Remarkable People

ID #5216

Simon van der Stel, Governor, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

Simon van der Stel (1639–1712) was the last Commander and first Governor of the Cape Colony -- a Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope.

Van der Stel was the son of Adriaan van der Stel, an official of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and Maria Lievens, daughter of a freed Indian slave woman known as Monica of Goa (Monica da Costa). Simon was therefore Eurasian. He is seen by some historians as a Creole, though technically he was not Creole since he was not born in Mauritius or the Cape.

Adriaan was appointed the first governor of Mauritius in 1639. Simon was born at sea when his father was en-route to Mauritius to take up his new post. Adriaan had a long tenure in Mauritius and Simon spent seven years there. Adriaan’s governorship ended after five years, and after a few years, he left for Dutch Ceylon. Adriaan was murdered in Ceylon and Maria also died. Simon went on to Batavia in the Dutch East Indies where he remained until he was 20 years old.

He then went to the Netherlands where he associated with members of the VOC such as Willem Six. He married Willem's daughter, Johanna Jacoba Six, with whom he had six children. In 1679 he was appointed commander of the VOC's colony at the Cape. Van der Stel and his wife did not enjoy a happy relationship, possibly because he had grown up in the Dutch colonial territories, and she never joined him in the Cape. In 1691 the VOC replaced the office of commander with governor and van der Stel was promoted to the new position. He retired in 1699 and was succeeded by his son Willem Adriaan van der Stel. In retirement, he devoted himself to his estate at Constantia, where he died in 1712.

Stellenbosch, Simons Town and a naval ship, the SAS Simon van der Stel, were all named after him. He was the first coloured Governor of the Cape --something which was not acknowledged during the apartheid era. RSASVDS

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Last update: 2014-05-14 16:47
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.4

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