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A few weeks ago I presented a Blogpost about the Booyens progenitor possibly spending six months on the infamous Robben Island. Since then I have had help from Corney Keller, an experienced Dutch genealogist with serious skill in deciphering the often bewildering Old Dutch East India Company documents from the 1600s and 1700s.

Two things became clear in the process of investigating the Booyens Stamvader in South Africa, Pieter Boijens and his father, Joen Pieter Boijens:

Firstly, the man who spent six months on Robben Island (above) was indeed Pieter Boijs van ‘t stigt Bremen, the bishopric of Bremen, but he was not Pieter Boijs/Boijens/Boeijens, the son of Joen Pieter Boijens. Pieter van Bremen was  employed as a woodcutter at the Cape by the Dutch East India Company and appears on the muster roll of that company at the same time as “our” Pieter Boijens appears on the Freemen muster roll. The Company eventually records Pieter van Bremen as “deserted” and they suggest he absconded with a passing French fleet. The two Pieters are not the same person.

Even more outrageously, there is a third Pieter “Boijens” at the Cape over the same period, and he stays for several years longer, also as an employee of the company. He is Pieter Booij van Holsteijn, with the same basic origin as our Pieter’s father. He serves as wagon driver for the company. It is rather ironic, given how rare the surname Booyens is in South Africa, that there would not just be four men named variations of “Boijens” at the Cape in early 1714, but that three of the four would be named Pieter, all mutually unrelated.

Such is genealogy. It pulls these oddities out of old records and produces intriguing conundrums that somehow always seem more outrageous than fiction. And they will mislead one.

So, the end result around “our” Pieter is that we still do not know how it comes about that he appears on the 1712 Muster roll of Free Men at the same time that his father is at the Cape. It is still quite likely that he came to the Cape on the same fleet that the Huis te Hemert, Pieter van Bremen’s ship, sailed in. This would mean that two men named Pieter Boij(en)s arrived in the same fleet.

Secondly, the life of Pieter’s father, Joen Pieter Boijens turns out to be vastly more interesting than we ever thought. Not only does he marry twice more when Pieter’s mother dies, but he loses both those wives while away on Dutch East India Company journeys or duties. Over his lifetime he sails from the Netherlands to Batavia at least three times, and once from Batavia to the Cape and back, and then dies in Batavia, shown below. In the process, he spends first 3½ and then, much later, five years at the Cape. He eventually dies in Batavia, leaving his estate to his son Pieter at the Cape of Good Hope, who apears to be his only surviving child.

While stationed at Batavia, he serves on at least two more ships, and we have no idea where they sail, because those logs have disappeared. One should remember that, for a long time, the Dutch had sole rights to trading with Japan. They were allowed to use the tiny island of Deshima in the bay of Nagasaki. It would be interesting to trace the movements of the three “missing” ships in books other than the missing logs, for example the Daghregisters. Who knows, perhaps Joen sails to Nagasaki Bay on one of the seasonal trips. The Dutch would dominate the trade with Japan for 218 years.

The whole story of Joen Pieter Boijens may now be read on the Genealogy web for the Family Booyens of South Africa.

— Harry Booyens

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