fs. Franciscus Anthonius Noë (B Va) and Anna Judoca Rubbens
As their first born he received the christian name of his grandfather. At the beginning of the 19th Century his parents went to live in Oostwinkel and that's where he found his bride. And he married there on New Year's Day. That's right; clearly the first of January was not a holiday. His bride was Carolina Van Den Bossche, daughter of Jacobus Van Den Bossche and Isabella Provijn. She was born in Ursel in 1792. She was a spinner and agricultural worker.
Petrus Joannes was a little boy at the outbreak of the French Revolution: the Bastille in Paris was taken on 14 July 1789. On 10 August 1792 the Tuileries were taken and ransacked and the King and Queen were officially taken prisoners. The Monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792. The King himself was guillotined on 21 January 1793 and now the Reign of Terror started in earnest.
In 1792 the French had invaded our country and once again undisciplined French soldiers were everywhere. In a letter dated 6 January 1793 Lord Auckland wrote from The Hague: "In Brabant and Flanders the French are now infinitely more hated than the Austrians." (Correspondence of Lord Auckland, ii, 485)
They were defeated by the Austrians in the Battle of Neerwinden on 18/3/1793. But on 26/6/1794 the Austrians were themselves defeated by the French at Fleurus which is near Charleroi in the southern part of what is now Belgium. As a result our Catholic regions now became part of revolutionary, anticlerical France and her soldiers were out for revenge.
The end of this, the last French period, was not far off when Petrus Joannes married Carolina. And when Napoleon met his waterloo in 1815 the great powers decided to reunite our (Catholic) country (the Southern Netherlands) with the (protestant) Northern Netherlands. And so our ancestors had a new king: the Dutch Willem I.
Under Willem I Dutch became the official language replacing French. Ghent received its University where they taught in... French. Forcing Dutch down (or up) everyone's throat would result in a backlash 15 years later when our regions threw off the Dutch yoke and a new independent country called Belgium was created.
But in the mean time the secession from France meant that a huge market was lost for our people. Willem I tried his best to promote commerce and industry: companies such as Cockerill the metalworks, the coal mines, the glassworks Val St. Lambert and the cotton industry in Ghent date from this period. In spite of startups like the "Société Général", now renamed but still a formidable power in Belgium, in spite of Willem's best efforts the vast majority of the people lived in abject poverty.
Let's not forget that in vue of the Le Chapelier Law of 1791 workers were not allowed to unite to defend their rights which meant they went hungry until their unrest exploded and in 1830 an independent Belgium was born out of the revolution. On 21 July 1831 Leopold of Saxe-Coburg Gotha was solemnly sworn in as the first king of Belgium.
But independence was no magical solution either. There followed an economic crisis which lasted for years and reached its nadir from 1845-49 with extremely high unemployment and extremely deep poverty. Approximately a quarter of the population lived of poor relief.
She died in Adegem on 19 November 1833. And Petrus Joannes who in the mean time had become a weaver remained behind with their 6 children. The youngest was only 5 years old. No doubt his eldest daughters helped out with the housework but they also spent many long hours in the factory.
It was in those years of hunger that the children of Petrus Joannes became adults. As a weaver he undoubtedly has felt the economic crisis in the middle of the 19th century very keenly : the mechanisation of the textile industry brought with it a lot of unemployment. On top of that the potato harvest failed in 1845 and 1846. In September 1846 a typhus epidimic broke out (fortunately not too virulent) and the Winter of 1846-47 was particularly hard.
Day in day out thousands of Flemish weavers and spinners repeated the prayer "Geef lieve Heer ons cost en cleer, het hemelryck and dan niet meer" ("Give us, dear Lord, food and clothes, heaven and then nothing more").
Those who did find work in a factory had to do 15 to 16 hour days for a wage that was inadequate to feed the family. Which is why he women also went to the factory leaving the babies behind at home sometimes in the care of a slightly older child. In the worst cases they took the children with them.
In any case, as soon as they were 8 years old the children had to accompany their parents to work, for 15 hours a day. And for a wage far less than half that of a adult. This scandalous state of child labor lasted till 1889 when a law forbade children under 12 doing more than 12 hours a day.
Petrus remarried in Adegem on 15/11/1836. His new bride was spinner Petronella Coleta Delcourt, the daughter of Frans Delcourt and Coleta Verhee and the widow of Karel Staelens. She was born on Christmas Day in Eeklo but lived in Waterland-Oudeman.
Pieter Jan died in Adegem on 10/8/1862 and Coleta 4 years later on 12/12/1866.
The children of Petrus Joannes and Carolina Van Den Bossche:
Many thanks to Mr. Gothard De Coninck
for the information on Albertine and her offspring.
Petrus Joannes' father Franciscus Anthonius Noë
Most recent update : 05-01-2019