JACOBSZ Jan (ter Veere)
Jan Jacobsz from Veere in Zeeland, Holland, was one of the most prolific of the five or six Jacob/Jacobs/Jacobse/Jacobsz progenitors who settled at the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th and 18th century. While there were other immigrants referred to as “Jacobsz” at the Cape during this time, most such use was in line with the patronymic custom of identifying people as “the son of Jacob” or “Jacob zoon”, often abbreviated to “Jacobs, Jacobse, Jacobz or, less frequently, to Jacobsz”.
At the time of becoming a Vrijburger in 1748, Jan Jacobsz’ use of the name had already transitioned from the use of Jacobsz as a patronymic reference, to a permanent surname. He used the name “Jacobsz” in his V.O.C. “soldijboeke” as well as all official interactions with the “Kompanji” at the Cape. All Cape of Good Hope Council of Justice references to him during this period identified him as “Jan Jacobsz”. It is only in church records, such as marriages and baptisms, where the patronymic custom was most prevalent, where a variety of spellings were used for Jan Jacobsz’ name.
Most people who today carry the “Jacobsz” name, with the unique “sz” spelling, are descendant from Jan Jacobsz from Veere, and most of Jan Jacobsz’ descendants use the name as Jan himself spelled it – “Jacobsz”.
V.O.C. Employment Records - Jan Jacobsz ter Veere (a1)
Jan Jacobsz Ter Veere first joined the service of the Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.) at Fort Rammekens in Zeeland on 7 November 1726 as a deck hand or “Jongen” on board the ship the Barbestijn with the job description of “alle karweijtjes aan boord”. His first period of employment ended about 20 years later on 25 July 1746, after his return to Holland on the ship Spanderswoud via the Cape of Good Hope, where he married his first wife Anna Catharina Posthumus on 26 February, 1746. At the time Jan Jacobsz was described as an “ervaren matroos” and “Loods te Palembang”.
All that is known about his early life was gleaned from his first V.O.C. employment record created at the time of his enlistment at Fort Rammekens in 1726 – he was “jonger dan 17 jaar”, he was from the nearby town of Veere, and he had an ‘unplaced’ family member known as Gerard Jacobsz who was probably his father, but that has not been confirmed.
Jan Jacobsz’ exact age at the time of his enlistment in 1726 was not recorded. It can be assumed that he was between 14 and 16 years old, as it was customary for boys as young as 14 to be employed as “scheepsjongen” on V.O.C. ships. That would put his year of birth at about 1712, give or take two years. Unfortunately, the baptism records for Veere during the 17th century and 18th century did not survive the wars of the early 19th century, so his exact age, and the identity of his parents, could not be determined through baptism records.
His second period of employment started 25 July 1747 when he rejoined the V.O.C. as a “Bosschieter, ervaren matroos, ook belast met het afvuren van een kanon” on the ship Zaamslag, for his return journey to the Cape of Good Hope. His second period of employment ended on 8 February 1848 at the Cape of Good Hope, where he took his final discharge from the V.O.C. to become a Vrijburger. His entire service record, from his first enrolment in 1726, to his final demobilization at the Cape of Good Hope in 1748, to become a Vrijburger, is preserved in the Dutch National Archives.
The Barbestijn, with jonge Jan Jacobsz aboard, departed from Fort Rammekens for Batavia in the Dutch East Indies, via the Cape of Good Hope, on 7 November 1726. The Barbestijn arrived in Table Bay 132 days later, on 18 March 1727, where it remained anchored for 33 days before continuing its journey to Batavia on 19 April 1727. This was Jan Jacobsz’ first visit to the Cape of Good Hope. The Barbestijn arrived in Batavia 83 days later on 11 July 1727. Batavia (the present-day Jakarta, capital of Indonesia) is located on the northwest coast of the island of Java and was the capital of the Dutch East Indies and the headquarters of the V.O.C. in the region in the 17th and 18th century.
Jan Jacobsz spent the next 18 years working for the V.O.C. in the region, where he became a skilled mariner and rose to the prestigious position of ‘Loods te Palembang’. In this position he was responsible for guiding ships into and out of the busy Palembang Port and through the often-treacherous Musi River Delta on the Bangka Strait in the South China Sea. The V.O.C. established the trading post at Palembang in 1619, from where they secured a monopoly over the pepper trade. ‘Loods te Palembang’ is a title that Jan Jacobsz valued, as he retained and referenced it often during the rest of his life.
Late in 1745 Jan Jacobsz’ 20-year contract with the V.O.C. in the Dutch East Indies came to an end and, as was customary, he had to be ‘repatriated’ to his port of enlistment (Rammekens) to be demobilized. He was ‘repatriated’ on the V.O.C. ‘Retourschip’ the Spanderswoud, which left Batavia for Rammekens, via the Cape of Good Hope, on 25 October 1745.
The Spanderswoud arrived in Table Bay on 4 January 1746 where it remained anchored for 80 days, before continuing the final leg of its journey to Rammekens on 25 March 1746. During this layover of 80 days in Table Bay, Jan Jacobsz met, presumably fell in love with, and married his first wife, the ~18-year-old Anna Catharina Posthumus, on 26 February 1746. The marriage register entry reads:
“Jan Jacobs van ter Veere gewesene loods van Pallenbang tans met het schip Spaander Woud repatrierende Jongman met Anna Catharina Posthumus van Cabo De Goede Hoop Jonge Dogter”.
This incorrect spelling of his name as Jacobs in the church’s marriage record contrasted with the spelling of Jacobsz used in all official references to Jan Jacobsz, and probably gave rise to the incorrect spelling used by De Villiers and Pama, who referenced this marriage record as their only source for Jan Jacobs(z).
At the time of his marriage, Jan Jacobsz was a man of considerable means, which he had accumulated while in the employ of the V.O.C. in Palembang, as can be deduced from the elaborate and detailed joint will which he and his new bride had drawn up, and which was signed and dated 8 March 1746.
Two months after their marriage, and two weeks after the signing of their joint will, on 25 March 1746, the newly wedded Jan Jacobsz departed with the Spanderswoud for Rammekens in the Netherlands to fulfill his contractual obligations with the V.O.C. to demobilize at his port of enlistment and, presumably, to visit his family who may still have lived in Veere. He arrived in Rammekens on 25 July 1746. On the next day, 26 July 1746, he took his first discharge from the V.O.C.
Jan Jacobsz remained in the Netherlands for exactly one year until 25 July 1747. On that date he rejoined the VOC as “Boschieter, ervaren matroos, ook belast met het afvuren van een kanon” on the ship Zaamslag and again set sail for the Cape of Good Hope where he arrived on 15 December 1747. He took his second and final discharge from the V.O.C. at the Cape of Good Hope on 8 February 1848, to become a Vrijburger.
On his arrival back in the Cape of Good Hope, after an absence of about 18 months, Jan Jacobsz and his wife settled in Tafel Valleij (as Cape Town was then known), where he soon became a prominent member of Cape Society.
On his application for Vrijburger status, Jan Jacobsz’ occupation was listed as “agriculturist”. From the multiple records of his dealings with the Cape of Good Hope administration, his business was garden farming in the immediate vicinity of the Castle in Tafel Valleij. In the records of the Council of Policy of the Cape of Good Hope there are multiple records of requests for additional land for agricultural gardens from Jan Jacobsz, as well as for the allocation of such land. Water rights were a constant issue for the Cape’s Garden farmers and between 1763 and 1787 there were no fewer than four significant reorganisations of water rights in Tafel Valleij, in which the Council made decisions affecting Jan Jacobsz access to water for his gardens.
Jan Jacobsz was first listed in the Muster Roll for the Cape in 1748, with his wife, Anna Catharina Posthumus. He appeared in every Cape Muster Roll for the rest of his life. Noteworthy is that he was a significant slave owner with between 10 and 12 slaves throughout his life.
As a prominent member of Tafel Valleij society, Jan Jacobsz also played a leading role in civic life at the Cape. An indication of the esteem in which he was held are the two prominent civic positions to which he was appointed by Governor Rijk Tulbagh. On 10 September 1754, six years after he arrived at the Cape, Jan Jacobsz was appointed as Burgher Brandmeester, a position that he held for almost 20 years, until 19 July 1773, except for a short interruption between 1759 and 1762 when, on 4 September 1759 he was appointed as ‘Constapel’ or commander of Fort Knocke. He served in this role until 14 December 1762, when he stepped down on account of his reappointment as Burgher Brandmeester.
Jan Jacobsz died at the Cape of Good Hope on 5 May 1786, when he was in his early to mid-70’s.
First marriage to Anna Catharina Posthumus – 26 February 1746
Jan Jacobsz married his first wife, Anna Catharina Posthumus, on 26 February 1746 in Cape Town.
She was the daughter of wealthy Cape citizen and trader, Joachim Pieters Posthumus (born about 1700 in Bolsward, Friesland, Holland) and Elsje Catharina Beun (~1700 - 29 November 1760) (also known as Beust). They were married in Tafel Valleij in about in about 1716. Elsje Catharina Beun was the daughter of Claus Beun, a farmhand originally from Dithmarschen, Germany, and Anna Van De Caap (Anna Maria Dominicus) who was born into bondage at the Cape in approximately 1683. Anna Van De Caap was the step-daughter of Domingo van Bengale and the daughter of Maria van Bengale. Claus and Anna were married in the Cape on 31 July 1707 after Anna, then 32, and her 5-year-old daughter, Elsje Catharina, were purchased into freedom from Commissioner Adriaen van Rheede on 31 May 1706 by Claus Beun, her future husband and her daughter's father.
Jan Jacobsz and Anna Posthumus had four children, all of whom were born in Cape Town. Only one of their children, Gerard Nicolaas, lived into adulthood and had a family of his own.
Anna Catharina Posthumus, died sometime after the christening of their youngest child, Elsje Catharina Jacobsz, on 18 May 1755, and before 10 July 1757 when Jan Jacobsz married his second wife. While the causes of the deaths of three of their four children, as well as Anna Catharina Posthumus, are not known, it is possible that they died because of the smallpox epidemic that struck the Cape of Good Hope in 1754/55.
Jan Jacobsz and Anna Catharina Posthumus’ children were:
b1 - Hendrik Jochemus ≈ Cape Town 22.9.1748 (died young)
b2 - Gerard Nicholaas ≈ Cape Town 29.8.1751
x Cape Town 29.12.1771 Catharina ROOS ≈ Cape Town 15.09.1754
b3 - Jan ≈ Cape Town 1.7.1753 (died young)
b4 - Elsje Catharina ≈ Cape Town 18.5.1755 (died young)
Second Marriage to Margaretha Alida van der Trans - 10 July 1757
Jan Jacobsz married his second wife, Margaretha Alida van der Trans, on 10 July 1757 in Cape Town.
Her father, Joannes (Jan) van der Trans, was born in about 1713 and baptized on 6 December 1713 in Amsterdam, Noord Holland. Her mother Elisabeth (Lijsbeth) van der Trans was born in about 1709 and baptized on 3 July 1709 in Amsterdam, Noord Holland. They were first cousins and were married on 25 January 1735 in Amsterdam in Noord Holland. It is believed that they left for the Cape of Good Hope shortly after they got married, where they arrived late in 1735. Johannes van der Trans was Sieketrooster at the Cape of Good Hope, which was a minor clerical official in the service of the Dutch East India Company.
Jan Jacobsz and Margaretha Alida van der Trans had two children. They were:
b5 - Elizabeth Johanna ≈ Cape Town 23.7.1758, † Colombo, Ceylon 12.01.1805
x Cape Town 14.11.1779 Michiel Christiaan VOS * Cape Town 31.12.1759 ≈ Cape Town 6.01.1760 (no children)
b6 - Jan ≈ Cape Town 9.11.1760, † Graaff-Reinet 16 Junie 1822
x Cape Town 16.6.1782 Emerentia STIJN (STEYN), ≈ Cape Town 3.04.1763
xx Cape Town 13.12.1801 Lea BOSHOFF ≈ Cape Town 24.11.1776
(“Oude Kaapsche Familien incorrectly ascribes a second marriage with Margaretha Johanna LE ROUX to Jan Jacobsz a1b6.
Subsequent research has proven that she was in fact married to Jan Jacobsz a1b2c1 “Gerritzoon”.)
Oude Kaapsche Familien Deel 1. – A – J, Christoffel Coetzee de Villiers, Van de Sandt de Villiers A_Co, Beperkt Drukkers, Kaapstad. P 370.
Retrieved from Internet Archive:
Dutch National Archives
Jan Jacobsz, V.O.C. Service Record, First period of employment, 1726 to 1746 – Barbestijn & Spanderswoud:
Jan Jacobsz, V.O.C. Service Record, Second period of employment, 1747 to 1748 - Zaamslag:
Cape Town, 1748 Muster Roll, Jan Jacobsz and Anna Catharina Posthumus, Image 133 of 154.
Jan Jacobsz, 1848, Occupation Agriculturist.
FamilySearch - Church of the Latter Day Saints
All marriage and baptism references are available in FamilySearch.com.
Marriage, Jan Jacobsz (ter Veere) and Anna Catharina Posthumus, 26 February 1746
Marriage, Jan Jacobsz and Margaretha Alida van der Trans, 10 June 1757.
P; https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSFQ-SRPX?from=lynx1UIV8&treeref=LH7X-N35 (familysearch.org)
Marriage, Jan van der Trans and Elisabeth van der Trans, 25 January 1835
Marriage, Joannis (Jan) van der Trans and Elisabeth van der Trans, 25 January 1835
Marriage, Elsje Catharina Beun and Joachim Pieters Posthumus, about 1716.
Baptism, Joannis (Jan) van der Trans, 6 December 1713.
Baptism, Elisabeth van der Trans, 3 July 1709.
Will, Jan Jacobsz and Anna Catharina Posthumus, Will MOOC7/1/9 No 16 dated 8 March 1746.
Jan Jacobsz, Unindexed Death Register, Cape of Good Hope Death Records, 1786. Also recorded post facto in his Zaamslag Soldijboek. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVH-99J3-V
Resolutions of the Council of Policy of Cape of Good Hope, Cape Town Archives Repository
Jan Jacobsz, 7 September 1773, Additional Garden Land Grant, Reference code: C. 151, pp. 311-321.
Jan Jacobsz request for garden ground. Precis of the archives of the Cape of Good Hope Vol II F-O
Jan Jacobsz allocation of land for gardens, 7 September 1763, Rerence Code:C.151,PP311-321.
Jan Jacobsz, 22 March 1763, Water Rights, Reference code: C. 151, pp. 282-287.
Jan Jacobsz, 1 March 1774, Water Rights: Reference code: C. 152, pp. 94-125.
Jan Jacobsz, 3 April 1787, Water Rights, Reference code: C. 174, pp. 336-390.
Jan Jacobsz, 10 September 1754, Appointment as Burgher Brandmeester. Reference code: C. 132, pp. 356-385.
Jan Jacobsz, 19 July 1773, Steps down as Burgher Brandmeester, Tanap: Reference code: C. 151, pp. 282-287.
Jan Jacobsz, 4 September 1759, Appointed Constapel of Fort Knocke, Reference code: C. 137, pp. 326-356.
Jan Jacobsz, 14 December 1762, Reappointment as Burgher Brandmeester, steps down as Constapel at Fort Knocke. Reference code: C. 140, pp. 369-389.
Jan Jacobsz, 19 July 1773, Steps down as Burgher Brandmeester, Reference code: C. 151, pp. 282-287.
Inventories of the Orphan Chamber, Cape Town Archive Repository, South Africa. Will and inventory of Elsje Catharin Beun, Mother to Anna Posthumus, first wife of Jan Jacobsz.
Robertson, Delia. The First Fifty Years Project
First Fifty Years - a project collating Cape of Good Hope records - Claus Beust (e-family.co.za)
First Fifty Years - a project collating Cape of Good Hope records - Anna Maria Dominicus (e-family.co.za)
Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope
Jan Jacobsz, 1848, Occupation Agriculturist.
- Hits: 2130