Minute Book 3: 1727-February: Governor Burnet Plans His Fort at Oswego

Having obtained 300 pounds in funding from the New York Assembly to build a fort at Oswego, Governor Burnet asked the commissioners to recommend a location. Based on the meeting between the Six Nations and Governor Burnet in September 1724, the commissioners knew that the governor wanted the fort at Oswego rather than at the Six Nations’ preferred location at the end of Oneida Lake. On February 4th, they wrote the governor and told him what he wanted to hear. The most convenient place was the west side of the Onondaga River (now called the Oswego River) where it flowed into Lake Ontario, still known as Cataraqui Lake at this period.

The commissioners recommended that Captain Evert Bancker, already stationed in Seneca Country for the winter, pick the exact location.  The fort was to be 60 feet square with two blockhouses, a shingled room, and a chimney.  1727-2-4

They agreed to keep the matter private but they told the governor that it was already no secret in Albany.  They proposed to tell Captain Bancker that the building was intended to keep the traders’ goods dry, but added that Bancker would need some presents to give any Iroquois leaders who might oppose the work.  Bancker also proposed to regulate trade at Oswego and make sure that the Indians were not cheated by mixing rum with water.  The Six Nations had complained of being cheated in this way the previous year and proposed that the traders stop bringing rum to their country, but the English would not consider that possibility. The commissioners also assured the governor that they would tell Captain Collins to redeliver rum to the Indians after they complained that it had been stolen at Schenectady.

Captain Collins is probably Edward Collins, rather than his father John Collins, who was a lieutenant by this time.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the best copy of the entry for February 1727 starts here.

Albany ye 4th february 1726/7

May it please your Excy

We had ye honour of your Exce.cys favours

of ye 21 Jan.r [copy on p. 210a says 13th Jan.ry] with Capt. Banker[s] Letter acts of                                                                                          Assembly &

news papers for which we Return your Exc.ly [thanks. we’ll acqt. Capt. Collins with your Exc.ly]s Directions

about ye Redelivery of ye rum which ye Indians Compaind

has been Imbezzled at Schinechtady we wish Such vile

practices could be prevented it has done much mischief Al=

=ready according to your Ex.ly Commands laid as for our advice

about applying ye 300 lb providing by act of Assembly we

Shall do in ye best [as] we are able

The most Convenient place & Scituation for ye

building we are Informed is at ye South Side of ye Cadarach=

=qui lake on the west Side of ye onnondage River were it

Impties it Sell into Said Lake or Such proper place there

Adjacent as Capt. Banker Shall think fitt to pitch ye ffort

to be made of Stockadors 12 foot above Ground & if it be a Rock=

=ie place to be laid on the ground 1/4 of Loggs to be 60 foot Square

with two blockhouses of 20 & ye upper 14 foot Square of good 1/3

timber within a Chimney in act ye roof Coverd with Singles

which one of our board has Offerd to Compleat for £150÷ and

if this affair to be done in a publick manner we Shall En=

=deavour to gett it done for less 150 & ye Canoes or batoes w.h

are Requird for ye Transporting the men &c. we Compute

will Cost abt £12÷ [Copy p. 235 says £125 ÷] the remainder of ye Same [Sum] allowed may

be Applyd for provisions & Necessaries for the men but for

what time we Cant Calculate being a thing we are

Unacquainted with as for our part we Shall keep this

affair private but its no [Secret] in town we prosume it

to be necessary yt. Capt. Banker be directed about ye time

yt. ye. men are to go from hence yt. Such a building is to be

Errected for keeping the traders goods dry for wh

[0352] 174a

Purpose it will be Necessary yt. he be Supply’d with Some

Small pSent to give Some Sachims who might Oppose this

work. as for his Conduct yt he Endeavours yt. the Indians

be not Cheated in their trade Especially in Rum by being

mixt with water & further to Regulasie himself according

to ye. Act of Generall Assembly in yt. Case providing

[with Respect we are

May it please your Ex.lcy

your Exc.cy most humble &

Most Obedient Servants

Philip Livingston                    Rutger Bleecker

Myn: Schuyler                                    Harmanus Wendle

Peter Van Brugh                      Nicolaes Bleecker

Lancester Symes                     Stephanus Groesbeeck

John Cuyler                            Reyer Gerritse]

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Minute Book 3: 1727

The entries for 1727 are quite out of order and contain many duplicates.  In fact they are an interesting study in the approaches taken by 18th century clerks.  It is clear that they did not consider it important to be uniform about their use of abbreviations any more than about spelling.  Thus a word that is abbreviated in one copy of a document may be written out in full in another.  If something seems unclear, it can be helpful to look at both copies as well as the original images. You can view a chronological version of 1727 as a webpage or download it here as a PDF AIC_RecordBooks-V1-1727only

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Minute Book 3: 1726

The entries for 1726 are somewhat out of chronological order and there are more than one copy of some of them. You can view a chronological version of 1726 as a webpage or download it here as a PDF AIC_RecordBooks-V1-1726only.

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Minute Book 3: 1726-October: The French Undermine Haudenosaunee Peace Efforts Between the Abenaki and New England

In October the Kahnawake leaders Schonondoe (spelled Sconondo in this entry) and Cahowasse came to Albany from their home near Montreal. They told the commissioners that they had been at Fort La Mot in Corlaer’s Lake (probably Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain) where they met a group of ojonnagongee (Eastern Indians / Abenaki) from St. Francis (Odanak) who were on their way to tell their compatriots who were out hunting that they should come home. They told Schonondoe and Cahowasse that they had been at Quebec, where they met the new French governor. The new governor summoned the chiefs of nine castles of the Eastern Indians (meaning Abenaki nations) and asked which of them had made peace with New England.  The three castles who admitted to making peace were accused of turning English. The governor said France would no longer protect them and would order their resident priest to leave. The governor said he would protect the other six castles, provide them with powder and other goods, and give them what they needed to continue the war against the people of New England who had taken Abenaki land “to which they have no Manner of Right.” Four parties of Eastern Indians who formerly lived at Norridgewock had gone out fighting against New England. The commissioners conveyed this news by an express to Massachusetts Governor Dummer and to Colonel John Stoddard at Northampton.

To put this entry in context, Norridgewock, an Abenaki community on the Kennebec River in what is now Maine, was the location of a French mission headed by Father Sebastian Rale, who encouraged the Abenaki to resist New England encroachments on their territories.  The warfare between the Abenaki and New England during the 1720s is known both as Father Rale’s War and Dummer’s War.  Father Rale was killed and scalped by the English when they attacked and burned the mission in 1724.

The new French governor is not named, but presumably means Charles de la Boische, Marquis de Beauharnois, who replaced Philippe de Regaud Vaudreuil as Governor-General of New France in 1726.

1726-10-14I suspect that Sconondo is the father of John Skenandoa, c 1706-March 11, 1816, the Oneida chief who was active during the Revolutionary War.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, this meeting starts here. The transcript is below. There are no entries for the rest of 1726 or for January 1727.

[0471] 233a

Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of the

Indian Affairs in Albany ye 14th 8ber [October]



Philip Livingston

Henry Holland                        } Esq.rs Com.rs

Joh.s Cuyler

Two Cachnawage Indians Liveing near Montreal in Canada

named Sconondo &

Cahowasse being arrivd here Inform the Com.rs that

twenty days ago they overtook at fort La Mot in Corlaers Lake

a party of ojonnagongee

Indians who Live at St. francois that were going with

a message to the Indians who are at hunting to Return

to their habitations. the said party of Indians told ye above

two Indians that they had been at quebeck and Seen the

new Gov.r there who had Sent for the Chiefs of ye Eastren Indians

of nine Severall Castles to whom he made a Speech

which of them had made peace with the people of New

England, the Chiefs of three Castles Stood up & Said that they

had Concluded a peace with them on which the Governour told them

that Since they were turnd English men

he would not assist nor protect them. but order the priest

who Lives among them to leave their habitation. and

would assist & protect the Indians of the other Six Castles

with what they have occassion for. having Received a

Ship Loaden with all sorts of goods fitt for their use

and made them a present of 800 lb powder &c. And told

them he had orders from the King his Master to furnish

them with what they have occassion for to prosecute the

war against the people of New England who possessd

their Land to which they have no Manner of Right.

The Said two Indians ad that four parties of

Indians who formerly Livd at Norrigewack were gone out

fighting from St. Francois against New England. but do

not know how ma[n]y days its ago Since they went out nor

[0472] 234

of how many men each party doth Consists

Resolved that Govern.r Dummer be forthwith given

Notice of this Intelligence by Express. in order to take

proper measures to defeat ye designs of ye Indians

who may be hovering or Skulking on his fronteers

which was done accordingly as also to Coll.o John

Stoddard at Northhampton —

[There are no entries for November or December 1726.]

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Minute Book 3: 1726-September pt. 2: Evert Banker replaces Abraham Schuyler in Iroquoia

Having obtained the deed he sought, Governor Burnet met with the Commissioners of Indian Affairs and appointed a new commissioner, “Captain Lancaster Syms,” probably Lancaster Symes, Jr., since his father, also named Lancaster Symes, was a major rather than a captain.  Burnet approved the commissioners’ request for money for the family of Major Abraham Schuyler, who had died on his mission to Iroquoia. He replaced Schuyler with one of the commissioners, Captain Evert Bancker, who was posted to the Seneca’s Country for the winter and then to the trading place at the falls of the Onondaga River (Oswego) for the rest of the year. Banker’s salary was 100 pounds on condition that he would not trade himself except for provisions. He also received Schuyler’s birch canoe, two assistants, and money for expenses.

Payments were authorized for Jacob Brower, Harme Vedder Jr., Jurian Hogan, Jost Van Seysen, and Nicholas Wemp for working in Iroquoia as smiths and armorers, to Lawrence Claessen for his journey to the Seneca, and to Cornelis Cuyler for the birch canoe made for Major Schuyler.

Governor Burnet issued formal instructions to Captain Bancker, who was to reside “either at Canosidague [probably Canadasaga] or Onahee” or to travel between these two Seneca towns. According to the Smithsonian’s Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Canadasaga was one of the main Seneca towns at this time, located at the north end of Seneca Lake, near present day Geneva N.Y. (See Handbook part 1 (1907) p. 198). Onnahee was farther west in what is now the town of Hopewell N.Y. (Handbook part 2 (1910), p. 128.)

Captain Bancker was to travel to Cayuga or Onondaga as needed, and to cultivate “a famillar acquaintance” with the Haudenosaunee leadership in order to pursuade them to be faithful to the British and mistrustful of the French. In particular Banker should prevent the Six Nations from entering any agreements with the French or consenting to the construction of French fortifications at Niagara or elsewhere. Evert was also told to encourage other native nations to trade with the British rather than the French, to gather intelligence, to send news of important events to the governor directly as well as the commissioners, and to keep a journal about his actions.  A few days later, Bancker met with the commissioners who agreed to his request for a larger canoe, a belt of wampum, and a supply of rum.


In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the meeting of September 14 1726 starts here. The transcript is below.

[0465] 230a

[Another copy of Minutes of Sept. 14 1726 meeting between Gov. Burnet & the AIC can be found on p. 170.]

Att a Meeting of Comissioner

of Indian Affairs in Albany

the 14th day of Septemb. 1726


His Excellency William

Burnet Esq.r &c

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

John Cuyler

Peter Van Brugh

Evert Bancker

Myndert Schuyler                  His Excellency thought fitt to Appoint

Capt. Lancester Seyms to be one of the Comissioners

for the Indian Affairs at this place

His Excellency Desird an account of what

has been Expended for the publick service on

Credit of what Should be Raizd by act of


It appeard that £25 on Credit of a minute

of Councill of October Last was

allowed by the Commissioners to Jacob Brower

and Harme Vedder Jun. Smith at Onnondage

and £5.10 for their towls &c £35:– to Jurian

Hogan & Comp.ny as Smiths at Sinnekes Country

Last year & £5: for a Smiths Bellows at onnon=


It is further observd that Major Abraham

Schuyler Deceasd has been in the Indian Country

by his Excellencys order Dureing the Space of three

months till the time of his death for which his

Exce.ly in Consideration of ye. Misfortune of his

family his Execly. would Recomend it to the

Council at New York for the Allowence of £50:–

there was Likewise producd on acc.t of presents

furnish’d by Philip Livingston Actually given by

Major Ab: Schuyler Amo.t to the Sume of £31:7:6–

[On] Accot

[0466] 231

An Account for two men his Attendants £22:–

by his agreement a bursh Canoe from M. Cornelis

Cuyler agreed for £10:– provisions £8:19. 1 1/2

Jurian hogan psents given by Lourence Clase

amo.t £4:7:– an Acc.t of D.o for Carying up an

Anwill &c. £6:19:– a Smith’s anvill from Philip

Livingston for the Sinnekes Country amounting

to £7:13:6 An acct. of Lowrence Claes[en] for his

Journey to the Sinnekes Country in bringing down

the Sachims now with horse here & Charging in 4 fitching

Sachims from hunting amounts to £32:2:–

all which his Excellency Informd the Com.es he

would Recommend to the Councill at New York

for their Consent that warr:t on the Treat.y [treasury?]

may Issue for Payment of Said Severall Accts.

His Exc.ly further acquainted this board

that he Intended to Send Capt. Evert Bancker

to the Sinnekes Country for the winter and the

Remainder part of the year to Reside at Such

places at or near the falls of Onnondage River

as he Shall be Directed; y his Exc.lys further

Instructions & that his Exc.ly will Recomend

to the Gentlemen of the Councill & that he be

allowed £100:– for his years Sallery on Condi=

=tion that at his Return to Albany he Declares on

Oath that he has not traded Directly by

himself or Indirectly by others Dureing his

Stay in the Indian Country (Excepting only for

Provisions for himself & his two attendants).

and that he may be Allow’d £25:– for psents

to the Indians providing he declares on oath

the Same has been given to them according to

the best of his Judgement for the publick Service

and that there be allowed £30:– for two

attendants Dureing the said time & £10:– for

Interpreters as he Shall have occasion for

them of which he is to give at his Return

an Attest’d Acct. if Required by his Excellency

That the Bursh Canoe Lately bought &


[0467] 231a

Made use of by Major Abraham Schuyler

belonging to the Government be made use

of by Capt. Bancker Dureing the time he

Shall be in the Sd. years Service

That his Exce.ly further will Recomend

to the Gen.t of ye. Councill yt. ye. Sume of £20: be

allowd To Jost van Seysen Armourer & Nicolas wemp

Smith together for their Service & work for the

Indians in the Sinnekes Country till the

first of may next provided they Stay there

till that day

[That] his Excellency will also Recomend

to ye Councill yt. £12:– be allowd unto Capt

Evert Bancker in full of all Provisions

Necessaryes whatsoEver dureing his Stay

among ye Indians


Att a meeting of the Com.rs

of Indian Affairs in Albany

the 15.th September 1726


His Exc.ly William Burnet

Esq.r &a.

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

John Cuyler

Myndert Schuyler

Hend.k Renselaer

Lancester Seyms         By his Exce.ly William

Burnet Esqr. &a.

Instructions for Capt. Evert

Bancker –

You are forthwith to Repair

to the Sinnekes Country and there to Reside

till april next Either at Canosedague or

Onahee or go from time to time from the one

Castle to the other as you Shall think most

tending to the Publick Service and you are



[0468] 232

To take a Journey to Cayouge or Onnondage

when you think the publick Service Requires

it not otherwise —

You are to use your Uttmost Endeavors to

Cultivate a femillar acquaintance with the

Principall men among the Indians . and per=

=swade them with all your might to be faith

=full to ye Brittish Interest and do your Endea

=vor to bring aff those that are Inclind to

the french —

You are to find out with all poss=

=ible Diligence what news the french Spread

among the Indians or what design they have

and Defeate them with the uttmost of your Ability

you are to keep a particular Journall of all your

own Proceeding and of all that you hear Concern=

=ing the french or the Indians and Transmitt

accounts of what is most Matteriall to me as

Likewise to ye Com.rs of Indian affairs at Albany

and if any thing Extraordinary Should happen

you are to Send an Indian or a Christian Express

with an acct. of it in Case you Judge there be

occasion for it —

You are Particularly to Strenghten the

Indians in their Dislike to the french fortifying

Onjagara by Reminding them of the mishifes

the french fforts have Allways done them and you

are to perswade them not to Enter into any manner

of agreement with the french & Particularly not

give their Consent to their fortifying Niagara

or any where Else on the South Side of the Lake

and you are to use the Same diligence to prevent

the Onnondages from giveing any Consent to the

french fortifying on this Side of the Lake upon

any Notice you have that any Such thing is

proposed to them by the french; you are to follow

from time to time Such Directions as you shall Receive

from me or yee Com.rs of the Indian affairs at Albany

you are to use your best Endeavors to promote



[0469] 232a

The Brittish Interest among any of yee farr

Indians with whom you Shall have any opper=

tunity of Doing it – and perswade as much as

in you Lyes to trade with yee People of this

Province from whom they may allways be Supplyd

with goods Cheaper then by the french either at

albany where they are Cheapest or if they can

not come as far at the mouth of onnondage River

and by telling them that this Government & the

6 Nations will always keep ye path open &

Clean for them which you are Likewise to

Remind the Sinnekes that they have promist

So often to this Government to do, and you are

to Represent to them how much it is for their

Interest to have a free Intercourse & Strict

frindship with all the far Nations that so ye

french May not be able Ever to Engage the

far Nations to make war as they formerly

have done a gainst ye 5 Nations, in the medle

of april next you are to Repair to the falls

at Onnondage River and there you may Expect

to Receive further Instructions for your

Conduct Dureing the Rest of ye Summer according

to what may be Enacted in the Generall Assembly

for Regulating the trade with the farr Indians

upon the Sd. River or what may be Directed

by me & Councill in Case no act of Assembly be

made for that purpose or any other Service

which we Shall Recomend to your Care

Given under my hand & Seale this 15th day of Sept.

in the thirteenth year of his Maj.st Reign Ao Do. 1726


Was Signd

W Burnet



[0470]            233

Att a meeting of the Com.rs of Indian

Affairs in Albany the 20th Sep.r 1726


Ph: Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          } Esq.rs Com.rs

Evert Banker

Lancester Seyms

Capt Evert Bancker Informs this Board that his Ex.cy

has been pleased to appoint him to Reside among the Indians

for one year and allowd him to go up in the Bursh Canoe

which Major Abraham Schuyler decd. had Last Summer

to the Sinnekes Country. which Capt Bancker Says he

has Caused to be viewd and finds it too Small for him and

two men with their provisions & necessaries to go in

to the Sinnekes Country, and proposes that the Com.rs may

furnish him with a good burch Canoe

The Com.rs Considering that the season of the year being

far advancd. that a good Canoe is Requird to go up with

do approve yt Capt Bancker do buy a good Canoe and Sell

the other for what it will yield. and they will Endeavr

that the Residue be paid either by ye Province or Com.rs

That a belt of wampum be purchasd by Capt Bancker

for his use to Speak with to the Indians and that ye Charge

Shall be paid and that he take with him 5 gallon Rum

for his Journey & 5 gall. d.o to drink his Ex.cys health with

the Sachims

Capt Bancker is desired to See the Armourer & Smith

sent by the Gov.r to work at the Sinnekes Country be put

in Possession of ye Smiths Shop & toils

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Minute Book 3: 1726-September pt.1: Governor Burnet Holds a Conference and Obtains a Questionable Deed

[There are no entries for August 1726.]

1726-9-7In preparation for the conference held September 7-14, Governor William Burnet issued a proclamation that prohibited giving liquor to Indians  or trading in Indian goods to be used as presents, thus maintaining control over goods that might influence native decision makers. The proceedings printed in Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Volume 5, beginning on page 786, are substantially the same as the version in the records of the Indian Commissioners. I have not transcribed them, but they are summarized below. DRCHNY also includes a letter that Governor Burnet sent to the Lords of Trade (p. 783 et seq.) along with the treaty, in which he explains that his main goal was to prevent the Six Nations from authorizing the French fort at Niagara. He added some related correspondence between himself and the Governor of Montreal and a questionable deed to Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga lands (DRCHNY 5:800) negotiated secretly with a small group of sachims at the end of the conference. The deed is not part of the records of the Indian Commissioners.

On September 7th Governor Burnet held a private meeting with his staff and a small group of two sachems from each of the Six Nations. Part of the record of this meeting is written out as a series of queries and answers, a different format from the usual one in which wampum belts were presented on specific points and the other side would consider them before responding to them as a group. Burnet, or whoever wrote up the minutes of the meeting, may have structured it this way in order to create a record that supported the idea that the Six Nations were subject to British dominion and the governor could query them as he would do with a subordinate official.

At the private meeting, the Onondaga speaker Ajewachta recounted how the French envoy “Monsieur Longueuil” (Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil, 1687-1755) had presented the building at Niagara as a trading house to replace an existing bark house that had fallen into disrepair. According to Ajewachta, the Onondagas agreed to it despite objections from the Senecas who actually owned the land. Ajewachta tried to reassure Governor Burnet that the region encompassing Niagara and Lake Ontario, would remain “a path of peace for all christians and Indians to come and go forward and backward on account of Trade.” He said the Six Nations told the French that they held firm to the alliance with the English as well as to peace with the French.  They wanted the French and the English to settle any disagreements “at Sea and not in [the Six Nations’] Country.”

When Governor Burnet asked the sachims whether they were not sorry that they had agreed to the new building at Niagara, they said Longueil had won them over but they immediately regretted it. They described the extensive negotiations between them and the French in which the Onondagas had tentatively agreed to the French request., but subject to the approval of the rest of the Six Nations and void if they disallowed it. A Seneca Sachim named Kanakarichton verified that the land at Niagara belonged to the Senecas along with land on the other side of the lake. Nonetheless, the French who came to build the fort insisted on finishing it even while the Six Nations were still discussing the situation with the French governor through the interpreter Jean Coeur (Louis-Thomas Chabert de Joncaire). When the building was finished it would be staffed by 30 soldiers as well as officers and a priest.

The Six Nations also said they had heard that two Frenchmen had asked an unidentified nation living on the Ohio River to take up the hatchet against the Six Nations on behalf of the French, but that nation had refused. The Frenchmen told them that papers were going to circulate to Philadelphia, New York, Albany, and Montreal about an agreement between the French and the English to cut off their nation once the fort at Niagara was complete, but the warriors burned the papers, preventing it. They also heard ominous things from Canada about proceedings between the French and the English, and asked Governor Burnet what news he had heard. Finally they said the traders in their country were cheating them by selling water disguised as rum that went bad in a day or two.

Governor Burnet promised to send someone to oversee the trade to prevent cheating. He explained that France and Great Britain were currently allies who were going to war with Spain.  He read them the text of a letter that he had sent to the governor of Canada about the Treaty of Utrecht, which required the French in Canada not to hinder or molest the five Nations or their allies and guaranteed free trade for all. After Governor Burnet encouraged them to do so, the 12 sachims asked him to contact King George and request him to write the King of France to object to Fort Niagara. Burnet closed the meeting by stating that what had transpired would now be stated publicly.

Two days later proceedings resumed with a full gathering of all the representatives of the Six Nations, Governor Burnet, the Commissioners for Indian Affairs, and aldermen from the City of Albany. Governor Burnet, who had been studying the French works on the subject, reviewed in detail the history of the wars between France, its native allies, and the Six Nations, as well as their peaceful relations with the English. He told them that the King of Great Britain was their “true father” who had always fed and cloathed them and provided them with arms.  He renewed the Covenant Chain and gave them a belt of wampum.

Governor Burnet told the gathering that Monsieur Longueuil (Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil, 1656-1729, Governor of Montreal, whose son of the same name was in charge of Fort Niagara) had sent him a letter claiming that the Six Nations had unanimously agreed to the new fort at Niagara, but the Six Nations now said they were afraid the fort would enable the French to keep them from their hunting grounds and prevent the far nations from coming to trade.  He explained the free trade provisions of the Treaty of Utrecht and said he would convey the Six Nations’ complaints about Fort Niagara to King George, who would ask the King of France to review whether it violated the Treaty of Utrecht. If the fort was in violation it should be removed.

Governor Burnet also said that when he conveyed a request from the Six Nations to the governor of Virginia to set up a meeting, Virginia and South Carolina had complained about attacks on their frontiers by Tuscaroras and others. Burnet asked that the offenders be punished. In particular the Senecas attacked an English trading house called Constichrohare at Characks (Cheraw) and captured an Indian boy who was the slave of Nathaniel Ford along with guns, blankets and powder.  The goods and the Indian slave should be delivered to Peter Barbarie, who would reimburse the captors in the name of the owner.  Burnet asked the Six Nations not to allow “French Indians” to pass through their country in order to attack the southern colonies.

Kanakarighton responded for the Six Nations. After renewing the Covenant Chain, he said that the Six Nations had already asked the Governor of Canada to stop building the fort at Niagara.  They now came to the English “howling” because the French were building on their land. He presented a belt to the governor and asked him to write to King George as soon as possible to have the fort removed.

Kanakarighton notified Governor Burnet that Jean Coeur was expected soon at Onondaga, where he would probably spread negative rumors about the English. He asked Burnet to send a “Man of Experience” to Onondaga to hold a meeting with Jean Coeur in front of the Six Nations. It should be conducted  speaking “nothing but Indian between the brother Corlaer and the French, every one to answer for himself concerning what ill Reports he shall have spread” in order to get to the truth and “know who is the lyar.”

Kanakarighton acknowledged Burnet’s concerns about frontier attacks on Virginia and South Carolina. He said that Senecas, Mohawks, Tuscaroras, and “French Indians” were all involved, but their intention was only to pursue Indian enemies present in the trading house that was attacked. The slave that Governor Burnet wanted returned had been given to “Indians who live on a Branch of Susquehannah River, which is called Soghniejadie.” He suggested that the English look for him there themselves because the place was “nearer to you than us” (probably meaning nearer to Virginia.) He asked that the attacks be forgiven as merely accidents committed without the approval of the sachems and agreed to try to stop French Indians to travel through Iroquoia to go fighting.  He pointed out that the English must do their part “for many go fighting thro’ Albany to the English Settlements, who do not come thro’ the Six Nations.

Kanakarighton concluded by adding to what Burnet had said about the history of relations between the Six Nations and the English. They arose through trade at a time when goods were cheap, but now goods had become expensive. He asked for cheaper prices, especially for powder.  Moreover, now that the Six Nations had agreed to let the English trade (“place Beaver Traps”) on the Onondaga River, they had been deceived, since traders there sold river water as rum for a high price. But instead of asking for better rum, he asked for no rum, since it was causing quarrels between married couples and between young Indians and sachims. When Indians from beyond Iroquoia wanted rum, they should come to Albany for it as they used to do, while traders to the Six Nations should bring powder and Indian goods for the same price as they would cost at Albany.

Finally he conveyed a request from the Senecas that Myndert Wemp return to their country as a smith along with an armorer, Andries Nak, who should be taught to speak their language.

Governor Burnet agreed to ask King George to persuade the King of France to remove Fort Niagara.  He did not agree to send a representative to Onondaga for a meeting with Joncaire, claiming that the Six Nations’ own experience should be enough to show that French reports about the English were false. However, he said he would send someone to the Senecas for the winter to address their concerns. He said he would tell the governor of Virginia what the Six Nations asked (that frontier incidents be forgiven) but the best way to prevent Virginia from taking up the hatchet was to stop such attacks. Burnet said he could not control what merchants charged for their goods, and refused to stop selling rum on the Onondaga River.  However, he would post someone there to oversee the trade and prevent cheating, and would ask Myndert Wemp to return to the Seneca country as a smith along with an armorer. He wished them a good journey home, told them he was providing them with a “noble Present” from the king, and explained that rum and provisions would be given to them for their journey after they were “past Schenectady.”

Burnet also held a brief conference with the River (Mohican) and Schaghticoke Indians the same day, condoling two sachims who had died, and recommending Wawiachech to replace them, renewing the Covenant Chain, and admonishing them to stay at Schaghticoke and not go to Canada.  They thanked him and explained that the people who left for Canada were fleeing debts, but those who remained would live and die at Schaghticoke.

On September 14th Burnet held another private conference, this time with two sachims each from the Senecas and Onondagas and three from the Cayugas, but no Oneidas, Tuscaroras, or Mohawks. The names of those who attended are given as Kanakarighton, Thanintsoronwee, Ottsochkooree, DeKanisoree, Aenjeweerat, Kackjakadorodon, and Sadekeenaghtie. Going considerably beyond what had been discussed in the full conference, the small group consented to Governor Burnet’s suggestion that they sign what Burnet called a “deed of surrender” putting their land in trust to the King of England to be protected for the use of their nations.

A deed was signed, becoming part of the “Original Roll in the Secretary of State’s Office” in Albany and later printed in DRCHNY 5:800. No copy was kept in the records of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs, which generally did not include deeds. Peter Wraxall was not aware of the deed when he wrote his Abridgement, which discusses the September 1726 conference on p. 168-169.

In his letter to the Lords of Trade sent with the treaty, (DRCHNY 5:783-785) Governor Burnet explained that he did not tell the Mohawks or Oneidas about the September 14th meeting, since their lands were not at issue and if he told them the French might learn about it sooner. Burnet told the Lords of Trade that he pursuaded the New York Assembly to agree to his proposal to build an English fort at the mouth of the Onondaga River (Oswego). Once it was built he intended to meet the Indians again and get them to publicly confirm the deed, which “some of them have signed.” Thus he acknowledged that it required further confirmation.  The deed surrenders the land to be “protected & Defended” by the king for the use of the three nations. It says nothing about building forts. At Burnet’s conference with the Six Nations in 1724, he had succeeded in getting them to agree reluctantly to a trading house at Oswego, but not to a fort.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the proclamation of September 2 1726 starts here.

[0315] 156

[Not in Wraxall.]

By his Exc.ly William Burnet

Esq.r Capt. Gene.l and Gov.r in Chief

of the Provinces of New York New

Jersey &c.

A Proclamation

Whereas I have Summoned the Indians of the five Nations to

meet me at this place to treat with them about publick affairs Some

of them being arrived at Schinectaday and this day expected here and

it being found by Experience that the Selling or giveing of Rum and

other Strong Liquor to those Indians hath been of Dangerous

Consequence and very prejudiciall to his maje.st Interest and the

Publick welfare of the Inhabitants of this place I have therefore

thought fitt by vertue of the powers and authorities in me Reside=

=ing here by Strictly to prohibit the giveing or Selling of and Rum

or other Strong Liquor to any Indian or Indians Dureing my

Residence in this City and County and that no person or pesons [sic]

Shall Receive buy or take in pawn any goods to be given as presents

to the Indians on penalty to be prosecuted with ye. uttmost Severity

for any Such misdemeanons [sic] and all Magistrates and Justices of

the peace in this City and County are hereby Required to take care

that this proclamation be duely observed and the Delinquents

brought to Condign punishment Given under my hand and Seal

this 2.d day of September in the 13th year of his Majesties Reign

Anno Domini 1726

W. Burnet

[0316] 156a

[Beginning of the conference held with the Six Nations in Albany on Sept. 7, 1726, by Governor William Burnet, nearly identical to the version printed in DRCHNY, beginning at 5:786. Differences do not appear significant. The version in the AIC records appears to be a copy, slightly imperfect in that it leaves out a word occasionally as well as the last part of Governor Burnet’s speech on Sept. 7. The notes in the margin identifying terms used in the treaty are briefer in the AIC version, but substantially the same. The governor of South Carolina, or possibly South Carolina itself, is not in the DRCHNY version, but is given in the AIC version as Troskrohare, and the Governor of Virgina as Assarigo and Assorigo. (p. 154a, image 0332). The records contain another complete copy of this conference on pages 218-230 and a fragment p. 248-248a.

In the DRCHNY, the treaty is followed by a Sept. 14 1726 Deed of Trust to the King from the Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga for the hunting country around the Great Lakes. The deed is not in the AIC records, which go on to additional proceedings between the commissioners and the governor. For more on Burnet’s thinking on the fort / trading post see his Dec. 20 1726 letter to the Lords of Trade DRCHNY 5:810 et seq. specifically p. 812.]


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Minute Book 3: 1726-July: Major Schuyler Dies; Abenaki are Welcomed Back to Schaghticoke; Albany Reassures its Neighbours

On July 21 the commissioners informed Governor Burnet that a messenger had brought word that Major Abraham Schuyler was dead. They included no details about how it happened. They also said they had sent the interpreter (Laurence Claesson) to bring the Six Nations to the conference with the governor scheduled for September. They included the news that “Mr. Livingston” had just taken leave of them and departed for Canada, but did not explain what his goals were. Possibly Philip Livingston sought to protect his and Albany’s business interests from the impending threat that the French were going to use their new fort at Niagara to monopolize the fur trade.

The following day a man named Poquin arrived from “Assekontoquoq” with a group of other people to respond to a message sent by a wampum belt two years earlier.  Poquin said that no matter where his people went, they were always in danger. He also said that they used to be able to take shelter at Schaghticoke, the community established in 1677 where the Hoosick River meets the Hudson north of Albany. Because of threats from the “Lower Indians” they could not come sooner, so they had gone to “mesixque” in the lake where they used to live. My interpretation of this language is that Poquin’s group were people from Schaghticoke who moved to Missisquoi in August 1724 and joined the Abenaki who were raiding New England with support from the French. “Assekontiquoq” probably refers to Arossagunticook, an Abenaki community on what is now called the Androscoggin River. At some point Poquin’s group went to Arossagunticook, but now they wanted to come back to Schaghticoke. They were not sure whether they could safely return, given that they had fought against New England. The term “lower Indians” likely refers to the Mohawks or Mohicans who disapproved of their actions.

But the commissioners clung to a neutral position in Dummer’s War and wanted to end it through diplomacy rather than by supporting Governor Dummer’s military ambitions. They also wanted native people to continue living at Schaghticoke. In August 1724, rather than driving away those who joined the raids against New England, they sent messengers with wampum belts to persuade them to stop raiding and come back. The belt to which Poquin referred was probably part of this process.

The commissioners told Poquin’s group that the Tree of Peace and Welfare still grew at Schaghticoke and they were welcome to live there again. They gave them a belt of wampum and a keg of rum.

The next entry is a copy of a letter from the commissioners that does not give the name of the recipient. The context suggests that it was probably a New England government official. The commissioners said they had no recent news, but would always pass on any information that came their way and behave themselves “as neighbours and brethren.” Possibly this letter reflects the need to reassure neighbouring New England towns that were uneasy about the return of the Schaghticoke Abenaki.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, July 1726 starts here.

Below is the full transcription.

[0310] 153a

att a meeting of the Comissioners

of the Indian affairs in Albany

the 21st July 1726

[Not in Wraxall.]


We just now received ye. Enclosed by an Indian

who Brings the news of the Death of Maj: Abraham

Schuyler we Design now and are met accordingly

to write ye. Interpreter to Say [sic] there and bring ye.

Indians down according to your Excel.lys appoint

=ment. Mr. Livingston this minute took his Leave

of the Commission.ers in order for Canada we

have no further to Informe your Excel.cy but

begg Leave to Subscribe our Selves your

Ex.cys most obedient humble Servants

[0311] 154

albany ye. 22.th of July 1726

[Not in Wraxall.]

Came before the Commissioners an Indian Named

Poquin from assekontoquoq to whom was Sent

a belt of wampum Two years ago when we

could not agree but now ye Same Comes with a

belt of wampum who Declares that he dose

not know ye. reason or what is ye. matter that

where they Goe they are all ways in Danger —

2d.ly    formerly he Says they used to have a great

tree at Schachtekoke where they Could Shadow

themselves under

3d.l      the Lower Indians had threatened them

which was ye. Reason they Came not Sooner, they

had taken their Refuge place in mesixque

in the Lake where they formerly Lived —

In Anser thereto —

The Commissioners told them that the

Same tree was Still in being and was never

taken away by them and that they was welcome

to Shadow themselves under ye. Same again. —

whereupon they Gave them a belt again —

ordered that they get a Cagg of Rum —

[0312] 154a

Albany 30 July 1726

[Not in Wraxall.]


We Received yours of the 21st of this instant

and in answer there to these are to Informe

you that we have had no news Since our first infor

=mation but you may assure your Self we Shall

allways behave our Selves as neighbours and

brethren Towards your assistance to all ye.

news that might or may Come this way. we

having nothing more but our hearty wishes

for ye. well fare of your Self & Government

and begg Leave to Subscribe our Selves

your Hon.s most

obediant Humble Serv.ts

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Minute Book 3: 1726-June: An Impressive French Fort at Niagara Threatens British Trade

The rumors were true. The commissioners learned from Major Abraham Schuyler and others that the French had sent 120 men to Jagara (Niagara) to build a new fort there on the south side of the river. French ships filled with lime for its construction were on their way from Cadarachqui, the site of present day Kingston Ontario. A strong new fort at Niagara would cut off native fur traders bringing their goods to Oswego or Albany from the Great Lakes, and would even prevent the Senecas from returning with furs from their hunting territories. The French planned to store goods at Niagara in order to replace the English as suppliers to all the nations in the area.

The commissioners heard that the French had 400 militia men ready to go to Niagara to defend the fort if need be. They urged the governor to look for a legal remedy based on the treaty in force between France and England. Major Schuyler sent several letters that were not copied into the record, although there is a space left for them.  The Onondaga Indians who brought the most recent one appeared to be suspicious of the English and the commissioners urged the governor once again to post some “men of Experience and Conduct” in Iroquoia to restore good relations between the British and the Six Nations.

 An Old Frontier of France, by Frank Severance (NY: Dodd, Mead, 1917, p. 225 et seq.) explains in detail how Fort Niagara was planned and constructed. Below is the plan drawn up for the new fort by Governor Vaudreuil’s military engineer, Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery.


Plans for the fort that France wanted to build at Niagara. From Frank Severance, An Old Frontier of France, NY: Dodd Mead, 1917, v.1, p. 240.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, June 1726 starts here.

Below is the full transcription.

[0258] 127a

[Not in Wraxall.]

Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of

the Indian affairs in albany

the 5th of June 1726.


Ph Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          }

Evert Bancker

Henry [Holland – crossed out] Renslaer

The Com.es Recd this day two letters

from maj.r Abraham Schuyler [dated at onodage – smudged or crossed out]



[0259] 128

[Wraxall p. 163 et seq.]

Att a meeting of ye Com.es of ye

Indian affairs in albany ye 8th of

June 1726


Ph Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          }

Evert Banker

Henry Renslaer

May it Please your Excellency

It is with no Litle Concern that the Intelligence

we had from Montreal and we Informd your Excel.y

with that the french were Sending up a Number

of men to Jagara proves ture [true?] there are now 120 men

as major Abr. Schuyler advices us, and now we have

an acco.t that the 2 vessels build by the french at

Cadarachquis passd by the mouth of the onnondage

River bound to Jagara with Lime &c. to make the

above building this may and we humbly Conceive

will prove of fatall Consequence to this Province

in Particular, and very distructive to the fur Trade

by what we are assurd that this building is to be

at the South Side of Jagara River. where is a good

harbour for Vessells and Conveniently Scituated

to Intercept all the fur trade of the upper nations

and even of our Sinnekes who must pass by that

Place as they come from their hunting, who cant

avoid Passing by that place or So Near it that the

french there will trade with them. they are to

have a larger Store of goods there for Supplying

the Indians

We hope your Ex.ly will be pleasd

to take Such proper measures as your Excellency

in your great wisdom Shall Seem most proper

to frustrate the french Pernicious Designs, in put=

=ting up this building on Land belonging to the,

Indians we are assurd that 400 men of ye. milita at mon

=treal are Detachd to be Ready on the first notice

to go up to Jagara, if the Indians Should Restrain

them from makeing that building, by this and

their other Vigilant actions it appears plain

to us

[0260] 128a

To us that they will use their uttmost Endeavours to

Prevent us from having any trade at all from any Indians

Setled above Jagara or about the Lake of Cadarachqui how

this agrees with the treatie of Commerce your Ex.cy may be

best Judge. Received this Day a letter from Maj. Abra.m

Schuyler of the first Instant brought by three onnondage —

Indians who Say to be Sent by the Sachims to know the

Contents of the S.d Letter w.h was accordingly explaind

unto them, it Seems that the Indians Intertain very Sus=

=picious & Jealous thoughts of us. and w.h never will be

otherwise untill men of Experience & Conduct be posted &

Live [and-crossed out] among them. here are also two other Letters

from M.r Schuyler Rec.d ye. 5th Instant we have no more to

add at present but that we are with great Respect

May it Please your Exce.ly

[0309] 153

Att a meeting of the Commiss.

of the Indian affairs in Albany

23th June 1726



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Minute Book 3: 1726-April: Major Abraham Schuyler is Sent to Onondaga to Promote the English Interest

1726-4-21Stefan Bielinski‘s biography  of Major Abraham Schuyler (1663-1726), on the New York State Museum’s The People of Colonial Albany Live Here website, tells us that by 1726, Schuyler had spent years as a trader, interpreter, and diplomat in Iroquoia. In April Governor Burnet and the Commissioners of Indian Affairs sent him to Onondaga with orders to invite the Six Nations to Albany in the summer for a meeting with the governor.  Schuyler was told to address Iroquois concerns about traders who brought alcohol to their country and to ensure the safety of the traders.  He was also told to go to the Seneca’s Country or wherever else he could find information about French plans at Niagara, and to hire “trusty Indians” for this purpose. He was provided with gifts and a belt of wampum and instructed to keep a journal of his activities and observations. He was not to engage in trade himself, but to count on an appropriate reward for his services from the governor, although no amount was stated.

Major Schuyler was also told to keep order among the Dutch traders and prevent them from giving rum even to Indians from outside Iroquoia except when they were about to depart from the falls, probably meaning the falls near Oswego, where trade flourished now that Albany merchants were forbidden to trade with Montreal.

The commissioners wrote to Governor Burnet enclosing a copy of Schuyler’s instructions. They said that even the traders who originally opposed moving the trade west (meaning to Oswego) now planned to partake in it and as many as 50 canoes were expected that summer.  If the French did not prevent it, Albany merchants should do well. The commissioners also told the governor that they had learned that Frenchmen were traveling from Montreal to Jagara (Niagara) without revealing their purpose, which was probably to build the new fort.

The last item in the commissioners’ lett er reveals that problems with alcohol were were also occuring at Fort Hunter.  People there had submitted a petition asking for a law preventing people from buying corn from Indians and selling them rum, which was proving “very destructive to them.”

There are no entries for May 1726.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, April 1726 starts here.

Below is the full transcription:

[254] 125a                                                            [Apr. 21, 1726]

[Wraxall mention p. 163]

By the Commissioners of the

Indian Affairs at Albany

Instructions for Major Abraham Schuyler

Whereas his Excllency [sic] william Burnet Esq.

Cap.t Generall and Governour in Chief of the

Provinces of New York New Jersey &c. has been pleasd

to approve that some person of Experience be Sent

among the five Nations to Quiet the minds of the

Indians, and has appointed you to undertake that

affair, we Do therefore hereby Require you forth-

=with to go to Onnondage on your Arrival there,

Desire the Sachims of the five Nations to meet, &

when they Shall be Conven’d, you are to Desire

them in the name of his Excellency our Governou[r]

that he Expects to meet them here this Summer,

and that they do not Suffer any of their people

to molest our Traders. That Several of them had

Carried up Rum Last winter, who Could [be-crossed out] not be

Prevaild on to turn back again, That the Traders

Shall be Directed not to Deliver any of their

Rum to the far Indians but at their Departure

that no mischief may arise from it —-

You are to stay among the five Nations

Till you Shall Receive Orders from his Excellency

to Return home, and while you Stay there you are

to Observe the Motions of the ffrench who we are Informd

are Going from Montreal with a force of men to

build a ffort at Jagara, and it may be at Some other

Places on this Side of Cadaracqui Lake, off which

if your have Certain Intelligence, you are forthwith

by Express to Inform us of it, that his Excellency

may be acquainted with the Proceedings of the

ffrench in the Indian Country, and that you may —

be the better Informd of the ffrench Design,

we think it Necessary that you go to the Sinnekes


[0255] 126

Country or Such other Place as you Shall Judge

Proper, That you may have a true Account of all

their Transactions and Proceedings, for which

Purpose you are to Imploy Some trusty Indians

of the five Nations to go among the ffrench

wherever they are, to see what they are Doing at

Jagara, to which End and for Present to the Indians

we think it Necessary that you Shall Receive

the value of Twenty five Pounds in Presents as

also a Belt of wampum and     [space in original] Blankets of


You are to Reside Some Time at the

ffalls where our Traders Lye to see that they do

not abuse the farr Ind.ns in there Trade, and you

are to give them all the Encouragement Possible

to trade with our People Either here or at the ffalls

you are to take Care that no Rum be Delivered to

the Indians but at their departure that No mischief

may arise from it —

It will be very proper that you keep a

Journal of all your Proceedings & Transactions

of any moment. while you Shall be among the

Indians on this Message. you are to Act in all

things as you Shall think most for his Majesties

Interest and welfare of this Province, you are

not to Concern your Self with any Trade while

you are this Jurney [sic] Not Doubting but his

Excellency Shall Sufficiently Reward you for

your Service.

Given under our hands in Albany

this 21th day of April in the twelfth Year of

his Maj.es Reign Annoq. Domini 1726

Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

Pieter van Brugh

Evert Bancker

Hend. van Rensselaer

[0256] 126a

[Wraxall quotes this letter p. 163.]

Albany 27 April 1726

May it Please y.r Excellency

yours Ex.es favours of ye 25th March on ye Receipt

whereof we sent for major Ab.m Schuyler who as soon

as he Came to Town we acquainted him with your

Exce.ly[s] pleasure. for his Going in ye Indian Country to

Quiet their mines [sic] he accepted to go on Credit of your

Exce.ly[s] Letter we thought it Necessary to give him

Instructions Copy whereof is here Inclosed hopeing

his Message may have ye Desired Effect. and yt. ye.

Assembly will Provide for the Charges he has £25.– in

Presents to the Indians besides 5 blankets Strowds

to be Imployd Instead of belts of Wampum Its very

acceptable to us yt. yr. Exc.ly Concurs with us yt. its

Necessary to have persons of Experience among ye

Indians with out w.h they will Certainly allinate in

their affections & fidelity to his Majesty —

We hear of many that are gone to trade to ye.

westward even to Number of 50 Canoes. People Incou

=rage that trade now to Emulation even those who were

at first ag.nt it. if our People be not Interrupted by ye.

french they will gett a Large Chear of their trade

this Sumer —

We are Informd yt. a number of men

are gone from Montreal to Jagara Some Say to build

a ffort there what there Design may be theyl Conceal

from us as Long as Possible –

Inclosed is a Petition to your Ex.ly from the

Inhabitants of ffort Hunter Desireing a Law for

Restraining People to buy ye. Corn from ye. Indians

there & Selling ym. Rum w.h has been found by Experi

=ence to very Destructive to ym. it would Conduce

much for ye benifitt of ye. Inhabitants there to obtain

Such a Law but they ought to debard as well as others

from buying Corn from ye Indians & Selling Rum


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I was pleasantly surprised to see a link to this site (and even my name) on the New York State Museum webpage for the Commissioners of Indian Affairs Thank you. I am honored. The records of the commissioners are an essential resource for understanding Albany’s history.

Cornell’s online collection: The Records of the Albany Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1678-1755: An Integrated Digital Database has recently changed the way it displays the records, shifting to a collection of PDFs organized by year.  This makes it easier to search for a particular date, although it is important to note that they are somewhat out of chronological order in places. It also means that I can no longer link to a specific month, so I am taking those links out of my month by month summaries. The best way to navigate between the way the records are displayed at Cornell with the way they appear on the Heritage Canada database and the transcriptions on this blog is to focus on the page numbers in the records themselves, which are generally found at the top of each page.

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Minute Book 3: 1726-March: Conflicts Over Alcohol Continue; the French Presence in Iroquoia is Growing

It is not clear how well Laurence Claessen knew English.  The commissioners often instructed him to keep journals of his diplomatic missions, but they generally submitted their own versionVersion 3 into the record.  In March, Claessen appeared before them and gave them his journal of his recent trip. The minutes describe “in substance” what it said, including a day by day account of how he went to several towns of the Six Nations and invited leaders to a meeting that was held in Seneca country beginning on February 22nd.  The participants discussed the ongoing conflicts over the sale of alcohol in Iroquoia and other matters including an English boy taken captive from Virginia and thought to be held in Iroquoia. The Six Nations said they did not have the boy.  They asked once again that the English prohibit the sale of alcohol in their country, but Claessen could only tell them once again that sales would be restricted to “Far Indians” from outside Iroquoia to promote the fur trade. The sachems described how alcohol was leading to violence and other problems, even to murders.  They gave Claessen a belt of wampum to take back to the English authorities to confirm their position that it should be banned completely. However they agreed not to molest the traders or the far Indians.

In Seneca country, Claessen found Juriaen Hogan, the blacksmith sent by the English, as well as a party of French residents that included a French smith and his family.  The Iroquois said the French smith had come to live with them “in a deceitful manner,” returning with a Six Nations delegation that had gone to condole the death of the French governor Ramsay. The smith and his party were, of course, also sending information back to the French, just as Claessen and Hogan were doing for the English. Claessen provided an account of new French boats being constructed on Lake Ontario (Cataraqui) and said the Onondagas had given permission to the French to build a new trading house on the south side of the lake where the Niagara River flows into it. He described the composition of the parties that had gone out fighting over the previous winter, and conveyed the Six Nations’ request for a meeting with the governor in the spring. Claessen also reported that the Six Nations was sending ambassadors to the Waganhas proposing a meeting and invited the commissioners to send their own wampum belts along.

The commissioners wrote to Governor Burnet, passed on the intelligence about French activities, and told him (in somewhat confused English) that the French must be prevented from settling in Iroquoia, and asked for funds to support an ongoing English presence among the Six Nations.  They conveyed the request to stop selling alcohol, blamed it on the French influence, and insisted that the traders could not maintain the fur trade without alcohol. They expressed concern that the Six Nations had sent deputies to meet in Seneca country, where the French influence was strongest, instead of to Onondaga as was customary. They also sent the governor the English boy who had run away from the Mohawks at Fort Hunter earlier in the year. Finally they described how Jan Wemp and Jacob Glen had cleared and mended the road at the Oneida Carrying Place, and given a bond to repair the bridge there over Wood Creek.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, March 1726 starts here.

Below is the full transcription:

[0247] 122

[Wraxall p. 162 et seq.]

Att a meeting of the Com.rs of

Indian affairs in Albany the 16th

Day of March 1725/6


Philip Livingston

Henry Holland                        } Esq.rs Com.rs

Evert Bancker

Peter van Brugh

This Day Lourence Claese the Inter=

=preter Appeard before this Board and Said that he

had Pursuant to y.e Instructions Deliverd him dated

the first day of febr.y been at y.e Severall Castles of

the five Nations and had acquainted them with y.e

Contents of the Same of which he has kept a Journall which is in

Substance as follows that on y.e 5.th of s.d month he

arrived in y.e maquase Country where he Communicated

to the Sachims that touching the prohibition of ye

5 Nations of Rum to be Sold unto y.e Indians at ye

falls or Lake his Ex.cy had given Strict orders that

no pson under his Governm.t Should Sell any to the Indians

of y.e five Nations at those places. but only to y.e far

Indians the better to Promote a trade with them

That his Ex.cy Recommended unto them not to molest

or hinder any of y.e far Indians in their Comeing to trade

with the Inhabitants of this Province or Return home

nor to any of our Trders [sic] —

That the Com.rs are Informd that there

is a french Smith from Canada at y.e Sinnekes Country

and that there is another English boy among y.e

five Nations taken from virginia —

Answer from y.e Sachims

That they Could give no Liberty that Rum Should be

Sold to the far Indians in their Country but faithfully

Promise not to hinder nor molest them, nor any of y.e

traders in their going up or Comeing Down

You make Enquiry if here is an English

Prison. from Virginia, to which we answer that

here is None


[0248] 122a

We have also heard y.t there is a french Smith in [ye]

Sinnekes Country with his wife & Children —

That on y.e 6th feb. he Left fort hunter

and arrived y.e 13th dit.o at onneyde where he Communi[cated]

to the Sachims there y.e Contents of his Instructions the

14th Received an answer from them and Said that

they Could not give a full answer to his Proposition

But that Some of their Deputed Sachims were Sent

to y.e Sinnekes Country and Desired him to acquaint

them with it and what they in their behalf Should

Conclude they would approve of

On the 15 Ditto went from Oneyde & Arriv’d at

Onnondaga the 17 Ditto, where, when the Sachims

were Conveen’d, acquainted them with the Contents

of his Instructions, on which they directly gave

the Same Answer as those at Oneyde had Done

That some of their Deputed Sachims were gone

to the Sinnekes Country, that they should give

him and Answer, and what they Concluded or

Consented they would approve.

On the 18th went from Onnondage and

arriv’d at Cayouge the 20.th D.o & having call’d

the Sachims to meet acquainted them with

Contents of his Instructions who immediatly

answer’d him that they had sent Deputies to the

Sinnekes Country & what they should resolve

with the rest of the Sachims they would Confirm

and approve off

He arriv’d at the Sinnekes Country on the

22.d of s.d month and found there the Deputed

Sachims of the four Nations, who he desir’d

Immediatly to meet together, and when they

were Conven’d acquainted them what he was

directed by his s.d Instructions & found Jurian

Hogan work there as Smith, as also a french

Smith, with his wife and three Children and an

Assistant; there are also three french men

who take Notice of all Transactions and


On the 26


[0249] 123

On the 26th he being calld before the meetting

of the Sachims of the four Nations they said

that they were resolv’d to send two Deputies of

each Nation to his Excel.y at New York, because they

suspected that the Com.rs were negligent to acq.tt

his Exce.ly with their prohibition of the Rum

being sold to the Ind.ns in their Country at the fall

of Onnondage River; the same Day he reply’d

that his Excel.y has been fully Inform’d w.t their

Desires, and that his Excel.y has there upon given

Orders, that no Rum shall be sold to any of the

five Nations at the fall of Onnondage river

but only to the farr Ind.ns to promote a Trade

w.t them, and further what he was directed by

his Instructions, on w.ch they s.d that they fully

approvd of every thing he had s.d Except that

Rum should be sold in their Country w.ch they will

not allow off, and in Case they or the far Ind.ns have

Occasion for Rum, that they may go & buy it at

Albany or at Schinectady, as they have formerly

done then they & we shall be free from being

the authors of any mischief or murther yt shall be

Comitted there, for they added that what has been

done is [now] Imputed to them & the Brethren

the Christians, and therefore they desire wt this

Belt of Wamp.m as as Token from the 5 Nations

that the Gent.mn Com.rs will be pleas’d forthwith

to Issue a prohibition that no Rum may be carried

up into their Country Except for the traders own

Use and desire that his Excel.y may fortwith be

acquainted herew.t hoping that their Request

may be taken in Consideration, that it may

tend for the wellfare of us all being yt Strong

Liquor is the root of all Evil, w.ch we our Selves

have many times had sad Experience off. and saw last

year some Christian Ind.ns of ye 5 Nations & far Ind.ns

lying drunk to excess among one another at ye fall

who then gett in Quarrel together by w.ch many

sad Accidents may arise & if any do we clear our

selves of the Guilt

The french Smith came here in a deceitfull manner

We had sent Deputies to Canada to Condole the



[0250] 123a

Death of Gov.r D Ramsey & they have brought him

along wtout our Order or knowledge, but we return

our Brother Corlaer our most hearty thanks for

sending us a Smith

The Sachims desire that his Excel.y will be pleas’d

to meet them at Albany [early-crossed out] in the Spring, they

have to treat ab.t matters of great moment Con=

=cerning the welfare of us All, They desire a good

Beek Iron for ye Smith that is w.t them & some

tools w.t out w.ch he can make no good work

The s.d Interpreter is Inform’d that ye ffrench

have finish’d and rig’d one Vessel at Cadarachqui

and another is to be lanchd this Spring

That the five Nations have Concluded to Send

of each Nation two Messengers to the Waganhas

or far Ind.ns in the beginning of June next with

Belts of Wampum to treat with them, & they

desire to know whether the Com.rs will Join in it

by sending belts of Wampum to the s.d Ind.ns

That he is inform’d from trusty Ind.ns that the

Gov.r of Canada has last year obtain’d liberty from

the Onnondages to build a trading house on the

West Side of Jagara River w.ch vents it self

into the Cadarachqui lake on the South side

thereof in the passage of the Ind.ns to this place

Mon.sr Longueill the present Gov.r of Canada has

been there last year to view the place, the french

are to have sd house built this Spring

That there are gone out a fighting this last

Winter 21 Mohoggs 40 Onnondages 20 Tuscaroras

40 Cayouges 40 Sinnekes and that there were

going yet 130 of the last among whom is to go

a french Man from Canada who is marryed w.t a

Sinneke Squa


[0251] 124

[Wraxall p. 163 has excerpt.]

Albany 18 March 1725/6

May it please your Excel.y

We have been honourd wt. your Ex.ys favours of ye 8 Inst.

with Submission to your Excel.y we are humbly of Opinion

that it is a matter of the [last] Consequence to the province

that no Care be taken to prevent the ffrench to reside

among our Ind.ns and that no person of Ability wt a

Number of Men be sent to dwell Continually among

them, We hope the Assembly will pleast to Consider

how to raise a fund to Defray the Charge without

which it appears plain to Us that the french gett

daily more footing & our Interest decreases wch. at

last may end in our Destruction

We are very glad your Ex.y is pleas’d to approve of our

sending the Interpreter to quiet the minds of the Ind.ns

he is Return’d. Inclos’d is his Journal wch. we refer

to your Ex.ys Consideration, by wch. it appears that the

Ind.ns persist in their first Resolution, that no

Rum shall be sold at the falls or Onnondage River, and

many of our traders are already gone wt. Rum —

thither, how it can be prevented now we dont know

for our people will go, Neither do we Conceive that

they can carry on a Trade with the far Indians

without it, So that we perceive that the ffrench

Interest greatly sways the Indians to prevent the

Selling of Rum

The ffrench we see are not Idle in Obstructing

our Trade, for we hear they will now build a trading house

at the place where we Imagen’d we had one, & what

will be the Event of the [Essecs] in the lake is uncertain

Yet it may be Conjucture’d it will be to prevent the

Ind.ns from coming to us to trade We must acknowledge y.t

the Ind.ns are greatly under ye Subjection of ye ffrench

who keep them in awe

It is with no little Concern & without precedent that

we see the Ind.ns have sent Deputies to the Sinnekes

Country to the ffrench who are there, whereas Onnondage

has always been the place appointed to Consult & treat

about publick Affairs

On the whole at this Juncture we are humbly of Opinion

that it will be for his Maj.es Service yt Some pson of Experi=

=ence wt. the Interpreter be sent among ye Ind.ns at Onnondage

to stay there (till your Exc.y sahll meet the Sachims here)

to quiet the minds of ye Ind.ns & keep them from molesting

our Traders, [for – crossed out] wch. we hope your Exc.y will be pleas’d to di=

=rect Us as soon as may be. By the Bearer we send the Eng.

boy taken by the Ind.ns from Virgin.a his Charge & Cloathing [&c]

amt to £       [blank in original] as p Acco.t here inclosd


[0252] 124a

Jan Wemp & Jacob Glen have produc’d affidavits

unto Us whereby it appears that they have sufficiently

clear’d up & mended the Road on Oneyde Carrying place

and that they clear’d & Cutt the Wood Creek & Carried

away the Trees So that the same is Navigable to the

Onneyde lake & that they have made a sufficient Cart

way from the End of the Road formerly made to the

Wood Creek from thence to the place where the

Canada Creek falls into the sd Wood Creek, but the

bridge over the Wood Creek they Could not Compleat

last Summer, tho’ have given Bond to pform that

this Summer according to agreem.t desiring they

may receive their Money for the whole Work

wch. they will not fail to Effect

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Minute Book 3: 1726-February

Laurence Claessen is Sent to Negotiate (and Obtain Intelligence)

The commissioners sent Laurence Claessen to Onondaga with instructions to resolve the ongoing conflicts between Albany traders and the Haudenosaunee over the sale of rum at the falls on the Onondaga River. The traders, backed by the commissioners, insisted that they had to sell rum to the “far Indians” from beyond Iroquoia in order to attract their trade in furs. The Haudenosaunee had now been saying for several years that they did not want rum sold at all in their country. Laurence Claesson was supposed to resolve this by delivering a belt of wampum telling them that their request had been received by Governor Burnet and that rum would not be sold to the Six Nations.

Claessen was also told to try to obtain the release of an English boy from Virginia who was being held captive in Iroquoia, and to work with Juriaen Hogan, the Anglo-Dutch smith, to obtain information about how many of the Six Nations were out fighting and the actions of the French smith and other Frenchmen living in Seneca Country.

The commissioners wrote to Governor Burnet and informed him about what they were doing, expressing regret for the Six Nations attacks on Virginia and explaining that the Six Nations were wavering in their attachment to the English, leaning instead towards the French at times. To counteract this they recommended posting “some persons of Distinction” in Iroquoia to advance the English cause. They also rejoiced in the news that a peace had been concluded between “Boston” (i.e. New England) and the Eastern Indians (Abenaki) in Dummer’s War.

Many thanks to the Schenectady Historical Society for permission to use this image of the portrait of Laurence Claessen that hangs in their collection!

Laurence Claessen Van der Volgen

Attributed to Nehemiah Partridge. Held at the Schenectady Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12305 and used with their permission. They give the date as 1725.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, February 1726 starts here.

[0244] 120a

[Wraxall p. 161 gives date as 12 Feb.]


Att a meeting of ye Comrs of ye

Indian affairs in albany ye [1st]

day of feb 1725/6


P L.


Jons Cuyler

P V Brugh         }

E Bancker

J Collins

H V Renslaer

It is Resolved by ye Comrs to give Lowrence

Claese ye following Instructions

By the Com.rs of ye Indian

affairs at albany

Instructions for Lowrence Claese the Interpreter

Whereas ye Indians of ye five nations have sent two

Severall messages to ye Com.es Last fall Complaining of Rum being

Sold unto their People by ye traders at ye falls and ye lake near ye

onnondage River which they Conceive will be very pernicious (if not

prevented and whereby many unhappy accidents may [Ensue – crossed out] arise.

they acknowledge to have given Liberty unto his Ex.cy their Brother

Corlaer Gov.r Burnet to Sett beaver Traps at ye lake, but they

alleadge that ye bait his people ye Christians use meaning ye Rum

will Catch Men and therefore desired that no Rum might be Carryed

up thither for ye future. but that ye Traders Should only carry up [f– crossed out]

dry goods to Supply ye far Indians to wh. messages ye S.d five nations

Expect an answer as soon as may be and on failure thereof [they – crossed out] we are

Informd yt [ye – crossed out] they have Concluded to Execute their Resilution in

Relation to ye affair and since its Impracticable to prevent ye

young Traders to Carry up Rum to ye lake to trade with ye far Indians

and in order to quiet ye minds of ye Indians You are here by Required

and Directed forthwith to go to onnondage (takeing a Christian with you)

at your arrival there you are to Inform ye Sachims of ye 5 nations in name

of his Ex.cy Gov.r Burnet Esq.r &c. that he has Received their Propositions

In Relation

[0245] 121

in Relation to the Rum not to be sold & Carryd up to ye lake. that he has

given orders that none of his people under his Government Shall Sell

any Strong Liquor unto any of ye 5 nations at ye falls or Lake but that they

are only to Sell it to ye far Indians for Promoteing & Encouraging ye

trade with you that his Ex.cy earnestly desires that none of ye Traders be

any ways Molested or hindered in their trade with ye far Indians that his Excy

at his next meeting Shall Settle that and other affairs with you, for ye gen.le

good and welfare of us all. In ye meantime its Expected that they and their

young men will behave ymselves peaceable to All his Maj.es Subjects and not

allow any french to Reside in any of their Castles on w.ch you are to Lay

down [illeg.] a belt of wampum herewith delivered you

You are to use your best Endeavor to Release an English

Boy which we are Informd is in Some of ye Indian Castles and taken

from virginia by some of ye 5 nations or Canada Indians wh Charge Shall

be paid you

as We are Informd that a french Smith with his family &

Some other french men from Canada are at ye Sinnekes Country wh.

if Confirmd to you at onnondage you are to proceed to that place

where you are to make the Same Proposition as you are directed to do at

onnondage which you are also to Communicate unto ye other nations as you

go along. you are to Inform your Self how & in what manner ye french

are posted there and by whose directions and what their Chief [Business] is

[If] ye Beck Iron belonging to this Government be broake & if Jurian Hogan

accepts to work as smith [illeg.- crossed out] at ye Sinnekes Country according to

the Letters write unto him by ye Com.rs, how ye Indians are generally

[afflasted] what number of ye 5 nations are gone out a fighting & agts

what nations and Generally what news you can learn of any

moment among ye Indians of all which you are to keep a Journall

in Writeing. Given under our hands in albany — [illeg.] day feb.y in ye

twelfth year of his Maj.e Reign an Do 1725/6

[0246] 121a

[Not in Wraxall.]

Albany 8 feb 1725/6

May it please yr Excy

Your Excy’s favour of ye 23rd Jan.ry we recd according

to your Excys Directions shall send ye English Boy p the first

Sloop wt an Recott of the Charges we have disbursd, Indeed the base

behaviour of our Ind.ns towards Virgina is very provoking of

wch we are ashamed wt Submist we humbly are of opinion yt it

can’t be pvented, unless some able psons of Distinction be posted

among them to dissuade them from such ill practices & keep ym

firm to yr allegiance to his Maj.ie for they are very waver=

ing & much Inclind to ye french Interest

We shall not be wanting to Encourage as much as in Us

lyes all those yt are inclined to trade next Spring at ye Lake

& advise ym from your Excel.y to behave themselves diferectly

towards [y – crossed out] our Ind.ns in Case any Disputes do arise & not to

give any Cause of Complaints, & yt they only sell Rum to the

far Ind.ns on this Occasion we have thought fitt for his Maj.e

service to make an Answer to ye Proposition of ye Indns mad

last fall through Lawrence Claese ye Interpreter Copy of

his Instructions are herein Inclosd We hope he will be

able to quiet ye minds of ye Ind.ns for ye Safety of those who are

going to trade at ye Lake We are glad ye peace is concluded

between Boston & ye Eastern Ind.ns wen wch we wish may be

lasting wt our best Respects we remain

May it please your Ex.cy

Your Ex most humble and

most Obedient Serv.ts

Sign                             Philip Livingston

Henry Holland

Pieter van Brugh

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Minute Book 3: 1726-January

Conflicts in Iroquoia: Captives, Smiths, and Alcohol

The commissioners wrote to Governor Burnet to tell him about the English boy they had taken in after he ran away from the Mohawks at Fort Hunter. They had now learned that the boy was captured in a raid on Captain Robert Hicks’s estate in Virginia, in which the boy’s father was also captured, as well as five native women. The boy’s father was released, one of the women was killed “by the way,” while two were “burnt” in Oneida and then, according to the commissioners, eaten. Two remained captive. They had also heard that there was another English boy taken from Virginia who was still held captive, but they were doubtful whether there was any hope of getting him back. The letter uses the stories of the captives to attack the “falsehood of ye 5 nations” and suggest that the English should post “some able persons” permanently at Onondaga. The allegations about burning and eating people should likely be evaluated cautiously, especially because no source is given for them. Clearly relations between the commissioners and the Haudenosaunee were under a strain as they tried to implement Governor Burnet’s plans for a stronger English presence in the heart of Iroquoia.

The commissioners also corresponded with Jacob Brower and Jurian Hogan, who were serving as smiths at Onondaga and in the Seneca country respectively.  They arranged to provide Brower with a new bellows to replace one that had rotted out, and asked Hogan for information about a french smith who was living at the Seneca castle along with other frenchmen and their families. (It is interesting to speculate on what happened when the French and Anglo-Dutch smiths encountered each other, as must have occurred.)

The commissioners heard that the Six Nations expected an answer to their request the previous fall that the sale of alcohol be prohibited at the falls on the Onondaga River, (meaning the Oswego river at the site of present day Fulton New York) and intended to take steps themselves to end it if they did not get a satisfactory response. The commissioners feared for the safety of traders the following spring. They decided to send Laurence Claessen to Onondaga and sent him a request to appear before them to receive instructions.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, January 1726 starts here.

Below is the full transcription:

[0240] 118a

[Not in Wraxall]

Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of ye Indian

Affairs in albany ye 4th Jan.ry 1725/6


Phil: Livingston

[Henry Holland – crossed out]

Peter van Brugh

Evert Bancker

Henry van Rensslaer

The Com.rs this day ye following letter to

his Excellency [sic]

Albany 4 Jan.ry 1725/6

may it Please your Ex.cy

Your Ex.cys favours of ye 3. 9.ber [November?] we Read. and Shall

observe your Ex.cys directions therein Contained. we have at

psent nothing of moment to Comunicate unto yr Ex.cy only

that we have had ye good fortune a few days [illeg.-crossed out] since to

gett an English boy who is Run away from y.e Maquas at

Fort Hunter whom we have Cloathed & Shall maintain & keep

here till your Ex.cys pleasure Shall be known. this Boy by

what we Can Learn from him has been taken by our five —

Nations at ye Same time they Robbd Capt Hicks in virginia

they took then this Boys father but Sett him at Liberty —

but took five Squas along with them. one they killd by ye

way. two they burnt in oneyde & did Eat them. and

the other two are among ye Indians. we have some

Information that their is another English boy among our

Indians taken from virginia who we shall

Endeavor to gett out of their hands. but have no great

hope to Compass it. this is a sufficient proof of ye

Case & falsehood of ye 5 nations. Such base actions we

Conceive would in a great measure be prevented if

some able psons did Continually Reside at onnondage

with great Respect we Remain

[0241] 119

[Not in Wraxall]

Copy                                                               Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of ye

Indian affairs in Albany ye 9th

Jan.ry 1725/6


Ph. Livingston             }

Evert Bancker

This day arrived here Two [three-crossed out] Indians with a

Letter from Jacob Brower Smith at onnondage

dated ye 3th Instant, wherein he signifies that ye old smith

Bellows is Rotten & of no use So yt. he cant make any

good work without a new bellows Its Resolved that a

new Bellows be forthwith made yt. ye Indians

may be Supplyd with such Smith work

as they have Occasion for. [additional crossed out words omitted.]

[0242] 119a [Not in Wraxall.]


Att a meeting of ye Com.es of ye

Indian affairs in albany ye 15 Day

of Jan.ry 1725/6



Ph Livingston

Henry Holland                        }

P.v. Brugh

E Banker

H v Renselear

This day the Com.rs write a letter to Jacob

Brower Smith at onnondage with a smiths Bellows

as also to Jurian hogans at Sinnekes Country

which last is as follows.

We have write you & Jacob Brower Smith at

onnondage if you would work as Smith for ye Indians

at ye Sinnicke Country, till Sept. next and Credit ye

Governmts. but have Recd now manner of answer

from you. in ye mean time we hear [from – crossed out] that you wife

has Recd a letter from you wherein you mention

that there is a french smith in ye Sinnekes Castle with his —

wife & Children and other french with their wives

that they [illeg. crossed out] or ye Indians have [broaken] ye [Beche]

[Iron] we desire you to write unto us at large about

that affair. that we may a Right Information

and if you will stay there to work as smith for ye

Indians. Send your letter to Jacob Brower and he

will forward ye same unto us. we are.

[0243] 120

[Not in Wraxall.]


Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of ye Indian

affairs in albany ye 25th Jan.ry 1725/6


Ph. Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          }

Evert Bancker

Henry van Renselaer

The Com.rs being Informd yt. ye. Sachims of ye

five nations expect an answer to their Propositions made unto them,

last fall in Relation to their Prohibition of Rum sold to their

people at ye falls on ye onnondage River & ye lake that in Case they

gett no [satisfactory] answer they have [Resolved – crossed out] Concluded to put in                                            Execution

their Resoluttion in Relation to that affair

Whereon It is thought [fitt for – crossed out] Proper for ye safety &

Tranquility of ye traders who design to go to trade next Spring

that Lawrence Claes ye Interpreter be sent to onnondage. order a

Letter be wrote unto him to appear be fore this meeting to Receive

Instructions in Relation to that affair

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