Frederic de Coninck Letters
Translation Project

Birth of Esther de Coninck; Marriage proposals to Marie Oursel; Letter to Daniel;
Enlisting the help of Francois de la Chambre

1696 Timeline


10 January 1696 - Francois Leguat Expedition

Frederic's cousin, Jean Testart, attempts to escape from a rocky islet off Mauritius where he was being held prisoner, and is drowned.






DSC_6916.JPG

Schiedam, Holland
26 January 1696

Mademoiselle Marie Oursel

I had the joy, mademoiselle, my dear sister, to receive your letter of 16 December that tells me that you have finally come to the end of your affair. I am well pleased that the goods will remain in the family and, thanks be to God, we can divide it and gain possession of what legitimately belongs to us. No doubt that won't please messieurs, the beneficiaries, for it seems their expectations have been reduced to only minor benefits. Next you mention that you also gain possession of the estate of the deceased, thus I don't really know what they can claim in the future. I have great hope that you will find a way to let go of their temerity which had no other end but...

DSC_6917.JPG

to achieve the ruin of the family, and to seize whatever they could of what remains. A man who is undoubtedly quite astonished is Monsieur Durand because I'm told that he boasted that he would also bring you down and also my two other sisters. You will have learned that he made a trip to this country some months ago. He received exactly ... [a small amount of money]. It isn't known what other strokes were used on him, but he hastily departed. As for me, I didn't see him, nor did I wish to see him because, naturally, I would have anticipated his aggressive attitude. I have such great indignation regarding how he seduced our unfortunate brother that I won't express it. He's so troublesome that the administrator of the domain will only be there 1/3 months. Then he'll get kicked out. I prefer the king's excesses to these sorts of people.

Furthermore, my dear sister, I hope you'll be able to help, not only me who is loaded with a large family, and who isn't too comfortable right now, but also our little nieces who have lost their estate and who I wouldn't keep at my home if charity didn't obligate me to do so since I have other children besides which makes it all so inconvenient. I said it already, and again you repeat, that sometime it would be you who would have the satisfaction to be the primary subject rather than me so I can survive. My greatest pleasure will be to oblige you and to render you service any way I can. I ask only that good faith be our principle and that we be candid, avoiding any surprises or indirect approaches.

I'm annoyed that Mr. Burgeat's proposal wasn't accepted. I would have had both joy and sadness in that. Joy, because according to what I've been told, it appears it would have been advantageous, not the detriment that you imagine. Without doubt, after it was over you would have had a great deal. In fact, if it had gone through I fancied that you would have wished to come to our city for the ceremony and, I dreamt, you'd be such a radiant beauty, I was ready to kiss you. But apparently it wasn't God's will that this go through. It's better that you don't think about it anymore. Perhaps God has something better in store for you. Above all I pray that you will be settled in a country of liberty.

Since there's but little space left on the paper, I will extend my best wishes for the new year by wishing you all manner of satisfaction and contentments. My wife wishes you the same and greets you wholeheartedly. She is quite uncomfortable right now with her pregnancy and will be until her delivery which she expects in about 6 or 7 weeks. I embrace you and am entirely...


Schiedam, Holland
2 April 1696

Madamoiselle Marie Oursel

I am indeed grateful, mademoiselle, my dear sister, for your good wishes regarding the enlargement of my family! Mother and child are doing well, thank God. Miss Torin and our nephew Camin presented her for baptism and she's named Esther. That makes her No. 5 of the ones who lived. In addition we have our 2 little nieces who add to our household. Meanwhile they are left in our arms with no thought [by Mr. Oursel Sr.] other than a fatal voyage which took away one brother and made destitute the children of another!

I implore you to speak to my uncle Jacob about it so as to enlist him in writing to his brother [Daniel Crommelin] so that he can reiterate what is necessary considering the enormity of the thing. Perhaps he can do more through his exhortations than I can since I haven't been able to elicit any responses. I bid you to remind him of this and to speak to him strongly. You would be doing us a great service. It seems there's no longer any faith or law in the world. Under the pretext of distance and rendering a service, the goods of another are simply confiscated. This presently is a grievous wrong that has become fashionable, done by people without scruples. I speak for those who are greatly agitated and who constitute a great number.

You tell me that the dispensation which the king made you is only for the fixed real estate which the deceased wasn't able to dispose of. You surprise me. Then by his testament he was only able to bequeath his non-fixed assets and it would have been useless had he disposed of the others since it simply wouldn't have been permitted. I imagine that the dispensation which you have obtained doesn't bode well for the legal process, but at least it will inhibit all the other donations which he mentioned in his will. I believe that my presence would also have stopped the lifting of monies which the deceased made without input from his brothers. It can't be...

DSC_6918.JPG

done on his own initiative, but it seems to me that it's the only thing that the legal process has diminished at present. Anyway, let's leave these matters for a while and wait until it pleases God to give us a good outcome - the One who puts all things in their proper order.

Now, let's talk about the proposition that someone renewed with you, and on which you asked for my opinion. Although by your description he wouldn't be more advantageous, and the monsieur appears to me to be a bit old, however, since you mention that he's an honest gentleman, provided that our father accepts his word (an essential thing), I believe that you couldn't do better. According to everyone, on this pledge hangs your present happiness, but on the other hand, please allow me to say what's on my mind since I'm obliged to do so.

Consider for a moment that one day you take root in a country where the free exercise of religion is outlawed. Then you would have to marry the Mass which is still the worst. There you would have to baptise your children, that is to say, have them confirmed in what they offer, and to initiate them into the mysteries of Rome. Isn't it true that at another time we would have cut our own throats rather than invite such a thing? Today one looks at that contention as a mere trifle and soon, without some extraordinary grace from heaven, one will have no scruples regarding attendance or even adhering to the worship of this religion. I speak for those in general because I'm convinced that God can have his elect anywhere.

Through various examples that I can give you of countries where the Reformation has prevailed, and where it is presently dominant, I will refer only to the city of Amiens. Formerly the Roman religion had been outlawed there. The Spanish had barely left when the protestants there abolished it. Now one could say that it's a second Rome. My grandfather lived there like so many others. His children were raised with the Mass. Of them only my father, by God's grace, withdrew from it. I greatly fear that the same thing will happen in the kingdom of France. You are opposed to that so your plan isn't to take root there. Therefore you can transplant yourself and make your fortune elsewhere. Your thoughts are good provided that God ratifies them, but as so often happens: what man proposes, God disposes. Speaking frankly, it just doesn't have the spirit of the Gospel.

This is not to boast. Although I have already been reduced to very lowly circumstances, I soon found work close to the earth which does nothing to violate my conscience. You said that perhaps I could become a doctor [scholar, doctor of divinity or medicine] but by that compliment you would render me injustice, and I believe you to be too equitable to have such a notion. I wish to impress upon you, my dear sister, that what I say isn't meant to bother you, or to interfere with your plans. One cannot have more esteem and affection than what I have for you. I pray God from the bottom of my heart that He pours out extraordinary blessings on what you will undertake, and that He puts into your heart the choice which will be for you the most proper and necessary. Be assured that at all times and in whatever state you happen to be in, you will be equally dear to me. Your recent illness unsettled us, but your letter brought us relief. May God strengthen your health. I bid you to convey my respects to my uncle, my aunts, cousins, and especially cousin Testart, my former comrade. I wish you a happy trip and bid you to believe that I will always be...

PS - My wife embraces you and wishes you all sorts of prosperity.

[Marie Oursel (1668-1744) never married. At the time this letter was written she would have been about 28 years old. Jacob mentions that she declined an advantageous proposal and that heaven endowed her with a superior spirit as proved by her conduct and her letters. She died at Berlin in 1744, aged 76.]


Schiedam, Holland
20 April 1696

Mademoiselle Claassens

As I have always taken a great interest in what touches you, I believe that I must not miss the present opportunity to express my joy upon learning about your marrige. I wish to congratulate you from the bottom of my heart and pray God that it pleases Him to bestow His most precious blessings and give you now a...

DSC_6919.JPG

beautiful and plenteous family. Although I don't have the honor of knowing my new relative, I have no doubt that he's a person of merit and accomplishment, in a word, one who's worthy of you. I take the liberty to greet him most humbly. I ask him for the honor of his friendship and to you the continuation of yours and your remembrances. Please also be assured of my respects and those of my aunt and cousins, not forgetting the family of my cousin Jacob, and my cousin the priest. My wife who recently gave birth participates a lot in your joy. My family consists now of 2 boys and 3 girls. Besides them we have the 2 children of my late brother Jean de Coninck who live with us. I wish you to know that I will never forget you, and at all times and occasions I will reflect that I am truly...


Schiedam, Holland
21 April 1696

Monsieur Pierre Godefroy [at Amsterdam]

I sent you today by our boat the sum of f100.5 with an invoice which amounts to 68 @ 27.5f = f93:10. I believe this is quite close to what I must pay for my 3 tickets at 5 @ 8f = 7:/100:10f in your lottery of f32:. When you have them written up for hides, please send me the tickets that have the numbers. Then I hope that my numbers will get drawn soon.

Since January 7, 1695 you sent me up to the present time 1375 [money] worth of calf hides according to the note hereby attached. Apparently this is for the last portion that was sent before the end of the year. Please mention this when you send me your statement.

Please continue to assure the big butcher as much as you can, and not the others. At least he gives me better sales. I assure you that I would have willingly made the trip but, in truth, I told you by my last letters all I can say, and perhaps my presence would have been of minimal advantage.

As I begin to need oil, please send me some within 15 days. You said it's expensive, thus 4 or 5 tonnes should be enough while waiting for a more favorable occasion. I indeed want the waste oil, provided that it's thin and doesn't have mud at the bottom.

If the Scottish vessels that you're waiting for don't bring any cow hides, it will be absolutely necessary to obtain the smaller hides from the north which you mentioned, while waiting for those that are coming from Moscow. I am always as usual...


17 May 1696 - The attendance of Anne Testart (wife of Daniel Crommelin) recorded at a baptism in New York. She also attended another baptism in New York several years later, on 10 March 1700.


Schiedam, Holland
16 August 1696

Monsieur Pierre Godefroy

I duly received the number of calf hides that you mentioned in your letter of 13 August. Since the great summer heat is upon us, I bid you everytime to alert me in future to send me all the hides that you can, salted or fresh, when they can be had 50 at a time. This is absolutely necessary for the good of the community.

As for the hides from Moscow, I will say that we have half again more than previously. Now the Scottish ones begin to be given. I find I'm paying too much for the others therefore I have plenty of trouble working them into my budget. Again they must be given at a better price which obliges us to buy them in part considerably cheaper in Rotterdam. I find myself somewhat embarrassed to respond thus to your inquiry. Consult with Mr. Camin. See what he says. I'm annoyed that our lottery doesn't advance. To facilitate it I will take for myself only 60 tickets which is about the interest that I have there. This is all that I can do. You can tell Mr. Camin the offer I made so as to give him courage and assurance that he didn't give you a bad response. I implore you to push this matter forward in order to bring it to a conclusion.

I'm uneasy about what has become of 2 bonds, each worth f2500, of Mr. Oursel towards my late brother Jean de Coninck. I have grave suspicions that my brother Robert himself colluded with his father. Nevertheless I'm told that he could have been carrying one of the said bonds with him. It would be a great relief to me if it were so because these orphans have no assets other than that. I implore you, my dear monsieur, to let me know what you knew about this matter. I hope you won't refuse what I ask of you.

DSC_6920.JPG

In recompense I promise to serve you with great gusto. I will await your reponse at your convenience. I am entirely...


Schiedam, Holland
15 November 1696

Monsieur Daniel Crommelin

Finally, after much waiting I received the honor of your letter of 15 Decembre 1695. I had so much joy in receiving it that I dared hope that after so many prayers and appeals made with regard to the estate of the children of my late brother, Jean de Coninck, which you have in your hands, and which you retain against all right and justice, and without any valid authority, that you were at last resolved to grant us our demands. But on the contrary, you persist in keeping goods which don't belong to you, thus mounting the ramparts of chicanery and creating mountains of difficulties as if to dispossess you of the money, you and your posterity had been taken by the throat when in fact it is perhaps the best action you could have taken in your life considering you had been given all the assurances that one could reasonably give you. It's inexcuseable. Posterity will not believe that under the pretext of returning justice to the poor children [by paying interest on their 'loan'] you seized their estate while I'm burdened with their education and maintenance without the ability to furnish it because the little that's left here won't last forever. I declare there just isn't any more! This puts me in a sorrow I can't dispel.

What is most extraordinary in this matter is that you pretend that we have big obligations to you while it is clear that in working for the children [in selling lace, and paying interest on their 'loan'] you acted only for yourself to the extent that you are now obliged to render justice to us. Your honor, your peace of mind, conscience, generosity, piety, not mentioning the family, all conspire against you. I believe that although you have no deliberate intention to harm the children, their estate will perhaps be dissipated in a hundred ways in spite of yourself, mindful that you are mortal. Think, I pray, of the reproaches that you would justifiably incur if that should happen, instead of the blessings and praises that everyone would heap upon you if you submitted to our request. As for me in particular, I wouldn't know how to thank you, and my remembrance of you would live graciously in my heart until I reach the grave.

Moreover, monsieur my uncle, I'm surprised that you talk about 'old' and 'young' Robert as if I myself were not opposed to the business of the latter. Everyone did the opposite, and I wouldn't have done it, namely authorizing you to do what you did, but in this I myself was vigorously opposed by the latter. I protested this matter to Le Havre and London as though I were a zealot. In fact I confess that some of it wasn't exactly worthy to come from a Christian who must exercise restraint. Meanwhile brother Robert made like the good apostle and pretended he wanted to divest himself of his administration although it was far from that. He helped himself with the aid of his father in securing two bonds worth f5000 that were owed to my late brother Jean [probably his inheritance money]. This behaviour is typical of these gentlemen. It seems that since the unfortunate death of my said brother, there's little of the estate he left his children that hasn't been pillaged.

But to come back to young Robert, after plenty of correspondence on my part and others in which he saw I was pressed for time, he replied that it was too late. I instructed him to quickly leave this money in the hands of cousin Jean de la Chambre, believing all would go well if that were done. He didn't want to do anything although he stayed another 3 or 4 months before leaving. Thus you see that all that he did was only selfish. He didn't even bother to tell me what he did with the lace that was sent to him from here, and which I hadn't heard him mention since. This boy had an unbearable vanity and with that he didn't have any shrewdness which left him open to being duped. With regard to what you mentioned about young de la Chambre and him, I was told enough about their long disaccord, how they couldn't get along, their illness, and their death. Anyway, it's over now, so there's no sense talking about it anymore.

I return now to a clause in your letter which tugs at my heart. You say that the long disentanglements that my brothers and I had with my mother proved that we had plenty of harmony when we were minors. Allow me to say that you aren't well informed. My mother or, rather, Mr. Oursel, was granted much, and even more which he didn't provide. We agreed to that. The dispute...

DSC_6921.JPG

therefore, consisted in that Mr. Oursel was suddenly seized of inexplicable trickery unworthy of an honest man by returning to us only half of our capital. He has great cause to regret for not having been forthright. The whole family will now carry the pain.

You are aware that my brother Francois de Coninck barely survived his mother by about 3 months. He was much engrossed in a lawsuit in the parlement [court] against Mr. Oursel. This unfortunate angry boy who I didn't want to be connected with, made his will by which he disinherited his brothers and sister and made his universal heir a lawyer of the parlement [court], a former justice. In addition, he made large donations to one or another. All these men have sworn losses by the said Mr. Oursel and threaten him so that I fear he will be reduced to poverty. So here again is injustice. So often the innocent get trapped into suffering loss. The estate of my mother, which was considerable, is another casualty of this loss. God willing He will send us consolations of which we have so much need.

Returning to our affair, I bid you once more, monsieur my uncle, in the name of God, to give me and the whole family the satisfaction that I've been asking of you for so long. It's a travesty to withold the whole estate of 2 poor minors in the way that you have. I implore you to execute the will of my late brother Oursel. He specifically instructed you to remit his estate to my mother, and I know confidently that she earnestly bid you via several letters to have you remit it to me and Mr. Camin. Why, then, don't you want to do it? You've been offered all manner of discharges and guarantees regarding this, so why not execute the wishes of the deceased? I even assure you that their instructions won't suffer through your discharge by declaring again for your great peace of mind that I don't want this money for myself. Have it sent, as I told you before, to Mr. Pierre Testart in Amsterdam. When I know that he will get it, I will authorize my said cousin to buy government bonds for me in the name of the children in the amount equal to the docket which he will have in his hands. Otherwise, if you wish to absolutely keep this amount, I consent to it provided that this same Mr. Testart underwrites both the principal and the interest if after the expiry date you do not live up to our just demands, and you go on making tricky new excuses everyday. I object to your stalling and will look upon this witholding of money as unfair, violent and tyrannical. Your reputation certainly won't improve; honest people will continue to murmur against you; and eventually you will have to give an account to God. I finish now because I'm so exasperated.

I pray that you don't take offence to my strong negative feelings. They come from a man who is extremely dismayed that your activities have put us in such dire straits. However, they don't prevent me from wishing you all manner of prosperity, or my pleasure to be of service to you and show you on all occasions how much you mean to me.

With regard to the exchange of which you exaggerate the loss, being forthright and also carrying goodwill, which you happen to be, it would be a comfort to remedy this either through compensation, or a letter of exchange, or something similar. Furthermore there is much talk about peace. You are only expected to do these things with safety and at the least possible expense. Now I take the liberty to present my most humble respects to my most noble aunt, your wife, and greet my 2 cousins [Charles and Isaac].

PS - I'm sending you duplicate copies of this letter by 2 different vessels. I take this opportunity to tell you that if you prefer to put this money on deposit in the House of the City of London, then I consent to that. Otherwise, as I said before, send it to Mr. Testart. You cannot refuse one or the other.


DSC_6922.JPG - (Archives Box label)


DSC_6923.JPG

Schiedam, Holland
16 November 1696

Mademoiselle Jacob Crommelin - [Elizabeth Testart, living in Rotterdam. She was the wife of Jacob Crommelin, separated from her husband who was living and working in St. Quentin, France. They later re-united in 1708.]

It is with great sorrow, mademoiselle, and most venerable aunt, that I have just learned the sad news of the death of my cousin, your oldest son [Cyprien Crommelin (March 9, 1666-1695) He died single in Colombo.], and it is to inform you of my sadness that I take the liberty to write you these lines. I am as much affected by his loss as if I had lost a parent. At the same time I lose a good friend who was formerly my comrade, and for whom I had a lot of esteem.

[Cyprien left France in 1680 at age 14 and went to Holland from where, 6 years later, he went to the island of Ceylon as a quality assistant. There, having fulfilled the 7 years of his contract, and wishing to commit to another term, he was raised to the keeper of the books at Colombo and honoured with two other responsibilities that drew a good salary. But God recalled him prematurely when he died in 1695, age 29, much regretted because of his ability. - Scheffer P.172-3]

Only a few days ago I was told that he was well established and doing well in the country where he was, but today I'm told that he's dead. What a sad change! He died in the flower of his age and in the midst of our most beautiful hopes! Indeed this is rough and most difficult to bear for a mother who loved her children as much as you did. Therefore, far from blaming you for your weeping which it would have been hard to not pour out for a son so accomplished, nevertheless after having given vent to your tears for some time, you must at last wipe them away and remember that God takes back everyone sooner or later the same way, and it's our duty to be consoled and resigned entirely to the orders of providence. I don't doubt, my dear aunt, that you will conform yourself to that sentiment. It would be audacious of me to pretend to give you lessons on this. Thus I will finish by praying God to keep you mightily and to conserve my uncle, your husband, and all your noble family. I am with respect...


Colombo, 1680


Schiedam, Holland
16 November 1696

Monsieur Francois de la Chambre

I've been told that you are the contact person for the letters of our uncle Daniel. This is why I take the liberty to address to you the enclosure praying earnestly that you take the trouble to forward it to him in the most prompt and secure manner possible.

I write our uncle on the subject of what he has in his possession that belongs to the children of my late brother Jean de Coninck which he doesn't want to relinquish, employing evasive arguments unworthy of an honest man. He doesn't even want to execute the will of the late young Robert Oursel who declared expressly that he return immediately the money that he has in his hands. My late mother too gave him instructions several times before Robert's death with great emphasis to return it to me or Mr. Camin. Nevertheless, despite all this he won't do anything, although I've given him every assurance imagineable.

I pray, therefore, monsieur my cousin, to help me in this unfortunate matter because I'm responsible for the education and maintenance of these 2 little girls without having the means to do so. Perhaps you have some influence over the spirit of our uncle. Therefore I implore you to write to him explaining the enormity of this detention and the fear that he dissipates this money which represents the whole livelihood of 2 poor orphans. Explain to him at the same time the way for him to return it through letters of exchange, through compensation, or otherwise with the least amount of fees attached, and in the most secure manner possible. If you will indeed take the trouble, you will be doing a meritous service if ever there was one, and the entire family, and I in particular, would be eternally obliged to you.

No doubt you will have learned in due time of the death of brother Francois at the home of Avril beyond the bridge. This unfortunate boy had disinherited his brothers and sisters through his will. He made Le Vanesseur his residuary legatee and made big donations to one or another. Among others 1000# went to Durand with instructions to carry on the lawsuit that he had against Mr. Oursel. Since he only had hopes rather than substance, these men continue the lawsuit vigorously and threaten no less to reduce the said Mr. Oursel to poverty. This is something that hasn't been fair from the beginning. Now I will suffer even more since the succession of my mother is lost in which I had most to lay claim to [because heirs living outside the kingdom of France no longer qualified for an inheritance, or because it could be another casualty of the lawsuit against Mr. Oursel.]. Thus it's necessary to acknowledge that I'm in dire straits!

I bid you to inform me when you receive news from my uncle - what he's doing, where he is, and how one can hope to contact him. I pray you once more to help me if you can in this unfortunate matter. It would have been better if Robert had named an honest man such as my cousin, your brother, to be the executor of his will. Then we wouldn't be having this trouble. I greet humbly all the kinfolk in your Isles, and if I can be of service to you, please don't hesitate to ask. I am sincerely and wholeheartedly yours...


DSC_6924.JPG

Schiedam, Holland
4 December 1696

Monsieur Francois de la Chambre

I am delighted, monsieur my cousin, that you indeed dispatched my message. I am sending you a second copy of it following your instructions and am most obliged for the trouble which you willingly accept in order to render justice to our wards [the orphans]. You do a deed worthy of a godly relative and a good Christian, and I'm not worried about your method [for returning the money].

Mr. Crommelin finally puts forward his reasoning. You cite the example of the man from Haarlem to prove that our uncle was right to keep the money of these 2 granddaughters until they reach the age of majority, but there is a great difference without any comparison. The late Mr. Testart left this part of his succession to his two grandsons. The father and mother were able to act only until their children reached majority. But here this is not the same. The testament of brother Oursel doesn't give any authority to Mr. Crommelin. He is properly only the executor. Also he actively carries with him what he should be returning immediately - the money which my mother emphatically told him to remit to me or to Mr. Camin. Why, then, doesn't he do it? Why not execute the will of the deceased? Instead, he creates difficulties with the intention of retaining goods that don't belong to him, without even considering how it can be dissipated in an infinite number of ways. Furthermore, he could die and devastate us. You see, therefore, that there is no precedent to what he is doing.

You tell me perhaps that he [Robert Oursel Sr.] had given good counsel to young Robert. I would reply that he [young Robert] did it by force and in spite of my protests and the offers which I made him. He did seemingly discharge himself of his administration while he was far away, but it was a deal with his father from whom he received 2 bonds amounting to f5000 (which Robert Sr. still owed to his brother Jean for the balance of an accounting [ie. inheritance money from his natural father, Francois de Coninck). Without this it appears the deal wouldn't have gone through. It was a plot of Mr. Oursel and typical of these men. The son, on the other hand, was of a supremely arrogant nature who lived off goods that weren't his. If he had been an honest man, he wouldn't have taken the money with him and would have left it in London in surety. Then it would have earned interest capable of maintaining the children nicely.

[Apparently Robert Oursel Jr. carried off to Jamaica the children's estate bequeathed by their father, Jean de Coninck, plus the f5000 estate bequeathed to Jean by his father, Francois de Coninck, which Robert Oursel Sr. had been holding in trust. Similarly, Frederic was still in a dispute with Robert Oursel Sr. regarding his portion of the legacy left to the boys by their father which Robert Oursel Sr. was still holding in trust and obliged to pay off through the 'parchment' agreement with Frederic.

Robert Oursel Jr., therefore, carried away Jean de Coninck's personal fortune plus the fortune bequeathed to Jean de Coninck by his father, none of which belonged to the Oursels. Thus we see how the de Coninck fortune inexorably receded out of reach, having progressively changed hands from de Coninck, to Oursel, to Crommelin.]

Returning to Mr. Crommelin, to put his mind at ease, I declare to him that I do not pretend to want the children's estate in my hands. Therefore I propose to him that he hands it over to Mr. Testart of Amsterdam and that we jointly look after it or, if he prefers, I consent that he puts it on deposit with the House of the City of London. I give him no credibility if he doesn't execute one of these 2 options. I bid you emphatically, then, that you indeed wish to take the trouble to support me in this matter by pressing him to return quickly not only the interest that he owes, but especially the capital for, frankly, I will have no rest until this is done. I believe it to be the more generous and gracious thing to do, but he wants to have big obligations while it's clear they work only in his favor. This does him no honor while everyone simply grumbles and shrugs their shoulders.

You mention that he did well in his affairs in Jamaica. That doesn't match with his letters that I saw here in which he complains bitterly about the country, and says there's nothing for him to do but leave. However, I fear he won't be any happier there [in New York] because I know what he's capable of. I know from people who lived over there, and have returned, that the French in general get ruined little by little. The only difference being that in comparison with Jamaica the expenses there may not be quite as big. Besides, it's in keeping with the character of our said uncle to boast and to make more of something than it is in fact.

What you say about Mr. Oursel winning his lawsuit [regarding Catherine Crommelin's will] is not really true. He only obtained the forfeiture of what he owed my sister Camin in favor of his daughter Manon [Marie Oursel]. Meanwhile Durand and Le Vanasseur have strongly renewed their pleas [regarding brother Francois' will] and closed in on Mr. Martin with terrible claims. I still don't know the outcome. I will only say that these two men are two great scoundrels in every way.

I continue to recommend to you the matter of our two poor wards. You will be doing an act of charity and draw down the blessings of God and men which, for my part, will be recognized until the end of my life. On all occasions I will be do my utmost as I am truly...