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Chapter 11: Cornelis Pietersz Varlet

Page history last edited by Liz Johnson 11 years, 5 months ago

 

The family of Cornelis Varlet and Anneke Varlet

 

by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson

 

 

 

Cornelis Varlet was a son of Pieter Varlet and Machtelt Jans van Bree, the seventh of nine children. He was born on the 10th of January 1639 in Amsterdam, and baptized on the 3th of February 1639 in the Oude Kerk of Amsterdam. [1]

 

In Pieter Varlet's family register of births, marriages and deaths, now called the Aantekening der Familie der Varletten, appears an entry concerning Cornelis' birth. It reads (translated): [2]

 

Cornelis Varlet was born in the year 1639 at seven in the morning on Monday the 10th of January in Amsterdam, and on the 3th of February was baptized in the Oude Kerk by dominee Badini. His sponsors were: the Lord Cornelis van Wykersloot, Bewindhebber of the East India Company, [who] presented him as a baptism gift a silver porridger. Also as sponsor was the Lord Admiral Cornelis Cornelissen Jol, alias Houtebeen, who presented him as a baptism gift a silver porridger, and also as a sponsor the housewife of the Lord Admiral Jan Corn. Lighthout [who] presented a silver goblet. Also sponsor Maria Haak.

 

In Amsterdam on the 28th of April 1665, Cornelis married Anneken Varlet, a first cousin, the daughter of his uncle Daniel. Anneken Varlet was baptized on the 19th of June 1636 in the Oude Kerk, daughter of Daniel Varlet and Sara Stafmakers. [3] Their marriage intention is dated the 3rd of April 1665: [4]

 

Cornelis Verlet from A(msterdam), bookkeeper, 26 years old, parents dead, accompanied by David Verlet his cousin, residing in the Handboogstraat, & Anna Verlet of A(msterdam), 28 years old, parents dead, accompanied by Jannetjen Varlet, her cousin, residing in the Wolvenstraat. [5]

 

Their children were:

 

i. infant Varlet, born on the 17th of May 1666, died at birth; buried on the 19th of May 1666 in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. [6]

ii. Pieter Varlet, born on the 18th of September 1667 and baptized on the same day in the Nieuwe Zijds Kapel in Amsterdam. [7] Sponsors were Pieter and Francina Varlet, siblings of Cornelis. Pieter died unmarried on the 30th of September 1700 in Diever, province of Drenthe, Netherlands, and was buried there on the 8th of October 1700. [8]

iii. Sara Varlet, born on the 18th of September 1667 and baptized on the same day in the Nieuwe Zijds Kapel in Amsterdam. [7] Sponsors were David and Sara Varlet, siblings of Anneken. Sara died on the 13th of October 1667, and was buried on the 17th of October 1667 in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. [9]

iv. Daniel Varlet, born on the 18th of March 1669, baptized on the 20th of March 1669 in the Nieuwe Zijds Kapel in Amsterdam. [10] Sponsors were Cornelis' brother Daniel Varlet and Anneken's sister Janneke Varlet. He died on the 10th of July 1669 and was buried on the 13th of July 1669 in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. [11]

v. Sara Varlet, born on the 4th of October 1671 and baptized on the 7th of October 1671 in the Nieuwe Zijds Kapel in Amsterdam. [12] Sponsors were Cornelis' brother Daniel Varlet and Anneken's sister Sara Varlet. She died after 1751.

 

Cornelis and Anna Varlet and their family first lived in Amsterdam, where the children were born and baptized. But when Cornelis decided to engage in a new upcoming business, the peat trade, he brought his family to the village of Diever in the Dutch province of Drenthe.

 

 

Background: The Peat Industry in Drenthe

Some four hundred years ago, the area north of Diever in the province of Drenthe was an endless peat moor. Parts of it were so remote and inaccessible that the borders between Drenthe and Friesland were never exactly determined. Only in a very dry summer it was possible for sheep to graze in that area. In those days, peat was nearly the only fuel available. Since it was essential to everyone, it was a valuable commodity. In 1612, Berent Egbertsz. Keteltass of Amsterdam made an agreement with Barend Ketel, the Schulte (bailiff) of Diever, for the rights to cut peat from the area in his bailiwick. On the 8th of July 1613, the dike reeve and the Provincial Executive initiated an exemption from tax for those who settled and stayed in the Smilde area for a period of at least twenty  years. This patent for tax-exemption was periodically renewable. Soon after the tax exemption was initiated, peat-fuel corporations formed, which had rich merchants from cities such as Amsterdam and Leiden as shareholders. In the first decades, profits from these companies were a bit disappointing and many shareholders pulled out, but in 1635 the "Hollandsche Compagnie der Dieverder en Leggeler Smilderveenen" was founded. This corporation bought huge amounts of land and created canals, bridges, roads and housing and other buildings. Through this organization, the peat industry in Drenthe was managed more efficiently, which helped to raise the level of prosperity in this poor region.  For more information about the peat industry, click here.

 

Cornelis Varlet in Drenthe

 

By 1678, a new participant had come to the forefront of the peat-fuel industry, who became the major shareholder of the "Hollandsche Compagnie der Dieverder en Leggeler Smilderveenen," holding more than half of all the shares in the corporation. He was Cornelis Varlet of Amsterdam, who began as an employee of the corporation, but became the foremost, and later the only participant from Holland. He owned the peat-harvesting rights going back to the days of the Keteltass agreement. He soon became the owner of the Drentsche Hoofdvaart, the largest of the shipping canals which connected the peat-producing region with the rich cities in the western part of the Republic.

 

By the 1680's, Cornelis Varlet had become a powerful man in the Diever region. Although there were local participants who owned a few portions of the "Hollandsche Compagnie der Dieverder en Leggeler Smilderveenen," as the major shareholder, Cornelis Varlet controlled all of their interests. Even more powerful than the "Schulte" (bailiff) Pieter Lancel, it was Cornelis Varlet who made all the important decisions.

 

As owner of the Drentsche Hoofdvaart, Cornelis was responsible for the repairs and maintenance of the canal itself, and also of the sluices, bridges, dams, and ferries. He was in control of the traffic in this canal, and he was the toll collector. He was also responsible for the houses of the peat workers.

 

 

Cornelis Varlet's Ambitions and Disappointments

 

As a reward for his investment and work, Cornelis Varlet wanted to obtain an official position in local government. His ambition was to become Schulte of Hoogersmilde, although he never achieved that goal. But in his attempts to accomplish this, he never stepped back from a confrontation with the bailiff, Pieter Lancel. They met several times in various conflicts.

 

Cornelis' family did not escape from the friction that had formed between him and the bailiff. In August 1689, his seventeen year old daughter Sara became the center of a scandal, possibly set up by the bailiff himself. Lancel accused her in public of behaving like a whore. According to him, Sara had told him how Jasper Leunings, the representative of the local shareholders, had put her into a hammock, and that they had “acted as if they had been a married couple.” [13]

 

Jasper Leunings was a married man, whose reputation was also damaged. He and Cornelis Varlet sued the bailiff in court, demanding a retraction of his accusation. The verdict was for the plaintiffs. Pieter Lancel was ordered to apologize in public, and to pay two hundred silver ducats to the poor.

 

After several more confrontations, the feud finally ended in 1693 with Lancel's resignation. But Cornelis Varlet did not become the new bailiff; another local man, Dominicus Winsemius, was the successor.

 

 

A pew in church

 

Another of Cornelis' opponents was one of the most influential families in the region, the Ketel family. After the old bailiff, Hendrick Ketel died, his pew in the church of Diever was kept empty when not being occupied by his heirs. But on the 14th of October 1694, Cornelis launched a revolt in the Diever community when he and his son Pieter dared to sit down on that pew.

 

An extensive file in the archives of Drenthe [14] illustrates how seriously the community took this provocation. The Ketel family brought the matter before one of the most respected authorities in the region, Elbert Anton, Baron van Pallant, Lord of Batingen and Oosterveen.

 

The Baron determined that the family did not own the pew, ruling that a fine of fifty guilders would be levied for each time Cornelis or his son was prevented from sitting there. But the community did not accept the baron's verdict. In protest they drew up a declaration with dozens of signatures, which read:

 

We, undersigning inhabitants and heirs of the municipal of Dieveren, declare that we allow the heirs of the late Hendrick Ketel to use and maintain their pews in our church, as their ancestors did before them and as they have done until this day.

 

The final decision went against Cornelis, who had to accept that the collective power of the community was still stronger than his own.

 

 

A Marriage Promise

 

In 1698 Pieter Varlet, the only son of Cornelis Varlet, became engaged to Fockele Tiemk van Sijtsema, widow of Captain Titus Donja. On April 12th, 1698 he signed in the presence of Richard Ketel, bailiff of Meppel, a marriage intention. [15] But shortly thereafter it was discovered that his fiancée had not been a lady of irreproachable reputation. In her file we find, along with written marriage intentions between her and other men, an extract from the minutes of the regional church council regarding her behavior. Dated the 27th of December 1696, the church minutes contain the following text:

 

Concerning the widow Donia, it has been decided that, because she three times committed fornification, she is expelled, and that her name will be announced before the community.

 

Pieter Varlet chose to break the engagement. On the 13th of March 1699 he gave written authorization to three lawyers, ordering them to do all that was required to release him from his marriage promise. Pieter Varlet never married; he died only a year later, on the night of September 29th - 30th 1700, at the age of 33. He was buried in Diever on the 8th of October, 1700.

 

Cornelis' daughter Sara Varlet did marry, on the 14th of August 1701, to Lucas Fledderus. [16]

 

 

A Confrontation with the Baroness

 

Cornelis Varlet continued in his role as head of the peat corporation. In 1700, he and Elbert Anton, Baron van Pallant, signed an agreement to build a second sluice in the Oude Diep, one of the larger canals in the region. [17] But after the Baron died on the 5th of March 1701, his widow, douairière van Pallant tot Batinge, took over his business. Less friendly with Cornelis Varlet than her husband had been, they finally came into direct confrontation.

 

For a number of years starting in 1708, Cornelis had been complaining about the Baroness. By closing various sluices in her region, she could regulate the water-level in the Smilder Vaart, another canal used by Cornelis Varlet's fleet of peat transportation boats. But by keeping the sluices closed for too long, the water-level could became so low that the peat transports were obstructed.

 

On the 31st of March 1711 Cornelis lodged an official protest against the Baroness, in which he complained that her actions in keeping the sluices closed were against the patent he held, and were also against common law. [18] But when she continued to ignore his requests and demands for adequate water levels, Cornelis took the law into his own hands. On the 30th of June 1711, in order to make the passage for his peat fleet possible again, he destroyed the sluice in the Oude Diep near the Dwingeler bridge. In November 1712 he was sentenced to pay a fine of one hundred guilders for “commiting violence.” [19]

 

About that time two elderly siblings of Cornelis, Francina and Pieter Varlet, moved from Amsterdam into his home in Diever. [20] Both had probably never married. Francina Varlet died on the 29th of October 1717 at the age of 86. [21] Pieter Varlet died a few months later at the age of 82, on the 10th of February 1718, [22] and both were buried in the church of Diever.

 

 

Diever after Cornelis Varlet

 

On the 8th December 1721 Cornelis Varlet died at the age of 83, and was also buried in the church in Diever. [23] With the death of Cornelis Varlet, the "Holland" management of the peat resources in Diever ended. As a result of the local owners' apathy, the canal system was severely neglected, and on the peat bogs an exhaustion of the natural resources began. The owners of the land failed to reinvest money in repairs and maintenance; choosing to extract the maximum profit. Although most of the major conflicts had died with Cornelis, without his strong leadership and careful management, what remained degenerated into petty neighborhood quarrels, which had a further negative effect on the economy in the region. [24]

 

Sara Varlet, widow of Lucas Fledderus, the last remaining member of Cornelis Varlet's family, was unable to exercise the same influence her father had. Her older brother Pieter had died in 1700, and her husband died in 1722, [25] only a year after the death of Cornelis Varlet. Her mother, Anneken Varlet, died on the 1st of May 1723, at the age of 86. [26]

 

Along with the local participants, Sara Varlet did continue to renew the peat corporation patent until the middle of the 18th century, but there is no evidence that she exercised the management rights of the Holland participants, inherited from her father. Finally in 1751, near the end of her life, she sold the canal system and all the rights to a member of the Frisian Opsterlandse Veencompagnie. [27]

 

The exploitation of the peat bogs continued. In the 17th century, peat harvesting had been limited to Hoogersmilde, but by the end of the 18th century the peat near Hijkersmilde and Smilde had all been “cut.” By about 1880, the peat diggers of Drenthe and of Friesland had worked towards each other, and could shake hands. Apart from some small parcels remaining, the peat supply in the entire region had gone up in smoke in the stoves of Holland.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

NOTES AND SOURCES

 

1. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregister, akte 7p200.

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

3. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregister, akte 7p91.

4. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: ondertrouwregister, akte 487p5. Marriage intentions, Amsterdam, 3 April 1665: "Cornelis Verlet van A(msterdam), boekhouder, oud 26 jaar, ouders doot, geasst. met David Verlet sijn neef, woont inde Handboogstraat, & Anna Verlet van A(msterdam), oud 28 jaar, ouders doot, geasst. met Jannetjen Varlet hare nichte, woont inde Wolvenstraat." (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

5. On the 23rd of October 1662 five daughters of Daniel Varlet and Sara Stafmakers bought a house together, from Jan Baptiste van Rensselaer. The house was situated in the Wolvenstraat in Amsterdam, and had been purchased by Killiaen van Rensselaer on the 6th of December 1617. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: kwijtscheldingen, akte 53p33. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

6. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: 1666. On the 17th May the housewife of our brother Corn. Varlet was in labor with a dead child. It was a girl, who was buried on the 19th ditto in the Oude Kerk in our own grave.

7. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregister, akte 66p101 and Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: 1667. On the 18th of September the housewife of our brother Corn. Varlet gave birth to 2 children on Kermis [Fair] Day, a son and a daughter, who were baptized on the same day in the Nieuwe Zijds Kapel by dominee Joh. Selvius: a son named Pieter, the daughter named Sara. The sponsors of Pieter were: Pieter Varlet and Francina Varlet. P.V. has presented him as a baptism gift 2 silver saltshakers and a silver bell with chain. Francina Varlet has presented him a silver dish. Sara's sponsors were David Varlet and Sara Varlet, brother and sister.

8. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: 1700. Between the 29th and the 30th September old style our brother Corn.' son, Pieter Varlet Corn., died in Diever in the Land of Drenthe and is buried there on the 8th at the age of 33 years. [note: Pieter Corneliss. Varlet is meant]

9. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: 1667. Sara Varlet, the little daughter of Mons. Corn. Varlet, died on 13 October, 25 days old, and on Monday the 17th ditto was buried in the Oude Kerk in our own grave.

10. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregisters, akte 66p144 and Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: On the 18th of March the housewife of our brother Cornelis Varlet gave birth to a little son called Daniel Varlet and [he] was baptized in the 20th ditto in the Nieuwe Zijds Kapel by dominee Johan Salsius. His sponsors were: Daniel Varlet and Janneke Varlet. [He] died the 10th of July 1669 and on the 13th ditto was buried in the Oude Kerk in our own grave.

11. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: begraafregisters, akte 1047p172.

12. Stadsarchief Amsterdam: doopregisters, akte 66p213.

13. Hollandse participanten Dieverden en Leggeler Smildervenen. Het archief van Cornelis Varlet 1678-1720. Drents Archief, access nr. 0603, inv. nr. 117. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

14. Hollandse participanten Dieverden en Leggeler Smildervenen. Het archief van Cornelis Varlet 1678-1720. Drents Archief, access nr. 0603, inv. nr. 119. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

15. Hollandse participanten Dieverden en Leggeler Smildervenen. Het archief van Cornelis Varlet 1678-1720. Drents Archief, access nr. 0603, inv. nr. 118. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

16. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: 1702. The 14th August 1701 Lucas Fledderus and Sara Varlet ware married at Dieveren.

17. Hollandse participanten Dieverden en Leggeler Smildervenen. Het archief van Cornelis Varlet 1678-1720. Drents Archief, access nr. 0603, inv. nr. 145. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

18. Hollandse participanten Dieverden en Leggeler Smildervenen. Het archief van Cornelis Varlet 1678-1720. Drents Archief, access nr. 0603, inv. nr. 132. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

19. Hollandse participanten Dieverden en Leggeler Smildervenen. Het archief van Cornelis Varlet 1678-1720. Drents Archief, access nr. 0603, inv. nr. 133. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

20. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: On the 1st May Francina and Pieter Varlet moved to Dieverden, into the home of their brother Cornelis Varlet in ? No year mentioned. Entry between 1709 and 1717.

21. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: 1717. The 29th October Francina Varlet is resting in the Lord and was buried in Diever, at the age of 86 years and 7 1/2 months.

22. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: On the 10th February uncle Pieter Varlet is resting in the Lord in his 82nd year, and was buried in the church of Diever in 1718.

23. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: 1721. On the 8th December my father Cornelis Varlet [died] in his 83rd year, and was also buried in the church in Dieveren.

24. Hollandse participanten Dieverden en Leggeler Smildervenen. Het archief Fledderus, Hoogersmilde. Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 2-4, 11. (transcription from digital image and translation by Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson)

25. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: 1722. On the 14 February my beloved husband Lucas Fledderus is resting in the Lord in his 66th year of age, and was buried in the church next to brother Pieter.

26. Aantekening der familie der Varletten, Drents Archief, access nr. 0604, inv. nr. 14: 1723. On the 1st of May my mother Anna Varlet is resting in the Lord in her 88th year of age, and was buried in the church of Diever next to each other [meaning her husband] in the Choir.

27. Oude Statenarchieven, inv. nr. 1275-1290

 

 

Next: The Peat Industry

 

 

© 2008, Cor Snabel and Elizabeth A. Johnson

 

 

 

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