Johan Nieuhof

M, #18912, b. 22 July 1618, d. circa 8 October 1672

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Last Edited16/09/2017
Birth*Johan Nieuhof was born on 22 July 1618 in Uelsen, Bentheim, Lower Saxony.1
Death*He died circa 8 October 1672 Madagascar, when he travels inland on Madagascar and gunfire is heard on his ship, which awaits his return for three days before lifting anchor and leaving. A mission later sent by the governing council in Amster.1
Notesbetween 1649 and 1654 Krotoa of the Goringhaicona was described by both Johan Nieuhof and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier in almost identical terms.

Raven-Hart in his English translation notes that Nieuhof wrote "It has been found by experience that a girl who was reared from her birth among our folk in the Castle [Eva*], and grew up there, was as white as an European".

In the same work, also a translation, he records Tavernier as recording that "... I obtained it from a girl who, as soon as her mother had borne her, was taken and nourished and brought up in the Fort [Eva*], and who is as white as our women in Holland."

Each had kept journals of their visits to the Cape, Tavernier of his only visit in 1649 and Nieuhof of several visits but his description of Eva is said to be from his visit in 1654.

There are anomalies regarding each of these ascribed comments. Tavernier's visit in 1649, recorded in his De Zes Reizen was fully three years before the arrival of the VOC setllers under the leadership of Jan van Riebeeck. Krotoa would still have been living with her family and could not have told Tavernier anything about living with the settlers.

While it was possible that Nieuhof met Krotoa in 1654 given that she is said to have commenced working for Maria de Quellerie very soon after the settlers arrived, his notes were only published by his brother in 1682 as Gedenkweerdige Brasilianse Zee en Lant Reize.

Also, both diarists said that Krotoa had lived in the Fort from shortly after her birth and that she was raised by the settlers, which is entirely incorrect as she was around 10 years old when the settlers arrived in 1652.

Without access to the original journals / notes kept by the two travellers, it is difficult to know if Ravan-Hart mistakenly ascribed the same observation to the two; or if Tavernier had access to Nieuhof's unpublished journals / notes when he published De Zes Reizen. This latter scenario presents itself because De Zes Reizen included other notes on the Cape after the Dutch occupation, even one as late as 1660.1


  1. [S912] R. Raven-Hart, compiler, Cape Good Hope 1652-1702 - from visitors journals and records such as the Daghregister (Cape Town: A.A. Balkema), 1971. Hereinafter cited as Cape Good Hope 1652-1702.

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