1660c.3

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New Netherland (Later NYC) Bans "Balslaen" on the Sabbath

Salience Noteworthy
Tags Bans
Location Manhattan?
City/State/Country: New York, NY, United States
Game Balslaen
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Unknown
Holiday Sabbath
Text

(summarizing rules of the Sabbath in the New Netherland colony)

" . . . exercises and amusement, drinking {themselves} drunk, frequenting taverns or taphouses, dancing, playing cards, ticktacken {backgammon}, balslaen {literally: "hitting the ball"}, clossen {bowling}, kegelen {nine pins}, going boating, traveling with barges, carts, or wagons, before, between, or during the Holy worship."

Note: one translator used the term "cricket" for "balslaen."

Sources

Jaap Jacobs, The Colony of New Netherland: A Dutch Settlement in Seventeenth-Century America (Cornell U. Press: Ithaca, 2009), p. 244.

Pam Bakker, who reported this find, notes that Jacobs' sources include:  B. Fernow (ed.) and E. B. O'Callahan (trans.), The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini (7 vols, New York 1897, 2nd ed. Baltimore 1976, 1:24-26); also Ch. T. Gehring (trans. and ed.), Laws and Writs of Appeal 1647-1663 (New Netherland Documents Series, vol. 16, part 1) (Syracuse 1991 and this on p. 71); and thirdly E. B. O'Callagham (trans.) Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, 1636-1674 (Albany 1868 on p. 259).   

See her full find below under Supplemental Text.

 

Comment

(Jacobs) says that unfortunately "balslaen" has been translated as cricket but it simply means hitting the ball.

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Query

Can we determine whether 17th-century balslaen was a batting/baserunning game, or was it in the field-hockey, or handball, or golf, families of games?

Was "New Netherland" confined to the Manhattan area or did it extend northward into the Hudson River valley?

Is "circa 1660" a defensible approximation for this find?

Was balslaen played in Holland?  Could it have influenced English ballplaying, including cricket and English base ball??

 

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Submitted by Pamela Bakker
Submission Note Email to Peter Mancuso, 6/25/2018, and followup additions sent to Protoball
Has Supplemental Text Yes



Comments


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Supplemental Text

June 25 email from Pamela Bakker, with attachments:

 

From: Pamela Bakker
Sent: Jun 25, 2018 5:45 PM
To: peterplus4
Subject: Re: sorry


This got bounced back from the origins committee. Don't know where to send it. Pam


On June 25, 2018 at 5:40 PM Pamela Bakker wrote:


I sent the following (below) to Peter and then realized I should have sent it to the [origins] committee. I did follow it up with an email to the New Netherlands Society in New York and sent an email to a friend of mine who is a "Dutch" Reformed professor who lectures in the Netherlands (I'm also licensed in that denomination and a descendant of the first settlers on my paternal mother's side)-asking both about "balslaen" and how it might have been played in the 1600s. I asked my friend, the professor, if he would reach out to his Dutch professor friends in the Netherlands. I'm not sure if they will provide anything, but it is worth a shot and they can read Dutch and have university accesses to old manuscripts.

==


On June 25, 2018 at 4:19 PM Pamela Bakker wrote:


Hi Peter:
I found another reference to hitting a ball in a book I'm reading by Jaap Jacobs, "The Colony of New Netherland: A Dutch Settlement in Seventeenth-Century America" (Cornell U. Press: Ithaca, 2009), p. 244.

Jaap is a translator of early New Netherlands (New York) material. He has the quote below which came from the following sources: B. Fernow (ed.) and E. B. O'Callahan (trans.), The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini (7 vols, New York 1897, 2nd ed. Baltimore 1976, 1:24-26) also Ch. T. Gehring (trans. and ed.), Laws and Writs of Appeal 1647-1663 (New Netherland Documents Series, vol. 16, part 1) (Syracuse 1991 and this on p. 71) and thirdly E. B. O'Callagham (trans.) Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, 1636-1674 (Albany 1868 on p. 259). He says that unfortunately "balslaen" has been translated cricket but it simply means hitting the ball.

He has the following on p. 244 under the heading "The Day of the Lord" (Sabbath). In this section he lists some of the rules for the sabbath day which included a ban on the following.

"exercises and amusement, drinking {themselves} drunk, frequenting taverns or taphouses, dancing, playing cards, ticktacken {backgammon}, balslaen {literally: "hitting the ball"}, clossen {bowling}, kegelen {nine pins}, going boating, traveling with barges, carts, or wagons, before, between, or during the Holy worship."

So whatever" hitting the ball" meant to the Dutch, it was banned on Sundays. I do have some Dutch connections and will try to ask them more about the word.

Sincerely,
Pam Bakker

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