Frederic de Coninck Letters
Translation Project

Worries about Frederic's ongoing symptoms of epilepsy; the Seige of Cambrai; Catherine goes to Paris;
Birth of a child to Jacob Crommelin in Paris; Death of Marie Testart, Pierre's sister;
Plans to return home are suspended; Problems with shipping fruit and preserves;
Influenza and illness strikes hard; Daniel Crommelin suffers bankruptcy

1677 Timeline

Catherine Crommelin (1632-1694)

3 January 1677 - Baptism of Jean Mettayer at Lehaucourt temple, son of pastor Samuel Mettayer and Susanne Fremin. Marie Madelaine Crommelin, daughter of the late Louis Crommelin, was the godmother. Jacques Le Serurier, godfather.

14 January 1677 - Letter #06 from Mother at Rouen, France. Received at Amsterdam, Holland. Replied: 4 February 1677.

14 January 1677

My very dear son,

I have yours of the last of the month. I'm very happy that God is keeping you in good health. I note that you would rather not take any remedy. In God's name please be careful. Follow the regimen and don't be difficult. I told you to have a neck comforter made, and don't stay alone in your room because sometimes it leads to other misfortunes. If poor Mr. Pierre [Oursel] had been accompanied, the tragedy might not have occurred. But God willed it, so Pierre passed away. He is sadly missed in Le Havre.

I'm glad that you now have your cap and sleeves and the rest which is even better. I requested our cousin to have a coat made if this hasn't already been done, and to give you 20 guilders because I doubt you would have asked him for anything before getting your cap. I'm giving you this 20 fl on condition that you will spend it wisely and that for 6 months you won't ask me for anything more. Here we haven't earned anything for a long time, so please be frugal. You only have to maintain your shoes and perhaps update your clothes. If your stockings become too small, make them bigger and longer with the ones you have in your suitcase. The elastics will hold properly. Always wear your large cassock (long-sleeved robe) because it's cold and it will serve as a robe in your room. It's been freezing here for two days and people are running on the [Seine] river.

You will be a naughty boy if you refuse such a fine opportunity. To know about drugs is a very good vocation and in this town the trade is in demand and perhaps a bit difficult. But this is nothing because 2 or 3 years is soon past. You must give this some serious thought, however I don't want to force you into it. What I say is only for your own good with regard to vocations and your greatest benefit. You aren't too young to be thinking about your future career from time to time. If you absolutely don't want to consider it, then please ask all our friends to help find you another position so that you don't become impatient or needlessly waste your time while constantly growing older. Visit Mr. van Hulten often. He's a good friend. Please ask him if he can find you a good office job. Also let me know if he has a wife.

Learn to write well. When you write me in a hurry your writing is barely legible and letters are lost. Now we have to pay postage on letters coming from foreign lands. Goodbye, my dear child. God bless you. All here are in good health. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

28 January 1677 - Letter #07 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 4 February.

28 January 1677

My dear son,

I wrote my last letter under cover of cousin van Pradellis which I hope you will receive. I gave her instructions to give you 20 florins which I think you will have received. Manage it well and make an accounting occasionally of how much your expenses are. Let me know if you had a coat made that is big enough.

I promised you that if I got any good news from the St. Louis I would let you know. By the grace of God it arrived at Le Havre last Sunday at 11 o'clock in the morning having suffered for 8 days in rough weather. The good Lord graciously protected it. It unloaded alright. Your cousin Daniel [de la Chambre] returned in good condition but Captain Oursel, Jean Poittesun, and Capt. Petit weren't as good having been quite exhausted. Your uncle de la Chambre and your brother Frans left that morning [from Rouen] to go and bring back your cousin Daniel. The ship will return again to the Isles [Ireland]. [Daniel Jr., baptized March 11, 1649, lived in Ireland and remained single.]

Let me know, my dear, if you're doing well. Mr. Oursel requested Mr van Hulten to find you a place in an office. Your uncle de Conincq also informed me that he had asked his friend, Geerard Gerverding, about a job. This is the man who delivered my letters to you. Be nice to him and go see him at home. Make some friends, my dear child, which you can do amongst these gentle folks. Everyone is doing fine here. I don't have time to say anything more worthwhile. Everyone sends their greetings. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

11 February 1677 - Letter #08 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 25 February.

11 February 1677

My dear son,

I have yours of the 4th of the current month. I see you haven't received the barrels of fruit yet. Everything will be spoiled. I won't send you anymore because it's too prone to spoilage. Besides, I also think they weren't so big and that they are fairly plentiful in Holland. Someday I would like to send something to the two young cousins, but I don't know what might please them. I don't know if they would like a ribbon to adorn their hair and their dresses. Perhaps you could inquire discreetly without saying anything. Then let me know after finding a good occasion in which to send it.

Your coat must be beautiful since it cost 41f 10s. Be careful with what's left because it has to last a long time. And if your clothes get too short, have them lengthened a little. If socks are enlarged at the bottom, it won't be visible, and the long-sleeved house coat is big enough. Around the time of St. Jean [a holiday] you can have another outfit made.

I'm very happy that he arranged an opportunity to see a merchant but you didn't mention what merchandise he handled and where his business is located. If my cousin Pradellis thinks that this is suitable, I pray that you don't lose the opportunity because you can't simply find another one whenever you want. And for the period of your engagement, make sure that it's for at least three years.

Make your money go as far as possible but give them what they want because they are people of our faith and are laundering your clothes. My dear son, think about your advancement and learn well. Be affectionate and you will receive the same. Don't be conceited because this is always picked up by others. And don't be vain because this is displeasing to God. Humility is good and healthy because by this you will attract the blessings of God and the friendship of everyone. Pray that God might address this issue with you. I don't think he would like you to take this job for so little. I'm also afraid that he might require you to stay for at least 9 years. Anyway, you'll see. You are still quite young.

I'm really annoyed with you because your handwriting is atrocious and I don't know how you pass the time. While you're in Holland make sure you write well. Try writing me a lot on a small piece of paper. You haven't mentioned your health lately, so take good care of yourself. My spirit is always with you, and if it weren't for the distance and the sea to traverse, I wouldn't go for so long without seeing you.

Yesterday Mr. Oursel left for Le Havre and last week your uncle [Daniel de la Chambre] and your brother returned from there having brought back your big cousin [Daniel Jr.] with them. Today he will be a godfather with Mlle. Beuselin (godmother) for the baby of Pierre Jansse. There are repairs to be made to the ship the St. Louis which was damaged by the bad weather. However, no merchandise was spoiled.

So that's all I have to say while I wait for news from you. If you get hired, let me know what agreement you struck, and don't sign anything until you've heard from me. You can always enter into a business until you discover whether it suits you. Goodbye, and I pray to the Highest for your protection. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin.

4 March 1677 - Letter #09 from Mother. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 18 March.

4 March 1677 (Replied: 18 March 1677)

My dear son,

I have yours of February 25 and am happy to learn that you are well, and that you've taken the pills twice. You'll have to take them again this month at the waning of the moon. Please don't neglect to do this, and don't let anything distract you from doing it because this is expressly for you and I'm not convinced this evil malady has left you completely. And don't ever be without a foot-long woollen scarf. May God bless and keep you, my dear son.

I'm very happy that there is some hope that Mr. Gerverding will take you in and even that you have already helped him. My dear child, do your utmost to be satisfactory. Be conscientious and try to learn quickly. Project the fact that you are happy to be of service. If you have the honour to be hired, you'll have to show a willingness to be equally good to both the wife and her husband. I would be most annoyed if you lose this opportunity. I wrote to your uncle de Conincq and this letter went under his cover. I asked him to write to Mr. Gerverding in your favour which I hope he has done. I'm of the opinion that if he speaks to you about a contract that he engages you for only 4 years. When you have served this time you will be only 20 1/2 years old which is still young enough to do your own thing. I'm not sending this letter via Cousin Pradellis so please give him my regards. I also ask him to see that you don't flee from this good opportunity. I'll be waiting expectantly for success.

I'm glad that the apples arrived and that they are still in good condition! If your outfit is too small, please ask cousin to have one made of durable material that will last a long time. My poor child, you don't have to be so cautious about others. Just be honest. Please don't buy any decorative ribbons for adorning the neck. I'll send you one via cousin van der Schalque who has to leave shortly for Holland. I'll send one for each cousin. As for the outfit that you have, please have it adjusted because it will still be nice if it were turned inside-out and then have it enlarged. Thus you will have 2 suits and you can save the other one. I'll see what stockings are currently in fashion.

Please thank Mr van Hulten for the trouble he took in trying to find you a job. Goodbye. I greet you affectionately, as do all your friends. Your cousin Daniel [de la Chambre] is in good shape. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin

18 March 1677 - Letter #10 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 1 April.

18 March 1677

I wrote you 15 days ago under cover of your uncle de Conincq. I think it will have reached you and that your uncle will have written a recommendation to Mr. Gerverding on your behalf, as I asked him to, that he might consider you seriously for a job in his office. If so, I would be overjoyed and await the outcome anxiously. My poor dear child, try to please him and enter into his employ because you have to consider that all your well-being hangs on entering into the service of an honourable gentleman and a good merchant so that you will be able to benefit and one day become, by the grace of God, a good merchant too. This is what I ask of our Lord to bring me joy. If Mr. Gerverding speaks to you about terms, I'll give the example of your brother, Jean, to Mr. Savin - 900 pounds for a commitment of 4 years. I think he'll be able to arrange similar terms as for your brother, except in Dutch currency. The sooner that he can accommodate you, the better, because time is marching on.

As for other matters, I asked cousin Pradellis to have an outfit made for you of durable material that will last a long time. Since you aren't nearby I can't update your clothes. I gave to our big cousin van der Schalque a decorative ribbon for adorning the neck because everyone now wears one as a neck band. It is green with an embroidered stripe inside which is the prettiest I've ever seen. There are two pieces - one red and the other blue which you will give to the two young cousins. Our big cousin will be leaving from Dieppe via Larie. Give the ribbon to our cousin without saying that it came from me. Goodbye, my dear. I pray protection for you from the Almighty. All your friends greet you, and Marie also [Marie Oursel, Federic's half-sister, is now 9 years old.]. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

1 April 1677 - Letter #11 from Mother at Rouen, France. Received at Amsterdam, Holland.

1 April 1677

My dear son,

I received yours of 18 March. I'm most upset that Mr. Gerverding decided against hiring you. I thought this was so sure that you had led me to hope. My spirits which had risen have now been dashed and I'm really unhappy. I don't know if it's the little Flemish [Dutch] that you know which prevented you from getting it. I think you know enough to get around in the city and to copy letters. Here you copied them well without knowing it. Please ask cousin to speak again to Mr. Gerverding. Although he has 3 boys he's looking for another. This man does great business and it's with a person like him that you can learn something.

With regard to what he said about you having to go and live in Deventer to learn the language better, it's probably because he sees that you do too much in French - something which you are trying to minimize by living in the home of a school teacher. This is the way to learn it well with other young people, and also you say that you are taking bookkeeping. If he knows that, he might take you on. Ask cousin Pradellis to direct you to someone who knows it perfectly and how much it would cost to teach you. My dear child, I would love to be able to help you in this but I can't. We'll just have to wait on the hand of God. He knows all about our needs so don't neglect your prayers morning and night, or going out to hear the Word of God.

I wrote you 15 days ago under cover of Mr. van Hulten with an attachment for cousin Pradellis which I think he would have delivered. I would prefer not to have written him so soon but I thought the business with Mr. Gerverding had gone through. Therefore if you haven't already delivered it, it wouldn't bother me. All this drags out for such a long time. See Mr. van Hulten often. I recall him saying something about finding a job for you, so talk to him. It shouldn't be too difficult. Time is marching on and you aren't making progress anywhere else.

I also asked our cousin to have an outfit made for you. If this hasn't been done and you don't want to inconvenience her so often, then make use of this note to request money from Mr. van Hulten and ask your landlady to go with you to help you because you won't know what material to use. Choose one that is durable with a view to wearing this suit throughout the year. The current fashion is to make the pants long so that the pant legs come almost to the end of the leg and rolling the bottoms under the stockings to the desired height. The stocking is generally long. So, that's what's in style now. Suspenders aren't in vogue.

I sent you via big cousin Francois van der Schalque, who I think you will see before the others, 2 small pieces of embroidered ribbon which you are to deliver as a gift to the young Pradellis cousins. You asked me about shoulder pads. These aren't worn anymore. Your cousin Ciprien Testart came to see us with his father [Pierre Testart] last week. They went to Paris to buy new clothes which are like what I asked you to get except for a stripe of beads on the shoulders, a cord on the hat, and a bow where the hat turns up. So that's how men are properly dressed now. Get yourself some stockings that can be rolled up.

Your cousin Ciprien is a good honest boy, a great talker, slender. He knows now where you are. He saw your brother, Jean, and couldn't believe that it was him! He thought he was your brother, Francois. Jean visits all Parisiens which is hard on his shoes. [This experience as a door-to-door salesman must have served Jean de Coninck well because years later he became a successful lace trader before he died tragically in Rotterdam in 1690, leaving two orphans. Ciprien Testart, meanwhile, was Pierre Testart's oldest son. A child of Rachel Crommelin, he eventually took over his father's business before the family fled to Holland. Of this Testart family, only Cyprien abjured and remained in France. ]

I'll be sure to have a cap embroidered by Manon [Marie Oursel, now age 9] to send you and then I'll make you cravattes and some lace ruffle cuffs. Write me the name of some master of a ship by whom I can send things to you because I don't know who I can use. I worry that so much stuff will get lost.

"Manon" - Marie Oursel hard at work...
"Caspar Netscher 003" by Caspar Netscher (circa 1639–1684)
- The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202.
Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Madam Allais prays earnestly that you talk to her son Robert, age 13 years. She would like it dearly if you and him would get to know each other. She would like to find someone he could go shopping with so that her son doesn't become idle. He's a queer and spunky fellow who writes well, is good in arithmetic and who already works around their shop. They would really like to find people who are a little nearer their vocation. He sells all kinds of narrow ribbons. Mr. Allais is a very good person.

Say something about all those whom you are acquainted with. Tell me if you occasionally see Mr. and Mrs. Froment and if he has become a friend. And go see Mr. Pierre Serurrier. He and his wife are from St. Quentin. You saw his brother come to Rouen with Mr. Testart 16 months ago. We are related. Give him my affectionate greetings and apologize if you hadn't seen him sooner. He will be able to assist you. He's an honorable man who I think will receive you warmly. Ask him to get you a good job. You met him in Haarlem but he doesn't remember more. Mention Robert Allais to him. It wouldn't bother him to write you.

Goodbye, my dear son. May the Lord be with you. Let me know how you are doing and don't hide anything. Purge yourself often because the season is quite nasty. We are all in good health.

Musketeers of the Guard entering the citadel of Valenciennes, 17 March 1677

PS - You know that Valenciennes now belongs to us [France].

Cambrai [currently occupied by the Spanish Netherlands] is under seige. We don't think it will be more than 8 days before it surrenders. [The seige ended on 19 April 1677 during the Franco-Dutch War.] Thus St. Quentin is protected. Mr Testart is anxious to see the seige at Cambrai. The king is there in person. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

The Surrender of Cambrai, 19 April 1677
by artist Adam Frans van der Meulen (1632–1690)
Source: Wikipedia

8 April 1677 - Letter #12 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.

8 April 1677

My dear son,

I wrote you 8 days ago. Since then I received yours of the first of this month with great distress seeing that it pleased God to visit you again with the same illness that you had before. My dear child, accept all that comes from the hand of this good God with patience and humility. He will heal you when it pleases him. O Eternal, just say the word and your servant will be healed because you alone are able to do all things through prayer together with medications. I hope that our earnest appeal is sufficient. Be guided by the doctor that our cousin has consulted and also heed the consultation of Mr. Pernee which I sent you. My dear Fredericq, please do everything possible to get well, and our Lord will bless the medication by his grace.

Before receiving this last news, I had you incessantly in my thoughts, night and day. I had a presentiment of you, and the other time it was exactly the same. Please look after yourself and have someone else sleep in your room. The damp air doesn't do you any good so don't go without a length of wool around your neck. As long as you're taking these measures you don't have to look so hard for a job with a merchant. I asked cousin to find someone who teaches bookkeeping well. You can learn from him and apply yourself to that, and also to the Flemish [Dutch] language. God willing you will be proficient in all this before returning here. Suppress your French so that you will learn more quickly.

I think the big cousin will have arrived and that by now you have the trim to put on your outfit. You'll have to get one that lasts a long time. Have the old one lengthened. It must be saved as a spare. I didn't put anything with your ribbons because you know that everything gets inspected at Larie. But I instructed cousin Pradellis to give you 6 rijksdaalders. Meanwhile I saved a little because we will send some goods to Mr. van Hulten and I will give him a small package for you. Manon goes to work eagerly to embroider a hat but on condition that you will send her some encouraging news. Write often and let me know your condition. Mail your letters under cover of Mr. van Hulten. He always writes via the postal system and this way it won't cost so much in postage. Your grandmother [Rachel Tacquelet] sends her affectionate greetings, as we all do, praying that God restores you to perfect health. Express well our appreciation to our good cousins for all the requests I have made, and the trouble they went through in taking good care of you. Let them know that my requests are only because I can't be near you right now. Goodbye, my dear son. We are all in good health. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

6 May 1677 - Letter #13 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 20 May.

6 May 1677

My dear son,
I have yours of the 22nd of last month. I see that cousin has taken the trouble to get an outfit made for you. May God give you the grace to wear it in good health. Your trim didn't arrive early enough to serve you so you bought another. I'm annoyed because you could have saved this money and it's necessary to be thrifty because the more people you get to know the less you will have. So be careful. I know that in Holland one spends a lot and everything is very expensive.

The little shipment for Mr. van Hulten didn't leave yet because there was no opportunity. There's a little package in it for you. So go visit Mr. van Hulten occasionally to see if it hasn't arrived, and if you change your address let him know so he'll know where to forward my letters.

Learn your bookkeeping well, and also your language. In order to read and write it well, remember to suppress your French. Hurry back to your home and don't think anymore about looking for a job with a merchant. But you'll have to benefit from this because a year of instruction will cost a lot. When you've found a teacher, let me know how you are doing.

Since you are on medication, and this malady hasn't left you yet, I pray that God may cure you and bless you, my dear child. Always behave as a wise boy. May the reverential fear of God always take first place in your heart, and plead for for his help and assistance in your difficulties. Write and let me know how you're doing without hiding anything. Carry your letter to Mr van Halten so it won't cost so much in postage. Be sure to seek an opportunity to interact with Robert Allais. I think that the big cousin van der Schalque will have handed over the little package that I gave her.

I was at Quevilly with your grandmother [Rachel Tacquelet]. [Quevilly, a town on the outskirts of Rouen about 6 miles away, was where a Protestant temple was permitted to serve the population of Rouen. Many family births, deaths and marriages were recorded there.]

Your uncle [Daniel de la Chambre, husband of Marie Crommelin] received news on Tuesday that his brother, Mr. Jacques de la Chambre, died at Haarlem, age 82 years. Captain Oursel is very ill, which upsets us a lot. We are still well, thank God. Goodbye. Please convey my affectionate greetings to our cousins and their daughters. Your sister also greets you affectionately a thousand times. In haste... Your loving mother Catherine Crommelin

Protestant temple at Quevilly near Rouen

13 May 1677 - Letter #14 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 20 May.

13 May 1677

My dear son,
Attached to this is what I wrote you 8 days ago which has been ignored to this day, and this is to say that I'm distressed by not having received any news from you for a long time. Let me know how you are doing and whether the medicine you are taking is any guarantee against falling into the same accident that happened to you before, and if it has occurred again. Let me know immediately, without delay.

Meanwhile learn your bookkeeping and don't waste a moment. And above all learn to read Dutch and how to write it. Avoid all company with French people. Two days ago Mr. van Hulten's small shipment was loaded. There is a package inside it for you. Be sure to remove it when it arrives. Be observant, and since it contains your clothes and linen, make sure nothing gets lost.

As for news, Mr. Pierre le Febure has gone to St. Quentin to marry your cousin Rachel Testart who is his fiance. Also he had to obtain permission from the king for the marriage to take place. It was quite alright for them to marry in respect of lineage and her parentage.

Monsieur and Mademoiselle Taunay have been at our home since Monday with their young son and master Robin who are now quite tall. This was a joyful occasion and then came the sadness. This morning at 4:00 a.m. we buried our poor servant, Ester, after an illness that lasted six days. The rest of the household is alright. May God keep you, my dear son. All your good friends send their regards. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

  • Rachel Testart was the oldest child of Pierre Testart and his second wife, Rachel Crommelin, another sister of Catherine. Rachel Crommelin died giving birth to Pierre Testart's eighth child. He married a third time to Anne Baullier. Pierre Testart was a kind of 'patriarch' having fathered numerous children by three wives: Catherine Bossu, Rachel Crommelin and Anne Baullier.
  • Catherine's servant, Ester, was secretly buried at 4:00 a.m. because French Protestants weren't allowed to bury their dead during the day.

  • 3 June 1677 - Letter #15 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 17 June.

    3 June 1677

    My dear son,
    I have yours of 20 May. By that I learned that you have taken the same medicine which caused you to vomit. I hope that by the grace of God he will bless the cure for your healing. I would be overjoyed to learn that so that you will soon be in condition to take a job with a merchant. It's because you haven't been eating or drinking enough, so be sure that you don't lack anything. The main thing is to learn how to make a living and to have the ambition to someday make a good home. This is what I urge you to do, and especially to reverentially fear God.

    I see that you have entered the home of a person to learn bookkeeping. Apply yourself and be diligent because I hope you won't be staying there too long. The fees and boarding costs are excessive, and in a word, prohibitive. Therefore be careful to spend little and save your money. You must not be liberal. You are still young. Our cousin sent me an account in the amount of f402.5 which here is 500 pounds (livres). Your new outfit isn't included, and I'm not happy to have so much spent for the hat and band. That's another 45 pounds (livres) here. Go gently, my dear child. It's good to be upright, but you certainly don't have much ambition. Since you always ask me, you'll find a louis d'or (gold coin) in the package which I think you will have received.

    I would really like it if you would go see cousin Harman Crommelin who is the son of my uncle Pierre. There are still many more relatives in Haarlem. You'll see that when you go there. [Likely referring to Armand Crommelin, son of Pierre Crommelin and Marie des Ormeaux, born about 1638 in St. Quentin. He died 26 May 1681 in Haarlem and had at least two other brothers and sisters who also lived in Haarlem.]

    Friends in Holland are obliged to drink a lot, something I absolutely forbid unless you want to die early by inviting your illness to return. I worry about that, so behave in a manner where you are always in control of yourself.

    Mademoiselle Marote Thins must leave soon for Amsterdam. I'll give her a letter to bring you in which I've inserted a few things for you to deliver to cousin Pradellis. Ask cousin to give you another 15 florins to buy a robe or house coat so that you won't bother me again over this. But she mustn't put it on our account because Mr. Oursel will likely cry that he isn't able to pay so much for someone so young! So please give some thought to how much you are costing me this year. He'll be patient provided the expenses aren't frivolous and that they're for your advancement.

    You will learn that last Sunday two marriage announcements were published. One for Mr. Pierre Le Febure with Rachelot Testart, and the other for Mr. Etienne Ernaut with Miss Madelein Le Febure. So there's lots of joy at the home of Madam Le Febure. Also next Sunday Mr. Abraham Torin will marry the youngest daughter of Mr. Francois le Blanc. A new chimney is being built at our cousin's place which I don't think is smoking anymore. [Abraham Torin was likely a brother of Jean Torin, the first husband of Ester Crommelin, the youngest sister of Catherine.]

    Goodbye. Please be wise so that our Lord preserves you and gives you his Holy Spirit. Be polite and honest, and always have a lot of respect for cousin Pradellis. Be sure to avoid swimming because it would be harmful to your ailment and, if possible, avoid boats and water altogether because the dampness won't do you any good. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

    16 June 1677 - Letter #16 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.

    16 June 1677

    My dear son,
    I wrote you 15 days ago under cover of Mr. Pradellis that I believe will have arrived. This one came by Miss Thins, the eldest daughter of Mr. Thins who went to Amsterdam see her friends. I don't know where she's staying since I didn't keep the name of the relative where she's at, nor even the street name. However try to meet her possibly in the French or Dutch church. I think you'll recognize her alright. I would like you to pay her a visit so that when she comes back here she'll be able to give me some news about you. That would make me happy.

    Enclosed are two louis d'or. I think you will have received the small packet by Mr van Hulten where you will have found another louis. So, that's it for a long time. Save your money and don't think I'm able to provide you this too often. Cousin Pradellis will have given you another 15 florins which is to buy yourself a house coat. You'll be able to get one for 8 or 9 florins which should be sufficient to keep you warm in the winter. In short, manage well your affairs. You're mistaken to think I have deep pockets or that we are worth a fortune. My dear child, please be a wise and upright man, and one day give me the joy that I expect of you. As for your brother here [the oldest boy, Francois], he doesn't try to do anything. He has no goal - that's his problem, although he's not wicked. Jean is a good boy. He often asks me for news about you. God bless you all.

    Mr. Le Febure left for Paris to get married next Sunday. Your cousin is there at the home of your uncle Jacob. I hope to learn how good the medicine is that you took, or if this nasty illness has resumed. If, by the grace of God, this evil has passed, my son, you must take courage and try again to find a place with a merchant for 3 years because you must learn to work.

    Find a friend to write me so that you can enclose a long letter because mail delivery is so expensive via the post. I wrote to our cousin for whom I appealed to Mr. Oursel to pay the amount of your upkeep. Make yourself commendable toward her and her family. Be polite because she takes pains for you. I'd like to be able to do the same for her here.

    So, that's about all I have to say. We are in good health. Marie Bourdon says commendable things about you. She told me, however, to warn you to walk more upright to correct your tendency to be stooped. I noticed that before you left here. Don't carry anything heavy. This will only worsen the curvature. Also, I forbid you to go swimming since it will worsen your illness. Please look after yourself. Goodbye. I embrace you. When you see our friends, please give them my regards. And when you write me via some friends, please write also to your grandmother and sister. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

    24 June 1677 - Letter #17 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.

    24 June 1677

    My dear son,
    I have yours of 17 June and I know by your previous one that you are living with a person who teaches you bookkeeping. Please study diligently so that you'll be better able to find a good merchant with whom to live if God delivers you completely from your illness. If not, please come home. However one option is better than the other, and that is to go and live with a merchant if it is God's good pleasure to heal you. Otherwise I don't think you should stay there too long. Commit your affairs and well-being to God and he will do what you wish to accomplish and by doing so, my dear child, he will also take care of you. He is a good father who won't forsake those who belong to him.

    I'm glad that you have passed the time productively despite not feeling well. Use diligently the medicine that you were given and write me via any friends you can find that are heading this way so that I can be notified immediately if this evil malady has returned. It appears that cousin Pradellis is misinformed regarding her bill. Tell her that the note which she drew on Mr. Oursel will also be paid and that I thank her a million times for all the care that she's lavished on you. I believe that before receiving this letter you will have received the small packet from Mr. van Hulten. Inside you will find a gold louis d'or before the arrival of Miss Thins who is bringing you another 2 gold louis. However, she has been delayed, waiting for the right winds.

    God willing, I'll give you one lump sum for 3 months of your upkeep without inconveniencing anyone. Don't try to settle anything with your brother Francois, and don't ask for anything from our cousin. I'd rather that she draws your expenses entirely from Mr. Oursel who is now at Le Havre bringing Robin back.

    Goodbye. Mr Le Febure married your cousin Testart last Sunday in Paris. I must go there soon to be godmother [of the upcoming baptism on July 11 of Catherine Crommelin, the 10th child of Jacob and Elizabeth Testart. They had 12 children and yet there were no more Crommelin descendents in the male line issuing from Jacob after this generation.] Your loving mother, C. Crommelin

    11 July 1677 - baptism of Jacob Crommelin's daughter, Catherine, for whom Catherine Crommelin was the godmother.
    Source: Archives départementales du Val-de-Marne

    Inside Charenton temple (Paris). Celebrants of marriages and baptisms
    sat in special benches, in the center, next to the speaker's podium and baptismal font.

    16 July 1677 - Letter #18 from Mother at Paris. Received at Amsterdam.

    16 July 1677

    My dear son,
    I'm annoyed that it's been so long since I've had any news from you. Eight days ago I arrived here [in Paris] accompanied by your uncle [Daniel] de la Chambre, his daughter [Marie], and your sister 'Catin' [Catherine de Coninck]. The object of this trip was for me and your uncle to present for baptism a baby daughter of my brother, Jacob. Yesterday my brother de la Chambre returned home. I hope to stay another 8 days and bring with us Jacob's wife, your aunt Elizabeth Testart. We are staying with your uncle Daniel. His wife [Anne Testart] is staying at Rouen having brought back your cousin Rachel Testart, now Madame Le Febure, to her new home.

    Write me so that I'll find your letter when I return. I think that Mademoiselle Thins will have delivered my letter and that you received the small packet that went by Mr. van Hulten. I hope to learn your condition and if you are doing well. Look after yourself, please, and above all don't go swimming. Your brother Jean is a gentle boy and works hard being in good health, thank goodness. God willing you are also good enough to be hired by a good merchant. That would be my joy so that someday you will be able to have your own business. But for that to happen I implore God with all my heart to heal you.

    Enclosed I'm sending you a little letter of exchange from your uncle Daniel for 15 (coins) on Mr. Jean Mercier. Go to the currency exchange and find out where he lives in order to receive the money. My dear child, manage your affairs well because it will have to last a long time, along with what I've sent you. Now buy yourself a robe and be careful with your clothes. Goodbye. I send you affectionate greetings, as do your sister and cousin [Marie] de la Chambre. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

    PS - Give my regards to Mr. and Mademoiselle Pradellis and charge the postage to your account.

    29 July 1677 - Letter #19 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 5 August.

    29 July 1677

    My dear son,
    Yesterday upon my return from Paris I found your two letters dated 8 and 23 July which didn't make me very happy because once again you were badly afflicted. Again you fell in the house of cousin van Pradellis from the same malady that God has visited upon you. The medicine that you've been taking was a waste of time. However we must try every remedy and hope that God will bless it so that you might be cured. You don't have to look anymore to find a job with a merchant. Go see Madam Trouache and thank her for her kindness in wanting to place you. I am most obliged to her and in return if I can be of any service to her here I would do so wholeheartedly. Ask her to give you a piece of stone which is good for your illness. And say to cousin Pradellis that I give her a million thanks for all the assistance that she has given you.

    I'm astonished that you still haven't seen Mademoiselle Thins. The address on the letter I gave her was that of Mr. Pradellis and it was to be handed over to you. I don't doubt you haven't received it, but let me know if you are able to find her. You must come back with her so please deal with it. I'll write you again before that happens.

    Mr. de la Balle told me that there's a gentleman near le Havre who can cure your illness. He healed a young man who he treated for 2 years. It's an admirable secret because he doesn't use any strong drugs. For your cure, my poor child, I'll try anything, but God remains above all.

    Tell my cousin Pradellis that Mr. Oursel has accepted the letter of exchange. I would like that he draws payment on it soon. I'm in a hurry right now. Learn your Dutch well so that you won't forget it after you've returned, and so that your trip over there hasn't been a waste of time. Your brother has found a good job. He's quite happy. Goodbye, my dear son. May the Lord keep you. Your sister sends her affectionate greetings. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin

    12 August 1677 - Letter #20 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.

    12 August 1677

    My dear son,
    I see by your letter of 5 August that you returned alright having gone on a sojourn with Mssrs. Allemand. These men live high because they have a lot of money and are probably aristocratic. But you aren't that way. I'm not annoyed that you went around to see the country but you must do it more quietly and go by boat, and not spend your money so quickly. Frivolity gains us nothing in these times. The war does us great harm. In God's name be careful. Any expenditures you make are for your own account.

    So, what has been done, as you say, may be for a long time because you'll have to come back here while the weather is still nice, and I don't plan to have you wait for Miss Thins. She might spend the winter over there, and it's important that you find a cure. Therefore you must come back soon to Rouen aboard a neutral vessel. [Holland and France were currently at war, so it would be safer to travel on a neutral ship such as an English one.] Try to get the master to have you disembark at Le Havre when it passes by. I will certainly go there myself because it's near Le Havre and the man who has healed people of your malady. He's a nice man who lives near Harfleur. Be sure to take some clothes which you think necessary such as shirts, cravatte, etc. Stuff it into your trunk in the hold of the ship. Once you're at Le Havre, go to the home of my father Oursel. I hope that your illness will pass and that God will take pity on you.

    Always take care of yourself and don't expose yourself to any hazard. Don't go anywhere unless someone accompanies you. Depart without losing any more time and advise the master to make sure that you're not alone in a cabin to avoid any accidents. Mr. Pradellis will give you the money for your journey. You don't have much to do except get some food on the vessel. Marie [de la Chambre] wants to know if you could ask Madam Paquier if she has any news regarding her daughter. My mother [Rachel Tacquelet] left yesterday for St. Quentin. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

    26 August 1677 - Letter #21 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.

    26 August 1677

    My dear son,
    I have yours of 19 August and see that you and Mr. Pradellis have been talking to the master of a ship who just finished registering Miss Thins to leave with him hopefully around the end of next month. In passing, she is to disembark at Le Havre. I don't know if this ship will be quite neutral because if it encounters some caper, the passengers would be taken off and you would lose all your stuff which would really annoy me. Discuss this concern with my cousin Pradellis. Maybe an English ship would be more secure. Anyway, do what's best.

    I note that you're really sorry to leave the country. I think it would be best if you didn't spend all your time travelling, not having anything else to do. Yes, we must face the fact that you're no longer a child, but your health is more important than all the pleasures of the world. If you come back it is with the good intention of finding you a cure. I also thought that the doctor who gave you the medicine would have cured you. He only asked for a week but it's gone on for 6 months now and nothing has changed. There are people who take advantage of you while time passes without any improvement.

    It bothers me a lot to have you come back here before you have learned the language well, although I exhorted you often enough to let go of your French so that you might improve in the Dutch language and so be better able to return to Holland someday. However, I promised to do all that a young mother can do for her children. If it's God's will to cure you, I would be happy to have you go back there for a job with a merchant and afterward to settle down there. It's a country that I like a lot, and for us it couldn't be better. So, my dear child, don't doubt my sincerity that I will do everything possible for your advancement. On your side, be sure to do your homework in bookkeeping. It's expensive and through it Mr. Oursel demonstrates his cooperation.

    I give you permission to delay your departure a bit so that you can come back in the company of Mlle. Thins. I believe you have already seen her. She'll be leaving at the end of next month and will bring with her Toinon vander Hulten. If your trunk isn't already loaded before you meet them, then that's about all the time I can give you because you really must return to seek here a cure for your ongoing illness with the assistance of the Lord.

    You would do well not to ask for any money until you're able to go. Your cousin will give you the money for your voyage. Take note of this because I'm not able to send you the money. When you leave please say goodbye to all our friends. Try to find Madame Paquier and give her my greetings. And also to Mr. Bourget and his wife. Give my warmest greetings to my cousins, their mother and daughters. Give them a million thanks for all the care they have given you. And when you write me, make sure that your writing isn't so big on the paper. It leads to postal costs that are ruinous. Goodbye. May God be with you. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

    9 September 1677 - Letter #22 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 16 September.

    9 September 1677

    My dear son,
    I have yours of 2 September telling me that you haven't loaded your trunk on the ship in which you hope to depart because you were expecting news from me and, furthermore, that you are troubled about leaving before becoming proficient in Dutch. This troubles me too, but your health is more important than anything in the world. May God give you the grace to return and enable you to hold on to what you already know. Besides, there are many people here who speak Dutch who can help you. May it please God to heal you.

    You mentioned leaving sooner before the illness flares up again and that way you would leave without regret. I don't know if this would allow Miss Thins enough time to leave. My worry is that the illness might flare up while enroute and I would be most annoyed if you lost the opportunity to come back with her. Be sure to see her often and ask her to let you know when she will be leaving.

    As for what you asked me, her mother will go to Rotterdam to disembark being the shortest sea route. You can leave Amsterdam together for Rotterdam. There you can see Mr. Schot and cousin Ormieux who is a beautiful lady. If one of them invites you to be a guest, express your appreciation and give them my regards. My last letter to you went under cover of your uncle de Conincq. We are aware of the grim news that you informed me about via the Gazette. Indeed, much of the world is in distress [because of persecution]. May God comfort us.

    Attached is a note for 25 guilders 17S on Mr. Cornelis Vermeulen. Inquire at the money exchange or post office where he lives. This should be enough money for your journey. My poor child, God brings you back without prosperity, but if you can be put ashore at Le Havre I would be happy to meet you there immediately. Look after your money. Goodbye. Your grandmother is now at St. Quentin. Mr. Taunay is here and sends his warmest greetings, as do all your friends. Give my regards to Miss Thins. Mr. Oursel wrote to Mr. Vermeulen and sent greetings to him too. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin

    23 September 1677 - Letter #23 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 30 September.

    23 September 1677

    My dear son,
    I have your letter of 16 September and see the reluctance you have to leave Holland, a country which in your eyes is the most charming in the world. Indeed, the cities are very nice but, however, your health is more important than any of these beauties. Anyway, please stay there again this winter in the hope that God will relieve you of your affliction and restore your health. Be very careful, my dear son, because dealing with this malady is the most important thing you can imagine. If you were near me I would be able to take care of you because I'm afraid you'll have another accident. So never be alone.

    I'm not happy when you say that you can hardly speak a word of Dutch because I know that this is only to make me more inclined to leave you there. Alright then, you can stay, but if you don't get any better, you'll have to return in the Spring which may, perhaps, be too late. When this disease takes hold of a person there is no cure, and the nice man who knows the secret to curing it is very old.

    Go often to see a doctor who knows how to heal you because, as things stand, I can't imagine how I can make you return. All I can do is pray for God's protection over your health and your bad companionship. I heard from someone here that you've become a young jerk which doesn't please me at all. Evidently you're running toward debauchery in a big way and that grieves me immensely. I'll discover the truth of it. If it is, then all the love and care that I have for you is being nicely compensated. Infidelity is the mother of all woes. You've got nothing to do but wonder what to eat and how to spend your money. Give some thought to learning perfectly how to keep account books. When you have worked a little you'll amuse yourself more respectably. Don't engage in any debauchery and always go to the Dutch temple.

    Mr. Thins told me that he doesn't think his daughter will return either, and that all their friends want her to spend the winter with them. See her often. There's nothing in what you said about your sister. I don't know who told you that. I would like it to be true for her contentment and mine. And since my return from Paris I would have thanked him several times but he wasn't at Rouen. It's good that you received from Mr. Vermeulen f23.31s. Write me under cover of Mr. van Hulten to save on postage. Give my regards to Monsieur and Madam Pradellis. Let them know that I'm allowiing you to stay there for another winter. Your brother Francois now has great ambitions to go and settle in London next Spring. May God be gracious to him. Goodbye. All our friends salute you. C. Crommelin

    13 October 1677 - Letter #24 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied: 21 October.

    13 October 1677

    My dear son,
    I received your letter of 20 September. I see that you're quite content to go on living there this winter. Consider, however, that I'm only leaving you there with great regret because your illness continues to worry me. Some accident might happen because you're not taking care of yourself well enough. Since this illness flares up suddenly, be very careful when you go out, and don't go on water. And under no circumstances go out on the ice when there is any. Hide away from everybody as much as possible and since this brings despair, my poor son, may God have pity on you. So, in God's name, look after yourself. Don't eat so much that the food builds up a lot of gas which I believe to be a symptom. A short stroll would be good when you find you're not feeling well. Consult your doctor, and as I said before, if you had wished to return we would have done everything possible, with God's help, to get you well by the man who lives near Le Havre. He knows the secret of curing this illness but he's quite old. He's my only hope for getting a cure for you. In the end God is all powerful and he only has to say the word and his servant will be healed. Pray from the depths of your soul that he might have pity on you. My dear child, you're in no state of mind to return here, so don't bother thinking about this anymore.

    Our St. Louis [Robert Oursel's whaling ship] left yesterday in the company of another ship. May the Lord protect them. I wrote immediately to Le Havre when I received your letter and implored Captain Oursel [Robert's brother] to look for Pierre who you told me about, and the next of kin. Your cousin Daniel [de la Chambre] is still here. He didn't say anything this time about wanting to go there. I'll send the jams and fruit that you requested for sale at the fair that begins on 23 October. However you didn't tell me where I should ship them to. Enough pears haven't been picked yet. They and the apples will be very expensive this year because all the fruit is wormy. We don't have any apples in our Jardin. Only a few pears that I'll send you. Harel is a big fellow who's been around for 3 months. He's single. He got me up early to go and plant tulips and trees. That's why I'm writing you today.

    I received a letter from Mr. Pradellis. Give him my regards and let him know that I'm distressed by the illness of my cousin, his wife. I pray that God restores her health. He told me they paid 30f to a tailor and that he gave you money in the month of August. You had no reason to ask him for this. I gave you enough money so that he wouldn't have to. Absolutely don't ask him for any more. The man to whom I'll be sending the jam and fruit, let me know his name and address. If he's a respectable gentleman, cultivate his friendship. Mr. Beuselin, the elder, is getting married tomorrow to a daughter of the late Mr. de Langlois. Only a month ago he married off one of his daughters to Mr. Jean des Ormeaux who lives in Paris.

    Madam Le Febure [Marie Testart, sister of Pierre Testart, and wife of the late Guillaume Le Febure, a merchant of Rouen] is very ill at St. Quentin. We don't think she'll recover. Pierre [Testart] returned there on 4 September. He'll stay to say his final words to her. Goodbye. C.C.

    16 October 1677 - Burial of Marie Testart (1625-1677) at Lehaucourt (St. Quentin), age 52, sister of Pierre Testart and widow of Guillaume LeFebure, merchant at Rouen

    10 November 1677 - Letter #25 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.

    10 November 1677

    My dear son,
    I have yours of 21 October, and October 22 was your birthday. I pray with all my heart that God prolongs your days in his fear and crowns your youth with his most precious blessing, and gives you good health which would bring me great joy. We must pray, my dear child, with all our might that he blesses the remedy.

    I have loaded into the vessel of Gerard Wood, according to the attached bill of lading, three barrels with markings and a crate of preserves that you asked for. The barrel for Mr. Schombart is marked "AS"; the one for Mr van Hulten "PVH"; and the other one for you is marked "FDC". I believe the ship is now at the mouth of the [Seine] river.

    Ships made a sinuous journey between Rouen (right) and Le Havre (left) at the mouth of the Seine.

    To know when Wood's ship will arrive, you'll have to inquire from Mr. Robert Hays in Amsterdam. You'll have to take care of the shipment upon arrival and have the barrel for Mr. van Hulten transported to his home without him having to pay any freight charges. In total the freight costs will be 6 florins. Mr. Schombart will pay you half, and half for any damaged freight. The fruit isn't as beautiful as I had wished since it was so dry. Make my apologies and hopefully next year they'll be nicer and more plentiful. If I can be of service to him in any other way he has only to ask because I think he doesn't know any French. I don't write him at all. His bill amounts to 54.1 pounds (livres) in other freight expenses which he will pay you, along with half of the freight for this portion.

    In your barrel I placed 4 boxes of dried preserves. Two are for Madame van Pradellis and 2 for her daughters. I wrote their names on each box but before presenting them remove the name tags so that it will look like it comes from you. Nuts in a variety of colors are for the mother and the girls. There is also a pot of jelly for you and a box of dried apricots. All the pears are from our Jardin. Next year I hope they will be nicer, having had the trees pruned. If anything, they should be bigger and better.

    I also put in your barrel some herbs that your grandmother sent me from St. Quentin. You will see what the herbs are good for. One of them is rarely found. You will see its name. Show the letter and herbs to your doctor. You also have to dab a bit on the little finger of the left hand. It's easy to do. Follow the remedy exactly - something I think you don't do, and what makes me wish that I was near you, or that you would soon be coming here. Winter seems like a long time. Incidentally, the nice man who knows the secret to healing your ailment accepts no benefit, doesn't do it as a business, and has nothing to sell.

    I know that your reluctance to return is because of your brother Francois. He won't be home when you return. Your brother Jean always takes great pains to keep informed about news from you. He pleases me a lot. He's had some trouble with his job in Paris. My son, I see what you say about Amsterdam - that it's a city of great expenses. Well, everywhere is expensive nowadays when you want to do anything. And the more you spend, the less you'll find. The war is the cause of not having as many goods as one would like. When you asked Mr. Pradellis for money, he hasn't refused you. He is quite obliging. And Mr. Schombart will pay you for his freight bill. This will give you spending money for some time until I have the opportunity to send you some more. Right now I'm having difficulty just meeting the disbursements made on your behalf by Mr. Pradellis.

    We're going into winter and it's already freezing here. I worry about you and the ice. In God's name, don't go out on it. Be careful and don't expose yourself to any hazard. Your illness can flare up in a moment so that you could fall without anybody being around to help. Please put my mind at ease. Make frequent visits to Mr. Pradellis. I think cousin is recovering from her fever. Give them all my best regards. Always be friendly with the girls. Goodbye. I commend you to the protection of the Almighty. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

    18 November 1677 - Baptism of Jean Anthoine Crommelin at Lehaucourt temple, son of Samuel Crommelin and Madelaine Testart

    2 December 1677 - Letter #26 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.

    2 December 1677

    My dear son,
    I had hoped to hear some news from you. That's customary, and that's why I'm worried. Letters from foreign countries didn't arrive until today. Some say the letters from Holland are lost. I wrote you a week ago and sent you a bill of lading, a copy of which is hereby attached in case my letter didn't arrive because it was sent under cover to Mr. Adrian Schombart. We have news from him. On Tuesday, the 8th, Gerard Wood arrived at Medenblicq which I think has since arrived alright at Amsterdam. It was consigned to Mr. Robert Hays to whom you should inquire about it. There's one barrel for Mr. van Hulten, as you will see by its mark, which you'll have to transport to him without him having to pay any freight costs. I hope that all will be found in good condition and that the preserves are pleasing.

    You didn't ask me what size of pot you wanted [for the medicinal jelly]. If what I sent isn't enough, let me know. I sent you the freight bill [for Mr. Schombart] which amounts to 53:15 Pounds/Pence. I haven't been well enough to write because for 4 days I've had a terrible flu which has made me very sick. My little Rachelot was also sick at the same time as me. She has a fever that won't go away and a bad headache. My dear child, I don't know how you are doing right now. You'll have to let us know about your plans to return here in the Spring.

    Madame Torin, the mother, disembarked here in Rouen after a long illness. Goodbye. Look after yourself. Don't eat too much cheese which causes a lot of gas. Your cousin [Marie] de la Chambre greets you. She is presently residing here. She often asks about your health. Let me know if cousin Pradellis is over her fever. Give her my regards. All the household greets you. Everybody has the flu. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

    9 December 1677 - Letter #27 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.

    9 December 1677

    My dear son,
    I wrote you 7 days ago and am sending a second acknowledgement for 3 barrels of fruit and a crate of preserves which I hope will have arrived in good condition. I'd appreciate knowing that.

    I told you that Rachelot and I had the flu. Thank goodness we're over that now. I'll have to tell you with great displeasure that the next day your brother Francois also came down with the illness which is now in its seventh day. Then today it became worse with an extreme ear ache followed by high fever and a numbness in his side. He's in mortal danger. If God in his mercy doesn't bring relief, he's quite disposed to meeting his Maker. He called to see you but, of course, that's far from happening. Then he asked for your brother, Jean, who I expect to arrive this evening, and perhaps Robin also. However he still has enough energy and may God, who could revive the dead, restore him to his former health.

    My head is bothered by so many worries. You will learn that your uncle Daniel [Crommelin] went missing 4 days ago having suffered a huge loss. O God, what misery our family must suffer! Don't say anything about this to anybody. You'll be told before too long. The blow would put your grandmother [Rachel Tacquelet] into her grave. We suffered no loss because of your uncle's bankruptcy.

    My dear, I'm really upset over not having received any news from you. Please write for my consolation and tell me how you are doing. Goodbye. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin

    Daniel Crommelin (1647-1725)

    16 December 1677 - Letter #28 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.

    16 December 1677

    My dear son,
    I sent my last letter via regular mail and informed you of the perilous condition of your brother Francois. His situation continues, but with a little more hope - made possible by the aid and help of God who enabled us to recover. Jean and Robin are staying with us, intending to see for themselves. God willing, he'll leave next Saturday with the messenger.

    I'm very surprised that you haven't received the fruit and preserves. The jelly won't last a long time, and I thought that once you've received it, it will be easy to learn how to use it. I'd also like to know if Mr. Schombart has given you the money. Personally I don't want to run any risk. As soon as I sent him his account, he must pay the money without question. I don't gain anything by this. I sent him a bill that's most fair and I only tried to oblige him. Besides, I asked him to pay his bill because it's what I'm giving to you. It's a way for you to make some money because right now I'm unable to give it to you any other way.

    I'm very happy that you feel a slight improvement in your condition. May our Lord give you more and more relief. Take good care of yourself.

    In my last letter you learned the sad news regarding your unfortunate uncle Daniel. I'm devastated. Apparently these affairs are very wicked. Your uncle de Conincq has an interest in this which gives me much grief. My son, save your money. The times are miserable and there will come a time when I won't be able to provide for you financially. You don't know that it costs money in order to make some. We hear that lament everywhere.

    May God keep you and give you his Holy Spirit. Goodbye. All your brothers and sisters greet you. Perrette and your uncle are getting married next Tuesday to go and live at Pont Audemer. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin