These are excerpts from an article which appeared in pages 246-255 of the July 1936 issue of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record:
THE ANTWERP ANCESTRY OF CORNELIS MELYN
CONTRIBUTED BY PAUL GIBSON BURTON
(Continued from Vol. LXVII, page 164, of the Record)
In the Antwerp archives about the period 1580 to 1583 there are a number of references to "the heirs of Lambert Melyn" or to "the children of Lambert Melyn" or to "Andre Melyn and the other children of Lambert Melyn." For the purpose of this article this Lambert [Flemish: Lambrecht] is being considered as the First Generation of the Melyn Family of Antwerp.
1. LAMBERT1 MELYN had numerous children of whom are known the following:
+ 2. i. Andre2 Melyn. 3. ii. Chretien2 Melyn, who married Apollonie van Westvoort and who died before 1588. + 4. iii. Jacques2 Melyn.
2. ANDRE2 MELYN, son of Lambert1 Melyn, was first married 29 July, 1576 in the Parish of Saint Andrew, Antwerp, to JEANNE VAN WESTVOORT, the daughter of Eustache van Westvoort and Jeanne van Callen. His first wife being deceased a little after October, 1596, probably in childbirth, Andre Melyn married his second wife, MARIE GHUEDINX ALIAS BOTENS. This marriage was celebrated in the Parish of Saint Walburga in November, 1597. The exact date is not given in the marriage entry.
Attention is called to the fact that the second wife of Andre Melyn is sometimes referred to in the baptismal records as "Marie Ghuedinx" and at other time as "Marie Botens" but both refer to the same person, whose name is "Ghuedinx alias Botens."
In Belgium, as in Holland and in France, it is not uncommon to meet with families whose name is composed of two words joined by means of "alias" or "dit" or "gezegd." Thus for example, the family, originally Dutch, "de Heusden gezegd van der Sluysen" or "le Bouvier dit Malapert" etc. This double name arises from cases where a nickname or a name of an allied family is used, until finally it forms an integral part of the name.
In other cases, the second name is only a translation of the first, as "de Coninck dit Le Roy." In some cases the two names are connected by a hyphen thus doing away with the need of using "alias" or "dit" and the form is "Ghuedinx-Botens."
The ancient scribes were often very negligent in their spelling, and consequently the records give "Melyn, Molyn, Melin, Malynes, Gudens, Guddens Baetens, Baetkens, etc."
In this article only one form of the surname is used, except in cases where there is a quotation from a specific document.
Andre Melyn was a carpenter and lumber dealer, and was sometime President or Dean of the Guild of Carpenters.
On 6 March, 1606, while confined to his bed with illness, he called to him to the house which he inhabited in the Fosse-du-Bourg [Fl. Borcht Gracht] his neighbor, the notary Franchoys Ketgen and dictated to him his last will and testament.
He chose his sepulchre in the Church of the Convent of the Dominicans at Antwerp. He left all his property to his living children, namely: Lambert, Abraham, Jacques, Eustache, Pierrine and Marie Melyn, issue of his first marriage, and to Jean, Corneille and Susanne Melyn, his children by his second marriage.
To his widow he left the usufruct of his property, and expressed the desire that the dividing of his estate should not take place until the youngest of his children should have reached the age of twenty years. He named as executors of his will his wife Marie Ghuedinx-Botens, Jean Wils, tailor, and Corneille Lobyn, lumber dealer. A facsimile of the signature of Andre [Fl. Andries] Melyn, as affixed to his will is given below.
Marie Ghuedinx-Botens, wife of Andre Melyn, died before her husband, very probably in the month of October, 1606, as some furniture belonging to her estate was sold on 30 October, 16o6. Andre Melyn died at his house in the Rue des Sauciers, [FL Saucier Straat]1 Antwerp, on 9 November, 1606. He had therefore changed his residence since he executed his will on 6 March, 1606. On the same day on which Andre Melyn died (9 November, 1606) the notary Franchoys Ketgen proceeded to take the inventory of the estate, and continued it on the 13th of November following.
On this latter date, the guardians of the minor children took their oath as such before the Orphan Masters. These guardians were: Jacques Melyn, tailor, paternal uncle, and Eustache van Westvoort, broker, maternal uncle of the children by the first marriage; and the same Jacques Melyn, paternal uncle, and Hans Salomons, cooper, maternal cousin, of the children by the second marriage.
The Orphan Masters, four in number, of whom two were chosen from the Aldermen of the City, constituted a board or council which had for its purpose the examination of the accounts of the management of the property belonging to those not of age. These guardians made oath before them, and were obliged to present, at least once every two years, a detailed account, with supporting papers, of all expenditures and receipts made for and in the name of the minors. The records of this board (as will be seen later) contain the most interesting details of the families involved.
Children of Andre2 Melyn and Jeanne van Westvoort:
+ 5. i. Lambert3 Melyn, b. probably before 1580. + 6. ii. Abraham3 Melyn, b. probably about 1581. Bapt. in the Parish of Notre Dame, 14 August, 1589. [Bapt. No. 3.] 7. iii. Pierrine3 (or Petronille) Melyn, b. probably about 1584. Bapt. in the Parish of Notre Dame, 14 August, 1589. [Bapt. No. 4.] She had passed her twenty-second year in November, 1606, according to the inventory taken after the death of her father. She m. about June, 1614, Guillaume de Mont, who d. before June, 1622. She d. of cholera 24 April, 1625. 8. iv. Isaac3 Melyn, bapt. in the Parish of Notre Dame, 14 August, 1589. [Bapt. No. 5.] He is not mentioned in any of the subsequent records. + 9. v. Jacques3 Melyn, b. probably about 1586. With reference to the two children immediately preceding it seems certain that the Priest who performed the baptismal ceremony wrote ISAAC when he should, have written JACQUES. It is plain from the inventory of the estate of Andre Melyn, that he had a son JACQUES who had completed his twentieth year at the time of taking the inventory, 9 November, 1606. It is more than probable that in the stress of circumstances at the time of the baptism the wrong name was written into the Parish Register. 10. vi. Cornelie3 Melyn, bapt. in the Parish of Notre Dame, 18 March, 159O. [Bapt. No. 7.] She is not mentioned in the will of her father, hence she must have died before 6 March, 1606. 11. vii. Susanne3 Melyn, bapt. in the Parish of Notre Dame, 6 September, 1592. [Bapt. No. 9.] She d. before 1 September, 1602, as on that date another Susanne was baptized. 12. viii. Jossine3 Melyn, bapt. in the Parish of Notre Dame, 1 January, 1594. [Bapt. No. 10.] She d. before 16 March, 1595, as on that date another Jossine was baptized. 13. ix. Marie3 Melyn, twin sister of Jossine, bapt. in the Parish of Notre Dame, 1 January, 1594. [Bapt. No. 11.] She married in the Parish of Notre Dame, South Ward,2 24 November, 1619, Pierre Vorstegen, carpenter, (son of Pierre) who died in 1624. 14. x. Jossine3 Melyn, the second of that name, bapt. in the Parish of Notre Dame, 16 March, 1595. [Bapt. No. 12.] She d. before 6 March, 1606. + 15. xi. Eustache3 Melyn, bapt. in the Parish of Saint Andrew, 24 October, 1596. [Bapt. No. 49.]
Children of Andre2 Melyn and Marie Ghuedinx-Botens, his second wife:
+ 16. xii. Jean3 Melyn, (generally named Hans) bapt. in the Parish of Saint Walburga, 28 March, 1599. [Bapt. No. 81.] + 17. xiii. Corneille3 Melyn, bapt. in the Parish of Saint Walburga, 17 September, 1600. [Bapt. No. 83.] 18. xiv. Susanne3 Melyn, the second of that name, bapt. in the Parish of Saint Walburga, 1 September, 1602. [Bapt. No. 86.] She was still living in the month of October, 1623, but had died unmarried, before September, 1626. 19. xv. Anne3 Melyn, bapt. in the Parish of Saint Walburga, 21 January, 1605. [Bapt. No. 90.] She d. before March, 1606.
4. JACQUES2 MELYN, son of Lambert1 Melyn, married, date not known, JOSSINE VAN DICKELE.
On 30 October, 1612, they appeared before the notary Franchoys Ketgen, and made their last will, in which they bequeathed to each other all their property. Jacques Melyn was a tailor, and was sometime President or Dean of the Guild of Tailors. He died late in January or early in February, 1613, and his widow married by contract before the notary, Franchoys Ketgen, on 26 October, 1613, Laurent de Holder, dealer in Cambrai cloth.
There is a record of one child, a son, of Jacques2 Melyn and Jossine van Dickele, as follows;
20. i. Josse3 Melyn, bapt. in the Parish of Notre Dame, 16 October, 1591. [Bapt. No. 8.]
5. LAMBERT3 MELYN, son of Andre2 Melyn and Jeanne van Westvoort, was born probably before 1580, as he was of age (25 years, according to the law of Antwerp) at the death of his father in 1606. He married CATHERINE DE PAPE, who died some time before September, 1626. Lambert Melyn died in April, 1621.3 He was a carpenter. There is a record of five children of Lambert3 Melyn and Catherine de Pape as follows:
There are several pages here which list other descendants of Lambert Melyn, before we eventually reach the following biography:
17. CORNEILLE3 MELYN, son of Andre2 Melyn and Marie Ghuedinx-Botens, was baptized in the Church of Saint Walburga, 17 September, 1600. [Bapt. No. 83.]
This child, who was destined in his later years to become such a prominent man in the new world, will throughout this sketch be referred to as Cornelis Melyn, that being the accepted Flemish spelling of his given name, and the form in which he always wrote it.
Cornelis Melyn was born in Antwerp, in the house called "The Sack" where his parents then lived. This house was situated in the Rue du Sac [Fl. Zak Straat] in or near the Bourg [Fl. Borcht] or castle, of which a short description will be given later. At his baptism, he had for his godfather Cornelis Tobyn, and for his godmother Sarah Verryken.
In October, 1606, Cornelis lost his mother, Marie Ghuedinx-Botens, and very soon thereafter on 9 November, 1606, he had the further misfortune to lose his father. Thus at the age of six years, (his age as given in the inventory of his father's estate) he found himself bereaved of both father and mother.
It was necessary to provide guardians for Cornelis and the other minor children of Andre Melyn, and the Orphan Masters, as has previously been mentioned, designated as guardians of the children by the first marriage, Jacques Melyn and Eustache van Westvoort. For guardians of the children by the second marriage, they named the same Jacques Melyn and Hans Salomons.
These guardians took oath for their offices on 13 November, 1606, before the Orphan Masters. Cornelis was taken into the family of his half-brother Abraham Melyn, who provided for all the wants of the little orphan, and sent him to school, where he continued until he had reached the age of twelve years.
About October, 1612, the guardians of the young Cornelis decided that the time had arrived to have him learn a trade, so that he might be able later to earn an honorable livelihood for himself. They resolved to make a tailor of him, and to that end, as the laws and ordinances of the times required, had him entered in the book of the Guild of Tailors, and about January, 1613, Cornelis was placed as an apprentice with Thierry (Dirk) Verschulder. As an entrance gift, the guardians presented Verschulder's wife with a fichu,1 for which they paid seven florins and ten sous.
About the end of January, or the beginning of February, 1613, Jacques Melyn died, and was replaced as guardian by Abraham Melyn, the half brother of Cornelis. Abraham Melyn took oath as guardian, 11 February, 1613.
Cornelis Melyn remained about a year in the workshop of Dirk Verschulder. About February, 1614, the guardians put themselves in communication with the master tailor, Artus van Hembeke, and made a contract with him by which he engaged to teach his trade to the young Cornelis, and to furnish him besides with food and lodging, all on condition of the sum of fifteen florins, to be paid yearly by the guardians. This contract, like all those which were made at that time between master and apprentice, was to have a duration of two years. At the expiration of this contract, that is, in February, 1616, Cornelis remained in the workshop of Artus van Hembeke, but it was now the turn of the latter to remunerate Cornelis for the services which he rendered, and there, is found in the accounts of the guardians, carried in the receipts, the sum of twenty florins, paid by Artus van Hernbeke as a year's wages for the services of Cornelis Melyn.
The sedentary life which Cornelis Melyn led at Antwerp was apparently not satisfactory to a young man of an enterprising and determined character, so he decided to strike out for himself, and to seek his fortune in foreign lands. He therefore asked from the Priest of the Church of Saint Walburga, in which he had been baptized, a certificate of his baptism, and also asked his godfather Cornelis Lobyn, former President of the Carpenters and Lumber Dealers Guild, and Franchoys Ketgen, notary and long-time friend of the Melyn family, to give him a testimonial of good character.
A translation of this testimonial made by Mr. William J. Hoffman, F.G.B.S., from a certified copy of the Flemish original is here given in full.
Extract from the Schepen records of the City of Antwerp for the year, 1618, under Uwens and Kieffel, Vol. I, fol. 224 vo.
"At the request of Cornelis Melijn Andriesz, son of the late Andries Melyn and Maria Guedens alias Botens, Cornelis Lobyn, former President of the Carpenters and Lumber Dealers Guild within this City, aged 60 years, and Franchoys Ketgen, Notary, employed as a clerk in the Secretary's office here, aged 50 years, truly swear:
"That they well knew the bearer's parents, before named, as legally married people, of good name and reputation, without having heard or learned anything to the contrary in any way, who, among other children, during the aforesaid their wedlock have begotten the aforenamed bearer hereof, born in the house named 'The Sack', situated in the Sack Street here, whom they likewise esteem and hold, and know to be esteemed and held a young man of honor, of good name and reputation, without having heard or learned anything to the contrary in any way; who they well know is not departing from here because of any misconduct; but only [because he] desires to visit [foreign] lands and to learn the languages; alleging as reasons for their knowledge: to wit, the aforenamed Cornelis Lobyns, because he stood sponsor at the font for the aforenamed bearer, and the aforesaid Ketgen because he lived in the aforesaid Sack Street opposite the aforenamed 'The Sack', and they, the affiants, have thus associated and conversed often and familiarly with the aforesaid bearer, as well as with his parents respectively.
"We further certify that the Reverend and Master Franciscus Hovius, licentiate in divinity who has written and signed the certificate to which these letters are attached, is priest of Saint Walburga's Church here, which is called the Borcht (Castle) Church, and that all ought to give to his writings and instruments perfect credence in legal matters and otherwise.
"In good faith4
the fifteenth of September, 1618."
It is probable that Cornelis Melyn left Antwerp soon after having received this certificate, for there is no further mention of receipts or expenditures on his account in the records and accounting of the guardians.
It may be of interest to mention in passing, that Jacques Melyn, the half-brother of Cornelis, made oath in the capacity of guardian on 27 August, 1620, and this he did very probably as replacing the deceased Hans Salomons.
In 1622 Susanne Melyn, the youngest of the living children of Andre Melyn, reached the age of twenty years. It was therefore necessary to proceed to the division of his estate, in accordance with the terms of his will. This division took place officially on 3 June, 1622, the guardians having rendered their final accounts to the Orphan Masters the preceding day.
Cornelis Melyn, represented by his guardians, inherited as his share an annual income of fourteen florins and five sous, being one-third of an income of forty-two florins and fifteen sous, from a mortgage placed upon a house named the "Half Moon", situated outside the Porte-aux-Vaches. [Fl. Koepoort.] Susanne Melyn, younger sister of Cornelis, inherited from her father's estate an income equal to that received by Cornelis. In October, 1623, she received a bequest of one hundred florins from the estate of her uncle and aunt, Jacques Melyn and Jossine van Dickele, the payment of which was made to her at this time because of the death of her aunt Jossine, the widow of Jacques Melyn. Susanne Melyn, who appears to have had a rather feeble constitution, died not long after, and certainly before September, 1626.
In September, 1625, Cornelis Melyn reached his majority, according to the law of Antwerp, at the age of twenty-five. It was customary for one to release his guardians from their responsibilities with the shortest delay, but Cornelis was most probably absent from the country at that time, as he did not come to Antwerp until 2 September, 1626, on which date he complied with the necessary formalities.
Apparently Cornelis Melyn returned to Antwerp only to settle his affairs, and to realize all that he possessed in Antwerp, being not only the inheritance that came to him from his father's estate, but also some additional sums which came to him from his deceased uncle, Jacques Melyn, and from his deceased sister, Susanne Melyn.
The deeds of sale were passed on September second and third before the Schepens of the City of Antwerp. After this date the name of Cornelis Melyn appears only once in the Antwerp records. On 5 July, 1632, he was the godfather, by proxy of Jean Knobbaert, at the baptism5 of Susanne Melyn, daughter of his brother Jean Melyn and Susanne Beert...
1 This street received its name from the fact that in former times it was filled with saucers, or shallow tubs, of salt herring.
2 In 1610, because of the increase in population, the Parish of Notre Dame was divided into the North Ward and the South Ward, and thereafter there are separate Registers of Baptisms and Marriages for each Ward.
3 The compilers believe that the year of Lambert Melyn's death and the year mentioned below in connection with the ages of his children should be the same, but are unable to determine if 1621 or 1624 is the correct year.
4 The literal translation is "without fraud"--a formal ending to every certificate.
5 [Baptism No. 34.]