Frederic de Coninck Letters
Frederic and his brother-in law, Jean Camin, cordially end their partnership in the tannery business;
Death of Jean Camin; Frederic struggles to repair two decrepit tanneries;
Four years later Frederic pays off Jean Camin's investment in the tanneries;
Marie Camin starts a boutique in Amsterdam which employs their children;
Frederic and Marie make a trip to France;
Jacob Crommelin writes a genealogy of the Crommelin family; Marriage of Catherine de Coninck
to cousin Abraham Camin; A final appeal to Daniel Crommelin to return the orphan's money.
3 January 1705
Monsieur Jean Camin [Frederic's brother-in-law and partner who was now in Vianen in central Holland, perhaps for health reasons. He may have had a nervous breakdown. Meanwhile his wife, Frederic's sister, Catherine de Conink, was still living in Rotterdam with their children.]
You do me injustice if you think that I'm not concerned about what affects you. I've been worried on all occasions about your situation and the state of your health. As for what you say about me not doing anything for your relief, you know that I cannot do anything directly with you and that I did as much, or more, than what could be done. You are not unaware of that as long as the matters remain in the state they are in.
I run very big risks which inevitably will attract my ruin if that were known, for despite the advice which I've been given, I've paid up to the present time about f1000 and thus you see that I'm more interested than you think in what concerns you. Please be assured that as long as I live I will always do in your regard all that will be in my power, but it isn't necessary that I know...
in a hurry. I have so many burdens to carry for a man who has less than nothing that I don't know which way to turn to find relief. It is necessary that the income of my poor life is quite sufficient to pay all the interests which I am responsible for, and to maintain with that so large a family as mine. I borrowed f3000 at interest under the guarantee of my uncle [Dr. Pierre Duchemin, husband of Esther Crommelin, who lived in Rotterdam]. I owe at Amsterdam and at Rotterdam sums that I don't dare mention.
All that causes me to sigh and pass cruel moments with the fear that I have to encumber in this way all those who support me. You will believe me, if you wish, that the profit of the tannery is not as rosy as what you imagine. The experience of the past shows that only too clearly. I was perhaps too hasty in buying the tanneries. If I had been able to earn my living another way I would not have done it, considering the buildings were in pitiful condition and that I had to pay not only the purchase price but also some f150 in addition to repair that which was absolutely necessary. Besides that I'll have to spend more than f500 to prepare a lodging where I can live with a modicum of respectability and comfort. It shouldn't have been done by a man who had only 1f to his name. To make matters worse, some smaller tanneries have arisen that sell their leather cheaper than me and who spoil the trade. A proof of that is seen in the demand for leather which has been very poor this season. Meanwhile English leather is expensive but I haven't been able to get any here, at least I haven't seen any yet.
The father of Aude, who is my good friend, advises me not to attempt it. He said that I would have lost everything if I had done it. In fact the leather of that country is being sold for 10 to 11F. As for cattle, I saw some being sold for 10F which was quite reasonable and today they were 7 to 7.5f. So judge for yourself whether I will make a profit on that part of my stock which I have in the attic awaiting better times, but which I don't think will ever come. Meanwhile most of the army was quartered this winter too far from here. So that's a brief but candid account of the state of the industry. Thus I give you to think if you made a sacrifice by separating yourself from me. On the contrary, this would have been a sure way for you to perish sooner if we had remained together. May God grant us both better times ahead.
I send you by way of Amsterdam f100 that my sister, your wife, will take care to forward to you. I asked her to send me a receipt. I would like to be able to send you some additional benefit, but in truth, it isn't possible for me. I didn't send it to you sooner because I received your letter of the 15th only on the 23rd with its request for funds.
I close with my best wishes for your prosperity in this renewal of the year. I pray God that he preserves your health and that in a little while your affairs are able to be completed to your satisfaction, thus enabling you to be free and able to work to raise your family. This I wish with all my heart. I forgot to congratulate you on the advancement of my nephew, your son. There are some who are more than twenty years old in service who aren't advancing as he does. My nephew Abraham is also quite nice and doing well. My wife and daughter, Mayon, greet you affectionately. Grant me, please, the continuation of your friendship, and be assured of mine which won't end until I die since I am wholeheartedly...
30 May 1705
Mr. Jean Camin
I received your letter of the 25th of this month, after which I went as you wished to the home of uncle Duchemin and gave him the sum of f60 which he would take care to send to you. I have no idea of how well your affairs are going. I continue to hope that things will soon be completed to your satisfaction so that you will be able to proceed on your side. In this matter I made several attempts with Mr. Boudi but there was no way to obtain anything from him. He said that he no longer wants to involve himself in this matter in any way.
I've been living at the tannery for one month since everything there was in bad shape. It was necessary to make additions and almost to turn everything upside down
in order to enable one to live there with some convenience and for as many people as we are. That called for big expenses - more than double what I had imagined. Again I did only what was necessary but even this was more than sufficient to overwhelm a man who has nothing. I console myself, however, in the hope of great gains that will recompensate me someday in the future. But right now we're far away from that prospect!
Meanwhile I hope that things are going more pleasantly and happier with you than they are for me. I saw my nephew, your son, at dinner and rejoiced at his raise. I believe that he's presently in England with his sister. My nephew, Abraham, greets you affectionately. He is well and applies himself well to his homework. My wife and I, and the whole family, greet you with all our heart. I am perfectly...
9 september 1705 - Jean Camin died in Vianen, Holland, 49 years old. He and Catherine de Coninck had the following children:
1 Jean Camin, geboren op 12 januari 1680 om 20:00 in Rouen / Quevilly. Hij is gedoopt op 21 januari 1680 in Rouen / Quevilly. Jean is overleden in 1743 in Livorne?, 62 of 63 jaar oud.
2 Catharine Camin, geboren op 30 september 1681 om 16:00 in Rouen / Quevilly. Zij is gedoopt op 1 oktober 1681 in Rouen / Quevilly. Catharine is overleden in december 1681 in Rouen, 3 maanden oud.
3 Marie Camin, geboren op 29 september 1682 in Rouen / Quevilly. Volgt V-b.
4 Catharine Camin, geboren op 25 maart 1684 in Rouen / Quevilly. Volgt V-c.
5 Suzanne Camin, geboren op 5 september 1686 om 09:00 in Rotterdam. Van de geboorte is aangifte gedaan. Zij is gedoopt op 6 september 1686 in Rotterdam. Suzanne is overleden op 9 september 1686 in Rotterdam, 4 dagen oud. Zij is begraven op 11 september 1686 in Rotterdam.
6 Ester Camin, geboren op 4 september 1687 in Rotterdam. Zij is gedoopt op 5 september 1687 in Rotterdam. Ester is overleden op 29 september 1687 in Rotterdam, 25 dagen oud.
7 Frederick Camin, geboren op 10 oktober 1688 om 06:00 in Rotterdam. Hij is gedoopt op 13 oktober 1688 in Rotterdam. Frederick is overleden vóór 1690 in Rotterdam, ten hoogste 2 jaar oud.
8 Frederick Camin, geboren op 10 juni 1690 in Rotterdam. Hij is gedoopt op 18 juni 1690 in Rotterdam. Frederick is overleden.
9 Elisabeth Camin. Zij is gedoopt op 21 september 1691 in Rotterdam.
10 Jeanne Camin, geboren op 2 oktober 1692 in Rotterdam. Zij is gedoopt op 4 oktober 1692 in Rotterdam.
11 Abraham Camin, geboren op 12 februari 1694 in Rotterdam. Volgt V-d.
Mr. Jean Camin [The son of Jean Camin and Catherine de Coninck, age 25.]
I would have liked to write you sooner, but I was prevented from doing that because I was told that you were busy in the country raising up everybody. Be that as it may, I'm sending this letter to my sister, your mother, to have it reach you. I'm writing to let you know our thoughts following the death of monsieur, your father. It was a terrible blow for us because until then we believed him to be in good health. We received the news after his death since he was sick for only a few days and without us knowing about it.
Since we lived many years together, we weren't able to bear this separation without a constant flow of tears and a sense of being truly afflicted. No doubt your affliction is also overwhelming. He was a father who loved you a lot, and who had much tenderness for you. During the last years of his life he faced many upheavals and bore many sorrows. During his period of retreat [in Vianen] he had the time to reflect on the vanity and the uncertainty of the affairs of this world. He pondered the little substance of what goes on here below. No doubt he was detaching himself and preparing to pass from a perishable life for one that is happy and eternal - one where there is a shelter from all anxieties and cares. If you were to do the same reflections, it would help to relieve your sadness and help you to accept the works of providence because sooner or later we must all travel down the same road.
I pray that God might console you in your affliction, and that he will keep you and cause you to have contentment in the post that you presently occupy. In due time we look forward to hearing that you have been raised higher still. I've been told that my sister, your mother, is beginning to recover and that there is every appearance that she will succeed. This is a good sign because only a short time ago she left here to help your brother in his business. Perhaps I would have done the same thing. At least then I wouldn't have all the worries that I'm having here. But it wasn't to be. God willing I'll continue to subsist. This is one of my concerns that gives me no rest. My wife, who partakes a great deal in your loss, greets you. I am...
28 November 1705
Mademoiselle the Widow Camin [Frederic's older sister, Catherine de Conink]
Yesterday I was in Rotterdam, dear sister, where I saw my uncle [Pierre Duchemin] and Mr. le Cavelier. Together they drafted the model of a receipt which I'm sending you hereby attached. As I believe that you won't find anything amiss, please sign the paper and return it to me. By our boat I'm sending you f230:4p of which f200 is for a deduction of the capital and f30:4p is for the interest. I'm deeply grateful for the f925 reduction that you granted me according to your promise.
In spite of that, if I decide to sell the tanneries I would still lose a considerable amount because of the large expenses that I had to incur for my lodgings and the miserable condition they were in when they were turned over to me. They cost me a lot to maintain, and it will cost more than f2000 to put them in good order. I pray that God might bless you and your business more and more, and all those who belong to you. I am with all my heart...
13 February 1706
Mademoiselle Marie Oursel [Frederic's half-sister who was probably living at Le Havre, France.]
I didn't forget to write you at the beginning of this year under cover of sister Meusnier, but our canals have been frozen over until now and this prevented me from doing so. You mustn't doubt my intention to wish you all the prosperity and blessings on the renewal of the year, and all the love and consideration for you and sister Rachelot that a good brother must have. I thank you heartily for all the good wishes that you similarly extended to me. May God grant it, for if there were any mortal under heaven who really needs it, then I can truthfully say that it's me.
My situation is very sad and more worrisome, being responsible for such a large family. Unfortunately I've been engaged for 19 years in a business that has been hard going for a long time, especially over the last two years which have been extremely difficult. One who believes that in time things will get better is sadly mistaken. I have been encouraged by friends who have supported me in this sad situation, and without whom I would have fallen into the most profound misery. At times like this it's a blessing to have friends who give comfort, not only with fine words but also with practical help. You, my dear sister, wish me this year an increase of goods. Allow me to say that before wishing me any hint of prosperity that I have the least of this. In fact God knows how far away I am from having it! However, I'll cut this short. It's nothing but a sorry subject for me.
Otherwise my family, and I in particular, appreciate the trouble you have taken in the recovery of the property. I thank you most humbly, seeing that you were willing to begin the process. I am confident that you will finish it and that you will maintain everything in good condition. I have no doubt of your good friendship. You will do it efficiently for me whenever it pleases you. I have no papers concerning 'Le Jardin' [their late mother's rental cottages in Rouen].
Attached is a letter that I ask you to take to Mr. Durand. My wife asks that he gives you the papers that he has. I don't know if this will have any effect on his spirit which is naturally haughty. My wife and family embrace you and my dear sister. May you both continue your good friendship. Ours will never end, for as long as I live I am...
Letter to Marie Camin from her son, Frederic, in Amsterdam. Apparently Frederic was the buyer (Coopman) for the family business (variety shop or boutique) who travelled between Amsterdam (where things were sold) and Schiedam (where some things were made). Meanwhile Jean, his younger brother, was evidently working at another shop in Amsterdam that made garments. Perhaps he wasn't involved in the family business because of past friction between the siblings over how it should be run.
28 November 1707
My dear mother,
I received everything that you have sent me. Attached to this is what I have: Linen - there's more at your home. Two handkerchiefs. Also Madam Godefroy paid f18 to the tailor who made my uniform which she also gave me, and 6 shirts, ties and cuffs. She also made f11 good on your expense account with F. Chitze and the two Evantails which she gives to you as a gift. I'll return it to you hopefully.
My brother [Jean] complains a lot about Mr. Regnier and he about my brother. He treats him like an unreliable wretch who took the patterns. Please write to Madam Godefroy. Mr. Regnier also wants to know where all the money is that he has since Carmen and Mr. Regnier had given him 20; Lapavoine 20; my aunt Camin and aunt Meusnier 22; aunt Duchemin 30 [Esther Crommelin], and 20 from another man, and then the 3 from the week in which he said he had no expenses.
But Mr. Regnier is a real brutal overseer, something which my cousins de Coninck noticed when they got something at Mr. Regnier for Bauonis. Mr. Regnier sent my brother to Le Cri for a second time. He still had an hour to work and my cousins asked my brother to stay to carry the things, which he would do when he returned. Mr. Regnier then blew up and said that he would rather that the devil took him and my cousins, and other similar things.
I'll speak this week to Madam Godefroy about it. I spoke to her about my sister, Cattin (Catherine). She says that it will be quite alright to have her stay with my cousins. I don't have to mention to you the benefits of that. Please give father my affectionate greetings, to whom I am as with you...
Your very humble and very obedient son, [Frederic] de Coninck
1708 - Year in which Jacob Crommelin left St. Quentin, France and came to Rotterdam, Holland to be reunited with his wife, Elisabeth Testart. Together they lived here happily until 1721-22 when they both died.
9 November 1708
Mr. Pierre Testart
I received the letter that it pleased you to write me only yesterday evening after the post had already left. It carried the sad news of the death of my cousin, your dear wife. It surprised me all the more since I thought that she had recovered from her ailment. I partake a great deal in your affliction, and may God impart consolations proportional to your loss.
I would gladly travel to pay my last respects to the one for whom we weep, but since I'm all alone at home, my wife being for some days in Rotterdam, and besides, my little affairs don't allow me to be absent right now. Please accept my apology.
May God preserve you for many more years in good health and a flourishing estate. Please continue to accord me the honor of your friendship and believe that I am...
30 March 1709
Mademoiselle the Widow Camin [Catherine de Conink, Frederic's sister]
I'm sending you via our boat skipper, Harpert Audeman, f161:4 of which f155 is the final payment on the capital of the two tanneries, and f6:4 is for the interest. So this is the oldest of the monies outstanding.
I'm cognizant of how long you've been waiting for this. I would have discharged this debt sooner if I had been able to. I assure you that no other debt weighed on me more than this, but I was being hounded on all sides.
My affairs are always sad and very chaotic which makes life so tedious. May God strengthen me and give me better days. I put in with the statement 3f to have a paper signed on which I ask you to write me a receipt which you will kindly send me if you find everything in order. Since you
no longer have need of the two bills, please send them to me along with the said receipts. Here is a summary of the bills that are now discharged...
60 @ 28F: f84
41 @ 20F: f41
12 @ p1: f16
[Letter from Marie Camin to her son, Frederic, in Amsterdam. Evidently they had set up a clothing boutique or variety shop there, but some quarreling was going on between the older and younger children as to how the shop should be run.
The bickering children at this time were:
Frederic (the oldest), age 20 Marie, age 18 Jean, age 17 Catherine, age 15 Esther, age 13 Francois, age 11 ]
To: Mr. Frederic de Coninck in the Maljerstraat with the family opposite the fountain coffee house in Amsterdam
1 January 1710
I planned, dear children, to leave tomorrow morning, but Mademoiselle Petit wrote me requesting that I wait until Friday. I can't refuse, but if she doesn't leave on that day then I'll go without her because I'm very worried about the boutique. Be sure to arrive before me on Friday at the port of Harlem.
Since it's the first of the year, I pray to God, my dear children, that he blesses you with his most precious spiritual and temporal blessings, and that we might all live long in his fear and grace, and that we might stand fraternally before God, together with the children that you have given us through your love.
Your father and I urge you to have peace and concord and that you learn to respect each other in order for there to be peace between you. I left a France that is still sick...
...[Missing pages and section]...
...I wrote to my cousin Crommelin today saying that I would send her the two cravattes which you sent me for Susan Verschore. I won't be able to carry them with me. They will have to go with our boat which should be soon enough. Jean must face the music on Monday without fail. Goodbye, my dear children. Your father and I, and France, embrace you. Your affectionate mother, Mary Camin
[Additional note from Frederic de Coninck]
I gladly add a postscript to what your mother has written you, my dear children. May God bestow upon you the good wishes and prayers that we make continually on your behalf. I urge you that there be true peace and concord, and fraternal friendship, between you; that the younger ones show deference to the older ones; and that the older ones, for their part, do everything in their power to win the friendship of the younger ones. This is the way to earn the esteem of everyone and the blessing of heaven, and you will then give your mother and me a joy that I cannot express to you. God willing, my dear children, you'll put yourself under his holy protection. I am your good and affectionate father, Frederic de Coninck
20 September 1710 - Frederic's son, Frederic Jr. (born 14 August 1689), died in Amsterdam, age 21.
26 May 1712 - Jacob Crommelin completed his genealogy account of the history of the Crommelin family on his 70th birthday. This account provided much of the information found in J.H. Scheffer's family archive published in 1878. Jacob's material clearly shows that he had access to the Birth/Death/Marriage information found in the registers of the Protestant temples at Lehaucourt (St. Quentin) and Charenton (Paris).
There were, however, other places that Crommelins had migrated to, and where other church registers would have recorded their presence. These places include ..... Therefore Jacob's account is not complete or comprehensive, but it is an invaluable record for genealogists and it no doubt contains the earliest known ancestry of most of the family members who are alive today.
9 August 1716
Monsieur Jacob Crommelin, the father
I avail myself, on the occasion of the young king going to reside at the Hague, to have the honour of writing you. It is regarding the marriage of my daughter Catherine de Coninck with my nephew [Abraham] Camin which is about to take place. I must leave in eight or ten days for Amsterdam in order to conclude the preparations. Meanwhile I didn't want to go there without having received your approval. I have too much respect and veneration for your person without having it in advance. Therefore I ask you, my dear uncle, and my dear aunt, for your blessing on these young folks.
I had planned to write to let you know the news regarding my son Jean but my cousin, your son, prevented me from doing that, telling me that he had already written you. Enclosed is a copy of his letter which I was sent from Amsterdam. You will note that he paints a rather poor description of the country there [Batavia]. I know other people who say the same thing.
Monsieur Daniel Crommelin
I have ceased having the honor to write to you for several years in the hope that others would have more success than myself in their requests to have you return justice to my niece Catherine de Coninck. You undoubtedly know that her sister died two or three years ago. As for her, she is married nearly one year to one Nicolas Caron, a manufacturer of sorts by profession. It was a sad marriage in all respects. In a word, they fell into extreme poverty.
It is still quite a difficult subject despite appeals over a great number of years. All the family wrote to you on this matter including my Oursel sister lastly [half-sister, Marie Oursel]. However you remain quite inflexible, without wanting to reply, or if you do answer, it is in an unsatisfactory way by saying that it is necessary to take up a collection amongst the family while you have enjoyed with your ease of more than 25 years, wealth which with interest has grown to a considerable capital.
This poor young woman is in a dreadful state while you hold her wealth. You have means; you are able to expand; you have slaves; you enjoy abundance, therefore this inflexible conduct defies imagination. In the name of God, my uncle appeals to you, pointing out your justice, to return that to whom it belongs, considering that you are now in advanced age and soon will be at the end of your career, or it will be necessary for you to give an account to the great Judge of the Universe Himself. He wishes to touch your heart so that you can as soon as possible resolve this business which humanity cries against you and yours.
I write to you with the prayer of my niece and other relatives. The said Mr. Caron is about to leave for the Indies and his wife, who cannot afford to go, will have to go and live in a room having been reduced to living by her fingers as best she can. I put before you the plain truth of a situation which touches the hardest of hearts and which, by the grace of God will hopefully touch yours so as to favour us with a prompt, effectual answer which we request, along with news of your family.
Frederic de Coninck
This letter addressed to Daniel is the last one that appears in Frederic de Coninck's 'letter book'. Frederic died 6 years later in 1722. Daniel died 9 years later in 1725, the same year that Catherine de Coninck and Nicolas Caron died in Barbados. To the very end, Daniel's injustice weighed heavily on Frederic. After some 22 years of writing letters to Daniel, he tried unceasingly to have the inheritance money of Frederic's nieces returned to the two orphan girls who he and his wife, Marie Camin, raised in Schiedam, Holland, but who struggled with poverty all their lives.
In God's providence, Daniel amassed a great deal of property and assets but lost it all when his entire real estate holdings were seized to cover the debts of his son, Charles, because of his copper-mining misadventures in Connecticut. Charles spent his latter days travelling the globe in a desperate search for contributions from relatives in Europe, hoping to raise enough money to settle his debts before having his immense real estate holdings forfeited. His European relatives, however, refused to assist him.
Charles' will which was written in 1732 reads in part:
Charles Crommelin of the Province of New York in America, but now in London, having by various losses and misfortunes in trade been thrown into many and great debts which have driven me from home to seek for succour among my relations in Europe to the end I might not be obliged to part with my patrimonial lands in order to satisfy for the said debts and having by the blessing of God obtained partly by gift from some relations in France, and partly by easy purchase from others in London...
The reference to a 'gift from some relations in France, and partly by easy purchase from others in London' may refer to the orphans' inheritance money that originated in France with Francois de Coninck (the orphans' grandfather) which came into his possession through Robert Oursel Jr. of London after he died in Jamaica. Clearly this money was by no means a gift! Thus we see a sad irony in the outcome of this story. After 22 years of ignoring Frederic's many pleas for justice, now it was Daniel and Charles' turn to be ignored when they sought help regarding their investments. While some would say, 'What goes 'round, comes around', others would say that Daniel and Charles 'reaped what they sowed' and were rendered due justice according to God's providence - just as Frederic had confidently predicted!
The story continues as individual letters sent to, from, or about, Frederic de Coninck and his wife, Marie Camin, enable us to have a further glimpse into their lives up to their deaths in the early 1720's...