Lord Cornbury Scandal

Town Life,
page 5 of 14

They sometimes slept on duty, as they do now, and paid a fine of ten stuyvers for each offence. They could not swear, nor fight, nor be “unreasonable;” and “when they receive their quarter-money, they shall not hold any gathering for drink nor any club meeting.”

Attention is called to one rule then in force: “If a watchman receive any sum of money as a fee, he shall give the same to the Captain; and this fee so brought in shall be paid to the City Treasurer” — oh the good old times!

The presence of a considerable force of troops was a feature of life in some towns. The soldiers were well cared for when quartered within the fort, sleeping on good, soft, goose-feather beds, with warm homespun blankets and even with linen sheets, all hired from the Dutch vrouws; and supplied during the winter with plentiful loads of firewood, several hundred, through levy on the inhabitants; good hard wood, too, “no watte Pyn wood, willige, oly noote, nor Lindewood” (which was intended for English, but needs translation into “white pine, willow, butternut, nor linden”).

No doubt the soldiers came to be felt a great burden, for often they were billeted in private houses. We find one citizen writing seriously what reads amusingly like modern slang,— that “they made him weary.” Another would furnish bedding, provisions, anything, if he need not have any soldier-boarders assigned to him. One of the twenty-three clauses of the “Articles of Surrender” of the Dutch was that the “townsmen of Manhattans shall not have any soldiers quartered upon them without being satisfied and paid for them by their officers.” In Governor Nicholl’s written instructions to the commander at Fort Albany, he urges him not to lend “too easey an eare” to the soldiers’complaints against their landlords.

Since in the year 1658 the soldiers of New Amsterdam paid but twenty cents a week for quarters when lodged with a citizen, it is not surprising that their presence was not desired. A soldier’s pay was four dollars a month.

They were lawless fellows, too lazy to chop wood for their fires; they had to be punished for burning up for firewood the stockades they were enlisted to protect.


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