Sunday, May 6, 2018

Niet Zonder Arbyt - Nothing without work

Councils in England typically have mottos that are either in English or, on occasion, Latin, but one exception to this is the South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC). Why? The answer lies in the seventeenth century when Dutch engineers undertook extensive drainage of the marshy Fenland in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. A leading Dutch drainage engineer was Cornelis, later Sir Cornelis, Vermuyden (1595-1677). In Cambridgeshire, he dredged the New Bedford River, which reduced flooding in the area, and thereby made farmland more productive. His motto 'Niet Zonder Arbyt' or 'Nothing without work' is inscribed on a house in Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire, and in recognition of his work in the county it now appears on the SCDC coat of arms. Vermuyden also carried out drainage work in South Essex and on the borders of North Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. His name is commemorated in schools, roads and even the Vermuyden Tea Room in Thorne, South Yorkshire.

Further reading:
Christopher Joby, 'The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702)'. Leiden: Brill, 2015.

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