"I am constrained, oh benevolent reader, to receive you to a hastily prepared banquet.  Show yourself, I beg you, to be an accommodating and easy guest, and consider these delicacies, such as they eventually are, placed before you as fair and just."

Gysbert Hemmy (1746-1798)
great-great-grandson of Maaij Ansela van Bengale (died 1720)
Preface - An Inaugural Juridical Dissertation Concerning the Testimony of Æthiopians, Chinese and Other Pagans in the East Indies  (Leiden, 7 September 1770) [translated from the Latin]

Remarkable Writing on First Fifty Years is delighted to announce that Mansell Upham's writings on the people of this period will henceforth appear as an occasional series under the umbrella title of

 Uprooted Lives, Unfurling the Cape of Good Hope’s Earliest Colonial Inhabitants (1652-1713)


The Author



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Identifying Jonker van Macassar

UL28(B) Identifying Jonker van Maccassar

In this article, Mansell Upham revisits and supplements “God`s Slave & Afrikaner `Hearts of Darkness` — Abdullah  alias Adolf Jonker (c. 1707-1779)” and a 2015 article by  Martina Louw and Jaco Strauss (published elsewhere)  for purposes of confirming, modifying, amplifying and correcting certain earlier assumptions and errors concerning Kaicil Mahmud alias Jonker van Macassar now that the writer himself has personally accessed the previously elusive archival records in question.

Read this article in conjunction with: UL28 God's Slave & Afrikaner 'Hearts of Darkness' - Abdullah alias Adolf Jonker (c.1709-1779)


UL28 God's Slave & Afrikaner 'Hearts of Darkness' - Abdullah alias Adolf Jonker (c.1709-1779)

Updated October 2013: This article investigates the contested ancestry of the sexton (koster) at Drakenstein (Paarl) and progenitor (stamvader) of the Jonker family in South Africa: Abdullah ('God's slave') later adopting the name and becoming known as Adolf Jonker (c. 1709-1779). The eventual relegation and monopolization of the subaltern clerical positions such as koster in the colonial community at the Cape of Good Hope by mixed race people of slave origin is also contextualized.  Against the background of banished Indonesian political and royal exiles, an upwardly mobile free-black (vrij zwart) fishing community takes stage centre. Its raison d'être stems from servile, intimate, privileged and intricate ties - inter se and with the gubernatorial Van der Stel family. Dr. J. Hoge in his Bydraes tot die Genealogie van ou Kaapse Families (1958) was certainly on the right track with his original contention. The written record clearly link him to the slave woman Rosetta van 'Java' and the 'free-black' man Jonker van Macassar. The recorded evidence also points to his father being an exiled prince (kyai chili / kaicil or jonkheer / jonker) from Ternate [one of the Maluku islands (Moluccas), Indonesia] Dayan Mamoedie [Mahmud ('the praised one')], Prince of Kalamata, banished from Batavia [Jakarta] to the Cape for committing rape.  Spared execution for his family's sake, he is exiled to the tip of Africa for life but is later relegated to Robben Island for operating a brothel.

Note: Please read this article in conjunction with UL28(B) Identifying Jonker van Macassar

Read this article in conjunction with Delia Robertson's: Adolf Jonker - a myth-shattering convergence of science and the 300 year old record?

What can't be cured, must be endured...
UL01: What can't be cured, must be endured... Cape of Good Hope - First marriages & baptisms (1652-1665)


The first Christian baptismal, membership and marriage register for the VOC-occupied Cape of Good Hope (‘the Cape') commences 23 August 1665. Prior to that, from the founding (1652) of the colony and penal settlement, there was no resident church minister. Pre-1665 baptisms and marriages are recorded cursorily in the Journal and in separate despatches sent to the Classis Amsterdam - the Reformed Church's consistory in Amsterdam and governing body for VOC ministers serving in the Dutch East Indies - by the Church's then chief representative at the Cape, the sick-comforter (sieckentrooster).

Past attempts by historians and genealogists to document pre-1665 Cape baptisms and marriages fall short of accomplishing a comprehensive or authoritative list. In this article, the author systematically reworks previous publications with additional notes from archival and other sources, including:  arrivals of women and children;  arrivals of slaves;  muster rolls of colonial inhabitants and slaves; recorded incidents of concubinage; pointers to possible biological paternity of slave children fathered by Europeans; and identifying baptisms for Cape-born individuals surviving infancy to later marry at the Cape. Hopefully this provides a more comprehensive list of baptisms and marriages (1652-1665) and minimizes this lacuna in South Africa's colonial genesis.




UL02: At war with society... Did God Hear? The curious baptism in 1705 of an 'Hottentot' infant named Ismael. A reworked/updated version of Mansell Upham’s micro-historical inquiry into the Dutch Reformed Church’s fickle baptismal policy vis-à-vis Cape Indigenes.

The article explores and contextualizes Rev. Petrus Kalden’s thwarted proseletyzing efforts against the background of a culturally assertive baptism of a Khoekhoe foundling - extraordinary not only in terms of the choice of the child’s name – invariably Muslim by association - but also the fact that during (1674-1705) no baptisms are recorded at the Cape for any aborigines or children of aborigine mothers. Of all the ministers at the early VOC-occupied Cape, Kalden was doubtless the most enterprising. His important legacy, however, was interrupted and obscured by the collapse of the Van der Stel dynasty. Significantly, the presence of Kalden’s neighbour at Maccassar - the exiled and very influential holy man Muhammad Yusuf al-Maqassari (1037-1111/1627-99) alias Abd Allah Abu al-Mahasin al-Taj al-Khalwati al-Maqassari (known in Sulawesi as Tuanta Salamaka ri Gowa) but better known in South Africa as Shaikh Yusup / Yusuf alias Sheik(h) Joseph or Abidin Tadia Tjoessoep - likely served as an important impetus to Kalden’s missionary zeal.


Made or Marred by Time...


UL 03: Made or Marred by time. The Other Armozijn & two enslaved Arabian ‘princesses' at the Cape of Good Hope (1656)

A riveting article detailing the origins and likely descendants of the 'Abissinian' slave girls Lijsbeth and Cornelia Arabus, who were gifted to Maria de Queillerie, wife of Jan van Riebeeck, by the French Admiral De-la-Roche-St. André - which gift was promptly rescinded by the visiting VOC Commissioner, Rijckloff van Goens.

Included as an appendix:

Armosyn Revisited

A reviewed enquiry into the origins and life of Cape-born Armozijn Claesz: van de Caep (c.1661-1733). This article was first published in Capensis - Quarterly Journal, GSSA, Cape of Good-Hope branch, 2/2000, July 2000, but has been reviewed for this publication.

Additional primary source material on the Company Slave Lodge matron and later free-black ARMOSYN CLAASZ has emerged: two earlier wills have been found; the fate / whereabouts of her daughter MARIA STUART and grandson ABASALOM BAREND CLEEF are further clarified; Armosyn's brother, the Lodge schoolmaster (schoolmeester) CLAAS CORNELISZ - likewise equally well-placed in the Slave Lodge hierarchy and also given to formalising legally his personal affairs, is introduced and Armosyn's parentage investigated. The writer is indebted to the late Margaret Cairns for her ever-generous help and for kindly having allowed him access to her personal papers.


Hell and Paradise... Hope on Constantia


UL04 Hell and Paradise... Hope on Constantia /  De Hel en Het Paradijs... De Hoop op Constantia: Jan Grof (died ante 1700) and his extended family at the Cape of Good Hope - a glimpse into family, household, patriarchy, matriarchy, bondage, marriage, concubinage, adultery, bastardy, métissage, manumission, propinquity and consanguinity in 17th century Dutch South Africa before slavery's abolition, the weakening of kinship and emergence of the modern nuclear family.

The saga of one of South Africa's 1st free-burghers - Jan Grof and his extended Visser offspring - over three generations - both legitimate and illegitimate, free-born and slave-born. The intricacies of family life in a 17th century Dutch slave-owning colony at the tip of Africa are unfurled insofar as their lives can be resurrected from surviving written records.


Pai Timor


UL05 Pai Timor... the 'accomodatory' life and times of a 17th century family from Timor exiled to Java, Mauritius & the Cape of Good Hope

This article is withdrawn at present due to newer information.




UL06 Keeping the gate of Hell... 'subliminal racism' & early Cape carnal conversations between black men & white women

This article investigates how historians in the past explain an apparent irregularity of sexual activity between white women and black men during the VOC's colonial occupation of the Cape of Good Hope.




UL07 In Memoriam: Florida (born 23 January 1669-died April 1669). Mythologizing the 'Hottentot' practice of infanticide - Dutch colonial intervention & the rooting out of Cape aboriginal custom

This article explores both the cursory, incidental, selective, confusing, hearsay, clichéd and plagiarized commentary by early visitor-writers to the Cape of Good Hope on Florida’s ‘forced removal’, as also the people and events surrounding this bizarre incident.  This decisive, even catastrophic, event generally escapes the specific notice of historians and academics.   By further researching primary or original records and re-evaluating published sources, more details of this noteworthy collision of cultures have emerged.  Hopefully, this enhances any understanding of what really happened.  The article also investigates the extent that this singular incident came to be held as a ‘universal truth’ and stereotype for burial practices (including infanticide) for all Khoe / San peoples.  This in turn served to further alienate these people from being properly considered an integral part of the comity of nations.  We are also confronted with startling evidence connecting this incident to the tragic breakdown of the (in)famous Widow Pieter Meerhoff alias Krotoa, baptised Eva  (c. 1643-1674) whom the Dutch, in an unprecedented move, banish - without trial - to Robben Island.



Susanna van Bengale

UL08 Consecrations to God, the 'nasty, brutish, and short' life of SUSANNA from BENGAL otherwise known as 'ONE EAR' - 2nd recorded female convict at the VOC-occupied Cape of Good Hope

SUSANNA VAN BENGALE alias EEN OOR is the second female convict to be banished (1658) by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to the Cape of Good Hope as a Company slave.  She is again convicted (12 December 1669).  This time it is for infanticide. After the thumbscrew is applied, Susanna 'confesses' to strangling her 'half-caste' infant ELSJE (1 December 1669). Slaves, trying to prevent the murder, wrench the child from her mother. The little girl, however, dies eight days later.  Susanna is summarily put on trial.  Her 'confession' legitimizes the court's right to impose the death sentence.  As appropriate punishment, the prosecuting officer argues that her breasts should be ripped out from her body with red-hot irons and that she be burned to ashes.  The minister and sick-comforter are sent to Susanna (athough unbaptized) to extract a further ‘confession’.  On 13 December 1669, Susanna's sentence of the previous day is read out loud at the square before the Fort.  She is then escorted to the roadstead.  There, still visible to all the assembled slaves of the Company, she is sown into a bag with rocks, and dumped alive into Table Bay and drowned. This article retraces the extraordinary events leading up to Susanna's trial, the trial itself (including for the first time verbatim transcriptions of the extant trial papers) and her execution by exploring surviving local archival documentation. These sources are also contrasted with the few publications that briefly refer (directly and indirectly) to Susanna's existence. Susanna-with-the-one-ear is also the Company slave woman whose one infant ANDRIES is initially denied baptism at the Cape in 1666. This incident unleashes a prolonged theological / political debate concerning the right to baptism of VOC-owned slave-born infants of heathen parentage. This event has received some attention by academics and historians.  The child and his mother, however, remain unidentified until now.  Significantly, Susanna's life appears to be the very antithesis of that of her fellow convict and exile - the very upwardly-mobile CATHARINA VAN PALIACATTA alias GROOTE CATRIJN (1631-1683).   Reaction to the murder by Susanna of her other infant ELSJE and Susanna's subsequent conviction and execution in 1669, are likely influenced directly by at least two other momentous happenings at the Cape earlier in that same year: (1) the recent rescue from infanticide and appropriation of the soon-to-die ‘Hottentot’ infant girl who is adopted and baptised FLORIDA; and (2) the illegal detention without trial of the in/famous ‘Hottentot’ woman, the widow EVA MEERHOFF, born KROTOA (c. 1643-1674) and the confiscation / appropriation of that woman's three ‘Eurafrican’ children.




UL09 Zara (c. 1648-1671) An inquiry into the (mis)application of traditional prescribed punishment against persons committing suicide during the VOC's colonial occupation of the Cape of Good Hope.

This article amplifies, contextualizes and re-evaluates the life of the Cape aboriginal (Khoikhoi) woman called ZARA / SARA (c. 1648-1671).  Preserved original records and published sources have been closely scrutinized. This follows a preliminary inquiry into the judicial treatment of the sin and crime of suicide during the VOC's colonial occupation of the Cape.  Zara's extraordinary case is contrasted with other recorded incidents of suicide at the Cape. Zara's corpse was not only put on trial, but also impaled and left to rot in public. Significantly, all the other cases of suicide considered here, generally were handled by the Cape’s colonial administration contrary to the traditional and prescribed punishment for suicides: impalement and the denial of burial in consecrated ground.


Cape Mothers


UL14 Cape Mothers. Groote Catrijn van Paliacatta (c. 1631-1683), her slave Maria van Bengale and her de Savoye daughter-in-law Marguerite-Thérèse (1673-1742)

Mansell Upham has updated and added to his biography on Groote Catrijn van Paliacatta  and her family including her son Christoffel Snijman which originally featured in Capensis (1997). This update now includes her daughter-in-law Marguerite-Thérèse de Savoye and her slave Maria van Bengale. The SNYMAN family in South Africa is one of the oldest and largest colonially induced Southern African families of European origin also having Asian slave origins. The family dates back to the early years of the Cape of Good Hope's 143-year colonial occupation by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The names SNIJMAN and SNYMAN are interchangeable. The former is an older Dutch spelling, while the latter conforms to modern Afrikaans spelling conventions.  The familiy's ramification is evident by the surname's ongoing omnipresence in the male line. Owing to the custom of relinquishing maiden names at marriage, the extent of the family's permeation into South African society in the female line is as pervasive, albeit less visible.


Read this article in conjunction with Delia Robertson's: 'Viking' blood at the Cape - DNA evidence confirms European paternity of Christoffel Snijman van der Caep and debunks theory he was the biological son of Anthonij Jansz van Bengale


Moeder Jagt

UL15 Respectability Regained - Moeder Jagt's triumphant reversal of her slave past

Mansell Upham has finally updated and completed his biography on Maaij Ansela van Bengale which originally featured in Capensis (1998). Throughout her long life Maaij Ansela astutely negotiates her rapidly upwardly mobile ascent by selecting caring VOC officials (Francois de Coninck & Johannes van As) that openly provide for her bastard offspring and finds a lawful husband Jagt willing to accommodate her and her 4 bastards.  Together they spawn a mammoth Basson clan that permeates the entire Zwartland and beyond and every aspect of colonial life.  Amassing land, jewelry, portraits and influence, she dies revered even `respectabalising` her humble name Ansela (in Latin ancilla = ‘slave girl’) transforming it into Engela without ever freeing any of her slaves.  Not even the biggest of social hiccoughs ever deters her from her meteoric rise to respectability:  the execution of her wayward and slow son, Jantje van As, for stealing sheep, kidnapping a slave boy and murdering him at Cape Point; the imprisonment of her Swedish son-in-law, Olof Bergh, for appropriating Company property, the suicide of a Khoe woman Zara in her sheep pen, the spawning of a Batavia-banished bastard son Arnoldus Johannes Basson by her son Jan Basson, with the Widow Putter and the detention on Robben Island of her grandson, Jan van As, for unspeakable immoral impropriety.  A great many of her descendants brown-nose their way into prominent civic positions in the colony even turn-coating after both the 1st and 2nd British occupations. At least one of her famous latter-day descendants does not quite forget his slave ancestry for ensuing generations.  He is Gijsbert Hemmij (1746-1791), author of De testimoniis Aethiopum, Chinensium aliorumque paganorum in India orientali (the testimony of Aethiopians, Chinese and other pagans as well as of the ‘Hottentots’ inhabiting the Cape of Good Hope, likewise about the complaints of East Indian slaves), a thesis he presents in Latin to the University of Leiden (1770) for the degree of Doctor of Both Laws.

Famous / Notorious Descendants of Maaij Ansela include inter alia:

• executed murderer Jan van As
• political agitator Arnoldus Johannes Basson
• mass-murderer Pierre Basson
• intellectual Gijsbert Hemmy
• General Jan Christiaan Smuts
• Mrs Stockenstrom
• Mrs Brand
• Marie Koopmans-De Wet
• Olof Godlieb de Wet (1739- 1811) President of the Council of Justice 
• Sir Andries Ferdinand Stockenström Maasdorp advocate, judge & politician; knighted
• Christian George Maasdorp judge


Earth’s Extremist End


UL20 At Earth's Extremest End... Op 't eijnde van de Aerd

The genealogical impact of the ‘Angola’ & ‘Guinea’ slaves at the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th century




UL21 In a kind of custody. For EVA's sake... Who speaks for KROTOA?

Krotoa (pronounced Krotwa) (c. 1643-1674) - Cape of Good Hope aboriginal woman of the Goringhaicona clan born on Robben Island.  Reared by the 1st VOC commander Jan van Riebeeck and utilised by the Dutch as interpreter, envoy, trader, guide, cultural broker, mediator, agent, and informant.  She is the Cape’s 1st indigene to be baptised (3 May 1662 as Eva) and to marry according to Christian rites (2 June 1664).  Wife of the VOC’s surgeon and superintendent of Robben Island, the Copenhagen-born Pieter Meerhoff (killed 1667/8 at Antongil Bay, Madagascar while on a trading expedition).  As widow, falls into disgrace with the Dutch authorities who disapprove of her drinking, sexual, and native habits.  Detained and banished without trial to Robben Island.  Dies there (29 July 1674) aged 31 years.  Her remains are later removed from the demolished church at the Castle and buried in the foundations of the Dutch Reformed Groote Kerk in Adderley Street, Cape Town.  Her progeny forms a substantial proportion of the people classified “white” under the apartheid regime.

Krotoa (Afrikaans)

UL21 In 'n soort bewaring. Om EVA se onthalwe... Wie praat namens KROTOA?

Krotoa (uitspraak = Krotwa) (c. 1643-1674) - Kaapse inheemse vrou van die Goringhaikona-stam gebore op Robbeneiland.  Grootgemaak deur die eerste Nederlandse VOC-kommandeur Jan van Riebeeck en as tolk, gesant, handelaar, gids, kultuur-makelaar, middelaar, agent en informant deur die VOC gebruik.  Die Kaap die Goeie Hoop se eerste gedoopte inboorling (3 Mei 1662 as Eva) en eerste inboorling wat volgens christelike gebruik getroud is (2 Junie 1664).  Vrou van die VOC se chirurg en poshouer op Robbeneiland, die Kopenhagen-gebore Pieter Meerhoff (vermoor 1667/8 in Antongilbaai, Madagaskar gedurende ‘n slawehandelsekspedisie).  As weduwee word haar drinkery, seksuele, natuurlike en naturelle neigings afgekeur.  Sy raak in onguns by die Nederlandse amptenary.   Aangehou  en verban sonder verhoor na Robbeneiland, sterf sy daar in die ouderdom van 31 jaar (29 Julie 1674).  Haar oorskot is later van die gesloopte kerk in die Kasteel verwyder en herbegrawe in die fondasies van die Groote Kerk in Adderleystraat, Kaapstad.  Haar gedokumenteerde nageslag vorm ‘n substansiële deel van die mense wat onder die apartheid-stelsel “blank” geklassifiseer is.  Selfs beroemde `volkshelde` soos Paul Kruger en Jannie Smuts is direkte afstammelinge van Eva


Jannetje Rutgertroost


UL30 Who is Jannetje Rutgertroost? A genealogical investigation into the origins of a Cape of Good Hope-born mesties woman variously found in the records as: Jannetie / Jannetie Hans: / Hanse: Rutgertroost. 

A Cape of Good Hope-born woman - named variously Jannetje / Jannetie Hans(e): Rutgertroost and possibly Jannetje Ant(h)onis: - is concubine to one of the Cape's transitory colonial ‘founding fathers': Dirk Cornelisz: Vermeulen. She appears to be daughter to the slave woman Maria van Malabar / Bengale. Is the German immigrant Hans Rugert Trost (from Elberfeld) who frees Maria & her two sons, Jannetje's biological father? Prior to that, Maria slaves in the household of Cape free-burgher & free-black, Anthonij Jansz: de Later van Bengale & his wife (former convict - but doubly pardoned- Groote Catrijn van Paliacatta sentenced to death in Batavia [Jakarta] for killing her lover but pardoned & banished to the Cape as VOC slave). Later, Maria marries shaven Chinese mardijcker & ex-convict, free-fisherman Domingo van Bengale - also sentenced to death in Batavia, but pardoned & banished to the Cape. The couple return to Batavia but again came back to the Cape. The following genealogically significant early Cape colonial women are possible half siblings to Jannetje Rutgertroost: Anna Maria Dominicus:, Cornelia Lamans:, Elisabeth Marcus:.


Uprooted Lives, Unfurling the Cape of Good Hope’s Earliest Colonial Inhabitants (1652-1713)



"I am constrained, oh benevolent reader, to receive you to a hastily prepared banquet.  Show yourself, I beg you, to be an accommodating and easy guest, and consider these delicacies, such as they eventually are, placed before you as fair and just."

Gysbert Hemmy (1746-1798)

great-great-grandson of Maaij Ansela van Bengale (died 1720)

Preface - An Inaugural Juridical Dissertation Concerning the Testimony of Æthiopians, Chinese and Other Pagans in the East Indies  (Leiden, 7 September 1770) [translated from the Latin]



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