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Boissevain is a Dutch patrician family. The Boissevains are Huguenots, originally from the Dordogne in France.

Lucas Bouyssavy (1660-1705) appears to have been the founder of today’s Boissevain family. Lucas sold his half of the ancestral property in the village of Couze to his brother Jean on 22 July 1685. On 4 December 1687 he drew up his will in the town of Bergerac, Dordogne. Because of Catholic persecution of the Protestants, he went into exile, first to Bordeaux, and then to Amsterdam (Netherlands). He settled there in about 1691, using the name Boissevain. So all bearers of this name, wherever they are in the world, descend from this Lucas.

In the course of the generations the family spread further over the rest of the Netherlands and Europe. Adolphe Boissevain (1843-1921) acquired an outstanding reputation in financing companies, particularly railway companies, e.g., the trans-Canadian Pacific Railways. Along this line is situated, in Manitoba, the town of Boissevain, Manitoba named after Adolphe. Daniel Boissevain (1856-1929) contributed to the spread of the Boissevains over the North American continent, while Willem Frederik Lamoraal Boissevain (1852-1919) contributed to a powerful presence of the family in the Dutch East Indies (the present-day Indonesia).

Three children of Amsterdam newspaper editor Charles Boissevain (1842-1927) migrated to America. Eugen Jan Boissevain (1880-1949), an importer of coffee from Java, married two notable 20th Century American women-suffragist Inez Milholland (1886-1916), for whom he migrated to New York, and Pulitzer-prizewinning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950). His sister Olga Boissevain (1875-1949) married Dutch sea captain and explorer Abraham Jacob van Stockum (1864-1935). Their daughter Hilda van Stockum Marlin (1908-2006) was a well-known artist and wrote 25 books for children. Their son Willem van Stockum (1910-1944) was apparently the first person to notice possible closed timelike curves, which could permit time travel, in Einstein's theory of general relativity.

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