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New Netherland, New York Genealogy
Obsolete Occupations of the Netherlands© Cor Snabel
Gravedigger (doodgraver)The 17th century gravedigger did not only bury people, he also sold graves. If people had money and did not immediately need a grave, they contacted the church warden and told him they were interested in buying a grave and waited until a suitable grave within the church was available. But if a relative died and he or she had to be buried within a few days, you ended up at the gravedigger. Normally he owned a few graves and took advantage of the grieved family by charging them extravagant amounts of money. Even Rembrandt was the victim of the gravedigger of the Oude Kerk. When Saskia died he bought grave 29 for her within the church in the Weitkopers chapel behind the pulpit. Not being a sharp merchant, he was an easy victim for gravedigger Zeger Fransz. Claeu. Saskia was buried on 19 June 1642 and Rembrandt did not even have any money left to have her name engraved in the stone or to let the bells ring.
This gravedigger was no exception; all his colleagues had this profitable additional income. Graves were bought and sold all the time and if the tombstone was decorated with a copper goblet or a coat of arms, the gravedigger removed those items before he sold the grave to somebody else. According to the church regulations the owner was allowed to do this as long as he did not ruin the tombstone. This is why we hardly find any copper nameplates or metal ornaments on the still existing tombstones, only the ones that were attached too tight. One of the church wardens of the Old Church wrote down all the malpractice of the gravediggers at the end of the 17th century, but it still lasted years before the regulations were changed and the wardens had any control over the embezzlements of the gravediggers.
>Choose from the following ancient occupations
Seat Caretaker |
Ship Shanghai |
Baker | Beachcomber | Beguine | Candlemaker | Dumpman | Executioner | Fanmaker | Fireman | Gravedigger | Innkeeper | Laundrywoman | Nightwatch | Peddlar | Porter | Seat Caretaker | Ship Shanghai | Soapmaker | Streetpaver | Tolltaker | Pharmacist
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