Dirck van Delen

Dirck van Delen was born in 1604 or 1605 in Heusden, where, in the second half of 1604, his father, referred to as Corstiaen Dircksse from The Hague, had married a local girl named Cornelia Jansdochter. Though small, Heusden was an important Dutch fortress as it was less than fifteen kilometres from ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which was still in Spanish hands. Dirck’s father might have had a military background, a supposition that seems to be supported by the fact that an armourer, by the name of Niclaes Janssen, acted as his guarantor when he was admitted as citizen of Breda on 21st May 1607. At the same time this puts a question mark over his profession, since an active soldier normally did not become an official town citizen. Another possibility is that Corstiaen, like his three sons, had some kind of artistic profession. Dirck became a painter and Adriaen a cabinetmaker (whose wooden porches inside Middelburg town hall were destroyed in May 1940), while Hendrick became a silversmith in Flushing.


Both Adriaen and Hendrick were born in Breda and in 1623/24 a child of Dirck’s parents was buried there. In 1625 however – the year Breda was recaptured by the Spaniards under Spinola – Dirck and his mother, by then probably a widow, were living in Middelburg. On 23rd August 1625 ‘Dirck Christiaenssen’ gave notice of his marriage to Maria van der Gracht, the daughter of the Burgomaster of the small nearby harbour town of Arnemuiden. The couple settled in Arnemuiden, where, on the 28th September 1625 ‘Dieric van Deelen’ made his confession in the church. This was the first time the family name Van Delen appears, apparently to stress his improved social status.


Dirck became master of the toll-house, supervising the import of salt, and from 1628 onwards he was almost continually a member of the town council, most of the time as Burgomaster. He was widowed three times and had at least one son, Peter, born in August 1626, but no children survived him. The inventory of his estate testifies that he was very well-read and well-to-do.

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