domingo, 22 de outubro de 2017

Short biography of Maerten Lem

Concerning the
Dynasty 1400 –
By : Ruud J. LEM (NL01-IXj) Spring 2017

This biography is about the Flemish Merchant Martin Lem, born about 1410 at
Brugge in Flanders. His father, reportedly also called Martin, and a grandfather
called Willem (William/ Guillaume) who was married to Claire van Beernem, the
daughter of Jan, Lord of Beernem, nr. Brugge. It has, however, not been possible as
yet, to work out this early genealogy, due to lack of baptism-; marriage- or burialbooks.
These records came only into use from about the middle of the 16 th.C.
This Merchant Martin Lem -I-, commenced his business around 1430 and went to
Portugal where he started to import goods from Flanders and export goods from
Portugal. About the early years nothing is known, but from 1450 onwards there are
entrees about a partnership with a Zegher Parmentier. ( Civiele Sentencien SAB – folio
259). Somewhat later in 1451 or ‘52, Martin was asked to deal with a case about
jewellery, which the Bruggian merchant Rombout de Wachtere had sold through two
of his agents, these sold the goods but failed to handing over the proceeds. That all
will be dealt with in 1466/’67 through the courts; all nicely recorded!
However, we do find entries about a marriage of Martin Lem -I- at about 1432 in
Lisbon and the mention of a son born, equally named Martin, expected around 1435.
Info : Anais de Flandes 1624, by Emmanuel Sueyro, a chronologist living in Antwerp.
He wrote about known Flemish and Brabant-people from early days! It is not known
where Sueyro obtained his information from, but there were some LEM- familydescendants
living in Brugge in 1600! Perhaps he paid them a visit…
However, we find more information about the woman Martin married, a certain Lady
Joana, of noble origin, whom we later find back in Brugge as : ….Jeanne van
Poortegaale…. It can be expected that Martin lived now in Brugge and that he
accompanied his shipments himself, as merchants traditionally used to do.
However, around 1445 Martin Lem -I- engaged in a relationship with a ‘ single,
unmarried young woman (muhler solteira) called Leonor Rodrigues (*1425 – 1506)
and 7-8 extramarital children were born, which Martin Lem in 1464 asked king
D.Afonso V, to legitimate. That was done by contract and the children were named,
but not put in sequence and without birthdates! Historians believe that Martin Lem
married Leonor, as in 1500 she stated that she was : the widow LEME. It hence can
be expected that Martins first spouse, Joana, had died before 1464.
From 1452 onwards a number of contracts between the king and Martin Lem are
known, too many to mention here! Martin Lem made also a loan of a sum of money
to the king for the first Siege of Tanger and Arzila, in north-west Africa, both places
were reputedly centres of pirates and the Portuguese king wished to establish a new
Province here (Ceuta). This 1463 siege was no success, but the second one in 1471
was and Martin Lem’s son Antonio (*c.1446), who was in the service of the Infant D.
Joao, was ennobled by the king and allowed to have his own Coat-of-Arms, based to
that of his father. He became an escudeiro and the family-name was to become
LEME (1471)
In 1464 Martin Lem -I- lived in Lisbon and was ennobled as an escudeiro and his
own Coat-of-Arms was confirmed in Portugal. This CoA was however already, earlier
in possession of the ancestors of Martin Lem in Brugge. (info : Arquivo da Torre do
Tombo, Lisboa, Chancellery of D. Afonso V, book 13, fo. 134)
But in 1466 Martin Lem, 56 years of age, decided to go to Brugge, in order to be
present at the wedding of his ‘ first born son Maerten Lem-IIa, who was also
appointed on September 2, 1467 as the Burgomaster of the Corpse (Mayor/Maire) of
Brugge. This Maerten, born c. 1435 married Adrienne van Nieuwenhove, the 19-year
old daughter of a Patrician- family of Brugge.
Evidence of this has been found in the ‘ quarterly divided Arms ‘ as shown on p.1
Reading of Heraldic Arms is a ‘speciality’ and goes back centuries; the traditions
were very much in use in the 15 th.C ; the ‘ first-son born became the inheritor on
the day his father died. Historians believe that Martin Lem -I- died c. 1474 when on a
document of 1478 was mentioned that a loan was made by Maerten, the son of
Martin Lem. ( Archivo Historico Portuguez, Vol.IV 1906 p.434 Anselmo Braancamp/ Pero Estaco)
In 1466 en ’67 also the Legal Case about the jewellery took place in Brugge where
Martin Lem -I- was the defendant, as he still ‘ looked ‘ after the proceeds!
It hence is not very likely that he was appointed as burgomaster, as claimed by
some! As we have learned, his son Maerten Lem -IIa- became the burgomaster.
The Coat-of-Arms we also find back on the portrait of Maerten Lem-IIa- which can be
seen in the Museum ‘ the Potterie ‘ at Brugge. The same CoA was also shown on
the tomb of Maerten Lem -IIa- who died in Leuven on March 27, 1485. This again
provides proof that this Maerten Lem -IIa- was the son of Martin Lem -I- the noble
Merchant. Also his grandson Maerten Lem -IVa (1516-1597) inherited this CoA as he
was the first-born son of Maerten Lem -IIIb (1476-1539)
Interestingly, Maerten Lem, the burgomaster, before his death in 1485, had given
notary, lawyer and factor Loys (de Carmin) the order, in case he would die, to
disband the Trading-Company; to pay the owners of the merchants-ships and to pay
the balance to his widow. The clerk dealing with the transcription in 1487 added that
this burgomaster Maerten Lem was ‘ the young/ de jonghe/ le jeune’ ; hence we
know that he was the son of Martin Lem -I- who was known in Portugal as ‘ the old
/o’velho/senior’. (info : SAB – Clerks of the Vierschaer 1484 – 1486 folio. 125)
We have now learned that this ‘burgomaster Maerten Lem -IIa, was also in business
as a merchant; we therefore can really speak of the ‘ Lem -Dynasty of Merchants.
Next to these merchants, another son, for a ‘ change ‘ also named Martin (!) -II c
(c.*1445) son of the marriage to Leonor Rodrigues, was active as a merchant in
Portugal, with shipments to and from Madeira, the Acores and Flanders.
Clearly: the use of this name Martin has created many times confusing reports and
several historians assumed that these were the same!
Above we have shown that a ‘ first-born son ‘ Maerten Lem (*c.1435-+ 27.03.1485)
did exist and the Coat-of-Arms is compelling evidence.
In case the father Martin Lem -I- would have been that burgomaster, the CoA would
have been very different, notably: a single silver shield with 3 black merlets.
Maerten Lem (II a)- Coat-of-Arms has been described by the Armeiro Mor in Lisbon
as the ‘ alliance -Arms ‘ of two families : the Flemish family LEM and the Portuguese
family VELHO ( also found as Barrosos). These Arms were actually the ‘ businesscard’
of the beholder and Maerten Lem did chose this ‘ quarterly divided Arms ‘ in
order to emphasize his descend from the marriage of Martin Lem to Joana Velho.
This also has been underlined by the inheritance which Maerten Lem-IIa- bequest to
his wife Adrienne, including the LEM -Company; no descendants were later known to
have been merchants to Portugal.
A book will be published in the near future, to be named :
‘ Biography of Martin LEM, noble Flemish Merchants to Portugal, 15 th. C. ‘
The book will carry many copies of documents, contracts, entries, maps, charts etc.
related to these Merchants of the late Middle-Ages.
Many people have been waiting a long time for such a publication!

New Milton, UK, Spring 2017 @RJL email :

sábado, 19 de dezembro de 2015

Merry Christmas e Happy New Year (Lem Family Association)

                                          Wil Lem - EG Maastricht - Belgium

quinta-feira, 3 de dezembro de 2015

Maerten Lem and Adrienne Van Nieuwenhove, our first in Belgium.

Dear Gilberto,

In 2008 Margarida Leme published her essay Os Lemes - um percurso familiar de Bruges a Malaca in which she wrote that there was only one Maertin Lem in Portugal and Bruges.
That was the start d a big discussion about the two theories about the relation between Maertin Lem I and II or Maertin the merchant in Portugal and Maertin the politician in Bruges.
In 2013, I have tried to explain these two existing theories about the descent of Maertin Lem.
See annex: Theories about the descent of Maertin Lem.docx.
I also discussed the existence of Joanna Lem. 
see annex: phantom Joanna.

This year a collection genealogies made by Johannes Masin (1631-1695) was inventoried and there we found clearly explained that ‘ecoutette' Maertin Lem who was married in Bruges with Adrienne van Nieuwenhove had naturel children with Leonor Rodrigues.
At that moment all the puzzles pieces came together.
Our conclusion in 'Theories about the descent of Maertin Lem' was correct.

With al this information I wrote the history of Maertin Lem, only based on proven facts.
see annex Lem.
Another annex (gezin Maertin) gives Maertin Lem and his children. 
I hope this is useful for you on your blog of the Leme family.

When you have any questions, pleas ask.

Kind regards,



Theories about the descent of Martin Lem

Merchant in Lisbon and Bruges in the fifteenth century

Martin I was the merchant, born in Bruges, living in Lisbon having children with Leonor Rodrigues and leaving Portugal in 1466 for Bruges.
Martin II lived in Bruges, married Adrienne van Nieuwenhove and became ‘burchmeester’ of Bruges and in 1479 counselor of Maximiliaan from Austria.

The big question is what was the relationship between Martin I and Martin II.

Theory A. Martin I and Martin II are father and son.

Martin Lem I was born before 1385 and son of Willem.
Martin I Lem went around 1440 from Belgium to Portugal; married with Joanna de Barrosos and lived in Belgium, their son Martin II was born in Portugal or Belgium.
After the death of Joanna in Bruges, Martin I went back to Lisbon and got 7 children out of his relation with Leonor Rodrigues. These children were legitimated in 1464; the charters of legitimating are still in the royal archives. In 1466 Martin I went back to Bruges.
His son Martin II should has stayed in Bruges, after the death of his mother, where he got his education. Where he stayed in Bruges and whom his guardians were is unknown. He was for the first time mentioned in charters in 1467 when he got married with Adrienne van Nieuwenhove and became mayor of Bruges.

This theory is completely founded on a person, Joanna de Barrosos, which is not documented in historical primary sources. All the information we have comes from later genealogists and historians whose sources are unknown.
The first one who was talking about a lady of de Barrosos family was Manuel de Soeiro in 1625.
Almost 200 years later. Gaillard (ca. 1850) called her: Jeanne…. natif de Portugal.

Theory B. Martin I is the same as Martin II.

In this theory Martin I is the son of the Martin born before 1385 and a grandson of Willem.
It is possible that his mother was Joanna de Barrosos but there is no evidence.
Martin Lem I went around 1450 to Portugal where he had a relation with Leonor Rodrigues.
In 1464 before Martin left Portugal he asked the king to legitimate their children.
Martin was very well known with the court in Portugal and lent money to the king.
In 1466 Martin went back to Bruges where he married Adrienne van Nieuwenhove.

The connection between Martin I and Martin II cannot be found in the primary sources, which are accessible at this moment. Other sources are less reliable and are sometimes in contradiction.

In Bruges are documents from the years 1466/67 about the process between Martin Lem I and Rombout de Wachtere, which are giving good indications.
The problems between Martin I and Rombout are not interesting for our genealogy but the history is.

In 1449/50 Rombout has sent two agents to Portugal to sell jewels. These two agents did not do their job well so Rombout ordered/ asked Martin Lem I to go to Lisbon and look after his affaires.
Martin I went to Lisbon and after some time he needed help. So he asked Rombout for letters of recommendation of the duchess of Flanders (Isabel of Portugal) for her brother the king of Portugal.
This you can still read in these primary documents.

According to Claeys Martin I was in 1450 well known at the court and already a rich and famous merchant. Rombout had contacted the duchess and through her the king for help. The king should have asked Martin I for intervention.
Reality is that Martin was, at that moment (1450), not yet the rich and well known merchant otherwise he would not have accepted an order from Rombout.
He was also not well known at the court because he needed letters of recommendation.
Our conclusion is that this trip in 1450 was one of the first trips of Martin to Portugal. So he was much younger then expected and he cannot be the Martin born before 1385. He could be a son, born around 1420.
He must have started his relation with Leonor short after his arrival because his son Antonio had in 1471 the command over the ship Martin sends from Bruges to Arzila and must have had some age then.
In 1466 Martin I went back to Bruges and from that moment he disappears more or less.
Only in 1470 and 1471 a Martin Lem is mentioned in documents.
In 1470 he is mentioned as a Portuguese merchant, married and living in Bruges.
Only Martin II was then known as merchant and married in Bruges.
In 1471 Martin I was sending a ship with Antonio to Arzila.
Although Martin I and II should have lived together as rich men in the same city, in charters was never made a differentiation between Martin I and II. They always spoke about Martin Lem.
This all indicates that Martin I and Martin II are the same person.

According the statement of Claeys, Martin I never married in Flandres, but this statement cannot be proven because there were no church registers at that time. 
In the written sources in Lisbon you will only find something about the family of Martin Lem in 1464 as the king legitimated the children of Martin and Leonor.
We even do not know the birthdays or ages of the children. 
Claeys means that son Martin who was legitimated in 1464 was not the son of Leonor Rodrigues but the son of Joanna de Barrosos. 
But why should this Martin be legitimated because he was a legitimate child and lived according to Claeys in Bruges.

Our conclusion is that both theories could be true but it is more likely that Martin I and Martin II were the same person.

Wil  Lem

Maastricht, 25 march 2013.

The Lem family originates from Bruges in Flanders. One of the oldest members of the family, Maertin Lem, his fathers name was also Maertin, settled temporarily in Lisbon in the middle of the fifteenth century1. He was merchant in Lisbon and acted as a banker for king Alfonso V, but Maertin stayed all the time citizen (poorter) of Bruges. In 1463 Maertin was ennobled in Portugal with his own coat of arms. 1450-1485 In 1450 Rombout de Wachtere ordered Maertin Lem to go to Portugal in order to solve a problem between Rombout and two of his agents about the sale of jewels. Therefore Maertin needed letters of recommendation for the Portuguese court. After getting these letters Maertin solved the problems for the time being2. Because Maertin got these orders we may conclude that he was not unknown in Portugal, had been there before and had knowledge about trading. After his introduction at the court his career gained momentum. In 1452 Maertin is mentioned as agent and companion of Zegher Parmentier3 and in 1456 he signed a contract with king Alfonso V and got the monopoly for ten years for the export of cork4. In 1463 Maertin loaned money to the king and supported the siege of Tanger. Furthermore Maertin got permission that same year for himself and his companions to bear weapons5. In 1464 the king legitimated, on demand of Maertin, the seven children (among them another Maertin and an Antonio Leme) of Maertin and his girlfriend Leonor Rodrigues6. In the same year Maertin was ennobled (esqudeiro) and got his own coat of arms. (Tree black ‘merletten’ on a silver shield)7. In 1466, at the end of the contract with king Alfonso V, Maertin went back to Bruges, where Rombout and Maertin started a trial about the jewel case from 14508. This trial lasted till august 1467. In September 1467 Maertin9 became ‘Burgomaster of the corpse’. In the same year he married with Adrienne van Nieuwenhove. The couple got nine children. During the next years Maertin became several times mayor of ‘the corpse’ and of the aldermen. In 1479 he became superintendent of Maximiliaan from Austria10. In 1482 Maertin became, although he was a citizen of Bruges, bailiff of this city. Maertin and Adrienne lived in house Ryckenbuerch were they invited Maximiliaan several times for a dinner party. Maertins position was often contested; the people called him ‘count without a country’ or ‘the little count of Flanders’. During the troubles of 1483 Maertin went to live in Louvain where he died on 27 March 148511. Maertin was, several years later, buried in the chapel of Peter and Paul (also called the Lem chapel) in the church of St. Donaat in Bruges. 1 The name Lem is mentioned before in Bruges and Sint-Winoksbergen, but a connection with this Maertin wasn’t found yet. 2 Civiele sententiën Brugge register 1465-1469; folio 24v; 55v; 132; 66;74; 83; 85v; 87v; 88; 89; 91v-93’132. 3 Civiele sententiën Brugge register 1447-­1453; folio 259v. 4 Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo in Lisbon Chancellary of D. Alfonso V, book 13, folio 134. 5 Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo in Lisbon Chancellary of D. Alfonso V, book 9, folio 5. 6 Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo in Lisbon Chancellary of D. Alfonso V, book 8, folio 66 & 67. 7 Livro do Armeire mor 1505. 8 Civiele sententiën Brugge register 1465-1469 several folio numbers see note 3. 9 According to some later authors Maertin the mayor should have been the son of Maertin the merchant and Joanna de Barrosos. This marriage and son Maertin is not documented in primary sources. 10 Dr. Jelle Haemers; for the common good. 11 Nicolaes Despars, van den lande ende graefscepe van Vlaenderen, 1840, IV, page 245. In 1471 Maertin send a boat with soldiers under command of his son Antonio to Portugal in order to participate in the siege of Arzila. For his brave behaviour Antonio was ennobled and he got his own coat of arms for him and his descendants (five black ‘merletten’ on a golden shield). Antonio served several years the Portuguese court before he became merchant and ship owner in Funchal. In Portugal, Maertin Lem was called Martime o’Velho (senior). His son with Leonor Rodrigues was called Martim o’Moco (junior). This Martim o’Moco continued the trade between Portugal and Bruges but died in the same year as his father, 1485. After Maertin (o’Moco)’s death Antonio took over the family business in Funchal. Antonio became the ancestor of the Brazilian Leme family. Portuguese coat of arms (Arquivo Nacional Torrdo Tombo Lisbon) Coat of arms on painting12 Maertin Lem in museum de Potterie. Wil Lem Maastricht, March 14, 2015. Stg. The Lem Family Association Médoclaan 218 6213 EG Maastricht 12 This is a painting from the seventeenth century made after a painting in the collection of Rapaert de Grass. On both paintings the quarters of the coat of arms are exchanged, see the foundation logo.

quarta-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2011

The book about the family history

The first Lem searching for the history of the Lem family was Rvd. Leon Lem. He was born in Brugge (Belgium) but lived in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). He contacted a lot of Lem Lemm and Leme all over the world.
In the Netherlands he corresponded with Dr. Piet Lem in Nijmegen which started (ca. 1935) the research in the Netherlands. More (click!)

domingo, 28 de março de 2010

Leme in Madeira - Pt.

Bom dia primos! On Madeira I got this copy of marriages and think you may find it interesting enough. Shortly I will be sending some useful details for including in the Blog.

Conheça mais dados sobre a família no trabalho do primo Clovis Lemes (clique)

quinta-feira, 18 de março de 2010

Those Lem-families in England.

Those LEM-families in England are originating from the town of Bridgnorth and Quadford, which towns were in the 14 and 15th.C important wooltowns. As you probably know, England had the best wool produced and exported that mostly to Flanders. But the English were not making the cloth and that must have cost them dearly! So, king Henry IV ordered that flemish weavers should be encouraged to come to England and set up the weaving industry, which was all so-called ' cottage-industry'. That is how some flemish Lem or Lems-families came to settle in England and spreaded. Some 200 people Lem and Lemm
(both the same stam!) live now in the UK.

By Ruud Lem (e-mail).

quarta-feira, 25 de junho de 2008

The origins

The ancestors of Brazilian Lem Family Lem came from Madeira Isle (PT). Before, They came from Brugge, Belgium today.
That town was one important metropolis of Flanders, the country which occupied the west of Germany, northwestern France, Belgium and Holland. Because the commercial importance of that place, Brugges was a point where they were merchants worldwide. Thus, as Portugal is highlighted in maritime trade, the Portuguese there also marketed the products they brought their caravels, such as spices, timber and later, the sugar that would be produced on the island of Madeira, after Brazil. That was a point of trade and generation of wealth, and inevitably the Lem with their boats have become common visitors in Lisbon. With the Portuguese, our relatives have signed contracts, including a monopoly on the transport and marketing of “cortices”( product used in cap of wine bottles) from the portuguese lands. The first of these data Lem is still unclear, and will unlikely be clarified. Through several researchers have some information, but full of assumptions, based on calculations of time, estimate the lives and some records and citations on our most remote ancestors of the family. Pedro Taques of Ameida Leme, Luiz Gonzaga da Silva Leme, and others are devoted a lifetime to find those sources based on other studies such as Manoel Soeiro in their Anaes of Flandes. Later this matter back to the surface with Jose (Silva Lemes) Guimaraes, in research on its origins that with the help of Monsignor Jose Patrocinio Lefort, from Campanha, the first founded town in south of Minas Gerais State (Brazil), the mother of many others towns, Cambuquira, for exemple.
Today, many of the descendants of Lem, in Europe, America and elsewhere try to find out more details about the origin in remote times.
In Brazil, we are many descendants of the first Leme ( Portuguese form of the name Lem). In our country We have the Leme Blood from island of Madeira, where the first Lem arrived in XV Century.

Bruges (Brugge in Dutch; pop. 45,000, or 117,000 with the suburbs) is the capital of the province of Western Flanders and Belgium most touristic city, with 2 million annual visitors.This perfectly preserved (or actually restored) medieval town of little canals has been called the Venice of the North and certainly deserves this reputation.


Bruges was founded in the 9th century by a group of Vikings. The name 'Bruges' probably comes from the old-Norse word 'Bryggja', which means 'landing stage, or mooring place'. In the late 9th century, Baldwin the Iron Arm, first Count of Flanders, fortified the city, ironically against other raiding Vikings.

Bruges developed as a port, directly accesible from the sea until about 1050 AD. Then the natural waterways silted up, but Bruges remained connected to the sea via a the Zwin canal until the 15th century, although via outports like Damme and Sluis.

Bruges grew as one of the main textile manufacturing and trading centre in Europe, along with Ghent and Ypres.

In 1300, Flanders was annexed to France by King Philip IV the Fair. The king visited Bruges the next year, and his wife, Joanna of Navarre, was so impressed by the prosperity and opulent attires of the locals that she said "I thought I alone was queen, but I see that here I have 600 rivals".

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