Relaxation of Control

Although the sequence of events is not always clear from the available evidence, we know that before the first contracts with the farmers expired, they were replaced. This took place on January 8, 1630, when the Company rented six farms to six individuals as of May 1, 1630. In these contracts the Company control was relaxed. No longer did the animals stay in possession of the company; this time to each farmer were sold four horses, four cows, two yearlings, six sheep and six swine, and all farming implements for 600 guilders, but the farmers, in addition, had to pay two horses of three years, two cows of two years, three sheep and three swine as soon as they would be available.note To each farmer a suitable farm with a house, hay barrack, and barn was rented, together with about fifty morgens of land, for the term of six years.

On the first of May 1630, almost five years after the start, there were eight farms on the island with forty-seven horses, sixty cattle and seventy-nine sheep. If we assume that eighty-one horses and cattle survived the voyage and the seasoning period, the increase in these years had been thirty-two percent.note 

Livestock on Manhattan, May 1, 1630.
Commander's Bowery728--
Wolfert Gerritsen419220
Jehan Ides off Gerrit de Reux5-4414
Jacob Walichs ofte Claes Cornelysen626222
Geurdt van Gelder6-101-
Evert Focken off Rutger Hendricksen Soest4 -4-15
Jan Lampo ofte Cornelis van Vorst5-318
Source: KB, Manuscript Collections, 129 C 15, "Generaele Staet vande Bestialen in Nijeuwnederlant in maijo 1630 (...)."

A letter of September 1630 gives the impression of much activity by stating that much land daily is ploughed by the farmers.note Soon after this, however, the situation of agriculture on the island began to deteriorate. By issuing the Freedoms and Exemptions of 1629 for prospective great landowners (patroons)in the colony, the Company had itself laid the foundation for the ruinous development of its farms. Paradoxically, it was the great protagonist for agricultural settlement in New Netherland and large shareholder of the Company, Kiliaen van Rensselaer, who played a central part in the problems that evolved.

The inventory of animals at the Manhattan farms presented above was drawn up by Van Rensselaer in order to calculate how many "surplus" livestock there was on the Company farms, above the numbers provided for in the contracts. By doing this, he was able to find out how many animals could be purchased from the farmers by his agents. To complicate matters further, one of the head farmers, Wolfert Gerritsz, played a double role by acting as a Company tenant and as Van Rensselaer's agent on Manhattan. In fact, in the five years after the Freedoms and Exemptions, Company officials and farmers on the island sold almost all their animals to Van Rensselaer, and, to a lesser degree, a number of other private individuals.note This development found its culmination in the years 1632-1634, when Van Rensselaer bought livestock from at least four different farms on Manhattan. In July 1632, all animals of Bijlevelt's farm were sold to the patroon, including five horses, nine cows, six sheep, and six swine.note