Frederic de Coninck Letters
Condolences on Catherine's Death; Anne Testart Departs for America;
Death of brother Francois de Coninck; Request for Curtailment of Lawsuit against Francois
Jacob Crommelin (1642 St. Quentin - 1721 Rotterdam) and Elisabeth Testart (1645 St. Quentin - 1722 Rotterdam)
Daniel Crommelin (1647 St. Quentin - 1725 New York) and Anne Testart (1651 St. Quentin - 1702 New York)
Two brothers, Jacob and Daniel Crommelin, married two sisters, Elisabeth and Anne Testart repectively. The latter were the daughters of Pierre Testart and his first wife, Catherine Bossu.
Jacob Crommelin and Elizabeth Testart had a number of children, some of whom are mentioned in the baptismal records at Lehaucourt. One such child, born on January 1, 1674, was Madelaine Crommelin. Godparents were Daniel Crommelin and Marie Boileau.
Of the 14 children of Jean Crommelin and Rachel Tacquelet, the only ones still alive after Catherine passed away at Le Havre, France, in December 1694 were Jacob, Daniel, and Esther.
Elisabeth Testart was Pierre Testart's second child by Catherine Bossu, his first wife. Elisabeth married Jacob Crommelin in 1663. She bore him 12 children of whom 3 died young. Jacob, son of Jean Crommelin and Rachel Tacquelet, was born 26 May 1642. He was destined for the ministry and went to Rouen with his mother in 1653 to attend the theological college at Quevilly [the Protestant church that served the people of Rouen] where he studied two years and several months. He left there on the advice of his brother-in-law Francois de Coninck [Frederic's father] who, with his wife, brought him to Holland where he chose to settle. He didn't succeed there because of his lack of submission to his masters and left Holland when his father, Jean Crommelin, died in 1659. Jacob returned to France to be near his mother and brother Louis in early 1660. He lived with this brother for about two and a half years then went to live with his mother who gave him her business in 1663 upon his marriage to Elisabeth Testart in St. Quentin on 16 September 1663.
Elisabeth was born in St. Quentin 10 August 1645. They had eight children at St. Quentin where they lived initially over a period of ten and a half years, and several more in Paris. Jacob and Elisabeth left St. Quentin in 1674 to establish themselves at Paris where he founded a banking house. His name appears at the bottom of an act of abjuration signed by prominent reformed Parisian merchants in 1685. In 1686 he and his sister, Catherine, were at the bedside of their mother, Rachel Tacquelet when she died in Paris 10 August 1686. Elisabeth, more constant in her faith, fled the country in 1685 with her five daughters, a servant, and a son-in-law, the banker Moise Cousin and his children, Moise and Marie. They were miraculously rescued by the "La Rochelle" which landed them in England where she stayed for several months. Then afterwards she went to Holland with her daughter 'Babet', residing near her father, Pierre Testart, her stepmother Anne Baullier, and her brothers and sisters of Pierre Testart's second and third marriage [ie Rachel Crommelin and Anne Baullier]. She left the four youngest daughters with relatives in England. [It isn't known whether Elisabeth returned to St. Quentin to be with her husband, but after 1708 they were together again in Rotterdam.]
Meanwhile, Jacob, having lost some fifty thousand ecus (currency) over the period of 12 years that he lived at Paris, went back to Saint-Quentin in 1686. Jacob took up the linen business again by the blessing of the Lord who had humbled him, but for the love of his children he earned enough to fund the marriage of five daughters and a son, and then had enough money to live leisurely in Holland where God's providence led them in 1708.
(Source: J.H. Schaeffer pp. 171-2) See also:
In 1712 Jacob completed a genealogical account of the Crommelin family on his seventieth birthday. This account appears as an Appendix to J.H. Scheffer's Crommelin Family Archive published in 1878. Jacob died in Rotterdam 12 August 1721. Elisabeth died there a year later on 14 September 1722.
[This letter was written by Frederic in response to a letter of condolence from Jacob's wife, Elisabeth Testart. In his reply to aunt Elisabeth, Frederic hopes to have her write to her sister Anne Testart in England regarding the urgent need to have the orphans' money returned. Obviously Frederic is exploring every avenue to communicate with his uncle Daniel Crommelin in order to have him return the childrens' money.]
6 January 1695
Mademoiselle Elisabeth Testart, wife of Jacob Crommelin - [probably in Rotterdam, Holland, while husband Jacob was living and working in St. Quentin, France]
It's been a long time since I had the honour of writing to you. Thank you for your letter expressing affection and sentiments of condolence.
I find they have made no small contribution toward calming my spirit. In losing such a good mother I lost everything. I always flattered myself in thinking that I might someday have the satisfaction of seeing her in this country amongst us and that's what I strived for. But it pleased God to decree otherwise and to that we have acquiesced. If I do not have joy in this, at least I do in the knowledge that she remembered me at her death. She gave us all her blessing that I pray God will ratify in heaven. One can say that she died the death of the just. Even to the end she kept a robust spirit with a firm assurance in the mercy of God. Her body was buried in a garden outside the city [of Le Havre]. After everything she is now happily delivered from the miseries of this world in which she had such terrible sorrows to wipe away, especially in the last years of her life. While dying she commended the two little orphans to my care, and this I will do as well as I am able.
What bothers me a great deal is that I don't have any news from my uncle Daniel. Meanwhile it's been a year since he sold all the effects belonging to the children. I've written him several times, and my mother also, with the emphatic wishes that he return the net goods either to this country or to England and into the hands of whomever he pleases with the promise that he be given the discharge that he asked for. But for all that, there has been no response. On the contrary, it seems that he's gone even further away, having gone to live in New York. In truth, this conduct saddens me, and I wouldn't dare tell you a quarter of what I think about it.
I had appealed to my aunt, his wife, that instead of having him remit the money to this country, she might wish to make compensation herself. Apparently she didn't find that idea acceptable. I pray God that He might undertake to provide direction. I confess that his prompt departure took me by surprise. The decision was audacious. Apparently she was to be left a widow if anything should happen to him. Therefore I pray, mademoiselle, my dear aunt, to take the interest of these poor children to heart. Their plight is pitiful. When you write to my uncle or aunt, your sister, please have the kindness to remind them of the children. I would like you to exhort them emphatically to return to this country, without losing any more time, that which belongs to them. I would be most obliged if you would let me know of your intention to write to them. I would hazard to write once more myself under the cover of your letter. With God's help my uncle won't complicate and confuse this matter! But he has his own objectives.
Now I perceive that I'm abusing your patience, therefore I will close by praying that you will continue to honor me with your friendship and believe that I will always have for you and my uncle, your husband, all the esteem and veneration that one can have. My wife shares the same sentiments. She and I wish you more joy and satisfaction in this new year than you ever had before. We pray God that it pleases Him to abundantly preserve and bless you and your dear family, and to be persuaded that I will always be...
6 January 1695
Madame Serai at Le Havre
I am greatly obliged for the letter that it pleased you to write me on the 24th past with condolences on the death of my late mother. Never has anything touched me more deeply because in losing such a good mother I lost the dearest one in the world. We had hopes that this illness would not have serious consequences but, alas, our hopes didn't last long and we learned of her death just when we thought she was getting better. You can imagine what effect this had on us after such a sad reversal. I admit that I would be inconsolable if I didn't reflect that we mustn't murmer against the will of God. On the contrary, we must submit ourselves...
meekly to all that it pleases Him to send us. Such thoughts along with the times enables me to calm my spirit which under the present difficulties has endured a severe test. Besides, it's a big consolation for me that before dying my good mother bestowed upon me and my family her benediction. I don't doubt that God will ratify it in heaven. However, this didn't prevent me from repeating my tears when I read the place in your letter where you note that she left us what we are now wearing. I regard that as a care and blessing quite extraordinary. I will not overlook availing myself of this kindness in my dealings with my little nieces. I've been looking after them for some time, doing what I can in the hope that since I am loaded with family committments, my sisters won't abandon them and, in their turn, also take a hand in looking after them. Although I don't have the honour of knowing you, madame, I won't close without offering you my services if you judge me capable of them.
My wife takes the liberty to greet you affectionately, having the advantage of knowing you personally. We pray God that it pleases Him to preserve you, and give you in this new year which has just begun, all manner of satisfactions and contentments. I am entirely...
6 January 1695
Monsieur Etienne Eudelin
Madame Sarai of Le Havre has informed me that I may draw from you the sum of 150 ecus, and that you had instructions to satisfy this request since it involves a debt that my brother Camin owes me. Please do me the honour of executing this matter, believing that I am...
7 January 1695
[This is the last recorded letter to Jean de la Chambre. Perhaps he died shortly after this letter was written, or simply lost interest in Frederic's cause. All of Frederic's letters to Daniel were sent to his cousin, Jean de la Chambre in London, for furtherance to Messieurs Peter Cailliard and John Augier in Kingston, Jamaica, for furtherance to Daniel Crommelin in New York. If Frederic began to suspect that Jean de la Chambre was a weak link in the chain and wasn't sending his letters to Jamaica, then he would naturally look for another intermediary. From his mother's letter which he received a year earlier, on 10 January 1694, Frederic knew that Jean de la Chambre didn't have a lot of integrity, but until now he tried to remain cordial with him because Jean was his only link to Daniel Crommelin and the orphans' inheritance money that he was after.
In any case, Frederic takes up his pursuit of Daniel Crommelin through his brother, Francois de la Chambre a year later, in 1696. It is likely that other relatives knew how and where to reach Daniel, but Frederic was deliberately being left in the dark because of his relentless pursuit of the money that Daniel didn't want to give up. One can detect a hint of sarcasm in some of Frederic's letters which suggests that some of his relations weren't being quite candid with him, and he knew it. Although Frederic was a hardworking family man with plenty of integrity and compassion, he didn't seem to have many allies amongst his relatives. He and his mother, Catherine Crommelin, and his aunt Elisabeth Testart are the only ones who display significant Christian committment. The other Huguenots appear quite clannish and worldly.]
Monsieur Jean de la Chambre
Since you have always taken an active interest in whatever touches me, I don't doubt that you are already aware of the affliction that it pleased God to send me in taking back to Himself my mother on 19 December after a few days of illness. This sad news has been more devastating for me considering I lost a good mother during the situation we now find ourselves in. On one hand I lost her friendship, and on the other it seems like I lost everybody. However, her end was edifying and worthy of a good Christian. She was buried in a garden outside Le Havre. She had terrible sorrows especially in these last days having been persecuted on all sides. Happily she has been delivered from all this. God willing that He will console us and be merciful towards us as well.
In dying she commended me to the two little orphans that are living with us. This is also what I will do as much as possible. But if I don't get some help besides, this may not be for as long as I would like. Because these children don't have anything, it would be impossible for me to maintain them indefinitely since I have a large family of my own and few comforts. And to make matters worse, I haven't received any word from our uncle Daniel. I addressed a letter to you for him dated the 4th of last month under the cover of messieurs Peter Caillard and John Augier. I don't doubt that you sent it. I have written him again since, and my mother also, with the emphatic insistence on having him return to this country, or to England, the net amount that he has in his hands. But all this has been met with no response. I only know that it's been more than a year since he sold all the effects belonging to the said children and that he wants to keep this revenue until after there is peace. He gives as his excuse that he will pay interest on the money. Also that he was on his way to go and live in New York...
and that my aunt, his wife, has gone to find him. 'Strange decision considering this country is so far away. On the contrary I have heard certain stories from worthy people of faith who have lived over there for several years, and who have come back absolutely ruined, at least the French. I don't believe my uncle will be any happier than the others. I know what he's capable of. I conclude from all this that my poor brother Oursel was duped in a sordid manner and that the inheritance of the orphans is entirely lost. I mention this because I know that you have sympathy for me. I believed that I could unburden myself of what is on my heart.
I pray urgently, monsieur my cousin, that if you again have occasion to write our said uncle, please exhort him emphatically to return that which belongs to the said children without losing any more time, and that he will be given all manner of satisfactions for doing this. I would hazard writing him again myself if I knew how to get my letter through to him. If you know where he can be reached, kindly let me know. Although I suspect this is all wasted time, and that I must be resigned to the inevitable. May the good Lord have pity on these orphans. I don't know what will become of them.
I pray with all my might that He gives you all manner of joy and satisfaction, not only in this new year but through the whole course of your life. And that it may please Him to keep you in good heath and all your family. Please continue to honour me with your friendship and know that I am truly...
This cover illustration of Sylvia Thorpe's novel, "The Changing Tide", seems to capture the frailty of the vessels used
in ocean crossings in the 1600's such as that made by Anne Testart and her son Isaac to join
Daniel and Charles in New York. Comforts and privacy were definitely minimal.
In 1695 the British province of New York to which they sailed is described
in a thorough account given by a contemporary observer.[When Frederic wrote this letter to his uncle, he still didn't have his address. Therefore this letter was again sent to Peter Caillard and John Augier in Kingston, Jamaica in the hope that they would forward it to Daniel who was believed to be somewhere in New York.]
February 20, 1695
Monsieur Daniel Crommelin
If I had known about the departure of my aunt, your wife [Anne Testart], I would not have failed to have her bring along one of my letters for you. But she did not judge it appropriate to let me know. Also I assure you that her plan took everyone by surprise. I pray God with all my heart that she arrives at a safe harbor and that she finds you in good health. As I am unaware of the day that she put to sea, I do not know if she will be bringing you the sad news of the death of my mother which came on 19 December following an illness that lasted a few days. Right up to the last moment of her life she always made profession of the plain truth [of the gospel]. Her body was buried in a garden outside the city [of Le Havre]. I do not doubt that you are touched by our afflictions. You lost a wonderful sister and we the best of all mothers.
Never could a death have come at a worse time. Mr. Oursel [Frederic's step-father] and my older brother [Francois de Coninck], who have become good papists, are disputing the inheritance and on whose side it will fall [ie., Oursel or de Coninck]. All is absolutely lost for those outside the kingdom of France, and yet they don't find a quarter of what they want. It seems there is no longer any good faith amongst the religious of the world, and even our relations on whom we should depend are not without buckets to become our persecuters, relieving us of our goods and leaving us destitute. But what consoles me is that if we are not punished for our crimes, at least there is a God who knows how to avenge us of such perfidy.
I speak in general terms for I can assure you that the sad state of her two granddaughters, the children of my late brother, Jean de Coninck, contributed not a little to her death. She had many sorrows, but one can say that this was one of the main ones. We have since learned that by your persuasion my brother Oursel made you the executor of his last will and testament. We see that his plan was to place instantly the net amount in a place of security, but instead we see the opposite happening. You wish to keep this money...
at least until there is peace. And recently I learned from my aunt du Chemin that you wish these children were of age so that they would be able to have it now. Indeed, I too wish it were so, but it's only a distant dream. Monsieur, my uncle, allow me to say without hesitation that this proposition in the present situation will only serve to make visible the suspicions that I've held for a long time, namely that you don't want to release the goods of these poor children. I call them 'poor' because they are not in an advantageous position. I have already mentioned that their late father had left in this country some lace from Flanders worth about f1600 according to a bill that may be true or false. But it's a measure worth considering. It shows he bought at too high a price and without being selective. Then the biggest and best pieces of lace were sent to my brother Oursel. I don't know what he did with it. Some was sold and at least I have the remainder of his inventory which served to maintain the children up to the present time. But that which is still unsold is of the poorest quality. That means it will never sell unless one is resolved to accept a 50% loss. A person offered to buy the lot for a 40% discount but she has since retracted her offer. Thus you see that the children have absolutely no other wealth than what you have in your hands, and the necessity to have you put it quickly into a security where one can draw some interest from it.
You will undoubtedly say to me that this wealth is already secure in your hands but, monsieur my uncle, I bid you to reflect how accidents can happen to you in a hundred unforseen ways that you don't expect, and how this money can be dissipated in a multitude of ways. Besides, it isn't wise to keep the goods of poor orphans in a country so far away and so inaccessible. It makes me shudder just to think about it. But even if this doesn't happen and you are confident of your vigor at more than 40 years of age, you know by experience better than anyone the fickleness and fragility of worldly affairs. Moreover, you are leaving a country [Jamaica] where you say there's nothing to do, to go to another where I fear you won't be any happier. I know that from men who know the globe and who lived there for several years. Little by little they were all ruined over there. The only difference with Jamaica is that perhaps money can't be made as quickly.
I forgot to mention that while dying my mother strongly commended these children to my care, but that's something impossible for me to do if I don't get any help besides. While I began giving charity with joy, I will end in a rather poor state, being somewhat overwhelmed by the size of my own family. Therefore it isn't possible for the little nieces to stay with us if their goods don't arrive safely here before the end of this year. I pray that you earnestly consider this matter and not delay something that the whole family feels so passionate about - something I can truly assure you. I warn you that if you persist in using evasive formalities as an excuse to keep their wealth until the Day of Judgment, it will be an insult to even think like this. Since I'm so far away, the most expedient way to return the money which I believe amounts to some £400 is to send it either to England or, if you wish, to this country and into the hands of my cousin Pierre Testart who will give you the discharge that you legitimately request. Or if you wish, to Mr. Camin who promised to give you all manner of satisfaction regarding the above. Before receiving anything you can even do something else, and that is to put the money into the hands of my cousin Jean de la Chambre or another one of your friends, provided he is trustworthy and faithful...[Note: In 1690, £400 0s 0d would have the same spending power in 2005 as £34,988.00. Source: Therefore there is roughly a 100:1 ratio in the buying power of the late 1600's currency compared to today. Daniel's obligation therefore amounted to about $60,000 in today's value.]
with instructions to take it immediately to their friends in England. He can even make himself the representative of all the wealth of the two poor orphans and recommending charity toward them. He himself, I say, then will be able to find some person generous enough to make compensation on this bill in England without running any risks or paying insurance. Do that please, and you will be employing all the benefits. [Apparently Frederic is suggesting that the actual money won't be transported, thus it wouldn't have to be insured. Only a debt obligation is being exchanged and traded between honest and trusted businessmen who are conducting business on both sides of the Atlantic. The technical term for this is 'countertrade'.]
This would produce the desired outcome that we have been waiting for with impatience. Please, in the name of God and the compassions of Christ and all that moves you - your conscience, your peace of mind, your honor - do what is obvious so that you have no more interest in this matter. Do it simply out of charity and generosity. On my part I will be as obliged as though you had done it for me. Besides, monsieur my uncle, I hope that you will seriously consider what I've said. I will always have for you a lot of respect and consideration, and I will never forget the kindness you showed me during my extended visit with you. I hope that you will always have the same regard which on my side comes from the bottom of my heart. I will never have more joy than to learn of your happy settlement and prosperity. Therefore I have reason to hope that you will expedite what I have been asking you on so many occasions. As for your argument regarding certain scruples touching your discharge, what lies at the bottom of this is only excuses. I promise you as a man of honor that you will have all manner of satisfactions regarding the above. It isn't even necessary to burden you with the technicalities if you would rather leave it with friends of monsieur de la Chambre who will not employ so many delaying tactics, and who I am certain will produce a happy outcome for all. As for me, I'm more interested in my responsibility to the children who will certainly fall into deep misery if you don't do what I ask.
I wrote you on May 4 under cover of messieurs Peter Caillard and John Augier. I wrote you again on 16 September having sent my letters to my cousin Pierre Testart in Amsterdam to be forwarded to my aunt, your wife. My mother has also written you several times. Hoping that you received these letters alright, I've been waiting everyday for a response from you and the return of the goods. Please let me know your mailing address. I continue to pray God for your health and that it pleases Him to give you a long life accompanied by His blessing. I embrace all your dear family and finish entirely...
In the 1690's when these voyages were taking place, man's understanding of the globe was somewhat limited. These illustrations from the Verplanck-Crommelin family Bible at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art show the extent of maritime knowledge in 1715 when this Bible was printed. The whereabouts of New York and Jamaica were certainly well-known, but there was a 'gap in the map' pertaining to the Pacific Ocean, Australia, and the west coast of North America. However, this knowledge gap was filled in nicely by Capt. James Cook some 50 years later when he began his 3 voyages of discovery into the Pacific regions of the globe. Then around 1792 the west coast of North America would be explored by Capt. George Vancouver.
[Apparently the above letter was sent directly to Caillard and Augier without sending it to Jean de la Chambre in London for furtherance to his business contacts in Jamaica. In doing so, Frederic indicates that he has lost confidence in his cousin as a reliable intermediary.]
20 February 1695
Messieurs Peter Caillard and John Augier at Kingston, Jamaica
I had the honor to write you on May 4 last year requesting that you forward a letter to my uncle monsieur Daniel Crommelin. Although I have received no response, I nevertheless hope that it reached you via my cousin monsieur de la Chambre of London who sent it to you. Today I take the same liberty and humbly ask you to deliver the enclosed letter to my said uncle and, in case he has left for New York where he apparently intended to go, please do me the kindness to send it to him in the fastest and most secure manner possible. It is urgent that he receive it promptly. Please excuse me for the trouble I cause you in doing this. If I can return the favour by being of service to you in this country, I would do it with pleasure. Entirely yours...
Francois Leguat Expedition
21 February 1695
Jean Testart (Frederic's cousin) is brought ashore on Mauritius in irons and put in the 'stombs' after having been confined for a year on a small rocky island at the entrance of Grand Port.
8 March 1695
Francois Leguat and Jean Testart are sent back to the rocky islet.
21 March 1695
Monsieur Robert Oursel
I have received in due time the honor of your letter of January 16 in which you complained a lot about the litigation of my brother Francois de Coninck. But things have indeed changed since my sister Manon informed us of his death that came on the 7th of this month. I must say that I was extremely surprised, and although he persecuted and plundered me, I still have some sympathy. I look at his sudden death as a just judgment from God. He had obviously...
opposed His commandment in having no respect for his own mother which is even more terrible. Several years ago he wished her dead thinking that only taking could make someone happy. But his joy was short-lived. God willing he was touched with strong contrition and that He granted him forgiveness. I knew that he was about to die by a letter that Mr. Durand wrote me on the 6th of this month. I object that I had any correspondence with the aforementioned. In it he mentioned that my brother had made his last will and testament. Here are his terms. He bequeaths all his personal effects to Mr. de Vanasseur, his friend who is charged with the payment of the bills that he owes. There are several other donations in which I have some small part. I admit that I was most surprised at the reading of these words with respect to the disposition in his will. If there is something to inherit, he has natural heirs without going to look for foreign ones.
As for mother's will, I believe that he made out like a poor boy as much as he wished. I look at these people as opportunists who are pleased to foment dissention in the hope of fishing in troubled waters. The shortest way is to break up a testament such as this. The opportunity is too tempting for some to do otherwise. Other than that, I leave it to your wisdom. You know better than I what must be done. I submit that I will have no greater joy than to learn that you are happily rid of all these sordid matters. I blame my brother much more for not wanting to listen to the accommodation that you proposed to him. He just didn't want to divide things equally. God willing that He will uphold you in these happy dispositions. I swear that on my part I will happily agree to whatever is reasonable.
You would give me great pleasure by informing me that my sister Manon has come through this affair alright, and also by sending me a copy of the will. I pray God that He preserves you and maintains you in good health for many years. I greet you very humbly and am with all my heart...
21 March 1695
Mademoiselle Marie Oursel
I have received, mademoiselle, my dear sister, all of your letters - the one of 14th January and the one of the 12th current. Also one that my sister Camin sent me previously. We learned by the latter about the sad end of our brother Francois de Coninck. He barely outlived our dear mother. His joy was short. He that so much wished for her demise is now in the same state which is quite evidently a punishment from God. After all this, I must say that I still have some sympathy despite his pillage and persecution of me.
I always flattered myself that if I had been able to see ahead, I would have changed my opinions about him and that I would have been able to succeed in putting his attitude in a good light. Unfortunately he exposed himself to bad counsel which exaggerated the situation and other things to the point where he didn't want to listen to any accommodation. And to further mix up the misery, he left himself duped to the point where he made a last will and testament in favour of two people who apparently were the venerable chaps who counselled him. To them he left all his personal property that can be moved, men who are without conscience, greedy, and with an insatiable lust for money. You wrote saying that he had repented but, my goodness, what repentance! He obviously ignored it by not renouncing his said testament. He left everything on fire by the injustice he did to his legitimate heirs. May God have pity on his soul and grant him forgiveness.
As for mother's will, my dear sister, I don't know what advice to give you. Monsieur, your father, is miles ahead of me. I think that the most expedient way would be to have the will divided.
I think it would be too difficult to obtain a very equitable settlement otherwise and, besides, it would lead to acrimony.
I am indeed very happy that the lawsuit is now behind you, and undoubtedly you are no less relieved than I am. Another thing to rejoice over is that your father seems to be a man of accommodation. I swear before God that if you were able to know my innermost thoughts you would see that I desire only peace and harmony. I am convinced of the benefits of a peace that can lead once more to the restablishment of a family concord that can last forever. Furthermore, my dear sister, please do not do as our late mother did by taking things too much to heart and abandoning oneself to sorrow. Equip yourself soon with a firm resolve and belief that good will triumph over all the difficulties that present themselves. There is a glory that will not leave us defeated provided that our views are just and legitimate.
Often I spoke to my sister regarding the last wishes of mother in favour of our little nieces. She always replied that she would talk to her husband about it. As for me, I believe only in what I've just told you. I think that it was a bad gesture and that it would only prolong dissention. Meanwhile I remain responsible for these children. I believe that you are too generous to have abandoned them, but now is not the time to talk about that. My note obliges me to finish by declaring once more that I could have no more esteem and affection than what I have for you. I ask that yours will also continue for me and those who belong to me. My wife embraces you and my other sisters. Please keep me informed on what is happening, and send me a copy of the will if you can. One cannot be more than I am...
21 March 1695
Monsieur Jacques Durand
I haven't received a letter from you since the one of the 6th of this month. I desired to reply to it believing that you would tell me the progress of my brother's illness, but I learned from elsewhere that God took him out of this world on the 7th. Although he has pillaged and persecuted me without cause I have not been left noticeably affected. God willing that He had pity on him and gave him mercy. He wasn't content to render injustice to me when he was alive, but he's done it again after his death by the insult of disinheriting me through the will he made in favour of strangers outside the family - evildoers with false pretensions who minimize in any way possible the enormity of the thing.
In truth, monsieur, it would have been better to let this poor boy die in peace quickly than spending time dreaming about his conscience and imploring the grace of God of which he had as much need as a man of the world. Besides, this will contains something peculiar. My brother cuts and thrusts as though he had great wealth. He declares his heir, makes large donations to one or another, and meanwhile all this is being reduced through a lawsuit over imaginary wealth which he is distributing in advance. I maintain that he was a fiercely obstinate individual with a phenomenal determination. For me, I believe only what will really take place. The parlement [court] is too just to not break this will up for various reasons. One is Monsieur le Vanasseur who has his hand in it, and who withdrew from your enterprise - one who couldn't help trying to ruin a poor family that already had enough worries and sorrow besides. I hope that your generosity extends to them also.
I once flattered myself to have been amongst your circle of friends. I hope that I may hold this distinction again someday. I hope too that you will leave these pursuits and that you will renounce [your lawsuit] in good grace. No longer will you be able to take my interests to heart by doing that. I declare also that I had no knowledge of...
my brother's affairs. Therefore I was most surprised that he included in his lawsuit the names of his brothers and sisters as intervenors. All that he did was done without my knowledge or consent, or that of the others. Monsieur, please grant me the honor of our friendship, but one that is sincere and that wishes me well. I greet you and mademoiselle, your wife, humbly and wish you all manner of prosperity. I am...
22 March 1695
Madame the Widow of Mr. Joan de Coninck
I take the liberty to write you to give notice of the death of my older brother Francois de Coninck which happened at Rouen on the 7th of this month. He died single, thus he did not leave any family. He barely survived my dear mother who died in grace on the 19th of last December at le Havre. As you have always shown me a lot of kindness and taken an interest in what touches me, I don't doubt that you will do so again on this sad occasion.
I wish you all manner of prosperity and pray God that He preserves you in good health a good number of years. My wife and I greet you very humbly, as well as your dear family without forgetting my cousin, the preacher, and my cousin Jacob and his family. Honor me please with the continuation of your kindness and believe that I will always be...
5 November 1695
Monsieur Pierre Godefroy
I was informed yesterday at Rotterdam that your lottery has progressed considerably, and as I would like to take part in it please do me the pleasure of issuing me three lots at f32 per ticket because it seems to be more advantageous than the other. Attached is my name as it is to be written. When you have the numbers, please send them to me and advise how much my discounted bill is so that I can send you the money shortly thereafter by our boat. Please excuse the trouble that I give you, and believe that I will always be entirely yours.
Incidentally, I would be quite annoyed to also put in the one of Mr. Ruyser as I did the one at Haarlem, but I will wait for knowledge to see if I'm lucky. I declare that one of the big lots accommodated me well and spared me a lot of legwork since I have plenty of demand. This would be the way to buy the materials for tanning in large quantities. With regard to hides, we have no intention ourselves to part with our big ones since they will be metamorphosed into leather. We don't have much of it in hair left so when the next shipment arrives we'll have to think about buying more. But if that's possible we would only want the lightest since they tan the quickest and have the highest demand. That's why we need to have a good eye, please. With regard to the oil, the same as the last shipment as ordinarily we use a lot. However, I believe that I can wait until it will be necessary to provide us with a dozen tonnes. I repeat that I will be eternally yours...