Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

Date of this Version



Covers the period from 1678 to 1680, when Wolley was the Church of England chaplain in New York.


This description of the city and inhabitants of New York and its environs was written by the Anglican chaplain who resided there in the years 1678–1680, who published it twenty years after his return to England. A large portion concerns the life and manners of the Native inhabitants, obtained both by direct observation and conversation, and by reports from the official government interpreter. The remainder concerns the habits and commerce of the largely Dutch inhabitants of the city. It is an anecdotal description, sprinkled with quotations from English and classical writers, but very homely in its accounts of such diverse incidents as a bear hunt near what is now Maiden Lane, a dinner party for the Calvinist and Lutheran ministers (who had not spoken for six years), breaking up a fist-fight in the street outside his window, the prices of furs and various commodities, the price of land (2 or 3 pence an acre), the death of his pet raccoon, the menu on a trans-Atlantic voyage, the (non-)wearing of shoes by Dutch women, the manner of whaling, the custom of giving New-Year’s gifts, the Dutch penchant for aurigation (i.e. riding about in Wagons), and the practice of treating rattlesnake bites by sucking out the poison. The first edition was published in London in 1701. A second edition was edited by Dr. E. B. O’Callaghan and published by William Gowans in New York in 1860 as the second in his Bibliotheca Americana series. A third edition was edited by Edward Gaylord Bourne and issued by Burrows Brothers in 1902; and this last edition provides the text, notes, and essay included here.