Other stories

20 July 2001,

Gijsbert Pieter van Musschenbroek

The Van Musschenbroek's have always been nomads travelling all over the world. An American named Fenger wrote a book about his trip in a canoe in the Carabean. In this book 'Alone in the Caribbean', that can be found completely on the internet, in chapter 11 on the island Statia he meets a Van Musschenbroek. This must have been Gijsbert Pieter van Musschenbroek.

'As in Fort de France, I became a part of the life of Statia ; here was a place where I could live for a time. In six hours I had boon companions. There was the Doctor -- he would always come first and there was that inimitable Dutchman, Van Musschenbroek of Hendrick Swaardecroonstrasse, the Hague, who had an income and was living in a large house in the town which rented at $8.00 the month and was doing -- God knows what. His English was infinitely worse than my German and it was through this common medium that we conversed -- Dutch was utterly beyond my ken.

He used to come of a morning in his pajamas, hatted and with a towel on his arm and wake me for our daily bath. In that delicious fresh morning which follows the cool nights of the outer Antilles we three would scramble down to the Bay, the Doctor pumping the lore of the island into my right ear, the Dutchman rattling of outdoor expedients into my left. He, the Dutchman, was a well-built man, barrel-chested and with a layer of swimmer's fat, for he had once been the champion backstroke of Holland and a skater, and had geologized all over the world.'

http://www.ambergriscaye.com/pages/mayan/alone_11_12.html or

20 July 2001,

Pieter van Musschenbroek

Pieter van Musschenbroek, born 9-9-1764 was the son of Jan Willem van Musschenbroek and Cornelia Luchtmans. He studied Law in Utrecht and became a lawyer 1789 and a member of the town council in 1803. Also in that year he was appointed as the first archivist of the province of Utrecht. He became a well-known collectioner of old documents. He possessed an enornmous collection, that contained many original documents, among which 10.000 original charters. His cousin Luchtmans in Leiden auctioned his collection after his death in 1826. Sir Phillips of Middlehill in England obtained the greater part. Fifty years later the Van Musschenbroek collection returned to the Netherlands and the records were replaced in the archives where they belonged. Pieter van Musschenbroek was praised during his life by his colleagues en in 1808 he was knighted by King Louis Napoleon, a honour he never valued. However based on our present standards we can say, that - although the majority of his collection was bought at auctions, a number of documents in his collection were taken away from their rightful place in the Utrecht archives. This was not uncommon in his days, but his successor openly called him a thief. He himself defended this in a manuscript in which he stated that he was not driven by the desire to possess. It was the historic value that counted most. In the last years of his life Pieter demented rapidly. In 1821 he was placed in a hospital (maison de santé) in Delft after he was caught walking naked in his garden (according to the family archives). He died 14 June 1823 and was buried next to the tomb of Hugo de Groot in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. His brother Sam van Musschenbroek, not knowing what to do with the enormous collection of his deceased brother, asked his cousin Luchtmans to auction the collection in 1826.