The Meetjesland in the north of East-Flanders, Belgium
Reinier Grégoire Dubosch
In view of the fact that this last French period
was for Watervliet closely linked to
the ups and downs in the life of Reinier Grégoire Dubosch we give here first a
short description of the man who was the immediate cause of the start of the
R. G. Dubosch was born in Watervliet on 19 April 1765, the eldest son of
Reinier Grégoire Dubosch, procureur for the tribunal of Watervliet, later
Commissioner of the Directoire Exécutif of the Kaprijke canton and from 1801
till 1811 burgomaster of Watervliet. His mother was Joanna De
Bruycker. He was the grandson of Pieter Bernard Dubosch and Anne Marie
He studied at the boarding-school of Wilhours (Hainault). We do not
know when he started nor when he ended his studies there.
He became accountant in Antwerp for Charles de Proli, a businessman and
landowner who was declared broke in 1786.
After this employment he went to live in the house of
the widow Sunaert in Ghent where he read a course in geometry.
In 1789 he joins the army of patriots of General Van Der Meersch who stands
on the side of Vonck. This army of the Vonckists liberated our country from
Austria but the Statists of Van Der Noot managed to get its main figures
thrown in jail.
In 1790 Dubosch is arrested in Ghent and released after the first
Austrian Restauration. He joins a club in Ghent of Jacobins who hope
for a French invasion.
In 1792 when the French invade our country he is secretary of
the People's Assembly and then becomes the secretary of the college of the 60
chosen representatives of Ghent.
In 1793 the manipulated people's assembly sends him to the National Convention
in Paris to ask for the annexation of our country. Then came the second
Austrian Restauration and, needless to say he remains in Paris.
In 1794 he returns after another French
invasion and accepts a new mandate to the National Convention in Paris to
request annexation in the name of 60 towns of East-Flanders.
In 1795 he becomes "National Agent" for the city council of Ghent.
In November he is promoted to commissioner of the Executive Directive of the Central
administration of the Scheld Department. In that same year he orders the
dismissal of the city council of Ghent.
In 1796 he marries Coleta Sunaert, the
daughter of the widow who was his landlady some years earlier.
In 1799 he is dismissed from his function. In November his son Alexander
is born. He retires to his country estate in the "Nieuwe Passegeule"
where he manages his affairs and this for about ten years.
In 1800 he is offered the prefecture in Tours (in France), a job he refuses. He is
also nominated second substitute judge of the criminal court of Ghent, but he doesn't
take up his position within the prescribed time limit.
In 1810 he is nominated subprefect at Middelburg.
In the same year the Department of "Scheld mouths" is created and he becomes the
secretary-general of its prefecture.
In 1814 the French empire collapses and Dubosch leaves his post at Middelburg.
During the 15 years of Dutch rule which now follow he receives no political appointment
because of his jobs on Dutch soil during the French occupation. But because
of his anti-clericalism he leans toward the protestant side of King Willem I of
the Netherlands. He fears a Belgian secession.
In 1831 his country-seat in the Nieuwe Passegeule polder is completely destroyed by
Dutch troops. He becomes a candidate for the Belgian senate but he is not
elected. He remains dike reeve of the Isabella and Clara Polders and as such Director of
the Kapitalen Dam until his death.
In 1833 he retires to the estate of his son in
Bassevelde. He dabbles in journalism.
In 1842 he dies in Bassevelde and is buried in Watervliet.
Undoubtedly he was, after Hiëronymus Lauwerijn, the most important figure ever
produced by Watervliet or who ever lived there.
The memory of theindividual he was, as it pours out of the documents by his own
hand, at the height of his authority, or as described by his contemporaries, is one
of despotic cruelty, of corrupt high-handed arbitrariness but also of some humane
feelings for the town of his birth and those who shared his "Jacobin"
He always had an ideal but it changed with changing
circumstances. He was a Vonckist before and during the Belgian Republic
and a fanatical Jacobin as soon as the French invaded. After his disgrace
he is for 10 long years a loyal subject of the Emperor. During the Dutch
Period he is rather Orange. But as soon as the Belgian Revolution is
behind him he stands for parliament on the list of the Patriotic Company.
With so many different ideals how could anyone remain an idealist?