The estate of Maria van Leeuwenhoek

Leeuwenhoek's daughter Maria was buried in the Oude Kerk on April 30, 1745. Two months later, on June 26, 1745, notaries Joris Geesteranus and Willem van der Lely made an inventory of Maria's possessions. Such an inventory was not done when Leeuwenhoek died because their joint wills didn't take effect until the "longest living" of them died, in this case Maria, twenty-two years after her father.

The inventory has survived in the records (minuutakten inv. 2791) of notary Geesteranus:

Opening pages

The image on the right sidebar (click to enlarge) shows the first page of the inventory, dated 26 June 1745:

Inventory of the estate and goods that Miss Maria van Leeuwenhoek, only surviving daughter of the late Mr. Anthonij van Leeuwenhoek, in his life the oldest member of the Royal Society of the Sciences in London, having lived on the west side of the Hijpolitus Buurt in the city of Delft, has upon her death on 25 April 1745 vacated and left behind.

It is followed by copies of the relevant wills:

  • Antony and Maria's of 17 November 1721 (amended 30 November), Jan de Bries, notary, when they declared each other their sole heir
  • Maria's of 20 May 1744, Willem van der Lely, notary

88 Articles

The bulk of the inventory is 88 articles on both recto and verso of pages 90 to 120. The menu atop the right sidebar links to the pages giving the details about each of these groups of assets.

assets description
1, 2, 73 immovable property houses and burial plot
3-72 investment portfolio financial instruments: bonds and i.o.u.'s
74-77 money and precious metals coins and jewelry
78, 79 her father's property microscopes, tools, and instruments
80-87 household objects fabric, linen and woolen goods, clothing, household objects of porcelain and metal: copper, brass, tin, iron, pewter
88 household goods

furniture, etc. - room by room, from the vestibule to the back attic

Closing pages

The final few pages (33v - 35 on the right sidebar; click to enlarge) list the liabilities: claims on the estate (lasten deze boedels) and the costs associated with Maria's burial and the adjudication of her will (doodschulden). They would be paid out of the estate's cash before distribution to her heirs.

The inventory was signed (35v on the right sidebar; click to enlarge) by the estate's two executors, the witnesses, and the notary:

  • Willem van der Lely, member of the Veertigraad and ex-mayor, also a notary
  • Gerard van Assendelft, secretary of the Weeskamer
  • two witnesses: Matthijs van den Briel and Samuel van der Voorn
  • notary Joris Geesteranus


These pages about Maria's possessions use names for them that can have different meanings that would be unambiguous if we had the object in front of us as the notaries did. Here, the first usage of a term has the Dutch in parenthesis and often an explanation below the tables. Except where noted, these translations are supported by the wonderful Historische woordenboeken op internet (historical dictionaries on the Internet). The images on the pages and the genre paintings on the sidebars help us visualize Leeuwenhoek's world. Comments and suggestions are welcome.