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DECEMBER, 1(551 DECE.MBEK, 1653.











BORN IN 1618.









To the First Edition, (16511653).



Before submitting to the reader the Journal of Commander Johan
van Riebeeck, and the different papers connected with it, it will be
interesting to communicate what little is known of the founder of
the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope. For that information we
have to thank the Historical Society of Utrecht, which in 1884
published, through Messrs. Kemink and Son, of the same city, the
Journal of Johan van Riebeeck from 1652 to 1655, edited by
the Venerable Professor Brill of Utrecht, his portrait and a short
biography. The family portraits, his own included, were found in
the family mansion of Baron van Lynden van Lunenburg at
Utrecht, and were afterwards in the possession of the Hon. J. H.
F. K. van Swinderen, who made a present of them to the Kingdom.

Johan van Riebeeck Antonius' son was born in 1618. His
father Antonius, Johannes' son, died in the Brazils in 1639 and
was buried at Olinda de Pharnambuco, in the Church of San Paolo.
Judging from his dress and other evidence derived from his
portrait, it appears that he was a sea captain. His wife Johan
van Riebeeck's mother was Elizabeth, Govert's daughter, van
Gaasbeeck, who died and was buried in Schiedam in 1629. In
March, 1649, Johan van Riebeeck married at Schiedam, Maria la
Quellerie or Querellerius, born in 1629. Her father was minister
of Rotterdam. She followed her husband to the Cape, where,
besides other children she presented him in 1653 with a son, named
Abraham, who in the year 1709, when 56 years old, rose to the
high position of Governor- General of the Dutch East Indies.
Johan van Riebeeck being the son of a seaman temporarily occupied
in the Brazils, soon accompanied his father on his voyages. From
his Journal it is evident that he visited Formosa ; and also from a
communication of Mr P. A. Leupe (Chron. of the Society IX,
1853, p. 400) that he had visited China, Japan, the West Indies
and Greenland. It is therefore not unlikely that a portion of a
certain despatch written by him from the Cape to Amsterdam was
Vol. V. 3


IP the short sketch given by me in my first introduction of
what is known of the life of Van Riebeeck, I mentioned that his
first wife died in October, 1665, and that two years later in 1667
he married his second one, named Maria Scipio, widow of the
Merchant and Commissioner Jacob Gruys, who was killed by
the people of the village Pauw, on the island Tsinko, on the West
coast of Sumatra.

In connection with this the following facts may be of interest :
In May, 1667, the return ship Polsbroek arrived here from Batavia
bringing with her three prisoners described as Malays of the West
coast of Sumatra, who were to be carefully watched as they wore
' orangh cay en ' noble or rich men who might one day or another
do the Hon. Company some mischief. They were kept in chains
here ; two were sent to work in the forest, on the slopes of the
Devil's Hill, and one was confined on Eobben Island. What their
names were, or what their crimes, we are not told ; but Yalentyn,
the historian of tho East Indies, states in his fifth volume, 1st
part, pp. 34 and 35 (description of Sumatra), that "in 1665 the
Dutch East India Company decided to establish a permanent
factory or office on the West Coast of Sumatra, about the island
Tsinko, or not far from Padang, having already during that year
taken full} 300 Ibs. weight of gold from the mines there ; that
Mr. Gruis was sent thither as Commissioner, but that by his
imprudent conduct he made matters so bad round about the village
of Pauw, that a great number of men were killed there, and that
accordingly the Governor- General and Council at Batavia, feeling
offended, sent thither Mr. Abraham Verspreet as Commissioner and
Commander, with orders to take as severe a revenge as possible."
And further on, " that the island Tsinko had already been taken
possession of in 1664, and though naturally strong and very rocky,
a fortress had been built, which, however, did not prevent the
people of Pauw from killing many of the Europeans the year
following during the administration of the Merchant and Commis-
sioner Jacob Gruis ; for, as a result of his own imprudence, he, Mr.
'Van Iperen, Captains Bega and Pig, three lieutenants and one
hundred and thirty soldiers were massacred near the village Pauw.
In the following year, however (1666), five ships disembarked
there three hundred Europeans, two hundred men from Amboina,
and some from Boni, under command of Mr. Verspreet and the
gallant Captain Poleman, which force completely routed that of
Pauw, notwithstanding the latter had many forts from ten to six-
teen feet high, with walls fifteen feet thick."

It is, therefore, more than probable that these three men were
leaders of the party that massacred Mr. Gruis and his escort, and,
having been captured, were sent to the Cape, where they would find
no opportunity for committing a similar offence. They were the
first of their class exiled hither, but there is nothing to show that,

as some beli.n P, they were sent at the suggestion of Van Riebeeck,
who, in 1671, as already said, married the widow of Mr. Grruis.

In his introduction to the second volume of Van Riebeeck' s
Journal, the late Professor Brill writes ;

" One more particular regarding Van Riebeeck we may commu-
nicate here. We are indebted for it to an account found by us in
the " Navorscher," 1887, part 7, pp. 395 and 396. It mentions
that the tombstone of Johan van Hiebeeck, which, after the
Grroote Kerk (the large church) at Batavia had been broken down
under the administration of (Willem Herman) Daendels, who in
1807 had been sent to Batavia as Governor-General of Netherlands
India, had been removed (opgeruimd) and deposited on an un-
worthy spot, had lately been recovered. It bore the following
inscription : ' Hieronder ligt Begraven den E. Hr. Johan van
Riebeeck Eerste stichter der Colonie Aen Cabo de Bona Esperance,
ende Oudt Praesident van Malacca, jongst Secrotaris van de
Hooge RegeRinge van India. Obiit 18en Januarij Ao 1677,
Oudt 58 jaeren.' '

(Hereunder lies buried the Hon. Mr. Johan van Riebeeck, first
founder of the Colony at Cabo de Bona Esperance, and ex-Presi-
dent of Malacca; lately Secretary to the High Government of
India. Died the 18th January, 1677, 58 years old.)

When I appeared before the Select Committee on Colonial
Archives appointed by the Hon. the Legislative Council in 1896,
I replied to a question of the Hon. Chairman that a very
considerable portion of my Precis had been done at home out of
office hours, this the Committee mentioned in its report and
submitted that the Government take into favourable consideration
the subject of an increase to my salary. I may now state that the
whole of this Precis was done at home and is but a portion of the
work thus done.

It has by no means been plain sailing always to gather the
meaning of the journalist, his sentences being so complicated, and
in a few cases made almost unintelligible through clerical errors ;
but I have done niy best to interpret him truly, and trust that I
have succeeded, and that, as all its predecessors, this precis will also
find a hearty welcome.


Joint Library of Parliament,
Cape of Good Hope,
16th April, 1898.







Though some who have visited the Cape, but without paying 26th July-
attention to its resources, will say that the place is altogether unfit
and will not repay the expenses incurred, as nothing is to be had
save water and wild sorrel; and others Mat the Company have
forts and stations in sufficient number to take care of, and there-
fore ought to make no more ; we will endeavour to show according
to our understanding, and with brevity and humility, how service-
able and necessary such a fort and garden will be for the convenience
and preservation of the Company's ships and men ; and also that
they can be established with profit and no cost.

By making a fort and a garden adequate to the requirements of
the crews of the Company's passing vessels, in the Table
Valley, protecting the whole with a garrison of 60 or 70 soldiers
and sailors, and likewise providing the establishment with a proper
staff of experienced gardeners, a great deal of produce can be
raised, as will be shown further on.

The soil is very good in the valley, and during the dry season
the water can be used for irrigation as required. Everything will
grow there as well as in any other part of the world, especially
pumpkin, watermelon, cabbage, carrot, radish, turnip, onion, garlic,
and all kinds of vegetables, as those who were wrecked in the-
Haerlem can testify.

It is also beyond doubt that all kinds of fruit trees will thrive
there, as orange, lime, apple, citron, shaddock, pear, plum, cherry,.
Vol. V. B ?

1649 gooseberry and currant, which can be kept on board for a long

26th~J i time.

Daily experience teaches us what the little sorrel and sometimes

2 or 3 cattle obtained by the crews proceeding to India have done
for the sick and healthy on board.

Please therefore to consider when all the fruit mentioned can be
procured there in abundance, how many sick will be restored to
health by God's goodness; especially when a large number of
cattle and sheep have been bartered from the natives for sup-
plies, and which could be procured for a small amount. From
the cattle butter cheese and milk could also be obtained for

All ships could, whilst taking in water, be daily supplied with

3 or 4 cattle and sheep and all kinds of greens, and when leaving,
also supplied with living cattle and sheep, cabbages, carrots, turnips,
onions, garlic, watermelons and pumpkins, which when ripe would
keep for 7 or 8 months and remain good. Also oranges, apples,
limes and shaddocks, so that there would always be refreshments
on board for the sick to the place of their destination, which would
be a great comfort for all during the long voyage.

Pigs could also be successfully reared there and fattened on
cabbages, carrots and turnips, and if once in abundance, each ship
might take on board one or two sows which have littered or ara
near the time of doing so, and which, if fed on beard one or two
months, would be no small refreshment.

The water which is taken in there with great difficulty the men
however cold it may be, being obliged to go into the sea up to
their necks causing loss of time and great sickness, might
then be carried along in wooden pipes, or drawn from a jetty
with half the number of men and half of the trouble now


It cannot be denied that St. Helena has hitherto been a very
-convenient place of call for the return ships, but in consequence of
the negligence of the skippers and the boats' crews (who are more
inclined to ruin everything with which they come in contact than
to plant or leave anything for their posterity) it has been so damaged
that henceforth neither pigs nor goats will be obtainable.

Ere this, ships returning home when leaving St Helena, besides
the pigs used during their stay, caught 70, 80, yea more than 100
alive to take with them. Last year the fleet under the flag of the
Hon. Wollebrant G-eleynsen (consisting of 12 ships) could hardly
obtain 200 pigs, in spite of all the trouble taken ; and it will be
^een that every year the number will decrease, and in a short time
nothing will be left. From the expected return fleet it will be
gathered that less than last year have been caught. The cause has
been mentioned above, viz. : The negligence of the officers and the
bad disposition of the sailors, who are composed of all nations and
have taken good care of themselves, but do not think of those who
come after them, as you have often heard them say, " Why should

I care ? A hundred chances to one that I will never again in my 164 ( ..
life come here." Therefore they spoil everything which they

For this reason they would take no trouble, after having obtained
the required number of pigs, to take on board again or destroy the
dogs with which they had hunted a matter which the officers of
the various ships and the commander? ought to have seen to. The
consequence has been that some dogs and bitches have been left on
the Island, and are multiplying to such an extent that in a short
time, having nothing else to live on, all the cattle will be devoured
by them.

Henceforth, therefore, nothing save some vegetables and some-
times a few apples and oranges will be obtainable which will often
be unripe, and, as was the case last year, plucked by the English
who arrive before we do.

From all this it is plain how necessary the said fort or garden
has become, as it is well known how difficult it will be for the
sailors to reach home without intermediate refreshment; and the
Company's ships would be liable to great peril from severe sickness.
The Cape would be most convenient for all ships going to and
coming from India, especially if the officers were ordered, when-
ever practicable, not to pass but to touch at the Cape for refresh-

For that purpose the premium promised to those who reach
Batavia within six months, might be altered in such a way that
the half or a third, as you may think proper, shall be paid to those
who arrive at the Cape within a certain time, and the rest thence
to Batavia.

The officers of the outgoing ships, generally well provided in the
cabin with everything, and more anxious to secure the premium
(the good ones excepted) than to benefit the service, when not able
to reach the Cape with ease, immediately resolve to push on
straight for Batavia, and the crew in consequence of an inadequate
supply of water, receiving no more than four or five glasses
per diem, whilst the cook can provide nothing save salt meat
and pork, must become sick, so that the hospital at Batavia is
filled with patients, causing great expense and loss to the Com-
pany ; said patients remaining there often for months without
doing any work, and nevertheless drawing pay.

All this can be prevented by having a fort and a garden at the
Cape. For the crews would be well refreshed there and provided
with cattle, sheep and greens, and abundance of water, so that the
cook would be able to provide the proper food, and the men obtain
their indispensable rations, which would keep them strong and
healthy on the voyage home or to Batavia, and always fit for
service, and the Company would have no useless expense and loss.

In case any are sick or unable to go to sea they might remain at
the Cape without any expense until they are restored to health,,
when they may be sent on with the following ships.

1649. If it be asked by whom the garden is to be cultivated, we reply

that if three or four gardeners from Holland are stationed there,
enough, men will be found among the sailors and soldiers to
dig and delve; whilst from Batavia some Chinese, who are an
industrious people, may be introduced who are well versed in
gardening, and of whom there is always a sufficient number in

Or it might happen which (God forbid) that again a ship (as
lately happened twice) was wrecked there, and in that case I
would leave it for you to consider of what service and advantage a
garrison at that place would be. In order with the help of God to
prevent all accidents and inconveniences two or three sloops may
be stationed there to pilot the ships to a safe anchorage during
darkness or calms, as many skippers and mates, because they come
there so seldom, are ill-acquainted with the place.

Having shown what advantages the Company would derive from
a fort and garden at the Cape, we now proceed to consider the
expenses to be incurred on the one hand and the profits to be
derived 011 the other.

The fort provided with 60 or 70 men, the monthly payments
would annually reach the sum of f. 10,000 provisions we shall
reckon at f. 3,500, and for ammunition f. 500 total f. 14,000. The
guns required for the fort may be obtained from the wreck of the
Haerkm, so that in this respect no expense will be required, except
for the necessary appliances.

Let us now look at the profits.

Every ship on leaving Batavia receives 200 Reals of 8 to buy
refreshments at that place, an order of long standing. This sum
might be reduced to 50 or 100, so that for 10 ships the saving
would be f,2,500.

At the Cape the crews will be able to refresh themselves in 7 or
8 days whilst taking in water, much better than they would do at
.'St. Helena in ^ a month, for the pigs which have to be caught
there with much trouble and labour are so to say the sweat of the
sailors. On the other hand everything would be obtained hi
abundance and easily at the Cape, and the ships could be so well
provided that they would carry with ihem fresh food for 8 or 10
days at sea, besides other refreshments long preservable for the

Refreshed at the Cape the ships would not be required to touch at
S*". Helena, to remain there, as has been done before this, for a
long time so that the Company would be greatly benefitted ss
regards the wages of the crews and the earlier arrival of the valu-
able return fleets.

The fort having been established a year, the garrison would
require no other supplies than bread or rice, oil and vinegar
(abundance of salt can be had there). This we calculate at
t'LOOO, so that the expenses would be f. 2,500 less, whilst the
profits would be multiplied.


Everything could be procured there in sufficient quantity. 1649.
"There is fish in abundance, which if dried might be distributed >.g t ifj u i r
.among the ships. Further there are elands and steenbucks in
numbers, whose skins would in course of time also bring in some-
thing. All kinds of birds are there by thousands, and may be
caught or shot; and with which the garrison may be fed, an ox
'being killed now and then.

Annually a large quantity of train oil might be boiled, for at
certain seasons Table Bay is full of whales, whilst the Bobbenand
other islands are always swarming with seals, so that a boiler
could be kept continually going.

But some inexperienced will say that no fuel is obtainable at
the Cape for boiling oil, so that the carriage of the wood will be
more than the profits derivable from the oil. We however reply
that such people oould not have been further than Salt River,
paying more attention to their fishing than the resources of
.the country; for behird, and on the ascent of Table Mountain
sufficient wood is to be had, but at first to be fetched with some

Others will say that the natives are brutal and cannibals, from
whom no good can be expected, and that we will have to be
continually on our guard, but this is a vulgar error, as will be
shown further on. We do not deny that they live without laws
or police, like many Indians, nor that some boatmen and soldiers
have been killed by them, but the cause is generally not stated by
-our people, in order to excuse themselves. We are quite convinced
that the peasants of this country, in case their cattle are shot down
or taken away without payment, would not be a hair better than
these natives if they had not to fear the law.

We of the Hacrkm testify otherwise, as the natives came with
.-all friendliness to trade with us at the fort which we had thrown
up during our five months' stay, bringing cattle and sheep in
numbers for when the Princess* Roi/acl arrived with 80 or 90
sick we could provide it with so much cattle and sheep which we
had at hand and so many birds shot daily, that nearly all the sick
were restored to health, so that this refreshment was next to Q-od
the salvation of that ship.

Once the chief mate, carpenter and corporal of the Haerkm
we at as far as the location of the natives, who received and treated
them kindly, whilst they might easily have killed them if they had
been inclined to cannibalism. The killing of our people is un-
doubtedly caused by revenge being taken by the natives when
their cattle is seized, and not because they are cannibals.

The uncivil and ungrateful conduct of our people is therefore the
cause ; for last year when the fleet commanded by the Hon. E.
Wollebrant Geleynsen was lying in Table Bay, instead of recom-
pensing the natives somewhat for their good treatment of those
wrecked in the Haerkm, they shot down 8 or 9 of their cattle and
look them away without payment; which may cost the life of


1649. some of ours, if the natives find an opportunity ; and your Honours-
may consider whether the latter would not have cause for such a

.26th July.

The fort being commanded by a chief treating the natives
kindly and gratefully, paying for whatever is obtained for them,
also filling some of the natives' stomachs with peas or beans, which
they are very partial to, nothing need be feared, and in course of
time the aboriginals would learn the Dutch language, and those
of Saldanha and the interior might through them be induced to
trade, of whom, however, nothing certain can be said.

The refreshments to be obtained at the Cape would materially
benefit the Company in economizing the provisions of the ships.

It is plain that the natives will learn Dutch, for when the chief
mate Jacob Claesz : Hack remained 6 or 8 weeks on shore there
with sick people, they daily came to carry wood, and knew how to
say, " first carry wood, then eat." Those of the Haerlem they
could nearly all call by their names, and likewise speak other words,
besides proving that they were able to learn our language.

Living on good terms with them, some of their children may
afterwards be employed as servants, and educated in the Christian
religion, by which means, if Almighty God blesses the work, as he
has done at Tayouan and Formosa, many souls will be brought to
the Christian Reformed Religion and to God.

The proposed fort and garden will therefore not only tend to the^
advantage and profit of the Company, but to the salvation also of
many lives, certainly the most excellent deed to magnify the name
of the Most Holy God and the spreading of His Holy Gospel.
By such means your work in India will be blessed more and

It is very surprising that our ordinary enemy, the Spaniards or
Portuguese, have never attacked our return ships, as they could
have found no better situated spot for that purpose than at the
Cape, as the ships often leave Batavia, in two or three divisions,.
and though they remain in company like last year, such does not
last longer than the moment when they have passed the Princes
Island, when every one does his best to be the first at the Cape, so
that the one arrives there to-day, the other to-morrow (all at
different times). Our enemies lying in wait there with 8 or 10
ships and well prepared for battle, would easily capture our vessels,.
hampered and unprepared as they would be, one after the other,
even if two or three were to arrive at the same time, which rarely
happens. The same thing might also be done by the Turks.

We therefore suggest that you should command that all the-
return ships shall leave Batavia at the same time, in order to
reach the Cape in company, and so be prepared for an enemy.

This is briefly what we had to say in the interests of the
Company. If we have iii any way offended, we beg that such may
not be taken amiss, but that you may be convinced that it arises
from our earnest wish to serve you. May God grant you wisdonx

and understanding not only in this matter but in all others, that 1649.
God's Holy Name may be magnified, the Church of Christ be ~
built up, and likewise the private honour and reputation of


Amsterdam, 26th July, 1649.

Online LibraryCape of Good Hope (South Africa). ArchivesPrecis of the archives of the Cape of Good Hope (Volume 5) → online text (page 1 of 30)