Maria Jansz Visser, Willem Willemsz and Ockers Cornelisse
email: Richard Ball
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Their story as told in the Resolutions of the Council of Policy at the Cape of Good Hope, 18th August and 3rd September 1676.

Resolutions of the Council of Policy, Tuesday 18 August 1676.
Cape Archives, C9, pp. 98-104.

The freeman Willem Willemsz van Deventer in the year 1672, having shot down a man from the Hottentots' kraal near here, in order to escape punishment, escaped to the fatherland on board the Danish return ship Magolos which sailed on 4th May.

Afterwards, in the year 1673 via the ship Europa, amongst a number of free settlers, he appeared here and at that time exhibited a certain request concerning the act which he had perpetrated and (according to him) had himself presented to his highness the Lord Prince of Orange in the army at Swammerdam on 22 October 1672; the apostille [i.e. the decision written in the margin of the request] reading in essence, that his highness found good that the local Commandant enquire into the matter, and write and send his report, considerations and advice, furthermore granting the suppliant meanwhile security of property and person, whereupon it was at that time decided by the Noble Lord Governor and Council here for various weighty considerations, to put him provisionally on Robben Island while they consulted the Heeren Seeventien over what they should do, and so it was done.

The decision received from the aforesaid meeting [of the Heere Seeventien] in a letter dated 12 May 1674, concerning the aforesaid Willem Willemsz, was that we should send him, with his wife and children, to Mauritius and allow him to earn his way there as a free settler,

yet the same to date has been postponed because the wife of the aforesaid Willem Willemsz, could not sell her own property, as well as afterwards by a letter from their Noble High Honours dated 28 September 1675, we are instructed to deal with the aforesaid Willem Willemsz as we judge best for him and in the Company's best interest,

and the same remained until very recently, on Robben Island, until he had to be sent from there, so that here he might be cured of his water sickness,

and his wife, scrupled not during his absence, to stoop down lightly to whoredom and with a certain free burger named Ocker Cornelisz to procreate two children out of wedlock, and now no way can [she] bear to live with her aforesaid husband in peace (despite her having formerly urgently requested of us that she and her aforesaid husband might again be joyfully united with each other) but now requested rather to be place in the house of correction, than to follow that up [i.e. the reunion], thus we have taken this business into consideration and noted it,

as for the man, to prevent all future drifting apart from the Hottentots, we have found good to [send] the aforesaid Willem Willemsz and his wife, though each separately, to Batavia and to have her put in the house of correction there, as per her request,

also during her stay here, to place the aforesaid [pol] Ocker Cornelisz on Robben Island until the time they both shall have departed, and when he returns, [he] shall be obliged properley to support the two children that he has created in adultery with the aforesaid Willem Willemsz's wife

and that during the time until her departure, the children procreated within the marriage between her and her aforesaid husband, will be nourished by the burger Jan Coenraad Visser, as being the grandfather and thus the most appropriate to do so.


Resolutions of the Council of Policy, Thursday 3 September 1676
Cape Archives, C9, pp. 105-106

After the usual prayer the Lord Governor produced among other things a certain request that his Honour had been handed from the wife of the free man Willem Willemsz van Deventer, wherein she earnestly comes to impart, how she the suppliant, (since she was once again reconciled with him, and they had vowed to each other, shaking hands on it, to live peacefully with one another in the future) would rather unite again with her husband, with our approbation, despite her having declared at the last meeting, in the presence of the Council, that she would rather be placed in the house of correction than do this, which point is amply quoted in our most recently made resolution dated 18 August last past.

So taking all this and her request taken into consideration, it is decided now to grant the aforesaid Willem Willemsz's wife her request and to allow her, with her aforesaid husband (who by the same resolution it has been deemed best to send (the word here used here is: langeren, meaning unknown) to Batavia) now to depart thence together with the the ship De Vrije Zee, already lying in the harbour


It is also agreed, since the usual resting days of the ship de Vrije Zee have expired, and it has been provided with enough fresh water, and the people travelling on it are also refreshed, to allow the same to leave for Batavia.


Resolutions of the Council of Policy of, Wednesday 14 July 1677
Cape Archives C. 11, pp. 38-44.

And since we ourselves have been several times accused, when we have wanted to punish the misdeeds of the Hottentot nation, of being negligent in seeing that justice is done in the case of the misdeeds of our own nation, to the great disrepute of the Company's reputation for good justice, we take as an example the person of Willem Willemse, now very recently returned from Batavia, who some considerable time ago murdered one of their people and who has not been adequately punished for that crime,  and found it to be of service to the Company to send that same Willem Willemse (in order to have him out of sight of the scoffing Hottentots, as well as for preventing further disorders)  to the said island (Mauritius) in order to make his way there.


Resolutions of the Council of Policy of, Friday 23 July 1677

Cape Archives C. 11, pp. 45-50.

Finally the freeburger Willem Willemse van Deventer comes also to appear in the Council stating (seeing that his departure to Mauritius island is imminent) that he still has certain debts current on the freebooks of the Honourable Company, that should have been settled a long time ago with the sale and delivery to the Honourable Company of all the grain that at that time stood fully ripe on his farm land, the which by his submitted attestation he comes to show and prove to be true, and once again (notwithstanding having been once paid) to be called to account, and some time ago his wife had once again to get hold of so much money for it, therefore he begs expressly before his departure for Mauritius that the faults, possibly caused by the negligence of then bookkeeper, may be remedied and he freed from further summons [to pay], and the money again paid out by his wife in his absence and detention, refunded. Thus is the suppliants [reported] error considered and as a consequence found good to recommend to the administrator Sr. Hendricx Crudop to enquire a little closer into the business (since to some people here [such things] are not unknown) and, in accordance with the circumstances, give satisfaction to the applicant.

I have not consulted the original documents but have used the transcriptions published on the TANAP web site, for which facility I tender that organisation my gratitude.


The (rather free) English translation is my own but I could not have done it accurately without much help from Bob Kernkamp of Zaandam, to whom many thanks.


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