Ignatius Fortuna lends money to a “stepbrother” (ca. 1780)

Ignatius Fortuna became a wealthy man while in the service of the Abbess Franziska Christina von Pfalz-Sulzbach, and he lent out some of this money to locals. At least as early as 1772 he lent out 200 Rentler at 5% interest to a Jew named Philip Abraham. This substantial sum was lost shortly thereafter when Abraham lost his entire estate, but Fortuna continued to make loans, including two to fellow servants and two to his “stepbrothers,” that is, children of his former owner Franz Adam Schiffer. In the contract below, signed by Ignatius Fortuna, he outlines not only the terms of the loan (for a substantial sum of 200 Rentler) but also identifies Ignatius Schiffer as a brother whom he loves and cares for. The transaction also demonstrates that Fortuna was in far better financial straits than the descendants of his former owner and explains why the Schiffers contested the Abbess for his estate.

Jeff Bowersox


Demnach ich den dritten Sohn meines alten Pflegevaters, meinen Herrn Bruder Ignatius Schiffer aus bewegenden Ursachen besonders achte, und liebe, so habe ich, um demselben solches besser, und thätiger [zu] erkennen zu geben, aus eigener Bewegnüs und Erkenntlichkeit, ohne jemandes Anstiften oder Zunöthigung, die Ihne ohnlängst vorgestreckte zweihundert Reichsthaler, worüber ich zwar einen Handschein erhalten, welchen ich aber anheute cassirt . . ., hierdurch unter den Lebendigen unwiderreuflich unterm heutigen geschenket . . . ; jedoch dergestalt . . ., daß mir derselbe nur, so lang ich leben werden . . . sechs Reichstaler . . . zu entrichten gehalten . . . sey solle.


Source:  “Vertrag,” Ignatius Fortuna Nachlass, Landesarchiv Nordrhein-Westfalen, Essen, Stift, Aftekn Nr. 2284 (original held in Archiv des Waisenhauses in Essen-Steele), quoted in Ute Küppers-Braun, “Kammermohren: Ignatius Fortuna am Essener Hof und andere farbige Hofdiener,” Das Münster am Heilweg 54 (2001): 32.

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