kolff: history: geography: 4: 1

kolff family coat of arms

The Youngest Branch at Middelharnis (part 1: 1/4)*

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Lane Middelharnis, Meindert Hobbema At Middelharnis, more than in any other town of our country (the Netherlands), we find abundant remembrances to the Kolff family. For more than two centuries members of the Kolff family have lived here. In certain periods even several households at the same time. They worked there, took on several tasks, in short they did what they could find to do. This article serves to introduce the diversity of those activities such as their entrepeneurship. With that it also shows the amazing recourcefullness and flexibility of the 'elite' in a small provincial town that was Middelharnis.

The activities of our family at the island of Overflakkee start in 1710, when Cornelis Kolff (C Xc) (1685-1759) says farewell to The Hague and settles at Middelharnis at notary public. He would also be secretary and receiver of taxes, as well as bailiff, of the manor of Middelharnis. He did not stop at these gouverning activities: rather he spread his risks and invested for example in a ship. However, after his wife died in 1738 he left the island and moved to Maassluis, his place of birth.

His son Gualtherus (XIc) (1711-1789) took over the function of notary public and just like his father became secretary and bailiff at Middelharnis. In the 1720's and 1730's he had been able to practice these functions at the nearby manor Dirksland. From time to time he was appointed in functions of all kind in boards of polders and no doubt he obtained property here and there. Also Gualtherus did not place all his bets on one card. He participated in a shipping company and in 1749 we find him to be leaseholder of the Middelharnis fish market. Such entrepeneurship required capital. His financial risk as leaseholder was that he was obliged to buy all the fishers' catches and then had to see how to get his investments and costs back from the buyers. Turnover was high; all of the fish that entered the Goereese Gat had to be put to market either at the fish market of Middelharnis or at that of Hellevoetsluis.
Image: "Laantje van Middelharnis" (Lane at Middelharnis), Meindert Hobbema.
* Sub-title of this article at De Colve has been: "Wat je hand vindt om te doen - De Jongste Tak te Middelharnis" which I translated freely as "Things one finds to do - The Youngest Branch at Middelharnis."
See also: 15 Mayors