Page 160 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 160

 mostly first in intra-Asiatic shipping and in the course of time on the homeward voyage. A smaller number - how many it is impossible to say from the available data - was given work ashore in the various VOC settlements, e.g. as junior merchant, clerk, bookkeeper, warehouse keeper or sick visitor. Whether the prospect of a different occupation in Asia (or at the Cape) was sometimes held out in recruitment is not clear - but it may have happened on an incidental or individual basis.
Soldiers and craftsmen were recruited in the Republic for professional services in Asia (or the Cape). During the voyage they only had to assist on board ship in a limited way: soldiers for instance in the watch, craftsmen in ship repairs en route. In times of need, when a storm brought all hands on deck or when a shortage of sailors made it necessary, soldiers and craftsmen might be given more work on board. Sometimes a soldier turned sailor during the voyage, as recorded here and there in the Lists of vol. 2. Overseas in Asia the soldiers and their officers were given military duties to perform, though in the course of time they sometimes, like the seafarers, ended up in other occupations. Crafts- men in Asia were put to work in shipyards or on construction sites.
Seafarers, soldiers and craftsmen had all contracted a tenure which, exclusive of the voyage there and back, compelled them to a stay in Asia of initially three years for seafarers and five years for other personnel. In 1658 the term was increased to five years for the lower ranks of seafarers as well.4 Once in Asia, promotion or change of occupation were real possibilities. There are striking examples in Company history of successful careers in Asia. Well known is the career of Anthony van Diemen, a bankrupt who under a false name left Amsterdam in 1618 as a common soldier, but after many successes in 1636 attained the position of Governor-General. Less well known are the careers of two other Governors-General, both of the eighteenth century. The German Johannes Thedens left Europe in 1697 as a soldier on the VOC ship UNIE (1770) and came to fill the Company's highest post in Asia ad interim from 1741 to 1743. Reynier de Klerk of Middelburg began his VOC career as a sailor, but reached in 1777 the highest rung of the ladder when at the age of 67 he became Governor-General, which he remained until his death in 1780.5
It also occurred however that seafarers or soldiers, VOC officials or merchants on expiry of their contracts left Company service and settled in Asia as private citizens, in a profession or in commerce or industry. The Governor-General Jan Pietersz. Coen had during his rule in the early seventeenth century encouraged such 'free-burghership', hoping that besides Company servants private citizens from Europe would contribute to the creation of proper settlements, particularly in Batavia. This ambition, propagated also by some later Governors-General, never became a spectacular success. During the years 1669 and 1670 it seemed as if emigration of settlers to Asia was to get off the ground. In those years the Hoge Regering and the Heren Zeventien drew up regulations for the settlement of free-burghers and in 1672 the directors gave to colonists wishing to settle in Batavia, Ceylon or the Cape, permission to take fl 6,000 to their destination. And indeed 'pioneers' moved to Asia in those years. Thus the ships of the 1670-71 season (1169-1197) carried 33 male freeburghers to Batavia. Many of the 84 women and 91 children on these ships must have belonged to the families of these free-burghers. The stream of emigrants soon dried up however, though there were always VOC servants who stayed on as free-burghers
4 Gaastra, De Geschiedenis van de VOC, 7.
5 Stapel, Gouverneurs-Generaal, 25, 57 and 67.

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