Year of publication 2000, issue 11



Our Foundation is a continuation of the “Boissevain Family connection” that was set up in 1934. The family association published the so called “committee reports” on folio size. On the occasion of the five-year-old existence in 1939, the committee announced in the 10 th publication that “with pleasure we offer a “PREMIUM” in the shape of a reproduction of “Aunt Huskus” pastel portrait”. Non-members can obtain this reproduction at 30 cents, when printed on thicker paper 50 cents. For all who are in possession of the genealogical register it is the obvious means to add another portrait to the collection (or to glue it in with paste),….” After that the predecessor of our Bulletin continues with the results of the family research in France in sources from the 16 th and 17 th century. Much has changed since then. In this day and age we are able - contrary to the mere enumeration of names and the reproduction of a family portrait - to publish articles on our family history and to provide handsome illustrations. Based on fieldwork done in the past, the publication of our family tree in the Nederland’s Patriciaat (volume 72, 1988), the inventory of our family archive in 1996 and through new technology we’re able to make this history accessible to everyone. Apart from the Bulletin, which gives us great pleasure to present you the 11 th edition of, and the website we would also like to keep the oral tradition alive. For the latter, combined with the social aspect and the strengthening of the family bonds, the committee has organised a FAMILY REUNION in AMSTERDAM on SATURDAY APRIL 7. From the programme you can conclude that we have done everything possible to make the reunion appealing to both old and young. Mark this date in your diary. You will receive more information in the coming months! In this way we try as good as we can - within our time frame - to realise the objectives of the Boissevain Foundation which was established 24 November 1967. Only in the field of the research in the early French sources we haven’t advanced much more than our predecessors from 1939. Do you have a suggestion as to how to tackle this?

Charles F.C.G. Boissevain

president Boissevain Foundation


The Walloon hospice

Special ties connect our family with the large building where on April 7, 2001 a Boissevain meeting will be held (like in 1982 and 1985). For nearly three centuries it had been as Hospice Wallon (“Walen Weeshuis”) an orphanage and a home for aged persons. Since 1955 the hospice has no orphans anymore and in 1970 the hospice moved with the aged people to another building. For more than eight years (from 1753 till 1761) our ancestor Jérémie Boissevain (son of Lucas) and his wife Marie Charlotte Du Chesne were managers of the house as “père et mère” (father and mother). Their son Gedeon Jérémie – after his 16th birthday – was allowed by the Board of Governors to stay in the hospice for a few more years at an annual fee of 80 guilders. Many years later Daniël (a son of Gedeon) became (vice)chairman of the Board.

Unfortunately we do not know much about Jérémie (his diaries have not been preserved). Most information about him is derived from the Family Bible and from notes by his wife Marie Charlotte, his son Gedeon Jérémie and his granddaughter Suzanne Elizabeth Huskus-Boissevain. He earned his living by teaching French and English (for three years he had been living in London where he met his future wife), giving drawing lessons and bookkeeping for various businesses. Financially his appointment as manager of the hospice was very convenient, although the work load was heavy, too. Beside the general management of the hospice he had to take confirmation classes, teach the younger orphans (elder boys got a professional training and elder girls got lessons in sewing and needlework from Marie Charlotte), supervise the bakery, etceteras. (The Board of Governors – 4 governors and 3 lady governors – supervised the finances). However, the work load became too heavy and after eight years his poor health forced him to resign. For his living he became dependent again on his former activities. Half a year later he died.

The history of the Hospice Wallon was always related closely to that of the Eglise Wallonne (French Church). This church originated during the the 80-years war between the Netherlands and Spain. Many French speaking Protestants came to Holland from the Southern Netherlands (now Belgium), then dominated by catholic Spaniards. One century later a second wave of refugees, this time French Huguenots, was added to the church. Around 1700 the Eglise Wallonne in our country counted 90 churches (now 14). The Eglise Wallonne was the first Protestant community founding its own orphanage. Not so surprising, because many refugees were not admitted to citizenship yet and were deprived from municipal welfare facilities. Hence, the church council bought a house for this purpose in the Laurierstraat in Amsterdam, financed by donations. According to some (although not verified) sources one donation (or legacy) came from the Dutch admiral Piet Hein, well known for his capture of a Spanish fleet, carrying a lot of silver (the “Zilvervloot”). The Hospice still possesses a framed engraving as well as a primitive drawing of a girl orphan, both memorising this donation. Motto of the Hospice was “Dieu aime celui qui donne gayement” (God loves him who gives cheerfully). The well-known 17-th century Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel dedicated a poem to the Hospice: “Bede voor `t Waale Weeshuys, aen alle Christenen” (Prayer for the Hospice Wallon, to all Christians).

This (first) orphanage became too small and it was sold. With the proceeds and more donations a new large orphanage was constructed in 1½ years at the edge of two canals in Amsterdam, the Vijzelgracht and the Prinsengracht. It was opened in 1671. Before filling up the Vijzelgracht (canal) in 1929 (now a busy street) this large canal mansion probably made a striking impression. The site was provided free of charge by the City of Amsterdam. Architect was Adriaan Dorsman (also architect of the large Lutheran dome church in Amsterdam). The building had (and still has) two entrances: at the left ( now the cultural centre Maison Descartes / Institut Français) for the girls, and at the right (now the French consulate) for the boys. Within the building, too, girls and boys were kept strictly separated. In 1683 already the building was enlarged. Along the adjacent Eerste Weteringdwarsstraat a new wing was constructed, destined for the care of old women. And in 1726 at the other side, along the Prinsengracht, a similar wing for old men was added. Just like the orphans the old women and men were kept separated, too. Married couples were not admitted. However, in 1766 an old man was discovered in the women’s department when he fell ill. It appeared that he already had been living there for a long time as the would-be sister-in-law of an old woman who turned out to be his wife. The mayor was asked for permission to expel the man from the hospice, but before that he died. His wife-accomplice was punished severely and put “into the bloc”. In later years the separation rules were mitigated and finally abolished.

Donations always were important, not only for purchase and construction but also for the exploitation. Sometimes they were quite large. In 1741 for instance one of the lady governors – Madame Agneta de Ruuscher, néé de la Becq – left a legacy to the hospice, consisting of three large mansions and three back premises along the Keizersgracht (canal) in Amsterdam (between Leidsestraat and Spieghelstraat) with the condition that they never should be sold or encumbered. Only in 1970 the hospice could legally get rid of this harsh condition. Nicer was another condition of the legacy. From the rent of the large mansions several things had to be paid: A weekly amount of 15 cents “for comfort” to each of the old aged people (at that time about 60 persons) and of 10 cents to each of the orphans (then about 50). But the most pleasant condition was that each year on the anniversary of her death a “banquet” should be given for all orphans, old-aged and servants, consisting of:

15 roasted legs of lamb (inclusive of necks and heels) and 6 kilograms of beef for supper, supplemented by 500 grams of minced meat for meat balls; moreover for each person bread for 5 cents and 50 grams of coffee, and for all 39 litres of good French wine and half a day outing for comfort. This annual day was celebrated in the hospice as “boutjesdag” (lamb legs day) and was until the end of the 19th century the year’s highlight.

Robert L. (Bob) Boissevain, Heemstede (NP p 74)


Good wine still needs a push

There are many Bergerac wines that have been put into circulation by our distant relatives. They are not exactly top notch, but still very drinkable, especially the red ones. Recently I had one that was clearly superior to the ones I am used to from Bergerac: the “Baron de Lignac”. Maybe we should start to build up a collection of all Bergerac wines for the family archive. Send it to the editor of the Bulletin (well the label that is). Also nice to know is the fact that a distant cousin Bouïssavy touched down in Corbières where many nice wines come from. His great grandson called his wine Chateau Le Bouïs and it was a nice wine indeed.

Charles Boissevain, Leidschendam (NP p 75)


The Dutch Huguenot Foundation

As you can see in the financial statement, we pay a contribution to the Dutch Huguenot Foundation. Although our committee as yet hasn’t been able to participate in activities organised by them, we support this foundation and would like to promote it. Every year we receive an annual report with interesting articles about the Huguenots, a programme with lectures, excursions and attention is drawn to relevant literature. The foundation works in conjunction with the “Comité protestant des amitiés françaises à l’étranger”. Last September they organised the 12 th international gathering of descendants of the Huguenots in Bretagne (France) with a very nice programme.

It is also possible for you personally to become a member. For further information contact: Mr. F.A. du Corbier, Zacharias Jansestraat 13, 1097 CH Amsterdam, phone: +

The committee


Additions to the family archive

Obviously it is not necessary to appeal to family members in every Bulletin to deliver records for our family archive. Even without an explicit request we receive plenty of photo’s, correspondence etc. Important considerations for people donating material are the good management at the municipal archives and the publications in the Bulletin. A description of part of the material that was received by us over the past year, shows how pictures and texts from someone’s private life can modify and enrich this person’s public life. Hopefully this article will encourage you to have a look at your own collection and see if there is anything that you might like to send us.

From the legacy of Dieuke M.H. Boissevain(wife of Carel M. Nienhuys, NP p 71) who died in 1987, we received a printed photo album that was published in 1912 as a limited edition in honour of the 70 th birthday of Charles Boissevain (NP p 67). Dieuke is not only the granddaughter of the well known author and journalist, but also inherited his literary qualities. Among other things she is known from her novel “Discrete Dood” (published A.W. Sijthoff, Leiden 1940). From the album, by means of around 200 photo’s, we get a picture of Charles’ life (1842 -1927). The nice thing about this is that the more commonly known portraits of him - and cartoons with him - are combined with photo’s from his private life. The fact that the photo’s have descriptions on them (something that is rather rare among photo’s in the family archive) makes the document all the more valuable. Some examples: his birthplace in Amsterdam (1842), his friends in preparation for the industrial exhibition in Dublin with, among others, his future father-in-law Hercules McDonnell (1865), with a goat’s cart at Duinvliet in Bloemendaal (1866), as first lieutenant of the Schutterij (1870), on his three wheeler (early ‘80s), on a donkey in Egypt (1895), amongst the pets at “Drafna” (1898), at the demolition of the old “Handelsblad” building (1902), during his daughter Olga’s wedding (1906), and in the Dutch East Indies (1908). Again we say a big thank you to the Nienhuys - Boissevain children in Bussum for this great gift!

We are also greatly indebted to retired archivist Mrs. Engelina P de Booy. Apart from a professional involvement, as the great granddaughter of Gideon Jeremie Boissevain (NP p 48) she is also very much interested in the history of the De Booy and Boissevain families and the inherited archives. The De Booy family archive is also located at the municipal archives of Amsterdam and Engelina is making an inventory. The larger part of the archive consists of the diaries of Han de Booy, husband of Hilda Gerarda Boissevain (NP p 68). Hilda is the daughter of before mentioned journalist Charles. Apart from the diary, the archive contains letters: quite a few written by Hilda to her mother, from Ireland and Buitenzorg; then some letters addressed to Engelina’s parents that have Boissevains mentioned in them and last but not least letters from Charles Boissevain written to his 6 year older brother Jan (NP p 52). Especially these last ones are of importance in this context as they were written during the period 1865 - 1867 when Charles was in Ireland where he had to organise the Dutch contribution for an exhibition in Dublin. Because these letters are in the De Booy archive, it is not only important that Engalina called our attention to these, but also that she presented us with a typed version of them. They give us a (now readable) insight into two very important years of her great grandfather Charles: he met his wife in that period and he found himself an occupation that suited him well, namely the writing of articles for the newspaper. To Jan he not only writes about what happened at the exhibition and the McDonnell family, but also about his future, something that wasn’t clear to him at all in his early twenties. The only thing he knew was that he didn’t want to spend his entire life sitting in an office! Well, he kept true to his word given his many travel reports.

From Han and Anneke ter Haar from Gellicum, good friends of the late committee member Daan L.G. Boissevain, the family archive received correspondence to and from Gideon Maria Boissevain. As can be concluded from his biography in the 1988 Nederland’s Patriciaat (NP p 88), Gideon was an important banker and financial expert in the 19 th century. Known publications written by him are, among other things: “Leniging en bestrijding van Armoede” (published by P.N. van Kampen & Zoon, Amsterdam, 1885), and the “Prae-adviezen over de vraag: Behoeft onze bankwet herziening, hetzij in haar stelsel, hetzij in haar onderdelen?” (published by Vereeniging voor de Staathuishoudkunde en de Statistiek, Amsterdam, 1902). With this in mind, the letters written by the President of the Javabank, Mr. N.P. van den Berg, to Gideon in 1887-1888 gain importance. These letters show that Gideon was consulted in a recommendation given by Van den Berg to the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies in 1888. This issue questioned what effect the return of the silver standard would have on the welfare of the native peoples. By the way: N.P. van den Berg stood in 1890 at the base of the formation of the Royal Development Company of Oil wells in the Dutch East Indies, that merged with the British Shell. Interesting reading for those enthusiasts of a piece of coin history and specialists in hard to read hand written material.

The committee


Under Sail

For almost two centuries our family name has been associated with the sailing trade and shipping companies. From the last quarter of the 18 th century until the first quarter of the 20 th century they were actively involved in the merchant navy and passenger transport. After that the name Boissevain lives on as the name of a ship until 1968. In stark contrast to the period of Jan Boissevain and his Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland (Dutch Shipping Company) and the Koninklijke Paketvaart maatschappij (Royal Packet Service Company), little is known about the shipping company of the Boissevains from the end of the 18 th century until the third quarter of the 19 th century. This is the period of Daniel and the Retemeyer family and their son Gideon Jeremie. Our committee member Jeroen a few years ago, received from Annemieke and Bram van Heel a reproduction of a painting of the ship “Jan Pieterszoon Coen” from 1938. Their (great)great grandfather Pieter Theuniszoon van Duyvenboode, was captain of this ship and they also send a photo of him. After referring to the ships register book of the Bureau Veritas of Paris from 1844, in which all sorts of information is registered about ships for insurance purposes, I acquired some more information about this ship. The type was a three-master barque, which was the most important vessel of the fleet in the northern seas. It must have been a very good ship as it got the specification “5/6” which means that it was almost totally trustworthy according to Bureau Veritas. At “6/6” a ship is considered truly remarkable. For a general verification of Veritas’ judgement, the company specifies a date on which everyone is able to inspect the ship personally. A note is given that the ship is capable of making long journeys “like to the other side of Cape Horn or Cape of Good Hope”. The Jan Pieterszoon Coen was built in Alblasserdam (Netherlands) in 1838 for shipping company Boissevain & Co. from oak with lots of copper and iron mounting, it measures 564 tonnes, it has two decks and had some minor repairs in 1840. Our P. van Duyvenboode was registered as captain of the ship in 1838 and three more were going to succeed him. In 1859 the J.P. Coen comes into ownership of the Amsterdam shipping company F.A. Jas, who sells the ship in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1860.

Pieter van Duyvenboode didn’t only sail the J.P. Coen, but I also came across him in the sources of the Dutch Navy (1845), on the barque “Van der Werf” built by shipping company Boissevain & Kooij in 1841. Daniel owned two more ships in that year: the barque “Lucipara’s” and the “Amstel”, both built in 1841. From two barques that are mentioned in Onze Voortrekkers, “Fagel” and “Oranje en Nederland”, I found some more information. The “Fagel” (ex Zeelust) was built in Amsterdam in 1856 and measures 595 tonnes. In 1863 captain J.A. Knaap worked for the Boissevain & Co. shipping company. In 1869 captain W. Hessels was so unfortunate as to let the ship run aground, where it “finished as a wreck”. The “Nederland en Oranje” weighed 607 tonnes and was built in Amsterdam in 1851 and sailed a year later under command of captain L. van der Plas for Boissevain & Co. In 1874 the ship is reported “missing between Tessel and St John”. But luckily the ship was then already owned by shipping company P.A. van der Drift from Alkmaar.

Charles F.C.G. Boissevain (NP p 116), Den Haag


Groningen and Berlage

The reception of a booklet about a research done by Mr. And Mrs De Jongh - De Vey Mesdagh, the contemporary owners of “De Drie Vlasblommen” situated at 7, De Hoge der A in Groningen (Netherlands), on the building history of those premises put us on the tracks of Prof. Dr. Ursul Philip Boissevain (NP p 130). Ursul, who was among other things, professor in Ancient History in the University of Groningen, owned and lived in that 17 th century property from 1899 - 1911. On his instructions, the well known Dutch architect H.P. Berlage designed two new sun rooms for the house. These two rooms were constructed in the space where the kitchen and a luxury room from around 1700 had formerly been. These special rooms are still in good condition and still exude a “Berlagian” atmosphere. This atmosphere is also typical for the main house, thanks to several add-ons and reconstructions by Berlage himself. Almost without a doubt, Ursul would have had contact with Berlage in Amsterdam while he was studying there. In the “Levensbericht van Ursul Philip Boissevain” (that is entered in the yearbook of the Royal Academy of Science 1930 - 1931 and which gives an excellent overview of the scientific importance of this family member) I read: “During his stay in Rome in 1880 he had a lot of contact with his friend and distant relation, the architect Berlage. He learned to admire his amazing honesty, because he sensed that this was part of his great artistic talent. And when this honesty later resulted in the building of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, he was one of the first among the laymen to understand and defend the beauty of the austere building.” The contemporary owners don’t mind at all if family members contact them to view the recently restored building.

The committee


Penguins on the “Boissevain”

In the jubilee edition of the Association of former personnel of the Java - China - Paketvaartlijnen (Royal Interocean Lines) 1948 - 1998, I came across the following anecdote about the motor vessel “Boissevain”.

In October 1955 the Boissevain touches at the harbour of Tristan da Cunha. An ill habitant of the island had to be transported to the hospital in Capetown. As becomes a good ship owner, the extra costs were covered by filling the cool stores with a load of crayfish that was taken over from another ship. But also many of the Chinese crew members bought live penguins with the intention of selling the animals at a profit once they got to Singapore.

The fourth officer however had exchanged several pots of paint from the ship’s cargo for three of these creatures. To cover for himself he immediately gave one away to the captain and the first officer. This appeared to be a smart move as the birds could now be kept in the captain’s bathroom and could be fed by the supply of crayfish on board. The crew however had to buy large quantities of fish as the penguins appeared to have an enormous appetite! When the ship finally moored in Singapore the supply of penguins far outnumbered the demand. All in all these deals of the “Boissevain” crew weren’t very profitable!

Charles F.C.G. Boissevain, Den Haag (NP p 116)