General South African History Timeline: 1600s

European's settle in South Africa for the first time and begin to further colonize and trade with the Khoikhoi at the cape, by the middle this century the first Khoikhoi-Dutch war is fought and slavery is entrenched.

Throughout the rest of the country Nguni and Sotho groups begin splitting, as a result of strengthening chiefdoms, into the groups that we know today (Zulu, Ndebele, Tswana, Xhosa etc).

1601
Joris van Spilbergen, leading a Dutch fleet, casts anchor in the Bay of Saldaha (Aguada da Saldanha) and names it Table Bay after Table Mountain, while the original name is transferred to the present Saldanha Bay. 
1 November, James Lancaster, in command of the first East India Company fleet of England, rounds the Cape again on his way to the East.
1602
20 March , The Vereenigde Landsche Ge-Oktroyeerde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) trading company receives a charter from the States General, the highest authority in the Republic of the United Netherlands, which entails a trading monopoly and the right to acquire and govern Dutch possessions in the Orient for a period of 21 years. Extended in 1623 and 1647.
1615
Sir Thomas Roe attempts to land some deported British criminals at the Cape, but those who are not drowned or killed by Khoikhoi are soon removed from the Cape and the scheme is abandoned.
1620
June, Captains Andrew Shillinge and Humphrey Fitzherbert formally annex the shores of Table Bay in the name of King James 1, but the English King refuses to confirm the annexation.
1631
The English take Autshumao (also Autshumato), chief of the Goringhaikonas Khoi-Khoi, to Batavia. He is known to the English as 'Harry' and later to the Dutch as 'Herry'. He is later returned to the Cape to act as the resident agent or postmaster for passing ships and as a translator.
1632
Autshumao (Herry) asks passing sailors to ferry him and twenty of his followers to Robben Island. There the group remain, on and off, for the next eight years, protected from their mainland Khoikhoi enemies and within easy reach of the Island's edible resources, which include penguins and seals.
1647
25 March, The Dutch ship Nieuwe Haerlem is wrecked in Table Bay. A survivor, Leendert Janszen, is instructed to remain behind with some crew to look after the cargo. After a year a Dutch ship fetches Janszen, his crew and the cargo. Upon his return to Holland, Janszen and one of his companions, Matthijs Proot are required to write a feasibility report on the establishment of a refreshment station at the Cape.
1649
26 July, Date of the well-known 'Remonstrantie' by Leendert Janszen and Matthijs Proot in support of the Dutch establishing a refreshment station at the Cape. Jan van Riebeeck, who is subsequently appointed by the VOC to establish the trading and refreshment station, supports him.
1652
The Dutch East India Company establishes a refreshment station at Table Bay.
6 April, Jan van Riebeeck, on board of the Drommedaris, arrives in Table Bay.
7 April, Van Riebeeck personally goes ashore to look for the best place to erect a fort and establishes a refreshment station at the Cape between the foot of Table Mountain and the shores of Table Bay. The purpose is to provide fresh water, fruit, vegetables and meat for passing ships en route to India as well as build a hospital for ill sailors. He uses Autsumao (Herry), chief of the Goringhaikonas, as interpreter in cattle bartering transactions with the Khoikhoi.
Van Riebeeck immediately requests the VOC to supply him with slaves imported from Asia to do the farming, perform other tasks related to the needs of the crews of passing ships and to build a fortification, as the VOC has issued clear instructions that the indigenous population was not to be enslaved. The VOC does not send slaves for at least five years. The only slaves that Van Riebeeck receives are either stowaways or those that captains on passing ships give him (see later entries).
Shortly after Van Riebeeck's arrival, the first horses are imported from Java.
1653
2 March, The first slave, Abraham, a stowaway from Batavia, is given to Van Riebeeck. He works for the Company until sent back to Batavia three years later.
1653
19 October, Autsumao (Herry), chief of the Goringhaikonas and Van Riebeeck's interpreter, murders the cattle-herd David Jansz and takes off with almost the whole of the settlers' herd of cattle. He is pursued but not captured.
1654
The first Cape-based slave expedition is sent to Madagascar and Moçambique. However, the ship is wrecked along the coast of Madagascar.
1654
6 April, On the second anniversary of his arrival at the Cape, Van Riebeeck announces that in future this day will be observed as a prayer and Thanksgiving Day to God.
1655
The Dutch ensigned Jan Wintervogel is sent by Van Riebeeck to explore the interior. He is to scout for trading opportunities with the indigenous communities there as well as to identify arable land. He reaches Saldanha Bay on the south-west coast overland.
Having fled the Cape after the murder of cattle-herd David Jansz in 1653, Autsumao (Herry) returns to the Cape. Van Riebeeck allows him to settle there once more. He is not punished for his former misdemeanour.
Willem Muller, a corporal, accompanied by the interpreter, Autsumao (Herry), is sent by Van Riebeeck to explore the Hottentots Holland region and to barter livestock. On this occasion Autsumao takes the barter goods (copper) and trades on his own account. He returns with thirteen cattle for the Company and a fair number of cattle and sheep for himself.
Maize seeds are introduced to the Cape from the Netherlands.
Van Riebeeck has the first vine planted in the Company's garden.
1655
March, There are three slaves at the Cape, brought from Madagascar.
1656
The first slave is freed to marry a Dutch settler.
1657
Nine Company servants are freed at Van Riebeeck's recommendation to the VOC to farm and keep livestock on freehold land along the Liesbeeck River. These ex-servants, now called "free burghers", are exempted from taxation and have access to slaves. They have, however, to sell all their produce to the Company. This is an attempt by Van Riebeeck to match the requirements for fresh produce by passing ships, as five years into the establishment of the refreshment station Van Riebeeck is still not able to produce the fresh food required by the ships on their way to the East.
Doman, the leader of the Goringhaiqua Khoi-Khoi, is sent to Batavia to be trained as an interpreter.
Van Riebeeck discusses Khoi-Khoi policy with Commissioner Rijckloff van Goens. They agree that the only practical attempt to avoid thefts by Herrie and his Goringhaikonas followers is the method of territorial separation: 'haer af te snijden op den pas, door middle van onse fortificatiën en wachthuisen' (to prevent their entry into the settlement by means of fortifications and watch houses). This is the first introduction of the official policy of territorial segregation in South Africa. Van Riebeeck is further encouraged to continue his past policy of trying to win the Khoi-Khoi over to his side by gentle persuasion.
1657
22 October, Abraham Gabbema, is sent on an investigative mission into the interior he reaches a river, which he names the Berg River. During his expedition he also reaches and names Diamantberg, Paarlberg and Klapmutsberg.
1658
25, 26 or 28 March, The ship Amersfoort, which two months earlier has intercepted a Portuguese slaver bound from Angola to Brazil, arrives in Table Bay with a shipment of 174 slaves. Most of these are sent to Batavia. Thirty-eight men and thirty-seven women remain at the Cape. Van Riebeeck obeys the order of the VOC not to enslave the indigenous people of the Cape.
6 May, Another ship, the Hasselt, arrives in Table Bay with 228 slaves from Popo, Gulf of Guinea, (Dahomey). Most of these slaves are shipped to Batavia.
10 July, Van Riebeeck banishes Autsumao (Herry) to Robben Island. He escapes in December 1659 in a leaky boat and is again allowed to settle near the Fort with his followers.
1659
May, The First Khoikhoi - Dutch Wars begins. The first of a series of armed confrontations over the ownership of the land takes place between the Dutch settlers and a Khoikhoi clan led by Doman. The Khoi-Khoi attempt to steal the cattle used by Dutch settlers to plough the land that the latter has appropriated from them. In this first anti-colonial Khoikhoi-Dutch War the settlers seek refuge in the fort. A lack of unity among the Khoi-Khoi group undermines the revolt. Consequently, the Peninsular Khoi-Khoi loose more land to Dutch settlers. In an attempt to prevent the stealing of cattle, the Dutch administration erects a series of fortified fences along the Liesbeeck River and an almond hedge in present day Kirstenbosch to separate the Khoi-Khoi from their ancestral land and from the Dutch. Khoi-Khoi are restricted in their movement and are forced to use designated gates when entering the enclosed and fortified area.
1659
2 February, The first wine is pressed at the Cape. Van Riebeeck writes in his journal that the harvest amounted to twelve "mengelen" (about fourteen litres) of must.
1659-1664
During these years five different expeditions set out to find the land of the Namaquas.
1660
The Thembu, Mpondo and Mpondomise and Xhosa kingdoms formed and were well established.
Olifants River The first Dutch exploratory expedition on horseback sets out North and Eastwards. Jan Danckaert reaches what he names the Olifants River. Across the river they see the fires of the Namaqua, but exhaustion forces them to return.
April, Peace is finally restored after months of negotiations and the first Khoi-Khoi-Dutch war ends.
1661
31 January, Pieter Cruythoff, with fifteen men, sets off on his first expedition into the interior north of the Cape. They reach the territory of the Namaquas, who are described as giants wrapped in cured animal skins and wearing iron and copper beadwork.
1662
Pieter Everaert discovers the mouth of the Olifants River.
Doman, leader of the Goringhaiqua (Kaaimans) Khoi-Khoi, dies.
1662
6 May, Zaccharias Wagenaer succeeds Van Riebeeck as Commander of the refreshment station, which has, under Van Riebeeck's command, become a colony.
 
7 May, Van Riebeeck and his family leaves Table Bay on board the Mars for Batavia.
1663
Autsumao (Herry), interpreter and chief of the Goringhaikonas (Strandlopers), dies.
1666
2 January, Work begins on the building of a stone fortification at the Cape (later popularly known as the Castle) with the laying of the four foundation stones of the first bastion.
1668
Hieronimus Cruse is given the instruction to explore the south-east coast as far as Mossel Bay and to return to the Castle overland. His crew in the vessel Voerman are to explore the coast of Natal.
1670
According to oral history the Zulu royal line is founded. The word Zulu means 'Sky', Zulu was the name of the ancestor who founded the Zulu royal line in.
1672
The VOC attempts to transact a formal transfer of land seized from Khoi-Khoi in numerous skirmishes.
Sugar cane is introduced.
Brandy, which is used as currency in the bartering trade relations with the Khoi-Khoi, is produced in the colony for the first time.
August, Thirteen company officials are sent to the fertile Hottentots Holland area to establish an outpost to increase the production of wheat.
1673
Following the various exploratory excursions into the interior north of the colony, the Dutch discover fertile grazing land to the north-east of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, which belong to the Chainoqua, Hessequa, Cochoqua and Gouriqua Khoi-Khoi chiefdoms. These Khoi-Khoi have big herds of livestock. They are also willing to engage in trade with the Dutch. Land is actually bartered from Chaitain Dhouw. However, the Dutch terms of trade lead to warfare and raiding of livestock, also amongst the Khoi-Khoi chiefdoms.
1673
18 July, The Company sends Hieronimus Cruse to attack the Cochoqua. This attack, executed on horseback, marks the beginning of Second Dutch-Khoi-Khoi War. The Dutch take approximately 1800 head of livestock.
1674
The building of the stone fortification, known as the Castle of the Cape of Good Hope, is completed.
1676
The VOC launches a second attack on the Chocoqua. In this Third Dutch-Khoi-Khoi War, almost 5000 head of livestock and weapons are taken from the Chocoqua.
1677
Governor Bax sends skipper Cornelis Thomas Wobma along the west coast to determine 'where the Hottentots [Khoi-Khoi] end and where the abode of the Kaffirs begins'. He returns with the news that the boundary was somewhere north of Mossamedes.
25 June, The Third Khoi-Khoi-Dutch war ends. Governor Bax extracts the submission of the Chocoqua to Dutch rule, expressed in an annual tribute of 30 head of cattle. This submission paves the way for Dutch colonial expansion into the land of the Khoi-Khoi.
1679
A Slave Lodge is built to house Company slaves.
12 October, Simon van der Stel is appointed Commander of the Cape of Good Hope Colony. He is specifically mandated by the VOC to vigorously continue with the Company policy of Dutch colonial expansionism.
1680
Commander Simon van der Stel starts a new settlement along the Eerste River on land belonging to the Khoi-Khoi and calls it Stellenbosch.
1682
Governor-General Rijckloff van Goens instructs Commander Simon van der Stel to oppose all miscegenation (mixture of races) at the Cape.
1683
28 September, Colonists address a petition to the Political Council in which they ask for a school at Stellenbosch to accommodate the children of the thirty families already settled there. Their request is granted and Sybrand Mankadan is sent as teacher, preacher and sick-visitor.
1684
The VOC unilaterally establishes price controls over hides, skins, ivory and ostrich eggs, thereby provoking more conflict with the indigenous population and the "illicit" dealing in these commodities.
1685
The visiting VOC Commissioner, Hendrik van Rheede, decrees that male slaves buy their freedom at the age of 25 and female slaves at 22 years. The freed slaves are to be trained in designated areas of work, including agriculture. This decree is not enacted. However, a slave school is established in the Company Slave Lodge for the children of Company slaves only.
Marriages between Dutchmen and female slaves are prohibited, except in the case of female slaves with Dutch fathers.
Dutch settlers discover the copper deposits in Namaqualand after decades of exploratory expeditions to that purpose.
1688
Huguenot refugees arrive and settle mainly in Franschhoek.
1690 (approx)
This period marks the appearance of the trek Boer, a semi-nomadic Dutch farmer and cattle grazer who settles beyond the Cape's official borders and out of the reach of the authority of the Company. Though prohibited and punished by the Cape authorities if discovered, instances occur where they raid livestock of the Khoi-Khoi, burn down their dwellings and settlements and drive them off the land, which is then appropriated for themselves. On the other hand, San and Khoi-Khoi attack, raid and burn down farms. The trek Boers are not to be confused with the Voortrekkers, who left the Cape Colony in a series of organised treks in the 1830s to settle permanently in areas in the interior not under British rule.
1690
Slaves in Stellenbosch attempt unsuccessfully to rise up against their owners.
1691
Commander Simon van del Stel is elevated to the rank of Governor of the Cape Colony.
1699
Governor Simon van der Stel retires. His son Willem Adriaan van der Stel, who governs until 1707, succeeds him.