The first period in the Netherlands

  Joseph Dominique , ancestor André de la Porte

Joseph Dominique is the ancestor of the Dutch André de la Porte family. He was born on 5 October 1725, as shown by his baptismal register, of which there is a copy in the family archives in Zutphen. The young Joseph Dominique went to school and visited Jesuit College in Hesdin. Before his 25th anniversary he joined the Roman Catholic Order of the Celestines, which was founded in 1352 in Paris. He was ordained as a priest on 14 March 1750 in Paris by the Archbishop of Paris Christophe de Beaumont as it appears in an exchange of letters between A.E. André de la Porte ( 1898-1977) and the Archdiocese of Paris. Joseph Dominique was highly educated for those days.

Translation of the inscription of Joseph Dominique in the Ordain book of the Archdiocese of Paris. "Christophe de Beaumont by the divine mercy and the grace of His Apostolic Holiness, Archbishop of Paris, Duke of Clodoaldi, Commander of the Royal Order…

"We advise everyone that on said date our beloved brother Joseph Dominique André deacon of the Order of the Celestines, present in the upper chapel of the palace of the Archbishop in Paris during the celebration of the mass and the execution of the solemn ordain ceremony , executed in line with the canonical regulations intended to ordain as priest and has done so.

Done in Paris in the palace of The Archbishop with the seal of our vicar, with the seal of our secretary. With the signature of the Bishop in the year 1750 on 14 March, on Saturday of Passion Sunday. De Coriolis, Vicar General by order of The Right Reverend, Highly Esteemed Archbishop of Paris."

The Archbishop Christophe de Beaumont belonged to the very conservative wing of the Clergy. He put a ban , amongst others on the in those days progressive painter Jean-Jaques Rousseau. The order of the Celestines did not have a very good reputation after the revolution and ceased to exist.

  Are we Huguenots?

It is clear that religion played an important role in the history of our family as our ancestor Joseph Dominique was ordained priest and left after that for The Republic, abjured the Roman Catholic religion and entered the Walloon Community.

  Those who believe we are descendants of the Huguenots

Those members of the family who believe that the grandfather and possibly the great grandfather were Protestant argue that Cosme's family, he himself, his spouse and children have not been buried in Manosque . The children have been baptised there. This could indicate a move or the impossibility to be buried Catholic. It is unknown where they have stayed , with the exception of Josephus who appears later in Hesdin and clearly adheres to the Roman Catholic religion. They believe that he then adheres to it once again. This group connects the unique use of "la Porte" with Pierre Laporte captain in the battle of the Cevennes (1702-1710) under the name Rolland. In addition they appeal to the inscription in the Fichier Wallon which was composed at the end of the 19th century. These Fiches Wallon are a collection of more than 2.000.000 names of refugees . It covers the period of the end of the 16th century till 1811. It is certain that one is not a Huguenot descendant if the name does not appear in the Fichier Wallon. Joseph Dominique and his children are mentioned, with the exception of his eldest daughter Jacoba Agatha.

  Those who do not believe that we are descendants of Huguenots.
This group is of the opinion that there is no proof at all about being Protestant in the French days of our ancestors. On the contrary all things which can be proven indicate they were Roman Catholic. It is their opinion that only Joseph Dominique abjured the Roman Catholic religion. He then had to choose to go to a Protestant country and chose The Republic. In doing so it is not impossible that he had a certain knowledge of Flemish given the situation of Hesdin. Joseph Dominique's appearance in the Fichier Wallon is the logical consequence of his joining the Walloon church in The Hague. It is their opinion that one is certainly not a Huguenot if one does not appear in the Fichier Wallon, but that does not necessarily mean that you are if you are mentioned in it.
  What are Huguenots?

Huguenots is the collective name of the French Protestants, who came forward from small but impressive French religious communities in the early Middle Ages (around the year 1000). The most well known are the Albigensees, the Waldegensees and the Katharsees . These religious communities grew, often against the suppression by the Catholic inquisition . Often however this little elevating religious court succeeded in eradicating complete communities by using the most horrible means.

In the beginning of the 16th century and the rise of the reformation and their leader Gaspard de Coligny time seems to change in favour of the Protestants. The reformation however evokes a counter action by the Catholic church and the counter reformation became a fact. More severe and bloodier then ever before the Catholics prosecuted the Protestants. The French Calvinists became know as Huguenots starting the second half of the 16th century, a name which origin is uncertain, but is explained from time to time as a corruption of the German "Eidgenossen" (eiguenots) or oath brothers. The prosecution of the Huguenots arrived at the very bloody low in 1562, during the treacherous murder, better know as the" Bartholomy night". To stay alive Huguenots had to fight eight religious wars in more than thirty years. These wars ended with the Edict of Nantes in 1598, by which King Henry IV ,who was a Huguenot himself till 1593, gave freedom of religion to the French. More than half a century later under Louis XVI new prosecutions started, amongst them the notorious Dragonades , i.e. the quartering of Dragoons ending with the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. This was the direct cause of many French Protestants leaving their country and spreading out over Europe. Many Huguenots from the North of France and Walloon found their way to the Republic of The Netherlands. The French Huguenot refugees have had a tremendous influence in all of Europe both socially and religiously.

   Beautified baptism certificate
When exactly Joseph Dominique went from Hesdin to The Hague is unknown. The royal residence The Hague is in those days the residence of Stadtholders Willem IV and Willem V. Joseph Dominique André presented himself as new comer in The Netherlands as Joseph Dominique André Delaporte. In 1754 after a trial period of 6 months, he is admitted to the Walloon church in The Hague, but only after having abjured the Roman Catholic religion. This appears in a deed of the Church Counsel of the Walloon community of 11 November 1754 in which it is mentioned that he "is admitted as a member after having abjured his religious errors from the past". To allow his entry he presented a copy of his baptism certificate, made by priest Mabille from Hesdin. Research learned that this has been beautified considerably. The following is quite remarkable: Joseph would have been born in 1720 in stead of 1725. All of the sudden he was presented five years older ! He has probably done so to make his religious change at a more mature age more acceptable. His father is embellished with the title " Squire, Seigneur de la Porte, Monchaux and other cities. Treasurer of the fortifications and general receiver of the Royal Domains ". His mother is mentioned with the title "noble woman" . Everything probably written down to make him more acceptable in The Hague and make it easier for him to find his way in The Republic. Never was any proof found to substantiate the titles used for his parents.
  Governor of Van Heeckeren.

In The Hague in 1754 Joseph Dominique starts working as French Governor of the family of Jacob Hendrik van Heeckeren. During the summer the family stayed at "De Nettelhorst" castle in the vicinity of Lochem. The van Heeckeren family also had properties in Zutphen. It is certain that at the date of his marriage (4 June 1759) Joseph Dominique no longer worked for the family. His employment has therefore been between 1754 and 1759. It is unknown whether there has been any contact between Joseph Dominique and the van Heeckerens after 1759.

  Van Heeckeren and De Nettelhorst

Adolf Jacob Hendrik van Heeckeren van Nettelhorst (1715-1765) married in 1742 to Petronella Reiniera van Lintelo, Lady of Overlaar and de Heest (1718-1774). They had nine children. Probably most of the children had French lessons from Joseph Dominique. The French language was in higher esteem in those days than Dutch, which was considered boorish and popular. Conversation was mostly in French. A good knowledge of French was required for every noble person and prominent citizen. After becoming of age Adolf Jacob Hendrik van Heeckeren was invested with De Nettelhorst castle, in the vicinity of Lochem. He was a member of the Knighthood of the County Zutphen and also Special Deputy of this quart . He is several times delegate of the admiralties ("in Vriesland, op de Maase, het Noorderquartier, Raad van State and the Admiralty of Amsterdam"). Information collected from the book "De Nettelhorst, history of the castle and the marches Nettelhorst-Langen" written by H.J. Hiddink from Borne teaches that the van Heeckeren branch van Nettelhorst died out . The castle later came in the hands of van Heeckeren van Waessenaar, Seigneur of Twickel. De Nettelhorst was torn down in 1875, after it had been unoccupied for several decades and had seriously tumbled down.

  Marriage with obstacles
In Zutphen Joseph Dominique met Guelthera Mechtelina Knippenburg (in some documents Knippenborgh or Knippenborgs) (1735-1799), a daughter of a well to do commoner . Where they met is unknown, probably in the city of Zutphen where the van Heeckerens, just as other noble families of the surroundings, had some properties. Joseph Dominique and Guelthera engaged to be married in March 1759. Their notice and marriage caused a number of problems . Vicars refused the notice of marriage as the then necessary permission of the father of Joseph Dominique was failing . After a petition at the Provincial Court, which was decided negatively, nothing else remained other than to write to his father about his intentions and ask for permission. We do not know the letter to his father, but we have his answer.

We only know the Dutch text as part of a request to his father to marry Guelthera Mechtelina Knippenburg. The letter mentioned below was transferred into contemporary Dutch for ease of reading.

Hesdin, 16 March 1759
My son, the letter you wrote to your brother on 17 November 1753 ended with the words: "never will I forget what I owe to God and to religion, Who will always be my Guide". While the one you write to me from De Nettelhorst, dated 6 March 1759 can only be the beginning of the end. It presents a blasphemy against the law of God and his church and it is a sad and disastrous confession of your apostasy . You are, as you say not born for the convent. I ask you who forced you or even advised you to enter ? It was actually your own will which freely elected and allowed you to live there happily. You believe that there are abuses in practices and habits in the Roman church. Does not one meet abuses of the most holy things daily ? You should only pay attention to the basics of the lessons , which God has taught you. Let her enemies do what they want to do , never will they be able to proclaim the same. You should be pitied my son, and make us cry many tears in secrecy . Do not fill the cup of your injustice. God does not allow mockery .The more long-suffering his justice is, the more terrible she is in times of vengeance . You dare to ask me for permission to marry ? Rest assured that I will refuse such. Is not that the horror of destruction? How awful that you make yourself unhappy, if you have so little conscience to take a woman and leave her behind with children who will have no advantage over the blind passion which urged you to that intention. You mention furthermore that should I refuse permission, the members of the Court of Arnhem will summon me before the Court of Utrecht. I have a high esteem for those gentlemen and for the Judges of Utrecht, but I doubt that there authority will reach so far as to force a father to do what you are requesting. I would chop off my hand as punishment, rather than signing such a deed. Consequently you will make public your shame and one would pity me for having given permission to a child which is revolting against God, the church and his family. You may do whatever you wish. Your conscience will soon disturb you, the gnawing part appears while sleeping, however when waking up it smarts with even more anger. He will be your prosecutor , your judge and executioner. Tremble my son, it is about your eternal salvation. However big your sin may be , God's mercy is endless. Should you have plunged down in a ravine do not sink in it. Make a honourable effort to get out of it and God will not refuse his help, should you beg for that properly. It was not necessary to recommend to hide the letter for your mother, If I had not done so, I could almost have mentioned her death here. Your error gives us much sadness, bur we still have fatherly and motherly feelings of love and hope that you will have correct after thoughts about your salvation. If not allow us to freely enter the grave without giving us even further sadness. We have already had much more than expected. Adieu unhappy and pitiful son. Signed André

Joseph Dominique's father refuses to give permission for the marriage of his son and mentions that he would rather chop off his hand than give permission for this engagement. When looking at this reaction later it is not so strange. Would he as a good Catholic have given permission for the marriage of one of his sons with a Protestant lady and the letter with this permission would have become known in France the potential consequence could have been very serious for the father. His reputation as a prominent citizen of Hesdin would have been badly damaged. First by allowing his son to desert from the strict Order of Celestines and secondly because this André marries a Protestant woman thereby entering the "heretic" road. The fact that Norbert never forgave his son for this marriage can be deducted from Joseph Dominique not being a heir. For the rest the latter is also true for more of his children. Subsequently Joseph Dominique deposited the exchange of letters before the Sates of Gelre and requests to marry without permission of his father This is decided positively and he marries Guelthera Mechtelina Knippenburg on 4 June 1759.

Joseph Dominique makes a living as French teacher and with the exploitation of a French boarding school. This is clear from a booklet which he , containing his signature and an "instruction", handed out in May 1795 as a price to Mr. G. Holst, one of his good pupils. The official appointment of Joseph Dominique as "French school teacher" is on 28 February 1761. On 29 July 1764 he is appointed "Lecteur"("reader"of the bible in the cult) of the Walloon church. Finally he, together with his children Jacoba Agatha and Anthony Engelbert are appointed " Great Citizen of Zutphen " (citizen with extended rights).

Gualthera Mechtelina Knippenburg passes away on 14 September 1799. There are then six children. Joseph Dominique has already handed his possessions by a deed of 1 November 1799 to his children" against a fixed annual fee and some furniture for own use". He passes away on 19 December 1811 in Zutphen. The family is continued by their son Anthony Engelbert (1767-1805). His first names are coming from his mother's family. About the life of the André de la Porte couple almost nothing is known, other than that they owned some property which still exists (Chapter VI: former properties in Zutphen). Nothing is know about their political convictions (Patriotic or Princely minded). It is unlikely that they were involved in scandals, otherwise Joseph Dominique would not have become a Lecteur.

  Walburg church

Joseph Dominique, who died on 19 December 1811, has probably been buried in the Walburg church in Zutphen. The church archivist wrote on 5 February 1938 and 2 February 1939 to A.E. André de la Porte (1898-1977): "In the grave book of St. Walburg 1801-1837 appears : Joseph Dominique André de la Porte, 91 years. In the list of tombs, as described by R.T. Mussert, his name does not appear and there is no trace of his tomb. This does not exclude, however that he has been buried inside the church as through the ages, on the occasion of several clearances, many graves have been "disturbed". It is therefore that at family reunions in Zutphen a visit is paid to this church.




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