Disposition of the estate of Leeuwenhoek and his daughter Maria

Leeuwenhoek and his daughter Maria made a series of wills, not uncommon at the time. When Leeuwenhoek died in 1723, everything went to Maria. It wasn't until she died unmarried and childless in 1745 that the estate was inventoried, the will executed, and the estate distributed. However, by then there were no survivors of the original beneficiaries still alive, so the estate went to the Weeskamer (orphan's court).

February 11, 1712

In the 1712 will that Leeuwenhoek and his daughter Maria made together, they named each other as universal heirs. After the death of the survivor, bequests would go to:

Dr. Anthony de Molijn, son of sister Margareta Leeuwenhoek: 2500 guilder bond (obligatie)

Margareta de Molijn, his daughter and wife of Arnoldus van den Heuvel: 1000 guilder bond

Geertruijt de Molijn, also a daughter of Anthony de Molijn: the interest from two bonds of 2600 guilders at 4%

Jan Haaxman, son of sister Marija de Molijn: 3500 guilder bond

Dr. Anthony van Leeuwen: use of bonds of 5000 guilders, standing at the expense of Rijkje van Leeuwen, wife of Jan van Leeuwen and Leeuwenhoek’s niece

Rijkje van Leeuwen: 5000 guilders

Lawyer Adriaan Swalmius: 500 guilders

Marija Strik (grand niece of Antoni Leeuwenhoek): 270 guilder bond

The maidservant who will live with the last dying: 300 guilders

Rijkje, Jan, and Philips van Leeuwen got some jewelry and some silver candlesticks made by Leeuwenhoek. Adriaan Swalmius got some paintings of the Uyttenbroek relatives.

Everything else would go to Jan and Philips van Leeuwen, children of Leeuwenhoek’s sister Catharina Leeuwenhoek, who were also appointed executors.

June 26, 1719

The will of 1719 repeated the same provisions and heirs, with two exceptions. Philips van Leeuwen had died in 1713; his daughter Margaretha got his legacy, now a fixed sum of 2000 guilders. Jan and Jacob van Leeuwen, son and grandson of Leeuwenhoek's sister Catharina Leeuwenhoek, inherited what remained after the individual bequests.

November 17, 1721

 The will of 1721 repeated the same heirs, but with different amounts.

The quarters went to Jan van Leeuwen and son Jacob van Leeuwen, Catarina Philips van Leeuwen, Dr. Antony Molijn, and Jan Haaxman.


The November 17, 1721, will was the last one before Leeuwenhoek died. Leeuwenhoek and his daughter Maria were universal heirs, so the provisions did not take effect until after she died in 1745.

It was a large estate, worth over 75,000 guilders. After deduction of the charges and legacies, 59,389 guilders and 4 pence remained to be distributed from the estate of Antony and 15,289 guilders and 14 pennies from the estate of Maria. (source? perhaps 1776 document by notary Koetsveld?)

The challenge of distributing this estate arose because Leeuwenhoek lived into his 91st year and Maria lived into her 89th. By the time she died, the heirs named in the 1721 wills had died themselves. Those bequests had to be assigned to the descendants of the original heirs.

All of the Van Leeuwens named in the will had died. Catarina van Leeuwen (granddaughter of Leeuwenhoek's sister Catharine) and her husband Zeger Hobus had only one daughter, Margareta Cornelia Hobus. The quarter of Leeuwenhoek's estate to Jan and Jacob and the quarter to Catarina both went to her. That was half of Leeuwenhoek's estate. In addition, she got the half of Maria's estate that went to the Van Leeuwens.

A quarter of Leeuwenhoek's estate went to Philips de Molijn, the only remaining son of the late Dr. Anthony de Molijn.

A quarter of Leeuwenhoek's estate went to the four children of Jan Haaxman (son of Leeuwenhoek's sister the late Maria de Molijn): Maria Haaxman (wife of Steven Bolland), Cornelis Haaxman, Adriana Haaxman and Dirck Haaxman. These four also received half of Maria's estate.

The house and yard on the west side of the Hypolitus neighborhood went on public sale; it was purchased by Dirk Haaxman for 2,500 guilders, 1,500 less than Leeuwenhoek had paid for it a century earlier. The house on the east side of the Oosteinde went to the maidservant Maria van der Sprenkel.

Leeuwenhoek's bequests of cash and bonds had similar complications.

Margaretha de Molijn died on 22 January 1730. Her bequest went to Philips de Molijn, Margaret van den Heuvel, widow of Coenraad Sceperus.

Maria, Cornelis, Adriana and Dirck Haaxman were still alive.

Rijkje van Leeuwen died in 1735. Jan van Leeuwen had died in October 1726. This bequest went to Catharina van Leeuwen, who died on 21 September 1737. Her bequests went to Margareta Cornelia Hobus.

Adriaan Swalmius, now pensionary of the city of Schiedam, was still alive.

Maria Strik had died. Her bequest went to Jacobus, Katharina, Cornelia and Cornelis Ketting.

Maidservants Josine van der Sprenkel and Judith Oosterhout were still alive to receive theirs.

Legacies from Maria's estate went to Philips de Molijn, to the two maidservants, to Margareta and Jacoba Sceperus, grandchildren of Margareta de Molijn, and to the former maidservant Barbara van der Sprenkel.

Finally, the executors Mr. Willem van der Lely and Gerard van Assendelft as well as the Chamber of Charitate were to see to it that the regents of the Chamber should at all times have the tomb needle in the Old Church of Delft, which Maria had erected in honor of her father, cleaned and properly maintained.


On October 28, 1755, the executors of the will of Anthoni and Maria Leeuwenhoek on the inheritance of Margareta Cornelia Hobus declared that, which, in view of her childless death on September 26, 1748, had to be refused for half to the heirs of father's side and half of them to those of mother's side, that no heirs of mother's side (of Maria Leeuwenhoek) have registered.

They request the Orphanage of Delft to keep that part under them. The handling gave problems; it has been litigated before the Court of Holland. Eventually the account of the estate of Maria Leeuwenhoek took place on 23 September 1776.