The Punishment of Crimes in Colonial New York

Education and Child-Life,
page 7 of 17

It has been asserted that in every town in New York which was settled under the Dutch, a school was established which was taught by a competent teacher who received a small salary from the government, in addition to his other emoluments; and that after the reign of the English, begun in 1664, this public salary ceased, and many of the towns were schoolless.

This statement is not confirmed by a letter of Domine Megapolensis written from Albany in 1657. He says plainly that only Manhattan, Beverwyck, and Fort Casimir had schoolmasters, and he predicts, as a result, “ignorance, a ruined youth, and bewilderment of men’s minds.” Other authorities, such as Mr. Teunis G. Bergen, state that this liberality where it existed should be accredited to the Dutch church, not the Dutch state, or Dutch West India Company. In truth, it was all one matter. The church was an essential power in the government of New Netherland, as it was in Holland; hence the West India Company and the Classis of Amsterdam conjoined in sending domines with the supply of burgomasters, and likewise furnished school-teachers.

When Wouter van Twiller arrived in 1633 with the first military garrison for New Amsterdam, he brought also envoys of religion and learning, —Domine Everardus Bogardus and the first pedagogue, Adam Roelandsen. Master Roelandsen had a schoolroom assigned to him, and he taught the youthful New Amsterdamites for six years, when he resigned his position, and was banished from the town and went up the river to Renssellaerwyck. I fear he was not a very reputable fellow, “people did not speak well of him;” and he in turn was sued for slander; and some really sad scandals were told about him, both in and out of court. And some folk have also made very merry over the fact that he took in washing, which was really one of the best things we know about him, for it was not at all a disreputable nor unmanly calling in those times. It doubtless proved a very satisfactory source of augmentation of the wavering school-salary, in those days of vast quarterly or semi-annual washings and great bleeckeryen, or laundries,—which his probably was, since his bills were paid by the year.


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