Family founder – Pierre la Cour

Born 22 February 1716 in Köpenick. Died 14  March 1775. As already the name shows, the family la Cour (Dornonville de la Cour), was originally French, but the father of the ancestor of the Danish line left France either, as there is general said, because he following the lifting of the Nantiske edict (1685) lacked the freedom of belief, he needed as a Huguenot, or what has been mentioned because he had made political connections that were dangerous to his civil security. There are still a lot of ‘la Cour’s in France, and, from what a French naval officer has informed the captain in the navy Dornonville de la Cour, in Burgundy people bearing the name Dornonville de la Cour, but despite several searches it has never been determined, what relation they have to the Danish line.

Which first name Pierre’s father used is unknown, but it is said that he was married to a Marie Fouzillac who was of French origin like himself, even though her parents lived in Halle in present-day Germany. Probably these had earlier migrated for the same reason as him. A family legend will know that la Cour was “ministers” (: a priest?) and lived in a large country house near outside Paris. When he suddenly saw this surrounded by soldiers, he fled with his young wife away through the garden, put her on a donkey and escaped with her to Mittelmarck-Brandenburg, where she soon after gave birth to the son who became the ancestor of the Danish line. Here the family lived until the times shortly thereafter became less dangerous for them. Pierre la Cour was thus born in the small town of Köpenick on the River Spree in Germany, on 22 February 1716.

He was only eight months old when both his parents returned to France, and since we know nothing about them or their fate. Pierre never saw them again, and probably didn’t heard from them either. He lived with his maternal grandparents in Halle in Saxony and was brought up by them. In its seventh year, he came into the city’s grammar school, where he studied for 4 years.

When he was 11 years old in 1728 and went to the school’s fourth grade, he moved with his grandparents to Leipzig. Here he seems to have gone to grammar school, but besides math and writing, he studied music.

Since his grandparents in 1730 moved to Berlin, he was again put in grammar school, but did not manage to graduate, because shortly before he was to commence 5th grade, he was summoned to Denmark.

It was Christiane Dorthea von Rhedern, widow of General Henry Lasson from the estate Åkjær in Jutland, who summoned the 16-year-old boy here from Berlin, so that he could teach her 6-year-old son Frederick Vensel the Lasson French. He was at Åkjær for 4 years, but came on his lady’s recommendation he was transferred to Ørslevkloster where he would teach French to lieutenant colonel Berregård’s son Frederik. Here he was 6 years until 1743, and came a year later as the “language master” to Mrs. Berregård’s brother, Mathias the Lasson at Bjørnholm estate. Here he also stayed 4 years, until his former pupil, Chamberlain Berregård in 1747 asked him to come to Copenhagen as his personal assistant. This position he held for 3 years, but 1750 he became bailiff at Stårupgård estate and the next year, also on Ørslevkloster and Strandet. All the 3 estates were located in the old Fjends District that forms a peninsula in the Limfjord, east of Skive surrounded by Skive and Hjarbæk Fjords, and they all belonged to the Berregård family.

From the birth places of his children it appears that Pierre first lived on Stårupgård, then a couple of years at Ørslevkloster and them a couple of years on Bådsgaard, a farm in the northern end of the peninsula, which also belonged Berregård. Already in 1753, however, Pierre had been promised to get the lease of Strandet, and this was repeated by Chamberlain Berregård’s written pledge of 23 February 1758, but only by March 1759 was a contract was con. Pierre received the farm in leases on favorable terms. In 1737 Strandet had been leased (to Niels Christensen Winchell) for an annual fee of 280 rigsdaler, in 1751 (with Niels Quistgaard) for 350 rigsdaler in the first year and 300 rigsdaler in the next, while rent for Pierre’s case was set at 200 rigsdaler. Pierre was the lessor of Strandet for rest of his life – through 16-17 years, but unfortunately the means to get to know him, which are preserved, are few and sparse.

As far as we know, not a single letter or document he himself has written is preserved. The inheritance protocol for Hald County contains some letters from Pierre, but they provide only a small contribution to learning about his personality. Some features can be deduced from the list on his family, which was prepared by Pauline Worm, as well as from the “Testimonium” which was read in connection with his funeral.

However, from the information at hand we can try to get an impression of the conditions under which he lived, the home in which he was patron, and the life that unfolded there.

Strandet lies in Ørum parish and was at the time when Pierre inhabited it described as “a small yet free seat house, which takes its name from the fact that it borders on the Limfjord beach. There have before the farm was a brick house, which has long since been dismantled. Now is the construction of beautiful timber, with thatched roofs. The farm has formerly been inhabited by Juul, Friis, Sehested and several noble families. The farm with beef cattle and is occupied by Peter la Cour, to whom it is leased for life. Manor rate 19 acres, 3 bushels, 1 fjerdingkar, 1 album. Peasants Estate 208 acres, 4 bushels, 1 fjerdingkar, 1 album. Mill’s sake 1 barrel, 2 fjerdingkar. Tithing 26 acres, 4 bushels.”

The current main building of Strandet bears the year 1794 at the entrance, so it is constructed after Pierre’s death. But the house he resided in, has not been bad. It consisted, according to the documents – the inheritance protocol, which was prepared in connection with his death – in addition to the practical facilities such as kitchen, pantry, meat chamber, beer cellar, utility room, living room ceiling, school cap, custom chamber, etc. – of the living room, office (in the switch called “the blessed man’s chamber”), large living room, the southern guest chamber, the northern guest room, bedroom, nursery and girls’ chamber. And all the rooms have apparently been well occupied with furniture. In the living room was, as is demonstrated by the inheritance, including a double iron stove, a large oak chest with four drawers and turned feet, an oak bureau with three drawers, a several wooden tables and a blue painted table with drawer in which his wife had her wearing apparel.

There were two chairs of oak with a canvas cover, a chair of leather, six chairs with open backs and two old chairs with woolen cloth. On the walls hung five paintings, including two depicting Christ crowned with thorns on the cross and his mother, a hang a shelf, and finally there was a percussion with box.

In the living room also preserved the few books, Pierre owned, which besides a Bible (in noteworthy folios) from 1589 and the fifth Christian’s Danish Law (in octave format) from 1750 only consisted of 13-14 mainly French and German books. Of these, apparently, the most valuable three volumes (in octave format): Traité de Lave justly de la Religion, which was assessed to 1 rigsdaler. Otherwise, only minor writings of philosophical and religious nature (Fenelon oeuvres philosophiques, Le Philosopher of Sanssouci, Fontenelle oeuvres diverses, Trend Tomer in one volume without title page, Richterns Erkentnisz des Menschen), and finally, besides each other, a German hymn and prayer book with silver fittings and a removable silver buckle it.

Pierre has mentioned here after the judging that is not a man of literature. However, he apparently had his pleasure in outdoor activities, especially hunting. This is evidenced by no less than 13 shotguns that had their place in the living room, besides several other hunting props. But it was not just the living room, which was adorned with what was probably in his view among the best ornaments on a wall. In “the blessed man’s chamber” is also mentioned shotguns and other hunting items. And it is clear that hunting was one of his main pleasures. You get a sense thereof by some lines in a letter to the Justice councilor de Lindepalm from his last years in which he complains that he has not yet quite recovered, “which bothers me as I am not as sure that I, as I had decided to do, this year could go to Tirsbæk and amuse me yet again with hunt before I die.”

Besides hunting, he also sometimes welcomed by music. There was no spinet, a contemporary piano, at Stranded in Pierre’s time, but in the living room there were two violins. Besides the above-described objects that were found in the living room, it also contained a cupboard in which silver and glass cases preserved. Here we include two silver spoons with the letters PL and the year 1751, which therefore probably came from Pierre’s wedding to his first wife, also six new silver spoons with the letters PLMSH (which stands for Pierre Lacour Margaret Suzanne Hertzberg) and the year 1762, two old silver spoons, “with the name and year 1705 “, a potato, a sugar pot with the letters CHB E. P. and the year 1751, six teaspoons, a sugar tongs in addition to various other and glassware two cups with lids, a glass mug with tin lid, sixteen different tip glass, five Freemason glass and a whole lot more.

If we turn to the other rooms on Strandet, we find a large living room a blue painted chest of drawers on par with silvered edges and a large inlaid chest of drawers at the foot, which saved a fairly plentiful supply of tablecloths, napkins, sheets, pillowcases and towels. The bedroom contained a green painted canopy bed place with four green home-made valance and two caps, which was a skin over the duvet, two yellow striped comforter casings, a couple blue woolen sheets, two woolen quilts and also a pole bed with brown home-made valance and a cape.

In the guest chambers (the southern and northern) were also found furniture of various kinds, but here we shall only mention that the first of them contained a series of images: Twelve paintings of kings of the Oldenburg strain, two paintings of queens, and two paintings in gilt frames that should have imagined Count Frijs and his Countess. It is clear that Pierre has preferred hunting weapons as wall decorations rather than paintings, since these were placed in the guest rooms. But this record of what existed in the various rooms of Strandet in Pierre’s time gives us is only a faint impression of the surroundings he and his household lived in.

And who did the household contain? Through the inheritance documents, we can see the personnel he had hired in the last years he lived, and something similar may well have been the case in previous years. Besides his family, consisting of husband, wife and six children up, of whom the eldest, Niels, was 20 ½ years and studied rural administration with his father while the youngest, George, was 8 years, the following persons lived on Strandet: Studiosus Curtz, who undoubtedly was tutor for the smallest children. Additionally, there was a barn bailiff (Niels Svenningsen), a coachman (Lars Jacobsen), a herdsman (Knud), a sheep heard (Peter), a maid (Johanne), a cook (Dorthe) and a chicken girl (young Dorthe).

The actual field work and actually a lot of other things was undertaken by the serfs mentioned in the lease contract. The wages which each of the people employed at Strandet received were the following: For a year, Mr. Curtz 16 rigsdaler, the barn bailiff 10 rigsdaler with the addition of 1 rigsdaler and 2 shillings for liquor. The coachman got 6 rigsdaler and 4 shillings, and 1 rigsdaler and 2 shillings for liquor. The herdsman got 6 rigsdaler and 4 shilling, the sheep heard (for 1 / 2 years) 1 rigsdaler and 3 shillings, the maid 8 rigsdaler, the cook 5 rigsdaler and 2 shillings and the chicken girl 4 rigsdaler.

But now the patron himself. How was he and what did he look like? The last question is partly answered, because as you know, an oil painting of him has been preserved. Judging from that, he looks to have been a handsome man with noble features. And there is reason to believe that he was a brave, pious and devout man.

The few opinions that exist about him in the aforementioned list of his family, and in the speech, held at his funeral, indicating this. Through the inheritance documents, we can also get information on his clothes. His ceremonial outfit has undoubtedly been the one described as a purple male robe, consisting of a dress, vest and pants, skirt lined with blue chagrin and vest with white silk, valued at 12 rigsdaler – which equals two annual salaries for the coachman. Besides this is a purple dress with silk buttons, which was valued at 5 rigsdaler. He also had a red carmoisin dress and waistcoat with gilt buttons, a blue dressing gown and vest with camel’s hair buttons and a black cloth gown and vest. When he was traveling, he wore a green travel dress with fox fur lining or a gray cloth traveling dress of home-made clothes with calongs lining. No less than eight wigs are listed, hence the two with bosses. On his head he wore apparently either cap of velvet or of cloth.

The family of Strandet was evident connected with many of the region’s better-off people. This is seen by those chosen to be sponsors for the children at baptizing. Possibly, they socialized a great deal and combined with the large family, Pierre’s economic conditions did not belong to the best. Certainly there was quite a bit of furniture and utensils of various kinds, an approach common followed, since savings banks did not exist at the time, but the regular loan he had and the inventory of the estate shows that he has held various financial difficulties to contend with. Although he was educated in French and German he learned apparently excellent Danish and wrote it as good as most Danish at that time. This appears from of the letters before mentioned.

In the autumn of 1774 Pierre was attacked by some “partly painful case.” He found, however, again a few weeks of relief, but died on 14 March 1775, only twenty days of fifty-nine years. The day after his death was, as usual, the recording in his living place and the full documentation of the estate covers 91 folio pages. The total debt and claims amounted to 1981 rigsdaler and 2 mark. The value of the estate was 2025 rigsdaler, 2 marks and 24 shillings, so the division between the widow and children, there were only 44 rigsdaler and 24 shillings. Of these, the widow received 22 rigsdaler and 12 shillings, while each of the 5 sons got 3 rigsdaler and 15 3 / 7 shillings, and each of the four daughters got 1 rigsdaler and 55 7/5 shillings.

He married for the first time on 13 July 1751 to Margaret Susanne la Cour (b. Hertzberg). Born 20 August 1720 in Daviken. Died on 24 February 1763 at Strandet. She was the daughter of Niels Jensen Hertzberg and Dorte Cathrine Harboe. Her father was born in Vrå 1693, graduated from Hjørring 1711, Master of Theology. 1716, chaplain in Ejds Rectory (Nordfjord) 1719, Viborg North Parish in 1732 and Finnås in 1744. He died in Bergen 17 oktober 1764. Margaret was baptized in Viborg on 6 October 1737 when her father was transferred as pastor to the Franciscan church there. At first she seems to have been a teacher at the estate of Søren Kjærulf whose daughter Andrea Kirstine married Privy councilor Hjelmstjerne, and then at Chamberlain Berregård on Ørslevkloster. She must have been much liked by her students and their parents. She died 42 years 6 months and 4 days old. Her husband writes in his aforementioned family records: “Last year 1763, on 24 February, a sad day for me, it pleased God to call my wife away in the morning at 6 o’clock and bring her to his glorious kingdom. On 3 March at a proper burial she was placed in Ørum church where her body rests awaiting a glorious resurrection, her soul, which I with Jesus’ power and means will once again behold, already rests in God’s arms.” She gave her husband eight children : Four sons and four daughters (No. 00-07).

He married for the second time on 26 August 1763 in Frusholt with Christiane Frederikke La Cour (b. Nohr). Her father was born in Wismar, but when this city during the period from 1648-1803, except for the few years 1675-79, was under the Swedish crown, he was born as a Swedish citizen. As a young man he came to Copenhagen, where he first married Benne (or Eleanor) Bentsdatter, who bore him a daughter, Angel Nohr, and died around 1712. Then he married Anne Cathrine Olesdatter who was the mother of Christiane Frederikke. In 1716 the couple had moved to Jutland, where the patron became court painter at Frijsenborg. After Bernt Nohr’s death, the night between 23 and 24 July 1739, his widow married the painter Hans Groes on 19 December 1740, but she died seven years after on 2 September 1747, 55 years old.

About Christiane Frederikke, we have very little information. She was born in the painter’s house by Frijsenborg and baptized in the church in Hammel on 29 April 1727, carried by Countess Frijs while Count Frijs and Captain Bentzon were witnesses. When her father died, she stayed home and stayed there since. The inheritance documents after her father shows a total value of the estate of 136 rigsdaler, 4 marks and 10 shillings, while debt levels was 256 rigsdaler, 3 marks and 6 shillings, so there was nothing for the kids. When on 2 October 1747 her mother’s estate was made up an amount to be shared between the surviving husband and daughter was 184 rigsdaler, five marks and two pennies, but her daughter’s half should remain in the estate as long as she lived with her stepfather. Her stepfather should not pay interest to her, but provide her with everything she needed and in addition ensure her the things that belonged to her and which were not registered and assessed, namely: a large new closet, a chest of drawers on a base, a new wall bench, a new bed, four caskets, a small cabinet, a tea table, a pyramid and two wool comforters and two pillows, six pewter plates, five dishes, a pair of brass candlesticks, a small brass kettle, a tinned copper pot and a small tea table. If she left home he would send her interest on her legacy.

On 3 March 1760 an auction was held in Hinnerup Broegård following the death of Mrs. Kirsten Nimb on 30 November 1759, and on this occasion Christiane Nohr bought a small sowing kit without lock for 3 marks (rated at 12 shillings) and is then listed as belonging to the Frisenvold, Ørum parish. In 1761 she carried Sergeant Rhode’s daughter Anne Margrete to the baptism in Sal church and on 1 April 1763 she carried the parish clerk’s daughter to the baptism the same place. She has since probably stayed on Frusholt (now Ormstrup) located in Sal parish, in the house of Hans Thansen Rosborg, a son of Hans Hansen Rosborg, well known for being quarrelsome and his many processes.  Her wedding was celebrated at Frusholt and Mrs. Warcouncilor Rosborg from Frusholt carried her first child, Bernt, at baptism.

Pierre writes in the above list of his family: “On 26 August 1763 I felt again the merciful God’s consolation when he chose me to marry Christiane Frederica Nohr. Our wedding was held at Frusholdt. We came home with one another on 30 August and pray for God’s assistance to live together in unity and peace in a way which will be comely and pleasant to God, receiving with gratitude what God’s gracious blessing providence will bestow upon us, and praying the Almighty for the necessary patience for the pain and hardship he may see fit to impose upon us.”

After her husband’s death, she was probably living on Strandet, if she actually could live there, because the house burned down in 1775. The owner, Hans Henrik Jørgensen gave her free housing for two years (until 1 May 1777) with firewood and fodder and grass for two cows and 10 sheep, also 12 acres of rye, 12 acres of barley and 10 rigsdaler in cash annually and use of part of the garden. Where she later went is unclear, until she finally went live with his youngest son in Odder, in whose house she died on 30 July 1801. Odder parish register says she was 77 years, i.e. born in 1724, but this may be incorrect, as she, as mentioned, was baptized on 29 April 1727. She may then have been only 74 years at the time of death. She gave her husband two sons (No. 08-09).