Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

Date of this Version



Furman’s work is one of the earliest compilations of historical documents (with commentary) about an American city, in this case his native Brooklyn. It is an invaluable source of information on the early Dutch and English settlements of Brooklyn, Flatbush, Bushwick, New Lotts, Canarsie, Bedford, New Utrecht, Jamaica, and New Amsterdam, and their controversies with one another and with the Governors of New York and the crown of England. Included are original documents relative to the Indian purchases, original boundaries, water rights, ferry rights, wood rights, and forms of town government. Sections include: Situation of the Town of Brooklyn, Ancient Names and Remains, Soil and Climate, Ancient Grants and Patents, Town Rights and Ferries, Roads and Public Landing Places, Common Lands, and the Division thereof, Differences as to Bounds, Revolutionary Incidents, Ancient Government, Present Government, Public Buildings and Institutions, Schools, Newspapers and Moral Character, and Fire Department.

Gabriel Furman (1800-1854) was a lawyer, judge, and state senator, and an eminent scholar, book collector, compiler, and antiquarian. He led an eccentric and solitary life, and died in poverty, the victim, some said, of an opium addiction. His only other work published during his life was an 1845 edition of Daniel Denton’s 1670 tract, A Brief Description of New York, Formerly Called New-Netherlands.

This online electronic edition is transcribed from a facsimile of the original, produced by RENASCENCE in Brooklyn in 1968. The table of contents has been moved to the beginning of the volume, and a small number of typographical errors corrected, but otherwise the pagination and the language, style, spelling, and punctuation are those of the original.

The Notes was re-issued after Furman’s death, in 1865 in a edition prepared for the Faust Club of Brooklyn, compiled (according to some catalogers) by A.J. Spooner, and containing two biographical sketches of Furman. These sketches can bee seen at and Furman’s “Introduction” and “Notes” to Denton’s Brief Description can be seen at