Dearly beloved Daughter!

In 1787 the 9-year old Sara Constantia de Beveren becomes a letter packed with admonitions from her father.

Sara Constantia de Beveren was born on the 22th of May 1778 in Middelburg. Her parents were Willem Arnout de Beveren (1749-1820) and Sara Maria Pous (1750-1834). Apparently Sara did not live with her parents at the time of the letter.

Dearly beloved Daughter!

The letter starts with ‘Dearly beloved Daughter!’ but the first admonitions follow quickly. Father writes ‘how happy I would be, when I would hear that you are always sweet and dutiful and diligent in your studies, but often I hear quite the opposite and this saddens me so’.

The first page of the letter Willem Arnout de Beveren wrote to his daughter Sara Constantia de Beveren.

Father fails to comprehend that Sara or Santje -as he often uses to refer to her in the letter- would want to sadden her parents:

‘Would you want to sadden us? And become unhappy yourself? This is surely not what my Santje wants, no? Think about it, if you are sweet and dutiful, how pleased you would be yourself, how you would also gladden your Papa and Mama, who are certainly dear to you, instead of letting them be grieved about you, how you are thus able of making their life pleasant or unpleasant, if you had always thought this way then I know for certain, that we had never had any reason to complain, then I would love my little Benjamin, who you surely are, even more and do everything for her, everything that can bring her pleasure’.

Luckily, the letter does end with embraces from Papa and Mama, in addition to the remark by father that ‘we speak of you daily’.


Full content

Read a transcript of the letter.


The letter in pictures

See the letter to Sara Constantia Pous in the inventory of the Archief Familie Mathias-Pous-Tak van Poortvliet, inventory number 588b.


Sara Constantia de Beveren weds Lodewijk van Panhuijs on the 15th of November 1797. Together they bring four children into the world, Willem Hendrik (1799), Sara Marie Cornelia (1800), Jean Louis (1802) and Constantijn Arnoud Ernest Adrien (1811).

Sara Constantia de Beveren Source: website RKD


20 days after the birth of her youngest son Sara passes away at 33 as a result of a ‘hostile nerve-fever that lasted 14 days’. Both her father and her mother outlive her.

After Sara’s death her father writes a poem, which begins with the line “My beloved daughter, oh! My daughter is a corpse!”.


The poem by Willem Arnout van Beveren has also been included in the Archief Familie Mathias-Pous-Tak van Poortvliet, inventory number 594c.