Thursday, December 31, 2015

Here Lies Dirck Under the Floor of the Church

Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar!

If you've followed this blog the past 4-5 weeks, you know that the Fonkert family first appeared in the 1500s on the Hoekse Waard, an island of reclaimed land in the Rhine delta just south of Rotterdam.

The western part of the island was still swampland when the Count of Egmont gained ownership in 1531. The Westmaas-Nieuwland polder, where Dirck Adriaensz Fonckert lived (see Dirck Fonckert: "He Lived in a Former Monastery of Monks," 10 December 2015), was drained by 1539. The two polders to the west where later generations of Fonkerts lived -- Oud Beijerland and Nieuw Beijerland -- were created in 1557 and 1583, respectively.*

The earliest Fonckert known with certainty is Adriaen Willemsz Fonckert, who died at Rhoon, on the next delta island to the north (IJsselmonde) in 1594. He was married to a daughter of the schout (sheriff) of Rhoon and had there at least four children, including Dirck. While his parents and birthplace are not known, it is estimated that he was born about 1535. Dirck and his two married sisters moved to the Hoekse Waard to farm the new land.

They were landholders of some means. Dirck was an alderman in de Group and in 1622 was appointed dijkgraaf -- dijk sheriff. As a man of some status, he was buried in the Westmaas church upon his death in 1641. The outer part of the stone reads: "HIER LEIT BEGRAVEN DIRCK ADRIAENSZ FONCKERT IN LEVEN DYCKGRAEF VANT WESTMAES" -- Here lies buried Dirck Adriaensz Fonckert  who during his life was dijkgraaf of Westmaas. His first wife, Bastiaantje Zegers Craenendonck, who died in 1626, is also buried in the church. At the base of their bas-relief stones are the family wapens, or arms. They were badly damaged in 1795 by French revolutionaries  who sought to destroy symbols of nobility. A corner of Dirck's gravestone is hidden under the choir "loft."I don't seem to have a photo of Bastiaentje's grave.

Dirck's daughter, Haasje, married Symon Huygen Splinter and is buried in the church at Mijnsheerenland, less than a mile from Westmaas. I do have a photo of her gravestone.

As noted above, Dirck Adrianesz Fonckert came to the Hoekse Waard from Rhoon. There were several Fonckerts at Rhoon in the 1500s, but details about them are fuzzy. Next week, I will kick off the new year with some fairly wild, yet, I think, credible speculation about the origins of these Fonckerts.

And, if you haven't figured it out yet, "Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar" means "Happy New Year." For good measure, I also wish you "een verspoedig Nieuw Jaar.

* It is not clear whether drainage of these polders began, or was finished, in these years. This short description the polders and the role of Adriaen Willems Fonckert is from

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