The Other New York

Crimes and Punishments,
page 6 of 17

Another time the contumacious Van der Veen called the Secretary a rascal. Thereat, the latter, much aggrieved, demanded “honorable and profitable reparation” for the insult. The schout judged this epithet to be a slander and an affront to the Secretary, which “affected his honor, being tender,” and the honor of the Court as well, since it was to a member of the Court, and he demanded that the notary should pay a fine of fifty guilders as an example to other slanderers, “who for trifles have constantly in their mouths curses and abuses of other honorable people.”

Another well-known notary and practitioner and pleader in the busy little Court held in the Stadt Huys was Solomon La Chair. His manuscript volume of nearly three hundred pages, containing detailed accounts of all the business he transacted in Manhattan, is now in the County Clerk’s Office in New York, and proves valuable material for the historiographer. He had much business, for he could speak and write both English and Dutch; and he was a faithful, painstaking, intelligent worker. He not only conducted lawsuits for others, but he seems to have been in constant legal hot water himself on his own account. He was sued for drinking and not paying for a can of sugared wine; and also for a half-aam of costly French wine; and he was sued for the balance of payment for a house he had purchased; he pleaded for more time, and with the ingenuous guilelessness peculiar to the law said in explanation that he had had the money gathered at one time for payment, but it had somehow dropped through his fingers.” The Court condemned to pay at once,” — not being taken in by any such simplicity as that. He had to pay a fine of twelve guilders for affronting both fire inspector and court messenger. He first insulted the brandt-meester who came to inspect his chimney, and was fined, then he called the bode who came to collect the fine “a little cock booted and spurred.” The Court in sentence said with dignity, “It is not meet that men should mock and scoff at persons appointed to any office, yea a necessary office.”

He won one important suit for the town of Gravesend, by which the right of that town to the entire region of Coney Island was established; and he received in payment for his legal services therein, the munificent sum of twenty-four florins (ten dollars) paid in gray pease.


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