Maria Thonis Leeuwenhoek

Birth or Baptism date: 
September 24, 1656
Death or Burial date: 
April 30, 1745

The summer before Maria turned ten, her infant brother and then her mother died within a month of each other. When Maria was 15, her father remarried. That marriage was childless. By the time Maria was 30, her father was a world-class scientist. Her stepmother died when she was 38.

Maria spent her life living in the house where she was born, taking care of her father and, no doubt, doing all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and washing. He seemed not always to welcome visitors, so she probably answered the door and fended them off, too. Maria outlived her father by twenty years.

Loos-Haaxman (1958) looked at the inventory of Maria's estate made after her death in 1745 and concluded that she was a businesswoman (zaakenvrouw). The large numbers of linen and wool items such as bedding and napkins indicated that Maria maintained the shop not only after her father became prosperous, but even after his death. However, the work of Wijsenbeek-Olthuis in Achter de Gevels van Delft makes it clear that other Delftenaars in Maria's tax bracket, the highest, had similarly large accumulations of household goods. They also had much of their wealth in cash and various financial instruments. It all created what Simon Schama called an embarrassment of riches.

Maria got D0026 now Oosteinde 252 from her aunt Maria de Meij in 1669. She got C0154 now Hippolytusbuurt 1 and D0028 now Oosteinde 248 from her father in 1723.

The timeline has records of her loaning money to family members, making wills, arranging for her father's memorial in the Oude Kerk, witnessing baptisms, and leaving a legacy that was worth more than what her father left her.