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Chapter 10: The Staffmaecker Family

Page history last edited by Liz Johnson 12 years, 1 month ago


The family of David Stafmakers and Catharina Willekens


by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson




David Stafmakers was born around 1567 in Antwerp, Flanders. In 1583-1584 the Spanish troops of Alessandro Farnese, the Duke of Parma and Piacenza, had conquered almost all the important Flemish towns, and in July 1584 they surrounded Antwerp. On 27 August 1585, after a siege of 14 months, the town surrendered. It must have been just before or just after this siege that the parents of David Stafmakers decided to move north with their children, probably directly to Amsterdam. On 28 August 1590 David Stafmaecker, "kistenmaecker" (cabinetmaker), born in Antwerp, became a "poorter" (citizen) of Amsterdam. [1]


A record of David Stafmakers' intention to marry, dated 16 January 1593, is located in the Municipal Archives of Amsterdam. [2] In this document we find that his wife, born around 1569, had also originally been from Antwerp. Also in this marriage intention, we learn the name of his mother.


David Stafmaker of Antwerp, age about 26 years, residing in the Annen Dwars Straat, accompanied by Barbara Stafmaker his mother, on one side, & Catharijna Willekens of Antwerp, age about 24 years, residing in the Warmoesstraat in the "Gulden Tralie," accompanied by Barbara Willekens her sister, on the other side.


David Stafmaker had three siblings who lived in Amsterdam as well. His mother, Barbara Stafmakers (nee unknown), was present with two of her other children when they announced their marriage intentions in Amsterdam. She appeared with her daughter Catalijna, when she and Marten van de Cliet posted their marriage intentions on 4 May 1591, [3] and with her son Coenraed, when he and Tryntgen Franssen published their banns on 25 May 1602. [4] Also note that in Coenraed's record he is mentioned as 'Coenraed Stafmakers Fransz.' Therefore their father's name was Frans or Francois --which he is indeed called in a baptism record of one of his grandchildren.


Sara Stafmakers, a sponsor in 1629 at the baptism of Sara Varlet, one of David's grandchildren, in 1629 [5] was probably a third sibling of his. This Sara Stafmakers published her marriage intentions with the widower David Hullet on 28 March 1615 in Amsterdam, at the age of 45. [6]


Reconstruction of the family of Francois Stafmakers and his wife Barbara, as they appear in Amsterdam:


i. Catalijna Stafmakers, of Antwerp, born about 1566, buried in the Zuider Kerk in Amsterdam 31 May 1617. [7]

ii. David Stafmakers, of Antwerp, born about 1567.

iii. Coenraed Stafmakers, of Antwerp, born about 1567.

iv. Sara Stafmakers, of Antwerp, born about 1570, buried in the Oude Zijds Kapel in Amsterdam 11 February 1638. [8]


David Stafmakers was a highly skilled craftsman who was also a successful businessman. In two notarial acts dated 28 July 1600 [9] and 6 February 1603 [10] he is mentioned as a "merchant in mirrors." After his death, when his house and workshop were leased out in 1639, part of the contract listed an extensive inventory in glass, wood, and other materials, and finished items. [11]


David Stafmakers was one of the earliest ebony workers in Amsterdam. Ebony, a rare wood that was used in panels and inlays in fine cabinetry, carved into figures and made into frames such as those used for mirrors and paintings, was difficult to cut because of its hardness, but was highly prized for its fine grain and its rich, dark color. A dense tropical hardwood, ebony was harvested in the East Indies, which was opened to Dutch merchant ships in the closing years of the sixteenth century. Amsterdam, a refined metropolis and the shipping hub at the center of Holland's rapidly growing merchant industry, was an ideal location for master craftsmen such as David Stafmakers.


Ebony workers were a highly skilled subgroup of cabinetmakers, who by 1625, wanted to be recognized as specialists within the St. Joseph's, or carpenters' guild. On the 18th of November 1625, David Stafmakers testified before notary Jacob Jacobs, [12] stating that he was the first ebony worker in Amsterdam, and that he had worked in this craft for the last 36 years with no accidents. He also stated that every ebony worker in Amsterdam had learned the trade from him, or from someone he had trained. He declared that the craft required different skills and tools than ordinary cabinet making. In 1626, the Amsterdam ebony workers were set apart from their colleagues in the organizational structure of the St. Joseph's guild. From then on those who wanted to become Master ebony worker had to make a "Master Piece", as their colleagues from Antwerp had done since before 1590.


David Stafmakers prospered in Amsterdam. In 1602, when the United East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) was originally chartered, he became a shareholder with an investment of 1800 guilders. [13] On the first of May 1612, he bought a house called "De Molen" in the Warmoesstraat in Amsterdam, [14] a street where many of the city's thriving merchants and craftsmen dwelled. The building was renamed "Het Schaepshooft" and housed his family as well as his workshops, showroom and shop. In 1631 he was taxed 150 guilders in the so-called 200th penning tax, which indicates that his capital worth was estimated at 30,000 guilders. [15]


David Stafmakers died before the 19th of February, 1639. On that date, Catharina Willekens, his widow, sold the inventory of the mirror shop and workrooms to Francois Willemsz. Heyblom for his two sons, Pieter and Francois, [16] who would rent the workplace and showrooms, and lodge in her house. In the notarial record of this transaction, it was mentioned that Catharina was living in the house "Het Schaepshooft" in de Warmoesstraat with her daughter Barbara Staffmaeckers. The baptism of this daughter Barbara does not appear in the Amsterdam baptism registers, but we must assume that she was the oldest daughter, for David's mother was called Barbara, and if they followed the traditional Dutch naming pattern, the firstborn baby girl would have been named after her paternal grandmother.


On the 5th of June 1641, Catharina Willekens sold the house "Het Schaepshooft" in the Warmoesstraat. [17] She was assisted by her son-in-law Daniel Varlet, whose two brothers, Caspar and Pieter Varlet, were mentioned as her guarantors. This transaction was a real family matter, because the buyers of the two houses were Pieter and Francois Heijblom. Pieter Heijblom would marry Francina Varlet, the oldest daughter of Caspar Varlet (brother of her son-in-law Daniel Varlet), only 14 months later. [18]


David Stafmakers and Catharina Willekens had at least six children:


i. Barbara Stafmakers, probably born in 1594, baptism record not found.

ii. Anna Stafmakers, baptized 30 July 1595 in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. [19] Sponsor at her baptism was her grandfather, Francois Stafmakers. She married Jodocus Hondius.

iii. Sara Stafmakers, baptized 4 March 1599 in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam; [20] buried there on 24 July 1664. [21] She married Daniel Varlet (1597-1642).

iv. David Stafmakers, baptized 9 September 1601 in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. [22]

v. Catharijna Stafmakers, baptized on 25 April 1604 in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. [23]

vi. Francois Stafmakers, baptized 17 December 1606 in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. [24]






Anna Stafmakers, one of the daughters of David Stafmakers and Catharina Willekens, married Judocus Hondius, a son of the famous mapmaker Jodocus Hondius and his wife, Colette van der Keere. They filed marriage intentions in Amsterdam on 5 June 1621: [25]


Judocus Hondius age 20 years, assisted by Colette Vanderkeeren his mother, residing Oude Lelijstraat, & Anna Staffmakers, age 25 years, assisted by David Staffmaker her father and Catharina Willekens her mother, in the Warmoesstraat.


Anna Stafmakers married into a family of famous cartographers. For those who are familiar with cartographers:


The groom's father, Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612) was the most famous of them all. This "old" Jodocus had a sister Jacomina Hondius, who was a calligrapher who had worked at the court of Queen Elisabeth of England. She married Pieter van den Berghe, aka Petrus Montanus (1560-1628). The groom's mother, Colette van der Keere, had a brother who was a mapmaker: Peter van der Keere, better known as Petrus Kaerius (1571-1646). One of Anna's brothers-in-law, Henricus Hondius (1597-1651), an older brother of her husband, became a well-known cartographer too. And Anna's oldest sister-in-law, Elisabeth Hondius, was married to the famous mapmaker, Jan Janssonius (1588-1664).






1. J.G. van Dillen, 1958. Het Oudste Aandeelhoudersregister van de Kamer van Amsterdam der Oost-Indische Compagnie (hereafter Aandeelhoudersregister). Nijhoff, 's-Gravenhage. P. 175.

2. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: ondertrouwregister, akte 406 p.280. Marriage intentions, Amsterdam, 16 Jan. 1593: "David Stafmaker van Antwerpen, out omtrent 26 jaren, wonend in de Annen Dwars Straat, geass. met Barbara Stafmaker sijne moeder, ter eene sijde, & Catharijne Willekens van Antwerpen, oudt omtrent 24 jaren, wonend in de Warmoesstraat inde Gulden Tralie, geass. met Barbara Willekens hare suster, ter andere sijde." (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

3. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: ondertrouwregister. akte 664p4.

4. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: ondertrouwregister. akte 410p105.

5. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregister, akte 6p233.

6. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: ondertrouwregister, akte 419p28.

7. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: begraafregister, akte 1089p14.

8. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: begraafregister, akte 1062p39v.

9. Aandeelhoudersregister, p. 175, citing notarial acts in Stadsarchief Amsterdam, akte 53p739, by notary Heylinc.

10. Aandeelhoudersregister, p. 175, citing notarial acts in Stadsarchief Amsterdam, akte 55p99, by notary Heylinc.

11. Bronnen tot de Geschiedenis van het Bedrijfsleven en het Gildewezen van Amsterdam, by J.G. van Dillen, 1929 (hereafter Gildewezen) . Publ. Nijhoff 's-Gravenhage. Vol. 3, pp. 221-223., citing Amsterdam notarial acts in Stadsarchief Amsterdam, akte 419p217, Notary Jac. Jacobs.

12. Gildewezen, Vol. 2, pp. 584-585, citing Amsterdam notarial acts in Stadsarchief Amsterdam, akte 391p325, Notary Jacob Jacobs.

13. Aandeelhoudersregister, p. 175.

14. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: Kwijtscheldingen, akte 22p342. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

15. Aandeelhoudersregister, p. 175.

16. Gildewezen, Vol. 3, pp. 221-223, citing Amsterdam notarial acts in Stadsarchief Amsterdam, akte 419p217, Notary Jacob Jacobs.

17. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: Kwijtscheldingen, akte 38p128v. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

18. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: ondertrouwregister, akte 458p128.

19. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregister, akte 2p288.

20. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregister, akte 3p169.

21.Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14

22. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregister, akte 38p897.

23. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregister, akte 4p90.

24. Stadsarchief Amsterdam, doopregister, akte 4p184.

25. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: ondertrouwregister, akte 426p106. Marriage intentions Amsterdam, 5 July 1621: "Judocus Hondius oud 20 jaren, geass. mit Collette Vanderkeeren syn moeder, woonen Oude-Lelijstraet, & Anna Staffmakers, oud 25 jaren, geass. mit David Staffmaker haer vader en Catherina Willekens haer moeder, inde Warmoesstraat." (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)



Next: The Cornelis Varlet Family



© 2008, Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson

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