24 juli 2024

This printed cover sheet could have contained quite some heavy papers since the rate was 30 cents. Alas, the contents have been removed from their cover at some point in history, and therefore we cannot really deduce what the Frisian Knighthood shared with the addressee. Robert van Breugel esq. received the letter in the latter half of the 1820s or early 1830s, as the first recorded use of this Leeuwarden postmark dates from 1829. Moreover, because Robert van Breugel is still being addressed as Jonkhr. (Jonkheer) here, the letter cannot be younger than the 1st of June 1833 when his title was upgraded to ‘baron’.

Cover sent from Leeuwarden and addressed to a member of the Frisian Knighthood in The Hague bearing the first Dutch date cancel type (type I) reading LEEUWARDEN 14 MEI.

Robert van Breugel Douglas (1791-1873) as his full name goes was a member of the Dutch Council of State between 1842 and 1862. This body advises the Dutch government and States General on numerous topics and consists out of members of the Dutch royal family and crown-appointed members. So Baron van Breugel Douglas was a very eminent figure indeed. His mother was a member of the Scottish gentry and his father was granted the title of ‘baron’ in 1826. In 1821 he married jonkvrouwe Louisa Albertina Glinstra van Sminia (1799-1837). I think we should place this letter in her context as she is the only Frisian connection to Robert van Breugel.

Left: Robert van Breugel Douglas in his function as corporal of the Frisian Volunteer Force of 1815. Right: Robert van Breugel Douglas as member of the Dutch Council of State, engraving made by J.H. Hoffmeister (1823-1904)

Van Breugel studied Roman and Contemporary Law in Leiden and became lawyer in The Hague in the early 1810s. In this politically unstable times he probably met dame Glinstra van Sminia and subsequently he joined the Frisian Knighthood in 1811 (he even became the Chairman of the organisation at some point). Since Van Breugel was very interested in Dutch gentry, especially due to his own ancestry, he advocated in 1867 that the Dutch nobility wasn’t abolished in 1795, but that it had rather ceased to exist. Only in 1956 professor W.F. Prins proved him wrong… Moreover, Van Breugel addressed the issue that British nobility couldn’t be incorporated in the Dutch nobility under Dutch law of 1867. A major flaw in reasoning, he argued, because foreign nobility could be incorporated in British nobility.

Wax seal of the Frisian Knighthood on the back of the cover

For the original publication see the Dutch Philately blog by Hugo Brieffies.

Hugo Brieffies

Hugo Brieffies

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