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—Given the seven years of hard work that went into the subject of genealogy in order to write the book AmaBhulu, I felt as author that I owed it to readers to share the Booyens genealogy in more detail. After all, they had spent good money to purchase the book and it relies on that genealogy. That genealogy now exists on its own website, as reported by an earlier post on this blog.

Last night I discovered, to my horror, that the Dutch Nationaal Archief has changed the website of the “VOCopvarenden” database so that all the Cape arrival links I have so carefully provided on the Booyens Genealogy website for the Stamvader are now defunct. I shall have to redo them all. However, I also discovered that the good folks of the archive have scanned the original documents so that we can see what the Dutch East India Company wrote about these men back in 1710-1715. And it is interesting indeed.

Conundrum

Ever since realizing in 2013 that Joen Peter Booyens did not remain at the Cape of Good Hope, and that he was almost certainly the father of Pieter Booyens who was born in the Netherlands and DID remain, I have wondered why it is that both men stayed with the Erasmus family of Drakenstein, but that Pieter was absent in December 1713. See the table below, in which the information comes with the courtesy of Richard Ball.  Since the muster rolls pretty studiously recorded all the non-company folks at the Cape, this was a bit of a conundrum. Why would the son, if he were really the son, appear and disappear?

I may have found out, and it is intriguing.

Date Parish Person Where listed and/or with whom

31.12.1712

Stellenbosch

Joen Pieter Booijns

p.247

31.12.1712

Drakenstein

Pieter Boeijens

NOTE: Both men listed as Freemen at the Cape in December of 1712

31.12.1713

Drakenstein

Joan Booijen

p.266 Pieter Erasmus & Maria Lijsebeth

31.12.1714

Drakenstein

Pieter Booijs

p.297 Pieter Erasmus & Maria Elisabeth

30.04.1716

Drakenstein

Pieter Boijens

p.333 Pieter Erasmus & Maria Elisabeth Jooste

30.04.1717

Drakenstein

Pieter Booijens

p.361 Pieter Erasmus & Maria Elisabeth Joosten

30.04.1718

Drakenstein

Pieter Booijens &Geertruij Blom

pp.387 Pieter Erasmus &Maria Elisabeth

Taken from 30 April to 2 May 1718

Clarity

The newly scanned documents at the Dutch Nationaal Archief show an entry in 1714 stating that Pieter Boijs, the putative son, is sentenced to six months on Robben Island (below), future home of Nelson Mandela, somewhere between August 1713 and August 1714. There is also an earlier 1713 entry recording him as being present at the Cape. This checks with an arrival of 29 November 1712 on the Huis te Hemert.

featured_robben_island

In 1717 Pieter Boeiens marries Geertruijd Blom, and the church book reads:

“den 30ste Maij -Pieter Boeiens van Blokzeijl jonghman met Geetruijdt Blom jonge Doghter van Cabo”

That just so happens to be the daughter of Pieter Erasmus’ neighbour. Given that Pieter’s putative father, Joen Peter Booyens, is a Dane, it is also significant that Pieter Erasmus is also known as Pieter den Deen, “Pieter the Dane”. Other research has shown that Pieter den Deen’s wife is related directly to Pieter Booyens’ mother-in-law, and both ladies are of mixed descent. So, we have here a little ex-Dutch East India Company Danish community at the Cape of Good Hope.

When his fourth child is baptised in 1723, the entry in the church book reads,

Den 21ste Maart – Catharina, doghter van Pieter Bois en Geertruijda Blom. Getuijgen Lucas Mijer en Agata Blom.”

The surname in this case is written almost identically (minus the “j”)to the Pieter Boijs that is used on the Dutch East India company documents for the man arriving on the Huis te Hemert. It is exactly the same as the surname used for Joen Pieter’s son baptised in Blokzijl in 1695. On those company documents, however, they say he joined the Company from the Bishopric of Bremen. But, that may merely have been the first place he went to look for work, given that the major harbour of Bremen is close to his father’s origins in Nord Friesland.

Dutch experts have confirmed the fact that whoever Pieter Boijs was who arrived on the Huis te Hemert, he definitely served his sentence on Robben Island between August 1713 and August 1714. They are not yet convinced he was the same man as the Pieter Boeijens/Boijens/Bois/Booijs/Booijens (Booyens) who is the confirmed progenitor of the Booyens family and son of Joen. However, there were awfully few men of that name who served the Dutch East India Company, and only three men of that surname show up at the Cape in VOC shipping registers. The third is Jan Boijens of Blokzijl, who was most likely Pieter’s younger brother. He shows up after 1716. There was no other Boijens family in Blokzijl…. pretty much ever.

Closure

Having struggled several years to figure out the comings and goings of the first Booyens in South Africa, I go to sleep tonight realising the route likely runs through Robben Island. And what was a problem, has become in part an apparent vindication of a set of conclusions I made several years ago.  That is, the Pieter Boijs who arrived on the Huis te Hemert in 1712 was likely the son born to Joen Peter Boijens in Blokzijl, The Netherlands,  in 1695. And they ended up together in the home of Pieter the Dane at the Cape, where young Pieter remained until after his marriage. His father left the Cape in 1714 and his trips on VOC ships are well-recorded.

The above, if correct, would make him the second of my family to be consigned to the island. The first was Autshumao, better known as Harry the Strandloper, Khoekhoe clan chief at the Cape. He escaped. He was the uncle of Krotoa, my Hottentot forebear who turned interpreter for the first Dutch commander at the Cape, and who married another Dane, the doctor/explorer Pieter van Meerhof. She also spent time on that island, but as wife of Meerhof, who was the head there.

Is it not ironic that I apparently got my family name from a man condemned to Robben Island and my natural licence to be in South Africa from another party who was a forced resident on that island, only to be denied that licence by the followers of a  third person who was also forced to spend time on that barren piece of rock: Nelson Mandela.

My blood seems to be on that island.

Tell me that bit again about genealogy being boring.

— Harry Booyens

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