Frederic de Coninck Letters
(1660 - 1722)
Although not a portrait of Frederic de Coninck, this image seems to
capture the honesty and forthrightness that Frederic displayed in his correspondence.
21 March 1692
Monsieur Jean Durand
I received with joy your letter of the 11/21 current in which you remit some money against your account balance - a note in the amount of f200 on Mr. John Ribot of Amsterdam which he accepted. I am grateful for your business. I hope that it will continue. Now that you have begun, may you in due time remit the outstanding balance so that we might close this transaction and no longer have to mention it. I pray God that He causes these plans to succeed more and more and that He gives you all sorts of satisfaction and contentment in your business.
My wife greets you. Our family now consists of two children, a boy and girl. We had two other boys who died previously, so you see we haven't lost any time. I continue to offer you my services. Wishing you to know that I am...
Frederic de Coninck
18 April 1692 - St. Quentin
Suzanne Crommelin (1667- ), daughter of Abraham Crommelin [son of Jean Crommelin/Rachel Tacquelet] and Marie Boileau. She married her first cousin, Jean Rondeau.
Portrait by Louis Tocque (1696-1772). Tocque was exclusively a portrait painter known for his realism.
Click to enlarge.
Source: Saint Quentin Public Art Gallery
Marriage at St. Jacques Church (RC) of Suzanne Crommelin and Jean Rondeau (1663-1729). He was the son of Marie Crommelin [Pierre Crommelin/Marie des Ormeaux] and Jean Rondeau, a banker in Paris.
Click to enlarge. 2 / 3
10 July 1692
Monsieur Testart[To Pierre Testart, regarding the death of his third wife, Anne Baullier who he married in 1672. Pierre's second wife was Rachel Crommelin, older sibling of Daniel. His first wife was Catherine Bossu whose daughter, Anne Testart, became the wife of Daniel Crommelin. Pierre Testart died a year later in November 1693.
Frederic refers to his uncle du Chemin. Pierre du Chemin was the second husband of Daniel's younger sister, Esther. This is what Jacob [J.H. Scheffer] had to say about Esther and Pierre du Chemin:* Esther, daughter of Rachel Tacquelet, married Jean Torin, merchant in Rouen, in 1665. He left her Esther, Isaac and Abraham Torin at his death. She married Pierre Duchemin of Rotterdam the second time with whom, being Dutch, she fled with their five children the persecution in France in 1685 to Rotterdam where they lived. He became a doctor several years after their return and he practiced that profession with much success, adding pharmacy to that science in which he became conversant and involved in its infancy.
** Esther Torin married her first cousin Jacob Crommelin in 1704 as was mentioned earlier.
** Isaac Torin married his first cousin Madeleine Crommelin in 1705.
** Abraham Torin died young at age 24, in Rotterdam while studying medicine.
** Marie Duchemin married M. Isaac Damaluy, minister in the French church in Haarlem, in 1709.
** Catherine Duchemin died at age 13 or 14.]
My uncle du Chemin informed me that God took back to himself my aunt, your wife. I think the news touched me no less deeply than it touched you. Although I did not have the honor of knowing her in particuliar, nevertheless on learning of all her virtues, I thought very highly of her and often. My uncle, who is also in advanced age as you are, also lost his wife which you must be equally sensitive to. This causes me to repeat my prayers, asking God to give you both consolation in proportion to your grief.
This is not the first time that God sends you this trial, thus it gives me hope that you will bear it with the same constancy that you did before in a similar occasion. Above all take a moment to reflect on the troublesome time in which we now live compared to the eternal happiness enjoyed by those who have died in the Lord. I do not doubt that these considerations will make no impression on your spirit, but may it enable you to patiently endure all that it pleases God to send us. I pray God with all my heart that He will preserve you in good health for many more years to come, and that He gives you all manner of contentment and satisfaction. My wife extends to you the same wishes and embraces you affectionately. I earnestly entreat you to honor us with your friendship and know that I share your sorrow at this time.
11 July 1692
Monsieur Robert Oursel Jr.
I reply to your letter of 8/16 May, the one you sent me regarding Mr. Nell. You render me justice in believing that he came only to see that the matters regarding our late brother [Jean de Coninck] were quickly terminated. I know his concern, but under him the affairs will not advance.
Mr. Godefroy informs me that he cannot sell the rest of the lace. Thus I would like to give them to you if you know some place or someone who can sell them and reliably hand over the money to me for safekeeping. Allow me to say that you did not pay attention to my last letter because if you did you will see that I have given you there an account of where I stand and other things besides. I perceive that you are not acquainted with that. I agree that I cannot give you a more exact state at least with regard to the unsold lace.
But to show you that I am sincere, please send me an extract of your letters of administration [regarding guardianship of the two orphans]. Once I have the form I can present it to the magistrates of...
Rotterdam. This will explain the general situation pertaining to our plans. It will outline all that is sold and what remains unsold. It seems that I cannot speak more honestly than that. I maintain that your presence would expedite matters but please consider that in making such a trip expressly for that purpose will be expensive. I know that the attendance of a guardian goes far, but I mention it only to save you some money. Other than that, I would be extremely happy to have you. If you have some other business in this country, you would do as one says, 'kill two birds with one stone'.
My sister [Catherine de Coninck] and my wife [Marie Camin] have examined the linen that our late brother [Jean de Coninck] brought with him to see if any of it could be of use to the children but they found that it is too worn out. But if you find it appropriate, it can be sent to you. As for that, please inform me if you want to have it adjusted even for yourself. Thus you will be the judge of whether it's worth it because my sister promised to make any alterations at her expense and even to add laces to the sleeves where they are missing. If you have no need of it, it still wouldn't be bad to send it to you because you could always dispose of it more advantageously than here. My sister also promises that she will make some new blouses for the children.
I don't doubt that Mr. Le Blanc didn't do right, but with all that I fear that he will book passage by whatever way he wants. Please do me the same favour which you have already done which is to send me another 6 knives via courier as those you sent me before. Please have someone choose them who knows which ones are good and then pass the cost on to Mr. Camin. Also please be careful with our kids and give them up as soon as you are able. I finish my order by wishing you all sorts of contentments. Bidding you to believe that I am always...
28 July 1692
Monsieur Jean Durand
I haven't received any of your letters since my last one of March 31. This one is only to remind you of your promise to finish with me. Although there are some items outstanding, I would not have written you yet if there wasn't some urgent need for money. Therefore I appeal to you to remit the balance you owe me. Doing that would give me much pleasure.
I don't doubt that in response to this request you will grant what I ask for so that I will not have to interrupt you again with my letters on this subject. May you see fit to render me complete justice in this matter and I await the same. I greet you with all my heart and finish...
13 August 1692 - Letter #136 received from Mother.
Mother: 6 August 1692 - Le Havre
Received: August 13
Replied: August 18
Le Havre 6 August 1692
My dear son,
It's been a long time since I've written you or received your letters. I hope it pleases God that you are in good health, also my daughter, your wife and children whom I hug with pleasure. My health is quite good now after having had an oppressive melancholy for two months. In addition I often have a stomach ache that oppresses me strongly, but it doesn't last for a long time. My dear boy, I have as much sadness as I've ever had before.
Some days ago your brother took the trouble to send here a writ on Mr. Oursel saying that he [Francois] was to be put in possession of the estate goods of the [de Coninck] brothers and sister. Mr. Oursel had returned from Rouen only the day before, and before that he was at Le Havre. He could have served notice at Rouen or he could have come himself. Now there are expenses. What bothers me even more is that he didn't speak to Mr. Oursel about it. He wants to retrieve this and calls for an accounting to be sent to you which is to be done immediately and without delay. I don't think, my son, that you consent to this. It's necessary to wait until after my death. Then you can dispute my life which I hope ends soon. This after he received from a good mother who maintained him as I have for 6 years and did for him, and getting nothing but anguish.
He has not been treated well without inconvenience since giving to him meant taking away from others. To be sure, your sisters deserve their maintenance. They've been at the house here long enough to see what's going on, and the burden that's necessary to carry the taxes and accommodation of the soldiers. We have a house full of them. In truth he makes bad use of his time. He doesn't know since he doesn't have anybody.
He received nearly 1300# from a debt that somebody owed Duijnkerke. We knew his children were well off and they didn't renounce the obligations of their father. There was about 2000# of which I received a third. Expenses had to be paid. Thus your brother got his hands on 2/3. It had to be sent to him first because he is now in possession of the legacy left to his brothers and sister. He was given a letter of exchange for his share on Madame Herault of this city which he received before leaving on his return to Rouen. It would have been quite wrong if he turned this into a lawsuit. On leaving here I said to him to share the income with you and the orphans. He said he would do that. He went back to being entirely the boss of the 'Jardin'. He cuts and thrusts with Avril as he wishes. The house has been repaired. There were 300# worth of expenses on which he wants me to pay my share although I haven't received rent twice. He wants to reduce me to abject poverty if he can arrange it. He's a mean-spirited individual who never wanted...
to do anything. I would have plenty to say you on that. It's a quandry. Give me some advice on what I can do. I would like to give up on everything and go over there with a stick. Meanwhile you've been told a lot of things which are charming but probably untrue.
There are plenty of people who like to recount falsehoods which prove destructive. It would be better to say nothing. Mr. Courlager, for instance, convinced him of such a falsehood because according to him we made a fortune on the last voyage of our vessels. He doesn't recount how we lost heavily on the previous voyage when nothing was brought in. Most of it is nonsense. I expect to die of sorrow shortly. I couldn't even find justice at St. Quentin. I got nothing that was on my short list of paper.
May the good Lord bless you. I kiss you along with my daughter and dear families. Mr. Oursel is at the camp ['Maison du Jardin' at Rouen]. Your sisters greet you. I am...
Francois de Coninck at Rouen, France,
older brother of Frederic
18 August 1692
Monsieur Francois de Coninck
Since my last letter which I had the opportunity to write on March 24, I have received none of your letters. I hope that you are still in good health. I learned that there was an outstanding debt claimed in the succession of our late father to be given to his heirs by a man named Duijnkerke amounting to some f. 2000. My mother has received 1/3 and you received the other 2/3 which must again be divided in two - 1/2 between you and me and for the children of our late brother.
I believe that you are too generous and equitable to want to take advantage of any hardship to us by way of injustice. The thought alone would bruise my spirit. I have every good hope that you will respond by willingly remitting that which legitimately belongs to me. I would then finish more persuaded of our enduring friendship by this gesture. I do not have to say how much affection I have for you. You are not unaware of it. I will say only that you will do me a great pleasure to grant me what I ask since it will be of great benefit to me...
as I am in a poor state financially. Please reflect on this and deal with me like a good brother should, mindful of the nieces of our late brother. Please remit at the same time the part that belongs to our nieces. I will give that portion to them or if you prefer, remit that amount to our brother Robert who, as you know, is the guardian of the orphans. Please favour me with a timely response. Believing that I am always...
18 August 1692
Madam Caterine Crommelin
I have intended to write you for some time but I have been waiting for something from my sister [Catherine de Coninck]. I have since received with joy your letter of the 6th of this month which tells me that you have overcome your illness which I had been worrying about.
Please, dear mother, save your energy and don't be down-hearted. On the contrary it is necessary to arm oneself with a confidence that things will turn out alright. My brother is an unfortunate one who wants to reduce us to the bizarre. He is a mean-spirited person who uses persecution to do me injustice, but he is not the only one who seeks to take advantage. It is an evil general who spreads himself most on those who remain patient. God will recompense us so that He will judge appropriately. I'm astonished that you did not alert me sooner regarding this debt of Duinkerke which he repaid.
Perhaps with the help of friends I may be able to receive my share before my brother gets it. You believed you had a plan for a good time with him when he leaves for Amsterdam. Go ahead with it but don't let on to the contrary. I bid you to let him take the enclosure immediately he suspects something. I would have written him to exact fairness sooner if I had known his address. I exhort him to render me justice as well as for my little nieces but I fear that it may be a wasted effort and that it likely won't elicit any response from him.
With regard to our accounts [of the de Coninck estate settlement] which he lays claim to, it isn't my intention to align myself with him in the circumstances we currently find ourselves. Thus what he does, he does on his own initiative and without my participation. I don't correspond with him and he doesn't write me either. Suffice to say again that if you had wanted to, you wouldn't be in your present melancholy. You could have rendered us all happy. For what tarnishes me in particular I will never give you sorrow. I tremble some for others provided they act the same way to me as I wrote you in my last letter.
I am well pleased that your 'Maison du Jardin' [camp of rental cottages] is being repaired. I was told that it was falling into ruins. We have all been sick here, especially my wife who has come down with a bad fever but she takes quinquina for relief. She is still well. I've kept her comfortable through the worst of it. We are all well enough, thanks be to God. With an affectionate kiss and prayers that God may watch over you and strengthen you to give you perfect health. I am with all my heart...
5 September 1692 - Letter #137 received from Mother.
Mother: 30 August 1692
Received: 5 September
Replied: 8 December
My very dear son
I received your letter of the 18th of this month. I'm sorry to hear that you were all sick with the fever. Thank God the illness has left you, my daughter, by taking quinquina. May God keep you and give you in due time a good childbirth which I pray for.
My son, I assure you that neither you nor I could have prevented your brother from accessing the money [the 2/3 portion of the Duijnkerke loan that was repaid to his father's estate] through advice he received from a lawyer. It bothers me a lot. He wrote him about the inheritance and sent me a copy of the judgment he obtained. He took his portion, namely the 2/3, when he left here. I told him it was quite audacious considering you and the two orphans.
I forwarded your letter to him. His residence is obvious. He and Avril look after each other well enough. He acts as the proprietor of the 'Jardin'. In 10 years of operation I haven't received 200# from it. Some day it will turn into a debacle. It's an occupation that he detests. I am greatly bothered when an employee is able to pose as the boss. Then I'm told that what I demand is unreasonable. So I asked him to tell me who would be more appropriate and suitable so that we might not have to do what we're opposed to. He retorted that I can just stay worried and that he didn't want to do that.
What sorrow there is, my dear one, that I carry in my heart for him, just as you said. He will be the death of me. I assure you that if God gives me days with no liberty, and only the grace to go out and die loaded down with sorrow, your brother would be delighted. I have many things to say about that.
The 'House du Jardin' has been repaired. Poor Miss Madelon Aubourg finally succumbed to nature. She died on the 22nd of this month after languishing for some time.
Returning to your letter, I don't think he [Robert Oursel Sr.] will bend in his plans.
There are other impediments given.
O my dear and unique Savior, give me patience in all my trials. Lord, give us peace if you find it appropriate for our good, especially the cessation of hostilities. Amen. Adieu my dear son, and my dear girl. May the all powerful One fill you with his holy benediction. I am your affectionate mother...
PS - Don't write me using the wrong paper. The postage costs too much.
[Apparently the receiver, not the sender, paid for the postage. If the postage were paid by the sender, then there might have been some temptation to allow letters to be 'lost' in the mail.]
2 October 1692
Monsieur Francois de Coninck
I wrote you on 18 August with the knowledge of mother who wrote saying that you got my letter. I asked you to render me justice regarding the matter of a debt of f2000 which came to us by the inheritance of our father. A person named Duinkerke made good on a debt of which you are in receipt of 2/3 of this amount. I must receive from you 1/3 as my share. I did not think it would be necessary to write you again since you promised mother to render me justice and also to the children of our late brother. Nevertheless I still haven't received your news which causes me to be extremely surprised.
You are not unaware of the justice of my cause in the sight of all laws, divine and human. You cannot withold that which legitimately belongs to us. I therefore appeal to your own conscience. In the name of God, my dear brother, don't do me wrong. Don't you know my situation - that I'm burdened with a load which I've mentioned so many times? Here you bore witness to me before of your sincerity, saying that you would take my interests to heart as though they were your own. Now it's time to see if that sentiment was sincere and that you really do care for my interests as though they are yours by rendering the equity...
which belongs to me. I cannot imagine that you would wish to hurt us through a fearful injustice. Besides, this would not be the Christian thing to do and it would tangibly impair the fraternity between us. I find the thought repulsive and do not want it to enter into my spirit. I would rather believe that serious reflection of what I have written will cause you to erase all these suspicions by returning to us full justice. May God have you take this to heart and that He will bless and conserve you. I am with all my heart...
31 October 1692
Monsieur Jean Durand
I wrote you on July 28. I believed that you would have replied and at the same time that you would have remitted the remainder of what you owe me. Now, quite long afterward I still haven't heard any news from you. This astonishes me since I haven't really been pressing you for payment, and it doesn't match the promises that you made me earlier. I don't doubt your intentions are noble and that you have every intention to satisfy me. All I ask is that you hasten to reply. I wrote saying that you would do me a great pleasure and this is what I now reiterate. Therefore I implore you to respond and to have done with this matter so that it won't have to be mentioned again. Awaiting news from you anxiously, I remain...
Robert Oursel Jr. at London, England,
younger half-brother of Frederic
31 October 1692
Monsieur Robert Oursel Jr.
I wrote you July 11 regarding Mr. Nell. Since then I have not received any letter from you. Mr. Camin told me that you informed him of the arrival of our little nieces in good health. I wish with all my heart that you would have been able to enfold them and come along with them. If you had been but 2 days in this country, your presence would have meant a lot. You would have been able to terminate these affairs, and you would have been able to shed some light on things that we weren't able to.
Mr. Camin and my aunt du Chemin said what they had to. They are the source of funds to make cost overruns possible by their hands. I don't know absolutely what it is. I urge you earnestly to settle one thing and another before your departure. It seems to me that you wrote that I played a part in stopping a letter of exchange of 2 to f300 to Mr. Camin - a sum which belonged to him as it was owed him by our brother. I don't know what claim or effect he might have on the situation. Therefore I repeat that you put an end to this matter and do not mention that I have written you anything.
I also ask that you send me a list of what belongs to the children and in whose hands you have left it. It seems something was said to him that Mr. de la Chambre had promised to pay the interest. Indeed it has become a grand affair. I tell you this because since you are about to undertake a perilous voyage, if God wishes to dispose of you or sacks everything, at least I can address the situation. I hope that you will also put the papers of your plans in safe hands.
I don't doubt that you have received a parcel of lace that we sent you. They are the biggest pieces and must be protected. In a hundred years perhaps these plans will be seen to be happier. I also hope that you will have settled things in Hamburg. I would be very happy that you might come by one day to say not only that the affairs of our late brother have been settled, but also to have the satisfaction of seeing you again and hearing me declare how much I am...
14 November 1692
Monsieur Jean Durand
I have received your letter of the 28th past in which you give me the order to withdraw the balance of what you owe me. I have done that today.
In a letter in the amount of f.146:10 currency over ten days I made a payment to the order of Mr. Pierre Godefroy. I did not doubt that you would honor my last letter. I do not withdraw from you more than what belongs to me. I have an accounting by your hand in which you recognize that you owe me f31:10 on which you have remitted f200:. Thus the balance is f146:10 f. including ... at f11:. I do not believe that you will find fault with this accounting, one which is not disadvantageous to you.
Our 2 children are doing well and my wife also who sends her greetings. She is about to deliver another baby. If I can be of further service, I am pleased to be at your disposal.
Around 9 or 10 years ago one Joachim Peterssen, a merchant in Hamburg went missing having gone to live at Malagua, Spain. Since he may have returned or made reconciliation, I wonder if you could find out anything about him and let me know. He still owes me some 4-500 marks. Mr. Guillaume du Hamel, agent, has some news to tell you. I wish to extend to you my greetings...
28 November 1692 - Letter #138 received from Mother.
Mother: 22 November 1692 - Le Havre
Received: 28 November
Replied: 8 December
My very dear son
I received a letter from your poor sister, sorely afflicted that God took back both their children within 6 or 7 weeks. But, alas, they are quite happy considering the unhappy state of the world which is so full of grief and violence. They are now sheltered from all evil.
My dear son, your sister told me that you were quite willing to take the two orphans into your home. I am most pleased. I know it will be good and that you and my daughter, your wife, will treat them as your own. They can't be raised without that mindset. Begin by teaching 'Catin' [Catherine de Coninck] lace-making. I made socks for them. I commend them to the good care of my daughter, your wife. She knows very well what's needed to guide them. I believe, my son, that you know English. It's necessary that you maintain it so it doesn't get forgotten. As for their boarding fee, Mr. Oursel, as he told us, will give good instructions to your cousin Jean de la Chambre to pay it.
I gather that my daughter is about to deliver a baby. I pray God that He grants her a happy delivery and gives you the joy of children along with your two others. May God keep you in the truth which is still here in some quantity and which I believe 'Catin' was taught. I told your brother [Robert Oursel Jr.] I would indeed like to take 'Catin' but he said it would be wrong for me to do that. This was a disappointment. Alas, the time for doing that hasn't come. Lord, hasten our deliverance so that I might have the joy to be able to embrace you before I die.
I won't mention what your brother [Francois] has been doing. Adieu, my son, I'm in a bit of a hurry. I kiss you with all my heart, and your wife and all my grandchildren. I exhort 'Catin' and 'Marthon' [Marie de Coninck] to be wise and obedient. Your very affectionate mother...