Year of publication 1992, issue 2

 

Preface

Our next family reunion in the Netherlands will take place on Saturday October 24th 1992, starting at 1400 hours, and I have the pleasure to invite you to join us. The location is this time the Oude Walenkerk in the centre of Amsterdam.

Our family has had close ties with this church. Lucas Boissevain's son, Jeremie, and his wife were buried there and the two next generations were baptised, married and buried in this church. Several Boissevains were its churchwardens or deacons in the 19th or 20th century.

The church has recently been restored, which took several years and more than five million guilders. Painting and furniture restauration are still going on at this moment. Everything should be ready in October, you will enjoy this specimen of a beautiful 17th century church. I will tell you some more about it at the reunion.

The church is easy to find. You go to the Dam Square, turn your back to the Palace and walk straight ahead. You will cross two bridges, the second of which is called Paulusbroeders­sluis - but don’t try to remember that. On the far side of this bridge turn to your right and after 50 m. you will find a small square, the Walenpleintje, and the church.

The main item of the program of the reunion will be the presentation of our new rejuvenated board and the new president of our family association. I hope very much to meet you on October 24th. We would appreciate to have your reactions concerning the reunion in Amste­rdam as soon as possible. We enclose a form which you might use.

Ernst G. Boissevain

 

Direction Boissevain, Amsterdam and Bergerac

In our last edition in the Dutch language we put forward plans for an organised bustour from the Netherlands to the City of Bergerac in France. The Dordogne is in fact the region where our family orginated and we thought it a nice idea to visit it in April or October 1992. An inquiry among the Dutch Boissevains did not show enough interest in a trip like this. We needed a bus full to make it payable, but we even did not get a 20 positive reactions. So we put this idea aside and are making other plans now.

First I like to call your attention to a family reunion that Matthijs (Tice) G.J. Boissevain organises in the Town of Boissevain (Manitoba, Canada) on August 22, 1992. You may know that this little town was named after Athanase Adolphe Henri Boisse­vain (Nederlands Patriciaat page 93), one of the financers of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Boissevain has got our family coat of arms as the arms of the city. This family reunion is a special ment for the American and Canadian Boissevains and we understood he has already got a hotel full of them. If you also want to attend this happening please contact Tice for further information: 216 Prospect Hill Road, Noank, CT 06340, USA, tel. 203 536-0505.

We also offer you an alternative: in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) on Saturday October 24, 1992. Our chairman Ernst already wrote about this in his preface of this Bulletin, so read it if you want to know the details.

But still we could not get rid of the idea of going to Bergerac once. But we want to do it less organised than we planned it the first time. At the end of July 1993 we will have in Bergerac on a certain time a location, where members of our family will be able to meet. You yourself will have to organise how you get there (as part of your holiday or just for a week end, by train or car) or where you will stay (hotel, camping etc.). We arrange a nice evening with the possibility of attending 1 or 2 organised group trips. Please make plans for coming to France in July 1993. The precise date will be fixed and announced to you in the spring of 1993, after a visit to Bergerac that Ernst will make to arrange the details.

Charles F.C.G. Boissevain

 

Chateau Monbazillac

If you visit Bergerac it is for sure that you will visit Château Monbazil­lac or drink its wine. This Château is the biggest wine producer and the show piece of the region. The whole area of the Cave Cooperative counts 876 hectare and in the midst of it is the estate of the Château itself which has 20 hectare. These vineyards are located a couple of kilometers south of Bergerac. Striking is, that they are located on the northern banks and not - as usual - on the southern banks.

Already in the Middle Ages the reputation of these wines was very big. Specially the dessert wines were famous. They were made in the same way as the Sauternes wines. The farmers let the grapes hang on the vine till the end of autumn. The grapes will be affected by the "noble putrefaction" and loose a part of its moist. In this way in the grape will arise a concentration of sugar that can not be transformed in alcohol during the fermentation. This produces a sweet dessert wine. Yet this wine is called "the Sauternes of the poor people". In a good vintage year the Château Monbazil­lac indeed has the full sweetness and richness of a Sauternes wine, but generally it lacks its delicacy. In the last years the quality of the Monbazil­lac deteriorated as a consequence of the fact that the farmers stopped their traditional methods of selective vintage. Nowadays the wine comes from the vines that are grown in the communities of Monbazillac, Pomport, Rouffignac, Colombier and a part of Saint-Laurent-des-Vignes.

I am not sure if the museum that is housed in the Château Monbazil­lac - the history of this Château goes back to 1100 - will learn us something about our ancestors. We will know in 1993. But we do know that in 1642 Jean Boussavy owned two vine yards - together 1 hectare - in this famous Monbazil­lac wine area and that they were located close to the wine yards of his grandchildren.

Charles F.C.G. Boissevain

 

We will continue to rule In the Dutch Indies

"We will continue to rule In the Dutch Indies due to the spring-tide of young Dutch blood that rises each year to the tropics"

This saying by Charles Boissevain in his book "Tropisch Nederland" (tropical Holland) dates from the beginning of the century. The author expresses in his book the 'heartiness of the strong and dear link to our East, how the Indies are a part of ourselves, of our past, our tradition, our life and our honour'. In 1992, Indonesia refused all development aid financed by the Dutch government. Indonesia criticizes the reckless use of development aid as an instrument of intimidation or as a threat to Indonesia. The Netherlands condemns the recent public violation of the human rights in East-Timor. Indonesia reminds the Netherlands to a, for her, extreme painful past that resulted after centuries of inhuman colonial suppression and barbaric cruelties during the war of independence, less than fifty years ago.

The 350 years during witch the Dutch lived, worked and fought in the archipel now called Indonesia, have left traces on both sides that will probably never completely disappear. After the Java war in 1830 the Dutch Indies became a colony owned by the Dutch state. The so-called "culture system" meant radical changes in the daily life of numerous Indonesians, especially on agricultural Java. Each Javanese farmer was obliged to cultivate a fifth of his land with products demanded by the Dutch government. Thus the rulers of the colony could easily keep the expenses low and the incomes high. Yearly they could offer the motherland a credit balance of several millions. Between 1860 and 1880 the colony underwent the decline of the hated "culture system" and the rise of large enterprises : the sugar, coffee, tea and tobacco plantations, the tin and coal mines and the oil companies. The start of this development was due to the rise of liberalism in the Netherlands. Ways were tried and found to help the Dutch entrepreneurs in the Dutch Indies to find land. Banks and trade companies provided the necessary capital. With the growing numbers of the private companies in the Dutch Indies, thousands of Dutchmen moved to the archipel after 1870. The years before only soldiers and adventurers travelled to the Indies. Their place was taken in by planters, factory managers, bookkeepers, writers, civil servants and overseers. Amongst them a few were our ancestors.

The descendants of Daniel Boissevain (V a, p. 45) were driven to the Indies by their trading spirit. The descendants of Jean Henri Guillaume Boissevain (VI f, p. 136) mainly had a administrative relation with the Indies.

In this article I will explain the origin of the relation of the descendants of Daniel regarding the Indies in the second half of last century. I have used information from the books of Charles Boissevain ("Tropisch Nederland" and "Onze Voortrekkers"), Maria (Mia) Boissevain ("Een Amsterdamsche Familie") and Walrave Boissevain ("Mijn Leven").

The trade tradition of our family began with Daniel. He was born in 1772 and married at the age of 23 Joanna Retemeyer. Head of a large trading house, his father-in-law died shortly after his marriage. Daniel overtook his business and became an associate of his uncle M.J. Retemeyer and later of his brother-in-law. The trade in German linen goods, French wine and grain flourished but reached its depth in the beginning of last century during the Napoleontic dominati­on.

The eldest son of Daniel, Gideon Jeremie (VII a, p. 52, see photo), was born in 1796. He started early in the firm of his father and after his death, established a shipping company.

 

 

Mia Boissevain (VII a 9, p. 54) wrote about her grandfather:

'He saw that the business, as managed until now, had to lead to a loss under the prevailing circumstances. That is why he introduced swift schooners at sea to the Levant and goodly barks for the foreign trade. These beautiful sailing ships, with names as I remember of "Jan Pieterszoon Coen", "Bestevaer van Nederland" and "Oranje", were his pride and joy. One of his pleasures was to walk with his children to the quay (Handelskade) to welcome the captain and crew at their arrival.' Charles Boissevain wrote about his father : 'Each morning, when he entered at breakfast, he look through the window to the cock on the Westertoren, because he depended on the wind... when ships were in the Nieuwendiep that had to sail, East wind was necessary.'

The son of Gideon, Jan (VII a, p.52), born in 1836, started working in the shipping company of his father at an early age. He soon realised that the era of sailing vessels would end. Years before the introduction of steam lines to the Dutch Indies, he was already planning to transform the shipping company to a steam line. Mia Boissevain wrote about her father: 'Evening after evening he studied his plans. But his father would not listen. He was attached to his proud sailing ships and it grieved him to see all the knowledge and seamanship to be lost."

Jan Boissevain became co-founder and managing-director of the steam line company "Maat­schappij Nederland" that sailed to the Dutch Indies. 'The company had to endure some shipping disasters during the first years of its existence. The terrible disaster of the "Willen II" that burnt on its maiden trip to Southhampton, the loss of the "Koning der Nederlanden" in open sea with weeks of uncertainty about the fate of the crew, were disasters that seemed insurmountable. With gratitude my father remembered the honorary president of the firm, Prince Hendrik of the Netherlands, who came to the meeting, expressed no word of blame and only said: - We must continue. He acted immediately by subscribing for an enormous capital to the new loan.' according to Mia Boissevain.

Jan Boissevain was a member of the council of the city of Amsterdam and of the council of the province of North Holland. He was also a co-founder of the Amsterdam Dry Dok Company and of various other organisations. The height of his life was his part in the foundation of the Royal Packet Company (Koninklijke Pakketvaartmaatschappij, KPM) and the foundation of the Dutch-Indian Agricultural Company (Nederlands-Indische Landbouwmaatschappij). The "Koninklijke Pakketvaartmaatschappij" would name three large passenger liners on the lines to China and South-Africa after the founders of the company: "Ruys", "Tegelberg" and "Boissevain". Charles Boissevain wrote about his brother: 'What a bad luck had that company "Maatschappij Nederland", that introduced the national steam line between the Netherlands and the Dutch Indies. The history of the company reminded our people the difficulties large companies have to surpass continuously. Jan Boissevain had to work in a country that has no subsidies and leaves huge interests to the private initiative of civilians. This provides strength, that is true. But it is demanding at fist. An organisation with offices and agents in all harbours on the coast of Java was needed in the Dutch Indies in order to reach the inner land. The support of the government and of the Parliament were needed as the trust and the willingness of the trade and the travellers to Insulinde (the archipel). The government always counted on the help of the "Maatschappij" when fast aid was needed in Atjeh or elsewhere but helped her only a little.'

The brother of Jan, Jacob Pieter (VI a 8, p.49), born in 1844, was managing director of the firm Reiss & co in Batavia, Dutch-Indies. The son of Jan, Walrave (VII b, p.59) born in 1876, visited his uncle and wrote:

'In Batavia the servant of my uncle Jacob Pieter called for me. He lived in a nice house on the Molenvliet. He had ceded me half of the house and had provided for excelent servants. How heartily has my uncle Jacob Pieter been looking after me. He introduced me to the table of his friends and everywhere in Batavia, I was received cordialy.' Walrave Boissevain worked for the packet company in the Dutch Indies and wrote about the assignment: 'When I could more or less find my way at the K.P.M, I received the mission to make an inspection trip though the Moluks. I had to contact the representants of the govern­ment, the resident, the assistant resident and the controllers to find out if the services to the government had been carried out properly. I had to check the cash and the books and had to consult the local merchants if they had wishes or grievances. For a 21-year old it was an important mission.'

The brother of Charles (VII b, p 67), born in 1842, was a writer and editor-in-chief of the "Algemeen Handelsblad". He visited the Dutch Indies during some months and wrote about it in his book "Tropisch Nederland": 'A feeling, typical for the youth, enjoyed me every time again in Java and Sumatra. There I could awaken with the knowledge that the day might bring something new and beautiful. Such a feeling enlightens the load of the years and rejuvenates us.'

To the Dutch people, he launched this call: 'I urgently prey to all parents to send their sons married to the Indies. Not a sacrifice is to big to make this possible. Government, assist us. You women, that lead the mighty new womanlike, also help ... and understand. We will continue to rule in the Dutch Indies due to the spring-tide of young Dutch blood that rises each year to the tropics. But let equally as many women go to the Indies. This must happen above all for the fatherland.

Jan Willem F. Boissevain,

Wassenaar (NP p 142)

 

Who is Michael Victor Boissevain from Tristan Da Cunha?

From time to time I am so lucky to meet a curiosity concerning our family. I know about the existence of a stamp with the picture of the motor vessel Boissevain on it. Because of lack of time I felt fine with this knowledge and with the rumour, that this famous boat spent its last days travelling between South Africa and South America. On its way it delivered food and other stuff for some islands in the Atlantic Ocean. I will not tell you about the boat Boissevain but ask you to send me information on this subject for the next issue of the Boissevain Bulletin. Many readers will know more about it or will even have travelled with the Boissevain. For this article I got my inspiration from the island and the stamp.

Tristan da Cunha is the name for a small group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, about 3.000 km west of Cape Good Hope. Together the surface of the islands measures 185 km 2 of which Tristan da Cunha - as the most important island with 98 km 2 - is the biggest. The islands bare the name of the Portugese who discovered them in 1506. But Jan van Riebeeck did further exploration in 1655 coming from the Cape colony. 1874 the islands were formally annexed by Great Brittain. Since 1938 they belong - with a separate administration - to the British Crown colony of Sint Helena.

The islands have a vulcanic source and on Tristan da Cunha itself there is an active one with a total height of 2.050 meter. People can only live on a small shield in the north eastern part. Just on a couple of hectare they grow potatoes, oats and barley. They also have apple and peachtrees, they keep sheep and goats and they catch seals. To me this seems a good place for the family reunion!

A couple of times a year there is a postconnection with Cape Town. To this place and to England all the inhabitants were evacuated during the last big eruption of the vulcan in 1961. The motor vessels, that passed along the islands during last centuries are the navelstring for the islands. They formed - and still do - the connection with the rest of the world. All these boats - starting with those of the first colonial powers - were honoured in 1965 with one stamp in a serie. It concerns a normal emission of 16 stamps. The stamp with the motor vessel Boissevain on it is a gravure printed at the British company Bradbury & Wilkinson in New Malden (Surrey). This company is known in Holland as the firm that printed in 1944 the first Dutch stamps for the southern part of The Netherlands that was already liberated. The watermark shows a plural crown of St. Edward and the marks CA. The declared value is 2 shilling and 6 pence, but since 1971 the stamp has a print with 12,5 pence on it because of the start of the decimal system. Finally the color: the queen and the marks of the name are in orange/brown and the rest is in black. You can buy this stamp in a normal stampshop. But also in a post office in Tristan da Cunha. Who sends me a letter from this place with this stamp?

Charles F.C.G. Boissevain