de Meij family

Leeuwenhoek's first wife, Barbara de Meij, 1629 - 1666, was the daughter of Elias de Meij and Maria Verlin. 

Elias de Meij, who died in 1646, was a merchant in serge, a type of twill fabric, just as his son-in-law would be a merchant in linen. When Elias married in 1622 in Delft, he was listed as coming from Norwitch in England but living on the Oosteinde in Delft. His wife, Maria Virlin (Virulij, Vierling, Vierlincx, Marija Vijerlincks, etc.) was listed as living in Utrecht. Being new to Delft, the de Meij family did not offer Leeuwenhoek the social connections that his second wife's family did. Elias knew English, but by the time his son-in-law needed it to communicate with the Royal Society, Elias was long dead. The city records show Elias owning half a dozen properties, listed below.

Their daughter Maria was born in 1626, three years before Barbara. The Delft baptism records for 1632 and 1633 list Elias and Maria as parents for two children named Jacobus, neither of whom survived more than a year. In 1634, they buried an unnamed child, who may have been the second Jacobus, about nine months old.

Elias left property on the Oosteinde and nearby to his two surviving children, Barbara and Maria, which is how the house on the Oosteinde, where Barbara grew up, came into Leeuwenhoek's estate in 1655.

Elias had a sister Debora who gave birth to six children between 1618 and 1628 and who died in 1652. He had another sister Maria who lived on the Achtersack in the Eerste Nieuwesteeg and who was buried the following July 29 (DTB 39 fol 262).

Maria de Meij

In 1655, Barbara's sister Maria was the witness, along with Leeuwenhoek's brother-in-law Johan Molijn at the baptism of Leeuwenhoek's daughter Maria.

Three years after Barbara's death in 1666, her sister Maria made a will bequeathing the house on the Oosteinde to Barbara and Antony's daughter Maria.

Five years later, on March 3, 1674, Maria was living on the Oosteijnde when she registered to marry (DTB inv. 74 fol. 5) Pijeter Schepens, living on Oude Delft. Two weeks later, on March 18, they married in nearby Voorburg.

Who was Pieter Schepens? At his first marriage in 1653 to Josina Marinus, Schepens was noted as a zaalmeester (hall master). When he paid the kadegeld of 1666-67 (OAD inv. 594 fol. 42v), he was listed as Pieter Samuelsz Schepens, sadelmaker (saddlemaker) on the east side of the Old Delft near the Baljuwsteeg. In less than seven years, Schepens buried three wives. Josina died in 1669. The following year, Schepens married Neeltge Holierhoeck (DTB inv. 131 fol. 20). She died in June 1672 (DTB inv. 42 fol. 13) and he married Maria de Meij less than two years later in March 1674.

By the end of that same year, something happened to Maria, then age 48. On December 21, 1674, her brother-in-law Antony Leeuwenhoek was appointed by the magistrates to administer her affairs due to her melancolique ende swartmoedige gedachten (melancholic and dark thoughts) (ORA 1, Kamerboek 1674). The following day, December 22, Maria and Pieter were granted a scheidingen (divorce) (OAD 1.9 Keurboek), after only nine months of marriage. A year after that, when Maria was buried on January 26, 1676, she was listed as the housewife of Pieter Schepens and living in the stadschool in Achtersack (city school on the Achterzak).