Ignatius Fortuna was the servant to Countess Francisca Christina of Essen, Germany. He was a respected citizen in Essen at the time of his death.
Nothing is known of his early life prior to service. He was brought to Germany by Franz Adam Schiffer. Fortuna came to service Countess Francisca Christina, the lady abbess over a convent of unmarried noblewomen in 1735. By some accounts, he was aged at five or seven at the time and was possibly born in South America. Two years later in October 1737, he was baptized and took the name of Ignatius Christianus Fredericus.
FORTUNA’S SERVICE UNDER THE COUNTESS
Upon until his teen years, Ignatius Fortuna did typical servant duties given to Black servants of German courts. With age came more varied tasks such as entertaining guests and he was proficient in several. He was given privilege warranting his responsibilities and was in a very small circle with Countess Francisca’s secretary, chamber maids, and confessor.
Fortuna was situated near her private quarters in a heated and furnished room. Since he was expected to be around her respected guests he was given a fur coat, a golden watch, healthcare paid, and pay. With the death of the countess in 1776, he would enter the service of Princess Maria Kunigunde von Sachsen of Poland.
His service and life under this new patron isn’t detailed. What is known is that upon his death in November 1789, he had saved up quite a significant amount of money from his over 50 years in Essen. Schiffer’s heirs felt they were the benefactors of Ignatius Fortuna’s estate and felt they could be considered family to him. The orphanage where the countess was based felt that since it footed all of Fortuna’s expenses the estate should go to them.
Countess Francisca Christina’s will stated that Fortuna should be buried next to her in the orphanage’s crypt. The practice was that only clergy and essential people were to be buried in the crypt. As a result, Fortuna rests in the orphanage’s bell tower.