Year of publication 1999, issue 10

 

Preface

The millennium change is also for us an opportunity to look back and forward. Thanks to your involvement our Foundation is doing well. For the Bulletins there are enough articles on the history of our family and our calls for donations get a good response. This leads to more professional and a wider range of activities. For instance external and computerised assistance in keeping up our mailing list for the contributions and in mailing the Bulletins. This gives some relief for our secretary -treasurer. In return you receive an extra thick and varied copy of the Bulletin and you can put the 7th of April 2001 (so within about 1,5 year) in your agenda as the date for our family reunion in Amsterdam. We are already busy with the organisation of it and announce the date already now, because we hope to have over as many people from abroad as possible. And at the digital top of it all, we offer you at the beginning of the new millennium a website with backgrounds and news on our family and activities. I stimulate you to have a look at it and give an reaction. Also I want to stimulate all those people who have correspondence, diaries, photo’s and dates of birth, marriage and death about or from Boissevains. Let us know, it is the future of our family history! Finally I let you know that the members of our Committee do this work with great pleasure and that we welcome every reaction on it. A prosperous 2000!

Charles F.C.G. Boissevain,

president Boissevain Foundation

 

Boissevains as founders of prominent banks

The Boissevain family is large and over the years its members dispersed from the Netherlands all over the world with a great variety of professions. Quite a lot of them were active as bankers or stockbrokers. The first two were sons of Daniel I (1772-1832, merchant/ ship owner, NP p.45). These two, Daniel II 1804-1878, NP p.83) and Edouard Constantin (1810-1885, NP p.103) founded in 1836 Gebr.Boissevain, during more than a century a prominent stockbrokers company in Amsterdam. No less than 5 sons of Daniel II followed their father‘s steps and made career as banker or stockbroker. Two of them became widely known and founded prominent banks. Gideon Maria (1837-1925, NP p.88, call name GiMi) was (co)founder in 1865 of Kas-Vereeniging (now called Kas-Associatie), a bank in Amsterdam specialising in financial and administrative services to other financial companies and investors. Moreover, he was a well-known author of financial and monetary books and articles, and advisor to the Dutch government. His brother Athanase Adolphe Henri (1843-1921, NP p.93) founded, together with an American partner in 1875 the banking company Adolphe Boissevain & Co. This firm was active in two fields: the introduction of American securities on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange and securities arbitrage between Amsterdam, New York and London. In order to improve his position he founded in 1888, in cooperation with his American partner Blake Brothers, the London-based company Blake, Boissevain & Co. Together the three companies were a strong alliance in the 3 main financial centres. Adolphe‘s first assistant in the securities arbitrage business was J.L.Pierson who later became partner in the company. A few years after Adolphe retired the name of the firm was changed to Pierson & Co., predecessor of the present well-known investment bank MeesPierson. Adolphe‘s business became, beside purely Dutch, ever more transatlantic. In the U.S. he acquired an outstanding reputation in financing companies, particularly railway companies, e.g. the transcanadian Canadian Pacific Railways. Along this line is situated, in Manitoba, the town of Boissevain, named after Adolphe and carrying our family arms.. In this town the late Tice Boissevain (NP p.65) organised in 1992 a family meeting, attended by 60 relatives. In Virginia, too, there is a small town Boissevain, also named after Adolphe because of his involvement in financing the Norfolk & Western Railways. Adolphe was also active in other European countries. In 1887 he was cofounder of one of the largest international banks in Switzerland the Schweizerischer Bankverein (now UBS). During 18 years he was a member of the board of directors. Later on his London firm Blake, Boissevain & Co was sold to this bank. Of course Adolphe travelled a lot. He often took the Friday night boat from Harwich to Hook of Holland, stayed a week-end in his country estate Prins Hendriksoord in the Netherlands and on Sunday he took the night boat back to England.

Robert Lucas (Bob) Boissevain

(NP p 74), Heemstede

 

Christ is King!

Sunday afternoon 12 July 1998 we drive into the muddy campground of town of Boissevain (province of Manitoba) in Canada. Our longing for seeing the place, let us forget the 756 kilometre that we covered from Cloguet (Minnesota) in the US. And we are accustomed to mud since we passed the Peace Garden and the Turtle Mountains, that are located south of Boissevain on the place where we crossed the US border. The combination of warm weather and wet grass gives us an explanation for the many insects that we have to keep off from our bodies. Later we understand that there are always many mosquito’s and black flies in this little town. It is not for nothing that we see in the town centre a gigantic pole full of bird houses. Its inhabitants are supposed to protect the people of Boissevain against any inconvenience by the insects.

The excitement of strolling inhabitants on our day of arrival appears not to be normal. It marks the end of a three day lasting festival called ‘27 th Annual Canadian Turtle Derby’. During the past years this festival made Boissevain world famous! At about 15.30 PM as well the national championships of the US and Canada as the world championship have come to an end. From the middle of a big circle a couple of turtles are released. The first one that hits the border of the circle, is the winner. It is not clear to me whether these turtles know about the purpose of their mission or that they are trained for it. But, it was a pity that we just missed this annual highlight in Boissevain life. A stroll that Sunday evening and the next morning however, gave us a better impression of the normal way of living there. On various places you can find grain elevators located close to the railway tracks, that were realized with the help of A. Adolphe H. Boissevain (1840 -1921). The growing of different sorts of grain, the storage and transport of it forms the economic basis for the wealth of the circa 2.500 inhabitants. Their houses, shops and many churches for the other necessities of life dominate the image of both the crossing main streets. Besides the annual Turtle Derby about 20 huge paintings on as many dead walls (murals) offer a permanent confrontation with the history of the neighbourhood. The one with the portrait of A.A.H. Boissevain commemorates the first (in 1885) and the last (in 1958) passenger train that called at Boissevain station.

The streets and houses look clean and the street image is quiet although filled with people who are at work. My conversations with a couple of people in the Tourist Office, a clothes shop and a crockery shop confirm my impression that the inhabitants of Boissevain fully profit of the wealth here that brought their hard work and do live together in harmony. What more could we wish for the people of this town, with which we are so much bound by our mutual name!

Charles F.C.G. Boissevain,

Den Haag (NP p 116)

The Edict of Nantes

On April 30, 1598 Henry IV, king of France, proclaims the Edict of Nantes at the instance of the protestants. The catholic king recognises by law his subjects of a different belief. The Edict of Nantes is an treaty of tolerance. The freedom of thought is recognised for the protestants but their freedom of religion is only very limited. The Edict prohibits the general reunions of the Huguenots in which they represent their interests. In August 1598 a royal approval releases them of this prohibition. Through a special agreement the king gives them back what he was forced by circumstances to take from them in a public deed. This to maintain the peace with the powerful Catholics. In 1540, 1551 and in 1559 several treaties against the protestants are signed by the subsequent kings of France, François I an Henri II. At that time the protestants did not yet represent any political power. After the death of Henri II, the catholic family Guise tries to increase their influence. Other noble families, the Bourbon and the Coligny, oppose as protestants strongly. This leads to a war of religions that lasted 30 years. Moderate and royalist Catholics as Michel de l’Hopital, lord chancellor of France, try as a third party in the conflict to find a settlement to prevent the destruction of France in a civil war. Catharina de Medici tries in 1560, after the coronation of the minor Charles IX as king, to keep power by appeasing each party in turns. Several treaties have to reinstall peace for a longer period. The Huguenots are tolerated and they are approved what can not be refused to them. In that light the Edict of St. German is proclaimed in 1562 by Catharina de Medici where those of the so called “new religion” (the protestants) are allowed to hold services everywhere except in the cities. The later Edict of Nantes will restrict this to two in each county. Unfortunately it does not help to keep a long lasting peace. After the Night of St. Barthelomeus in 1572 when the Huguenot party losses many of its leaders, the power of the “Roman Ligue” and her leaders the family Guise increases. Henri III, crowned in 1585 as king, is forced by the Ligue to sign a treaty (the Edict of Nemours) in which all previous ones are retrieved. Protestant religious services are forbidden, preachers are banned and (protestant) believers may chose between exile or abjuration. In 1588 the Guises threat to seize the throne. Henri III has the duke of Guise and his brother the cardinal executed. As a result a year later Henri III is murdered. The throne now (1589) is entitled to Henri of Bourbon, king of Navarre and leader of the Huguenots. With the help of moderate and of royalist Catholics Henri IV has to reconquer from the Roman Ligue the cities and provinces that do not want a heretic as their king. The Ligue is supported by Philip II of Spain who finances their armies. With the Duke of Parma he attacks the French cities in the north. On the east, in the Provence and in the Dauphine, France is attacked by the Duke of Savoie, the son-in-law of Philip II. In 1593, although a large part of his country is reconquerred, Henri IV abdicates his (protestant) religion to be accepted by the Catholics and to end the war that ruins his country. On February 24, 1594 Henri IV is crowned as king of France in the cathedral of Chartes. The pope imposes some more demands to Henri before lifting his excommunication. One is the return of the Jesuits to influential positions. In May 1596 everywhere in France catholic services are reinstalled (also in areas where hardly any Catholics are). The Huguenots are pleased with promises. In 1597 their complaints are published. Their greatest fear is that once disarmed and their fortresses dismantled they will remain empty hands. They demand legal rights of citizenship and position. The king however needs their support but is in no hurry to grant them these privileges not get the Catholics and the pope against him. The complaints of 1596 lead to negotiations that last until 1598 when the Edict of Nantes is finally signed under the pressure of a threatening war with Spain.

The Edict of Nantes consists of:

  • a proclamation in witch money is made available to the protestant churches for the payments of preachers and education;
  • 92 general articles;
  • 56 special articles rating special cases as cities and people;
  • a second proclamation installing so called “places de sûreté””(safe places).

The proclamations appear to grant privileges to the protestants but the reality is different. The Huguenots are now forced to pay a “tenth coin” to the roman catholic clergy (article XXV). The “places de sûreté” were already for long in the possession of the Huguenots so recognition was inevitable. In the Edict the protestants are spoken of as “of the so calls reformed religion”. Only from 1661 will be spoken of “new religion”. The Edict allows the protestants a very limited freedom of religious services: only in 2 places in each county with the exemption of cities with a bishop. Protestants in Paris will have to hold their services far outside the city. Only for Catherine de Bourbon, sister of the king and Huguenot an exception is made. When she resides at the court, Huguenot services may be held at the Louvre palace as long as no sound, not even a psalm, is heard outside the room. Many protestants from Paris seize the opportunity of her presence. On a certain day in 1597 everybody was waiting for her in the large hall of the Cariatides. The princess was delayed because she was talking with her brother. Time passed and one of the courtiers goes to the king to fetch the princes. The irritated king shouts that “if they are so bored they will have to sing a psalm”. The courtier runs back and hurries to announce the message of “the most Christian king of France”. Lustily a psalm is sung so loud that the walls of the Louvre tremble. Henri IV hears the singing and realises the consequences for the painfully restored peace. He quickly sends his sister downstairs “before they can start singing the second verse”. The Edict of Nantes was never completely imposed. Immediately after the signing the first violations occurred. But at least there was peace between the Catholics and the Huguenots after 30 years of civil war.

Translated and edited by

Gustaaf W.O. Boissevain, Hoofddorp

 

Again about Adolphe

A member of our family whose name is often - for instance in our Bulletin - recalled, is Athanase Adolphe Henri (NP p 102). In the past period the Committee was indicated again in two ways on his importance. First by a text that was send to us by Caroline B. Lyon –Boissevain (NP p 102) from Carlsbad (New Mexico, US). It is the necrology of Adolphe as published in The Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch published on 2 May 1921. This date is about 1,5 month after his death. The town of Norfolk is located in the State of Virginia. Adolphe had a warm relation with this city and a name plate with Boissevain Avenue decorates the city’s quarter of Ghent. In the necrology we read that Adolphe’s richness was based on the trade in cotton, allowing him to invest in the US via the American Banking House founded by him in the Netherlands. In the article an endless range of investments in railroad companies (including the Norfolk and Western), factories and places along the railroad tracks (like the town of Boissevain, Va), waterworks, saw mills and coal mines is mentioned. These forms of industry and activity, but also his broad network under politicians and bankers, had to contribute to the productiveness of the railroads in which he and many other Europeans had invested money. The necrology ends with a description of his love for his estate Prins Hendriksoord in the Netherlands, his hospitality, his charming spouse and with the proposition that ‘Holland has lost one of its great men, and the United States, one of its greatest admirers’. Committee-member of our Boissevain oundation, Jeroen called thereupon our attention to the documents and conditions for the auction sale of the estate and country house Prins Hendriksoord (PHO) in August 1924. In that period -3, 5 year after the passing away of both A. Adolphe H. and his spouse Ottoline Henriette toe Laer - the name of the estate was written as Prins Hendriks-Oord. Reading the auction catalogue we can conclude, that the estates of PHO and Ewijckshoeve both stretch for 2 kilometers along the road Soestdijk - De Bilt in the Netherlands. Because of their location, lay out and state of maintenance both estates, but especially PHO, belong to the ‘nicest and loveliest’ of the province of Utrecht. PHO used to be a part of Ewijckshoeve, since the estate was founded by Johan Hendrick van Ewijck, Lord of Oostbroek and De Bilt (1696 -1782). In 1827 PHO has been rebuild by Mr Gildemeester. In the course of the 19th century he shared the ownership of the property with H.R.H Prince Hendrik, the youngest brother of William III, King of the Netherlands. After the passing away of Prince Hendrik the whole complex came into the hands of the Baarnsche Bouw-terrein Maatschappij (Baarn Building Company) in 1882. The building company sells and brings under the hammer the estate in parts. Adolphe Boissevain buys the country house PHO together with some lots directly from the building company. During the following 37 years he enlarges his property more and more. Finally, with the acquisition of Ewijckshoeve a couple of years before his death in 1921, the situation was re-established as it was in the time of J.H. van Ewijck. The country house included, among more, a machine house for the water and light system, a water tower, a nicely laid out park with ornamental waters, a hothouse for peaches, an icehouse, wine-cellars, 4 sleeping rooms for the personnel and 4 servants’ halls. Out of the documentation on the auction of the estate in 1924 we only mention the proceeds of 52.000 Dutch guilders for the house PHO and 26.200 guilders for the house Ewijckshoeve. Only a monograph about PHO will be able to do justice to the historiography of the construction and lay out of the estates and the buildings on it. Such a book could be combined with a biography of A. Adolphe H. very well!

 

Birthglass

In the Amsterdam Historical Museum collections one can find a 20 centimeter high cupshaped glass with an inscription that commemorates the birth of Daniel Boissevain (1804 - 1878). Daniel (NP p 83) was member of Boissevain & Bros, stock brokers and joint manager of the Insurance Company in Amsterdam (Netherlands). Further he is the father of A. Adolphe H., to whom attention is paid in another article in this Bulletin. The clear colourless glass originates of Sars-Poteries in France. The basic knot and the basis of the cup are polished in facet and diamond forms. On the cup you see a cartouche wreathed by leaf-tendrils and scroll-work, bearing the inscription ‘DANIEL BOISSEVAIN NE LE 9. OCTOBRE 1804’. At first the glass was offered for sale to the Boissevain Foundation. But in 1995 the museum added the birth glass to its collections. The object is depicted in the glass catalogue of the museum, edited in 1998 and composed by curator Hubert Vreeken and on which the text of this article is based. Age of our coat of arms In my possession is a print with the depiction of the interior of the Walloon Church in Amsterdam. Seen the close relation between our family and the Walloon Church may be more family members possess a similar print. The print is not unique or very exceptional, because its original place is between pages 169 and 170 of the well known and widely distributed description of Amsterdam by J. Wagenaar out of 1765. Also about this year the print was made by G. Sibelius (1734 - 1785) from a drawing by C. Pronk (1691 -1759). In the Amsterdam Municipal Archives there are more copies of this print in the library and print collection. But my copy differs from those, because in the lower edge of the print left from the text our family coat of arms is depicted and right of the text the coat of arms of the Quien family. The Quien family originates from the town of Metz (France). It has in common with the Boissevains, that members also fled because of the religious persecutions at the end of the 17th century. However, our relation with the Quien family dates from the days that the print was made: in 1767 Gedeon Jeremie Boissevain married Marguérite Quien (NP p 43). Gedeon’s parents managed the orphanage of the Walloon Church in Amsterdam. It is obvious to assume that there is a relation between the wedding and the depiction of both family coat of arms in the print. Because of this we can settle the year 1767 as the earliest known date of the use of our Boissevain coat of arms. Of course we are not sure of this. Possibly the coat of arms are depicted on the print at the occasion of the death of Gedeon or Marguérite (1802 and 1808 respectively). In that case there may be a relation with the depiction of a funeral on the print. Two questions: does anybody have a similar print (with of without coat of arms) and does anybody know an earlier depiction than 1767 of our family coat of arms (except the one in Egypt!)?

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

 

Age of our coat of arms

Age of our coat of arms In my possession is a print with the depiction of the interior of the Walloon Church in Amsterdam. Seen the close relation between our family and the Walloon Church may be more family members possess a similar print. The print is not unique or very exceptional, because its original place is between pages 169 and 170 of the well known and widely distributed description of Amsterdam by J. Wagenaar out of 1765. Also about this year the print was made by G. Sibelius (1734 - 1785) from a drawing by C. Pronk (1691 -1759). In the Amsterdam Municipal Archives there are more copies of this print in the library and print collection. But my copy differs from those, because in the lower edge of the print left from the text our family coat of arms is depicted and right of the text the coat of arms of the Quien family. The Quien family originates from the town of Metz (France). It has in common with the Boissevains, that members also fled because of the religious persecutions at the end of the 17th century. However, our relation with the Quien family dates from the days that the print was made: in 1767 Gedeon Jeremie Boissevain married Marguérite Quien (NP p 43). Gedeon’s parents managed the orphanage of the Walloon Church in Amsterdam. It is obvious to assume that there is a relation between the wedding and the depiction of both family coat of arms in the print. Because of this we can settle the year 1767 as the earliest known date of the use of our Boissevain coat of arms. Of course we are not sure of this. Possibly the coat of arms are depicted on the print at the occasion of the death of Gedeon or Marguérite (1802 and 1808 respectively). In that case there may be a relation with the depiction of a funeral on the print. Two questions: does anybody have a similar print (with of without coat of arms) and does anybody know an earlier depiction than 1767 of our family coat of arms (except the one in Egypt!)?

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

 

A 100 year old Boissevain

100 year old Cabeth enjoying her On September 5, 1999 Catharina Elizabeth van Wouw-Boissevain (NP p.77), call name Cabeth, became 100 years old. The first one in the history of our family who reached this age. To celebrate this occasion her children invited a number of relatives and friends to a garden party at her house in Den Dolder (near Utrecht, the Netherlands). Grandchildren and great-grandchildren came from the U.S.A, Curaçao, South Africa and Northern Ireland. Particularly enjoyable to her were the smaller children who continuously came to her with cakes, other food and drinks. “I love children, they are pleasant company” she said. For some time already Cabeth is confined to her bed. But this physical inconvenience is more than counterbalanced by her lively interest in ordinary events of the daily life. She seemed not to get tired of the excitement of the party and the talks she had with the guests. Her reply to the inevitable question about the secret of getting old: “I always wanted to be 100. If you make an effort and believe in it, it will happen”. Without knowledge of her children all of a sudden a district brass band appeared and paid a musical homage in the garden in front of her window which she greatly appreciated. Two days later the town mayor personally came to congratulate her. Reading and rereading the many letters she got kept her busy for days afterwards.

Bob Boissevain, Heemsteede (NP p74)