Letters from families and contacts in Wallonia and Flanders to their Protestant relatives and acquaintances in south-east England, 11 November 1569 -25 February ​1570.[1]

As a result of repression by the Habsburg government in the Low Countries many religious dissidents took refuge in the German lands and in south-east England in the 1550s and especially in the later 1560s. By 1572 between 17,000 and 20,000 Netherlanders were living in England.[2] Some were merchants or apprentices, sent abroad to gain experience, and therefore used to letter writing, but most were ordinary artisans with scant literacy and who, but for having fallen foul of the anti-heresy edicts, would not ordinarily ​have gone overseas. Having often departed hurriedly, these refugees left behind many loose ends which their families had to tie up as best they could. Their wives, siblings and friends suddenly found themselves contending on their own with all manner of domestic as well as financial problems in an environment where they could count on little sympathy from Catholic neighbours and none from the authorities in the Low Countries. Not only were families deprived of their chief breadwinners, but because the Council of Troubles had confiscated the property of many of those who had fled following the religious upheavals in 1566-67, they also had to fend off the endeavours of officials to seize their assets. Meanwhile debts, rents and taxes had to be paid, children brought up and apprenticed and daughters provided with dowries. We know from their correspondence that some suffered acute loneliness, and even felt as if they had been abandoned. If life were hard for those suddenly forced to find their way in foreign parts, it was no whit easier for their relatives and friends back home in Flanders and Wallonia.

The urgent need to keep in touch with families and friends across the North Sea must have given rise to a busy network of messengers who linked the southern Low Countries with the stranger communities in south east England. Yet little documentary evidence for this traffic has survived. This is what makes the survival of this present dossier so remarkable. As so often, the misfortune that befell an individual in the past– in this case the arrest of the courier Henri Fléel, who was apprehended just before he reached safety in Calais – provides a treasure store for later historians. Following Fléel’s arrest, the letters he was carrying disappeared into the archives of Alba’s Council of Troubles, which oversaw the courier’s prosecution and probably his execution as an obstinate heretic.[3] It was here that the Belgian scholar A.L.E. Verheyden found them. The interception of Fléel underscores the risks run by those who operated these clandestine networks. Nor was he the only courier to suffer. One Jean Pollet who had been associated with heretical activities since 1562 was sentenced in 1571 by the magistrates of Hondschoote to be whipped and banished from Flanders for ten years for carrying goods and letters between the Flemish Westkwartier and Calais.[4]  The iconoclast Bartholmeeux van Hille paid the ultimate penalty, being burnt at Ieper in the same year for, among other crimes, having carried a great number of letters from fugitives in England to Ieper.[5] While both these couriers probably had Protestant sympathies, which might explain how they became involved in such a hazardous business, doubtless others had an eye to the main chance: carriers might receive the not inconsiderable sum of five patars (or stuivers) for taking a letter.[6] Senders naturally wanted messengers, who could be trusted, partly because of the illicit nature of these networks and also because of the value of the goods carried: Fléel, for example, had gold angelots on him when he was caught.[7] Several correspondents were also aware of the dangers[8] and therefore cautious about giving names and addresses, or even of sending letters. For that reason, addressees might be advised to reply through a third party.[9] Because recipients of letters from refugees in England automatically incurred suspicion, some chose to surrender these straightaway to the magistrates rather than be caught red-handed with such incriminating evidence at home.[10] 

The postal system was of course erratic. If things went smoothly a letter might take about two weeks to cross between Flanders and England.[11] In one exceptional case, a wife replied to a letter written on 29 December 1569 on 6 January 1570, so barely a week later,[12] but it usually took rather longer. A letter dated 2 January 1570 was received a month later.[13] In another, ten weeks elapsed between a letter being written and its arrival in the Low Countries.[14]  And of course, many never reached their destination. Several correspondents in Flanders and Wallonia complained that they had sent two or three letters without receiving any reply; in one case five letters had been sent.[15] Therefore, months might pass without families receiving any news, and Jacqueline Leurent had no word from her husband in London for two years.[16]

Even without the interception of mails, communications were uncertain. In winter tracks became impassable because of flooding,[17] and bad weather would have delayed cross-channel traffic. Nor could senders keep abreast of where their relations were living in England as the immigrant population was highly mobile. Mails therefore had to be forwarded through third parties, taking up still more time[18] Correspondents often had little or no of warning when a suitable messenger was in their vicinity and they therefore had to react quickly when the opportunity arose.[19] This explains why one in every three letters says it was written in haste. Because one messenger wanted to be on his way, a father felt obliged to conclude his letter to his daughter hurriedly.[20] In another case, a brother told his sister in England that he had written her at 5 am; as this was in February, he must have done so by candlelight.[21]

It also took time to assemble the postbag. Most of those in the present dossier came from three towns - Valenciennes, Tournai and Armentières and were therefore written in French, but fifteen, coming from correspondents in Ieper and the Pays de Alleu, were in Flemish. Most of the letters here were collected over a period of a month. Eventually Fléel, who was out of work, agreed to undertake the final leg from Laventie in the Pays de Alleu to Calais. At Laventie he was given the special pedlar’s pack with a false bottom, which, in addition to the letters, also contained coins, specialised tools, clothes and nostalgic goodies such as cheeses, jam and gingerbread. One mother also asked Fléel to escort her young boy, her husband having previously told her to send the lad of nine or ten to him in London.[22] There are no clues as to the destination of forty-one of the 79 letters, but we know with a reasonable degree of certainty that twenty-two were bound for London, seven or eight for Norwich and a similar number were addressed to strangers in Southampton and Sandwich.

These letters give us a rare insight into the concerns of the families and acquaintances of the fugitives in England.  Certain features regularly recur in the correspondence. The senders almost invariably sent greetings to their families and friends in England and asked to be remembered to others. Health and sickness too bulked large.  They passed on news about children who have been left behind, offered advice about their education[23] and described in some detail the deaths of close members of the family.[24] The pain of separation is expressed, sometimes most poignantly, in many letters: brothers and wives weep and a brother assures his sister that though she may feel as if she’s in exile, she’s ever in the family’s thoughts.[25] In another case a brother tells his sister that since he last saw her ‘my eyes have not been dry and I’m always weeping, praying God that you will come back to him and us all’.[26]

A mother with an abusive husband especially missed the companionship of her son. If God would only bring him closer, that would be ‘all my joy’. When she was downcast, she feared that she would never again see either him or her two daughters, yet she was also hopeful of seeing him in a month.[27] She herself was either a recent mother or, perhaps looking after someone else’s baby, who was giving her sleepless nights; nonetheless, her maternal pride was still evident for she ended by exclaiming that the infant ‘was the most beautiful child you could ever see’.

Naturally many of the letters concern run-of-the mill issues: financial problems loom especially large, with debts to be repaid and in one case recovered. Since the estates of those who had, understandably, refused to appear in person when cited before the Council of Troubles, had been confiscated, families were confronted with the additional burden of trying to prevent the crown from distraining their possessions.[28]  In other ways too Alba’s political regime cast its shadow over these families. Several households were burdened with the maintenance of Spanish soldiers who had been billeted on them[29]and a couple of correspondents commented on the imposition of his 100th penny tax in 1569.[30]  Unsurprisingly, in these circumstances lonely and vulnerable wives were attracted to the idea of joining their families in England, but it was a hazardous journey, not one to be undertaken without a reliable guide.[31] Yet the intensity of the repression, at its peak in 1567-68, seems to have slackened by 1570 to the extent that some correspondents encouraged their relations in England to consider returning home.[32] The problems confronting the local economy too featured in some letters, especially the depressed state of the local cloth industry, caused by a shortage of English and Spanish wool.[33] Nevertheless, some enterprising individuals still seem to have been able to make a profit.[34]

If one were expecting these letters to manifest a strongly confessional character, then one would be disappointed. They contain little in the way of overtly anti-Catholic polemic or indeed ringing affirmations of, for example, the sufficiency of scripture. The absence of an aggressively Protestant tone might, of course, be attributed to the senders’ understandable desire to eschew religious controversy lest the letters fall into the wrong hands. They would be aware that after the outburst of Calvinist activity in 1566-67, a Catholic reaction was underway.  Even so, when Victor Kirstelot, writing from Ieper, was apparently admonished to be on his guard against idolatry, he was able to relieve his interlocutor’s anxiety on this score by telling him that locals left those who sympathised with the new faith in peace.[35]

A close analysis of the religious idiom in these private letters leaves one in little doubt of their quiet and deep commitment to Protestantism. For one thing, the correspondence is conspicuously devoid of allusions to the protective powers of the Virgin Mary or the saints. Instead the writers repeatedly invoke the ‘good God’ who looks after them in this life and they often concluded their letters by praying that He will protect those to whom they are writing. They praise Him for His mercy and for providing them with the means to make a living. Philippe Caulier gave thanks to God who, despite their enemies, has provided them with food. He continued, paraphrasing Psalm 23, ‘and has made us rest in grassy pastures and led us along tranquil waters’. These correspondents placed their confidence in God’s providence and took spiritual comfort from knowing that, whatever their present hardships and the separation from their families, they could leave everything in His hands. They reminded themselves that without God, they can do nothing: in the words of the psalmist cited by one correspondent, ‘God is my refuge in time of trouble’.[36]The brother-in law of Jean de Denain, writing from Valenciennes, encouraged him by reminding him how well ‘the sovereign Lord, our good God’ looked after His servants and he recalled how Jesus Christ had delivered St Peter from prison. This, he went on, ‘was a miraculous thing, but [God’s] power has in no way diminished since that time’. [37] One father advises his son ‘to live in the fear of God’; he should invoke ‘Him in all your needs so that He will be propitious to you, while being assured that He will not abandon those who ask him with faith’.[38] When Jean Flaiel heard that his brother in England had strayed from the right path, he adjured him ‘to have the fear of God before your eyes’.[39]   When they report the passing of a parent, they say that ‘the Master’ has called whoever to his or her death.  The frequency and spontaneity of such phrases testifies to the evident strength of their commitment to the theology of the Reformation. This is all the more striking when we recall that the inhabitants of the towns of Wallonia and West Flanders had only been exposed to the new doctrines during the previous twenty or so years.

The Translation:

The translation of these letters has not been without its problems and we have not always been able to resolve these. In those cases, we have retained the original French or Dutch in the text and proposed a plausible interpretation in the footnotes . The structure of the letters is generally quite straightforward. Most senders of the letters open with a salutation including greetings to family and friends and, after mentioning their own health, go on to express their hope that the addressee is also well. The body of the letter is usually taken up with common- or-garden news of the family, financial matters often made worse by the confiscations, and sometimes extends to information about the local economy and commerce.  At the conclusion, the sender often invokes God’s protection on the recipient.

The limited literacy of some letter-writers complicates the task of translation. Spelling is often phonetic – ‘eau’ might be rendered as ‘o’, ‘mais’ as ‘mé’ and ‘comment’ as ‘que men’ or ‘choment’. The orthography might also be influenced by the local dialect, in this region, Picard and West Flemish.[40] And because the writers’ grasp of syntax is sometimes quite basic, one cannot rely on tenses and agreements when trying to unravel the meaning of a phrase.[41] Verheyden justifiably described their French as ‘estropié’, i.e. ‘mangled’, though he had a rather higher opinion of those composed in Flemish.[42] Despite their grammatical defects and their stylistic awkwardness, what is striking is that so many of these craftsmen and their womenfolk were sufficiently literate as to be able to compose a letter of 200 or so words,[43] often under pressure. Writing did not come easily to the wife of Jacques du Puys for she thought her husband might have to read her letter through two or three times to grasp her meaning, yet her letter ran to around 700 words![44] In the opinion of Verheyden only three of these 79 letters had been written by someone acting on behalf of the sender.[45] The ability of these Netherlanders to put pen to paper may reflect the strength of elementary schooling in the urbanised southern Netherlands in the sixteenth century which seems to have been superior to that available in Tudor England. [46]


In the Low Countries, the New Year began at Easter and this was the calendar used by the letter writers. In 1570 Easter fell on 26 March and so letters written in the first three months of 1570 were therefore dated 1569 by the writer; we have changed this to 1570 in the heading to the letter but where 1569 is given in the letter itself, it has been left.[47]  It should be noted en passant that In 1569-70 the Julian calendar was used in both the Low Countries and England. 

Letters 65-79 were not dated.

Place names and personal names:

The spelling used by the correspondent has been retained with an explanation if this seemed useful.

Dr. Charles Littleton, Senior Research Associate at the History of Parliament Trust

Dr. Alastair Duke, formerly Reader in History at the University of Southampton

May 2017

[1] This is a translation of 79 French and Flemish letters and of the interrogation of the courier in 1570.  The letters were published by A.L.E. Verheyden as ‘Une correspondance inédite adressée par des familles protestantes des Pays-Bas à leur coreligionnaires d’Angleterre (11 novembre 1569-25 février 1570)’ Bulletin de la Commission Royale d’Histoire 120 (1955), 93-257. While working on the influence of immigrants in early modern London, Dr Lien Luu recognised just what valuable information these letters revealed about the lives and outlook of these immigrants and their families and she put this to excellent use in her Immigrants and the Industries of London 1500-1700 (Aldershot, 2005), 112-14. Though Dr Luu took the initiative in having these made available in English and procured some funding for this project from the University of Hertfordshire, the task of translating and annotating them has fallen to Dr Charles Littleton and Dr Alastair Duke.  The latter in particular would like to acknowledge the help he has received from two neerlandici, Dr Christopher Joby and Professor Noel Osselton.

[2] A. Duke. ‘Eavesdropping on the correspondence between the Strangers, chiefly in Norwich, and their families in the Low Countries 1567-1570’, Dutch Crossing 38 (2), 2014, 116-17.

[3] Verheyden ‘Correspondance inédite’, 99. For the interrogations see the ‘Testimony of Henri Fléel’ appended here to the translation of the letters.

[4] De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, IV, 30-31, 125-6; 209-11; 265; 274; 314-5.

[5] L.A. Diegerick (ed.)  Archives d’Ypres. Documents du XVIe siècle faisant suite à l’inventaire des chartes 4 vols. (Bruges, 1874-77), IV, 284 ; A. van Hernighem, Eerste bouck van beschryfvinghe van alle gheschiedenesse 1562-1572) ed. A.L.E. Verheyden (Société d’histoire du protestantisme belge: documents historiques 4) (Brussels, 1978), 82-83. 

[6] See Letters 16 and 27. For comparison, the day wage of a mason in sixteenth-century Holland was around 5 stuivers or patars,G. van der Kooi, De Wynberch des Heren. Godsdienstige veranderingen op Texel 1514-1572 (Hilversum, 2005), 31 while a common soldier might earn a patar a day in 1590, Renon de France, Histoire des Troubles des Pays-Bas ed. Ch. Piot 3 vols (Brussels, 1886-91), III, 260.

[7] See Letters 3, 5, 59, 61 and 65.

[8] See Letters 56 and 61.

[9] See Letters 53 and 56.

[10] Diegerick (ed.)  Archives d’Ypres, IV, 64-65.

[11] See Letters 3 and 21. Jacques Jappin expected his aunt in England would have received his letter written a fortnight previously, see Letter 17.  A letter written on 13 July 1567 by a Calvinist refugee in Norwich reached its addressee in Ieper on or before 28 July, see H.Q. Janssen 'De hervormde vlugtelingen van Yperen in Engeland, geschetst naar hunne brieven. Een bijdrage tot de hervormingsgeschiedenis van Yperen en Norwich', Bijdragen tot de oudheidkunde en geschiedenis inzonderheid van Zeeuwsch Vlaanderen 2 (Middelburg, 1857) 223-4. For an English translation at www.dutchrevolt/leidenuniv/nl see under English sources, Janssen correspondence, no. 3; also Diegerick (ed.)  Archives d’Ypres, IV, 64-65.

[12] See Letter 3

[13] See Letter 34. 

[14] See Letter 5. She also said she had received  another letter dated 3 January 1570.

[15] See Letter 27. Letters 2, 14, 15, 26, 31 and 51 refer to the sending of ‘several’ letters without these reaching the addressee.

[16] See Letter 31.

[17] See Letters 29 and 34.

[18] See Letters 4, 20.

[19] See Letter 16.

[20] See also Letter 27. 

[21] See Letter 11.

[22] See Letter 42 and the testimony of Fléel.

[23] See Letter 21

[24] See Letters 14, 48, 51 and 68.

[25] See Letters 1, 14, 26, 28, 45, 51.

[26] See Letter 11.

[27] See Letter 23.

[28] See Letters 3, 10, 12, 27, 42, 46, 51, 58 and 60.

[29] See Letters 32, 42 and 45.

[30] See Letters 56 and 77.

[31] See Letters 8 and 26.

[32] See Letters 12, 32, 38, 40 and 55.

[33] See Letters 40, 45 and 55.

[34] See Letters 33 and 57.

[35] See Letter 38.

[36] Psalm 46. See Letter 63.

[37] See Letter 32.

[38] See Letter 43.

[39] See Letter 49.

[40] Chris Joby has drawn attention to the ‘prothetic’ ‘h’ prefixed to the ‘u’ – ‘hu’ for ‘u’- in two of the Flemish letters 36 and 47.

[41] For illustrative purposes, we have reproduced the original French text of letter 5.

[42] Verheyden ‘Correspondance inédite’, 103.

[43] The average length of the first 20 letters in Verheyden ‘Correspondance inédite’.

[44] See Letter 26.

[45] See Letters 3, 13 and 43.

[46] See the remarks of A. Duke. ‘Eavesdropping on the correspondence’120-23.

[47] The Gregorian calendar was introduced in the Spanish-controlled Netherlands in December 1582 and in the county of Holland in 1583: the Gregorian calendar was only introduced in England in 1752. 


 1[1]. Jacques Desrumaulx to his brother Guillaume Desrumaulx living at Norwich 11 November 1569.

My very dear and well-beloved brother, Gillamme Desrumaulx, your mother sends hearty greetings to you. And Jacque commends himself tres afengement [2] and sends hearty greetings to you and your niece Jacquemine and Jacquemine, your mother’s servant.

And you should know that we’re all in good health, thanks be to God, and we pray that it’s so with you all. My very dear and well-beloved brother Gillamme Desrumaulx, we pray you that if you will see the benefit of returning to the country we would be very happy, if you return. You know that it’s been a long time since we saw one another and if you knew of pas assé pour revenues;[3] as for the country we are here now in peace; if you wanted to return for a time or to live, you will be welcome.

I want you to know indeed that you have but one brother and he has a great desire that you return for it is a great pain to be thus separated from one another for you know we have had the sadness of losing one another. However, if you do not return, you should write how you’re faring for it’s a year since we have had your letter. We wish that you’d send back Simmon for his mother is much dismayed.

[Yours] in Christ by Jacque Desrumaulx, 11 November 1569.   

2.[4] Pierre Taiart to Arnould de le Rue. [5] 4 January 1570 (n.s)

Hearty greetings to you, my good friend, Hernoul de le Rue, not forgetting your wife and all who live with you and to Jan Boutiflas[6] and his wife.

This letter is to let you know that I’m very surprised not to have had any news of you for I’ve sent several letters in the past four months. And I’ve had no reply from you concerning which I didn’t think you’d be so ungrateful as not to write back, therefore I beg you to do your duty and send the money you owe me on account of merchandise that I sold you and delivered to my brother and to you. 

And also to send me the money for 30 pieces of decorative edging in several colours and 4 ‘buset’[7] which I sold to you at your house which my brother sent you to sell to in his name and for me. For if you want to, you could send it easily by exchange for people also deal secretly.  

And also my sister is much troubled for she has the merchandise ready and doesn’t know what to do with it for you have not written anything back. She does not know how she is going to pay what she owes because of the debt that her husband has incurred of me and another. Therefore, do your duty and let me have the money and if you want other merchandise I’ll send it to you.

I will end for the present, praying God that He will look after you and all of us.

In haste. 4 January 1569.

From your friend forever, Pierre Taiart.

I have been told that a certain individual in your debt asked for a certain sum of money and you gave it her. She will soon give it back to me and my sister and will give you a good account.

Endorsed: To be given to Hernou de le Rue at Londre [London].

3.[8] Marinne to her husband Parin. 6 January 1570 (n.s.)

My friend, after all my humble commendations, this will be to inform you that Marinne your wife has received your letter dated the 26th of December ’69, by which letter she and all of us rejoice in your good health.

Note as well that Marinne is in good health as are all of us; Jenin and Mariette are faring well in their marriage. And [this is] to tell you that Marinne no longer has any income; that is because the king has heard that wives are assisting their husbands, for which reason it has pleased His Majesty to confiscate all goods in general.

Marinne sends you, by the bearer of this letter, two smocks.[9] And she will repay Provoost the money which he lent you according to your letter, asking you to please save your money.

And when you will need some again, she asks you to please presté au dict[10] [and] she will give it to him. So, that when she sends it to you, it remains for the time back here and does not become known. As for Lambert, he has been executed.[11]

And Marinne has received a piece [of cloth?] worth three sous with a pair of hand-ruffs for Maikin.

I have nothing else to tell you at the moment, praying that God may send you good health.

Written, this 6th of January ‘69

By your entire friend and godfather

Endorsed: To be given to Parin.

4.[12] Jean le Mahiest to his brother Jan le Mahiest. 21 January 1570 (n.s.)

I commend you by Jesus Christ Our Lord.

My brother, Jan le Mahieust, after my greetings, I want to tell you that we’re all in good  health, praise be to our good God, and I hope the same for you.

So, brother, I could be reproached with regard to you for not having done my duty, but since the return of Gilbert Giesquère I’ve heard no news of you and I have not heard of any reliable person going from here. I have been told that someone was at the house of Martins Clarice, but he had returned long before when I heard of him. When any messenger leaves, give this to him with a charge to speak, if such a thing is not too difficult.

I very much want to talk to you about our affairs in order to open [up?] a little [about] our affairs. I will put it all in good order so that by letter or some other means we can hear one another. When I have written back to you I don’t know how my letter should be addressed.

Send my greetings to all my acquaintances; my wife and my daughter send greetings.

Written by your brother Jan 1569 21 February.

Endorsed: To Jacques Lernol[13] at Sauhint[14] for Jan le Mahiest.

5.[15] Jeanne Géguenter to her brother Jacques Coutrerie le jeune.[16] 27 January 1570 (n.s.)

My brother, I send greetings to you. I can tell you that I’m in good health as also are all my children. I can confirm that I have received your letter dated 3 November and I received it on 16 January. I can confirm that I have understood everything but I won’t have the money about which you asked me and I’m not able in the short term to amend things. I’m in great want and for the present I haven’t earned anything much.

Also you should know that I’m burdened with the house. Nycolt de Marlye has bought the one where I live and I live at his. I had to go there; I discovered too late that I would not benefit much and croye bien ester le plus tost que vous povés hors.[17]

Your comrade Decobecq sends heartfelt greetings and wishes you were closer and says that Magdeleine and Remy will together certainly earn 40 gros a week

I would ask you that I see a small thing that you wanted to do for me. I would not know how to earn my expenses here and I beg you to send it to me as soon as you can. Gilles Mette sends greetings to Pierçon and if he has business of some sort that he might be helped and not left in danger. As for myself, I wish, my brother to send him greetings. I would ask you that you tell (?) me whether those of the ‘bours’ (?) have arrived. They left at All Saints and I’ve heard nothing. Someone said that they have perished, which makes us troubled.

Finally, asking the Creator for his holy grace.

Written 27 January by your sister Jenne Gégunter.

I[18] can confirm that I have received your letter dated 3 January. My brother, I told you that Coret’s money I can’t give it him (sey cea vyeu que vous ons mandé, know to tell us 2 or 3 weeks before in order to make) our preparation and a little before my brother reminded me if those of the ‘bours’ have arrived. They left at All Saints; someone said they have perished and give us no news about it if they have arrived after you. We are very surprised to have had no news about Pierrecon.

Endorsed. To be given to Jacque Coutrerie, the younger. 

6.[19] Jeanne Castel to her brother-in-law Arnould le Mettre 29 January 1570 (n.s.)

My brother, Ernoul [Arnoul] le Mettre, my commendations to you and to your wife and I can tell you that I am in good health, thanks be to God, and so are my four children, praying the Lord God that all of you are as well.

As to my son George, I would wish he were with you, but I believe, enjoining the mercy of God, that I will support them well, for I have relatives whom I believe will not abandon me to your charity.

For the rest, I must do as the others.

Making an end to this, may the good God give you his grace.

Written by me, Jenne Castel, your sister-in-law, the widow of Gille le Mettre, your brother.

Endorsed: To be given to Ernoul le Mettre

7.[20] The widow Jonneviel to Nicaise Frappes[21] 30 January 1570 (n.s.)

Nicaise Frappes, my hearty commendations to your good graces and to your wife. After all my commendations, this letter is to inform you that we are all in good health, thanks be to God, and hope that you are as well.

This is to tell you that concerning what you have of mine, that is my money, that I would like to have it with me, for it has been a long time since I asked it of you. And if I never received any response from you, that seems to be a mockery, for, Nicaise, you know very well that I do not have the thousand écus, [and] you should also know that I suffered the misfortune of a fire, not through my own fault, but I suffered from it as well as the others. For which reason, when considering my affairs, you can imagine my affliction even more. You are the reason that my daughter has refused a good marriage, for if there had come along a good husband, indeed a prince, it would not have been possible to marry him, for the fashion is such that they do not ask for girls for their knowledge, but for their money. For which reason, I ask you that you write back about your intentions to me, for it has been long enough and, by doing so, you will please me.

I have nothing else to tell you at the moment, except may God be with you.

Written in haste, this 30th of January 1569

By me the widow Jonneviel

Endorsed: This present letter to be given to Nicaise Frappes

8.[22] Noël Debreuban to his brother Jean Debreuban 1 February 1570 (n.s.)

Greetings by our lord Jesus Christ.

My very dear and good friend, my brother, Jan Debreuban, I your sister Noël send very affectionate greetings to you and likewise your brother, Jan de Vyller[23] et all his family and likewise your nephew Grade de Vyller, and then to my sister Jacquelin and that she and Marye ask to greet you [and] that your wife Roset et pense [hopes?] to greet you wholeheartedly and warmly. And when the messenger came to Vyller that he told me about what I did not know [,] what to do because I have heard no news for a year. As well as hearing more, I would like to know how I [could?] imagine leaving because I have no money which I could find. And moreover, he came in the evening and wanted to leave in the morning and he then waited for a week and then left finally, and nevertheless it is possible if you wish.

I ask you to write me and that I will get ready all my things to leave 2 weeks after Easter and if you find another messenger sooner, I will ask him to leave.

And moreover I, Gra de Vyller, your nephew, ask you for your blessing for I’m on the point of marrying and I would have wished that it had [happened?] and she asks if it is possible that you come to this side of the sea to the nearest town.

Written on 1 February 1569. 

Endorsed: To be given to Jan Debreuban.

 9.[24] Nicolas to his friend François Guimart[25] 1 February 1570 (n.s.)

Fransoies Guimart after all my greetings I was happy to hear you were in good health and that if Pierre my son cannot live with you, that we can all come to the town of Baumaies[26] for we hear nothing but that there’s an accord in your country.[27] And I cannot hold back from telling you that all those [here?] with whom you and I have had to do, that is Pierre Carpentier[28] and also his father Antoine Freumant who died soon after we met in Calais; and also the leader called Gillain Reubien[29] who resided in the town of Antwerp and of all there’s only Jaque Galon who became wealthy, concerning whom I remember (?) that he advised Graupert and me, but earning nothing from the said Reubien because the merchandise that he would deliver to you was all exhausted in renting  the space and there was no return. I had always hoped to rent (it) again and I also hoped you would come once again, but our God often shows us by his messages in great tribulation and to many (?) but our journey was cut short.

In conclusion, I commend to you Pierre, my son, that it is my hope if you do some service to the said Pier that I will recompense you for it.

Here there’s no change nor any sign of change, but God holds everything in his good will to reveal his glory at the final end.

Praying to our God to give you his grace.

This 1 February 1569.  In everything your servant and friend: Nicolas.

Endorsed: To master Francoies Guimart.

10.[30] A woman[31] to her friend Guillaume Hennequart[32] 1 February 1570 (n.s.).

Greetings by Jesus Christ. Written, the first day of February.

My good friend, Guillaume Hennequart, I beg to be commended to you and your wife and similarly to my daughter Syntenne , informing you as well that we are all in good health, praise be to God, which I hope all of you are as well.

Guillaume, this letter is to inform you that I have received your letter by which I learned that my daughter Syntenne wishes to marry and understood that many notable people were involved and still are involved in this. I discussed with all my friends what is this advantage which God wishes to provide for her but it would be impossible to do her any good at the moment because all our goods have been seized as you all know very well. But God willing, I hope with time that she will no longer be a bastard like [que] the other, provided that she wishes to be an honest woman and that I can bring her up properly.

And, similarly, I spoke to Jacques Pranger,[33] who asked me for my daughter for and in the name of his son, to which I consented.

My friends, there is nothing else at the moment, except may God protect you all.

Guillaume I ask that you may please let me know how I could send to them that which you asked of me without any danger, tell me about it and I will do it very willingly. You know very well that I am a simple woman. For which reason, advise me how I could send it.

Endorsed: To my good friend, Guillaume Hennequart. 

11.[34] Thomas le Den to his sister ‘Jenne le Den’ (= Anne) 1 February 1570 (n.s.)

Written on 1 February 1569

My very dear and well-beloved sister in Jesus Christ, I send you heartfelt greetings and good graces.

Know that I’m in good health, I and my wife, my daughter and my sister and her husband and their children and therefore I pray to God that he may protect you and all yours.

Know, my sister, that we are very happy to have had news of you because for a long time we’ve not had any news. We don’t have anything else to ask save that God may protect you and all yours.

Know, my sister, that my mother is likewise at present in good health and I pray that you will return to us for since the hour and the days that I saw you, my eyes have not been dry and I’m always weeping, praying God that you will come back to him and us all.

I don’t know of anything else save that you return and that it’s the wish of the good God to send you back, if that’s your desire you will give great pleasure to my mother and us all.

In everything your brother, Thomas le Den.

Written, 1 February, at 5 in the morning.

Endorsed: To be given to Jenne le Den.   

12.[35] Wife of Martin Plennart[36] to the same. 1 February 1570 (n.s.)

May the grace and peace of our good God be granted to you as a greeting.

Martin, be informed that your wife has received your letter, dated 27 December, by which she was very happy when she heard of your good state. Note, that your wife and mother and your brother and sister and relatives and friends all send you their hearty commendations and beg you not to become melancholy, for, at the moment, no one is saying anything [about you?] in Valenciennes. You have heard tell that they are confiscating the goods of people; it is very true that they have confiscated the goods of some of those who are banished or accused, but, they are not saying anything for the moment. And I wish that you were with your wife and children, for you would be at ease as much as the others who return every day. You ask me to see if the roads are dangerous, but concerning that you will have to have patience, for I hope, depending on the grace of God, that he will change matters and that you will return by his grace, for it is hardly a journey for a woman and two children. For which reason, place your confidence in God and with time you will come a little nearer in time. Note that the wife of Boisin has given birth to a son.

I have nothing else to tell you for the moment, except that your daughters Annette and Marie are always asking when their father will come; your daughter Marie says that you do not know how to get back and that your feet hurt. May you be commended to God.

From Valenciennes, this first day of the month of February in ’69. Martin, inquire a bit to discover where Martin du Val is, for his father and mother wish very much to hear his news. To end, by Jesus Christ.

Endorsed: To be given to Martin Plennart into his own hand.

13.[37] Parents of Martin du Val to the same. From Valenciennes 1 February 1570 (n.s.).

Martin du Val, be informed that your father and your mother and your two sisters all send you their hearty commendations, they commend themselves to you. As for your sister Cuinte, she is with God. But concerning your father and your mother, they very affectionately ask that you send them your news as quickly as possible, for as long as they have no news of you, it seems to them that you are dead, for which reason all they wish for is that you give them your news in order that they may know your condition and how you are doing; by doing so, you will give them joy and ease. And if it is possible for you to come nearer to them, they would very much like that, so that they may hear your news more often than they do now. And concerning news in Valenciennes, at the moment no one is saying anything [about you?] to anybody. They have nothing else to tell you at the moment, except may God protect you and us all.

From Valenciennes, this first day of the month of February in the year ’69, by me, Collette,[38] who has set this down for you on the authority of your father and your mother, may you  be commended to God.

Endorsed: To be given to Martin du Val, a young man, living at Londres [London], in the house of the son of Terroeuve.

14.[39] Niece of Pierre Gruels[40] to her uncle.  [Valenciennes?] 2 February 1570 (n.s.)

My uncle I send whole hearted greetings to you and my aunt, also your wife, and to my uncle and to my aunt and to my sister Batekin, as also does my father and my aunt Marie and all of us children, [and] my brother and sister. And we are all in good health, praise be to God, to whom I pray that it is likewise with you.

The first thing I would tell you is that since four and a half months we no longer have mother; and she died on 2 October 1569 in Sunday evening at half past nine. My cousin, your son, was then with us and saw her die and he had just come to take supper with me and my cousin outside our house. And my mother was not sick when she went to lie down and an hour later she died beside my father without falling ill or speaking, except à l’artiecque de la mort,[41] she threw her arm around my father, who was quite taken aback and all of us likewise. And I did not see her die. In the morning du panion [?] she was sleeping well and talking a little before. And we are without a mother, since then we have all lost my uncle and aunt through the loss – so soon and in such haste – so that we are now 7 poor children without a mother and with a father who is rather disagreeable as you well know; he has been so more for her than for his children and it had all come to such a pass that my mother told him that she would not see any of us adrechy[42] as he never wanted her; and now he would wish it well so that he might have a better excuse to marry afterwards.

And if he does it, my uncle, we would lose everything so little has my mother left us and it seems to me that he will do it for he does not follow the good advice of my uncle Nyecolas and his wife and my uncle and everyone. Would that you were here near me and my aunt Jennet if only to give us the benefit of your advice and company. And I have sent all of this (to you) and I will write you more about it another time. And as for the house we still hold it. And as for my mother, she was pregnant and still happy 2 months (before?) she died, and that I have sent everything (to you). 

My uncle, as for my cousin, he bears everything and it’s not his fault that he doesn’t write you for he has written you several times, but you’ve not received it. And as for helping you, he would do so willingly if he had the means to send you some thing (?) and he is looking at doing it and it has also been sent you likewise.

My uncle, as for your wish that I were close to you, I wished that long ago for the many regrets that I have always will have, but I must wait patiently on the will of God.

In haste, this 2 February 1569

And my sister Katlin is without a mother

From your niece who knows you well

Endorsed: To my uncle, Pierre Gruelz, wherever he might be living. 


15.[43] Caterine Glouquette to her husband Nicolas Herman 2 February 1570 (n.s.)

May the grace of God be granted to you by our lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for your consolation. Amen.

My very dear and good husband, I greet you with a good heart, letting you know that I’m faring well, thanks be to God, both in heart and in spirit.                        

My husband, I very much want to have your news and that you have a great longing [envoy for envie] for me and I for you. I very much wish I had the means to come with you since for nearly three months I’ve not had news of you and I hear that you’ve sent several letters. I know, my husband, you sent one a year ago which little Nicolas received and gave it to his wife and when she had had it for some five weeks, she burnt it. And when, my husband, on that day that she burnt it, it seemed to me avirré [44]that she gave me le comptes le mort.[45]

And [I] have been ill in the ensienge[46]and only two months ago I was still ill. And now thanks to the good God who has relieved me of what it pleased him to send and I have taken it in good part.

And I ask that you pray to God for us and we will pray to God for you. Amen.

I should tell you, my husband, that I’m sending you 6 pairs[47] of de verque de hur[48]  4 corde[49] and six pairs of forty and ....[50] (illegible in original) vales e ungne  …

I can tell you, my husband, that Caterinne and Jan are faring well and (also) your daughter Judite. Both Cateriene and Jérémie have died. She spent five months at my father’s house, at Rume[51] [when] she became so ill and as for Jérémie whom God the Master has called, I received him and when she became ill in the mind, saying nothing for five days, it ended a year later. 

Therefore, my husband, your brother Jan and your sister send greetings to you. Marie de Lesplanque and le Bègue, le Roi and all those of your house send greetings to you. I don’t know what else to say, save that may God protect you all and us. Amen.

Written in haste, second of February 1569.

And my husband I would be close to you. Now ....... and I pray always to know. I sign this as best I can. I make la prière [?] fervent [?][52] et ai who can help. 

Endorsed: Written by your friend Caterienne Glouquette. To be given to Nicolas Herman.

16.[53]  Jacques Bérot to his daughter Agnièz Bérot Valenciennes 2 February 1570 (n.s.)

My daughter, my hearty commendations to you and to your husband, and also from your mother-in-law and your nephew and niece, and to your two children, who are near you.

I have received your letters of 2 January last which were very pleasing to me as I was informed of your good condition, praise be to God, who provides us with the same grace.  For we were anxious to have your news, and inform you as well that your two children here are doing well and are growing in size and beauty and little David is a joy.

I put an end to this on that point owing to the hurried departure of the messenger. I pray that God the Creator may keep you in his mercy.

From Valenciennes, this 2nd day of February 1569

Your father, Jacques Berot.

The said David sends greetings to his mother, to his brother and his sister. He made this greeting by kissing me this morning. I have paid the bearer of this 5 patars.

Endorsed: To my daughter, Agniès Berot.

17.[54] Jacques Jappin[55] to his aunt, Agniès Bérot Valenciennes 2 February 1570 (n.s.).

My aunt, hearing that someone was going to you, I wanted to write this letter to let you know that our condition is good, praise be to God, to whom I pray that He may thus also [be] pleased to keep all of you.

I wrote to you, it was around fifteen days ago that you would have received it, by which I let you know that your two children are doing very well.

My brother-in-law and my sister send their greetings to you and to all our friends over there and especially to your husband and your children.

Making an end to this, I pray that God keeps you in his holy grace and send my greetings to all of yours, to my uncle and to all the others.

From Valenciennes, in haste, this 2nd of February 1569.

Your nephew and servant, Jacques Jappin

Endorsed: To my aunt, Agniès Bérot.

18.[56] Son of Roland de Hetreu[57] to his father, 2 February 1570 (n.s.) [Valenciennes]

May the peace of God be granted you for your salvation.

I send greetings to you, my father, as does my mother, your wife; and also Eyzabele, my wife and all the friends. Likewise, my father, we ask to be commended to your brother Roland and to your sister, his wife; we ask to be commended to your cousin Matieu and that I did not know too much of the affairs of his wife.

I can report, my father that we are in good health in both heart and spirit. God be thanked. I have received two letters from you, dated 2 January.

I can report, my father, that one came the Saturday after you left our house. After you [came] to speak to my sister and again two or three times and wanted to come in. I pressed him to show [me] his letter. Then I had returned from my home. I also told him that he should read it there. I asked our neighbour, Jan le Cain, when you left what he was owed. Since [then] we have not dared to say anything; each time I have read it (with) pleasure, but we haven’t dared speak about you.

Know that we ask to be commended to the children of our brother Rolan and that my mother leuey perey[58]to stop hitting [touching?] the head of her son Hernou and to keep it always bandaged for this [the wound?] comes from a cautery.

Likewise, my father we wish you were with us. May it please the good God that we’re on the way, but we have not finished our business for I have had to deal with many people, as you know.

My father, please commend me to our sister Colet and her family; you’ve not written anything about them. My father, please commend me warmly to Matieu and his niece for we would like to have news about her and that she’s faring well.

Likewise, my father, I will do your duty by letter, asking God to be commended to all his mercy and that God by his goodness wants always to lead us according to his goodness and mercy for we are in great need of it.

Therefore, pray to God for us and I pray to God that he gives us the grace to pray to God for you.

From a place you know, Candlemas which is 2 February.

Your son who knows well.

Endorsed: to be given to Rolan de Hetreu, merchant. The messenger has not been paid.

19.[59] Elizabeth Lot to her husband Thomas le Clercque[60], 2 February 1570 (n.s.)

Tomma le Clercque, my husband, I send you greetings.

Having received your letter, dated 26 December ’69, I thank my God that I’ve had your news, praying that you have changed your mind about living and working in the country without more messengers.

And I pray to our good God that he may protect you until we may be able to see one another. All our children fare well and also master Jacque.

We do not know or receive anything, so we suffer many troubles and also others. Therefore we won’t be able to help one another so we’re not alone in danger. As for the paper and the coute [61]you asked for, I will send these via Antwerp and thence to where you asked for them.

Praying our good God to give you his grace.

This 2 February, the year 1569.

By your Elizabet Lot, your wife.

Endorsed: To be delivered to where Tomas le Clercque is dwelling

20.[62] Sister of Marie and Chonette [Jonette] Orman[63] to the same 2 February 1570 (n.s.)

Greetings by Jesus Christ.

My very dear and well-beloved sisters Mary and Chonette Orman, your godfather and I send you greetings, and advise you that I’ve received two letters. To the first of these I sent back a reply [telling] how Matiniette Tricar and Marten, the son of Amé le Chèvre, great surgeon of Raims[64] was pregnant with her first child and the husband whom she married was called Jacques le Chèvre whose mother was the cousin-german of your godfather Jan de la Chambre. And I have put the certificate[65] of (illegible) inside the other letter and if you wanted proof, you would find more than a thousand, for the matter is very clear.

And of your things you wanted [and] how to send these since you don’t say to whom one should give them, nor what things you wanted. Therefore, another time put your matter more clearly.

And my brother Jan Orman and his wife and your brother-in-law and sister-in-law commend themselves to you. And your brother-in-law is concerned and as a sign of truth he has put their mark on the letter and this is true that they have separated one from another before the bishop of Arras.

And your sister Bélo sends greetings to you and longs to see again your news and that of your father and your brother. And if I had had an opportunity, I would have still found the officer, but this [was?] tout ung.[66]

Commend us especially to my brother Peter Orman and his wife.

I certify myself: Jan Harchin, Tesse Mein. Myself. Jan Dutois. Witness: Jan de le Chambre.

Written on 2 February, by your sister Orman.             

Endorsed: To be given to Jacqueé[67] for sending on to Mary Orman, living in the town of Londre [London].

21.[68] Father of Arnould[69] to the same. 2 February 1570 (n.s.)

Arnoult, after every greeting to all our friends, I will tell you that I have received your letter from which I learned that you were well-disposed in everything, with this [and?] that you are at peace in the country, which I’m very pleased about, for we were very worried about the troubles there[70] and as we had had no news about you for a long time, this made us all concerned about you.

I have written about two weeks ago, via Jehan de la Barre;[71] I believe that you will have had the letter from him. We are doing well, praise be to God, but very troubled. I pray God that he will give all of us patience and that he wants to bring about peace everywhere. I urge you to keep a hand on your son Jehan, that he is taught Latin and to do his numbers well and then to set him to learn languages for it is fitting that he does not waste his time. Prangier[72] has asked me to approach his son, I would ask you to do your best with him. I very much wish you were closer to us so we could have more often news though I hope that in time the princes will reach an agreement together so that the people may have peace.

We all pray to God that he puts them at peace. I wish to be commended to all our friends. May your children fare well and begin to learn to read, to write and to sew.

I would very much like to have the young Jehan Thomas with me.

From Lieulx,[73] this 2 February 1569

From your father.

22.[74] Brother of Jeanne Calvière to the same: 3 February 1570 (n.s.)

My sister, my hearty greetings to you and to your children, my mother and my wife and all our friends do likewise.

Be informed that we are all in good health, thanks be to God, to whom we pray that you are as well.

And as for your son Pol, his uncle has decided not to send him yet. I received from Calot du Chaple what she owed me but [I’ve had] nothing from the others.

There is nothing else for the moment, except that I pray the Lord to protect you.

This 3rd of February, by your brother and friend.

Endorsed: To be given to Jeanne Calvière

23.[75] Mother of Benoît de le Court to the same: 3 February 1570. (n.s.)

Benoit, my hearty greetings to you and we – and each and every one of us and to your little daughters[76] - to your wife and to her sister, soon to be married whom I hope is still with you, God willing, and for whom I cry many times each week, for I am wasting away. And may it please our good God that you would very soon be near us, for that would be all my joy, for I have a very strange husband. And I would comfort myself sometimes with you and now I don’t have anybody and it always seems to me that I will never see you again, nor my two daughters, nor your children, for whom I grieve so much that I would not know how to write to you about it. And still my longing is greater than it ever has been, for I do not have any news from you since last month, except that Francois de Lingne gave me your greetings, but I very much want to know if your wife’s head is completely healed and if you are benefiting a bit from your labours, for I would be very happy to hear it.

But only write me a few words when you can so that I may know if all your household is in good health for I am not at all, and so that [I may know about] your sister who is in your house but do not reply to us on the back of this [letter], but to my discreet friend near our house. And my greetings to my godmother and to all our friends and tell her that her sister Jeanette has died, as a result of which I [feel] very forsaken. And may it please our good God that I may safely be with you in a month and for that I would be very happy.

And the little creature is a great burden to me as I do not sleep day or night and she is the most beautiful child that you would ever see in a thousand, for I had her in September.

Making an end to this, I pray the Creator to grant you his holy grace and that you pray God for us. And if our good God gives me grace, I will pray God for you. I pray to him many times each day, when I am well enough.

Written, the 3rd day of February

By your very wistful mother.

Endorsed: To be given to Benoit de le Court. 

24.[77] Martin Desquint to his brother Michiel Desquint 3 February 1570 (n.s.)

May the grace of God be granted to you.

My brother, Michiel, my hearty greetings to you. Be informed that we are all in good health; my father and my mother and Antoine and I, Martin, and Mathieu and my sister-in-law and all their children are all in good health, praise be to God, and I pray to him that all of you are as well.

You asked me concerning some wands[78] and I have sent you some, 3 pairs with three strings, 3 pairs with four strings and 3 pairs with 5 strings, one with 7 strings; in all there are 10 pairs.

We have received a letter from you, the 2 February, which has made us very happy, for it has already been a long time since we have heard anything about your health, but we are very upset that you did not tell us there where you are residing for sending letters to us. As for news, there is nothing since you left the country: we are all in good health, praying God that you are too.

Martin Desquiens, the 3rd day of February 1569

My brother, Michel, I beg you if you have any sort of business that you write to me about it; if it is possible I will gladly send it. May God be with you.

My commendations to my sister-in-law and to Daniel and to Abraham and to Jan, your son, so that they may remember us.

Endorsed: To be given to Michiel Desquint.

25.[79] Brother of Jason du Bois[80] to the same 3 February 1570 (n.s.)

May the grace and peace of our lord, Jesus Christ, be granted you for salvation.

Be informed, my brother that we’re all in good health, thanks be to God, and I pray to God that it is likewise with you.

Having made all my greetings, I can tell you that I’ve received your letter that you sent me in which you asked me to give 3 £ de gros[81] to Jannet le Quien.[82] This will be impossible for me for I don’t have any means since I’m living in receipt of poor relief. I have had to find much money to buy what I need.

Be informed that the widow’s sister has died so it’s out of the question for me to be able to send you it unless you find another friend who can help you.

Be informed that your daughter Jenne greets you, likewise all of us.

I don’t know of anything else to say except that God may protect you all.

Written in haste, the day after Candlemas 1569.

In Jesus Christ.

Endorsed: To be given to Jason du Bois.

26. Wife of Jacques du Puys[83] to the same. 3 February 1570 (n.s).

In the name of God, 3 February.

My brother and good friend sends most humble greetings to you, to let you know that we are all prospering well, grace and praise to our good God as I hope it is also with you all.

Further, you should know that I have received your letter dated 2 January and have fully understood the same from which I am very happy about your state (of health) and that (you have) all the means for making a living for which I thank our good God who has been pleased to provide so well for you. And as for me, you should realise that it’s out of the question to come so soon for I’m still in complete possession of my house and must do what I can. But if it’s your wish that I should come to you, tell me by the first post and I promise you I’ll come, but however it will certainly be after Easter before I could come there for I would want to sell most of my furniture to make some money. And also, you should write to say whether or not I should come to you without a livelihood, or what I will have to do. 

And as for our children, send me your advice, that is if I should bring them with me or not. As for Gérom, he’s at ‘Vuessele’[84] with our nephew Philippes Nys[85] but his stay will end at Easter. As for Hetyaven he’s with your brother Pol, but his stay ends at All Saints next. Therefore, don’t neglect to tell me everything so that everything can be done with good advice and agreement between us. And I ask you to instruct me by the first post so that I can make my preparations and when it will seem to you best and when you think that I could do my small part for us.

I ask you to send someone you know to find me for you should not think it’s a small thing for a woman when she knows she must make such a journey with her household and also because it is not now as it was previously, for it is now more dangerous and risky than it was.

As for the letter, you said you’ve sent me, I assure you I’ve received nothing since the one dated 26 June. And as for me, I have written several but I see they were not properly addressed; therefore, I’m in great trouble and I am astonished how it has been so long without our letters, but I understand that the fault does not lie on your side or on mine. Therefore, we must be patient with one another, but I have good hope that the time will come when, with the grace of our good God, I will no longer be in such a calamitous situation. As for our son Gille, I’m astonished you’ve not asked how he’s getting on.[86] Et soit averty que le braseur m’a rendu ce que savé, il ne ossoyt gardé, mays tout foys on a encorrt rien dyte, mayes l’ung des hommes a deyt, s’yl n’avoyt quy taucés d’en votre mayn qu’yl serroyt bien conten d’en m’en payer sa part. Et je voudrayoy que vous scryvés uun de l’un le qant à me afer.

I always feel a little hesitant but nevertheless, if you want us to come I would arrange to sell all our things, but all our good friends always say that one must still be patient for a little longer, for the two of us have often wept, because we heard nothing from you, but when we have had news we have wept with joy. Our children send greetings to you, likewise all our good friends and I send greetings to my sister and to her husband and to my brother Jaque and to all our good friends. I will conclude there for the present save (to pray) that God may protect you and us all, for in him lies all my hope.

 And my brother, I urge you to read this two or three times for I’m afraid I don’t know how to read.[87] Here is all my best by she whom you know, since the feast of St James and St Christopher.[88] Your friend in everything.

Endorsed: To be given to Jacque du Puys. 

27.[89] Justinne Ploiart to her brother Guillaume le Myeulx Tournai 3 February 1570 (n.s.)

My brother and my sister, I send greetings in spirit rather than by word of mouth and likewise all, brother and sister, be advised that we’re all in good health, thanks be to God, as I hope and pray it is likewise with you all.

After every greeting, this (letter) will inform you that I’ve received your letter on 30 January  and I’m surprised you have not heard from me for I have sent as many as five (letters).

Further, as for your godmother I still haven’t spoken to her, for I haven’t seen her since my sister left, but I’ll always do my duty. And further, regarding my uncle, I haven’t spent as much as you think. As for the inventory, I have repaid him 19 lbs[90] and now they’ve sold five [lb worth?] which was in the house. The sale raised 1004 lbs all expenses paid on which they’ve paid to the King’s receiver 26lbs 14 gros, but I don’t know by whom this had been done or how much the sale raised. But I know this from those who have done it for they have done it without the knowledge of myself and my sister and have sold a large part of all your jewellery and furnishings. I don’t think there’s anything large left to sell. And they did you the great honour in saying that yours is a tangled story and this they did not tell just one person but many people who talk about it. Once the wife of my uncle Guillaume, being in your house, pursued us [and] exchanged words with me to the extent that she cursed you and my sister in presence of Jan de France[91] and of my sister Mary. I was incensed but I said that her curses mattered little and Jan de France said much the same. We must leave everything in the hand of God and have patience of five people[92] which it may please him to send us, but I don’t know how to put that in writing rather than say. 

I very much want to talk to you. Therefore, they have not yet spent anything of it and they will not except for two months they have given money of the child Maxemylyen from it. It’s going very badly with Jan de Franche. Therefore, I would not wish to be going on account of your affairs and I have decided not to leave for one cannot find a companion such as one would wish. Besides I’ve no money. In addition, you know my mother is tied for the present to a girl called Mary.

I don’t know of anything else to write save that He may protect you and all of us.

Written on 3 February 1569 in Tournai.

I have written in some haste because the messenger was in hurry, but I was delighted to have had news of you. Please send news back with the bearer of this.

From your devoted and obedient sister Justinne Ploiart.

The bearer has been paid 6 gros.

Endorsed: To be delivered to Guillaume le Myelux, living in Londre [London]. Free (of any charge).

28.[93] Isabeau Parent to her husband Parent[94] Lannoy[95]  3 February 1570 (n.s.)

May Jesus be your salvation, in the name of our lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

My husband, my hearty commendations to you and to my aunt, to my cousins, and also from my two children.

Be informed that we are all in good health, praised be our good God. I pray to Him that you are as well.

And following, note that I have received your letter for which I am very happy and thank our good God, that it has pleased him to maintain you by his grace in health, for I did not think that I would ever have news of you, for since my friend Jan left the country, I have not had a letter from you. And about my situation, I am doing miserably for I have only two rooms and they are downstairs, for I have rented the room on top; the two workers whom I have are a young Walloon from Roubaix, and the other is Paco the son of Philipot Lescollière; and they are both spirited. What I am having them make is not for any profit there may be, but is to ease my sadness a bit, for they both keep me very joyful, and especially Paco. My brother and my mother send their greetings to you, and Jan, my brother, and his wife; and they are doing very well in their marriage and do their work very well; and your mother and sister all send you their greetings; and they are doing very well; and you have instructed me to come to you, I would like to be there very much, for I promise you that the body is here, but my heart is with you very often; and [but?] very wise people do not advise me to do it yet, but have patience, according to what time brings, we will discuss it with each other.

And I beg you to write me more often and that you look to whom you give the letters, that they may be better addressed than they have been.

I am very sad that you have been so long from the country, there are not any others whom you know well who are like us in that they have not been so long and they do their duty well; and I beg you if you know Chonnette le Meschine, wherever she may be, that you tell her that Paco sends her his hearty commendations.

Written, in Lannoy, this 3rd day of February by your wife, Isabeau Parent.

 29.[96] Sister of Gilles Piet[97] to the same. 3 February 1570 (n.s.)

My brother, Gille Piet, I send you greetings as do my sister and all your children and my father and mother and all your friends from over here. You should know that they are all in good health, thanks be to God. I hope it is likewise with you.

My brother, you should be informed that on the last day of January we arrived, I and my brother Jorge, safely, praise be to the good God who led us so well by his Holy Spirit.

My brother, I wish to let you know that we can’t return by this route without a passport ne qu’il soiet, for I personally saw men from over here that could not cross freely without their passport et monotes des troyes Roies.[98] The brother Huchun told me to come by this same place, [but] without our passport we could not cross.

Therefore, my brother, I beg you in God’s name that you don’t take it ill if we delay, but also the roads everywhere are flooded and not passable for carts and we find great difficulty concerning what I ask you. I commend myself to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

To conclude, may God protect you all, pray to God for us who watches assetez[99] and does the best for us.

Written in haste, third day of February.

Endorsed: To be given to Gille Piet.

30.[100] A son-in-law to his mother-in-law.[101] 3 February 1570 (n.s.)

May the peace and grace of the good God be granted you all and we are in the third day of February.

My mother-in-law, I and my wife, your daughter and your sisters Philipette and Calot and all the children [are] of good cheer, and we send greetings to you all.

This [letter], other matters being understood, my mother, is to let you know that I have written you a letter via a merchant in Antwerp in which I refer to the business of the said matter in which you should send five [of what?] asking as my letter mention. So, I don’t know if you’ve received [it] and decided.[102]

There is a letter from Piere Téare[103] for delivery to his agent which if you deliver it there [then] you [should] write to us about it and they will meet their obligation. Also, as for the merchant at Antwerp I would ask that he should write to [tell] me one way or another whether he has received his letter and also mine.

Mother, I would like to have your news. There is a letter that Pierre Taiart will give to Jehan Boutiflas[104] and you will have five [what?]. Boutiflas will tell you. Piere Taiart has told us that if he wants he has the means to deliver five to you. You will ask him and when you will have received it, you will be able to give it to us to settle the matter and they will all do their duty. And so, this man has said he would bring it you if possible; thus, if he is able to bring it to him, he will deliver it to you there. And your brother, my friend, is in Antwerp. I will arrive in Antwerp one day and the other he will arrive there.

By way of conclusion, I pray to for you all.

This 3 February 1569, by me, you whom you know, ready to do your bidding and service. I have paid the bearer of this (letter).   

When I was in Antwerp I acquired the linen and gave it to my brother and I have since reported that linen as good; if the opportunity arises it will be sent to you.

Endorsed: To my mother-in-law.

31.[105] Jacqueline Leurent to her husband Jean Dambryne.[106] Valenciennes 3 February 1570 (n.s.)

Jehan Dambryne, I very affectionately beg to be commended to you. I am very astonished that for the past two years I have received no news from you, which amazes me; I do not know if you are angry with me or not, that you do not write to me. If you thought it suitable to leave me behind, that was not because of me and I regret it very much. I am troubled nightly that I have no news from you, although I have written to you several times; I long to be with you, but if so, I must know what we shall do with our children. As for the little girls, I shall find a way to put them somewhere, but as for the others you need to instruct or write to me your intention and if you will have the means to sustain us together and where you will need me. I also have business with you. For this reason, Jehan Dambryne, consider seriously what you will have to do and about the few goods we have at the moment, which have caused me enough trouble, that is, whether I shall sell everything with your tools or shall entrust them to some friends while waiting for better times. For I hope, that we shall not always be in this misery and the matters will go well with the aid of God. For this reason, Jehan Dambryne, I ask that you think on it and let me know your intention and the most fitting means by which I can be with you. I ask that you do not please fail to write me your final intentions, following which I shall conduct myself. And I do not know how I will be able to find myself with you because of the offence that I have done you. I have written and sent a letter to you, which is en route.

As such, Jehan Dambryne, my husband, I pray that God may protect you and that you do not fail to write me by your own hand.

From Valenciennes, this 3rd of February 1569.

Your dear wife, Jacqueline Leurent

Endorsed: To be given to Jacques Gellee[107] and addressed to Jehan Dambryne, in Londres [London]. 

32.[108] Brother [in-law?] of Jean de Denain to the same.[109] Valenciennes 3 February 1570 (n.s.)[110]

My very dear and beloved brother and friend, Jehan de Denain, dit le poivre, my commendations to you; similarly, from my wife, your sister Chonette and, also, all your other friends, that is to say, Franchois, his wife Janette, Marie, your sisters, and in general everybody. After having finished my humble commendations, this will serve to inform you that we are all in good condition, thanks be to the sovereign Lord, our good God, to whom we pray that all of you are as well. My brother, all of us beg you to always have good courage and to have patience with what God has thus distributed to you, all your family and also of the good which he has bestowed on you, for you know better than I would be able to write to you or even think that God does not wish to lose any of his servants, but, on the contrary, strengthens them in everything and by everything. My brother and friend, think how our good shepherd Jesus Christ had the care of his good servants, apostles, [and?] princes, similarly of the good Saint Peter, in prison, how he was delivered at night, with the doors closed and he enchained by foot and hand, [and] returned to his other companions; it was a miraculous thing, but [God’s] power has in no way diminished since that time. In closing, my brother, do not trouble yourself in anything. I hope that shortly we will have good news, for they no longer exact any rigour in justice, thus the rumour is prevalent that those who are prisoners in the castle,[111] that none of them will die by the law. May God grant it by his mercy.

And as to news from here, I have nothing to tell you, except that we are, more than ever, greatly pestered by Spanish soldiers, for it was decreed at the beginning of this present month of February that every soldier should have each week one hour’s worth of candle and other things worth 9 or 10 gros per week, [and] with this [be] given all linen, cloths and towels  and [can] warm himself at the hearth of the master of his lodgings, which is a quite unreasonable. We have so learned from Tournai. We do not know anything more about it.

And as to your father-in-law and your mother-in-law, they are doing very well and also does your daughter Franchoise, we are doing the best for her that we can … [112]

Your father-in-law is like your brother Francois, he trembles for you each day. We informed the one whom you know has come here to us, but he barely did anything about it, for he is very scared to give assistance to fugitives, as you may know, praying to our good God to give you what your heart desires in that which can benefit the salvation of our souls.

Written in haste, this 3rd day of the month of February of the year ’69. From your good friend and brother-in-law, his name you know, my brother. I beg of you especially the favour that you send our commendations to our brother Adriens de Baudrengies,[113] if it possible for you to find him, for we very much wish to know of his behaviour, we beg you to commend us often to the widow of Meurs and to all her children, and to Nicolas Ploucquet[114] and to his wife.

Endorsed: To be given to Jehan de Denain

33.[115] Jean du Coron to Jérôme Caullier.[116] Ath 4 February 1570 (n.s.)

In the name of God, from Ath this 4th of February 1569.

Jerome Caulier, my hearty commendations to you, and to your wife and children.

Please know that we are all in good health, as I hope you are as well. And this letter is to inform you that I am very surprised that I have had no news from you, for I am angry that you have not been able to pay what you owe me or that I have not been able to have the merchandise from you, for I’m selling the French cloth marvellously well at retail. Your father was at Rouen and bought more than sixty cloths, for which reason I hope that with time you will sell them as well as he does. And I would very much like to know if you have received what I sent you and if you have received it, I ask to have your response.

Your brother, Jan, has entered into marriage with one Jeng [Jeanne?], a girl of Tournai, who is rich, worth more than 300 lb de gros, for which I hope that all will go well.

Helbau sends his commendations to all of you

Always take courage, you are far away from us, but I will never abandon you and all of yours and I hope that we will be greater friend than we ever have been, if it pleases God; and that we may continue to do business together

I have nothing else to write to you at the moment, except my God protect you and all of yours.

Written in haste, by your servant forever,

Jan du Coron

Endorsed: To Mr Jérome Caulier, merchant at Londre [London]

34.[117] Mary, a friend of Adrien de Lepluc to the same 4 February 1570 (n.s.)

May the grace and peace of God be granted you by Jesus Christ.

Adreryen, my good friend, I send hearty greetings to you and all those whom I know. I can tell you that we’re all in good health, praise be to God, to whom I pray that it is likewise with you as it is with us all. My mother and all my brothers and sisters send the same greeting as I have done.

I can tell you that my brother Jan has been married as I also have been. My brother Francoy would also like to be so [and?] with the other [wishes] to be your son. And I always have one good day and then a bad one. As also does your wife. She has been sick from day to day for a good month and it seems to me that she must give birth. It would be good if she goes to term but that [is] in God’s hands and no one else. I think [the due date] is between 8th and 15th March. I pray God sends me good fortune and soon. I pray that it will be so when you remember her. As for setting out on the road, I don’t dare until God has delivered me.

I can tell you that I received your letter of 2 January: I received it on 1 February and I also had news by word of mouth the same day by the young lad whom you’d met the day before he left. He arrived here in good health, thanks be to God, on 30 January, but he doesn’t know when he will be leaving because the floods are so bad that one does not risk the roads or one’s money.  I will not be able to have time for it that I have many times, you know it well. And the 2lb de gros[118] from my father are outside our power. As for the tools, you left behind I lent them to him [my father] for work and he sold them. When I asked for it back from my brother Francoy he replied that l’en a fèt[119] with you and neither Madelyn nor Jennyen would need them. This would be a great folly.

I don’t know anything for the present except that may God protect you as he does us.

All written on 4th day of February by your friend Mary, whom you know well.

The wife of Jan Oort[120] sends greetings. Her husband has been at the wars for the past week. The widow Lefèvre[121] sends greetings to you and your wife.

Endorsed; To be given to Adreryen de Lepluc.

35.[122] Brother of Jean de Denain[123] to the same [124]

May the peace and grace of the good God be granted you all and to us. This 4th February.

My brother and friend, de Denains, I greet you heartily, not forgetting your wife and my nephew and all the friends.

Know, my brother, other matters having been understood, my sister has so much to do that you would not believe it and I myself have little money and we do not know how to be paid by others nor have the leisure [to do so] in as much as everyone is poor. But my brother je y teray le mains … se feras par Anvers des miennes à cinque … mès à vous ayre y sanble avoire. [125] My brother, it is true I am still able to be very happy for you to eat your bread in peace, as people will remember you in Antwerp.

And, my brother, we make good cheer at this amount which you tell us of, as he[?] was able to tell you it and it displeases me that my sister is unable to send him anything, but I will look into it and I beg you not to lose any more money down the drain for neither my sister nor I will find it. I have sent Gérard de le Rue five saves.[126] And, my brother, someone will send you what you ask, [though?] it may be far away, it can still be carried. My godfather Noé is in Antwerp. I leave one of these days, he arrives there on the other.

Your grandfather sends greetings to you and conducts himself well and we likewise, I will write to my brother Jacque. Your daughter sends greetings to her brother.

That concludes this, praying God for you all

From me, whom you know

I have paid the bearer.

[Endorsed]: To my brother, de Denains.


36.[127] Jacques Behaghele to his son Jean Behaghele[128]. Nieuwkerke  5 February 1570 (n.s.)

I desire for you my beloved son, together with your wife and family, the grace and peace of God our heavenly Father.

First hearty greetings to you my beloved son Jean Behaghele. I Jacques Behaghele[129] commend myself sincerely to you, trusting that you are healthy and faring well as both I and my wife are.

Further,[130] as for your letter that I received in which you wrote about having some money from your godfather, I would ask you to write giving me more information where I might obtain the said money or your godfather, for I cannot understand from your letter where or from whom I should collect the same. So, I ask you first to let me know where the people live so that I can demand or collect the money and then I shall gladly make arrangements and see that you get the same, and [ask] your godfather so that he also makes arrangements. And as soon as you write telling us where we might arrange to collect the money, I shall do my best.

Meanwhile your youngest brother is living with his uncle Daneel at Diksmuiden, and your mother is also there.

In haste, this 5th day of February,

From me, your beloved father and mother: what we can.[131] From Nieuwkerke.

[No endorsement]

37.[132] Father in-law [Gilles Caulier] to Guillaume Caulier.[133] 5 February 1570 (n.s.)

Grace and peace in Jesus Christ.

.... Guillaume, my son, we have received your letters by ... We understand that you are in [good] health and also that ... she has given birth to a girl for which we are all very happy ... God, that he may grant good fortune to both the mother and the child ... to be well-mannered, virtuous and god-fearing ...  she I conduct myself because ce porseurs vous en [134]... and that we’re all in [good] health, God be praised, and the ... the custom we send greetings to you all ... not forgetting your father and mother, praying God the Creator ... wishing that he has you in his holy protection.

In haste, ... 5th February

By your devoted father .... [Gil?]les Caulier

38.[135] Victor Kirselot (Questeloot?) [135a]to De Coninck 5 February 1570 (n.s.)

May the grace, mercy and peace of God, our heavenly father, be with you, and bring us all together through the merits of his dear son Jesus Christ, who is with you and with us. Amen.    

First all greetings to my beloved brother and your wife as well as your children, I wish you good health and I hope that things are also going well for you.

And we have received your exhortation for which we are heartily grateful, but we cannot easily join you for the time is not convenient. But as for your admonition about idolatry,[136] we are, the Lord be praised, not compelled,[137] for people still leave us in peace, the Lord be praised for His grace. And further, concerning the reply about the money that I have sent via Jan Huegebart,[138]that was forty stuivers as his wages [while working] at master Claeys’ house.[139] If he would have so much from you for the journey, he would not be behaving as a Christian should, but they are not all Christians who bear the name. Nevertheless, my beloved brother, I have secretly [advanced] him up to 40 stuivers, for they have been given him for his work [to be done] at master Claes’ house and [re?]paid when he had received the money. And you should know that your friends are prospering, the Lord be praised. And as a token of my affection for you, I’m sending you a cheese because of my great love and good fortune and we trust with God’s grace that it will please you.[140] And that it[141] approaches here we can see from what we hear. And all that I can [do] that is for you and for my friends as far as lies within my capacity and if it were so that the time does not change, I might well come and seek refuge[142] with them with His will for without God we can do nothing. And we acknowledge that we ourselves are weak and doomed and naturally given to wickedness[?][143] and evil and we all depend on God’s grace in this. And all our beloved brothers and sisters pray for us all together that we may all come together with Christ in his glory, where we may hope to come through God’s grace. Herewith remain commended to God and we are well, the Lord be praised by his good grace.

Give my hearty greetings to Jan Deuwellen and all his household,[144] as well as Pieter van Hacke together with his wife, and all the brethren in the Lord.

And this letter has been written by [Vic]tor Kirstelot, your brother in Christ as above. And the child is still alive, the Lord be praised. And the messenger has been paid.

[Endorsed] De Conick from [blank]

39.[145] Jacques Cousart to his father Hubert Cousart[146] 6 February 1570 (n.s.)

Greetings to you by Jesus Christ

My father, my commendations to you and to my mother as well and to my sister Marie. You should know that I am in good health, me and my brother as well; I pray our good God that it is thus for you. After all my commendations, you are to know that I received here the news from you. I am very happy that you are doing well and I have been told that you have asked [after] us, me and my brother Basties.

My father, I ask you not to take it badly, because I am not coming, for I bought some fish for Lent [147] when my fish have been sold, we will see how times turn out.

I have nothing else to write to you at this time, except may God guard all of you, by your son Jacques Cousart.

Written, the 6th day of February in the year 1569

[Endorsed]: To be given to Hubert Cousart

40.[148] A father to his son Pierre. 7 February 1570 (n.s.)[149]

My son, Pierre, after having read your letter and also that of Tomas that you’re all in good health and that you want news of all your brothers and sisters, [I can tell you that they] are all in good health. As for Eugran, he has two children, a boy and a girl and he has baptised his two daughters and his son. As for Mariet, it appears she will marry, all after Easter and she [would] already have done so if she and I had wished it, but fearful of not having enough to meet all needs, the issue has been delayed, may God want it all to go ahead.  And as for our affairs, that is, because of what Batifaz owes, I hope in God and in [for?] our friends that it will all go well.

Since you last heard from me, our affairs get better and better. The young man who asks for your sister has had a good position and seems to us to be profiting well from it. As for Jorge, he does his duty and we make a good profit, for which we must all thank God without ceasing for it appears that his regard for us and also for so many is large. The said Jorge often purchases large quantities of wool and this is wool from the locality because neither in this town nor province do they make narrow cloth[?] because there’s little Spanish or English wool and at the present no one in this town is making a living there.  

As for what I have written to you and also to Tomas, I have sent you a demi-réal of 5 s.[150] to wit what you owed to Tomas when he was in prison, seeing that he told me that he had not sent you your share of what you owed him.[151]

I have had no letter from you since then I sent you the two pieces [of cloth] of which you wrote. And as for Tomas, I let him have as much from me as your brother and sister, one daalder[152], and then I charged him that [either] you would write to me or if not that he would demand nothing from me. However, when I had heard all about his misfortune, I sent him another gold réal of V s. and now a demi-réal of 5 s. And Matienet, your cousin has married a son of Antoinne de Aisy called Pia. And everything considered it is well agreed that you could come back to us for you’ve not been charged by the courts and there are many around here who have not been charged although they were at Neuve-Eglise [Nieuwkerke] and at Honscot [Hondschoote] and other places. Therefore, you need suffer no pain if the true religion is not sufficiently encouraged where you are and if you are preparing to return to this country, I would strongly advise (you) to return as follows: do not fear anything, for matters are not as turbulent as you’ve been told; do not fear anything but God, for to Him alone is honour and glory.  

Your friend Antoine le Febvre often comes to town and resides at Honsecot [Hondschoote] where the workers make says for a living. There is no cloth making in this town but if you were in the countryside there is. I would give you an order for some goods. I am following my account that you previously said that you wanted my news more frequently, for I intend to have an amount of wool, and I hope that the whole affair will prosper. We have had some small partnership by Saincte-Omer [St-Omer]. And your brother is there at present. At all times, we commend [ourselves?] to God having every day good hope in God, if you wanted you could reside at Saient-Omer [St-Omer]. I assure you that you’ll also do well there and also, you’ll be as safe there as you are where you are now and they do every kind of work, and it would be my duty to tell you about the work, for you would help us greatly and to our considerable advantage. You could come via Calais and you could catch the ferry with the people returning from the market at the said Calais which is on Saturday.

As for greeting your companions, I have sent greetings and also to your acquaintances. Madry[153]sends greetings to him and to Estienne, who has goods like candlesticks and table linen and suchlike.

Your brothers and sister prosper though the time in general is one of small profits; he is botcher of cloth; Batasar is a messenger to Antwerp. When he has arrived at Drie [?] he promises to reply by letter. In sum, do not be concerned in anything over my preparations. You will also be very safe there where I told you as you are where you are at present. Finally, we know that you will do what you wish; what I ask you is that you don’t have any regrets. And today, we’re leaving for Bruges, savoier se peult correer.[154]

This 7th February 1569.

Thus, your father.

41.[155] Jean Broquar to Jacques des Buquois[156] his brother-in-law 8 February

May the grace of God be eternally granted to you by our lord Jesus Christ.

Jacques des Buquois, my companion and brother-in-law and friends, we, your sister Louise and me, Jan Broquar, send you our very humble commendations, letting you know that I have received your letter, by which I have pledged myself to fulfil the tasks about which you wrote me.

My friend, you wrote to me in your letter that I should reply to you. At Antwerp Lapar showed me a letter which Lion, his son wrote him sometime after 15th January and told him that he was in the country until this day[157] and I understood that he is earning well by making velvets or plush.[158] You wrote to me that you have been waiting for me. You have there the first news that I have had from you since you have been there and also the household is large, up to four children and us two, and [we do] not at all know how to find ways of getting money to set off on the journey. Nevertheless, we would very much like to be in your company.

I thank you many times that you remembered us and you gave me great pleasure and the arrangements that we have [taken?] together, was what you foresee, about which you have been straightforward, for which I thank my God that it is going so well.

My friend, I spoke to your wife, but she cannot be persuaded at the moment[?]. Further, your mother sends her commendations to you as also do all your sisters and brothers-in-law and as also does Jaques Faurvarque, alias Brour.

I have nothing else to write to you for the moment, except may God protect you.

Written in haste, this 8th of February by your entire friend,

Jean Broquar

Jaques Desbuquois, my commendations to you, asking you that if you reply to this that you please write more plainly to Oste Phipo, my brother, how things are going for you [lacuna in text] servant, Peti Maset, brother of the said Oste.

[Endorsed]: To be given to Jacques de Debuquois, living in L [London].

42.[159] Marie de le Ruelle[160] to her husband Jean Desmadry[161] Lille 8 February 1570 (n.s.)

My very dear and well-beloved, Jan Desmadry, I send most humble greetings, letting you know that we’re all in good health, thanks be to God, as I hope it is with you too.

This is to let you know that I’ve received your letter from the bearer of this, in which you instructed me to send my son Jan[162] with the bearer of this, not knowing who he [the letter carrier] is, but I did not want to disobey you, so I handed him [Jan] over charging him [the bearer] to take him to you, expecting that he will be well introduced and that he has more de crynten[163] with you than he appears to have [here] à menyent.[164]

Further, I understand by your letter that you’ve rented a house and that God has given you the means to earn a living, for which I thank my God, that if had afflicted you in one way, he has redressed that in another.

Further, you want to know how things are with us, I can tell you that I have been much troubled by one thing and another. First, I had to pay hundred carolus guilders for the movables which are and which we had in our house;[165] and if I had to recover our house from the king for 3 years, I would have to pay 7 lb de gros a year. And everything will be taken back by force and if the land we bought from Jan Gylemyn is taken from us, that still will not satisfy them. Those who have taken our goods have given me four Spanish soldiers and a gougnant[166] which costs me 4 to 5 guilders a week. And they don’t know when they will leave. But, God be thanked, the merchants have not abandoned me, for which I will consider how to do the best that I am able. And so I hope to hold the said merchants in friendship as much as I will be able.

But even though much our property has been taken from us and I’ve had difficulties I would snatch at anything if [only] you could return and [we might] have peace as before. But I will bear this patiently provided that’s it’s the pleasure of God, hoping in lord Jesus that soon all will return and that the lord God will not leave us always in this condition, separated from one another.

My husband I would tell you that as for the purchase of the house you bought from Jan Gilemeyn, I have had to give up this house because when they assessed property in the town for the 100th [penny] which the Duke of Alba has been granted, they required to know to whom the property belonged and on oath so bringing en hute en hut[167] troubles. Therefore, the said Jan Gillemyn has taken it back in his hands at the request of the merchants, about which an agreement has been made.

On this I very much wanted to speak to the said Jan who promised me [that] contenans[168]around this Easter and at that time he will assign to you what he will owe us.

My husband, I think I have written to you of our son-in-law, how he has fared with his household and how I gave him the widow Doby and Conpannyen and Jan Hennyart, merchants, who are both good and [...] as you well know, even though he does not always deserve it, in view of the problems and headaches he has caused me because of his drunkenness and other bad behaviour and foolishness which is within him. And especially he refused me the parcel to the merchants, in order to bring the said merchants to him, which he should not be doing, seeing the friendship that I have shown and still show him every day; especially that I have given him as a loan since he has been a householder of more than a hundred [carolus] guilders.[169] But I would consider supporting him as much as can be done in order that he has no grounds to refuse me the parcel for the merchants, for otherwise I will be magement, especially when he has lost the widow Doby, but I’ve done so much for the said widow that I’ve recovered her.

Therefore, I ask you to write to him willingly so that he could do a small thing otherwise than he has done.

I don’t know of anything else to tell you for the present except that I pray to lord Jesus to give you his grace and that he may be your aid and grant you what your heart desires and to us all.

from Lille, in haste, 8th day of February 1569 before Easter.

Yours entirely, your friend and wife, Marye de le Ruelle.

Further, you wanted to have news of master Lauren le Febvre, whether he’s dead or alive.   I can tell you he’s in good health and as for Joos de Nyere, he said he’ll soon be with you.

43.[170]: Father of Jean Creton[171] to the same:  9 February 1570 (n.s.)

Grace and peace in Jesus Christ

Jan Créton, your father has received your letters and having understood by these that you are in health and that you have work, is very happy. And he tells you that in everything you need to live in the fear of God, invoking him in all your needs so that he will be propitious to you, while being assured that he will not abandon those who ask him with faith.

Also, he admonishes you to keep away from bad company and that the money which you earn by much work may not be uselessly dissipated, in order also that they may always have good reports of you and especially that you may find yourself as much as you can in places where you will be able to learn something for the salvation of your soul, as they hope you are doing]. And they are all in health. And as such, may you be to God.

This 9th of February

[Written] at the request of your father

Endorsed: To Jan Creton

44.[172] The son of Romein Fère[173] to his family at Norwich. 10 February 1570 (n.s.)

Friendly greetings to my dear father and mother and my beloved brother.

I wish to tell you that I am married and things are going well and that I am in good spirits and healthy and with Gaerdeerten, my dear wife, and we greet you all the more.

And as I tell you everything is going well, so I hope that it is also going very well with you, and that you are in good spirits and good health. Further, you should know that brother Henderyck’s wife has died and that he has re-married and his brother, master Rubbert is still [living] with difficulty on his own. And when I married, not one of my father’s friends came to the wedding, nor my grandmother, nor since. The Lord be praised. So [we] married for [not?] more than 10£ Flemish.[174] 

Nothing more than that the Lord God may be with you and all of us.

Written this 10th day of February 1569 tych[175]

[Endorsed] To my dear father, Romein Fere, at Nordewck [Norwich].

45.[176] Marie Lengilon to her husband Guy Joire[177] Armentières 10 February 1570 (n.s.)

My husband, Guy Joire, I send greetings to you, not forgetting your brother, Gile, and Maguerite. My mother, brother and sister send greetings to you all.

This will let you know that we’re all in good health, me and our two children Marié and Judique, thanks be to God, to whom I pray that it may also be so with you all.

I can tell you that I’ve received your letter by the messenger of this. I’m very surprised that you write that you’ve not received any letter from me for I’ve certainly sent as many as three. You write asking to know how my circumstances are. I can say that my mother looks after me and our two children.

I rejoiced greatly that you’d written me that things were going well for you. My husband, I ask you always to do your best.

My husband, since it has pleased God to keep us so far from one another, we must not in our hearts forget one another. When I look back on the happy past, there’s scarcely a day when my heart doesn’t weep. I pray God, who keeps watch over us will give us patience. I have hope that things will not long stay as they are.

As for news of the country, there is no money to be made either in the country or in the town of Armentières; there is not a cloth worker who is working at the moment, et s’es t’on tout meingier de sander et de taileu, qui faut paieis an.[178]Since I’ve been in the country my mother has not been without [a] soldier, whom she is not able to keep in her house, but she has rented a room in a tavern and s’en fau, que aeun lieu j’entrethiène deu ceu quy leur fau.[179]

I can tell you that your brother Jan has married and taken a wife of his choosing.[180] I can tell you that my brother Noué has married and taken as his wife the widow of Piere Cenescal. You should know that your mother is always ill.

[I] don’t know of anything else to report other than to commend you to the Lord’s safekeeping. 

In Armentières, this 10th of February.

Further, since I began writing you should know that the Lord God has called your mother from this vale of tears. And therefore, we should not be angry that it has pleased the Lord to do this for we say every day that his will should be done. And therefore, since it is his wish, we must not be upset. She will be happy for there’s only pain in this vale of tears. And therefore, I pray the Lord will send you his Holy Spirit.

As for her belongings, there is nothing for she gave away much.

As for the country, things are going very ill for they still take from us day by day and make them all mory.[181]  

Endorsed To be given to my husband Guy Joire

46.[182] Marguerite wife of Jan Lecoup to the same 10 February 1570 (n.s.)

This day, the 10th day of February, I, Magrite, your wife to Lecoup Jan, send my hearty commendations and send you five gold angelots and to the messenger ten [sou] parisis;[183]and I inform you that your son is leaving your house this mid-March coming and will be in the house of Huten Wateley.

And this is to inform you that I would not know how to sell anything of any jace [value??], for if I sell, the King would want to take it, and I tell you that I am not at all like those of whom you write who break their word, and this is to tell you that I will be coming to see you shortly with your little daughter, who promised to come with me, and concerning your [other?] daughter, she does not wish to go out of the country.

I have nothing else to write to you, except may the Lord God remain with you.

Endorsed: I am for Jan

47.[184] Anonymous friend to Jean Kacant.[185] 11 February 1570 (n.s.)

My beloved Jan Kacant, I commend myself heartily to you and your wife, and brother Antennes, Maertin le Cock[186] and your company.

I am telling you that I and Pieren have been trying our luck throughout this summer but we have earned nothing, because the best reysen[187] has come on all three of them. And I have not earned two pounds throughout this whole winter, God be praised. So (I hope) that everything is going well for your wife and children.

Mynken Buse would like to know whether her brother is there or not; and Pillart is writing [to you] by the same messenger.

No more at this time save that God be with you all.

Written on 11 February 1569.

[Endorsed]: This letter should be given to Jan Kacant, who is living at Noortwyck [Norwich].[188]

48.[189] Jean Joire to his brother Guy Joire[190] 12 February 1570 (n.s.)

May the peace of God be granted you.

My very dear brother, Guy Joyre, sends greetings to you, not forgetting my brother and my sister Margryte.

This is to inform you that we’re all in good health, thanks be to God; and I pray that it may be likewise with you.

My brother, this will be, then, to let you know that we’ve received your letter, which gave us much delight. Further, my brother, this is [to tell] you that my mother has passed from life on 11th February. Further, my brother, this is [to tell you] that on 10 November, thanks be to God, I married.

Further, as for the news of the country, I don’t know what to write except that the country is very poor, ma seurt.[191]As for à part que vous devé accort,[192] I will be there. I don’t have any concern, if I’m able.

My brother, as for your wife, she’s managing very well and all the children, thanks be to God.

I don’t know of anything more to write to you except that may God be your protector.

This 12th of February in the year one thousand five hundred and seventy before Easter.

Yours entirely your brother, Jan Joyre.

As for the belongings, she[193] had, she had more debts than she had goods except I have her house. Jan Reubiet must be paid the money which you well know about.

Endorsed: To be given to my brother, Guy Joyre, living at L[ondon]. 

49.[194] Jean Flaiel to his brother.[195]13 February 1570 (n.s.)

My brother, I ask and entreat that in everything you have the fear of God before your eyes, for I have heard that you have committed some act which has not followed the right path. But I pray our good God that he may grant you mercy.

My wife also sends her commendations both to you and to your wife, and wishes to see both of you in good health.

As such, we commend you to God, our Creator in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, our lord.

Entirely your brother and very good friend.

J. F. In haste, this 13th of February 1569.

Endorsed: Flaiel.

50.[196] Nephew of Jacques le Steyvènes[197] [Jacques Lesteynes] to the same. 13 February 1570 (n.s.)

My uncle, Jacques le Steyvènes, you should know that mother has commended herself to you many times to your good grace and likewise to my aunt Anthoinette, your wife, as I do likewise.

The present only serves to let you know that we’ve received two letters, to wit yours and my aunt’s, your wife, [and] this will serve as a reply that we have shown these to those according to your [wish]; and passed on all your greetings, [and] everyone is in good health, thanks to God’s grace, hoping that it so with you.

As for the annuity about which you wrote us, we have done it together being better; furthermore, concerning the loan of some money to my uncle Jacop Lainel about which my aunt Aenthoinette wrote us, my mother and I have absolutely no knowledge, nevertheless my mother has shown him the letter about which he said that he would write you leaving the discussion to them.

And having heard that my aunt Aenthoinnette must come to the lands on this side, she will be made very welcome by us and if she comes, I pray to God to give her a good escort.

As for news from the lands on this side, it is the usual. And my uncle, if there’s some pleasure or service that we can do, we’re entirely at your bidding.

To conclude this present [letter], I pray to the lord God that he grants you what your heart desires.

Written at our house, in haste, this 13th day of February 1569.

Entirely your nephew whom you know well.

My mother and I ask to be commended to my aunt Catelaines.

Endorsed: To my uncle, Jacques le Steyvènes.

51.[198] Joos Defrez to his sister Maeyken Desfrez 13 February 1570 (n.s.)

First all the greetings, so we can tell you that we have received a letter to-day the 13th February 1569 before Easter from which we learn that you are in good spirits and good health, God be praised. And that you have sent across several letters, but you should know that we have not received any save this last.

Further you write how we can write you and how things are with us. Assuredly I have nothing good to write, nor any good news for our lives are filled with sorrow. You should know the sad news that our father passed from this world on 15 September last, in the evening about 10 o’ clock. May God remember his soul. Further, as for your mother and us all, you should know that, praise be to God, we are in good spirits and good health, but in a wretched state, as you might imagine, for we do not know how long we shall live [in the house], for we are not untroubled by creditors [and] almost everything that there is has been sold so that we will not be able to carry on [and] the house [will] go to rack and ruin and everyone shall have to look out for himself.

Further as for our sisters and brothers, you should know that our brother Rycke has been in Italy and has returned a doctor on medicine and now lives at Armentières where he is in the employ of the town.[199]

Further, as for your sister Jaquemyne and master Jacob, we have not received any greetings for four or five months so we do not know how things are going with them, but they had an apprentice about a year or fifteen months ago, to whom our father, may God remember his soul, was godfather and he was called Jooske.

And you say that you are an exile, but that is not true, for you are ever in our thoughts, and also of your brother and your things that you have here are still well cared for.

I don’t know what else to write you at present than that [pray] God may be with you and with us all. Amen.

Written on this 13th February before Easter.

Your mother sends you her warmest greetings and we all send you greetings on behalf of our mother, Calleken Backers in de Blenden Esel,[200] and from all your acquaintances who live here.

Farewell, from your brother. Joos Desfrez.

 [Endorsed]. This letter should be given to Mayken Desfrez.

52.[201] Anonymous to Hyelle 13 February 1570 (n.s.)

Hyelle, I can tell you that I have received your letter, but I have not received either the gloves or the knitted cuffs. I gather that you are planning to come over, which makes me very sad for it is very dangerous. But do what you wish, though I would beg you not to do it for I’m afraid you will get into difficulties, but if you can procure a reliable messenger, I would help you as best I can. No more at this time, save that God preserve you in [good] health.

Written today 13th February 1569

[Endorsed] To be given to Hyelle at [blank]

53.[202] Brother of Thibault du Beffroy[203] 14 February 1570 (n.s.)

May salvation be granted to you by Jesus Christ, our lord, with the conferment of his Holy Spirit.

My very dear and beloved friend, Thibault du Beffroy, our frequent commendations to you and to my sister Chaterinne, and to all your children, letting you know that I and my family are in good health, praise be to the Eternal, and we pray God that all of you are as well.

And further, my brother, this is to inform you that my mother is very well, thank God. And that we have been out of the house since All Saints, for the reason about which I believe you had been well informed, for my wife told me that the messenger who carried the previous letter spoke to her and he, the said messenger, promised her to tell it to you in detail. We having left, my father-in-law revealed himself a tyrant to the end, for he had all that we had left there sold, except for a few sticks so that my mother could keep the household and he rented the house to a tenant farmer and this he did for his reply and in order to strip me of everything so that, praise be to our God, we are now like those who have nothing touching the goods of this world.

For this reason, my brother, I informed my mother that she should say to him that I still owe 24 pounds parisis to one of his children, of which I am very sorry that you do not have them to use for yourself, for it has been long enough that I have owed it to you, but the scoundrel point blank refuses to pay me what has been agreed with him. For this reason, my brother, I beg you to be patient for a little longer. And so, you see our situation; and as to my mother, he has kept from her the dowry [which comes?] from the rent from the tenant farmer which she now relies on. For this reason, my brother, I beg you to reply to me as soon as you can with your news and I send my frequent commendations to my brother Walleran, requesting him to send me a little of his news if it is possible and if you write any letters to him, you should address it to the village of Nœuf -Eglise [Nieuwkerke] to a tailor named Jan Ghanne, living near the house of the cartwright and he will deliver it to me.

I have nothing else to write to you at the moment, except may God always be your protector

Written in haste, the 14th day of the month of February, the year 1569.

By me, your servant and friend.

Endorsed: This letter to be delivered to Thibault du Beffroy, living in the town of Hamptenne [Southampton], in the country of England.

 54.[204] Brother-in-law of Jacques Lesteynes[205] to the same and to his sister. 14 February 1570 (n.s.)

My very dear and good friend, brother and sister all my commendations to you, and to my sister, your wife.

This is to inform you that I have received your letter, which made mention at the beginning that you have written to me two or three time and that I have never wanted to reply. But I promise that I have written you three letters.

I thank you for taking my son into your house and also for the 12 pounds parisis that you paid to Rusin Desboven. I hope by the grace of God to pay you back at some point and you have written me that I have not come to pay the 12 pounds parisis, seeing that Quaterinne wrote a bill of exchange on Lille from the widow of the deceased Jan Woinnoin, but, my brother Jacques, you never wrote to me that I should have sent you these 12 pounds, and if you please write me to whom, then I will give it. I promise to send it to you by the first post.

My brother, my wife sends hearty commendations to you and to your wife and to her sister Quateline and to her son. Jacques and Guy are always good sons; and Guy does it willingly to his uncle and aunt.

As for news, I have nothing to tell you, except that it is difficult to find rates of ,,, [206] it does not appear [that he will] lend it.

My daughter has only to send her hearty commendations in abundance to her godmother, your wife, and to her brother Jacques.

I have nothing else to write to you, except may God protect you all.

And by your entire brother and friend, Jacques l’aingnet [207]. Written on this, the 14th day of February. Your goddaughter Quatelene sends you her commendations in abundance, especially to her godmother

Endorsed: To my brother, Jacques Lesteynes.

55.[208] Gilles van den Keere to his brother-in-law Jan de Keyzere.[209] 14 February 1570 (n.s.)

May the fathomless mercy of the Father and the ineffable love of the Son and the boundless loving kindness of the Holy Spirit be with you, my dear brothers and sisters and with us all. Amen.

A pious, Christian exhortation to my very dear and much loved sister Maeykin t’ Keysers, and also to Jacob, my dear cousin and your son, and further to the whole household.

I, Gillis vanden Keere wish to inform you that physically we are all faring well. Praise the Lord for his grace. We also hope that things go likewise with you. I Gillis vanden Keere am much surprised that you have not written about your husband, Jan de Keyzere, my dear brother, as if he were dead. Further I am very surprised that you have not told us how things have been going in the country where you now are, and how things are now going, for we hear many strange things, which we do not know whether they are true or not. Therefore, will you send us something with the first messenger?

[I] send warmest greetings to Pieter van den Coorenhuse and his wife Maeyken[210] and also Joos Stoelkin and his wife[211] and also Jacob den Schoemakere and his wife Baerbele. And also to all the Christian brothers and sisters.

Further we can tell you that materially things are going reasonably well for Celyne Buenykins and her son Pieter, with all his household, praise to the Lord for his grace. As for the letter you have sent them, we dare not give [it] them because they are of a different persuasion to us.[212]

Further I can tell you about trade and cost of living in these Low Countries; our trade is much reduced because no wool or other items can be imported and the cost of living is very high. Firewood costs 13£ for 100 pieces and brushwood[213] 9 or 10£ and butter costs 5 ½ £ and meat is also expensive, but grain, praise be the Lord for his grace, costs between 28 and 30 pence.

Further, we can tell you that there are not many arrests and searches now apart from image-breakers and those who were at Waterloo,[214] and those who went to the preachings after these had been forbidden or were members of the consistories. They kill one here, another there; our brother Lamsoen Bottoen[215] still lies in prison, awaiting God’s grace. No more at this time, save that the Lord preserve you in health with his godly peace, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Written 14th February 1569. The greetings which you sent and which we received on 13th February were most welcome.

Further, beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, I Hans Isaack or Hans Tosseijn also send heartfelt greetings to Hans Camerlynck[216] and Hans Lams and also Kallekin Reys and Gaengen Beys, for we are often gathered together, preoccupied not in idleness but with the Word of God.

Further I can tell you that I am in good spirits and physically in good health and I am not married for I desire to marry in the congregation.[217]

Further, I can tell you that your father Ghillame and Jannekin your mother are in good spirits and I would beseech you that you would send us a letter by the first messenger, and when you send it, send it to Gillis vander Keere.

Also, send greetings to Kallekin Merrevedts, for I work with her father Joos van Quaellis.

Further, remain in the commendation of the Lord

From me Jhans Ysaack 

[Endorsed] This letter should be given to Jan de Keyzere or to Maeykin, his wife.

56.[218] Sister of Coppe Aernout and Mairette to the same: Ieper 15 February 1570 (n.s.)

Greetings to you my beloved brother and sister. I have received your letter from which I gather you are in good health, as we are likewise, the Lord be praised. Further I gather from your letter that you have not received any letter from me, which greatly surprises me.

Now further, concerning your affairs, I can tell you that your possessions are as you left them except for two of your husband’s gowns, that is the gown with half-leather and the little gown that was at Lamsen’s and is mine. And we would have done as you wanted with the rest of your possessions, but the pedlar dare not take the risk.

Further, as for the house, you know that our niece Calleken has married your servant Walraven and they live in your house for the same price that you had rented it and they use all the possessions that are there, further that master Pieter van den Mersch[219] is paid from what remains over to you of the price.

Concerning the small debts which you are owed, people are not inclined to pay and if you demand it they will be very angry. On the good side, they promised at one time that they would draw up a legal document or some time give me something lest master Pieter would hear of it, but they are commonly said to be poor people from whom not much can be expected. And also, we have received 2 £ from Stevin and Willoot and as soon we find someone we can trust, we shall send this [money] to you.

Further, we can tell you that Vlamsen sends you hearty greetings and his wife has passed from this world. As for news, there is nothing here except that people routinely tell great lies and everything continues as in other times. And they are beginning to pay the 100th penny; the 100th penny is based on an estimate but to my mind it’s more like the 8th penny, nevertheless dat’s goet in werck waer’t voort goet.[220] I have nothing special to tell you about. In Ieper, they say there’s been a great quarrel in England and that some 60 households from Flanders have been killed and such like great lies.

Further I would kindly ask you to tell Arinis Questuur[221] how it had happened at Ieper that a Spaniard should sell his office over his body;[222] and also Jan Langheduls,[223] but I don’t know how that will go. I have told it up to 20th February 1569; if I know more news, I’ll write more information.

I have always kept a copy of the income which I have paid master Peeter [van den Mersch] and your children for the account. If things get better, I shall give you proof that it’s correct and should I die you’ll find good account in my house.

Further I can report that I send you hearty greetings to Pieter de Landsheere[224] and Daniel Corret;[225] I’m surprised that I’ve heard nothing from you; send my hearty greetings to all the brothers and sisters and pray wholeheartedly to the Lord. As for me I will certainly pray for you that the Lord may simply preserve and keep you in accordance with His divine will.

Written with haste on 15th February 1569 from Ieper.

Further I would kindly ask you to tell Maeyckin van den Casteele[226] or Maertin Cuupers how their mother greets them most warmly and is very sad that she has heard no news of them, but nevertheless it is said that this is because of their father who has written, without their mother’s knowledge, that they should not send [letters] for that is very dangerous. Therefore. I would kindly ask that as soon as there’s a messenger they should send a letter here [and] not to their place and we would deliver to their house. You would show your mother great kindness and bring her much peace of mind. 

Maeye Merventin wants to know because of the gleuten.[227] where your half of the letter [is].

[Endorsed] This letter should be given to the honourable Coppe Aernout to send to Mairette and then to be passed to Jacop Ruben.

57.[228] Father of Thomas le Oustfriet to same 15 February 1570 (n.s.)

I ask to send greetings to Tomas, my son, not forgetting your wife and all your children, and to all your friends.

And having seen your letter, I’m happy that you’re all in good health and, as for us, we’re all well and there’s been no change here except that Matienet has married your cousin Makenet. And it would seem that your sister Mariet will soon get married. As for that about which you say you ask for my[?] wishes, it will be very good that you can gain an honest living. But you know that we have our business, also your brother. I, for the present, am sending you a half angelot of 5 sous and take courage, it will all change for the good, if it pleases God.

There is here a great rumour that there is some agreement in France. Jorge will shortly be in Calais with a view to obtaining some wool, we having sent him in partnership to the said place by way of Saient-Omer [St-Omer] where he is at present.  

Tomas, don’t put yourself in doubt about Gillemer, your …[229] [if?] you want to come to us, withdraw to Saiente-Omer [St-Omer]. I will do everything as much as you [wish?] and will do your [requests] with Tille and Poriet, the … [230] your by,[231] and also your brother Pier. They could well find themselves there and we will find friends there, your plesy [232] is there and if it please you to wish to return there, you could look to be there on Saturday in order to return with the people who’re returning from the said Saiente-Omer [St-Omer] on that Saturday. And if you want the cloth merchant, I would entrust you to your brother. And there is a good advantage for me, but it seems to me that it would not be good for you to give some of it; there’s no one from the place where you are.

In time, end of this [letter], praying God to give you his grace.

This 15th February 1569.

Entirely [yours] your father and friends.

Endorsed: To Tomas le Oustfriet.

58.[233] A nephew of Caerle Rekevaert[234] to the same: 15 February 1570 (n.s.)

Friendly greeting to you my beloved uncle Caerle Rekevaert. I can tell you that I have received your letter which you sent, from which we gather that things are going well for you.

Further, as to what you wrote about your son Jachop, I can tell you that he wants to have the remainder which is ready and as you wanted to have it, so we will give it with the first messenger you send, write [that you] give [it] to him and send that document to me or if that has been lost send your signature and write how much that is and I will send it to you. I certainly want you to have it. Further Caerle because he said that Jan Pankoke would pay the debt he said that he must give [it] to the king[235] and Jan Pankoke moves house mid-March coming and Claei den Hame soon comes and Caerle chet [sit?] in the room. And further you say that I should greet Jachop Rikevaert very warmly and your other brothers, and I have done it. And Rikewaert again sends you warmest greetings with all your children. And further your aunt greets you most warmly, especially her sister auntie Maeiken[236].

And her husband and all the children and grandchildren, and Kaeiken send warm greetings to their uncle and aunt and their godfather and all the other children and little Maeiken Spapen. And my brother is with Dries in Germany, but at Easter they will come to you and I greet you most warmly and also my wife and ies em[237] auntie Prove [?] with all his [238]children and he is married to my wife’s sister Jusinne Raest, and they all send you greetings. And mother was especially pleased that you were still alive for we had often heard rumours that you were dead. No more for now. Send my greetings to Jan de Ketelare and his wife and his daughter.   

Written in great haste 15th February. Everything I know may it turn out for the best. Write quickly whether you send it or come, it makes no difference.

And father’s Janken sends you affectionate greetings.

[Endorsed] This letter should be given to Caerle Rikenar, rekenaert[239] at Norwis [Norwich] if he is there.

59.[240] Philippe Caulier[241] to Jacques de le Haye[242]  16 February 1570 (n.s.)

Grace and peace in Jesus Christ.

For a long time, my companion and good friend, I have wanted to learn about you and to write to you and [but?] inasmuch that I did not know how to find a propitious means and an opportune time to do so, I delayed until now, having found a suitable messenger to do it. For this reason, this is to inform you that by the grace of God, the creator, to whom I give thanks and praise, we are all up to now in good health. And, praise God, up to now he has given us food and, despite our enemies, has made us rest in grassy pastures and led us along tranquil waters, by whom we hope that at the end of our days we shall have the joy of salvation, which is gained for us by Jesus Christ.[243] And our greatest lack is that we have been deprived of the word and nourishment of our souls.

My good friend, to write to you of the lootings, of their pillaging and of the danger to our persons would be [too] long to write. Nevertheless, up until now God has always sustained us and held us in his holy protection, for which may there be praise and glory.

My companion, your sister and I send you our commendations, and to your wife, my good friend, and your daughter; we had heard that my friend was about to deliver an English boy or girl; if that is so, I pray that the Creator may grant that he may grow in virtue and good habits. I beg you to send my greetings to all those of the country and in others, M. Anthoine, clerk of the goods, Ernoul and to all those of the country. I have written some sort of dream[244][songe] which I have put into lame verse in order to draw it to the attention of the bearer of it so that he wants to take it with him.

I beg you when you have the time to let me know your news, which will be the end of this.

Praying God that it may please him to bring the shepherd and his flock together in [their] country.

This 16th of February, by

Yours entirely Philippe Caulier

Endorsed: To my good friend Jacques De Le Haie

60.[245] Jean Bacler to his brother Eloy Bacler[246] (Bacquelier) 17 February 1570 (n.s.)

Greetings by Jesus Christ. 17th of February.

My very dear brother, Eloy Bacler, my commendations and principally my mother and Jacqueline my sister, all of us brothers and sisters, send our commendations to Andrieu[247] and to his wife and to your wife and to your son.

Please be informed that Marinne sends her commendations to you, and to Maye and Jaqueminne, Jenette’s daughter. You should know that Katelinnette has died; I do not know if you have heard that. You should know that Marine has done so much that your goods have not been confiscated, but have passed on to your children. You should also know that Andrieu Charles has been a prisoner these past five months, because he was suspected of pillaging and not because of religion; and he was accused of being a soldier;[248] his wife and daughter have left the city; it is hoped that he will shortly get out by one way or another.

And Paul, your cousin, sends his hearty commendations to you and prays that you are bearing your affliction uncomplainingly, as you know that nothing else is promised to true Christians in this world. He would have written to you, but the affair was too rushed. My mother wrote to you two or three letters, but she has not had a response.

As such, I will make an end of this, praying that God may give us what is salutary for the soul.

From Armentières, the 6th day of February.

By yours entirely, Jan Bacler.

Note that my sister Jacqueline sends her hearty commendations to Pierre le Gay.[249]

Note that Marinne would very much like to know what [money?] Jan Denis has taken for Andrieu, while in prison, and that she would like him to write by the first messenger available.

Please say to Pierre le Gay that since my letter, I have agreed to what he wishes to know. Vous ferés une lettre pour après remettre que cheluy que vous asisterés.[250] I speak for Andrieu Baqueles in order to show how much has been paid out by the one whom you knew during your imprisonment and otherwise outside the said prison. You should send the said letter to the said Jan Denis.

Endorsed: To be given to Eloy Bacler residing in Hanton [Southampton]

61.[251] Francois Baeke to Willem and Pieter van der Schoore[252] and Frans de Berre 18 February 1570 (n.s.)

Friendly greetings to you Willem and Pieter van der Schoore ende Frans de Berre and to all your wives. I tell you, my beloved brothers and sisters, that I, Frans Baecke and Proene , my wife, and our three children, prosper, the Lord be praised, as we hope you do also, but your sister Proene has been ill for a good three  months this winter.

Further, I tell you that I have received your letter from which I gather that our sister Mynken has married, and [that] regarding our mother you are going to make a visit; when she comes to me, I shall tell her. 

Further, I have had a great longing because you have not written for such a long time [to know] how things are going with you all. I have not sent any news because I found no one who was going across for the sending of letters is dangerous. And by[253] that I thought you were already living in Noortwyc [Norwich].

As for any expecting any comfort for you there is no closer comfort than with God, for David says: “Cursed be the man who puts his trust and confidence in man”. [254]

I would like you to come and see us in a short while, if it’s possible, in any case Mynken and her husband, for she can go out, besides she still has no children. At this time, I don’t know where Mincken is, but she has been with me during this winter, for you know that she likes to travel.

Further, for we are very delighted that I have had news of you, for your last letter was long ago.

No more at this time, save that God be with you and the Communion of Saints. Amen.

Written in very great haste, this 18th February 1569 by me Fransoys Baeke.

Farewell. God be with you.

And you should know that I’ve also spoken to Daneel’s wife and she sends you warmest  greetings. And Daneel has gone to Ieper; and his sister Kalleken is still in good spirits; and also Frans; he would have written had he been at home.

And you should know that our most recent child is called Fransken, a strong lad, praise and thanks to God for all that Proene had on St Martinmas[255]1568.

I’ll write more when our mother comes and also pass it on when there are reliable messengers.   

62.[256] Daughter of Guillaume le Roy[257] to the same: 20 February 1570 (n.s.)

Greetings by Jesus Christ

My very honoured and good friend, my father, my hearty commendations to you. I am very troubled that I do not know the truth, whether I may send my commendations to my mother or not; I heard tell from Jan Haudoux that Jaquet Rousel had told him that my mother’s time on this earth is over, about which he was very surprised not to have had a letter, and I likewise, concerning which I do not know what to believe. I beg you to put me at ease; as well as that may be, if God may permit it, I would like to know everything and in detail about how all my friends are doing; I am sy aimiante de cœur[258]that I would not know how to respond to you. I pray to our good God that he may wish to comfort us all together, if you need it.

I beg to be commended to my brother Willamme; I had heard tell from the wife of Mathieu de le Pierre that his wife was ill; I do not know the truth, so we wait all the time to have your news if she has not left; I beg you to please send me all the news for what it’s worth.

Please commend us to my brother Pierre and to my sister Susanne; I thank her for my needles which she sent me and which Jan Gaven did as well. My brother Willamme, if we have the means in a few days we shall satisfy you in everything. The mother of Mathieu de le Piere begged me that I would please write that she should be commended to him and to his wife; she had heard tell that she was very ill and that she had given birth; and told me that she would like to say to Mahieu her son that she did her duty in sending to him that which he instructed to be sent to him in Antwerp; she sent it and did her duty. Cristian Sause asks to be commended to you and to all your family; he was at my house for the festival of Ieper.[259] As for your scales I will do all my duty, I sent to Merville,[260] and my uncle Jan Stuf wrote to me that he does not wish to give any more for everything, including the weights, than 4 pounds 4 shillings; and Cristian Sause told me that he had said to my sister Mahiette that he gave a gold   and agreed to another when he heard that he was not able to have it. About which I will do all my best and will see you again about it, when there will be an opportunity.

There is nothing else for the moment, except may God grant you his grace.

In haste, this 20th of February.

By your daughter whom you know.

In margin: My father, I am sending you a pot with cream, which my sister wished to send to you.

My uncle, Jan Stuf, has sent a shirt … [261] to our house; I will have it sent on, when I have the opportunity.

Endorsed: To be given to Willame le Roy.

63.[262] Jacob de Smit to Maertyne Godsalcs[263] and his son Jan de Bus.[264] 25 February 1570 (n.s.)

Psalm 46: God is my refuge in time of trouble.

Greetings to you Maertyne Godscalcs and your son Jan de Bus.

I, Jacob de Smit, who bought your tools, [would] inform you that Joos de Conync died in the parish of Olsene[265]where your children must share the property. And I received the news on 12th January and the public auction has been held and the distribution of goods has already begun, of which I shall give you a fuller account if anyone should come from your side. And if anyone should come, he should come nine or eight days before the Feast of St John[266] when they will sell the crops in the fields and also sell the land and receive the money from the public auction. Don’t be surprised that I write this message so directly, but I began to worry as if you yourself had been there. And I ask that you would pay the messenger naer verse eyscresye.[267] And if a servant comes; he can do something for I don’t think he will be in any danger; he can go there as he used to live there. No more at this time, except that God preserve you in health.

Today the 25th February. And give my warmest greetings to Gylkes de Langhe and his wife Mayken.

[Endorsed] This letter should be given to Maertyne Godsalc called Cakaeynghe, or his son Jan de Bus, living at Zant [Sandwich]. And paid the messenger.  

64.[268] Anon to Pieter de Ketelaere[269] 25 February 1570 (n.s.)

I commend myself to you Pieter de Ketelaere with warm greetings. Things are going well for me and all my family and I hope it’s the same for you.

And I have written previously about the bellows. I’ve done my duty, but you don’t give me a price which they should give for these, but he is only offering 5£ parisis[270] although I think they are worth more. And in respect of the rent only one year’s rental is due. I know your mother has received one [rental]. Further, I have spoken to your father-in-law about the lapse of the rental, [but] he doesn’t give me an answer.

Further as for Maeryte, I’ve done my best and shall continue to do so, but I don’t think that she will yet come.

As for the letter that I received from the fellow from Meessen [Mesen], I thought that I’d write a full account because their journey went off very well, and with the rent [he] has kept all their furnishings, movables and contracts were very well dat zou hadde ende dat.[271]And that Miegel also has and he is content and no more [to report?]. His wife Akke and my wife’s sister Gaenkin with all their children have sent me warm greetings that they are in good spirits and health and can making a living. 

I can’t write about Inghel, except that he’s in difficult straits. No more for the moment, save that  may keep you in [good] health.

[Endorsed] This letter should be given to Pier de Ketelaere. 

65.[272] Brother of Antoine to the same. No date

May the grace of the lord Jesus be multiplied with you.

My very dear and beloved brother, Antoine, commendations to you and to your wife and to your children, from us, your mother as well as us two brothers and your sister.

As for our brother, it has pleased God to call him from the world on the 22nd day of October last past, for which our mother and we are in great mourning and sadness, for he cost us a great deal for the space of 29 months in prison and we were hoping for some sort of pardon, but we did not know how to obtain it. But I will hope that he is happy and settled with God.

As for the rest, we are all in good health, praise be to our good God and Father.

As to your condition and way of life, we would very much like to know about it; in truth, we have heard that you are now very far from your first residence, for which reason we are not able to hear news of you as often as we would wish.

My brother and good friend, you wrote to us concerning your tunic but we were not able to find a messenger who was reliable to carry the tunic or money; but if you find a messenger in whom there is confidence, we will send you the tunic, the cuirache[273] or the money, for which you have asked. Concerning Guillaume your son, he is in good health and is beginning to learn his creed, but he is very even tempered.

And I beg you as a brother, companion and friend, please to write me about your condition and earnings. As to our state, we do not have any earnings because the ships are not able to come.[274]

I have no [other] news to write. I still only have two children, your god-daughter and another daughter aged two and a half. Artus has two as well, a son and a daughter.

I pray God, father of all consolation, that he comfort all of you.

Yours completely, your brother, companion and good friend.


66.[275] Father of Myncken Bertis to the same: No date.

After every greeting, Mynkin, my beloved daughter, I your father can inform you that I and your mother and your sisters are in good spirits and health, God be praised, as I have gathered from your letter you also are.

Further, I also understand that you are going to marry a man, a widower having two children. May God give you his saving grace and may God grant you much happiness together.

Further, I also understand from the import of your letter that you want me to speak to your guardian and to tell him in a very friendly manner that you wish to have 2£ of your money, which I will certainly do, but I couldn’t arrange this so quickly as to be able to send something with the carrier of this letter or to arrange for any document since the same guardians whose name you mention in your letter live outside[276] the parish.

And also, I can tell you that Caerle, your uncle and guardian, has kept the 4£ groot and he has suffered misfortune or at least he has behaved so badly that he has added the same 4£ groot to all his possessions so that I fear we shall only get hold of it with difficulty.

Further, I shall speak to the other guardian and do what I can [so that] you shall have some money, but because that has been given as money for orphans and has been registered in the orphans’ book, I don’t certainly know by what means I’ll be able to get it from the guardians. Nevertheless, I’ll do my best to intercede on your behalf and ensure that you shall have it, if I can.

From your father, your servant. [I’ll do] what I can.

[Endorsed] This letter should be given to Minkin Bertis.   

67.[277] Jeanne sister of Jean Billet[278] to the same. No date.

May the grace of God be with you through Jesus Christ.

My brother, Jan Billet, we commend ourselves to you, Jenne Billet, letting you know that we’re all in good health and praying to the good God that it may likewise be with you.

Of this hundred livres that mother has given you, someone is asking her for it back and [she] has only paid two years in total on it up to now. Flipos sends greetings to you and his wife wants to let you know that they’re all in good health, praying to the good God that it may be likewise with you all.

I don’t know of anything more to write to you about, except that God may protect you all.

68.[279] Catherine Boudiffart to her brother Jan Boudiffrart/ Boutiffar[280] no date.

May salvation by Jesus Christ be given to you

My very dear brother, my hearty commendations to you, and to my sister, your wife.

My brother, after all my commendations, this is to inform you that I am troubled. Note that on the 6th of October I gave birth to a son; the 11th day of the said month of October, it pleased our good God to call my husband[281] to Him, for which I give praise to God, because it was his pleasure to do so. My brother, God called him in a short time: when he had well supped and had chatted with us for a long time, he went away to go to bed; and as soon as he was at rest, he gave up his spirit, after saying goodnight to his son Jan, and he never spoke again.

And, my brother, I ask that you would please commend me to my cousin Arnoul[282] and to his wife. And I am very surprised that I do not have any news from him; there are several people who reply well; it seems to me that if he wished to write, he would find a way to send a letter, if he wanted to.

My brother, I have nothing else to write to you at the moment, except please pray to our good God for me, so that it may please Him to give me the grace always to have patience and so that I may be a good father and a good mother to my four children.

I have nothing else to tell you, except may God stay with you all. My brother, I ask you to please do me this favour of replying to me about my cousin and what he is thinking of doing about me. Although I wrote, I have no news from him. I have some merchandise in my house, which could become spoiled; I do not know what I should do, if I do not have news from him, my brother, except for me to write that the whole business by this [one?] will do me damage.

By me, your sister, Chatelinne Boudiffart, widow Teart.

The creditor will make me sell everything at a low value beneath me, he behaves like a villainous cleric. I beg you before God to please reply whether he[283] is dead or living. Doing that will please me. By your poor sad sister. Pray to God for me.

Endorsed: To be given to Jan Boudiffrart. To Jan Bodiffart.

69.[284] A cousin of Jean Bouttifar to the same:  no date.

Greetings through Jesus Christ.

My cousin, I heartily commend myself to you not forgetting your wife.

You should be informed that Gillamme de Meus’ widow asks that she be given the money you owe her; paying this will be very difficult for me as Pier Tiart and the other who lent me one, will suffer.  

I have the merchandise in my house, I don’t know what to do with it because you don’t write me anything; you [should?] find [a way] to send them like the others.

That’s all, praying you that you write as soon as possible.

Endorsed: To be given to Jan Boutiffar. 

70.[285] Jacques Prangier to Arnould de Cordes,[286] no date

I, Jacques Prangier,[287] send you Arnole de Cordes, warm greetings, not forgetting Pier Slifry, also Nicolas Fontaine and all my friends, likewise to the young child Justine.

Having sent my greetings, and thanking you all heartily [for] all the friendship you’ve shown me, also praying that you[?] are vigilant to do this pleasure of helping them until their affections may be [inclined?] to the glory of God.

And this is to inform you that I have spoken with the mother, the widow of the late Jan de Marcene, and she’s happy about everything that I’ve done. I’m also happy and likewise my wife. I have also likewise replied to Jan de le Bar[288] for the letter dated 5th day of November 1569; also now of the letter of 2nd of January, which we write and leave entirely at your decision, although the mother has promised me that her daughter will marry like the other and that if my son does his duty and settles down well and behaves and is peace-loving, she will give him a share in an annuity to do with as he pleases, which I consider to be something that will give contentment so that the whole may be to the glory of God. I conclude. Yours entirely, Jacques Prangier.

My son, I will tell you that your two brothers, that is Aderien and Olive(r) are with me at present; both have been quite badly injured, one in the leg and the other with a dressing having been wounded in the head and are au deseur.[289]

Jacques, you know that I have promised your mother and she commends herself to you; also Aderien, your brother, of this that you well know; also I have his misfortune; Aderien was in the process of getting married and ne son poin les cose[290] is still far away when you will be cured.

The mother of one Jan Couturier who has worked with [me?] is faring well and sends greetings to her son.

Endorsed: To be given to Pier Slifry or to Ernoule de Corde. 

71.[291]  Father of Mahieu de Hoorne to the same: no date

The grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Warm greetings to Mahieu, my beloved son.

I can inform you that I am in good spirits and health, the Lord be praised, and I trust that it is likewise with you with the help of the Lord.

And I can also tell you that the dyer from Waesten[292] has come to demand payment for the dyeing of a half brown unfinished[293]cloth, the sum of fourteen shillings[294] Have you already paid him? Will you send me a clear statement, then what gyten[295] or with what money? And whether anyone was present?  [and] that you send me a quick reply about this for he wants to be paid.

And we send warmest greeting to you and Jan and his wife. And I also send warmest greetings to Jacop Bouderije and Moeijkenis, his wife.

[Endorsed] This letter should be given to Mahyeu de Hoorne.

72.[296] Son of Jacques de Roubay[297] to the same: no date.


... selle pour ... part without any danger ... bien trouver but to put you in some danger, don’t move, but tell me all that you want, what you want to do as soon as you’re able. And my mother will do her best. As for us, my mother still has Jan Cambien and a servant and makes the best of things; she is often able to with great effort when she has [one] and does not have the other and she looks forward to being delivered some time.[298]

 My father, my mother has asked you that [if?] you find yourself in some place, not to move, for [when?] my mother heard the messenger she was very happy and praised God greatly that you are making a living and she wishes that we were very soon close to you et se ferime [299]all our family.

Therefore, my father write back fully whether it’s about linen [or wool?] or something else or as soon as you’re able.

Endorsed: To be given to Jacque de Roubay

73[300] Barbe Detelus to her husband Louis du Bois.[301] No date

May the grace of God be granted to you for eternal salvation.

Louis du Bois, my humble commendations to you.

Be informed that we are all in good health, thanks be to God, to whom I pray that you are as well. Note that Simon and Noé are doing well.

I had written to you the response which you wrote to me; they are not yet at that point. My husband, I would very much like you to reside in a town so that I could go there as well with you. I have much trouble earning my living; I do not have help from anyone.

Making an end of this, I commend you to God, praying him to protect you from all harm.

By your wife and friend, Barbe Detelus

Endorsed: To be given to Louis du Bois, a shearman.[302]

74.[303] Jean le Doulx to his sister Marie Houset.[304] No date.

Our help is in the name of God, who made heaven and earth, amen.

J’ai ciet [305] Marie Houset, that your mother and your brothers and all your sisters greet you and long to know how things are with you and want you to send news seeing that we have heard that Oste has died and they would very much like to have the news.

Written by your brother, Jan le Doulx.

Endorsed: To be given to Marie Houset.

75.[306] Bauduin Joviel to his brother Thomas Joviel No date.

My very dear brother, Tomas, my commendations to you, and to your wife, Barbe, and your children.

And be informed that we are in good health and I pray God that all of you are as well.

And my brother, Tomas, note that when you were arrested in the town of Ieper, your father-in-law had promised to pay me half of the money that you had cost me while being a prisoner and had resolved to be good for it to me up to twenty livres of silver. When I asked him for it he responded that that which he had given me was an advance to me, so that I might meet the debt and I might expect nothing else from him.

And I have nothing else to write to you, except may God protect all of you.

In everything, your brother Baduin

Endorsed: Joviel

76.[307] Hennette Renier to her husband Anthoine Renier.[308] No date

Praise be to God

Antoine Renier, my humble commendations to your good graces.

Antoine, after all my commendations, this is to inform you that I am in good health, thanks be to God, as I pray the Creator you are as well. I find myself par raison[309]here for the moment, but since a year ago, I have been twice almost at the point of death,[310] whither [however] it did not please God to call me. 

Antoine, I was told, on the second day of Lent,[311] that you sent your commendations to me, which was the first news that I have had of you. I am very astonished that you have not written back a letter as soon as you could, except to write on the letters of Jan Desmadry. By which I suspect that this doesn’t affect you. Regarding my two children, they are doing well, [if] you are wondering, but as long as I have a morsel of bread, they will not come behind me.

Making an end, and praying the Creator grant you his grace.

By your wife Hennette Renier

Nicolas, your nephew send you his commendations.

Endorsed: To be given to Anthoine Renier

77.[312] Jan Weins to his daughter Marie and her husband. No date.

Honourable and well-beloved daughter Maeryt and her husband.

Friendly greetings to you my beloved son and daughter, hoping you’re in good health, as we are, God be praised.

After sending greetings to everyone some of my news. There is nothing [to report] than that the world is much troubled by the 100th penny. As for other news to report there is nothing dic men soede mueghen ghekomen hadde den vaeder was gheseyn ... hade mueghen.[313]

Other news to write ... but he has gone to Ghent for he ... had much to do.

This was written by your servant Jan Weins

To you my dear son and daughter and his child.

Endorsed: To my beloved daughter Maerye.

78.[314]­ Jacques Coq to his sister. No date.

My sister, my very many greetings to you, to all your good friends, and to your son.

Concerning the house, I received your letter and everything is well understood; I did my duty concerning what you requested. And he promised me another time to send what you were asking for and we were not to speak to him and he told me that I would do as well in the country market, he told me that for us I should go into the country and that he would see to everything.

I would not know how to do more than I have done. As for the table de cens[315] I am not bothered; all my goods have been seized and I am no longer able to receive anything. And as for that one whom you know well, he is not out of prison and I don’t see any way to get possession usi tant [316] it will please God to ordain it

I write in haste. I believe that you have received the letters that I have sent you, which will be the end of this one, praying God to send us what is good for us.

On behalf of your brother and servant at Marck[317] whom you know well, and of your family by your cousin’s sister Gilbert le Gouverne; she knows your husband.

Endorsed: To the sister of Jacques Coq


79.​[318] A brother to his brother. No date.


[1] RvB 96, fo.70

[2] Most affectionately?

[3] An easy way to return?

[4] RvB 96, fo. 91

[5] Possibly identical with ‘Arnolde Delarewe’ He was listed as a denizen, and a sackcloth maker from Tournai; his wife came from Arras. They had five children, all born in London, and a maid called ‘Amiat’ and servant called Robert a Price. They were said to ‘have bein repairing to the Frenche churche long’; in 1568 they were living in Breadstrete Ward, Returns of Aliens, III, 392. CT lists 9 persons called De la Rue nos. 2936-44 of whom five came from Tournai and one each from Mons, Templeuve, Armentières and Valenciennes but no one with this Christian name.

[6] ‘John Bonttyfler made sackcloth. In 1568 he resided in Breadstrete Ward with his wife Blanche and two man servants called Gyles Bokarte  and John Clynckard’. All were born in Tournai and listed as members of the French Church., Returns of Aliens, III, 392. In 1571 ‘John Bonteflar’ with his wife Blanche, and two maid servants Adrian Crikilian & Packet Mawberie’ resided in Candelwickestrete Ward. He been in England since 1567 and all the children were born in Tournai, Returns of Aliens, I, 476. In 1571 he was listed as ‘silkweaver’ who had been in London for three years, Returns of Aliens, II, 41. ‘Jehan Clinquart’ was a member of the French Church in London in 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 396.  According to Returns of Aliens, I, 453. John Clinckerd was a sack cloth weaver born in ‘Agan in Henigo’ [Enghien in Hainaut]. The property of one ‘Laurens Boutifflart’ [Leurins Botifart] (CT 847), a hosier at Tournai, was inventoried on 28 July 1568, see Gegevens betreffende roerend en onroerende bezit in de Nederlanden in de 16e-eeuw ed. H.A. Enno van Gelder, 2 vols (RGP Grote Serie, 140-141) (The Hague, 1972),  II, 64. Another member of this family, Marie Boutifflart, the widow of Michiel Rose, was banished and her estate confiscated in 1568, see Lille, Archives du Nord, Chambre des Comptes, B 13190 fo. 171. Andrew Spicer kindly supplied a transcript of this document.  As long ago as 1552-3 Marguerite Bontiflard or Boutiflard had attended evangelical meetings at Tournai, for which she was imprisoned; though later released, she and her husband were forbidden to leave town, but they withdrew to Antwerp, G. Moreau, Histoire du protestantisme à Tournai jusqu’à la veille de la Révolution des Pays-Bas (Paris, 1962), pp. 293-4.

[7] ‘Buset’ possibly a bundle of hemp: see ‘bousse’ in Dictionnaire du Moyen-Français.

[8] RvB 96, fo. 38.

[9] The courier was carrying sundry smocks when he was arrested.

[10] Though ‘prester’ means to lend, Marinne is presumably urging her husband to borrow the money from Provoost whom she would repay. 

[11] Possibly this Lambert can be identified with Lambrecht Mouton whose wife was staying in November 1569 with the Dutch minister at Sandwich, see A.P. van Groningen, ‘Twee watergeuzen’, Bijdragen tot de oudheidkunde en geschiedenis inzonderheid van Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen II (1857) p. 317. According to yet another correspondent one Lamsoen Bottoen, who may be the same, was a prisoner in Ieper in February 1570, Verheyden ‘Correspondance inédite’, p. 185.

[12] RvB 96, fo. 65.

[13] Possibly Arnoul le Clercq who appears in the Registre des baptesmes, mariages & morts et jeusnes. De leglise wallonne et des Isles de Jersey, Guernsey, Serq, Origny, &c.,établie à Southampton ed.H.M. Godfray  (Lymington,1890) and who came from Valenciennes, see A. Spicer, ‘The French-speaking Reformed community and their Church in Southampton, 1567-c. 1620’ (unpub. PhD, Southampton, 1994) p. 19 n.10.

[14] Verheyden suggests Southampton for ‘Sauhint’, Verheyden, ‘Correspondance inédite’, p. 121.

[15] RvB 96, fo. 26.

[16] To illustrate the problems facing us as translators we have added here the French text of letter no 5 as published by A.L.E. Verheyden:

               Mon frère, à vous me recomande. Saches que suis en bone santé, ausy son tous mes enfans. Saches que j’ay reçu vostre lettre, datée le IIIe jour de novembre et l’ay reçu le XVIe de janvyer.   Saches que j’ay bien tout entendu, mais l’argen que m’avye adresé je ne l’aray point et se me povye radressé aultremen de brief. J’en ay gran disette, et pour le présen, je n’ay point grand [chose?] à gaigné.

                Ausy, saces que je suis chargé de maison. Nycolt de Marlye as acetté celle où je demoroye et je demeure à ly siene; il m’y as falu allé, je l’ay seu trop tart, dont je n’y treuve point gran chose à gaigné et croye bien estre le plus tost que vous povés hors.

                Vostre compère Decobecq se recomande bien fort à vous et voldroit bien que fuse auprès de luy et dit que Magdeleine et Remy gaigneroien bien XL gro le sepmaine a II.

                Je vous prye que visse ung peu quelle chose vous avés vollonté de faire pour moy. Je ne saroye cy nullement gaigné mes dépen et vous pry que me le mandé le plus brief que povés. Gilles Mette se recomande à Pierçon et s’il as afaire de quelque chose qu’il soit assisté et ne le laisié point en danger. Et moy, je prye d’estre recommandée à luy, mon frère. Je vous prye que me mandé sy ceulx de le bourse sont las arryvé; il son party dès le Tousin et n’en as-t-on ouy nulle nouvelle; on as dit qu’il sont péry, don nous en pine faison.

                Enfin, pryan le Créateur pour sa sinte grâce.

                Escrite, le XXVIIe de janvier, par vostre seur Jenne Géguenter.

                Sace, que avoy receut vos lettre, daté du IIIe jour de janviers. Mon frère, je vous avertys qe l’argent de Coret, je ne le peult baljé (sey cea vyeu que vous ons mandé, saces nous à dyre deux ou troys semaynne devant pour ferre) nos apret et peu devant mon frère recogneuz moy sy ceux de le bours sont aryvé. Ils sont partys de le Tousayns; ung nous a dyt qu’yl sont pérys et n’en donne nul novelle, s’yl sont aryvez oprè de vous. Nous somme byen etbay que n’avons nulle nouvelle de Pierrecon.  

[17] and I think it’s the soonest you could leave.

[18] This paragraph goes over the same ground as the previous one.

[19] RvB 96, fo. 45.

[20] RvB. 96, fo. 43.

[21] Nicolas Frappe who was described as a ‘marchant’ was banished from Tournai in 1569 CT 4647. He was related to Jehan Frappe also from Tournai CT 4648. He had attended a meeting with Guy de Brès after chanteries in 1561 for which he was fined 100 livres. In 1563 he was questioned again, see Moreau, Histoire du Protestantisme à Tournai, p. 317. He had gone to Antwerp by 1566, ibid, 246.  ‘Nicholas Frappe, gent’ and ‘no denizen’ was listed with wife, three children and a maid servant Annatt and a man servant Symon Robarte who were all born in Tournai. They were members of French Church. and resided in Breadstreet Ward in 1568, Returns of Aliens, III, 392; ‘Nicaise Frappes’ was listed as having joined French Church late in 1568 or early 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 398. By 1571 ‘Nycaseus Thrapp’ merchant and his wife Jane from Tournai were living in Langbourne Ward. Returns of Aliens, I, 415.

[22] RvB. 96, fo. 86.

[23] Cf. Jehan de Ville from Antwerp CT 3679; Jehan de Villers from Tournai CT 3684.

[24] RvB 96, fo. 10.

[25] On François Guimart see Spicer, ‘The French-speaking Reformed community’ pp. 42-43; also A. Spicer, The French-speaking Reformed Community and their Church in Southampton 1567-c. 1620 (The Huguenot Society new series no 3) (London, 1997), p. 14; P. Beuzart, ‘La réforme dans les environs de Lille’, 52, ‘Franchois Gemart’ and his wife from Armentières were sentenced by CT 4771 & 4772. He had been a member of consistory at Armentières, De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, II, 352.  Franchois Guinart arrived Sandwich 1568, where he served as a deacon, M. Backhouse, ‘The Flemish and Walloon Communities at Sandwich during the Reign of Elizabeth I (1561-1603)’, 3 vols., unpub. PhD (Southampton, 1992), II, no 2080.

[26] Possibly Beauvais.

[27] Not clear to what this alludes. The writer may have been thinking of France, but the third war of religion did not end there until August 1570.

[28] Possibly Pierre Carpentier sentenced at Valenciennes CT 1253. He came from Mesen and was noted in London and Antwerp in 1561; from 1572-92 he was the Reformed minister at Schiedam, see Backhouse, ‘Flemish and Walloon communities’ II no. 380.

[29] For Gillain Reubien, see A. Spicer, ‘The French-speaking Reformed community’, p, 43.

[30] RvB 96, fo.40.

[31] Probably the widow of Jan de Marcene, see letter 70.

[32] Guillaume Hennecart from Valenciennes was sentenced by CT 5338. Though not a member of the French Church in London, he attended service there in 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 399.

[33] For Jacques Pranger, see also letters 21 & 70. His wife, Marguerite le Moisne, was summoned before the Inquisition in May-July 1565. She was banished for three years on 7 December 1567 for having helped Jennette Couvreur steal the register of curé of S. Jacques ‘où estoient escript les noms des paroischiens ayant fait leur debvoir d’aller au quaresne dernier passé, C. Paillard, Histoire des Troubles religieux de Valenciennes 4 vol (Brussels, 1874-76), IV, 176-78.

[34] RvB 96, fo.6.

[35] RvB 96, fo.37

[36] A ‘Guisot’ or ‘Ciset’ Plennart’ ‘sayeteur’ was banished from Valenciennes CT 8354, see Lien Luu, Immigrants p. 113.

[37] RvB 96, fo.36.

[38] The amanuensis.

[39] RvB 96, fo.3 and fo. 4.

[40] Pierre Gruel, a wine merchant, was banished from Valenciennes on 15 January 1569 see CT 5103. He had been a member of Calvinist delegation that went to Brussels 19/20 August 1566 to ask for freedom of religion and subsequently a leading figure in image-breaking and active in raising funds for the defence of Valenciennes in March 1567. See Verheyden, ‘Correspondance inédite’, 131 n1 and P. Beuzart La répression à Valenciennes après les troubles religieux de 1566 (Paris, 1930), pp. 116, 117 & 129.  ‘Pierre Gruel’ was listed as member of French Church in London late 1568 early 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 397.  One Jacklyng Gruell, a silk weaver who was described as a ‘Burgonyan’ [i.e. from the Low Countries] was listed as an alien in 1568, Returns of Aliens, III, 339.

[41] For ‘l’artiecque de la mort’ Charles Littleton proposed ‘at the point of death’. This expression recurs as l’artique de la mort in letter 76.  

[42] Perhaps ‘adrechy’ was the past participle of adrecier meaning to address or correct.

[43] RvB 96, fo. 8

[44] in truth? [en verité]

[45] The mortal blow?

[46] Possibly the name of a local inn.

[47] See, in the Testimony of Henri Fléel. the inventory of goods found on his person when he was arrested.

[48] Wands made of animal hair? Perhaps ‘verque’ was a form of ‘verge’ meaning a rod or wand. These may have been tools used in the making of velvet.  Michel Desquint asked his brother Martin to send him ‘des verges’, see letter 24. The messenger was carrying ‘Vergetttes’ when he was arrested in early 1570.

[49] measures of cloth?

[50] Dots indicate illegible word.

[51] Possibly Rumme, SW of Tournai.

[52] The original is almost illegible. The context suggests something like ‘fervent prayer’.

[53] RvB 96, fo. 67.

[54] RvB 96, fo. 79

[55] Jacques Jappin was probably a brother of Pierre Jappin, who was banished from Valenciennes 15 January 1569 see CT 6181; Agniès Bérot, who was the daughter of Jacques Bérot, was married to Pierre Jappin.

[56] RvB 96, fo. 50-51

[57] ‘’Rouland Hetrue’ appears in the Returns of Aliens as a silkweaver, in St Botolph’s parish with wife Katheryne and three children 1568; he was listed as belonging to ‘Dowche churche’ in London, III, 351; in January 1569 Rouland de Hetreu was listed as member of French Church, Returns of Aliens, I, 398. By the autumn of 1571 Arnolde Hetrewe, also a silkweaver from Valenciennes, was living with his son Rowland Hetrewe having come to England that year ‘for religion’, Returns of Aliens, II, 128. Several other persons, also from Valenciennes, were registered as also residing at Roland’s house in 1571, ibid., 128-129.   

[58] Asks him?

[59] RvB 96, fo. 57.

[60] This may be the ‘Thomas le Clercq’ who was banished from Valenciennes by CT 6647.  In November 1571 ‘Thomas Clerk, of Vallaunce’ aged 38 was living in ‘the Warde of Bridge Without’ with his wife Elizabeth, aged 35. She had come with five children aged 5, 3, 12, 10 and 6 to England ‘for religion. He was a tailor. Thomas had been coming and going for the past two years, but he had been in England for past 3 months when the Return was made, Returns of Aliens, II, 122. Another ‘Thomas Clerk’ was reported in 1567 as having been in England for 3 years, Returns of Aliens, I, 326.  

[61] Cushion, blanket or bedcover?

[62] RvB 96, fo. 77.

[63] ‘Peter Orman, hatband maker, and Johane his wife, a Burgonion’ were recorded at Easter 1568 as denizens in Castle Baynard Ward (St. Andrews parish); they had lived in England for two years, Return of Aliens, I, 320; Jonet Orman, sister of Orman, was registered as a denizen, who had been six months in England,’, Return of Aliens, I, 320. In 1569 Pierre Orman was listed as member of French Church, Return of Aliens, I, 397 and in 1571 Peter Orman, hatbankmaker,was described as a’ howseholder’ who had come to England threeyears previously for religion; his maidservant, aged 10 years, was described as being of ‘No church’, Return of Aliens, II, 13. In 1576 Peter Orman was living in Farringdon Within, living at St Anne’s in the Blackfriars, Return of Aliens, II, 1579 and he was still there in 1582 , Return of Aliens, II, 252; in 1583 ‘Peter Ormane hattbandemaker’ was described as being from the Low Countries, having come with his wife ‘to see the countrey, and are of the Frenche churche’, their two children had been born in England, Return of Aliens, II, 356.

[64] Rheims?

[65] Perhaps some sort of certificate of baptism establishing parentage. 

[66] All one?

[67] Jacques Gellée was a wine-merchant at Valenciennes and a member of the Calvinist consistory there. He was banished 6 March 1568. CT 4768.  A ‘James Jellie’ described as a ‘Ducheman’ was recorded as living in Queenhithe Ward in 1568, Returns of Aliens, III, 386.  He seems to have acted as an intermediary for in letter 31 we learn that Jacqueline Leurent’s letter to her husband was also to be sent via Jacques Gellée. 

[68] RvB 96, fo. 21.

[69] Perhaps Arnould de Cordes from Valenciennes, see letter 70.

[70] The mention of troubles in the country suggests that the destination of this letter may have been somewhere in France rather than England.

[71] See also letter 70.

[72] see also letters 10 & 70.

[73] Lieulx = literally places. We have failed to identify a place of this name in either Belgium or Northern France. Perhaps the anonymous address was a deliberate mystification. If this letter were written to Arnould de Cordes, then it seems likely that the father of Arnould was writing from Valenciennes. 

[74] RvB 96, fo.81.

[75] RvB 96, fo.42

[76] Consultation with the MS shows that these words were omitted in the published edition. Seemingly they were added as an afterthought to the introduction of this letter.

[77] RvB 96, fo. 72.

[78] Verges. This may refer to wands or rods used to beat clothes or perhaps in the making of velvet, cf. letter 15. When the courier was arrested, he has carrying copper rods.

[79] RvB 96, fo. 62.

[80] Identified by Verheyden as Jason du Bois who was banished from Tournai, CT 4122.

[81] A livre de Flandre of 40 gros was equal in value to 6 carolus gulden.

[82] Jehan le Quien was banished from Tournai CT 6894.

[83] Perhaps identical with ‘Jaques de Pushe’ a smith from Tournai who was registered as an alien in London, Returns of Aliens, I, 456 and ‘Jacques du Puitz’ who was member of French Church in London in 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 398.

[84] Wesel?

[85] Possibly identical with Philippe Nys from Antwerp (CT 7881) banished in 1569. Guido Marnef, ‘Antwerpen in Reformatietijd. Ondergronds Protestantisme in een internationale handelsmetropool, 1550-1577’ 2 vols., (unpub. proefschrift), (Leuven, 1991), II, p. 246 nr. 546.

[86] The rest of this paragraph is opaque and our translation includes an element of guesswork. ‘And you are to know that the brewer has returned to me what you know about. He did not dare to keep it, but all the time he still said nothing. But one of the men has said that if it had only been vouched for on your authority he would have been happy to pay me his share. And I would like you to write one of them when [it is time] for me to do it.’ 

[87] Probably she meant ‘write’.

[88]As this feast day fell on 25 July and the letter is dated 3 February, we cannot explain this allusion. 

[89] RvB 96, fo. 44.

[90] Lbs: an abbreviation for Flemish pounds.

[91] A ‘Jehan de France’ from Tournai was sentenced by CT 2506.

[92] ‘patience de cinq’. Perhaps a proverbial expression like the patience of Job.

[93] RvB 96, fo.87.

[94] A ‘Jacques Parent’ from Wattrelos was sentenced by CT (8010). A ‘Wallerand Parent’ from Ieper had property confiscated for involvement in preaching at Boeschepe (1562) but it yielded nothing, see M. Backhouse, ‘The Official Start of armed resistance in the Low Countries’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 71 (1980), 220 and  De Coussemaker (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, I, 315.  The ‘Jaques Paren’ from Liège who belonged to Dutch Church in London in 1617, Return of Aliens, III, 142, 157, 169 was a Dutch speaker and therefore someone else.

[95] Lannoy lies on outskirts of Roubaix between Lille and Tournai.

[96] RvB 96, fo. 29.

[97] Gille Piet banished from Tournai 21 January 1569 CT 8218. Not traced in London.

[98] The Troyes Roies was an inn in Calais. Henri Fléel was going there when he was arrested. 

[99] attentively?

[100] RvB 96, fo.82.

[101] See also letters 2, 68 & 69.

[102] The sense of this passage is opaque.  

[103] Pierre Taiart. See letter 2.

[104] On 4 January Pierre Taiart had written to Arnould de le Rue in which letter he sent greetings to Jan Boutiflas and his wife. See no 2. See also letters 68 and 69.

[105] RvB 96, fo.35

[106] Jehan Dambrune was sentenced by CT 1982. He was described as an ‘escrinier’ (joiner or cabinet maker). He had tried to arrange the removal of his property to England, but this had been prevented in December 1562. Jacqueline Leurent was the daughter of Charles Muchet, who had himself also been absent from Valenciennes for a long time, C. Paillard, Histoire des Troubles religieux de Valenciennes 4 vols (Brussels, 1874-76), II, 486. See also Lien Luu, Immigrants p. 113. For Jehan Dambrune and his wife in London see Returns of Aliens, I, 396; II, 16; 138, 404; III, 54.

[107] See above letter 20 and footnote.

[108] RvB 96, fo. 33-34.

[109] Jean de Denain alias Jean le Poivre from Tournai was sentenced by CT 2453; 6885.

[110] See also letter 35.

[111] Presumably at Tournai.

[112] An ink blot renders the rest of paragraph illegible.

[113] From Tournai where his property had been confiscated, see Lille, Archives du Nord, Chambre des Comptes B 13190 fo 8. Adrian Baudrenghien was listed in 1569 as someone who though not a member of French church in London nevertheless attended their services, Returns of Aliens, I, 399.

[114] May be identified with ‘Nycholas Pluckett, late merchaunte, borne in Torney’ with Adryan his wife and Mary his daughter, and they go to the Frenche churche’ in 1568, Returns of Aliens, III, 332; ‘Nicolas Plucquet’ listed among those who attended services at the French Church in 1569, without however being members, Returns of Aliens, I, 399. In 1571 ‘Nicholas Pluckett and Audrean’ his wife from Tournai had resided in Cripplegate Ward for two years and was described as having ‘no occupacion’, Returns of Aliens, I, 405.

[115] RvB 96, fo. 80.

[116] Jerosme Caulier was a member of French Church in London January 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 396. Members of the De Coron family had frequented evangelical circles in Tournai in the later 1550’s, G. Moreau, Histoire du protestantisme à Tournai p. 305. Both Daniel and Guillaume Caulier from Valenciennes were cited before CT 1338 and 1339.

[117] RvB 96, fo.54.

[118] See note 90.

[119] he had done it?

[120] A ‘Jehan Ort’ of Tournai was sentenced by CT 7946

[121] She may have been the wife of Julien Lefebvre an iconoclast. After having been hanged, his body was burnt at Valenciennes. 19 October 1567, Verheyden, ‘Correspondance inédite’, 157. Julien Lefebvre, like many other persons condemned for their part in the Troubles at Valenciennes, is not listed in CT. If Verheyden is correct, then this letter was written by someone in Valenciennes. 

[122] RvB 96. fo.60.

[123] Jean de Denain from Tournai was sentenced by CT 2453.  The property of Jean de Denain (dit le poivre) was confiscated at Tournai, Lille, archives du Nord, Chambre des Comptes, B 13190 fo4v. See also letter no. 32.

[124] The difficulties of translating this letter are aggravated by the lacunae in the original. We have taken some liberties when trying to make sense of the letter.

[125] I will look into it [be patient,] ....will be done through Antwerp. The lacunae in the original are marked by ellipses; these have added to the difficulties of translation.

[126]  Perhaps some sort of woollen garment or cloth.

[127] RvB 96, fo. 21.

[128] Banished by CT 518. He and his wife Marie Clarisse (CT 1509) left no property, De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle,  I, 309, 328). An ‘Anthoine Behagle’ who was cloth merchant was involved in the Troubles at Armentières, P. Beuzart, ‘La réforme dans les environs de Lille’ p. 53, p. 55.

[129] Both names scored out in MS.

[130] The MS repeats ‘voorts’ perhaps a scribal error.

[131] The concluding formula ‘wat my vermoghen’ ‘wat ic vermach’ occurs in two other letters (36, 66). It may be ellipitical for ‘I/ we shall do what I/we can’. 

[132] RvB 96, fo.90. Fragment only with lacunae.

[133] Possibly Guillaume Caulier from Valenciennes who was cited CT 1339. See also letter 33 related to Mr Jérome Caulier, see letter 33.

[134] Perhaps read ‘porseur’ as ‘porteur’, i.e. the messenger.

[135] RvB 96, fo.28.

[135a] Perhaps related to Wouter Questeloot. He and his wife were banished from Ieper, CT  8540 & 8541.

[136] i.e. to go to the Catholic mass.

[137] the text has ‘bedongen’ i.e. agreed, but this may be a slip for ‘bedwongen’, i.e. forced, which better fits the context. 

[138] The identify of Jan Huegebart cannot be established with certainty. One ‘John Howgabert, dension, hatband-maker’ was living in Allhallows Barking parish in 1568, Returns of Aliens, I, 391; II, 385; in 1583 ‘John Hughebert hatband maker’ was in Langbourne Ward, Returns of Aliens, II, 337.

[139] The precise sense of this passage ‘Ende voorts van de antworde van den gelde …de pennyinghen ontfanghen hadde’ is difficult to determine.  It would seem that Victor Kirstelot has sent the addressee 40 stuivers to cover the travelling expenses of Jan Hueghebart and the sum advanced will be repaid from the wages of Hueghebart. 

[140] Joos Dateen sent two cheeses from Norwich to a friend in Ieper in 1567, see www.dutchrevolt/leidenuniv/nl see under English sources, Janssen correspondence, no.22.

[141] Unclear what is meant. Is the writer referring to rumours about a General Pardon or some peace? Or is the writer thinking in apocalyptic terms; perhaps the circumstances suggest that the time of Judgement is approaching.

[142] toelaten for toeverlaat?

[143] ‘bes [boos] ende quaet’ perhaps a set phrase. 

[144] Probably one and the same as Jehan Deuvelin from Belle. CT 3649. See also De Coussemaker (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, I, 255. His wife came from Meteren (CT 9232) very close to Belle. He and his wife were charged with attending Reformed services and their property in Meteren was confiscated on 3 June 1568, De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, I, 255, 295.

[145] RvB 96, fo. 24.

[146] Hubert Cousart of Tournai was sentenced by CT 1865.

[147] Lent began on 14 February 1570.

[148] RvB 96, fo. 11.

[149] This letter may have been written in Armentierès. It was clearly a cloth-making centre that had fallen on hard times. Armentierès was not far from Nieuwkerke and Hondschoote and nor from St Omer and Calais.  The letter mentions a ‘Madry’ who sent greetings and the young Jehan Desmadry was taken to his uncle [Des]Madry in Armentières before he left for Calais, see his interrogation. This may of course be mere coincidence.  See also Lien Luu, Immigrants, p. 113.

[150] The value of schellingen, half réals and daalders is difficult to determine. A half réal was usually considered to be worth 30 stuivers and a schelling 6 stuivers so 5 schellingen = 30 stuivers or a demi-réal.

[151] The sense of this paragraph is difficult to make out. It would seem that Pierre owed, or was obligated to send to, Thomas 5 schellingen while in prison, but since then Thomas had not been able to pay it back, so Pierre's father sends it to Pierre.

[152] A ‘daalder’ also known as a Philipsdaalder was worth between 30 or 35 stuivers.

[153] See the interrogation of the young Jehan Desmadry

[154] The phrase ‘savoier se poeult correer’ is difficult to translate. It might mean ‘to know if [it[ can run’, i.e. the business.

[155] RvB 96, fo. 78.

[156]Probably Jacques Desbucquois from Lannoy who was sentenced by CT (3419). ‘Jacques Desbuquois’ was a member of French Church in London in 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 396; a ‘James de Buco’ from Lille was listed as alien in London 1568, Returns of Aliens, III, 330. 

[157] Unclear whether jusque à ce jour refers to 15 January or the day of this letter.

[158] Meaning of ‘des tripey’ unknown. It is evidently some sort of cloth, but not ‘velveteen’ which only came in the late eighteenth century. As this region was close to the Dutch-speaking area, it might have been derived from the Middle Dutch ‘trijp’, regarded as an inferior sort of velvet., or ‘plush’.

[159] RvB 96, fos. 58-59.

[160] Marie de Ruelle handed her son, also known as Jean Desmadry, over to the courier Fléel to be taken to join her husband in London. The boy, aged 9 or 10, was arrested with Fléel and interrogated, see the testimony of Henri Fléel.

[161] Jean Desmadry of Frélinghien nr Lille was banished by CT 3047. ‘Jehan des Madry’ was received into French Church in London late 1568 or early 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 398. A ‘Jehan de Ruyelle’ from Lille was banished by CT 3386.

[162] He was about 9 or 10, but children in early modern Europe were apprenticed as early as 9, see S. Ozment, Three Behaim boys: growing up in early modern Germany (New Haven 1990) p. 11.

[163] opportunities?

[164] at mine?

[165] Perhaps to prevent these being confiscated.

[166] Probably ‘goujat’ or a soldier’s boy.

[167] more and more troubles?

[168] Perhaps ‘satisfaction’.

[169] Guilders and florins are usually equivalents.

[170] RvB 96, fo. 66.

[171] A certain Noël Creton from La Gorgue/ Laventie was sentenced CT 1905, but it is not certain whether he was related to Jean Creton for Noël was clearly well-educated whereas Jean used an amanuensis. Noël was described as a fugitive from Merville., De Coussemaker (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, II, 148. He had been ‘greffier’ or ‘huissier’ of the Chambre d’Artois at Arras (ibid., II, 193); iconoclast at Laventie (II, 196, 245-6; 271-79; 283; 286-7; 289; 330, 334-6; 340; 379-85). He had been involved in an anti-clerical farce at Whitsun 1560 which was repeated at Christmas 1565. At that time he went to France where he recruited a minister called Julien. In 1566 he took a leading part in organising preachings and collected for the three million guilder request. He was banished and his property was confiscated.

[172] RvB 96, fo. 23.

[173] Perhaps one and the same as ‘Romanus Fere operarius’ who was listed in the census of Norwich strangers in 1568, though the Dutch stranger church there would not vouch for him as he had a reputation for drunkenness. He had however promised to amend his ways, Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’, p. 219.

[174] The ‘pond vlaams’ was worth 6 carolusgulden.

[175] i.e. 1570 n.s. The meaning of ‘tych’ is uncertain.

[176] RvB 96, fo. 53.

[177] Guy Joire of Armentières was banished on 13 April 1568 (CT 6269). He was accused of image-breaking,  De Coussemaker (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, II, 351, 354; P. Beuzart, ‘La réforme dans les environs de Lille’ p. 54.

[178] and everyone eats ashes and tiles, as do countryfolk? Perhaps a proverbial saying. Though the sense seems clear enough, it is difficult provide a satisfactory translation.

[179] in her place I have had to maintain two of those who have been billeted on them? 

[180] See letter 48.

[181] ‘dead’? But this makes little sense. 

[182] RvB 96, fo.89.

[183] 12 Livres Parisis made one Flemish £.

[184] RvB 96, fo. 19.

[185] Verheyden read this as’ Kacaut’. But one Johannes Cacant, ‘faber lignarius’ was listed as a member of the Dutch Church at Norwich in 1568. He had come to England with his wife, servant and one child; Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’, p. 206.

[186] Possibly Martin Le Cocq CT 6657 who came from Warneton. NE of Armentières.

[187] Meaning of reysen uncertain. Can mean journeys, voyages or possibly turns.

[188] A ‘Georgius Dekaet juvenis’ was listed in Norwich return of 1568. He had come from Flanders in 1567, Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’, p. 211.

[189] RvB 96, fo. 52.

[190] See above letter 45.

[191] ma seurt . We have not been able to translate this phrase.

[192] As for that part  that you must hasten through?

[193] i.e mother of Jean and Guy Joire who had died 11 February 1570, the day before the letter was written.

[194] RvB 96, fo. 55.

[195] Possibly the brother of Anthoine Flayel who was a member of the French-speaking church at Southampton. Anthoine had been involved in image-breaking at Erquinghem and Armentières as well as fighting at Lannoy, see Spicer, Reformed French-speaking Community p. 14; see also P. Beuzart, ‘La réforme dans les environs de Lille’, p.56.

[196] RvB 96, fo. 49

[197] For a letter from his brother-in-law see letter 54. Probably one and the same as Jacques Lestienne from Armentières, who, with his wife, was summoned before CT 6954 & 6955. He had been a religious suspect in 1562; De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, II, 236. See also letter 54. One ‘Jacus Steven’ and his wife, his sister Catherine with an old woman and four children’ were listed in 1568 as going to the Dutch Church in London, Returns of Aliens, III, 389.

[198] RvB 96, fo.29.

[199] This suggests the correspondent was not writing from Armentières otherwise he might have said the brother was working ‘here’ rather than naming the town. 

[200] De Blinde Ezel [The Blind Donkey] sounds like the name of a tavern.

[201] RvB 96, fo.27.

[202] RvB 96, fo. 63.

[203] From Armentières. Possibly married to ‘my sister Chaterinne’. For him in Southampton see Spicer, ‘The French- Reformed community’, p. 13; 16-17 which also mention Marie du Beffroy. The brother ‘Wallerand’ cannot be identified at Southampton.

[204] RvB 96, fo.60.

[205]  For information see letter 50.  Jacques Lestienne had been under suspicion in 1562; he and his wife were banished on 13 April 1568 from Armentières CT 6954 and 6955.

[206] Damp has made the text illegible.

[207] Possibly ‘the elder’ or the Jacop ‘Lainel’ mentioned in letter 50.

[208] RvB 96, fo.30.

[209] Jean de Keysere and his wife Maeyken. May be identified with Jehan de Keysere and Marie Verstraeten, both from Ieper (CT 2733 and 11634).  He had come with his wife and five children in 1567, see Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’, p. 209.

[210] Pierre van Coorenhuuse and his wife Marie Siguet were banished from Ieper CT 10248 & 9249.  He belonged to the Dutch Church at Norwich by 1568 where was described as ‘laneficus’ (wool comber). He had come with his wife and three sons in 1567, Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’, p. 201.

[211] Joos Stoeclkin was Josse Dathen alias Stoelkin,was a chair maker or wood turner from Ieper. He and his wife had been banished from there CT 2028 and 1296 and took refuge in Norwich. For a letter from him written see www.dutchrevolt.leidenuniv.nl Sources in English/Janssen correspondence. Letter 22 and endnote 69.

[212] i.e. they are Catholics.

[213] The correspondent distinguishes between ‘groot hout’ and ‘rijshout’, presumably different types of firewood.

[214] i.e. the Calvinist rebels who fought government forces at Wattrelos 28 December 1566.

[215] Possibly Lampson/ Lambert Mouton.  He had been a deacon in the Reformed congregation at Ieper and was sentenced in August 1567 before the creation of the Council of Troubles to do penance and pay a stiff fine, see also B. Camerlynck, ‘De hervorming in de stad Ieper tussen 1520 en 1567’ (unpub. Licentiaatsverhandeling,Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 1970), 106. His wife was the sister-in-law of Carolus Rijckewaert, the Dutch minister at Norwich, A.P. van Groningen, ‘Twee watergeuzen’, Bijdragen tot de oudheidkunde en geschiedenis inzonderheid van Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen, II (1857), p. 317.

[216] Johannes Camerlins juvenis was a member of Dutch Church at Norwich 1568. He came from Flanders in 1567, Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’ p. 208.

[217] i.e. in the presence of the Reformed congregation, which would not have been possible in 1570.

[218] RvB 96, fo. 12-13b.

[219] Pieter van der Mersch was the receiver of confiscated property in Ieper.

[220] This has the pithiness of a well-honed proverbial expression, but it’s precise meaning eludes us. After consultation with Christopher Joby and Noel Osselton, we suggest something along the lines ‘as long as it works, it’s fine’.

[221] Arinus [Aerius/ Aristotle] Questier from Ieper was banished CT 8542.  Aristotle Questier who was a weaver came to England with his wife and son from Flanders in 1567 and became a member of Dutch Church at Norwich in 1568, Rye,‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’ p. 209. He was related by marriage to the Reformed minister there Carolus Rijckewaert, A.P. van Groningen, ‘Twee watergeuzen’, Bijdragen tot de oudheidkunde en geschiedenis inzonderheid van Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen, II (1857), p. 317.

[222] In margin: ‘he posted a notice on the church door saying that the office was for sale’.

[223] Jehan Langhedul was banished from Ieper CT  6538. He had accompanied Carolus Rijckewaert when he took his oath before magistrates of Ieper on 5 October 1566; by September 1567, he was in Norwich, see www.dutchrevolt.leidenuniv.nl Sources in English/Janssen correspondence, letter 10 and endnote 26. He was listed as a member of Dutch Church at Norwich in 1568, where he appears as Johannes Langedull and was described as a merchant, Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’, p. 207.

[224] Piere de Landtsheere was banished from Ieper, see CT 2799. Petrus Lantshere, who was a widower and a weaver, was listed among Dutch strangers at Norwich in 1568, Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’, p. 214.

[225] He was a signatory to the religious agreement drawn up in Ieper 1566, H.Q. Janssen, ‘De hervormde vlugtelingen van Yperen in Engeland, geschetst naar hunne brieven’, Bijdragen tot de Oudheidkunde en Geschiedenis, inzonderheid van Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen, 2, 280; 283-4.

[226] Listed as a member of Dutch Church at Norwich in 1568. She was described as a ‘young girl or spinster’ who had come from Flanders in 1567, Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’ p. 207.

[227] Presumably the letter had been torn.  

[228] RvB 96, fo.9. A difficult letter to make complete sense of on account of the illegible passages.

[229] Illegible word.

[230] Illegible word.

[231] Can’t make sense of ‘by’. As the passage goes on to refer to his brother, perhaps it refers to some sort of kinsman. 

[232] Your contentment is there?

[233] RvB 96, fo.14. We are obliged to Dr Christopher Joby for assistance with the translation of this difficult letter.

[234]  Both Caerle Rijckevaert and his wife Marie Godschalc came from Nieuwkerke. In 1566 he became the Reformed minister in Ieper where he took an oath of loyalty on 5 October 1566 and he continued to lead the Reformed congregation there until February 1567. When he was banished in 8 August 1567, he was already in Norwich. Both he and his wife were sentenced CT 8886 and 5001; De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, I, 327, 341. In Norwich, he served as minister to the Dutch-speaking congregation as well as working in the cloth industry, Rye, p. 203. He re-married in London on 25 May 1574 and was called as minister to Thetford in 1575. In August 1577, he became a minister in Leiden and served as the second scriba at the national synod of June 1578. He returned to Ieper in August 1578 where he probably died in or before 1584. His son Carolus Rijckewaert was born at Ieper 20 August 1582.

[235] Because Rekevaert’s estate has been confiscated by the crown.

[236] Marie Godschalc.

[237] Meaning unknown. The context suggests something like ‘with him’.

[238] The possessive pronouns in this passage seem confused. One would expect here ‘their’, but the original is clearly ‘sin’.

[239] The name on the endorsement is puzzling. Possibly ‘Rikenaer, rekenaert’ is a duplication by the writer.

[240] RvB 96, fo.39.

[241] Possibly the ‘Philippe Caulier’ from La Gorgue who was sentenced CT 1342. He had sacked the church at Laventie and, while a local magistrate had favoured the Protestants. He may also have been an elder in the Reformed church.  He was banished and his property confiscated in December 1568 for which reason he was described as a ‘fugitif’. According to a report of 6 December 1567, he had returned to La Gorgue to sow his crops, but was in hiding for fear of being arrested, De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, II, 192, 196, 274-5, 278-9, 287-88, 295, 321, 378-9, 385, 405. Caulier also had land at Laventie, A. Lottin, La révolte des Gueux en Flandre, Artois et Hainaut (Lillers, 2007), p.154.

[242]  There are two suspects of this name, the first from Tournai CT 2902, the second from Laventie or La Gorgue (L’Alleu) against whom the priest testified on 18 August 1568 that he did not come to church and had attended hedge services. De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, II, 339. He does not however appear in CT.  Because of the association with Philippe Caulier, Jacques de le Haye can more probably be identified with the latter.

[243] Reminscent of Psalm 23.

[244] Though A.L.E. Verheyden had intended to publish this ‘songe’ in the Annales du cercle d’archéologique et d’histoire de Tournai for 1954, an enquiry to the Archives de l'Etat at Tournai confirmed that this had not happened.

[245] RvB 96, fo. 31.

[246] The Bacler family hailed from Armentières; Eloy Bacler and his wife Jane Seneschal were sentenced CT 295 & 296. He had frequented the hedge services and favoured the new religion, II, 351, 354; Spicer, ‘French-speaking Reformed community’, p 40 fn. 115. Two other members of the Seneschal family at Armentières were sentenced CT 9198 & 9199.  Rouland Bacler was a member of French Church London in 1569, Returns of Aliens, I,398.

[247] Probably Adrien Bacler le Jeunse [Andrieu Bacquelier] sentenced by Council of Troubles for going to hedge services and favouring the new religion, CT 291. 

[248] Possibly he had fought with the rebels in 1566-67.

[249] From Armentiëres but not in CT. On Pierre le Gay, see Spicer ‘French-speaking Reformed community’, pp. 40-41.

[250] You should make out a letter of credit, to be remitted later, to the one whom you would assist?

[251] RvB 96, fo.22.

[252] On 4 November 1567 the feudal court of Belle bailed one ‘Pieter van der Scheure’ from prison on condition he would return whenever he was summonsed, De Coussemaker (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle I, 231. This is probably the Pierre van der Schueren from Belle who was banished CT 10690.  It is not known where this letter was written, but just possibly Belle. Apparently, Ieper was not far away. Though the writer believed the addressees resided at Norwich, this may not, or at least no longer, have been the case for neither of them can be identified in the Dutch congregation at Norwich.  

[253] besides??

[254] See Jeremiah 17 v. 5: “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man”.

[255] 11 November.

[256] RvB 96, fo. 88.

[257] This shoemaker from Laventie was accused of being involved in a plan to murder the governor of the Pays de Lalleu, at Sailly and of having broken images at Laventie. He was sentenced on 7 December 1568, De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle, II, 206, 242, 244, 254-5, 275-6, 295, 376; CT 6916.

[258] This sentence could mean either ‘I am so unfeeling of heart’ or ‘I am so prostrate [with grief at the death of my mother] …

[259] Possibly the Tuindag celebrated at Ieper on the 1st Sunday in August.

[260]Merville, near Hazebroek in French Flanders.

[261] Two or three illegible words.

[262] RvB 96, fo.17.

[263] Maertyne Godschalcs came from the Westkwartier of Flander; he was in Sandwich in 1569, Backhouse II, no 721

[264] Neither of the addressees can be readily identified in CT. Both however were known to have been in Sandwich, see Backhouse, II, nos 721 & 316. According to Backhouse, Marcel de Bus was a ‘laceworker’. 

[265] Olsene a village to the south west of Deinze in Flanders.

[266] i.e. 24 June.

[267] Meaning uncertain. Perhaps something along the lines of ‘after a fresh assessment’ or ‘as you think proper’, but these are simply guesses. 

[268] RvB 96, fo. 20.

[269] The mention of bellows suggests the addressee had indeed been a tinker or blacksmith.

[270] There were 12 Livres Parisis to a Flemish pound.

[271] Cannot make sense of this phrase.

[272] RvB 96, fo.76.

[273] Cuirass or perhaps more plausibly a leather jerkin.

[274] Perhaps this relates to wool imported from Spain.

[275] RvB 96, fo.15.

[276] Verheyden read this as ‘unter’, but a more probable reading is ‘uwter’.

[277] RvB 96, fo.71.

[278] Possibly identical with ‘Jehan Billet’ from Tourcoing, CT 672 who in turn may be identical with Johannes Billetius Flander, drappier’, who was a member of Walloon Church at Norwich. He arrived there in the summer of 1567 with his wife and a servant. Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’, p. 223.

[279] RvB 96, fo.84.

[280] Putting together information in letters 2, 68 & 69 it would seem that Catherine Boudiffart had married a ‘Tiart’ who had died leaving her a widow. Her cousin (by marriage?) Arnould de la Rue was in London. A Pierre Taiart wrote to Arnould and his wife in London (see no 2). The Taiart-De la Rue and Boudiffart families were all related. ‘John Bonteflar’ a silkweaver or sackcloth maker was listed with his wife ‘Blanche’ as members of the French Church in London in 1568, Returns of Aliens III, 392.  The Boudiffart links with Protestantism in Tournai go back to 1552-3 when a certain Marguerite Bontiflard (or Boutiflard) was prosecuted at Tournai in 1552-3 for having attended evangelical services; she later left the town with her husband Martin Bourgeois for Antwerp, G. Moreau, Histoire du protestantisme à Tournai, pp. 293-94.  The property of Marie Boutifflart, the widow of Michiel Rose at Tournai was confiscated in 1568, see above n.6.

[281] He was a ‘Tiart’ or ‘Teart’.

[282] Armould de la Rue see letter 2.

[283] Arnould de la Rue.

[284] RvB 96, fo.83.

[285] RvB 96, fo.46-47.

[286] Arnould de Cordes was banished from Valenciennes where he played prominent part in 1566-67. ‘Arnoud de Cordes’ was listed as a member of French Church in London in January 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 394.

[287] See letters 10 & 21.

[288] See letter 21.

[289] The context suggests something like ‘safe’ or ‘out of danger’ but we are not sure.

[290] A difficult passage. Our guess is that the time when you will be cured is still far off.

[291] RvB 96, fo.18.

[292] Warneton/ Waasten in the Leie valley.

[293] Grau lakene i.e. unfinished or undyed cloth.

[294] schelling = monetary unit of 12 groot = 6 stuivers.

[295] The meaning of ‘gyten’ is unclear. The context suggests something like a receipt.

[296] RvB 96, fo.92. Top of letter missing.

[297] Verheyden thought that the father of Jacques de Roubay had written it, but we think it came from the son. Possibly Jacques de Roubais from Tournai CT 3362. One ‘Jacques de Roubray’ was listed as member of French Church in London in January 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 398.

[298] Very difficult to know what to do with this passage, particularly with 'elle de elle', which may just be a mistake in writing. What is here is largely guesswork.

[299] 'ferime' may be an attempt at the subjunctive, but of what verb? Possibly 'faire', but the subjunctive would be ‘fassions’. But how familiar were these letter writers with the intricacies of the subjunctive anyway?

[300] RvB 96, fo.61.

[301] Perhaps Loys du Bois from Tournai CT 4127. According to Verheyden. Barbe petitioned in October 1570 that her husband be pardoned, presumably under the terms of the General Pardon published by Alba in July 1570.

[302]He was described as a ‘tondeur de grand forche’.

[303] RvB 96, fo.48.

[304] Possibly wife of Pierre Houset from Tourcoing CT 5622. This seems more likely as Marie has evidently taken her husband’s name.

[305] I know [?] This is a guess based on turns of phrase used by these letter-writers.

[306] RvB 96, fo.56.

[307] RvB 96, fo.41.

[308] The mention of Jean Desmadry in this letter suggests that it, like no 42, was also written from Lille/ Frélinghien. It is tempting to identify the Anthoine Heinghe from Frélinghien who was sentenced by the Council of Troubles CT 5297 with Antoine Renier. Whatever, Anthoine Renier certainly settled in London for ‘Anthe Renyer’ was listed among those who had been admitted to French Church in London in late 1568 or early 1569, Returns of Aliens, I, 399; in 1582 Anthony Reneare’ was living in Dowgate Ward where he was assessed, Returns of Aliens, II, 242. 

[309] Meaning uncertain. Perhaps ‘for whatever reason’.

[310] See above footnote 41.

[311] As Easter fell in 1570 on 26 March, Hennette received word from her husband on 15 February.

[312] RvB 96, fo.25. The lacunae make it difficult to make sense of this letter.

[313] Unable even to guess the meaning.

[314] RvB 96, fo.7.

[315] Table de cens. Possibly a register of property drawn up for fiscal purposes.

[316] Charles Littleton proposed interpreting 'usi' as 'si' making it 'si tant', which might be rendered as 'unless' or 'as long as'. It is not an exact fit, but it further strengthens the idea that the general sense is 'until/ unless it will please God to ordain it’.  

[317] Possibly Marke to the south-west of Kortrijk or Marck on the outskirts of Calais.

[318] RvB 96, fo. 93. Because of the very fragmentary nature of this letter, it is not possible to offer a translation. ​ 


Testimony of Henri Fléel, Jehan Desmadry and others regarding the seizure of the letters[1]

Interrogation by Wallerand de Tilly of Louis de Moncheau, Jean Goetrouwe, Guillaume Coubronne, Henri Fléel and Jean Desmadry concerning the arrest of a heretical messenger.

St-Omer 28 February to 9 March 1570 (n.s.)

Statements made and delivered in the town of St-Omer on the last day of February 1569 before Wallerand de Tilly, lord of Saincte-Mariekerke[2], lieutenant-general of my lord the bailli of Sainct-Omer. Present: Maître Loys Théry, licentiate in law and attorney and Adolph de le Hele, counsellor and receiver of the king our lord at the said St-Omer. Here Jehan Goetrouwe and Guillamme Coubronne, soldiers at Hennewin[3] have been heard concerning the arrest and capture of one named Henry Fléel, who brought to this town that day.

Jehan Goetrauwe, soldier of Loys de Moncheau, captain of the fort and castle of Henewin, 40 or so years old, has stated and testified on oath that last Sunday[4] the said Henry was found on board the boat of Jehan Rouzée, a boatman, residing at Calais, about 8 o’clock, close to Hennewin where they drag the boats along a channel to go from one river to another to go from Sainct-Omer to Calais. He said that he had been arrested by his said captain and found with a pedlar’s pack with a false bottom in which there were a large number of letters hidden under onion, apples and other fruit; likewise, a copper rod with a hollow bottom and half way up two bundles of latten wire[5] thread which they call wands used in the making of velvet.

Said that he had several letters on him sewn into his tunic and hose. When he was brought to him he asked where he was going and he said to London in England and he had to get to Calais to stay at the ‘Troix roix’, the same who had given all his letters had given him an angelot to take them to the said London.

When asked whether he had been to confession said yes and to his God, that he had nothing to do with any priest, freely admitting that he belonged to the religion and for that reason he would leave the country. Furthermore, he said that the worst that could be done was to put him to death and that was a small matter seeing that if one lived longer one simply wore out more pairs of stockings; said the pack was in the hands of the captain and the prisoner confessed that the said pack had been made especially in the pays de Lalleu[6] to carry the letters to England.

And that is what he knows and can testify. Signed thus: J. Goetrauwe.      

Guillaume de Coubronne, 40 or so years old, soldier at the said Hennewyn. Said and testified on oath that he was not there when his captain had arrested and captured the said prisoner, but he had been charged to take the said prisoner to this town with the witness; said that yesterday evening, having supped at Watenes[7] the said prisoner sat down  and leant on his stick[8] saying that he was going to be true to his family name which was ‘de Busner’[9] from which the witness presumed that he was called Henry de Busnes.

Said that he had had in his hands a pedlar’s pack in which were the letters and also the bundle of brass wire and as he had been charged with guarding the said prisoner at night he found 5 or 6 letters sewn into his leggings and that he’d not heard anything else or other words from the prisoner.  And that is what he knows and can testify. Thus marked de Coubronne.

On 4 March 1569 in the presence of Wallerand de Tilly, lord of Sainte-Mariakerke, lieutenant general of my lord the grand bailli of the said St-Omer. Present: Maître Loys Théry licentiate in law and attorney and Adolph de le Hele, counsellor and receiver of the king our lord.

Loys de Mocheaulx, squire and captain of Hennewyns, in the district of Langle, aged 38 or thereabout said and testified that last Sunday he had found Henry Flaeau [sic] in a boat that was going to sail from the said St Omer towards Calais.

And the said boat was operated by a certain Jehan Rouzée, who lived at Calais and went each week from Calais to the said Saint-Omer, and about 7 to 8 in the morning, as the said boat was passing close to the said place of Hennuin, at the point where the boats are dragged forwards along a path to enter a river on the other side  to go from the said Calais to the said St-Omer, he said and affirmed that he had arrested and taken the said Henry prisoner. And while doing this, he had asked who he was, to which he replied he was a poor man from Laventie on his way to Marck[10] to rent a house there to earn a living by threshing wheat.   On (hearing) this, the witness asked whether he was of the new religion, to which the said prisoner said he was. Following which, the witness searched him and found a sack, a pack and a hollow rod into which had been inserted a pole which was also hollow filled with some copper wands used in the making of velvet. In the said pack were found two cheeses, two dishes filled with jam and covered on top with onions and underneath was a false bottom in which were hidden some letters which the witness had handed over. The witness also found some letters in the lining of the hose of the said prisoner. Said the said prisoner told him that Pierre du Buis gave him the letters between Honscotte[11] and Regnegelt[12] to deliver to Denèque Olay at the ‘Trois Roiz’ near Calais; testified that the said prisoner had told him that he was going to England but he didn’t say for what purpose.

And that is what he has said when questioned. Signed with mark of the said Loys de Mocheaulx.

Then follows the inventory, made by Loys de Moncheaulx, squire and captain of Hennewin, of the items found in the possession of one called Henry Fléau, as he was making his way to England.

First, several letters found on him as well as in a false bottom inside a pannequin.[13]

Also a box with metal objects and eyelets to the number of forty.[14]

Also two and half ells of blue cloth

Also 4 smocks[15] for a small boy

Also 2 smocks for some girl

Also 3 smocks for men

A bonnet

Two gingerbread

Two cheeses[16]

Two dishes with jam

Two ells of white cloth

[Coin to the value of] 21 livres 10 silver sous, [17] to wit 5 angelots, a daalder of 32 sous and an ‘esseilliet[18] worth only 24 sous, and 2 coins of 7 sous

A hollow iron rod with a Spanish reed filled with brass wire.[19]

On the last day of February 1569, before Wallerand de Tilly, lieutenant-general. Present: Adolph de le Hele, councillor and collector for the King, our lord, at the said Saint-Omer.

Henri Fléel, native of le Ventye[20] fifty or so years old, fuller by trade, interrogated about the reasons for his imprisonment, said that he did not know of any, but that on Sunday, 26th of this present month, he was taken and arrested by some soldiers from the castle of Hennewyn as he was close to the said fortress, having come from the city of Sainct-Omer with the intention of going to Calais to the inn of the ‘Trois Rois’ at the encouragement of one named Michel du Buis, as it seemed to the said prisoner, who did not otherwise know him. And he encountered this one [du Buis] near Renneghelt[21] in Flanders, having come there to beg for bread, forasmuch as presently he is not able to find work in his craft; with the said du Buis, he agreed, for six Paris livres  to transport a packet full of smocks, cheeses, and other things, as well as a large bundle of letters, which he was to carry to the said Calais, to the said inn of the Trois Rois’, where the said Michel du Buis promised to come and find him and gave him as means for his trip a daalder and some other money.

He said that it was not his intention to go any further and had not yet had the courage to go overseas.

He said that fifteen days ago from today, he had been at Fleurbay[22] with the bailli of the abbey of Sainct Vaast, at that said place and also with those of the court; which people know the said prisoner very well.

He said that he has a wife, named Marie, seamstress, residing at Neufve-Eglise,[23] with three small children, from where he left last Thursday to come to this city.

He said that on his return to the said house, he found there the young boy who had been arrested with him, that he does not know him except that he knows that he is from Lille and he [the boy] told him that he was son of Jehan Desmadry[24] of the said Lille, at the moment a refugee in England, who went there a year ago because of the troubles. And he [the boy] was brought to the house of the said prisoner by one of his cousins, whom he [the prisoner] does not know either.

He said that, the said Michel du Buis having the past Monday delivered the said package to the said prisoner near the said Reningelst, he [the prisoner] returned with him to his house in the said Nieuwkerke and the said du Buis told him that he would send him the said boy whom the said prisoner brought with him, in order to bring him safely to the said Calais, in the said inn of the ‘Trois Rois’.

He said that he had no other letters, except those which were found in the said package and basket, which the said du Buis delivered to him.

He said that the said du Buis also gave him a hollow stick, with which he had been found seized, and he did not know that it was hollow, nor that there was something inside, but the said du Buis told him that he left it with him and when it was taken by the said soldiers and broken he saw that there were some threads of brass wire, he does not for what purpose.[25]

He said that he had slept the Friday night at Peene[26] in an alehouse and from there went on Saturday morning to Saint-Omer, where he arrived in the afternoon and, without stopping in this town, went to the river bank, asking for a boat to go to the said Calais, which he found and boarded; said that he slept that night two leagues from the city in a village, whose name he does not know, and left there on Sunday morning.

He said that the letters which were found in his breeches and outside the package were given to him by the said du Buis afterwards, which he said after thinking for a long time about that and he was as if forced to answer.

He denied having with the said letters and package any other money than the daalder which the said boy had and that one which the said du Buis had given him.

Since then, has confessed that the five angelots mentioned in a letter[27] which he was carrying had been handed over by him to the captain of Henewin and declared that they had been given to him by the said du Buis.

He denied having had any other wages than that of the daalder which the said du Buis gave him and that he does not know any of those who wrote or sent the said letters.

He denied also being a messenger of the Beggars[28] and that this is the first time that he has carried any such letters, alleging that he did not know that it was forbidden.

Interrogated if he is of the confession of Calvin or a Calvinist, he said that he does not know what it is to be a Calvinist, nor similarly to be a Papist.

He declared that he is not a Lutheran or an Anabaptist.

He said and confessed that for three years he has not gone to Mass or to confession. And interrogated as to why he has not gone he did not wish to answer.

He said that also he did not take Communion during the said period and interrogated whether he believes in the real presence of the precious body and blood of Jesus Christ at the holy Sacrament of the Mass, said that he believes in everything Jesus Christ wrote.

He recited word-for-word the Commandments of the Law, as they are written in the Bible.

Interrogated whether he believes in the seven sacraments of the Church, he said that he believes in two of them, that is, baptism and Holy Communion, as he called it.

Interrogated why he had not been to confession, in order to have absolution for his sins, he said that he believes that no man can pardon him of his sins, but only Jesus Christ, and that he does not find in the Testament that he must confess his sins to a priest, but to God, to whom he confesses himself as often as he can.

Interrogated about the reception of the body of the Lord at the Holy Sacrifice by the priest, he said that he does not believe that the priest may consecrate and he couldn’t find in the Scriptures that he (priest) could do it, and as result he did not believe that the real presence of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was in the mass, but only that he was present in the Supper and that he is daily in the bread when the Christian partakes in faith at the Supper and the wine is his blood which he has shed for the remission of sins and that the Christian receives it by faith.

Said that he had not been to the Supper nor been to a country where it was done.

Admitted that he had always been to the preaching when they had been held at Armentières, Nieuwkerke and roundabout and when they had been permitted. These sermons had been given by ministers called Broere[29], Anthoine[30] and Julian.[31]

Denied having broken images or borne arms against His Majesty or contributed to the building of the temples or entertained preachers or ministers, or anything else.

Also signed: Henri Flel. Whereupon he has been dismissed.

On 2 March 1569 [o.s] in the presence of Wallerand de Tilly, squire and lord of Sainte-Marie-kercke and lieutenant-general of my lord the grand-bailli of St Omer and of the said attorney and of the receiver of the king, our master.

Jehan Desmadry, a young child aged 9 or 10, and as he has declared, the son of Jehan Desmadry fugitive in England. He said that his father had retired to England a year ago last Easter because he supported the Beggars, that often on Fridays and Saturdays he would eat eggs, meat and that his mother sometimes abstained on Fridays and Saturdays from the said meat; fearing that his said father would not have eaten it; said that in Lent he had often seen his father eat eggs, but that his mother didn’t wish to eat them; said also that exactly a fortnight ago his mother had sent him to the house of his uncle, called Madry, in the town of Armentières; he thought he was his mother’s brother; however he could not say more than that the dwelling where he lives is an inn or alehouse on the market where the sign of the ‘Ongle’[32] hangs. He had been taken to the house by a man whom he didn’t know; that his mother had charged him to take him to his uncle’s house, where he spent 7 days.

That then his said uncle had taken him to the village of Le Ventye,[33] to the house of someone he didn’t know, except he’d heard his name called several times by some women coming to the said house, asking for him calling him Henry, with whom he had left Le Ventye and had slept at some village of whose name he was ignorant.

And the next day, they went through this town about 10 or 11 in the morning, taking the path to the right at the high bridge, where the said man had hired a boat in which they embarked. And coming to the fort of Hennewin, the said man was taken, arrested and sent with the said child to this town, where they were held prisoners.

Said during this interrogation that he had hardly ever seen his father going to mass, but that his mother went continually, especially on feast days and Sundays.

Said further that the said man intended and had been charged to take him to England to see his father there and to live with him.

Said further that before their departure from the said place of Venthie a woman whom he didn’t recognise brought to the said Henri, prisoner, a basket with a handle with a false bottom which contained some letters, according to what this child saw when they were stopped; and that the said soldiers have cut open the false bottom.

Said that the onions found in the possession of the said Henry had been bought by him in this town; and as for the cheeses they had been brought to him in the said place of Le Ventie before they left by some women whom this child didn’t recognise.

Said further, on being questioned, that the said Henry had not told him where he would take him.

On 9 March 1569 [o.s.] before the said lieutenant-general and in the presence of the said attorney and receiver.

Herman (sic) Fléel, prisoner, asked once again in the presence of the lords and after the deposition made on the last day of February, said that it was all true, which therefore he upheld and upholds except that he does not recall having said that he doesn’t believe that the priest can consecrate during the mass, but says that he did not find it written in Holy Scripture that he can do it.

Denied having told the captain of Hennewyn that he intended to go to England.

That the said Du Buis had told him that as the letters that he was to take only contained greetings there was therefore no danger.

Said that once he had completed his journey to the said Calais, he intended to return to the Low Countries and to look for employment in his craft. Whereupon he has been dismissed.

Comparison made with the original interrogations and examination and found by me the greffier of the bailli of Sainct-Omer to be accurate.

Editorial Note:

The fate of Henri Fléel is uncertain. He was detained at the castle in St Omer where he was interrogated by the episcopal penitentiary. He refused to abjure his heretical opinions and the magistrates of St Omer were instructed in April 1570 to forward the papers relating to the case to the Council of Troubles. Though no sentence is known, the likelihood is that Fléel, as an obstinate heretic, was put to death.

[1] Verheyden, ‘Une correspondence inédite’ 219-29; Algemeen Rijksarchief Brussel,  Raad van Beroerte 91, fo. 139-144v.

[2]  Possibly Ste-Marie-Cappel NW of St Omer

[3] Hénuin near Calais on the outskirts of Audricq

[4] 26 February 1570.

[5] Possibly ‘acquaire’ which is rendered by the Dictionniaire du Moyen Français as ‘laiton’ i.e. brass wire.

[6] Pays de l’Alleu.

[7] Watten NW of St Omer

[8] This is a guess. The meaning of ‘coustre’ is uncertain. ‘Coustre’ can mean ‘culter’ or ploughshare, but this makes no sense.

[9] According to the Dictionnnaire du Moyen Français ‘buner’ means to hang one’s head in shame.

[10] On outskirts of Calais.

[11] Hondschoote

[12] Reningelst

[13] Meaning of pannequin is uncertain, though probably a sort of basket.

[14] des fers et des ellettes à roues’. Perhaps items used in dress-making.

[15] Smocks are mentioned in letter 3.

[16] Cheese seems to have been appreciated as a gift, see www.dutchrevolt/leidenuniv/nl see under English sources, Janssen correspondence, no. 22. Victor Kirstelot sent a cheese see letter 38.

[17] The writers of letters 46, 57 and 62 entrusted money to the courier. 

[18] Meaning uncertain but presumably a coin.

[19] Possibly the wands or verges mentioned in letter 24.

[20] Laventie. a village midway between Armentières and Bethune.

[21] Reningelst.

[22] Fleurbaix

[23] Nieuwkerke.

[24] See letter 42 from Marie de le Ruelle to her husband Jehan Desmadry. He wanted his son, also called Jehan Desmadry, brought to London to join him. The husband came from Frélinghien near Lille and was banished by the Council of Troubles, see CT  3047.

[25] Possibly tools used in the making of velvet, see letters 15 and 24.

[26] Noordpeene and Zuytpeene were villages to the NE of St Omer.

[27] See letter 46.

[28] The Gueux was the sobriquet adopted by those who in 1566 demanded that the anti-heresy edicts be withdrawn and the Inquisition cease its activity.

[29] Possibly Jehan de Brune

[30] Antoine Algoet

[31] Julien, a lay preacher.

[32] ‘Ongle’ can mean ‘hoof’, as well as claw or talon.

[33] Laventie.​ 

List of abbreviations

Backhouse, ‘Flemish and Walloon communities’ = M. Backhouse, ‘The Flemish and Walloon communities at Sandwich during the reign of Elizabeth I (1561-1603)’, unpub. Ph.D 3 vols (Southampton 1991).

P. Beuzart, ‘La réforme dans les environs de Lille’ = P. Beuzart, ‘La réforme dans les environs de Lille, spécialement à Armentières, en 1566’, Bulletin de la société du protestantisme français, 78 (1929), 42-60.

De Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle = E. C.H. de Coussemaker  (ed.) Troubles religieux du XVIe siècle dans la Flandre Maritime 1560-1570 4 vols (Bruges 1876).

CT = Le Conseil des Troubles. Liste des condamnés (1567-1573) ed. A.L.E. Verheyden (Brussels 1961).

Janssen = H.Q. Janssen 'De hervormde vlugtelingen van Yperen in Engeland. Geschetst naar hunne brieven. Een bijdrage tot de hervormingsgeschiedenis van Yperen en Norwich', Bijdragen tot de oudheidkunde en geschiedenis inzonderheid van Zeeuwsch Vlaanderen 2 (Middelburg, 1857) 211-304. Available online at www.dutchrevolt/leidenuniv/nl see under English sources, Janssen correspondence.

Lien Luu, Immigrants = Lien Luu, Immigrants and the Industries of London 1500-1700 (Aldershot 2005).

Marnef  ‘Antwerpen in Reformatietijd’ = G. Marnef ‘Antwerpen in de Reformatietijd. Ondergronds Protestantisme in een internationale handelsmetropool, 1550-1577’, unpub. Proefschrift (Leuven 1991), 2 vols.
Returns of Aliens = Returns of Aliens dwelling in the City and Suburbs of London (Publications of the Huguenot Society of London 10 in 4 parts) ed. R.E.G. Kirk and E.F. Kirk (Aberdeen 1900-08).

RvB =Algemeen Rijksarchief Brussel,  Raad van Beroerte 96.

Rye ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’ = W. Rye, ‘The Dutch Refugees in Norwich’, Norfolk Antiquarian Miscellany 1851 III/I, pp. 185- 248.

Spicer, ‘The French-speaking Reformed community’ = A. Spicer, ‘The French-speaking Reformed community and their Church in Southampton. 1567-c. 1620’ unpub. Ph.D (Southampton 1994).

Verheyden ‘Correspondance inédite’ = A.L.E. Verheyden, ‘Une correspondance inédite adressée par des familles protestantes des Pays-Bas à leur coreligionnaires d’Angleterre (11 novembre 1569-25 février 1570)’ Bulletin de la Commission Royale d’Histoire 120 (1955), pp. 93-257.