Archival Research

Van Dyck

Van Dyck’s will (4 December 1641)


Will of Anthony Van Dyck, dated 4th December 1641, probate granted to his widow Maria Ruthven Lady Van Dyck, 13th December 1641: provision for Van Dyck’s newly-born daughter Justina and his illegitimate daughter Maria Teresa, who is being brought up in Antwerp by the artist’s sister Susanna Van Dyck. Katherine Cowley[1] and Aurelius de Meghem[2] are appointed executors with Lady Van Dyck

Place, date
Blackfriars, 4-12-1641

Archival reference
The National Archives, Kew PROB 1/7

Transcribed by James Innes-Mulraine

[1] Katherine Cowley was a servant and companion to Lady Van Dyck who died shortly after her mistress in 1644. (Christopher Brown and Nigel Ramsay Van Dyck’s Collection: some new documents Burlington Magazine Vol. 132 No. 1051 pp 704 – 709).  She may conceivably have been the sister of the poet Abraham Cowley, who had a sister of that name who is not mentioned in the will of his brother Thomas Cowley of Chertsey d.1669 (National Archives PROB 11/330/503). Cowley’s poem On the Death of Sir Anthony Vandike the Famous Painter published 1656 implies familiarity with Van Dyck’s household.

Publication history

Transcription published in:

  • William Hookham Carpenter Pictorial Notices consisting of a Memoir of Anthony Van Dyck James Carpenter, London 1844, pp. 75 – 77

Listed in:

  • Susan J. Barnes, Nora De Poorter, Oliver Millar, Horst Vey Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings Yale University Press 2003, chronology 4th December 1641

How to cite: Innes-Mulraine, James. “Van Dyck’s will.” In Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project. Edited by Joost Vander Auwera and Justin Davies. (accessed 23 September 2023)

© Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project (terms and conditions)

[2] Neither Katherine Cowley nor Aurelius de Meghem acted further as executors of the will. In 1666 Justina Van Dyck’s father-in-law Sir Thomas Stepney and her husband John Stepney began a lengthy legal action against Lady Van Dyck’s second husband, Sir Richard Price Bt for the embezzlement of Justina’s inheritance. The Stepneys gave evidence that ‘the said Katharine Cowley before such tyme as shee had possest herself or intermedled with any parte of Sir Anthony Vandikes Estate departed this life and the said Aurelino(sic) Demeghem absolutely refused to intermedle with any parte of Sir Anthony Vandikes Estate but became religious and entred into the Order of the Carmilite Fryers in the Netherlands in the partes beyond the seas’ (National Archives C 8 197/107 Stepney v Price 1666).

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Page 1

In the Name of God amen, I Sir Anthony Van Dyke knight borne in Antwerpe in Brabandt, weake of body yet enjoyinge my senses, memorie and understandinge, laude and praise be given to Almighty God, Considering that there is nothing more certaine than death & nothing more uncertaine than the houre thereof, have made & ordained, & by theis

presents doe make, dispose of & ordain this my Last Will & Testament in manner & forme following, First I comende my soule into the hands of Almighty God my heavenly Father & my body to the earth to bee Christianlike and decently buried in the Cathedrall Church of St Paul in London, And soe coming to the ordering & disposing of my temporall goods & estate which it hath pleased the Allmighty God to lende unto me here upon earth, I doe order and dispose of the same as followeth, Imprimis[1] In respect of my moneys meanes & goods the which I have now lying & remayning in Antwerpe aforesaid (excepting twoo Obligations or bonds kepte amounting both to the somme of Foure thowsand pounds sterling) left in the hands of my Sister Susanna Van Dyke in Antwerp) the same I doe leave wholly to the disposing of my said Sister, Condicionally that out of, & with the Rents or use money

thereof my said Sister shalbe bounde to maintain & Keepe my young daughter by name Maria Teresa Van Diik, And if so be my said Sister should chance to dye or departe this lyf then and in such case my said goods and moneys shalbe receaved and employed to the benefitt & profitt of my said daughter surviving by the Foure Madams of the Nunnery

where my said Sister Susanna now liveth att presente; And also it is


[1] Translated First

This transcription includes translations

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Page 2

my will and pleasure that out of the said moneys & goods my other Sister Isabella van Dyke shall have & enjoy for her proper use twoo hundred & Fiffty gilders yearely to be payd her out of the said moneys & estate left behind me in Antwerpe as afoursaid And after the decease of my sister Susanna & of my daughter Maria Teresa van Dyke the afoursaid moneys & estate aforementioned shall fall & come to my lawfull daughter borne here in London, On the first daye of December Anno Domini Dm One thousand Six hundred forty & One stile Angliae; whereof I make and ordayne her full & lawful heire. Secondly, concerning all the rest of my estate, moneys, debts, pictures goods bonds bills, & wrytings whatsoever left behind me in the kingdome of England, with all such debts as are owing & due unto me by the Kings Majestie of England, or any of the Nobilitie, or by Any other persone or persons whatsoever, the same shall all with that which shallbe recovered thereof be equally/divided between my Wyfe the Lady Maria Van Dyke & my daughter, newbourne in London afouresaid in iust & equall porcions provided allways that such moneys as are out at Interest shall for still contynue & remayne att Interest, & my said Wyfe shall expend of the use money onely  with care & Discrecion And in Case my said daughter borne here in London shall happen to dye before her Mother my Wyfe, in such Case shall the said Mother inherit & enjoye halfe of The said childs part or porcion,  & my other daughter beyond Sea shall enjoy the other halfe of the said childs part And yf

This transcription includes translations

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Page 3

so be my said Daughter in Antwerpe & my Sister Susanna Van Dyke both come to dye before my daughter borne in England, then shall the said rents, goods & means which are in Antwerpe & left behind me as afoursaid fall & come to my said daughter in England surviving, And if both my said daughters dye or happen to dye without Issue before my wife surviving, Then & in such Case shall my said Wyfe enjoy & possesse the said rents or use of the said moneys in Antwerpe, And after the death of my said Wyfe the children then of my sister Catherina married with Sir Adriaen Dereks shall inherite & enjoy the said Rents & meanes left in Antwerpe afoursaid & And lykewise I doe give & bequeath/

unto the poor of Saint Pauls Church where I doe purpose& desire to be enterred Three pounds sterling to be distributed amongst them And likewise I doe give unto the poor of the Parish of Blackfriars where I doe now live the sum of Three pounds sterling amongst them I also doe give and & bequeath unto every out of my servants both men servants & mayde servants att present living with in my howse Twenty shillings sterling a peece for a remembrance, The which said Legacies are to be payd first payd out of my estate aforementioned by the Executors of my this my last Will and Testament, And I doe appointe make & ordayne my said Wife Maria Van Dyke Mrs Katharina Cowley & Mr Aurelius De Meghem all and every of them jointly & severally full and whole Exectrices and Executor of this my last Will & Testament , Willing & requesting then to see this my last Will performed in all points to their power. And I

This transcription includes translations

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Page 4

doe give unto the said Aurelius De Meghem for his paines & care herein, The Somme of Fifteene pounds sterling, And I doe give & allowe unto the said Katharina Cowley The Some of Ten pounds sterling for her pains & care herein And my will & pleasure is, That the said Katharina Cowley shall over & above, have & receave ouf of my said estate The Somme of Ten pounds sterling for Foure yeares, to witt during the tyme of Foure yeares together yearely Tenn pounds sterling beginning from the daye of my decease, And after the said Foure yeares are expired, And then shall the said Katharina Cowley have & enjoy Eighteen pounds sterling per annum That is to saye every yeare Eighteen pounds for the being guardian unto my daughter till she bee Eighteen yeares of age, And this doe I acknowledge for my last Will & Testament, Revoking and disannulling all former Testaments, guifts & codicills causa mortis or otherwise by me heretofore made & granted by vertue of this point In Witnes whereof I the said Sir Anthony van Dyke have hereunto putt my hand & seale for my last Will and Testament on the Fourth daye of December Anno Domini[1] 1641, And in the Seaventeenth yeare of the Raigne of or soveraiyne Lord King Charles I.

Antonio van Dyck

Lower left
Ego Notarius et testes infrascripti fidem Facimus et attestamur quod prefatus Dominus Testator compos mentis memorie et intellectus hanc ultimam suam esse voluntatem et Testamentum significavit signavit et sigillavit ut supra et pro facto suo tradidit die mense et anno ut prius…

Uta attestor rogat[2]

Indistinct signature
…1641 Notarius Publicus[3]

Marginalia along fold, left
Decimo tertio Decembris 1641 Jurant Domina Maria Van Dyck et Katherine Coling executrices … [4]

E.. Extons s..

Marginalia along fold, right
Eodem die Arelino de Meghen alius executorum … [5]

William Sames


[1] Translated In the Year of Our Lord

[2] Translated I the Notary and the witnesses below written make oath and bear witness that the beforementioned Lord Testator sound of mind, memory and understanding has signifies, signed and sealed this to be his last will and testament and has given it for his deed on the day, month and year as the witness asks.

[3] Trans Notary Public

[4] Trans on 13th December Lady Maria Van Dyck and Katherine Cowley swore

[5] Trans On the same day Aurelius de Meghem one of the executors

This transcription includes translations

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Inscription written across fold at bottom page 1 – 4

Probatum apud London coram willimo sammes legum doctor jureo decimo tertio die mensis Deecembris Anno domini 1641 juramente Domine Marie Vandyke Katherine Pooleing Cowley et Aurelii de Megem…Domina Marie Vandyke et Catherina Cowley de Willimio Sammes

Proved at London before William Sammes Doctor of Laws, sworn the thirteenth day of the month of December in the Year of Our Lord 1641 with Lady Maria Van Dyck, Katherine Cowley and Aurelius de Meghem witnesses…  [text indistinct] Lady Maria Van Dyck and Katherine Cowley from William Sammes…[text indistinct]