Barbarijse zeerovers, een Delftse slaaf en een wanhopige moeder

Verhoeven, G.
Delft op Zondag
Week 49, Jaargang 21
Delft: RODI Media-zh

Barbarijse zeerovers, een Delftse slaaf en een wanhopige moeder

Barbary pirates, a Delft slave and a desperate mother

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It is spring 1693. A woman is walking along the canals of Delft with a book in her hand. It is Lijsbeth Noortbergen, looking for people who want to help her. Her son Anthony sailed out on the frigate Egidius of the Rotterdam shipping company Dominicus Cramer. But when the ship departed from Malaga, it was attacked by pirates from Algiers. Her son was captured and ransom is needed to get him free. On 7 March the mayors authorized her to raise money. That authorization is in the front of the booklet that she carries. Behind them people can note how much they are willing to give. They only really have to pay if Anthony can actually be bought freely. Because it is not at all certain that it will work.

Every year thousands of people are captured by so-called Barbary pirates, named after the Berbers that populate the north coast of Africa. From Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli they undertake raids. They sell their human loot as slaves or release them for payment of ransom. But redemption is not easy: first bring money together, then negotiate through difficult diplomatic contacts and finally the exchange must also go well. There are already so many examples of unsuccessful rescue operations, also in Delft. In 1678 money was raised for the release of Elisabeth van Hurk. When the negotiations were opened, it turned out that she had been given away as a slave. During attempts to make contact with her new owner, the message came that she had died. The ransom was intended for the redemption of another Delft citizen, John the Good, but in 1685 it was sent back. It turned out that he was no longer in Algiers, but had been taken to another place.

Luther's network

Lijsbeth is not discouraged by sad stories. She wants to do everything to save her son. Dozens of people declare their willingness to help her. Some with 2 or 3 guilders, others with 10, 20 or even 25 guilders. Among the givers are well-known people from Delft, such as Anthony van Leeuwenhoeck and organist Dirk Scholl. The Lutheran preacher Jacobus Hoving is also in her booklet. When he attends meetings in other cities, he takes it with him to raise funds. We meet his colleagues Jacobus Velten from Leiden and Johan Christof Schönberg from Rotterdam among the subscribers, each with a number of fellow townspeople. This suggests that Lijsbeth is Lutheran and, in an emergency such as this, can turn to fellow believers, also in other cities.

The long wait

Four years later, on July 13, 1697, Lijsbeth receives permission from the mayors to collect the money. Apparently there has been negotiation and a prospect of free purchase. She sets off again with her book, alongside all the people who have promised money. That is not always easy, because some have moved or died. But on July 24, she delivers the first portion of approximately 100 guilders to the city secretary. He will manage it and hand it over to the negotiators in due course. She will pay around 750 guilders until 9 November, after which the city council will add 100 guilders.

And then the waiting begins for the message that the ransom can be exchanged for the prisoner. But it stays quiet for months, even years. Until finally in 1702 the message comes that Anthony died. Where it went wrong is unclear. How hard the blow is for Lijsbeth can be guessed.

Money Back

Now that the money is no longer needed for Anthony's redemption, it must be returned to the donors. Fortunately, many do not need it themselves: there are 25 notes from people asking the mayors to give the money to Lijsbeth. The settlement takes quite some time. Only in 1705 did Pastor Hoving sign the receipt of 166 guilders and 13 pennies to hand over to Lijsbeth. The city adds 25 guilders - perhaps the interest that the money generated during the period that it was managed by the secretary. The rest is returned to the donors, who must sign a receipt for receipt. Only one of these has been preserved, from François Bogaert. He had signed up for 25 guilders, the highest amount, but on closer inspection he apparently could not miss it.