Johan Anthoniszoon "Jan" van
Riebeeck (April 21, 1619 – January 18, 1677) was a
Dutch colonial administrator and founder of Cape Town.
Riebeeck was born in Culemborg in the Netherlands as the son of a surgeon. He grew up in Schiedam, where he
married 19-year old Maria de la
Quellerie on 28 March 1649. (She died in Malacca, now part of
Malaysia, on 2
November 1664, at the age of 35).
The couple had eight
children, most of whom did not survive infancy. Their son Abraham van Riebeeck
, born at the Cape,
later became Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.
Joining the Dutch East India
(VOC) in 1639, he served in a number of posts,
including that of an assistant surgeon in the Batavia
in the East Indies
. He subsequently visited Japan.
important position was that of head of the VOC trading post in
However, he was called back from this post as it was discovered
that he was conducting trade for his own account.
In 1651 he was requested to undertake the command of the initial
Dutch settlement in the future South
. He landed three ships Drommedaris,
Reijger and Goede Hoop at the future Cape Town on 6 April 1652 and fortified the site as a
way-station for the VOC trade route between the Netherlands and the
and the Oliphant
arrived later, having had 130 burials at sea.
[[Image:Charles Bell - Jan van Riebeeck se aankoms aan die
Kaap.jpg|thumb|left|Arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in Cape Town
painted byCharles Davidson
Van Riebeeck was Commander of the Cape from 1652 to 1662; he was
charged with building a fort, with improving the natural anchorage
at Table Bay, planting fruit and vegetables and obtaining livestock
from the indigenous Khoi
people. In the Kirstenbosch
National Botanical Garden in Cape Town there is a wild almond hedge still surviving that was planted on his
orders as a barrier.
The initial fort was made of mud, clay
and timber, and had four corners or bastions. This first fort, Fort
Duijnhoop, should not be confused with the present-day Cape Town
The Castle, built between 1666 and 1679,
several years after Van Riebeeck's departure, has five bastions and
is made of brick, stone and cement.
Van Riebeeck reported the first comet
discovered from South Africa, C/1652 Y1
which was spotted on December 17, 1652.
in Batavia (now renamed Jakarta) on the island of Java in
Legacy in South Africa
Old South African currency featuring
Jan van Riebeeck
Jan van Riebeeck is of cultural and historical significance in
among many of the Afrikaner
population, who view him as the founding father
of their nation.
regard was also prevalent in that his image appeared ubiquitously
on stamps and the South African
currency from the 1940s up until 1993 when the South
African Reserve Bank changed the currency to an apolitical design of the fauna and flora of the
used to be known as Founder's Day
but the holiday was abolished by the ANC government after the
democratic elections of 1994. His image no longer features on any official
currency or stamps, but statues of him and his wife remain standing
in Adderley Street, Cape
Many towns and villages these days still have streets named after
coat of arms of the city of Cape Town is based on the Van Riebeeck family coat of
- Collins, Robert O. Central and South African history.
Topics in world history. New York, NY, USA: M. Wiener Pub.
1990. ISBN 9781558760172.
- Hunt, John, and Heather-Ann Campbell. Dutch South Africa:
early settlers at the Cape, 1652–1708. Leicester, UK: Matador
2005. ISBN 9781904744955.
- Riebeeck, Jan van, and Robert Kirby. The secret letters of
Jan van Riebeeck. London, England, UK: Penguin Books 1992.
- Fort Duijnhoop at the Nationaal Archief (National
Archives, The Netherlands)