Jean Gelman Taylor,  THE SOCIAL WORLD OF BATAVIA: EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN IN DUTCH ASIA. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983

The book indicates that there were many Indians - slave and free - in Batavia from the early days of the Dutch settlement in the 17th century.

Dutch soldiers married or kept as concubines Asian women, including Indian women. 

Hendrick Brouwer,  Governor-General, wrote to the directors of the Dutch East India Company in 1632, recommending that Dutch women should not be brought to Batavia. He said that the Burghers wanted to make money and repatriate rather than to settle permanently overseas. He continued:

"Many believe that it is Dutch women who are most responsible for this turn of events. They come here poor and, having prospered, never stop complaining until they can return home and appear before old acquaintances in their new riches... There are good households here where the men are married to Indian women, their children are healthier, the women have fewer demands, and out soldiers are much better off married to them." (page 14).

In 1632, the directors had decided to cease sponsoring women as migrants to Dutch settlements east of Africa. (p.14)

Already in 1620, the authorities in Batavia prohibited soldiers from keeping slaves as concubines. Two years later, they approved marriages to Asian women: the prospective groom was obliged to purchase his bride`s freedom and have her baptised with a Christian name. (pp. 15-16). 

"Not only did the government give its blessing to such unions; it also purchased women in the markets of Asia for transport to Batavia, where they were advertised for sale as brides." (p. 16).

Mardijker is an old Dutch rendering of the Portuguese version of Maharddhika (Sanskrit for "great man", "high and mighty") and acquired in Indonesia the meaning of free(d) person. 

"For a long time this group was distinct from the Indonesians, as freed slaves of non-Indonesian descent and as baptismal members of the Reformed Church. Most traced their history back to the coasts of India and settlements dominated by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. In Batavia, they clung to their separate status, encouraged by the Company, which legislated for them as a distinct group." (page 47) 

DE KOCK, Victor. Those in Bondage: An account of the life of the slave at Cape in the days of the Dutch East India Company. London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., (and Cape Town: Howard B. Timmins), 1950.

The author frequently tries to argue that the slaves in the Cape were treated well. 

The preferred age of men slaves was 16 to 24.

"With the Ceylon squadron which arrived in Table Bay in March 1677 came one hundred Tuticorin slaves. According to the letter which accompanied them hard times had fallen on Madura, and hundreds of these unfortunate beings, pressed by famine, had sold themselves as slaves." (pp. 33-34).

Slaves were often sold by the Company by auction.

On August 1, 1699, Alexander of Bengal, 16, was sold. The announcement said: "The buyer must undertake to keep the slave in chains for six successive years in accordance with his punishment..." (p.42).

"Many of the inhabitants employed the term 'volk` when referring to their own slaves and 'Coelies` when speaking of slaves in general: the expression 'Coelie geld zoeken` was applied to those who roamed the stereets seeking purchasers for their wares.  ... A nursemaid was usually known as 'Aia.`" (p. 50).

"At that time corrupt Portuguese was the common medium of intercourse between Europeans of all nationalities and native traders in the eastern seas, especially along the coastal regions where the great East Indiamen sailed. Many Cape colonists, particularly those who had visited the East, had a smattering of this language ... a hotch-potch of Portuguese, Malay, Dutch and other tongues. .. Mrs. Kindersley, who called at the Cape in 1765, wrote in one of her letters: 'What makes it extremely confortable is that most of them speak English; French is likewise spoken by many... What seems extraordinary is that they (the slaves) do not learn to talk Dutch but the Dutch people learn their dialect, which is called Portuguese, and is a corruption of that language`." (p. 51).

"Even in 1767 certain slaves were still obliged to communicate by means of signs and peculiar noises, as not a soul in the colony knew their language. Indeed, the slaves came from so many different parts that unless they learned or were already familiar with Malay, Portuguese or Dutch they were frequently unable to understand even one another." (p. 52). 

"Many of the private residents depended to a large extent for their livelihood on those of their slaves who were trained in various trades and hired out by the day or month." (p. 57).

te gaan Coelij soeken = to work on his own account (p. 57).

"It was a common practice to send out slaves as peddlars with merchandise such as cakes, oranges, biscuits, waffles, pancakes and other delicacies. We are told that ships in Table Bay had scarcely dropped anchor before crowds of black slaves arrived in small boats to sell and barter clothes and other goods, fresh meat, vegetables and fruit." (p. 60).

"As wet-norses the slave women were unequalled, and their services in this capacity were much in demand, especially among those leaving on the protracted sea-voyage to Holland and to the East." (p. 61). 

"Female slaves from Bengal or the Coast of Coromandel, from Surat and Macassar, were much sought after because of their reputation as skilful needlewomen." (p. 62). 

Heerengracht = now Adderley Street (p. 69).

"In the imagination of many of those held in bondage the sea represented a means of escape. Once Robert Semple, en route to Plattenberg Bay, hired a slave guide from one of the farmers. This man, a native of Bengal, told a woeful tale of having been enticed, when thirteen years odl, on board a ship and having been conveyed in it to the Cape, where he had ever since languished in slavery. He expressed vehemently in broken Dutch his rage at this misfortune and seemed confident of one day regaining his freedom. When asked how he could ever hope to escape, he raised his righthand toward the sea and cried, 'there, there`, to show to what quarter he looked for deliverance." (p. 74.) Robert Semple, Walks and Sketches, London, 1803. 

Slaves and Hottentots were often guilty of sheltering fugitive slaves, despite rigorous interdicts. In many cases Hottentots joined the runways in attempts to rob the white people. Sometimes, when hard-pressed they would surrender the malefactor with the request that he should not be punished. (p. 76). 

Jacob of the Coast, 1718 -reference only (p. 143).

Breaking on the wheel: tied to a wheel with broken limbs, to linger in agony until death. 

Ary of Bengal was sentenced for attempted arson in 1706 - to spend the rest of his life on Robben Island in chains. He died in 1708. (p. 178). 

Case of Flora of Bengal, resold into slavery in 1719 - copy p. 202.   

Edwards, Isobel Eirlys. Towards Emancipation: A Study in South African Slavery. Cardiff: J. D. Leis and Sons (?), 1942

The book is about developments concerning the emancipation of slaves in South Africa in 1934, the trek etc. It has no references to origin of slaves, especially from India.

(When British occupied the Cape in the 19th century): The Dutch settlers, even of the poorer classes, had "ayahs" to take care of their children. (p. 14).

The whole commercial life of Cape Town was based on slavery. 

"The quick-witted and intelligent Malay slaves were readily trained as skilled artisans, and to them was assigned the task of making furniture for the house and shoes and clothes for the family. These craftsmen soon became a source of profit to their owners, and were hired out at the rate of five or six shillings a day. These artisans worked on their own account, paying their masters only a fixed sum at the end of every week; through their industry, they were often able to purchase their freedom." (p. 15). 

"The gentle Asiatic slaves from Malabar made excellent butlers, cooks and house servants, while menial occupations were found for the negro slaves..." (p. 16). (Reference to Perceval, An Account of the Cape of Good Hope, London, 1804, pp. 186-8). 

For raising their hands against their masters, slaves were often punished to death - breaking the limbs on the wheel.

The Philanthropic Society, founded in Cape Town in 1828, obtained the manumission of a number of female slave children. It lasted until 1832.  Its funds were derived mainly from contribution by the Colonial Government of part of the fines for the contravention of slave laws - and from contributions from overseas, mainly from England and Madras. (p.158). The source for this information may be Hattersley, "The Emancipation of the Slaves at the Cape" in History, October 1823, Vol. VIII, No. 31, pp. 181-183.

Hoge, J. "Personalia of the Germans at the Cape, 1652-1806" in: Archives Year Book for South African History, 1960.

This is a who`s who of about 4,000 German immigrants. It shows that a very large proportion of Germans married emancipated slaves, children of slaves or free blacks. Their children were accepted in the community. Many had illegitimate children with Cape-born slaves or other blacks and had them baptised. 

Many freed and then married their own slaves; some after they had one or more illegitimate children.

Most of those indicated as "from the Cape" are perhaps blacks.

Those who married the blacks were not generally well-to-do. Many of them were soldiers who were not well paid. But some prospered later.

I could identify only about 28 as definitely of Indian origin and noted them below. Others cannot be identified by origin, though there were hundreds of marriages with blacks, as the origin is not indicated for the second generation of slaves.


J. Hoge, "Personalia of the Germans at the Cape 1652-1806"

Maria vn Bengalen


Anna Willems, daughter of Gerrit Willems, a Dutchman, and Maria of Bengalen, had an illegitimate son, Jan Hendrik, on April 4, 1723, from Heinrich de Grys, a German immigrant. 

Jan Hendrik de Grys married Rebekka le Roux on June 2, 1748. Their son Jan Hendrik became a burgher at Swellendam in 1790. Their daughter, Catharina Petronella de Grys, married Johann Georg Soszmann, and became integrated in the white community. (She married another German after the death of Soszmann).



On January 6, 1760, Francina Janse of the Cape, emancipated slave of Pieter of Bengal, married Andreas Meyer, a German immigrant.  Andreas Meyer had earlier, in 1755, married Rebekka of Bengal. He remarried in 1762 in Germany. -. p. 269. 



Hans Rutger Trost, a burgher since 1677, had two illegitimate sons, Hendrik and Carl, by his slave, Maria of Bengal. He baptised her in 1687 and in the same year manumitted her on account of her faithful services. (He married a Dutch woman in 1692). -p. 430.

A special case, may not be related to India. Johannes Muller, a German from Durrmenz, arrived at the Cape in 1790 as a soldier. On October 13, 1793, he married Christina Regina of the Cape, an emancipated slave. He had a tavern in Cape Town and also did business as a money-broker, and supplied ships with salt-meat. He was a butcher by profession. He returned to Germany in 1817, with his family, as a very wealthy man, bought an estate at Kochersteinfeld in Wurttemberg, and was raised to the peerage by the king of Wurttemberg. He died between 1840 and 1850. - pp. 285-286.

Check if following is Indian:

Diana, slave of Cornelis Linnes, baptised on February 23, 1687, had an illeguitimate daughter, Susanna, with Detlef Biebow, a burgher-surgeon.

Biebow was a German immigrant. He married a Dutch woman in 1688. Their son, Hendrik, born on May 28, 1690, was the first colonist who prided himself on being an "Afrikaner" ("Ek ben een Afrikaner"). -p. 31. 



Marius F. Valkhoff

Louvain: Editions Peeters, 1972

Mr. Valkhoff, Professor Emeritus at University of Witwatersrand and an expert on linguistics, shows that Afrikaans grew out of creolization of Dutch and mixture with "Malayo-Portuguese". (Portuguese was, in effect, the international language before French, as it was spoken in main ports around the world.)

The Coloured people, he shows, contributed greatly to the origin of Afrikaans.

Afrikaans, it is generally agreed, existed as an independent language by about 1750.

At present, Afrikaans speakers are about 55% white and 45% Coloured.

The oldest book in Afrikaans was a Muslim religious text of the Malay community published in 1856.

See Pages 6-7 attached.

There was frequent sexual intercourse between Boer farmers and their slaves, as well as Khoikhoi ("Hotten¬tot") girls. There was a mingling of races and lan¬guages.

Note footnote on p. 39 attached.

Also note story on pages 45-46 attached.

Importation of Oriental slaves was forbidden in 1767. Until then, the slave language was largely broken Portuguese. Some illegal importation continued for some time.

Van Riebeeck spent about eight years in Asia before returning to Holland and then settling in the Cape. At that time, "most of the slaves in Batavia came from those Indian coasts (e.g. Coromandel and Malabar..." (page 74).

Father Guy Tachard, in Voyage de Siam, writes about a visit to the Cape (on the way to Siam) in 1685. He refers to Indian Catholics at the Cape. (page 88)

Francois Valentjin, a sailor and traveller who visited the Cape in 1685, also saw "Malabars" and "Cingalese", among others. (page 95).

Worden, Nigel. Slavery in Dutch South Africa

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. (African Studies Series, No. 44).

(Worden was lecturer in history at the University of Cape Town).

Soon after the Dutch settlement was established at the Cape in 1652, Van Riebeeck suggested to the company the importation of slaves for farming. In a despatch in April 1655, he said slaves could "be easily fetched from Madagascar or even India..." (p. 6)

The number of slaves grew slowly at first. There were 23 privately owned slaves in 1662. By 1677, there were 81 male and 22 female slaves of burghers. By 1700, there were 838 slaves, of whom 668 were men and 54 children (pp. 6-7).

In 1795, the official census indicated that there were about 17,000 slaves - an underestimate (p.9). In addition, the company owned a few hundred slaves. The number of slaves was larger than the number of burghers.

Labour by slaves and Khoikhoi was the mainstay of agriculture during the Dutch East India Company rule until early 19th century.

The Dutch West India Company was heavily involved in the slave trade across the Atlantic. The Dutch East India Company also engaged in the use of slave labour in Asia, especially in Batavia. (p. 8).

Some Indians were taken as slaves to Batavia.

Indian slaves were brought to the Cape directly from India or from Batavia.

A Malabar slave - Sing Sonko - was sold in Batavia in September 1771 and again at the Cape in February 1772. (p. 48 fn)

The diverse origin of the slaves and their disper¬sion - including splitting up of families - prevented the retention of language and the development of a culture among the slaves.

The farmers did not convert their slaves to Christian¬ity as the law prohibited the sale of Christian slaves.

For the slaves themselves, especially in Cape Town, Islam was more attractive. Islam was introduced in Cape Town by slaves from India and Indonesia, and political exiles from Indonesia, some of whom were Islamic schol¬ars.

Islam was not recognized by the authorities and no mosque could be built until the 19th century. Muslim marriages were not recognized and invalid. Yet Islam spread, especially from the end of the 18th century, in Cape Town.

Misgenation was common as in all slave societies. In several cases, especially in the early years, the chil¬dren were owned by their fathers and took their names.

n 1698, a large estate was left to Angela van Bengal by her burgher husband, Armour Willemsz. It included a plot of land in Table Valley, a farm in Drakenstein, four male and one female slaves, 73 cattle, 260 sheep, ox-wagons, ploughs and furniture. (pp. 145-46 and fn.).

Studies of Afrikaner family origins estimate that about 7 per cent of Afrikaner blood today is "non-white" and this stems from the Dutch company period. (page 147)

Marriages between whites and freed slaves were prohibited by decree in 1685, but an exception was made for half-caste slaves. (page 148).

Simon van der Stel was a descendant from misgena¬tion. See:

De Kock, V. Those in Bondage; an account of the life of the slaves at the Cape in the days of the Dutch East India Company. Port Washington, New York and London, 1950, pp. 116-17.

Anon. "Origin and incidence of misgenation at the Cape during the Dutch East India Company`s regime". Race Relations Journal, Vol. 20, pp. 23-27, 1953.


In 1681, Cupido van Bengal was hung for having sexual relations with his master`s daughter and with another European woman, before and after her marriage, many times. (page 148 and fn.)

In 1714, Maria Mouton, a white woman of Cape Town, plotted with her slave, Titus van Bengal, to murder her husband and escaped with him. (page 134 and fn). 

In 1717, Aaron van Bengal committed arson after being beaten by his master and escaped. When he was later found in nearby fields, he killed one of his pursuers in resisting arrest. He was sentenced to be half strangled, and then burnt to death. (page 133 and fn).

Reijnier van Madagascar lived with a female slave, Manika van Bengal, on a farm in Drakenstein in the 1730`s. They had a daughter whose beauty at the age of 14 attracted the master and provoked the jealousy of the farmer`s wife. Unable to persuade her husband to sell the girl, she beat the girl often. Once while Reijnier was away at work, she beat the girl brutally and rubbed salt into the wounds. When he returned and discovered what had happened, Reijnier attacked his master in rage. Then, fearing punishment, he ran away and was able to hide in the hills for eight years before he was captured in 1748 and hanged. (pp. 95-96 and fn; also p. 125 and fn). 

In 1738 Cupido van Bengal tried to escape. (p. 124 and fn).

January van Nagapatnam, Jourdaan van Bengal, Limoen van Macassar, Fortuijn van Mandaar and Amsterdam van Timor - five slaves from India and Indonesia - escaped from a Drakenstein farm in 1738. Three of them later returned and two were captured. (page 125 and fn).  

Case of Cupido van Malabar in 1739 in Drakenstein: 

"... a Malabar slave threatened his mistress and her child with a knife and then said he would kill himself since slavery had deprived him of all desire to live. He particularly resented not only the imposition of work, but also the lack of freedom to go where he wanted, to wear his own clothes and to have female company; all benefits which he had enjoyed in his own land. Since his master owned everything he had, including his life, he explained that he could only achieve freedom by escaping that life and thereby depriving his owner of his posses¬sion. After threatening to kill his master`s family, he was finally overcome before he could stab himself. He got his wish of death, if not in the way he could have desired; he was broken alive on the wheel." (page 136).

In 1741 Jacob van Bengal was tortured to make a confession. The confession was found to be false when the real culprit was found by chance. (page 117 and fn).

In 1761, Julij van Bengal, a 16-year-old slave boy, committed suicide because he was afraid of being flogged. (page 135 and fn).

In 1767, Jacob van Malabar was severely whipped by his master for trying to escape and ordered immediately after to get on with the ploughing. When he collapsed from pain, he was whipped again. (Testimony of January van Bengal). (page 106 and fn).

Fortuin van Bengal was convicted in 1770 and sent to Robben Island for life on the unproved suspicion of causing arson. (page 117 and fn). 

A Malabar slave, Sing Sonko, was sold in Batavia in September 1771 and resold in the Cape in February 1772. (p. 48fn)

Opgaaf = annual census returns

VOC = Dutch East India Company