fs Petrus and Petrina De Vos
Judocus Broeckaert and Joanna De Vos were his godparents. He was barely 6 years old when he lost his mother and a year later also his stepmother. As 18 year old he lost his father. His second stepmother then remarried and Joannes left for Assenede to work on the farm of his uncle Hendrik or thanks to a good word from his uncle on another farm there abouts.
He married on the last day of October 1684 in Zelzate. His bride was Elisabeth Bochaute. The village priest thought he came from Assenede.
At the time when Joannes turned up in Zelzate, this town definitely was not paradise on earth. Zelzate had always bordered on the sea. The Graafjansdijk (Duke John's Dyke), completed in the 13th Century kept the sea at bay. But extensive marshes and peat bogs hampered regular agriculture.
Great dykes were constructed in the 15th and 16th Centuries in order to prevent more floods. Yet, catastrophes did happen and more than once violent storms destroyed the hard work of many years in a matter of hours.
Around 1615 the St.Franciscuspolder was reclaimed.
Indeed it wasn't only mother nature that slowed down the development of Zelzate: in 1675 the Dutch cut the dykes for military purposes and even as late as 1686 the damage was not completely repaired. And for several more years the king was petitioned for tax relief. According to surveyor Jan Van Bouchoute in 1689 more than two thirds of the 3000 acres of land had been inundated.
But that was not the only problem. About 1691 part of the French army, under the orders of marquis De Boufflers, spent some time here and "requested' for their provisions all sorts of materiel and large quantities of food. And once again in 1694 the French passed through leaving a trail of destruction. A good 10 years later Dutch troops passed through Zelzate on their way to Lembeke.
The cause of so much misery was the constant wars of Louis XIV in the Spanish Lowlands in the hope of annexing our country to France. Things got worse when the Spanish king, Charles II died childless. And now Charles of Habsburg also claimed our country. This time the Meetjesland was spared the horrors of battle but the exactions and taxes of various occupation forces continued unabated.
Indeed more often than not these armies were merely bands of lawless undisciplined mercenaries who spent much of their time looting, raping, murdering and burning. On top of that the winters of 1704 and 1709 were particularly harsh and there was widespread famine.
The southern part of the Lowlands eventually became part of the Austrian Empire with the Peace of Utrecht (1713).
The canal that now cuts the town of Zelzate in two was started in the second half of the 16th Century. It was dug to give Ghent a much shorter route to the sea than via the Scheldt and Antwerp. Originally the canal went from Ghent to Sas-Van-Gent ("Sas" of Ghent). A "sas" is a lock. That's why it was named "Sassche Vaart" (A "vaart" is a canal.). In 1827 it was extended to Terneuzen. And it has since been upgraded several times for modern shipping.
Nineteen months after their wedding, Elisabeth gave birth to a son who received the name of his father. But a year later on the 3rth of May she was carried to her grave in Zelzate. She was only 26 years old.
Joannes remarried in Zelzate on 10 July 1687, only 2 months after the death of his first wife. His new bride was Joanna Gentbrugge. (Such a short period between death and remarriage was in those days not uncommon.) This second marriage didn't last 5 years either. Joanna died childless in Zelzate on 3 June 1692.
Joannes married a third time when he was 32. His bride was the 21 year old Joanna De Meulenaere, daughter of Lieven De Meulenaere and Judoca Gijsels. This wedding took place on 6 September 1692 in the presence of Father Jan Van Coppenholle and witnesses Joannes Van Damme and Livina De Meulenaere.
Joanna gave birth to 7 children, the last one 4 months after the death of Joannes, his father. She gave him the name Livinus, no doubt thinking of her 10 year old son who had died 2 months before. Jan Nowť filius Heyndrick NoŽ and Lieven De Meulenaere were appointed as guardians of the 5 remaining orphans.
On 24 July 1706 in Zelzate Joanna remarried with Jan Ysebaert. And she died there on 2 April 1733 aged 62. Her second husband remarried also in Zelzate on 16/6/1733 with Joanna Hamerlinck and he died there on 4 April 1744 at the age of 61. Joanna Hamerlinck then remarried with Lieven Van Grevelinge.
In his estate reckonings we read that Joannes NoŽ signed two important sales deeds, one in 1689 and a second one in 1699.
On 15/2/1689 he bought from Pieter De Meulenaere, no doubt a brother or an uncle of his wife, a piece of land in Zelzate, of 3 acres, to the east the convent of Doorsele of Ghent, to the south the Kattestraat (Cats Road), and to the west and north the "laserije" also in Ghent. A "laserije", from the word Lazarus, was a primitive hospital for the poor run by nuns.
On 21/4/1699 the following pieces of land in Zelzate were bought from Jacques De Blieck:
To be able to realize these acquisitions they sold a field she had inherited to Jacques De Meulenaere and another to Lieven De Meulenaere. Joannes was also the owner of the house, the barn and stables where they lived and where he had died. This farm stood on ground of the "laserije". The convent was still owed the rent (22-10-0 pounds). They still owed 10-15-7 pounds, taxes to Zelzate and 2-1-1 pounds, taxes for land in Assenede. Marie Claeys, the maid, was owed 1-13-4 pounds.
The full costs of the funeral, the contribution to the priest, to the vicar, the sexton, the bell ringer and the grave digger amounted to 3-12-8 pounds.