Margreta (Grietje) Zee Bruno’s first-born daughter, Margreta, or Grietje in Dutch, was born in 1728 in Bremen; baptised as Margreta Seekamp. She grew up in Medemblik, and around 1750 moved to live in Amsterdam, which makes here the first Zee to live in Amsterdam (if you don’t count Bruno’s time in the city before departure on the Hogenes as ‘living’). There she met Fredrik Radius. The couple was married on March 26, 1752 in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam: Grietje was 23, Fredrik 30.
The Radius Family
Fredrik came from a family of shoemakers in Amsterdam. His father Gerrit was a shoemaker, as was his grandfather Casper Radius. Gerrit was baptised in the Mozes- en Aäronkerk in 1684, which means he was baptised Catholic. The Mozes church was something of a secret society, hidden under the gables of two houses, since public display of Catholicism were forbidden in Amsterdam after 1660.
Gerrit was, let’s say, matrimonially active – counting five wives during his lifetime. Fredrik Radius was a son from his second marriage, to Anna Spruijtenberg.
Grietje lived her whole life in Amsterdam after getting married, where they had six children – with three surviving into adulthood – Jan, Maria and Gerrit.
Jan Radius took after his grandfather, Bruno Zee, and joined the VOC. He was shot by the English in 1781, on board the ship Concordia. See below.
Gerrit Radius – the fourth son with this name, born in 1763, also followed his grandfather Bruno Zee’s footsteps and joined the VOC in 1786, sailing on the ship Texelstroom to Batavia as a carpenters mate. Unlike most sailors that travelled east in the latter half of the 18th century, he survived the trip – the rate of survival was extremely low – and spent five years in Batavia, returning to Amsterdam in 1791. No trace after that, so far.
Maria Radius had no children, and did not get married until she was 55, to Jan Tijlbart in 1813.
Jan Radius took after his grandfather, Bruno Zee, and joined the VOC in 1777 [>]. He sailed on the VOC ship Held Woltemade (named for a heroic rescue at the Cape in 1773 [>], and later taken hostage by the English in 1782), arriving at the Cape of Good Hope on March 30th, 1778, where he transferred onto the Hooker De Zon, and then onto ‘t Lam and later de Kleyne Pallas. His ultimate, and ultimately fatal, voyage was on the VOC Ship Concordia, in 1781. Near the Azores, on May 24th, 1781, the ship was attacked by the English during the 4th Anglo-Dutch War [>], one of whom shot Jan. According to the VOC record (soldijboek), he was transferred onto the ship Behemoth [>], and succumbed to his injuries on board that vessel [on June 18th, 1781]. It appears the vessel was headed for Cadiz, and he was buried there.
The ship was built in 1773, a standard 150ft VOC merchant vessel. The maiden voyage departed Holland in 1776, calling in to Portsmouth for several weeks before continuing to the Cape and onwards to Batavia. Unusually, the ship spent 3 years in Batavia – perhaps running Asian routes – before the return trip to Holland in 1780. Under command of Captain Evert Wesseling, the ship made the usual call at the Cape before the last leg to Holland, leaving on March 3rd, 1781.
The taking of the ship
On May 24th, the ship was taken by the English near the Azores [VOC site >]. Jan Radius was shot and badly wounded. He was transferred onto the English ship Behemoth. He died on that ship. He was buried in Cadiz, Spain [per Soldijboek entry].
Researching Grietje in 2022
The very existence of Grietje Zee was only discovered in 2022 – more than 30 years after I started researching the family of Bruno Zee, our first forefather. She had remained hidden in the church registers of Amsterdam because her entries spelled her surname as “Zees” instead of “Zee”.
Grietje was the first Zee to live in Amsterdam; she moved here around 1751, though we don’t yet quite know why – most likely for work. But we do know that she lived in the Nieuwe Looierstraat, in the centre of the city, for about 40 years, and was the mother of six children. On a warm day at the start of summer 2022, I took my daughter Zoe for a visit to the street she lived on.
The records from the 1750’s don’t tell us specifically which house she lived in, but there is no doubt that Grietje lived right amongst these buildings, many of which date from the 1600’s. There are several buidlings on the street with very old Gevelsteenen, little decorative bricks with an emblem showing what the building was once used for, or who lived here. As recently as March 2022, restoration work on some of them has shown a hidden depth and colour to them underneath centuries of paint and covering.
This particular gevelsteen shows what the street is named after – the Loeijer was a leatherworker, turning hides into usable material.
For a little while we wandered, exploring Grietje Zee’s small corner of Amsterdam, and imagining her life here. Somewhere in these houses she received news in 1781 that her son Jan had been shot and killed by the British; somewhere here she gave birth to four sons named Gerrit, and somewhere here she herself died in 1789 at the age of 60. A quiet little street today, much like it was in her day, but with many stories tucked away in it.
B2 Margreta b 10-Nov-1728 Bremen [Bruno Zee & Anna Meijer] + 24-Jun-1789 Amsterdam Aged 60 x Fredrik Radius 26-Mar-1752 Amsterdam [>] b 03-Dec-1719 [Gerrit Radius & Anna Spruijtenburg] + 24-Dec-1792 Amsterdam [>] Children: 1. Gerrit b 24-Sep-1752 Amsterdam [>] + 15-Oct-1752 2. Johannis (Jan) b 02-Dec-1753 Amsterdam [>] + 24-May-1781 Azores 3. Gerrit b 10-Aug-1755 Amsterdam [>] + 10-Oct-1756 4. Maria b 26-Jun-1757 Amsterdam [>] x Jan Asjes Tijlbaart + 05-Apr-1832 Deventer [>] 5. Gerrit b 23-Mar-1760 Amsterdam [>] + 06-Jan-1762 6. Gerrit b 24-Apr-1763 Amsterdam [>]
03-Dec-1719 Baptism of a Frederik Radius [>], son of Gerret Radius and Anna Spruijtenburg. Doop Westerkerk. Next baptism 21-Nov-1723 of Catarina, same parents [>]. Annetje Spruijtenburg, huisvr van Gerrit Radius, died 30-Nov-1723 [>], she lived in the Huidenstraat. Gerrit remarried 1724 to Anna Veldhuijzen van Muiderberg [>]. Home: in de Huijdestraat. Gerrit remarried again 1726 to Anna Hendrika Bekervelt [>]. And again to Helena van den Bergh in 1738 [>]. Gerit Radius & Anna Spruijtenberg married 27-Apr-1719, Gerrit living Huydestraat, Amsterdam, Anna is from Lopeker Capel (Utrecht) [>] 10-Mar-1752 Marriage notice in Amsterdam: Fredrik Radius, aged 30, from Amsterdam, father Gerrit Radius, and Grietje Zees, 23, her father Bruin Zees in Medemblik. Both Grietje and Fredrik living at Vijselstraat, Amsterdam. A note says 'fathers consent safely received'. [>] xx-Mar-1752 Marriage of Grietje Bruijn and Fredrik Dusades, jongeman uit Medemblik. Impost paid Medemblik. [>] 23-Mar-1752 Marriage notice Amsterdam 26-Mar-1752 Actual date of Grietjes marriage to Fredrik, in the Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam. > 02-Dec-1753 Baptism of child Johannis. Mother: Grietje Bruijn Zees, Father: Frederik Radius. Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam. Witnesses Jan Radius and Maria Buys. [>] 10-Oct-1756 Frederik and Grietje living in the Voetboogstraat. Record of death of son Gerrit. [>] 19-Oct-1785 Gerrit (the fourth and surviving) Radius departs on the ship Texelstroom for Batavia as a carpenters mate [>] Debt to G. Sees (his mother). Spends five years in Batavia, returns Oct 1791. 24-Jun-1789 Burial of Grietje Seest. Wife of Frederik Radius. Begraafplaats: Heiligewegs- en Leidsche Kerkhof. [>] 24-Dec-1792 Death of Fredrik Radius, op de Niuewe Looierstraat, Amsterdam [>] 29-Oct-1851 "Gerrit Radius", geboren 1762 te Amsterdam, Opmerking: weduwe/weduwnaar, Nederlands-Hervormd. Register of the Amsterdam Binnen Amstel 773 Diac. Oude Mannen & Vrouwen Huis [>]. Died 29-Oct-1851. Aged c. 88. Today this is the Hermitage. Not confirmed same Gerrit - could be Gerrit Radius Dirkzoon born 1763. Timeline Gerrit Radius Gerrit married five times. 1. Aaltje van Dalsen 1712. Married 22 april 1712. Alaltje died 23 October 1718, in de Huijdestraat. In April that year, Gerrit was at the baptism in the Oude Kerk of Johanna van Lagnerack >. The parents were Johannes van Langerack and, curiously, Annitje Spreutenburg. The other witness was Catharina van Bueren. 2. Anna Spruijtenberg (April 1719-1723) - children Fredrik Radius and Catrina Radius. She died November 1723. 3. Anna Veldhuizen van Muiderberg (April 1724). She died 11 March 1725. One child. On April 20, 1724, Gerrit marries for the third time > Still living in the Huydestraat. Anna Veldhuizen van Muiderberg. 4. Anna Hendrika Bekervelt. Married 25 Oct 1726. Son Jurriaan born Sept 1727. Maria 1 May 1729. She dies 11 July 1736. In the Huydestraat. 5. Helena van den Bergh (Married 2 May 1738). She's 24. He's 54 at this point. Just in time, becasue the following month 13 juni 1738 Susanna Radius is born. So Helena was 8 months pregnant at that point. Left it to the last minute! In de Huydestraat bij de Keiser straat. Child died 22 June. 23 Aug 1739 at the Westerkerk, baptism of Dirck Radius. Aaltje 1743. Egbertus 1748. Antonia 1752. 1759. Kind van Gerrit dies, Mr. Schoenmaker op de Achter Burgwal tuss. de Vliegende en Huys steeg (Heisteeg?). Gerrit died January 1759.