Frederic de Coninck Letters
Death of Pierre Crommelin; Jacob Crommelin regrets going into banking; Uncle Pierre Cadelan is sent to the Bastille;
Treaty of Nijmegen ends the Franco-Dutch war; Baptism of Rachel LeFebure; Francois visits his brother in Amsterdam;
Jean wanders away from his job in Paris; Frederic finally finds a job in Amsterdam and then gets fired
Catherine Crommelin (1632-1694)
1678-01-04 - Interrogation of Pierre Cadelan, secretary of the king and Paris banker, age 40, living on rue Michel-le-Comte, native of Castres in Languedoc. (Vol.4 P.328)
25 January 1678 - Death of Pierre Crommelin at St. Quentin, age 81, husband of Marie des Ormeaux, brother of Jean/Rachel Tacquelet.
[Shortly after this burial on 27 January, his son, Samuel, who was the wealthiest man in the district of Vermandois, sparked a huge controversy when he had his father's tombstone engraved with words that anticipated his future resurrection. Since Protestants couldn't be expected to attain to eternal life, the Catholics decreed that in future no more Protestants would be allowed to be buried in a Huguenot cemetery in St. Quentin. Thereafter all burials would be done quietly at night in private gardens with no memorial markings of any kind. See notes referring to 'Tombstones' in a brief history of the temple at Lehaucourt, the reformed church near St. Quentin.]
Pierre/Marie des Ormeaux was the older brother of Jean/Rachel Tacquelet. Pierre was born on 28 November 1597 at Castle Mouy-Saint-Far near St. Quentin. During his baptism he had the honour of being held by Madeleine Marie Catherine de France, sister of Henry IV of France. In July of 1621 he married Marie des Ormeaux, a native of Cambrai (who died in 1650, age 51 or 52) and left him seven children: Jean, Pierre, Jacques, Samuel, Armand, Marie and Jeanne. He died an invalid, age 81 in the year 1678.
1678-01-31 - Interrogation of Pierre Cadelan at the Bastille (Vol.4 P.352) - mentions Duvidal.
2 February 1678 - Letter #29 from Mother at Rouen, France. Received at Amsterdam, Holland.
2 February 1678
My very dear son,
I received the two letters that you wrote me - one on 30 December and the other on 18 January. May the Lord Almighty accomplish all your best wishes for me and my family in which you too are included. Indeed, my dear child, may God give us his holy benediction and for you, my dear, I redoubled my wishes to heaven that it may please God to give you his Holy Sprit and hold you in his protection. May he cure you from the illness which he visited upon you for some time now. I often sigh for you, but we must wait upon the deliverance of the Eternal. May he bless the medication you're taking.
In this regard, in a barrel of fruit that Mr van Hulten asked for, I sent you a powder that I prepared. Take it carefully so that it doesn't spill. Take it each morning for 8 to 10 days followed by a short pause. Take a small spoonful along with your choice of wine or beer. Have this with a ripe apple or pear. You can mix in a little sugar. My dear son, in God's name don't neglect this remedy. It has cured several people absolutely. There's no need to mention it to your doctor because you don't have to be under observation when you're using it. After taking it for 10 days, do it again for 3 days in the new moon, and again three days during a full moon. Don't overdo it by drinking too much. To stay in control be moderate while eating, and drinking it with beer. I have great hopes for this remedy. If it pleases God to cure you, then we'll have to appeal to our friends to get you placed with a good merchant. But if the illness continues, my dear child, you'll absolutely have to come home. All the doctors I've consulted about your illness say that the air in Holland doesn't do you any good since it's so damp and cold there.
I'm pleased that you received so much friendship from cousin Pradellis. I would like to be able to extend to them my appreciation. Maybe you could mention to them in conversation that I am most appreciative. I'm also pleased that you occasionally visit Mr. van Hulten. I think he's a good friend. You'll have to make friends in case you come back here to live. You're no longer a child. You must have good manners and make friends only with honorable people. I'm afraid that you're wasting your time but we must have patience since this is God's will. I'm surprised regarding Mr. Schombart. I thought he was rich. It seems his marriage is falling apart. Alas, nothing but woeful things are happening now. Everyday we hear new things. If the war goes on much longer we'll all be impoverished. I don't hear any other kind of news.
I think that your uncle Jacob will return to St. Quentin. He made a big mistake by leaving there [and becoming a banker in Paris]. Mr. Cadelan was sent to the Bastille about 3 weeks ago. Nobody knows why the king sent him there. [Pierre Cadelan was the counsellor-secretary to Louis XIV with regard to finances (financial advisor). He was the second husband of Marie Crommelin. Later we discover that his arrest and imprisonment was in connection with the notable role he played in the 'Affair of the Poisons'.] My poor cousin [Marie Crommelin] is terribly distressed, and it could mean the ruin of her family. Then we were doubly afflicted by the death of my uncle, Pierre Crommelin, on the 25th of last month. He had a long life, having died at age 81. He was bedridden and unable to walk. The imprisonment of Mr. Cadelan touched the family more deeply than the death of their father. So you see that our whole family is filled with sorrow.
My dear child, don't spend any money. I think it would be more expedient to return home than to profitably stay in Holland. I hope you know the language well and that you've mastered bookkeeping. Now you'll be able to work in an office until you come of age. After that, God willing, we'll see what our friends advise you to do. You'll still be young enough. Your brother Francois won't be staying here. He's undecided. Be careful in spending your pension. Things are expensive and you'll have difficulty finding a good office job in Amsterdam because of your infirmity. So weigh things well and come back with Mademoiselle Thins. We worry a lot about a possible war with England. God help us. That would really complete the misery of the people. Madame Pelgrem is nearing the end. Everyone at her house is in tears. I think my sister Madelon [a sister of her husband, Robert Oursel] is on the verge of getting married to a Dutch gentleman. If it succeeds you will know. Your brother Frans is doing well. Jean was with us for only 10 days. His boss sent him here on business. Jean is a good boy who gives me much joy. He's much nicer than Francois. I greet you affectionately as does everyone here at home. I am, my dear child, your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin
Here we see the first indication that the banking business wasn't going well for Jacob Crommelin. He still owned the Crommelin Linen Works in St. Quentin which employed many people in Picardy, but he preferred being a banker in Paris. His mother, Rachel Tacquelet, had given Jacob the family business on 16 September 1663 when he married Elisabeth Testart. He wasn't suited for the job, but neither was Daniel, the only other surviving brother. Two older brothers, Louis and Abraham, had already passed away. A year earlier Jean Crommelin, who had been groomed to be the new owner, died in his mother's arms at Rouen, age 23, on 13 September 1662.
Jacob ran the family business half-heartedly for about 10 years. Then in 1674 he opened a banking house on Rue de la Chanverrerie. His first business partner was Daniel Crommelin, his brother, but this partnership soon dissolved after 8 months. Rue de la Chanverrerie is the address where, years later, André Crommelin was arrested for his faith and thrown into the Bastille. Presumably Jacob was then in business with Jacques Le Maistre, a banker and the husband of his cousin, Jeanne Crommelin.
Summoned to the office of Seignelay along with other principal businessmen, notably Burgeat, Cousin, André Crommelin, Demeuves, Foissin, Le Maistre, Rondeau, Seignoret, Testart, his relations or associates, Jacob signed his abjuration papers on 14 December 1685. His wife, Elisabeth Testart, however, resolved not to capitulate. She fled with five of her daughters to La Rochelle where, by some miracle, she was able to flee to England.
After losing some 50,000 ecu, Jacob eventually gave up banking and returned to St. Quentin. Shortly thereafter he liquidated the Crommelin Linen Works and emigrated to Holland where in 1708 he was reunited with his wife, Elisabeth Testart. Then in 1712, on his 70th birthday, he completed a comprehensive history of the Crommelin family which formed the basis of this historical account on the internet. His notes were printed in J.H. Scheffer's family archive of the Crommelin family, published in 1878. Jacob died at Rotterdam 12 August 1721, age 79.
His wife, Elisabeth Testart, died in Rotterdam a year later on 14 September 1722. She settled a sizeable inheritance on her eight surviving children. Some of that money was graciously used by several of the children to help Marie Camin, Frederic de Coninck's wife, maintain their tanneries in Schiedam, Holland after his death.
Rue de la Chanverrerie - location of Jacob Crommelin's bank since 1674
and where André Crommelin was arrested in 1685. Click to enlarge. See also:
The Rue de la Chanvrerie and several large edifices were demolished in the 1850s to make way for a wider thoroughfare.
The Eglise St. Leu, Rue Saint Denis, and the adjoining Rue des Precheurs still exist to serve as reference landmarks.
This marvelously detailed map by Turgot, made in 1738, covers the whole of Paris
- created at a time when there was no way to obtain an aerial perspective directly!
The above image is the lower-right portion of Plate #10 of Turgot's map.
André was a son of Adrien Crommelin and Susanne Doublet. First employed in Paris with his brother-in-law, Francois Amonnet, a lace merchant, André Crommelin took over the business of the latter and became rich within a few years. Francois Amonnet and his wife, Jeanne Crommelin, went back to London in 1681, forseeing the persecution. On 4 February 1685, André married in Charenton temple his cousin Marie-Jeanne Le Maistre. A year later he was in prison.
It was understood that his father-in-law [Jacques Le Maistre], his business partner Leroy, and his first-cousin, Jacob Crommelin, would be amongst the first batch of businessmen that the Attorney-General and the Lieutenant-General of police were preparing to have make a common abjuration in the office of the Secretary of State, Seignelay. But while his father-in-law and cousin dared not resist such powerful converters, André Crommelin resolved to obey only his conscience. Thus on the evening of 5 December 1685, five days before the meeting of the sixty-three signatories, he was arrested and put into the Bastille. In the chamber of the Sieur de la Noue, the king's lieutenant, he was severely interrogated about his "bad intentions" (thought crimes).
Source: "La Revocation de l'Edict de Nantes", Vol. 3 by Douen - Archive.org
The Bastille prison in Paris
Pierre Cadelan, husband of Marie Crommelin, was the counsellor-secretary to Louis XIV with regard to finances. Catherine worried that his imprisonment in the Bastille in mid-January 1678 for unknown reasons could spell the ruin of his family. Her worries were well founded. Cadelan was transferred from the Bastille to another facility, the citadelle of Besançon, on 31 August 1683, and was later declared to be dead on 30 September 1684 after having spent nearly 7 years in captivity.
The Bastille note below reads: "I ask you to see with Mr. Moncault where we should put them. Let him know that we can't hold Cadelan in a place that's too secure or too severe because he is extremely wicked and capable of any undertaking." The Wikipedia account of the citadelle declares, "successive French governments used the Citadel as a prison or a garrison. The prisoners included the accomplices of the Voisin, accused of poisonings during the reign of Louis XIV..." Indeed, Pierre Cadelan's name appears in the list of 'Professionals' implicated in the heinous Voisin poisoning scandal. [See: and Also:]. Cadelan was an accomplice of Louis de Vanens, the leader of an international organization of assassins, and part of a network of poisoners in Paris.
The Poison Affair implicated 442 suspects: 367 orders of arrests were issued, of which 218 were carried out. Of the condemned, 36 were executed; five were sentenced to the galleys; and 23 to exile. This excludes those who died in custody by torture or suicide. Additionally, many accused were never brought to trial, but placed outside of the justice system and imprisoned for life by a lettre de cachet.
Of the people who were condemned to perpetual imprisonment by lettre de cachet [including Pierre Cadelan], six women were imprisoned at Château de Villefranche; 18 men at Château de Salces; 12 women at Belle-Île-en-Mer; ten men at Château de Besançon; 14 women at St Andre de Salins; and five women at Fort de Bains. Source:
Pierre Cadelan was born around 1637 at Castres in Languedoc. He and Marie Crommelin were married on 5 April 1669. They had one daughter, Catherine. Marie also had eight children (6 girls, 2 boys) from her previous marriage to Jean Rondeau, a Paris banker, who she married on 1 October 1653. Rondeau died in Paris, 18 July 1667.
Notes transcribed from the archives of the Bastille mentioning Cadelan.
"S.M." stands for "Sa Majesty" (the king, Louis XIV)
Photo du comité régional du tourisme de Franche-Comté ( CRT )
Citadelle Besançon, where Pierre Cadelan spent his last days. He died in captivity, September 1684.
3 February 1678 - Letter #30 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
3 February 1678
My dear son,
I'm writing this in haste to say that I received your two letters dated 30 December and 18 January. I wrote you amply yesterday to tell you that I have enclosed something in a barrel of fruit that Mr van Hulten ordered. I prepared a powder for you which, with God's help, will cure you. I placed the powder and the letter together. Be sure to ask Mr van Hulten for it when it arrives. It will be loaded this week.
Thank God we're all well. Your brother Francois is healed of everything now. Your brother Jean was here for only 10 days. Mr. Cadelan went into the Bastille 3 weeks ago. Nobody knows why. My uncle Pierre Crommelin died on January 25th. Everybody's suffering from something. I don't know how the affairs are going with your unfortunate uncle Daniel. It's been a long time since I've heard any news from him.
When you write me, do it under cover of a friend's letter and on a small piece of paper. [Frederic's handwriting was unusually large with a lot of wasted space on the paper.] I'm sure you know your bookkeeping perfectly now. Don't waste any time in your studies, and learn how to read and write Dutch properly. This is essential because soon you'll have to come home. My letter said a lot more. I think that my sister Madelon [Oursel] is at the point of getting married to a Dutch gentleman. This letter is going under the cover of Mr. Schot. Give my greetings to our friends. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin
1678-02-10 - Interrogation of Pierre Cadelan at the Bastille (Vol.4 P.364)
24 February 1678 - Letter #31 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam. Replied 24 March 1678.
24 February 1678
My dear son,
I have your letter of 17 February by which I learn with joy that you are well. At least that's what you want me to believe, fearing having to return. This makes me worry that your illness hasn't left you at all. That's why I'd like you to return this summer so that I can make my last effort to get you well. You are always on my mind, night and day. God has kept you up to the present time. May his paternal care for you continue.
You wish to continue living there and to find a position with a merchant. I wish the same thing with all my heart but you overlook the fact that you didn't get the job with Mr. Gerverding because of your illness. Besides there's a lot of unemployment everywhere and now I fear that you won't find a very good office job. This is what makes me urge you to return home and to let some time go by. Discuss this with cousin Pradellis although I don't dare scramble his head too often.
Your brother Francois wants to go to Holland this summer for a while to learn Dutch. Because of him you didn't want to come here, and Mr. Oursel would have you do his bookkeeping. You know he likes you and that you're the one he gets along with best. Besides, you'll be near me. to my joy. So, weigh everything, although I still think it would be most beneficial for you to return for a while. Your welfare is in our hands.
I want to reach a settlement with your brother [Francois] before he leaves. I can't do it yet because the situation here doesn't make it possible. He knows, however, that he'll get it. [This probably refers to a loan that Mr. Oursel drew from all the de Coninck children. The children loaned him the inheritance money bequeathed to them from their father, Francois de Coninck. Oursel needed the money for his whaling ship and related expenses. Over a period of years he tried somewhat unsuccessfully to repay each child separately. Frederic's unpaid portion became the subject of some heated correspondence in later years.]
Please don't spend too much. I'm afraid that since you've been in Holland it's been very expensive, so learn a lot and profit from it. You must know the language, though not necessarily quite as well as those who live there. As for your need to have a new outfit, have one made but at a fair price - without a ribbon (sash). This isn't worn here anymore. Ask your cousin to buy one before you return, or if you leave it, then I'll arrange to do it here.
There's much talk about a war with England. God help us! Mr. Cadelan is still in the Bastille. Madelon Oursel still isn't married. This will take place at Easter. I think the barrel of fruit for Mr van Hulten has left. Remember to ask him for the small packet which contains the powder that you'll have to take without delay once it arrives. Follow the instructions in my letter which accompanies it. God willing it will help you attain some relief. That's all that I can say.
Fifteen days ago Madam Pelgram died which brought about big changes at their house. We're doing alright. Goodbye. I went to Quevilly. Give my greetings to Mr. and Madam Pradellis. Read my letter to our cousin so that he can give you some counsel. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin
Quevilly was a town about 5 miles from Rouen where the Protestants of that city
were allowed to have a church or 'temple'. Many family-related rites of passage
(births, deaths, marriages) were conducted there.
31 March 1678 - Letter #32 from Mother. Received at Amsterdam.
30 March 1678
My dear son,
I received your letter of 24 March with incredible joy because it makes me hope that you are cured, and your doctor also believes it so! Dear child, we have much reason to thank God for his actions of grace and his compassion for you. Always continue your prayers and don't fail to implore his assistance unceasingly, and to ask for his blessing.
Your letter put joy in my heart but I worry that it may be a temporary respite from your ailment and that it will come back. So save your strength and continue taking the remedies. Above all don't neglect the powder that I sent you which has cured several people with proven results. But use it sparingly. If God gives you complete healing then with all my heart I would be very happy to have you go on living there and finding a place with a good merchant. You'll have to go out looking and get yourself informed. Speak often with cousin Pradellis and Mr. van Hulten. I've already asked my cousin, and Mr. Oursel has inquired with Mr. van Hulten. However, I have a hunch that since you have such a great desire to go on living there that you may be fooling me regarding your healing. If that's so, then it's faulty thinking because you wouldn't be in a condition to be amongst other people, and it would be better for you to return home so that I can make my last effort to make you well. But if God has indeed allowed you to be cured, then it would be best to find a place with a merchant.
I see you had a suit made at the fairest price possible, and you did well. You must be thrifty because the more you save, the more you will find. I'll ask cousin to draw from Mr. Oursel his reimbursement money for your expenses.
With regards to Mr. Cadelan, he's still in the Bastille and nobody talks about him anymore. I asked his brother, Jean, to let me know if he finds out anything. This morning my sister Madelon Oursel and her servant left to return to Le Havre. They came here to buy new clothes. Manon [Marie Oursel] left with them in a small carriage. This is for the wedding in 15 days. This Dutchman is called Simon Caeslagers according to Mr. van Hulten who heard about it. He seems to be a very respectable gentleman. I promised to go to the wedding with your sister Catin. Goodbye, my dear son. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin
28 April 1678 - Letter #33 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
28 April 1678
My dear son,
I received your last letter with joy because of your health. With you I praise the Lord, but you still have to be careful because after going 7 months without a seizure you know that it could still happen again. [The last pronounced seizure was mentioned on 29 July 1677.] When you left here it started again over there so you must still be as careful as ever. The powder I sent you is excellent for this ailment. It's important that you take it often during the moon of March. In the event that it's over, you only have to take it for 3 days at the new moon and similarly during the full moon. Do this as often as the powder lasts. Eat moderately, especially in the evening. Don't miss purging yourself every month, and wear a wool scarf around your neck. Go fishing in the summer, and go swimming. Put everything in the hands of God, my dear son. It would please me immensely if it were God's will to heal you completely but accept with humility every affliction that God pleases to send us. Always fear him reverentially.
I'm annoyed that you're spending so much. Cousin has drawn 600 pounds on Mr. Oursel for expenses that he made on your behalf. In 18 months that amounts to 1800 pounds. All this goes on your account. [In other words, this amount will be deducted from what Mr. Oursel still owes Frederick for the loan he received from him.] Therefore be more frugal with the rent money you're giving out. You'll have to quickly find a place with a merchant. Go every day to the Labour Exchange and inquire amongst your friends because it's there that you'll find something soon. Now you'll also have to be able to maintain account books to quickly find a position and pay less in rent. Save as much as you can because the less you pay out, the more you will have. Keep on hand as much money as cousin spends for you.
Mr. Oursel went to Paris 12 days ago. I hope he'll be back soon. Madelon Oursel still isn't married. Mr. Oursel's trip to Paris is the reason. They didn't want to get married until I was there. I'll be able to make the trip to Le Havre next week. Manon is there already. There's much talk here about a general peace treaty. May God give us that.
I recommend you to the care of the Almighty. I think you know that big Catin vander Schalque is about to marry a gentleman from Utrecht who is a lawyer with 3 daughters. He has to get married because he has so many responsibilities. Goodbye. Your sister and brother salute you. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin
23 June 1678 - Letter #34 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
23 June 1678
My dear son,
I received your two letters of 19 May and 2 June. The first was sent to me at Le Havre where I was with all your sisters at the wedding of my sister Madelon [Oursel]. She was married on the Monday of Pentecost. I was at Roleville for 10 days and from there we went home on the horses of the granary, returning last Friday.
Your first one wanted to assure me of your healing. May it be so by God's grace, although I still worry that it may not be so. Several people have told me that it hasn't been more than 12 months since the illness took hold, and there are many with your complaint who haven't been healed in that length of time. You know that you must resume taking the regimen but instead you spend all your time in the beer tavern where you smoke and drink like a trooper. This is a fine way to get well. O Lord, what sadness I have in my heart that all my care and well-wishes are so poorly recompensed! I have exhorted you often enough to behave as a respectable man and to try to learn so that one day you might become a good merchant. Instead you go frolicking with I don't know who, spending your money in the villainous cabaret. My son, please take care of yourself. You aren't so young that you don't know that you're courting your ruin. Therefore ask the Lord's forgiveness and take every precaution with regard to your cure, imploring God's help.
I know your doctor to be a very professional person but that you don't want to do exactly what he says. This annoys him because he says there's great hope in healing you provided that you wait for the healing to occur. My cousin will give him what she believes to be reasonable. With regards to your expenses she says that it's more than the equivalent of 1800 pounds here. If you continue, I assure you that the revenue of your assets [ie. Frederic's inheritance money that he loaned to Mr. Oursel] won't be sufficient. Because you suspect that your capital isn't that large, please write a letter to Mr. Oursel in Dutch since I understand you're not wasting your time. Your handwriting certainly hasn't improved.
It's important that you become proficient in bookkeeping since you've started learning this. You don't have much to do besides that and learning to read and write Dutch. Meanwhile all I can do is pray that God blesses you, and exhort you to fear God so that you might keep his commandments which makes a man complete. That's what I'm doing with all my heart, praying also that you might go and live with a merchant. I don't see that happening because there is so little commerce, however to stay where you are also isn't an option because your rent is too expensive.
May God give us peace. We believe there'll be one with Holland although it isn't being publicized. Therefore try to do your best to find a place either in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. I'll write to Mr. Schot. Go see Mr. van Hulten. When you see Madam Hellot, tell her that since her son passed by here I haven't heard anything more about him, and that I sent her letter on to Paris. I didn't write him to avoid paying postage. If I get any news from him, I'll let her know. Give her my greetings.
Goodbye. Be wise and abandon all your friends in the cabaret because there's nothing hidden that won't be revealed some day. All my best hopes rest with you. Don't do anything that gets lost or wasted. May the Holy Spirit be with you. Your grandmother is still at St. Quentin. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin
The Mercure Galant
Those who wish to become more familiar with the historical background of this era in France will find good primary documentation in the Mercure Galant - a journal that can be downloaded from the Gallica website in France. This monthly tabloid was published by the court of King Louis XIV. It contains news and announcements from around the kingdom of France similar to our 'Time' or 'Newsweek' magazines. Archived editions carried on Gallica include issues from the years 1678 (beginning in the month of July) and ending in 1712. Journalist Jean Donneau de Vise was the founder of the Mercure Galant.
14 July 1678 - Letter #35 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
14 July 1678
My dear son,
I received your letter of 30 June which means to discredit people for what they've been telling me about you. My child, it isn't only you who knows the truth. It's good to be informed. One takes more care regarding one's actions because he has to be wary of any slander, and although you are far away I know everything. The report I'm getting is so displeasing that it made me sick and I've cried a lot over it. You know my love for you which is unquestionable, and if God sends you to your dear father in your tender youth, he will still leave a mother who is full of love for you - one who only asks that he gives you his Holy Spirit so that you might behave in a way that enables you to live without reproach in the world - to be one whose chief aim is always the glory of God and a reverential fear of him. The love of God and keeping his commandments makes the whole man.
I want to believe that you are healed, however never let go of the fear of being surprised. It astounded some people who have been healed for 2 years before it came back again. That's why you must always save your strength and do nothing in excess. Purge yourself often with the pills, and from time to time take the powder which I sent you. It's the only remedy. Some people have been cured by following this regimen. As for paying the doctor, I asked cousin to satisfy him the best way she can. You haven't been cured for so long that he can press for payment, however he must be appeased in the meantime.
My son, don't lose the opportunity to find a place with a merchant. If this Mr. van Gandye is an upright man, go into service with him and commit to a period of 3 or 4 years. I think you know how to keep account books adequately. I'd be most happy if you found a job in bookkeeping. Check out the bank and labour exchange. Your brother Jean went there to get a job. Anyway, do the best you can. It bothers me that you're living idly, so do me the honour to follow my recommendation. It grieved me that Mr. Favin made a big complaint about Jean. Make sure, therefore, that I don't get one about you. Above all, always do your duties because once you get employed you will have to please the people. Press this Mr. van Gandye. If he's a businessman who takes you, or at least this is my first impression, then pay the least amount in rent and save your money.
People say that all the peace has been broken and that Mr. de Louvois has left immediately to advance the Army. O Lord, please send us some peace.
François Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois (1641-1691)
French Secretary of State for War
Your brother Francois wants to leave soon for Holland. I don't know what he's going to do. I'm really concerned about him. As for the St. Louis [Robert Oursel's fishing vessel], it will be sailing next month. May God give it good success. We are of the opinion, Mr. Oursel and I, to have Robin [Robert Oursel Jr., now age 12] return home to begin working at the office until, if it pleases God, to send him to Holland in the Spring. Please learn the language. If you have some good interaction you will speak it fluently. Goodbye. All our friends greet you, and me who asks the Almighty to bless you. Give my regards to cousins Pradellis and their girls. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin
The Franco-Dutch War ended on 10 August 1678 with the Treaty of Nijmegen.
9 August 1678 - Letter #36 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
9 August 1678
My dear son,
You must not doubt the joy that I get from receiving your letters. I would hope after receiving the one of today dated August 4, believing it contained news that you would be with Mr. van Gandye (which you led me to hope), I see that all this has come to nothing and that time continues to march on. Thus, my son, this is no more a time for fanciful thoughts but a time to put an end to this because you're spending a lot, and I assure you that you're eating up all your inheritance money. Think of finding something while you're still young which will be to your advantage. But since you've found nobody in Amsterdam, write to Mr. Schot in Rotterdam. Living there is good. If you would like to make that change, I would like it too. Give me an answer to the above.
Your brother Francois will be the bearer of gifts. He'll be spending the winter in Holland to learn a little Dutch. Contact him. I don't know if he plans to stay in Amsterdam or Rotterdam, then he'll return to Rouen. Therefore resolve to do what you want, and count on me to be the premier foundation of your happiness. Holland is a nice country. You could live there while one of your brothers lives at Rouen, and Jean is at Paris. If Jean wanted to hear my criticism about him, it's that he suffers from family laziness. Profit from the complaint that Mr. Favin made about him in case you have the good fortune to meet a good merchant.
I see that the oldest daughter of Cousin Pradellis is going to get married, but you didn't mention the name of the groom and if they plan to live in Amsterdam. May God give them happiness. My son, I won't be able to send you the powder which you asked for via your brother because he leaves tomorrow for Dieppe. But I'll send you some clothes at the first opportunity, and I'll get some powder ready to send along with it. I think your doctor has been paid. If not, ask cousin to placate him as best she can. He must not charge too much because it will take some time to see any improvement in your condition. May God look after you.
I sent via your brother a cravatte and a pair of ruffle cuffs that are currently in fashion. This is my little gift to you. You are often on my mind and you can be sure that you have a mother who has lifted you up in prayer until now with every tenderness imagineable. Still you complain of your misfortune and that it would have been better if God had left your father here instead of me. Perhaps this all happened in order for you to benefit, and to contribute to your establishment. Thus I don't have anything to grumble about. I've exhorted you often enough to be respectable and to conduct yourself in a godly way.
Now there's talk here about getting a tenuous peace. May God give us that. I'm not able to say anything more positive. We think that we might suddenly lose big Catherine. A fat miller from Bolbec wants to come and marry her. Nothing definite is being said because he broke the marriage contract. Fifteen days ago Catherine was scalded on the foot by a pot of boiling water that she dropped on her foot. She's in bed, so the miller will have to wait.
As for cousin Armand Crommelin, I had to think about him because he's not far from you. I would like it if the opportunity arises for you to go and see him. Maybe you can do it someday without great expense via boat. Be thrifty. Poor Mr. Cadelan is still in the Bastille. I greet you affectionately; do the same to our friends. All your friends here do the same. Goodbye. Live soberly and don't pass out. Always look after yourself. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin
The Treaty of Nijmegen that ended the Franco-Dutch War, 10 August 1678.
18 August 1678 - Letter #37 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
18 August 1678
My dear son,
I replied to your last letter via your brother Fancois who left here 10 August for Dieppe and then embarked on the 14th in a longboat, although I had forbidden him to risk it in such a small vessel. After staying 8 days in London he plans to cross over to Holland. May God be with him in all places. May the Holy Spirit accompany him, and may he find you, my dear, in good health. I urged him to see our friends and inquire if there is any way to find you a job opportunity in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. Amsterdam is best. My child, you have to make every effort to move forward. Meanwhile I see no indication that you're doing any work over there. You're always amusing yourself in the hope that this is the way to pass time and grow older. Your illness broke your courage but if it pleases the Lord to have healed you then you must regain the lost time. Think about it, in God's name, because it's a disgrace to have spent two thousand livres in less than 2 years. This could have been your savings.
If your doctor still hasn't been paid, ask cousin to do it or at least please him in the best way possible. In other words, pay a fair fee because it takes much time to get you well. I heard it could even come back after 2 years. That's why I beg you to save your strength and be sober. Purge yourself often. I know that when you first came to Holland you drank a lot, and where there's smoke, there's fire. Please don't do that anymore because it's your loss.
Your brother is bringing you a cravatte in the style that is worn today, and a pair of lace ruffle cuffs which is my gift to you. As for the powder that you asked for, I'll send it amongst an outfit to your brother. At the present time we're having peace. Ships will be coming from Holland and, God willing, we'll soon see the big Dutch vessels lined up at the wharf. So create some business for us! Presently our office boy, Robin [Robert Oursel Jr.], is coming back to spend only the winter here. In the spring, God willing, he'll go to Holland. If you haven't found a place by then, he plans to return before winter. Hopefully you'll have found something by then. Discuss it with your brother and heed the advice of our friends.
I greet you affectionately, as do Mr. Oursel and your sister, Catin. Manon said that you've forgotten her. You were going to send her a decoration for her bonnet. Goodbye, my dear son. God bless you. Give my regards to my cousins Pradellis and I wish them joy in the upcoming marriage of their daughter. I have written cousin via your brother. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin
1678-08-18 - Interrogation of Cadelan, banker, at the Bastille. (Vol.5 P.114)
1678-08-19 - Interrogation of Cadelan, banker, at the Bastille. (Vol.5 P.119)
1 September 1678 - Letter #38 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
1 September 1678
My dear son,
I wrote you 8 days ago and I think I told you about the death of poor Captain Oursel in the Isles (Ireland) on 3 July which has upset us a lot. I can say that our ship the St. Louis thankfully arrived alright at Le Havre on 30 August, fully loaded. Now we're having trouble finding another captain. Jean Poittevin stayed in Ireland where he always has something to do.
Your brother Francois is in England. I don't think it will be too long before you see him. When he arrives, discuss what you are going to do because there's no sense in living where you've got nothing to do. Meanwhile I'm waiting anxiously for news about the state of your health. Goodbye, my son. I don't have time to write anything more. Mr. Oursel rode on horseback to Le Havre to oversee the unloading of the ship. Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin
15 September 1678 - Letter #39 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
15 September 1678
My dear son,
I received your letter of 8 September. I see that you're on trial before taking a job with Mr. Jean du Peyrou, a native of Bourdeaux. You believe it to be a good business, but I don't recognize it. Don't do anything without the counsel of cousin Pradellis and Mr. van Hulten who will assist you and let you know if he's a respectable man - one of our religion to which you must give some regard. On this, my dear child, depends your happiness and it's to your advantage to live with respectable people. A salary of 1000 florins for 4 years - that's a lot. Try to get him to give you 300 rixdalders for 3 years, and the 4th year gratis. May God guide you in making the best deal possible.
If he doesn't want to do that, and there's a place for you, agree to it so that you don't lose the opportunity and ask cousin Pradellis to assist you. For a long time I've been hoping that you would find a good merchant, but also you must be resolved to work for yourself one day. Be diligent and cooperative in order to win the confidence of your boss. My dear son, this is the way to move forward and attract the blessings of God on you. Implore his help and you will grow in your reputation before all men. This is what I pray for unceasingly with all my might. My son, especially seek out the reign of God in your life in order that all things will succeed to your contentment. Leave behind the little amusements of youth.
To work more than is necessary, do it with pleasure and don't forget to put in your agreement that your laundry gets washed. You didn't tell me what kind of business Mr. du Peyrou is engaged in. When you make your agreement, it must be done in duplicate so that monsieur will keep one copy and the other copy you'll send to me so that your uncle de la Chambre can approve and sign it as your legal guardian-counsellor.
You haven't said anything about your health. Please let me know how you're doing. I'll send you some powder at the first opportunity in case you still need it. I see that your brother hasn't arrived yet. Apparently he's still in England. He's negligent in writing me. May God be his guide. Tell me if Mr. du Peyrou is an older man with a family. If you are living there, I'll certainly write to him. Mr. Oursel is still in Le Havre. I'm alone and quite busy. Your cousin [Marie] de la Chambre is often informed about you. Your sister greets you affectionately. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin
29 September 1678 - Letter #40 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
29 September 1678
My dear son,
I received yours of 15 September. I also wrote you a letter on the same date under cover of Mr van Hulten which I think will have reached you by now. So, my dear child, you've committed to 4 years and you're already in the employ of Mr. du Peyrou, being a young man, newly married, and whom you believe to be good people. This causes me to rejoice and implore with all my might the help of heaven for you that God will bless you and cause you to accomplish your engagement with honour. Above all, that you might have the heart not to do anything that isn't fit for a respectable gentleman. May you partake of his reverential fear and not be seduced otherwise. Work hard for your boss with eagerness so that he might favour you, and show respect for both him and his wife.
Send me your contractual obligations so that I can get it signed by your uncle de la Chambre. And also to arrange for you a sum to serve as maintenance money which you will get from Mr. van Hulten covering 3 months. You know that Mr. Oursel still has an account running with you. You'll have to ask Mr. Pradellis to send over his latest balance to get that settled. Remember to thank him for all the pains that he's taken on your behalf. He told me that he paid you 150 florins. I think that's to pay your landlord when you leave. My son, manage your money well. The less you spend, the more you will find. I hope that things will get better from now on. I'd be pleased if you didn't dip into your cash reserves. I forget exactly how much that might be because your accounting always comes 3 months later, which doesn't help. When I get your contract I'll certainly write to Mr. du Peyrou. Let him know, and give him my regards.
So, you've seen your brother. I don't know if he's living in Amsterdam. I'd be very happy to have this news. Let me know where I should address my letters to. Give the enclosure to your brother. Goodbye. Look after yourself. All our friends greet you. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin
13 October 1678 - Letter #41 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
13 October 1678
My dear son,
I have yours of 29 September. Last Tuesday I expected to receive your contractual obligation. Send it to me also with the attached signed receipt. It's necessary to have it so that it can be attached to a sum of money for your living expenses which you will take to Mr. van Hulten. That way you won't bother Mr. Pradellis. You know we have no account open with him so this would be inconvenient. However, we do have an account with Mr. van Hulten, so this can be accommodated under that. Please ask Cousin to send his statement for reimbursement of your expenses.
You didn't mention anything to me about the difficulties you're having with your landlord who wants to be paid for more time than you'll be staying there. This isn't fair. The Dutch are stingy. Ask a friend to go with you to retrieve your belongings.
I'm happy that you're feeling well. I pray ardently that God might continue to give you good health so that you might have a long life in his grace. I'm also pleased that you like being with Mr. du Peyrou. My dear son, may God bless you and give you the grace to complete your tenure with honour. Be obliging and cooperative with whatever may arise in order to win the confidence of your boss. Avoid dipping into your financial reserves as much as possible. I felt obliged to write to Mr. Peyrou, so please deliver the enclosure to him. By this he will see that you have a mother who loves you and who is interested in your progress. Do your best so that I won't ever hear a complaint.
I have no idea where your brother is. The city of Amsterdam didn't agree with him too much. If he's staying in Amsterdam I hope he won't be living in a hotel for too long because they'll thrash him with high costs. He'll live more cheaply in Haarlem or Rotterdam. The cravatte he brought you seems to be in good fashion. Someday I'll be able to send you again some lace ruffle cuffs. We'll have to sing the Te Deum next Sunday [at the Protestant temple in Quevilly] for the peace with Holland. I'll try to send you a barrel of apples. Christians with whom I have spoken a little are selling pears for more than 20/ each. There are only about 29 in our Jardin [their rental property across the pontoon bridge from Rouen], equally big and small ones. We don't have any [at their home on Rue Vieux Palais in Rouen]. The miller of Catherine is on his way. I greet you affectionately. Your loving mother, C.C.
3 November 1678 - Letter #42 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
3 November 1678
My dear son,
I received your two letters in due time along with your contractual obligation with Mr. du Peyrou, a copy of which I think I can keep here if Mr. Pradellis doesn't want to have it. However, I don't think he has any need for it.
I meant to write you my last letter by regular mail to let you know that I loaded a barrel of apples aboard a ship for Amsterdam. I've enclosed the bill of lading for the barrel marked "F-D-C". Don't pay anything for the freight because Mr. Pierre Godfroy has already paid it for me. I'm pleased that he loaded the barrel along with a shipment of wine thereby avoiding any shipping costs to us. Look after it when it arrives. In the middle of the barrel you'll find 2 pots of nuts which I'd like you to give to Mr. Peyrou with 100 apples. The rest are for you and your brother but, in my opinion, I think you should also give a hundred to your cousin Pradellis as a gift. The fruit is quite beautiful and even though they aren't Reinette Grise [a variety of apple], they taste the best and are well known. Apples are very expensive this year. Good pears are worth more than 100 livres/hundred.
On top of the barrel I placed an outfit that your brother had made before he left. It consists of a jacket, a waistcoat, 2 shirts, a cravatte, and 2 pairs of ruffle cuffs that he'll give you. For you, my dear, I included 2 lace kerchiefs which you will find in a little packet. They will be good to have around your neck this winter. Enclosed is some powder like the stuff I already sent you. Safeguard it judiciously in case you need it. Look after yourself. Don't forget to use it. It's good for purging yourself this Autumn, and do it also in the month of March. My dear child, don't think that because you're far away from my eyes that you're also far from my heart. No, there you take first place. Also, behave yourself so that that I'll never get a complaint about you.
I am, however, quite bothered by all the expenditures you made since you've been in Holland. It's terribly excessive since you've spent the equivalent in France of 300 ecu. This isn't good and it will be charged against your account. Just in interest alone you'll be paying 900 pounds (livres). So take care, and manage your resources well. Your uncle de la Chambre, who is your guardian-counsellor, is quite shocked by your expenses. Together we agreed to give you each quarter, 3 months, 50 florins for your living expenses. Please inform Mr. Pradellis that I'm asking him to pay you this on your account.
I note in your contract that you forgot to have Mr. du Peyrou commit to washing your laundry, like I asked you to do. However, I think he'll do it. I must say that for the last little while I've been terribly bothered by your rascal brother, Jean. Three days ago he left the home of his boss who didn't even know where he went. He's irresponsible and does what he wants. He came home last Monday to spend 3 or 4 months here, and then he plans to return to Mr. Favin with an appeal for an exemption since he's such a great benefit to a merchant. He expects to be making money again soon. Let's see how long that takes. He's a naive individual who won't make it. Profit from your brother's example, my son, and carry out your obligations. Don't be swayed by what may look good elsewhere, but apply yourself with diligence and courage. You'll come to like it, and be precise with regard to your resources. Make an accounting each week so that you don't make any mistakes.
We expect Mr. Testart here for next Sunday's baptism [November 6] of the daughter of your cousin LeFebure. My mother is still at St. Quentin. I don't know if your brother [Francois] will stay at Amsterdam in a furnished room because it will be very expensive to stay at an inn. Goodbye, my dear Frederic. I'm glad your uncle de Conincq has written you. I had written him to recommend you to his friends. Mr. Oursel, your sister, and Jean send their greetngs. Robin and Manon say that you've forgotten them! Your loving mother, Catherine Crommelin
Baptism of Rachel LeFebure, daughter of Rachel Testart and Pierre LeFebure, at Quevilly Temple, 6 November 1678.
The marriage of Rachel Testart and Pierre LeFebure was mentioned in Catherine's letter of 13 May 1677.
(Rachel Testart was the oldest child of Pierre Testart and the late Rachel Crommelin, sister of Catherine.)
1678-11-05 - Interrogation of Pierre Cadelan, banker, at the Bastille. (Vol.5 P.149)
24 November 1678 - Letter #43 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
24 November 1678
I'm very surprised, my son, that you weren't able to spend more than 200 guilders per year for your living expenses as I note by your letter of 10 November. I find this quite respectable. One must consider, however, how much you've spent over the 2 years since you've been in Holland. Think about it and see if it isn't time to have less need for so much money. Simplicity is most attractive, and you won't find any merchant, I dare say, who wouldn't be delighted with you if he saw that you are a decent fellow, and I would be even more than that if I saw that you took seriously what pleases me. But on the contrary, it seems you take more pleasure in whatever displeases and torments me, especially by your last letter of 17 November.
I see that Mr. du Peyrou has fired you. If it was only because of what you say, then it would be a trivial matter, but I suspect there are more things to it than that. Indeed, it's a very shameful thing for you not to be able to stay 3 months in a house. Your attitude must have been insufferable. Anyway, I don't know how it was. All I know is that you've plunged me into a terrible depression. When Mr. du Peyrou handed you his dismissal, you should have gone quickly to see Mr. Pradellis and told him. He would have spoken to him and then you might have been taken back.
I have nobody in Hamburg to write to. [Frederic may have tried to soften the blow by announcing an attractive job offer in Hamburg.] Look around in Amsterdam or in Rotterdam. I would prefer that you lived in Rotterdam than any other place. Ask our friends to find a place for you somewhere. Go visit your brother. See Mr. Froment and Mr. van Hulten. Keeping looking until you find something. As for me, I'm upset to have such a headache because of you just when I thought I'd be getting some rest. With regards to work, I'm far from regarding you with affection. Jean is another rascal who's causing me a lot of anguish. I'm going to have trouble with his boss. He's an irresponsible person in whom laziness is a terrible vice.
I hope that my barrel of apples has arrived. Give the 2 pots of nuts to cousin Pradellis as a gift, along with 100 apples. Don't give any to Mr. du Peyrou. And do everything that Mr. Pradellis advises you to do. Goodbye. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin
8 December 1678 - Letter #44 from Mother at Rouen. Received at Amsterdam.
(To be delivered to your brother Fredericq de Conincq at Amsterdam)
8 December 1678
My dear son,
I have yours of the first of December. I'm writing you now via your brother because of your situation, but only to say that I exhort you to try and get reconciled with your boss. A sick individual can be more reliable than a healthy one - one who carries out his obligations without grumbling. It's such a shame to be leaving before the 3 month trial period has gone by in which you were willing to work with pleasure for free. My son, when you're employed in the learning phase of a business you have a certain committment, and you don't simply pick up and leave your home hastily without asking permission. You have to go here, or do that, just to win the confidence of your master, and to learn by doing it. Please think about my suggestion because simply leaving and waiting another 6 months (or more) in search of another opportunity - well, I just don't want to see this happen considering you already have a job. I would hope that Mr. du Peyrou's nephew would find a place to live elsewhere because the noise he makes is part of the problem. Also you don't have anybody at Baden [Hamburg].
Although Mr. du Peyrou deals almost exclusively with brandy and wine, just by being able to handle this product you will be able to do a lot of other things as well. But don't do anything without first consulting cousin Pradellis and giving serious thought to this matter because the thought of going to Hamburg isn't something I want to hear about. Amsterdam is the source of all good businessmen.
You're receiving 100 florins in this letter to last for 6 months. Manage it well, please. What you really need is a fund without limit which doesn't exist without working. I don't know what you'll do with so much money. One suit of clothes per year is enough especially if you've chosen durable material. I can say absolutely that I can't provide you with anymore. Mr. Oursel and I quarrel over this.
You did well by not having the barrel of apples sent over to Mr. du Peyrou. Your brother [Francois] will help you to do whatever you want with it. Your brother Jean simply brushes off whatever he's been accused of. Now it's a dead issue, but one that gave me plenty of anguish. If Mr. du Peyrou would rather have you go, there won't be any need to use an intermediary to help you find a place somewhere else as long as you still have some money. My dear child, talk to all our friends to stay informed, and this will lead to one thing or another. And carry out your own search yourself. Maybe Madame Trevache can assist you in this. May God inspire you. Goodbye. Look after yourself. Your uncle de Conincq [in Antwerp] has been very sick according to what I've heard here. I wrote him 8 days ago. He says he's feeling better. Your loving mother, C. Crommelin