Monday, November 26, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Lodewijk Wesselo as an Expert Witness (2)

Amanuensis Monday is a weekly effort to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, and other genealogical and historical documents, first started by John Newark at the TransylvanianDutch blog. I will not only transcribe the documents, but also do a quick English summary and analysis of the document.

In an article about Lodewijk Wesselo, the following statement was made:

Mr. Wesselo is also reputed as an expert outside of his direct circle of clients. Several times he was named and heard as such during disagreements, both in front of a court as in other ways.”(1)

Of course I was interested in finding out more. However, with so little information to go on - it does not even say which period Lodewijk served as a witness - it's nearly impossible to go looking for court records. Unless I wanted to look through court records in three separate cities, hoping he was called to testify in the place he lived. However, old newspaper gave me two court cases that actually made the news where he was named in the article, so I do have more information about two instances where he served as an expert witness. Last week I transcribed the first newspaper article (2) and the subsequent verdict (3). Today, I have transcribed the second newspaper article (4), and I also looked up the subsequent verdict in the case, because I was curious, which was in another newspaper article (5).

Below are the English translations of my Dutch transcriptions. Where the Dutch transcriptions are precise, I have taken a little bit of liberty with the translation - especially with antiquated Dutch terms - in order to keep it understandable for readers. It does not detract from the story, and anyone interested in the original transcription can contact me; see the About Me page for that or simply leave a comment to this post.

The Price of an Earring

In September of the previous year a 25-jarlge maid from Venlo was tried for theft of some jewelry to the detriment of Mrs. A. J. D. H. van den Heemraadssingel, whom she had worked for. On 30 March she left her service, taking with her various valuable things. However, before she went to the station she sold a diamond earring and a ladies watch to a jeweler in the Mlddellandstraat. This jeweler, the 63 - year old M. S., had to account for fencing stolen goods, because he was said to have sold both objects for f 22.50 without having properly accounted for their provenance. The Court then decided that the investigation was not complete and referred the case back to the magistrate.

This morning the case is again before the court. The judge was Van Oosten Slingeland. The handling of the case took a lot of time, as many experts had to be heard as witnesses. The taxation of the stolen earring was tedious. Witness L. Wesselo, store manager of the firm Van Kempen, Begeer en Vos, estimated the purchase value at f 100, but witness Leo van Ierland (for the defense) said that he would give approximately f 30 for it.

The D.A., Mr. Hoeffelman, considered deliberately selling stolen goods proved. The maid was in the store for a short amount of time, perhaps nine minutes. The defense now argues that he initiated an in-depth investigation before purchasing the items. Among other things, he’s said to have sent his daughter to the Spangenschekade by bike, to see if someone did indeed live there by the name which the seller had mentioned. The convicted maid has stated that the shopkeeper paid her f 12.50 for the earring and the watch. It has appeared that the truth is different. The defendant paid f 22.50, but in any case this is not enough. Mr. Hoeffelman wanted to keep to the taxation of Mr. Wesselo and considered the defendant guilty.

Mr. G.C.A. Oskam, defendant’s attorney, held a detailed plea in which he maintained that the testimonies of the experts are prone to multiple interpretations and that a store manager of an expensive jewelry store should not be confused with someone who does nothing but estimate values of diamonds. The defendant’s attorney was sorry he had not found someone from a pawnshop in order to hear his judgment. The attorney for the defense considered his client’s guilt absolutely unproven, and said in closing that – even if his client’s record is not as shiny as the diamond earring he sold – the last few years showed a marked improvement.

Ruling January 21 leading.

The 63-year old jeweler M.S., living in Rotterdam, was convicted to 3 months in jail for selling a stolen earring and a ladies watch.”(5)


This M.S., going by the age, is actually the same jeweler that Lodewijk testified against in 1925!


1. Life description Lodewijk Wesselo – Handwritten by himself, 1947, Familiearchieven: CBG, fa 00472, familiearchief Wesselo, Doos 1, portfolio 3, CBG, Den Haag.

2. "Recieving Stolen Goods," Rotterdamsch nieuwsblad, 29 May 1925, Lodewijk Wesselo as witness in a court case; digital image, Koninklijke Bibliotheek Historische Kranten ( : accessed 7 November 2012).

3. "Rulings," Rotterdamsch nieuwsblad, 4 June 1925; digital image, Koninklijke Bibliotheek Historische Kranten ( : accessed 7 November 2012). Excerpt pertaining to court case in newspaper clipping 29 May 1925.

4. "The Price of an Earring," Rotterdamsch nieuwsblad, 8 January 1941, Lodewijk Wesselo as witness in a court case; digital image, Gedigitaliseerde Kranten Stadsarchief Rotterdam ( accessed 13 August 2010).

5. "Rulings," Rotterdamsch nieuwsblad, 22 January 1941, Gedigitaliseerde Kranten Stadsarchief Rotterdam ( accessed 26 October 2012). Excerpt pertaining to court case in newspaper clipping 8 January 1941.

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