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Papers Relating to the Scots in Poland (1576 - 1798)
Funds and Bequests founded by Scots in Poland (2)


SIR,—We do not know if you remember having heard that the Reformed Church in Little Poland used to send one or two students for periods of three years to Edinburgh in Scotland to study theology. The students partially subsisted on a legacy of twenty pounds per annum that the City of Ediuburgh paid them yearly in virtue of the Will of a certain Mr Brown. The conditions of this Will are that the legacy should be given to students of Theology, members of the Reformed Church, either natives of Little Poland, recommended by the Elders of the Church, or to Students of Reformed Theology from other countries, but likewise recommended by these gentlemen. And the Administrators of this Will are authorised to give this annual bursary to Scotsmen when no Polish students apply, nor those of other nations with necessary Recommendations. As the distance between Scotland and Poland is very great, news of these young men’s conduct was but rarely received. It sometimes happened that they became dissipated and contracted debts so that it was difficult to get them home again. Some even finally discouraged the Gentlemen, your Predecessors, from wishing to profit by the late Mr. Brown’s liberality and sending their young compatriots to a country so far away from their home. Therefore the Poles’ place at Edinburgh has been continually taken by Scotsmen for about 40 years. But we know for certain that the Administrators of the above-mentioned Will would again distribute these 20 pounds sterling among theologians recommended by the Elders, if any such arrived.

As we do not believe that you are inclined to risk now the same inconveniences to which the Gentlemen, your Predecessors, were exposed in sending their students to Scotland, we beg you, Sir, to Propose to the Synod that they may give a letter of Recommendation on our behalf to the Administrators of Mr. Brown’s will for a young man, Thomas Hay, born at Dantzig, and grandson of Mr. Hay, Minister of the English Church in our town. This young student is going to study Theology at Edinburgh and, having but little from his parents, would be in less straitened circumstances by means of this subsidy of 20 pounds sterling. If the Respectable Elders do not wish to profit by their right it would be an act of brotherly love towards a confrere to help him in the pursuit of his studies by a recommendation.

We are, Sirs, with much esteem.—Your very humble Servants, JEAN D. CLERK. & D. G. DAVISSON.

Dantzig, March 6th, 1778.

SIR,—The Preacher Elsner tells me in a letter written in Berlin on May 14th, that the Venerable Seniors have taken from his son the stipend which was accorded to him until next autumn. I do not wish to enter into the reasons which your venerable conferes have for taking this step, but he also tells me at the same time, and even your letter of April 7th announces in some way, that the Venerable Synod proposes to have all the annual stipend sent into Poland. Although I accommodate myself to everything, and am fully persuaded that your Excellency and your confreres know better than we do what is best for our church, I could not lend myself to this arrangement without consulting Mr Clerk and all who will succeed him and who will succeed me. I should risk much if I did the thing by myself. My faithful advice, which I impart to you in secrecy, is that the Venerable Seniors should attack Mr Clerck as much as me before the magistrates here, so that they command us to send you the whole annual sum. I protest to your Excellency that I shall in no way oppose it, and that I even shall be ravished to rid myself in this way of an administration which I have fulfilled for twenty-eight years, but of which I have always given an account to Mr. Clerk. The capital which Mr. Clerk remitted to me in the year 1750, in the month of January, is always the same and has even increased. I do not think that the magistrate of Dantzig will put any difficulties in the way of your getting the whole capital at your disposition, if only I and Mr. Clerk are relieved of it in a legal way. I have communicated the circumstance remarked on by Mr. Elsner to Mr. Clerk: he will not be so easy as . . . . In case you receive the whole capital for your own disposition you will have to satisfy the students belonging to the church in Great Poland, not only for the subsidies they receive every term but for their extra grants. You will have to satisfy the students of Lithuania, who have received travelling expenses from time to time.

Your last letter of May 4th, in which you put the Venerable Senior’s certificate, gave me great pleasure, and I am under an obligation to them for it. Although you give quite a different name from his to my grandfather’s benefit, and one that is quite unknown to me, I am very pleased that the worthy body was willing to lend itself to my requests.

I enclose an exact copy of my grandfather’s ordinance. You will see thereby, although it is somewhat incomplete, that the sole aim thereof was to procure efficient preaching for the Reformed Church in Poland. What always makes me angry with my grandfather is that he does not mention which of the Reformed (Churches) in the Polish Province are to enjoy the greater part of his benefit: one does not know if they are the Reformed of Little or of Great Poland, both could claim equally if custom had not given the preference to the Reformed of Little Poland. But, in order not to make my letter too long, I repeat to your Excellency that I would willingly lend my services in order to satisfy your Venerable Body, and, at the same time, to get rid of an administration that begins to weigh terribly upon me. I leave it to your Excellency and your confreres to take prudent and suitable measures for the good of our church. I should have rid myself of this charge twenty years ago. I have been too patient.

I recommend myself to your Excellency in begging you to assure the Venerable Seniors of my respect, and I am with attachment, Your Excellency’s very humble servant,

DAVISSON.

Dantzig, May 20th, 1779.

As it has pleased you to mention an unknown person’s benefit, I suppose that the founder was a Pole, and so the administration thereof belongs to you rather than to us here in Dantzig. You will see that I am just. In the writing which my father left about the legacy, which is an epitome of my grandfather’s ordinance, he does not say a word about anybody else besides Mr. Daniel Davison, Senior. This would be the time to attack us. It would be difficult to withdraw the entire capital from Dantzig because of the losses owing to the worthlessness of house property in these unhappy times, but it would only be just to have free disposition thereof, and to give it to him in whom you place most confidence, although my grandfather expressly forbids it. As for myself, I have had enough of this administration: apparently death took my grandfather by surprise before he was able to command anything for certain. He does not mention the annual sum. There are many pious wills for students, but the executor has his hands tied as to how much, when, and to whom he is to give. Here my grandfather mentions theological students of the Reformed faith in Poland of Scottish extraction who are to receive aid at the universities; but he does not say from what Province of Poland, how much they should have, and for how long; all that is arbitrary so that a pettifogging administrator can cause a thousand disputes. My grandfather must have thought all men are as sincere and religious as he himself was. But, alas! they are not so as a rule, and especially in the iron times we have to-day.

YOUR EXCELLENCY!—At the beginning of the present year I decided, after consulting with my colleagues and co-administrators of the fund, to cease from administering the capital set apart for bursaries for the use of theological students of the Reformed Faith in Little Poland, as I have already fulfilled the duties connected therewith for more than thirty years. My resignation was sent in before their Excellencies the Seniors’ Secretary arrived here.

In this letter, Mr. John Daniel Claerk nominates [The letter is in John Clerk’s handwriting. He signed himself D.G. Davisson in accordance with the Founder’s request—though Alex. Givson seems to have only signed with his own name. Leszno Archives, vol. 86, p. 132.]one of the descendants of the founder’s—Daniel Davisson, senior. This gentleman is Mr. Alexander Gibsone, the Consul for Great Britain in Dantzig. In introducing him to the Bulliant Synod, I recommend him most highly to your Excellencies. I assure you that I will try to deserve the confidence your Excellencies place in me, to the highest point.

Always ready to serve you, I have the honour to be. Your really devoted servant,

D. G. DAVISSON.

Dantzig, February 24th, 1781.

YOUR EXCELLENCY,—I received your Excellency’s letter, dated May 29th, addressed to me and to the son of my sister, Barin Gibson. The English resident here brought it to you. I have the honour to tell you that the Councillor Davisson, my mother’s cousin and my kinsman, left a legacy. I could not look after this legacy for want of time, so certain gentlemen do so in the name of the Reformed Community in Little Poland. Nevertheless, we have heard nothing about this legacy for several years lately; neither do we know what becomes of the monies derived therefrom. The Testator’s wish is that this money, or rather the percentage derived from the fund, should be given to students going abroad to learn theology. The percentage amounts to about 40 red zloty yearly. But I am, nevertheless, certain that this interest has not been paid to anybody for the past three years and three-quarters, so that the total sum of 150 ducats has accumulated.

Your plenipotentiary, Colonel Tiedemann, always used to pay it in return for a receipt.

The capital could not get lost, because it was invested in mortgages on different houses. It may be that the interest thereon has not been paid on account of the bad times, and that Colonel Tiedeman has ceased to pay for that reason.

May God save us from such hard times and misfortunes! I wish this, your Excellencies, with all my heart.—Your humble servant,

JOHN CLAERK.

Dantzig, Sept. 20th, 1781

[An anonymous letter, written in a feigned hand on an untidy-looking piece of paper.] DEAR SIR,—By reason of our friendship I advise you to apply a second time to the Administrators of the Davisson Fund for payment. I warn you that, if you do not, the administrators will finally apply to the authorities at Dantzig—only one or two members need apply to get what they want.

They are trying their best to snatch the capital from the Poles and give it to the English chapel. You will, by the answer you get, at once be assured that this information is not false —I remain, dear sir,

YOUR ACQUAINTANCE AND WELLWISHER.
20—1781

To Mr A Gajewski, Minister of the Word of God, and Notary to the Dissidents’ Synod at Tursko, at Stasow, near Tursko

[The letter is in German, but the address in French.]YOUR EXCELLENCIES,—A year has passed since the 14th of October, when I last received news from the Elders of our Reformed Church in Little Poland. Your letter, which I received at one time, signed by the Synod’s notary, assured me that, this year, at the meeting of the Dissidents at Thorn, the question touching the bursaries given to students studying abroad should be settled, and that I should immediately receive news of the decision resulting therefrom. Though this meeting did not take place, another did at Wengrow. I wait and wait for news, and in vain I therefore ask you once more to let us, Administrators of the Davisson Fund, John Daniel Clerk, and myself, Daniel Gotlieb Davisson, know the results of your deliberations, as I am not alone in this matter, and the whole case must very shortly be prepared. I am very much astonished that your Excellencies put the matter off for so long.

I wrote to Mr. Thomas Tomson in Breslau, thinking that he would answer me; but he has answered me nothing at all.

I therefore await your reply, asking that it may be sent to Tursko, whereas, did you send it elsewhere, I should have trouble in getting it. Sending you hearty and friendly greeting.—I remain, with deep respect, Your humble servant,

D. G. DAVISSON.

Dantzig, December 11th, 1781.

PRO MEMORIA. [Leszno Archives, vol. 86, p. 183.]

GENTLEMEN,—In answer to your letter of July 17th, to the Administrators of the Reformed Church in Little Poland, addressed to General Tiedeman, we have the honour to give you the following information in connection with the Davidson Endowments.

The administrators of the endowment bearing the name of the Daniel Davidson Fund give, for the aid of divinity students:

1. One hundred red Polish zloty yearly.

2. And do not put any conditions whatever upon these bursaries.

In addition we must note that such stipendia are only given to poor divinity students.

Although the present administrators are ready to put their hands to anything which may lead to the above-mentioned bursaries being paid, at the same time it is their duty to act in strict accordance with the testator’s—that is, their ancestor’s—wishes, and also to facilitate any methods that may be used in order to keep to the conditions of the endowment.

The deed, as a matter of fact, only mentions one student who is to receive financial aid during the time he spends in studying at a university. Nevertheless, an additional clause says that, should the income derived from the interest increase in the course of time, it will be possible to send one more student abroad to pursue his studies. In this case it is our duty to give money to send another bursar away. In addition to this, we must remember to help the widows and orphans belonging to this Reformed Church here, in so far as our means allow, giving them a certain sum every year.

The local administrators are especially bound to help people advanced in years, and to give them a pension for life.

It does not concern the present business to add that, if these above-mentioned people received help from former administrators of the fund, it must be observed that, in view of the daily occurrence of destitution amongst those belonging to this Commune of the Reformed faith, the administrators should take note of such cases and help, not only divinity students, but also the poor and aged mentioned above.

The books and ledgers prove that, from the very beginning help has been given to Polish students to the extent of 30, 60, 100, and 150 red Polish zloty; and generally to each one for three consecutive years.

Although, as a matter of fact Samuel Stephen Milecki was given 70 red Polish zloty during three years, beginning from the year 1744, at the same time it is proved that there were fewer cases of destitution amongst the members of the Reformed Commune in Dantzig, and nobody here benefited by the bursary. The same thing also happened in the year 1753. Petroselin and Claudian from Leszno studied here and received together the sum of 800 red Polish zloty yearly. As to changes which took place in the year 1788, we must say that, since there were no suitable candidates from Poland amongst divinity students, some boys were sent to Berlin from a totally foreign community, that is, from Bohemia. These enjoyed a total bursary of 60 red Polish zloty.

In the year 1771 we also allowed ourselves to make a small digression from the regulations of our fund, using 100 red Polish zloty in repairing and setting in order the various requisites. Afterwards this was not done at all. As there were no students of the Reformed Faith from Little Poland, help was given to the church of the Reformed Faith here, a little at first, but then a regular annuity of 40 red Polish zloty, which is paid to Colonel Tiedeman every yearin return for his receipt. In 1785 it was paid on December 10th.

Whilst informing your Excellencies, the seniors of the Reformed Church in Little Poland, of these matters we trust that you will not fail to approve of the way in which we administer the fund.

At the same time we wish that the bursaries of the Davison Fund may be given next December to both the students from Little Poland, that is, to Vladilas Radosz and N. N. Musonius, who have already finished their studies in the Joachimsthal School in Berlin, and are going to continue their education at an university.

We have likewise the honour to inform you that we are ready to depart from the custom we have hitherto observed, and to order the bursaries to present their certificates to your Excellencies.

We also agree, in accordance with your Excellencies’ wishes, to discontinue the annual yearly payment of 40 red Polish zloty made to this Community. Instead of this, we will strictly adhere to the wishes of the founders, and pay, in accordance with the ancient custom, a stipendium to each of the above-mentioned students recommended by your Excellencies for three consecutive years. But as we have undertaken to build a granary when we came into office, and have also the repairing of a house in view, we have come to the conclusion that our means do not admit of our allowing 30 red zloty per annum to each candidate, or, that is 60 red zloty in all, for three consecutive years.

Nevertheless, we will do all in our power to carry out our obligations as well as our income allows. These students must present their receipts, and next year, that is, in 1797, they get the above-mentioned sum paid to them in advance.

Neither in the deed written by our great-grandfather, nor in the books kept by those gentlemen who preceded us as administrators, do we find any traces whatever of conditions touching the annual payment of a certain sum of money to the excellent gentlemen seniors. Therefore we flatter ourselves that your Excellencies will not exact the same any more.

Dantzig, October 17th, 1786.

C. F. GRALATH, D. G. WEICKHMANN.

Being the Administrators of Mr. Gotleb Dawidsohn.

Appointed thereto by the court of law, and administrating the fund established by Daniel Davisson ad pias causas.

SIR,—I have the honour to receive your letter of February 7th with the Synod’s receipt. I am very much obliged to you for having procured it, and return you the one made out in your own hand, being infinitely glad to have had the latter. I have also the honour to enclose a Pro Memoria, written by the administrators of the Davisson Legacy in reply to your letter, which I handed to them. You will find these gentlemen fully disposed to obey the orders of the Synod in future, and it now only depends upon that body to make the necessary arrangements.

For the rest, I do not see that the Synod will gain thereby if it force the administrators to produce the will by applying to the law. The late Mr. Klerk told me several times, and the present administrators say the same thing, namely, that it is not so much a formal will as a simple draft of one, drawn up by Daniel Davisson without even his signature, and that its authenticity depends only upon the late Mr. Clerk’s assurance that it was written by the Testator’s, Daniel Davisson’s, own hand.

You must well feel, sir, that such an instrument, which lacks almost all form, is worth very little in the eyes of justice, one would even run the risk of seeing it declared to be null, and what worse thing could happen than that?

According to my ideas it would be much better to let the whole thing rest as it is rather than force it from that side.

In any case it will depend on what the Synod wishes to do in the matter. As for me, I am ready to execute its orders.

I await them, together with yours, sir. Having the honour to be, sir, with the most distinguished esteem.—Your very humble and obedient servant,

J. D. TIEDEMANN,

manupropria.

My respects, if you please, to madam.

Ruszoczijn, April 6th, 1789.

When you do me the honour to write, be so kind as to let me know what is happening in military matters in Poland, and where the Raczynski regiment actually is.

To the Brilliant and Well-born Secretary, Kahlen, Resident at the Court of the King of Poland as Envoy of the town of Dantzig.

April 19th, 1790.

PRO MEMORIA.

We, the undersigned, in the name of the local commune of the Reformed church in Little Poland, do herewith make answer to the letter in the form of a Memorandum written by the High-born Secretary, Kahlen, on February 22nd, and sent to General Ozarowski, Knight of the Order of St. Stanilas, touching the annual bursary from the Endowment founded by Daniel Dawisohn ad pias causas.

On December 19th, 1788, we detailed our relationship with the student Musioniusz, and declared that he will cease to enjoy any further benefits from the Fund, because he has already done so for three consecutive years. On March the 6th, the same student handed us a written paper of thanks, because he had still received help, although, according to the strict reading of the clauses of our Foundation, candidates may only enjoy help for three years. This was done, nevertheless, at the request of the Brilliant and Well-born General Ozarowski, and because there are no candidates for the bursary this year. For the rest, the student Waclaw Radoz himself presented a petition on March 14th, begging that he might be allowed to enjoy the bursary for one year more.

We are therefore ready to give him not only half of what he has hitherto received, but also that which his ex-colleague, Musonius, enjoyed. He will therefore have, in all, 60 red Polish zloty, or 180 Russian thalers, which have already been paid to him, on the twelfth of this month at Königsberg.

We therefore ask you to deign to inform the Brilliant and Well-born General Ozarowski of these facts, and also to ask him to be so kind as to nominate two new candidates from Dantzig for next year, who shall in future enjoy the vacant bursaries.

Dantzig, April 19th, 1790.

CARL FRIEDRICH GRALATH.

D. G. WEICKHMANN.

The legal administrator of the Fund, ad pias causas, founded by Daniel Davidson, of Blessed Memory.

[Leszno Archives, vol lxxxv. P. 68.] In ancient times, up to the year 1700, many Scots, both singly and in colonies, settled in Poland, especially preferring the towns of Dantzig, Lublin, Zamosc, Warsaw and Cracow.

These people collected monies for the up-keep of their clergy and places of worship. Most of them left Poland, because of the disturbances, and settled in Dantzig, where they also started funds for the same purpose.

Several of the Davisson family are now trying to take such money from the English Church and make it their own.

Therefore it is necessary to obtain all possible information, touching the conditions under which they lived in Poland and the conventions they made amongst themselves. To attain this end I send herewith a list containing several questions, [These questions have been lost. –ED.] and trust that your Excellency will be so good as to allow them to be answered, and also to inform me of any facts touching them that may come to your knowledge. The expenses thus incurred shall be refunded to you in Warsaw.

I take the liberty to ask you to have the matter laid before Lieutenant-General von der Goetz of Grabionna, and hope that your Excellency will see your way to grant my request.— I have the honour to be, Your humble servant,

ALEXANDER GIBSON.

British Commissioner and Consul.

Dantzig, May 28th, 1793.

To the Synod of the Reformed Churches in Little Poland.

I should be much obliged if you could give me trustworthy information about the fund, which is managed by the Davidson family, because I have reasons for supposing that this fund has been collected by means of voluntary contributions. I therefore took the liberty of inquiring into this matter on May 28th, 1793, and wish to express my thanks for your dispatch of June 20th, 1793. The contents of the latter dispatch perfectly coincide with information I have since obtained, namely:--

(1) That the above-mentioned legacy has been founded for the sole benefit of the Synod of the Reformed Churches in Little Poland, for the purpose of granting stipends to theological students;

(2) And that David Ackenhead, who was the first founder of the fund, contributed a considerable sum of money towards it, and that Daniel Davidson and many other Scottish families gave money towards it.

As Daniel Davidson left Zamosc and established himself here, it is probable that the Synod, in order to have the money in safe keeping, transported it to this city, putting the management of the money into the hands of Davidson, who acted as ‘Provisor.’

As nobody was sent abroad to study theology, the money steadily increased until 1735, and, as Daniel Davidson was already dead, he was succeeded by his son, Emmanuel Davidson, who, together with John Claerke, acted till the 1742, after which year, the latter’s son, John Daniel Claerke, and David Gottleb Davidson, were acting as ‘Provisors’ till the years 1781-1782, when Claerke, being sixty years of age, died, and I was appointed Provisor in his stead. On my receipt of the safe, I found the same in great disorder.

I tried to set the whole affair in order, but in vain, and tried to return the fund and all the documents relating thereto to Mr. Claerke.

He managed it, with the help of Nichenby, till the year 1785. After his death the management fell into the hands of Messers. S. T. Gralath and Daniel Gottleb Weickmann, both of the Lutheran faith, and not the eldest descendants of the Davidson family. For this reason I am quarrelling with them at the present moment, because they have taken the Daniel Davidsohn fund, and have ordered the books to be sent to them. In this way everything might have been lost, had I not put myself in opposition to them, as I was the one person who knew anything about the matter.

Amongst the various documents here there is not one original one, for amongst the account books there is only a copy of the document already published, which states that the capital is invested in mortgages, and that the interest accruing therefrom is paid as stipends to theological students coming from Little Poland, and that the eldest male descendants of the Davidsohn family, professing the reformed faith, are to be chosen as provisors. People have acted against these regulations in the most unruly way, quite indifferent to their responsibilities. Therefore, if the Reformed Synod supply me with the necessary documents, I will prove their authenticity in a proper manner, although this will be a difficult task, owing to the intrigues of the present ‘Provisors.’

The documents necessary for this might easily be obtained from the deeds in the possession of the Synod, and are as follows:--

  1. The original Foundation Deed, or a reliable, certified copy of the same.

  2. Proofs as to how and from whom contributions were collected.

  3. A copy of Daniel Dawidsohn’s testamentory dispositions, of which, according to report, your Excellencies are in possession.
  4. The Power of Attorney issued in the name of the Synod of Little Poland to Messrs. Adam

Elliott and John Aitkenson, directors of the Anglican Church here.

It is necessary to settle this question and to invest the money belonging to the fund in house property in the name of the Reformed Synod of Little Poland’s foundation, and to control the same. It is always a doubtful business to put one’s trust in private administration, especially if the Provisor’s children happen to be taking part in such management. If the funds invested are entered in the mortgage books in the Provisor’s name, they must be separated from the estate of the deceased every time a death occurs, and be translocated in the names of his heirs. And this was not done either by Daniel Davidsohn, his son, Emmanuel, or the latter’s son, Emmanuel Gotlieb Davidson, after his death.

In this way the capital, which is the property of the Reformed Synod in Little Poland, has always been entered in the mortgage books in the name of Daniel Davidson, and is now entered in the names of Gralath and Weickman, who have located it in their own names Opportunity sometimes inclines the most honest men towards dishonesty. This case is a very grave one as far as the Synod is concerned, and therefore I ask you to lose no time but to send the documents asked for as soon as possible. I will endeavour to pay the expenses thus incurred out of the fund.

The capital for these stipends consists partly of ground and partly of money invested in mortgages. When Claerke administered the fund the total sum amounted to 68000 Polish zloty, or about 5400 ducats, this was in the year 1786. What it amounts to at present, with the added interest, I do not know; but altogether it ought to be about 2000 ducats, from which the monies already paid to us ought to be deducted.

As I at first thought the capital had been formed by Scots I began to look after it. But as I now see that it belongs to the Synod of the Reformed Churches in Little Poland I am quite prepared to help this Synod, in order to save the capital, and likewise for the reason that Davidson’s descendants have obtained the right to look after the administration thereof.

Therefore I await the documents required, hoping they will arrive as quickly as possible; also the Powers of Attorney namely :—

1. From the Foundation in Edinburgh.
2. From the Davidson Fund.

But, in order to bring the whole matter to a peaceful determination, if possible, I think it would be well for you, gentlemen, to write to the present Provisors of the fund—in accordance with the draft letter I have enclosed herewith, and to send me the ensuing correspondence. I, on my side, will endeavour to come to an understanding in the matter, which will be the best thing to do.—Your humble Servant,

ALEX. GIBSONE.

To their Excellencies, the Seniors of the Reformed Church in Little Poland.


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