Louis Crayers

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Louis Crayers lived at ‘Op de boomsloot’. He was a lawyer and a professional curator in Amsterdam. Two years (early April 1658) after Spinoza was officially declared a minor, the municipal Weeskamer assigned Crayers to protect Rembrandt's son, Titus van Rijn, from losing his father’s entire inheritance. Crayers, who defended the noted painter against a claim of one Isaack van Hertsbeeck, owned one of his paintings (depicting Rembrandt and his wife), which he received as a payment for his work as legal custodian of Titus quite likely (cf. Crenshaw, 2006, p. 142). See: Vlessing, 1997, p. 28; id., 2002, pp. 154–7.

Louis Crayers was appointed as Spinoza's legal custodian (SeeDuarte Rodrigues Lamego). The document confirming the custody (16 March 1656) stated that he was:

custodian of Bento d’Espinosa, the orphaned son of Michael d’Espinosa, procreated by Hanna Deborah d’Espinosa

 Spinoza, mercator & autodidactusp. 32, V, 10.

Somewhere after 23 March 1656, Crayers officially informs the Hooge Overicheyt, i.e., the Supreme Court of Holland, Zeeland and West-Friesland, in a written statement that his pupil wanted to renounce (abstineren) the estate of his father Michael (cf. Meijer, 1921a, pp. 27-8). In the deed, Crayers points to the responsibility and to the legal actions which Spinoza, being an underaged, independent merchant, had already undertaken on behalf of the debt-laden (achterstallen) and insolvent business inheritance of his father (Grotius, 1910, vol. 1, p. 209, book 3, ch. 48.11) ‘… and yet he has, tricked by the rashness of his age, acted to pay off some of the debts of the aforementioned estate’. (Spinoza, mercator & autodidactus, p. 33, V,11). A serious accusation is also the fact that Michael d'Espinosa had not given his son—and perhaps his two other remaining children as well—the appropriate sum of the inheritance of his second wife Hanna Deborah d'Espinosa, whose legal heir (according to Jewish law) he had become after her death (cf. Vlessing, 2012, p. 146). Summing up, Crayers put Spinoza rightfully forward as a preferential creditor (geprivilegieerde crediteur) above all creditors of Michael’s estate based on his claim on the share of the properties of his deceased mother Hanna:

… that the same Bento d’Espinosa in the case of his maternal properties has been disadvantaged with respect to an important capital by the aforementioned Michael d’Espinosa, without having received the fruits or some compensation during his father’s lifetime

Spinoza, mercator & autodidactus, p. 33, V,11

Crayers asked the Supreme Court to have Spinoza officially relieved from Michael’s inheritance as well as from any other legal actions already undertaken towards his father’s creditors, a legal act provided by Dutch civil law called mandement van relief (release) and herstelling (renovation or offset statement) (Grotius, 1910, vol. 1, pp. 208–9, book 3, ch. 48.9–13). On 23 March 1656, the Hooge Raad officially released Spinoza from having accepted his father’s inheritance and from all legal actions undertaken. Spinoza remained under the curatorship of the Amsterdam Weeskamer until he reached majority on his birthday on November 24, 1658. His legal guardian Crayers was responsible for all of his finances for a period of another two years.


Titus Rijn, van


Benedictus Spinoza, de