Dutch Family in the Middle Colonies

Wooing and Wedding,
page 3 of 12

In 1697 Daniel Vanolinda petitioned that his wife be “ordyred to go and live with him where he thinks convenient.” The wife’s father was promptly notified by the Albany magistrates that he was “discharged to shelter her in his house or elsewhere, upon Penalty as he will answer at his Perill;” and she returned to her husband.

In the year 1665 a New Amsterdammer named Lantsman and his wife, Beletje, were sorely estranged, and went to the courts for settlement of these differences. The Court gave the matter into the hands of two of the Dutch ministers, who were often assigned the place of peacemakers. As usual, they ordered the parents of Beletje to cease from harboring or abetting her. The husband promised to treat her well, but she answered that he always broke his promises to her. He was determined and assiduous to retrieve her, and finally was successful; thus they were not made “an example to other evil housekeepers.” A curious feature of this marriage quarrel is the fact that this Lantsman, who was so determined to retain his wife, had been more than recreant about marrying her. The banns had been published, the wedding-day set, but Bridegroom Lantsman did not appear. Upon being hauled up and reprimanded, his only proffered excuse was the very simple one that his clothes were not ready.

When Anniatje Fabritius requested an order of court for her husband to vacate her house with a view of final separation from him, it was decided by the arbitrators that no legal steps should be taken, but that “the parties comport themselves as they ought, in order that they win back each other’s affections, leaving each other in meanwhile unmolested” — which was very sensible advice. Another married pair having “met with great discouragement” (which is certainly a most polite expression to employ on such a subject), agreed each to go his and her way, after an exact halving of all their possessions.

Nicasius de Sille, magistrate of New Utrecht and poet of New Netherland, separated his life from that of his wife because — so he said — she spent too much money. It is very hard for me to think of a Dutch woman as “expensefull,” to use Pepys’word. He also said she was too fond of schnapps, — which her respected later life did not confirm. Perhaps he spoke with poetic extravagance, or the nervous irritability and exaggeration of genius. Albert Andriese and his wife were divorced in Albany in 1670, “because strife and difference hath arisen between them.”


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