Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee

M, #12357, b. before 6 November 1712
Father*Jacobus Coetzee b. 16 Jun 1680, d. b 26 Apr 1738
Mother*Elizabeth Louisz1 b. b 6 Oct 1680
Father-LegalHans Jürgens1 b. c 1660, d. bt 15 Dec 1720 - 6 Sep 1722
ChartsDescendants of Lijsbeth Sanders

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NGK (Cape Town) Baptisms 1665-1695NGK (Cape Town) Baptisms 1665-1695
Last Edited14/10/2016
Birth*Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee was born before 6 November 1712 in de Caep de Goede Hoop.1
 
BaptismGerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee was baptized on 6 November 1712 Nederduitsch Gereformeerde Kerk, (Cape Town), de Caep de Goede Hoop. The baptism was witnessed by Louis van Bengale and Anna Louisz. Although baptised as the son of Hans Jürgens, Gerrit's mother Lijsbeth Louisz had clearly been in a relationship with Jacobus Coetzee for much of the time she was married to Jürgens. Under Roman Dutch law prevailing at the time, the legal presumption was that the married spouse was the effective biological father in the eyes of the law. When his biological parents married in 1724, with seven children between them (hebbende 7 kinders tussen haer beide) Gerrit's biological father, Jacobus Coetzee, would have become legally recognised as such. In addition, throughout his life he was recorded as Gerrit Jacobsz:[oon] Coetzee, i.e. son of Jacob[us] Coetzee.2,1 
Names in the record, in publications, etc.6 November 1712, the name of Gerrit was written in the record as Gerrit Jürgens.2,1
1733, the name of Gerrit was written in the record as Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetsé.3
NotesJacobus Coetzee and Elizabeth Louisz and their descendants are glossed over in published genealogies. In the compilations such as South African Genealogies information is sparse. This continues in the major Coetzee publication in 1979 viz. Coetzee, N.A.: Die Stamouers Coetzee en nageslagte. Herdenkingsuitgawe 300 Jaar in Suid-Afrika

In his article, "Die blanke nageslag van Louis van Bengale", Leon Hattingh adds more information about the family noting that Jacobus had been disinherited by his parents - perhaps because of his adulterous relationship with the married woman Lijsbeth Louisz.

Susan Newton-King re-examines the family in her 2007 article in Kronos, "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689 - 1762: the story of a family, loosely defined", which investigates the background of Gerrit Coetzee, the first vrijburgher to be tried and executed, on 23 September 1733, for sodomy (today the act would be termed as bestiality).

Apart from Lijsbeth Louisz' first child Johannes Jurgens (bapt. 1700-died young) with Hans Jürgens, it is probable that Jacobus Coetzee was the father of all her other children. This is made plain when the couple marry on 27 Nov 1724 and they are formally recognised as the parents of seven children - hebbende 7 kinders tussen haer beide, wanneer v[er]eenigt warden. They had eight children, namely Maria Coetzee, Elisabeth Coetzee, Jacoba Coetsee, Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee, Dirk Coetzee, Sara Coetzee, Johannes Coetzee and Margareta Jürgens. Margareta, however, had died young before their marriage.

The fact that several of the children were baptised as the offspring of Jurgens would be in accordance with Roman Dutch Law prevailing at the time, the legal presumption was that the married husband was deemed to be the effective biological father in the eyes of the law. Actual biological paternity in this case was finally conferred legally when the parents married.

Some researchers have concluded that Dirk (born 1718) died young and that the couple had a second son named Dirk born ca 1721. This conclusion appears to be based on the estate records where Dirk is stated in 1738 to be 17 years old - indicating a birth year of 1720-1721. My interpretation is that there was only one son named Dirk, and that his age in 1738 was incorrectly based on the date of his baptism in 1720, at which time he was described as being two years old

Yet others have interpreted the inventory of Jacobus' estate, MOOC 8/6.11A of 1738, to imply that only three of the children, i.e. Sara, Dirk and Jan, were the biological children of Jacobus. However, the children are clearly identified as minors, which suggests those who had attained majority were not included. Lijsbeth Louisz' inventory, MOOC 8/6.11b, however, mentions six children including Maria, Elisabeth and Jacoba (Gerrit had been executed in 1736).4,5,6,7,8
Crime and relatedBetween May 1733 and 23 September 1733 Landdrost Pieter Lorenz became aware of allegations that in the preceeding eight months Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee had engaged in sodomy (today the act would be termed as bestiality) on two separate occasions with two different mares - a grey belonging to Leendert Barendsz: van Saxen; and a chestnut (red-brown) belonging to Claes van Malabar.9
By late in July 1733 Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee had been arrested by Pieter Lorenz and interrogated twice in the presence of the commissioned members of the Council of Justice. Pieter Lorenz has also taken statements from Johannes Lodewyk Pretorius, Abraham le Roux and Domine. Domine, a Khoe woman also known as Caatje, was a seasonal vineyard worker. She made the most detailed statement and testified to observing penetration with a chestnut mare, while Pretorius and Le Roux said they observed Coetsé on the rump of a grey mare, moving as if he was engaged in a sexual act with the horse. But Lourensz would tell the CoJ that even though Domine's statement was detailed, that because she was a single eye witness, and an unbaptised 'Hottentot' testifying against a Christian, she could not take the oath and her account did not therefor have the same authority as the two white, baptised, burghers.10
On 10 September 1733 Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee was brought before the Council of Justice to hear the charges against him presented by Landdrost Pieter Lorenz. who asked that he be condemned to torture. During the hearing, Gerrit twice denied the charges and the Council ordered that he be brought "ad actum proximum" that is, to the torture chamber.11
Between 11 September 1733 and 12 September 1733 Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee was brought to the torture chamber in the Castle where he was warned he would be tied up "aan de pleije", that is hung by the arms from a beam with weights attached to his feet. Faced with this extremely painful method of torture used to extract confessions he confessed to one instance of sodomy and attempting it a second time. The next day he signed his admission with a cross and he was found guilty.12
On 17 September 1733 Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee was sentenced to death by drowning. The two mares were also condemned to die.13
On 18 September 1733 Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee asked to make another confession in which he implicated Alexander van Ternate both as an instigator and co-perpetrator. The Council decided to investigate the allegations but on 22 September ordered Gerrit's execution to be carried out the next day. Subsequent investigations cleared Alexander van Ternate.14
On 23 September 1733 Gerrit Jacobsz: Coetzee executed by drowning.15

Citations

  1. [S326] J.L. (Leon) Hattingh, "Die Blanke Nageslag van Louis van Bengale en Lijsbeth van die Kaap", Kronos (Die Blanke nageslag . . .) 1 (1979): c6 Gerrit Jürgens ˜ 6.11.1712(K). Hereinafter cited as "Die Blanke nageslag."
  2. [S502] Website Family Search (www.familysearch.org) "[1712] do. [6 9br] van Hans Jùrgen van Zaltsbùrg, en Lijsbeth Louisz. de Getuigen Loùis van Bengaalen, en Anna Jansz. van de Caap. Gerrit.
    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/…."
  3. [S723] Susan Newton-King, "Die Blanke Nageslag van Louis van Bengale en Lijsbeth van die Kaap", Kronos (Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined.) 1 (2007): On Thursday 10 September 1733 , in the forenoon, the freeburgher Gerrit Coetsé Jacobsz: appeared before the Council of Justice in Cape Town.. Hereinafter cited as "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined."
  4. [S723] Susan Newton-King, "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined.", This article explores the interacting dynamics of race, class, status and respectability in the emerging colonial society at the Cape of Good Hope in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It is essentially a case study, which examines the background to the trial and execution of Gerrit Coetzee, the first freeburgher to be accused of sodomy at the Cape. By implication, it raises a number of questions about the rural community in which Gerrit was raised and it re-opens old debates about the degree of colour blindness and the determinants of status in early colonial South Africa. Was Gerrit a victim of racial or social prejudice? Was he excluded, cold-shouldered or otherwise subtly marginalised by his young male peers in Daljosafat, where he lived? Was he driven by prejudice to seek the company of other marginalised individuals and ultimately to engage in suicidally transgressive behaviour? Or was he simply a young man who wrecked his chances by going too far?
  5. [S722] Mansell G. Upham, "A black sheep in the Coetzee family", Capensis (A black sheep in the Coetzee family) 3/2001 (September 2001): Often when paging through De Villiers Pama one is struck by certain genealogical lines of descent ending abruptly, appearing to be extinct or less detailed than other contemporaneous lines. Whatever the reasons for the non-inclusion (omission?) of genealogical data of this branch of the family, we remain confronted with the problem of including families that cannot be made to conform to the C.C. De Villiers-style of coding old Cape families. A case in point is the COETZEE genealogy.

    The eldest son [Jacobus] (and his descendants) of the founding parents are conspicuous by their limited appearance and even absence. Only his children are named without any further genealogical data. When the magnum opus on the Coetzee family made its appearance in 1979 *, this 'blank' in the genealogy remained. In 1980 more colourful flesh was added to the meagre bones of the senior branch of the Coetzee family as a result of Leon Hattingh's research on the descendants of the black Cape-born Lysbeth Sanders. J. Leon Hattingh sensing a schism within the family, noted the disinheritance by the stamouers' of their eldest son and the omission of the name of his black houvrou [concubine] (later wife).. Hereinafter cited as "A black sheep in the Coetzee family."
  6. [S326] J.L. (Leon) Hattingh, "Die Blanke nageslag."
  7. [S762] N.A. Coetzee, Die Stamouers Coetzee en nageslagte. Herdenkingsuitgawe 300 Jaar in Suid-Afrika. (Pretoria: N.A. Coetzee, 1979 ISBN 0-620-03336-3). Hereinafter cited as Die Stamouers Coetzee en nageslagte.
  8. [S763] Amanda Elizabeth Boniface, "Revolutionary changes to the parent-child relationship in South Africa, with specific reference to guardianship, care and contact" (Thesis submitted for Doctor Legum in the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, January 2007), p.37. Three forms of legitimation were known during the Christian era; firstly, legitimatio per subsequens matrimonium. This was where children born out of a concubinate could be legitimated by the legal marriage between the parents.. Hereinafter cited as "Revolutionary changes to the parent-child relationship in South Africa."
  9. [S723] Susan Newton-King, "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined.", According to Lourensz himself, he first became aware of the allegations in May that year (1733), though how and from whom is unclear.
  10. [S723] Susan Newton-King, "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined.", In this case, Lourensz was able to produce the statements of three eye-witnesses . The first two, the freeburghers Johannes Louw Pretorius and Abraham le Roux... The third eye witness was a Khoe woman named Caatje or, 'in her language', 'Domine'.
  11. [S723] Susan Newton-King, "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined.", The Council of Justice, chaired by the Governor Jan de la Fontaine and assisted by three freeburgher members, ordered that the young man be brought 'ad actum proximum', and he was led away.
  12. [S723] Susan Newton-King, "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined.", 'Did he catch a grey mare, some ten months ago, and bring it into a dry ditch?' 'Yes', he said. 'Did he not then commit the sodomitical sin with this mare, which belonged to the burgher Leendert van Saxen?' 'Yes', he said. 'Was he not at the house of the vrijswart Claas Mallabaar on the Berg River one night in the last pressing season?' 'Yes', he said. 'Did he not again commit the sodomitical sin with a red-brown mare belonging to Claas Mallabaar?' 'I untied her,' he said, 'with the intention of doing so, but I didn't accomplish it because a Hottentot woman, Caatje, came up to me.' He had in sum, committed this 'sin' only once, behind the quince hedge of Charles Marais.
  13. [S723] Susan Newton-King, "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined.", On the next court day, Thursday 17 September 1733, Gerrit Coetsé was sentenced to death by drowning . The court further ordered that the animals with which he had committed 'that horrible deed' were likewise to be put to death.
  14. [S723] Susan Newton-King, "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined.", This was not quite the end, however. In what may have been a last desperate attempt to save himself, or to gain more time, or alternately an attempt to purge his soul before death, Coetsé told his captors on the morning of his execution (Friday 18 September ) that he wished to make a further confession. ... The Council also decided not to further postpone the execution of Gerrit Coetsé. The sentence was to be carried out immediately.
  15. [S723] Susan Newton-King, "Sodomy, race and respectability in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, 1689-1762: the story of a family, loosely defined.", Gerrit Coetsé was executed the next day (23 September 1733).
 

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