Website Spotlights No. 4

Hier is de vierde aflevering van “Website Spotlights”, een selectie van artikelen die op de familie website te vinden zijn. Na een korte inleiding wordt de website link aangegeven voor degenen die geïnteresseerd zijn het volledige artikel te willen lezen. Deze rubriek wordt in het Engels gepresenteerd om ook onze buitenlandse familieleden meer bij de Crommelin geschiedenis en activiteiten te betrekken.

There are many interesting stories to be found on the Crommelin Family website. We don’t have to read fictional novels or watch television to find adventure! Our ancestors left us an interesting heritage. Here follows the 4th edition of “Website Spotlights” of some articles which can be found on the family website. Following a brief introduction, the website link is given for those who are interested in reading the entire story.

A Visit In A Dutch Country House

by May Crommelin (1849 – 1930)

Maria Henrietta de la Cherois Crommelin, known as May Crommelin, was a novelist and travel writer born in Ulster, Ireland at Carrowdore Castle in County Down. While growing up, she and her family often lived elsewhere because of the political situation at home, and May Crommelin was educated by governesses. The family moved to England in the 1880s and after the death of her traditionalist father in 1885 she lived independently in her own flat in London. Though her family were "French gentry", descended from the Huguenot linen merchant Louis Crommelin, they were not at all wealthy, and Crommelin earned a living by writing. One of her cousins was the astronomer Andrew Claude de la Cherois Crommelin. She travelled widely, going to the Andes, the West Indies, North Africa and elsewhere. She wrote 42 novels which were often based upon her travels. Her first book "Queenie" was published in 1874. "Orange Lily" of 1879 is set in Ulster, where she was born. The following essay of about 15 pages give a wonderful description of living conditions in The Netherlands in the late-1800’s.

A few words of explanation as to my visit. Having been invited over to Holland by some dear Dutch friends and distant cousins, to renew old pleasant impressions of their country home near Haarlem, I left England in this last, most beautiful, September of 1884.

Coming dizzily on deck at Flushing about 6.30 A.M., a glorious sun, and a good breakfast at the station, revived every one. Off by a rather slow but safe express, in a comfortable red-plush-lined carriage, I looked out of the window sleepily to see if I remembered it all, i.e., the general view of the country. First impressions are the most striking, they say. Mine were slightly confused. A green land, with pollards on its leas; long beds of river grass waving tall plumed heads by the canals for miles, or mowed down and stacked for thatching; bright little cottages, and small children in tight nightcaps and sabots. Peasants stopping their ploughs to look at the train, and wearing flat caps, blue shirts, and black corduroys. We are now in a land of blouses and caps. Along raised grassy dykes, long green carts are being briskly pulled by pairs of long-tailed horses. I always like these carts, with their carved rail tilting up picturesquely behind, and the short, green prow in front which the driver guides this side or that, while the harness replaces shafts. About Middelburg, little white houses nestle cosily under such enormous red-peaked roofs that the green landscape fairly glows. And now, twice, the sea seems to close in upon our narrow causeway, while flat green meadows so merge with low grey waters that in the distance one can hardly distinguish between them. We are passing through the islands of Zeeland.

We stop at Rosendaal, the junction for Brussels; pretty Dordrecht, with its villas in tiny gardens, containing water, willows, bridges, and summer-houses, in half an acre; and Rotterdam, all bustle and brightness, big streets, wide waters — a town for commerce rather than residence. Then a great grassy plain for miles, intersected regularly by brimming little water-trenches and covered with herds of black-and-white cattle. My eyes desire a red cow and are seldom if ever gratified. Cuyp painted them — why are there none now? Thick woods ring the horizon; that means the Hague. Then more fat pastures follow; Leyden, with its soldiers and students at the station, being a mere interlude.

This plain reminds me of children playing at Noah's ark on a green tablecloth, and dotting their animals over it. But the view is never unbounded here, as on a prairie, however. Holland has many woods, and these snugly bound and intersect the wide meads, while village spires seem always rising out of the trees, and small windmills (for pumping up water from the ditches) turn red sails. A line of roofs breaks the plain, and head and shoulders over these rises a square mass, like a hen brooding over her chickens — an old mother watching her children. It is the sight that always meets one from afar in coming within sight of Haarlem town — it is Haarlem Cathedral.

It is only a quarter past eleven as we steam into the station. And there is Hugo C—— waiting to greet me — kindest of cousins and most hospitable of hosts. His English-looking family omnibus is waiting with a useful-looking pair of bays. Mounting the box beside him — for he likes driving himself — we are off through the bright, quaint little town. Haarlem makes one seem to have stepped back a century or two, with its narrow, paved streets, gabled house-fronts with curious façades; quiet canals along which the gentry live, with high trees clipped in a screen before their doors; the old marketplace and cathedral. Passing all these, we drive partly through the famous wood.

Amsterdam is a town for commerce, rich merchants, heavy dinners, and some stiff old country families who cling in winter to their town houses. The Hague is gay, nineteenth century, somewhat cosmopolitan. But Haarlem, the Dutch say, is where people live "who have nothing to do." The description is pleasantly meant, and if not true in all cases, is so in that of my friend's. And now our brick-paved road goes out towards the country, among pretty villas, bright with flowers, of course, in this flower-loving land, and shady with trees. We are soon nearing our destination, and my visit has fairly begun...

For the entire story, see: Link

Long Ago and Far Away

An unexpected visit from an old friend now living in Kent, England recently caused Miff to reflect on the period 1682-1692 when our very-great-grandfather, Daniel Crommelin, lived at Greenway Court, Kent near Leeds Castle. This was the time when both Greenway Court and Leeds Castle were owned by the Culpeper family, shortly before they came into the possession of the Fairfax family through the marriage of Catherine Culpeper to Thomas Fairfax. Tourists today will still find the name of 'Culpeper' and 'Fairfax' attached to various gardens and attractions at lovely Leeds Castle - "the prettiest castle in England"!


A Christmas Carol

- the classic winter tale by Charles Dickens
Pencil drawings and text by Miff Crommelin

Although Christmas is already behind us, this classic tale is timeless and always worth sharing.

In the early part of Queen Victoria's reign, Christmas as we now know it became fashionable. The year 1843 saw the publication of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and also the first commercially available Christmas card. Charles Dickens was 31 years old and in dire financial straits when A Christmas Carol in Prose was first published. The lavish first edition, complete with colour plates, was an immediate success but the high cost of production did little to help resolve his financial difficulties.

Encouraged by the acclaim of A Christmas Carol, Dickens wrote four more lesser-known Christmas novels between 1844 and 1848. All five were published together as the Christmas Books in 1852. Their titles were: A Christmas Carol; The Chimes; The Cricket on the Hearth; The Battle of Life; The Haunted Man.

Besides his five Christmas books, Dickens wrote numerous Christmas short stories - a new one appearing each year in his two-penny weekly Household Words which he launched in 1856 and its successor, All the Year Round. A collection of these was first published in 1871 as the Christmas Stories.

The 'crime' of Poverty, Ignorance and Want was the theme of much of Dickens' early writing - an injustice he felt keenly since his family experienced hardship personally. Charles' father, mother and younger siblings spent time in a debtor's prison while he earned six shillings a week pasting labels on pots of boot blacking in a rat-infested warehouse.


J.H. Scheffer - Crommelin Genealogy Archive (published 1878)

(Généalogie du nom, maison, et famille des Crommelin, écrite en Hollande, par le réfugié septuagénaire Jacob Crommelin en 1712)

J.H. Scheffer was the university librarian in Rotterdam who published a Crommelin family archive based on Jacob Crommelin’s genealogical data. In the following pages the entire Scheffer booklet was scanned and is made available to family members.