'Birth Certificate of New York' sold for $120,000 from the Eric C Caren collection

The sale of the Eric C Caren collection has concluded with a great wealth of American history in document form going under the hammer. The stand out lot is known as the Birth Certificate of New York.

Signed by Charles II, King of England, the manuscript offers authorisation for Edmund Andros to take possession of New York from the Dutch. The letter is signed to Heneage Finch, Baron of Daventry and Keeper of the Great Seal.

One page only, 12 x 7 1/2 inches, on half of a folded sheet, with original docketing on verso reading "Warrant for sealing Major Andros his Commission & taking poss'on of New York yielded by ye Dutch by ye late peace." It was sent from Windsor Castle, England, 30 July 1674.

In this document, King Charles II authorises a commission for Edmund Andros to "demand, & to take into . . . possession the place in the West Indies called by the Dutch New Netherlands, but by our subjects New York, together with all the fortifications, artillery, armes, ammunition, and necessaries of warre therein remaining."

In essence, it signifies the beginning of New York's final incarnation as an English colony.

Birth certificate of New York
Birth certificate of New York

The Dutch had relinquished New Netherlands to the English in 1664, but recaptured it in August 1673 as part of the Third Anglo-Dutch War. The costly war came to a close when the Dutch agreed to return captured territory.

The resulting Treaty of Westminster was ratified by the Dutch on 5 March 1674, ending the war and returning New York to English rule. Edmund Andros, then a loyal but relatively obscure soldier, was selected to serve as the colony's new governor.

 His commission in hand, Governor Andros departed for New York in August and arrived on October 22. New York was in English hands to stay, for another century at least, until the colonists themselves made other arrangements.

The fascinating document - previously a part of Malcolm Forbes's collection - sold as expected for $120,000.


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