Hendrik d’ Acquet

Other name: 
neighbor; city doctor; regent
Birth or Baptism date: 
June 22, 1632
Death or Burial date: 
August 15, 1706

Hendrick d'Acquet was born a few months before Leeuwenhoek. In 1654, the year when Leeuwenhoek returned to Delft from his Amsterdam apprenticeship, d'Acquet went to Leiden as a student of medicine. Two years later, d'Acquet got his medical degree from the university in Caen, France.

When d'Acquet married Sofia Liefting (1637-1733) in 1658, she was living in her father's house on Wijnstraat, now Wijnhaven 15, only eight properties along the same gracht south of Leeuwenhoek's house on the Hippolytusbuurt. Sophie's father Johan Lieftingh (1604-1684) was an apothecary (apotheker) who operated De Bonte Mantel. D'Acquet later inherited the business from him and sold it. Sophie's mother was Anna Nicolaas van der Mast, from a regent family. Her brother Bartholomeus was a magistrate in the late 1670's while Leeuwenhoek was camerbewaarder.

D'Acquet and Sofia lived on the west side of Voorstraat and later on the west side of Oude Delft, now number 202. He also owned the large building Papegaey, Oude Delft 15-21, visible on Vermeer's painting View of Delft.

His civic life

D'Acquet became a leader in the surgeons guild and master of the Kamer van Charitaten in 1660.

According to Boitet's Beschrijving, in 1672 d'Acquet became a member of the Delft Council of Forty (Veertigraad), at the same time as 's Gravesande as a result of the new Stadthouder's purging of Delft's governing body (wetsverzetting). He spent the six years from 1673 to 1678 serving as a magistrate, where he would have had frequent contact with Leeuwenhoek during the first years of the camerbewaarder's scientific career. In 1687, d'Acquet was master of the Orphans chamber. He first became a mayor in 1690 and was reappointed in 1691, 1694, 1695, 1698, 1699 and 1702. In 1700, he was appointed a deputy at the meetings of the States of Holland (adjunct ter dagvaart).

According to the City's treasurer's accounts, beginning in 1670, d'Acquet began to work as a doctor for the city. For the decade before that, since Leeuwenhoek had become camerbewaarder, the same four medical men were listed in the account book's section labeled City lawyers, attorneys, doctors, and surgeons:

  • Teodorus Vallensis (-1673) - 150 guilders
  • Anthonij Vockestaert (-1673) - 150
  • Niclaes Bogaert (-1669)  - 150
  • Verheul (-1675) - 100

Verheul was the surgeon and the other three were the doctors. All but Verheul had also served on the Council of Forty as well as the usual array of city offices. In 1667, Cornelis 's Gravesande joined them as city anatomist for 250 guilders. He also got a 12-guilder allowance for his uniform.

In 1670, d'Acquet joined the list when he replaced Bogaert, who had died the preceding year and who had been receiving 150 guilders per year. D'Acquet received only 50 guilders. Nor did he get a clothing allowance. In the next two annual volumes, he was listed after Vockestaert and before Cornelis s Gravesande, city anatomist, who was followed by the city surgeon.

In 1674, Vallensis and Vockestaert having died the previous year, d'Acquet was promoted to city doctor. His salary was raised to 300 guilders (the combined salaries of Vallensis and Vockestaert), and he received the standard 12 guilders as a clothing allowance.

In 1681, he sat for the group portrait by Cornelis de Man now called The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. 's Gravesande (detail above right) along with Leeuwenhoek and Anthonij de Molijn and other members of the surgeon's guild.

In 1685, he bought the house at Oude Delft 126 from the estate of Maarten Meerman for 7,725 guilders (Waarbrief 5D-32v).

Rekeningen van de thesaurier van Delft
Treasurer's accounts for 1670, page 110

Dr. Anthonij Vockestaert gelycke somme van een hondert vijftich gul, verschenen intr ... C L gl
Dr. Hendrick D'acquet viftich gl, verschenen intr ... L gl
Dr. Cornelis Sgravesande stadts anatomicus, twee hondert vijftich gl,
verschenen den 26th September 1670 ... iiC L gl

His cabinet of curiosities

"I am constantly in search of rarities; indeed, what gives me the greatest pleasure is to discover something new."

Hendrick d'Acquet in a letter to the London apothecary James Petiver, June 22, 1703

Henricus d'Acquet was a wealthy and curious man. For example, in 1660, he helped Reignier de Graaf dissect a stillborn child.

D'Acquet owned a large collection of paintings and a library. Beginning in 1650, he collected a famous cabinet of natural curiosities, a collection of botanical and zoological specimens he had found and had acquired from the far reaches of the Dutch empire: shellfish, stuffed birds, seeds, and rocks. As with many of these cabinets, d'Acquet's ended up in a museum after his death, if only as drawings. In 1708, the Dutch Royal Tropical Institute acquired Insecta et animalia, over a thousand watercolor drawings of his collection of plants and animals in their natural habitats. Rumphius' Amboinsche Rariteitenkamer (1705) has many objects from d'Acquet's collection.

What Leeuwenhoek wrote about d'Acquet

Although Leeuwenhoek never mentioned d'Acquet by name, he was probably referring to d'Acquet in three letters. In the letter of November 12, 1680 to Robert Hooke (AB 65, vol. 3 p. 313):

A certain gentleman, who collects many curious things, such as animals, plants, etc. had sent to Guelders for a certain sort of insect (unknown, for aught I know, in this part of the country).

In the letter of October 17, 1687 addressed to the Royal Society (AB 104, vol. 7 p. 133):

a Gentleman (who collects all strange animals that he can get hold of) a large Indian Centipede,

Finally, in the letter of September 12, 1696 addressed to Anthonie Heinsius (AB 176, vol. 12 p. 85):

I recall that some years ago a certain Physician, taking me to his cabinet of Curiosities, showed me as a curiosity two round flattish particles which had a rose-shaped figure at the upper side and had approximately the thickness of the back of a Knife and the size of a finger nail and were ash-Coloured.

Note: volume 3 of Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters, p. 469, has d'Acquet's burial as August 16, 1705. However, the Begraafboeken Oude en Nieuwe Kerk (DTB inv. 46, fol. 187) has it on August 15, 1706 -- a transposition of the 5 and 6.

Note on residences: Voorstraat in ORA 283 fol. III 763; Oude Delft in Fol. III 863, 926, 906; Papegaey in III 906