Joachim van Plettenberg
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Baron Joachim Ammena van Plettenberg (8 March 1739, Leeuwarden, Netherlands – 18 August 1793, Zwolle, Nederland) was the governor of the Cape of Good Hope from 11 August 1771 to 14 February 1785. Plettenberg was presiding governor after Ryk Tulbagh's death. On 18 May 1774 he was permanently appointed as governor.
Plettenberg descended from an aristocratic family from Westphalia in Germany. His parents were Henrik Casimir van Plettenberg, colonel in the orange garrison in Leeuwarden and Agatha Petronella van Ammena. After his studies of law at the Utrecht University he left the country in 1764 and became in the service of the Dutch East India Company for 2 years a member of the Council of Law in Batavia. In 1767 he married Cornelia Charlotte Feith, the widow of Louis Taillefer.
At 28 years of age, in 1767, Plettenberg became "Independent-Fiscaal", the highest official of justice at Cape Town. After the death of the Governor Ryk Tulbagh, Plettenberg took control of the administration; on 11 August 1771, he became Governor. Sometimes he acted not very successful. For instance, how he treated the sons of Wolraad Woltemade made him no friends. The French influenced Patriotic Movement ("Patriotte beweging") became a strong opposition to him. Petitions of colonists in 1779 and 1782 to the Lords Seventeen of the Dutch East India Company and to the "Staten-Generaal" of the Netherlands in 1784 show the problems between the governor and the colonists. At this time Cape Town was the property of a commercial company, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and not a colony of the Netherlands.
In 1781 Plettenberg defended himself in a record. In 1785 he requested for discharge and was dismissed "with all honors". He resigned on 14 February 1785 and went back to the Netherlands, where he died on 18 August 1793, at his Huis Windesheim, near Zwolle. His successor as Governor of Cape Town was Lieutenant Colonel Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff.
Plettenberg had great interest in the discovery of unknown regions and supported the exploration of southern Africa. In his time were the voyages of August Frederik Beutler, Carl Joseph Kindermann, Carl Peter Thunberg, Anders Sparrman, Francis Masson, William Patterson, Jan Splinter Stavornius or Stavorinus, Robert Jacob Gordon and François Le Vaillant (Levaillant).
He himself made several tours to determine the borders of the Cape-Colony and visited 47 outposts. Among others he let erect a column for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) on 6 November 1778, the so-called Van Plettenberg Beacon. Since then, the place where it was erected is called Plettenberg Bay. The Plettenberg Bay area was rich in natural forests. Plettenberg was worried about these forests and suggested that a control post must be erected to prevent the over-use of the timber. The Dutch East India Company started a woodcutter’s post in 1778. JF Meeding was appointed the first overseer of this post. In 1786 Johann Jacob Jerling was contracted to build a Timber Store for storage of the timber.
- The town of Plettenberg Bay was named after him in 1779.
- His former Residency at Simon's Town dating from 1777 now is the Simon's Town Museum
- (in German) Weyl, Andreas, Joachim van Plettenberg, Gouverneur der niederländischen Kapkolonie. In: An Bigge, Lenne und Fretter, Part 1: Heft 35, Dezember 2011 p. 25-40; Part 2: Heft 36, Juni 2012 p. 48-61.