Mirror of the Indies

“The End of His Days”,
page 5 of 10

In the preceding chapter the funeral of a penniless Albanian is noted; in 1696 Ryseck Swart also became one of the church-poor of Albany. She was not wholly penniless; she had a little silver and a few petty jewels, and a little strip of pasture land, worth in all about three hundred guilders. These she transferred to the church, for the Consistory to take charge of and dole out to her. A good soul, Marritje Lievertse, was from that time paid by the church thirty-six guilders a month for caring for Ryseck. I do not doubt she had tender care, for she was the last of the real church-poor (soon they had paupers and an almshouse), and she lived four years, and cost the parish two thousand two hundred and twenty-nine guilders. She died on February 15, 1700, and, though a pauper, she departed this life neither unwept, unhonored, nor unsung. Had she been the cherished wife of a burgomaster or schepen, she could scarce have had a more fully rounded proper funeral. The bill, which was paid by the church, was as follows:—

3 dry boards for a coffin
¾ lb. nails
Making coffin
Half a vat and an anker of good beer
1 gallon Rum
6 gallons Madeira for women and men
Sugar and cruyery
150 Sugar cakes
Tobacco and pipes
Grave digger
Use of pall
Wife Jans Lockermans
232 guilders

Rosenboom, for many years the voor-leeser and dood-graver and aanspreecker in Albany, sent in a bill of twelve guilders for delivering invitations to the funeral, — which bill was rejected by the deacons as exorbitant. But the invitations were delivered just the same, for even colonial paupers had friends, and her coffin was not made of green wood held together with wooden pegs, which some poor bodies had to endure; and the one hundred and fifty doed-koecks and Madeira for the women very evenly balanced the plentiful beer and wine and tobacco for the men. Truly, to quote one of Dyckman’s letters from Albany, “the poor’s purse here was richly garnisht.”


:: Previous Page :: Next Page ::

Books & articles appearing here are modified adaptations
from a private collection of vintage books & magazines.
Reproduction of these pages is prohibited without written permission. © Laurel O'Donnell, 1996-2006.