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"Sorry for my French"


The history of the Poirots in the Netherlands, apears to start in the spring of 1797, as one Blaise Maurice Poirot (then 31 years old), a French military and secretary of the Commander Officer of the town of Gorinchem, has a relation with E.C.C.A. (Anna) of Berch Eijck, 16 years old. Blaise is born in Paris, and he is the son of Blaise Jean-Baptiste Poirot and Marie Jeane Francoise Le Roux. His father Jean-Baptiste and two (?) brothers live in December 1792 in the Rue de Vieille Monnoye 31 in Paris. Blaise Jean Baptiste then informs the clergy (who makes his new identity card) that he is born around 1734 in Giromagny, a village in the Elzas. ( As of today in the district Haute-Rhin Poirot is a much attentive name.


In Gorinchem is Hermanus van Berch Eijck (from 1796 up to 1805) owner of houses on the east side of the Hoogstraat (now no. 7) in Gorinchem. They are still what older but large merchant houses. It seems that his wife Johanna Swaen (van Poederooijen) lives there in 1795 (at the time of the French invasion) alone with their daughter. Hermanus and their sons live in the west-indies (Suriname) and in 1792 and 1797 their sons (old 24 and 26 years) die as planters in respectively Mahaïcas and Rio Demerary.


An explanation for this situation may be found in the changes in the political situation in the The Netherlands, in relation to the administrative functions which H.J. of Berch Eijck has fulfilled. In 1777 he had a position in the Council of Gorinchem and in 1788, has he has a function in Het Nieuwe Vroedschap. In the provisional government of 1795 he does not occur!

Has he has fallen in disgrace in 1787 (were he wrong?) during the short revolution of the patriots against Prince Willem V? Did Hermanus trie to set up a new life for its family in the West-Indies?


Anyhow, during the French occupation of 1795 the men from the family lived in West-Indies. Presumably Lady van Berch Eijck had French officers billeted, as it was common in those days in Gorinchem. Somehow her (as of March 1797) 16-year old daughter Anna has got a relation with a Frenchman, Blaise Maurice Poirot. For the family probably a painful matter because beside political antagonism, the family was Protestant and the son-in-law a Roman Catholic and twice her age. That same year, on 10 September 1797, the couple marries in Gorinchem and lives in the house of (and with) her mother. Three months later, on 22 December 1797 their daughter Maria is born.


In 1801, Hermanus of Berch Eijck (a planter) dies in Rio Demerary (French Guyana). A short while later, somewhere around 1802, the family Poirot (meanwhile with three [still living] children) and the mother of Anna, move to the Heerlijkheid (estate) Poederoyen. Presumably they then live on Poederooyen, which is then managed by the second cousin Johan Aleijdus Swaen. His management concerning the Heerlijkheid however is so bad management, that he must sell it in 1805, and finaly in 1811, transfer it to to general Jan Elias Rom.


On 30 November 1813 prince Willem III lands in Scheveningen. The prince will govern the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg as sovereign monarch. Blaise stays in the Netherlands when the French leave the country in 1814, and are defeated in 1815, at Waterloo. The prince of Orange did not punish his former antagonists, who had participated with the enemy. He found out that the French left behind a professional organised administrative apparatus. Thus the old Orangemen from 1795 on, do not recover their former administrative functions. Prince Willem maintained (or appoint) experienced persons from which most of them had a “suspicious” past.

But how did Blaise (as an old soldier) succeed in his maintenance after he had left the army? In May 1800 Blaise Maurice call himselves still “secretary of the commander of Gorinchem”. At the baptism of its eighth child, in November 1812, he call himself (in fancy Latin) Blijcius Maurits and an “ancient military”. As from 1818 he is appointed as a tradesman and private. On 23 October 1816 the family with eight children of Poederooyen moves to Heusden where the last four children are born.


They occupy a house at Vischmarkt 92 and later on Wijsch End 96. There is little prosperity in the family. In 1821, gets their first daughter gets an un-lawfull child, called Mathijs Poirot (!). Son Jan leaves the family early to live with his uncle J. Swaen. In 1828, son Maurits gives an unauthentic child to Henriëtte Corbussier. As from 1830 they can barley pay the rent. Two daughters are chronically sick and not able to work. As from 1835 the family is financially whole to lower rampart.


In the next 27 years Anna van Berch - Eijck writes (under her own name!) no less than 160 begging-letters to the royal family. She receives at least 3,615 guilders of the three kings in these years. In 1842, Blaise (76 years old) and eventually in 1862 Anna die in Heusden. From this mariage, which lasted 44 years, twelve children were born.

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