A Description of the Province and City of New York, 1695 (1843)
NEW YORK CONSIDERED.CHAPTER I
Of the Province of New York.
The province of New York is a country very pleasant and delightful, and well improved for the time it has been settled and the number of its inhabitants. *** This province whereof I speak consists partly of the main land: the islands of greater consideration are three, New York Island, Staten Island, and Nassau (formerly Long) Island; the two former make, each of them, a country, the first of New York, the second of Richmond. On Nassau Island are three counties: for the western end is King's County, the middle Queen's County, and the eastern part Suffolk County: to these do belong several, other smaller islands, which, being at best but so many farms are not worthy consideration. On the main land are likewise five counties, namely West Chester, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster and Albany, equal in number to, but no so well planted, improved, and peopled, as the former. The places of strength are chiefly three; the city of New York, the city of Albany, and the town of Kingstone, in Ulster.
The city of New York, more largely taken, is the whole island so called, and is in length sixteen miles, in breadth six, and in circumference forty-two; but more strictly considered, and as a place of (p. 6) strength, is only the part thereof within the fortifications, and so is not in length or breadth above two furlongs, and in circumference a mile. *** [the fortifications described] As this city is the chief place of strength belonging to this province for its defence against those enemies who come by sea, so Albany is of principal consideration against those who come by land, the French and Indians of Canada. It is distant from New York 150 miles, and lies up Hudson's River on the west side, on the descent of a hill from the west to the eastward. It is in circumference about six furlongs, and hath therein about 200 houses, a fourth part of what there is reckoned to be in New York. [the fortifications of Albany described] *** (p. 7) On this city also depends the Fort at the Flats, four miles from Albany, belonging to the River Indians, who are about sixty families: it is stockaded round, has a blockhouse and a mount, but no great guns. There are in it five Indian wigwams, and a house of two serving in case of necessity for the soldiers, in number twenty-four, who are the guard there. Kingstone is the chief town of Ulster County; lies on the west side of Hudson's River, but two miles distant from it, from New York eighty-six, and from Albany sixty-four miles. . . . It is in circumference near as big as Albany, but as to number of houses not above half so big.
The number of the inhabitants in this province are about 3000 families, whereof almost one-half are naturally Dutch, a great part English, and the rest French. . . . As to their religion, they are very much divided; few of them intelligent and sincere, but the most part ignorant and conceited, fickle and regardless. As to their wealth and disposition thereto, the Dutch are rich and sparing; the English neither very rich, nor too great husbands; the French are poor and therefore forced to be penurious. As to their way of trade and dealing, they are all generally cunning and crafty, but many of them not so just to their words as they should be.
[a two-page plan of New York city within its fortifications; plan of Albany and its fort; a plan of Kingstone]
p. 12 CHAPTER II.
On the Evils and Inconveniences in New York.
Come we now to consider those things which I have said to be either wanting or obstructive to the happiness of New York; and here I shall not speak of every slight and trivial matter, but only those of more considerable importance, which I count to be six. 1st, The wickedness and irreligion of the inhabitants; 2d, want of ministers; 3d, difference of opinion in religion; 4th, a civil dissention; 5th, the heathenism of the Indians; and 6th, the neighbourhood of Canada: of every one of these I shall say something as shall be most material.
Miller, John. A Description of the Province and City of New York: with Plans of the City and Several Forts as They Existed in the Year 1695. London, 1843
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