We all know the expression “born with a silver spoon in your mouth.” But for one little girl from Friesland, this was almost literally the case.
When Geertje Gerrits Heslinga was born on 15 December 1742, her parents had a silver spoon made to commemorate the event. The spoon was engraved with her name and birth date. It is now part of the collection of the Fries Scheepvaartmuseum in Sneek.
Such silver spoons were a tradition in Friesland, among richer families. The silversmith is unknown, but may have been Geertje’s own father, Gerrit Heslinga, who was a silversmith’s apprentice at one time and then became a prosperous merchant.
The Heslingas were Anabaptists, who did not practice infant baptism. This silver spoon is the only surviving record that gives her exact birth date. This is definitely the best birth record I’ve ever found.
Geertje Heslinga is the ancestor of one of my clients, Roberta Estes, whom you may know from her blog DNA-Explained. When Roberta came to the Netherlands two years ago, a visit to the museum that held the spoon was top on her list. The curator got the spoon out from the display for her, and she got to hold it while wearing gloves to avoid damaging the silver. It was a very special moment for her to hold the spoon that once belonged to her ancestor.
My Roorda ancestors were silversmiths, but I have never seen a family heirloom made by Philippus Roorda. However, he does have some pieces in museums. What a great find for Roberta!