Mardijker people

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A Mardijker and his wife, detail, Churchill 1704.

The Mardijker were a community in amongst others Batavia (modern Jakarta), made up of descendants of freed slaves. They could be found at all major trading posts in the East Indies.[1] They were mostly Christian, of Indian and some Portuguese ancestry, and spoke a Portuguese patois. The Dutch also referred to them as inlandse Christenen ("indigenous Christians").

General History Origins[edit]

The ancestors of the Mardijkers had been slaves of the Portuguese in India, Africa and Malay Peninsula, and were brought to Indonesia by the VOC trading company or the Dutch, especially after the 1641 Dutch conquest of Malacca, whereby Portuguese speakers in the city were taken as captive. There were also Mardijkers originated from Pampanga, Luzon which called by the Dutch as Papangers.[2]

The term Mardijker is a Dutch corruption of the Portuguese version of Sanskrit Maharddhika meaning "rich, prosperous and powerful". In the Malay archipelago, this term had acquired the meaning of a freed slave. The Dutch colonists also used it more generally to describe any freed slaves which were full-blood Asian, i.e. zwarten ("blacks").

The Census of 1699 in Batavia shows the breakdown of the population as:

3,679 Chinese; 2,407 Mardijkers; 1,783 Europeans; 670 Mixed blood; 867 others.

The Mardijkers mostly clung to their Catholic faith and continued to attend Batavia's Portuguese church, although many were eventually baptised by the Dutch Reformed Church. They were legally recognized by the Dutch East India Company as a separate ethnic group, and kept themselves apart from the native Javanese (Taylor 1983: 47; Bosma and Raben 2008: 46-47). During the VOC era there was already considerable inter-marriage with the Indos in pre-colonial history, who were often also of Portuguese descent. During the colonial era the Mardijkers eventually assimilated completely into the Indo Eurasian community and were no longer registered as a separate ethnic group.

Freed slaves became immediate landlord owners in 1714, introduction setting[edit]

By the end of the sixteenth century Dutch merchants were interested in the spice trade with Asia . On the initiative of Johan van Oldebarneveldt decided the States General for action to the various trading companies, who got involved with this trade to force themselves into a company. This was the Dutch East Indïe Company (VOC) on March 20, 1602 had all kinds of special rights, such as the monopoly on all Dutch trade and shipping to Asia, the right to exclude, to war, to the east of the Cape of Good Hope treaties trading posts to focus, to build forts and appoint drivers.

Depok is inextricably linked to Cornelis Chastelein, a merchant of the VOC that a vision of the colonial administration developed, which can be called for that time very progressive.

Cornelis Chastelein was on August 10, 1657 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands born of a substantial merchant family . He was the youngest in a family of eight children. His father Anthony Chastelein as Huguenot came to the Netherlands from France was " governor of OI Company in Amsterdam Chamber. His mother, Mary Cruydenier, was a daughter of the mayor of Dordrecht, The Netherlands standing next mayor also " governor of WI Company was ' .

On January 24, 1675 joined the 17 -year-old Cornelis Chastelein, on board the ship 't House Cleeff and after a voyage of 223 days, on August 16 of that year, to Batavia. Barely 18 years old, he started there as an accountant employed by the Chamber of Seventeen.

Career of Cornelis Chastelein[edit]

Cornelis Chastelein made fast career. In 1682 he was ' Great retailer in the Great Shop in Batavia ' and in 1691 he was already " Second Upper Coopman des Casteels of Batavia. In the same year he was honorably discharged on request " regarding Sijne increasing swakheyt " . However, it is not unlikely that the appointment of Johan van Horn to Director-General, which he was the chief of Chastelein, spawned this resignation. Chastelein and Horn were not exactly friends of each other.

From 1691 to 1704 was Chastelein private citizen and in that period he acquired several estates as Siringsing in 1695, with 17 pole (about 25 km. Batavia) in the Middle of Batavia - Buitenzorg. On May 18, 1696 he bought property Depok, at post 21 (approx. 32 km. Batavia).

Depok was the name given to what is officially described as " a big country, a day usually south of the city, between the Tjiliwoeng and Pasanggrahan. But with this name was generally a complex of five estates meant : Depok, Mampang, Karang - Carnation and also two small plots on either side of the Tjiliwoeng, between Batavia and Buitenzorg.

In 1704 Chastelein, bought the expansion of land that he had already held, an adjacent piece of land that he gave the name Weltevreden. Here he made the first experimental tea plantation in India and also build the first Indian zoo. The estate Depok a pepper plantation came. It may be no coincidence that had to come. Chastelein for this work in Depok, slave families as Laurens and Loen from Ambon He also wrote a treatise in which he gave his views on the colonial administration with the title : " Incident income aenmerckinge thoughts dwell on the Colonies ... " ( 1705 ) " When and brought opgesteldt in my quiet Eensaamheyd on Siringsing " . This ethical manifesto against the mercantile policy of the VOC, was particularly directed against Governor General William of Outhoorn who was an advocate of an aggressive commercial policy.

Slaves given freedom and set free in 1714[edit]

Cornelis Chastelein was against slavery and that he the provisions thereof were set, used to donate. Their freedom to slaves The church of Batavia had provides that slavery is contrary to the Bible, but this provision was only valid for Christians. However did the heathen "blacks" and "browns" that they would have in slavery, because they could come up with the true faith and civilization of the 'whites' in touch. Thereby greatly Chastelein has therefore brought his slaves to Christianity and so made them free men. Their number in the year 1714 - the year that Chastelein died - is estimated at around 200.

The first original slave family names[edit]

For his estate Depok Chastelein had 12 slaves families who bought over the available documents it is said that they came from all parts of the archipelago : Balinese, Ambonese, Bugis and Sundanese. It is suspected that also were descendants of the Mardijkers among them . Mardijkers were the half-breed descendants of Portuguese settlers and consequently they were already converted to Roman Catholicism. Their name they derive from the Indonesian word Merdekka that 'free' means or 'independent'.

It is undisputed that the original twelve families at least five families who - when accepting the ( Protestant) Christianity - were given a new name Chastelein . It is certain, too, that part of the family was Roman Catholic, before they were converted. Chastelein by to Protestantism. The twelve original surnames are : Bacas, Isakh, Jacob, Jonathan, Joseph, Laurens, Leander, Loen, Sadokh, Samuel, Soedira and Tholense . After the Second World War is not the name for Sadokh.

Isakh, Jacob, Jonathan, Joseph and Samuel are the Biblical names Chastelein gave. Converted to the slave families The remaining 7 families kept the original names they already had and the presumption seems justified, that these are people who are already Christians, i.e. Roman Catholic, were . It appears from the documents, that their transition to Protestantism was no problem.

Governmental reign[edit]

In 1704 Chastelein eased back in the service of the VOC as ' extra - ordinary Council. When he first took in 1705 a member of the Council of the Indies, he was appointed in November 1708 to " Raunchy member of the Dutch Council of India 'with a monthly allowance of 350 guilders per month. This function has Chastelein held until his death.

Chastelien marriage[edit]

Chastelein Cornelis was married to Catherine of Quaelborg. She was probably his niece, her father was there, Council of India, one married Henriette Chastelein.

They had a son Anthony, while from the will of Chastelein that she was a girl of mixed blood daughter have also adopted : Maria Chastelein mixtiese (June 5, 1693). Cornelis Chastelein died at the age of 56, on June 28, 1714 at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and 28 June is still the official day Chastelein is commemorated .

Freed slaves original 12 families of Depok,land owners forever[edit]

Besides his prowess as a businessman Chastelein was a socially conscious man ahead of his time . His greatest achievement, however, was his legacy to his serfs . In his will he had put on record that the original twelve families the estate Depok, 1240 ha . large, as a communal possession of him would inherit and thus also would gain their freedom. And thus it was determined that "released serfs besides her descendants would bezeeten income gebruyke. The country forever

There have been some that the good intentions of Chastelein have posted, by claiming that the transition to Christianity would be a prerequisite to obtain possession of the estate Depok. Been misrepresented However, no evidence that this has been the case. Rather, Chastelein made legitimately use the provisions of the church, in order - even after his death - to its employees to ensure the security of a free life.

Meaning of Depok[edit]

As an explanation for the name Depok is usually claimed to be an acronym with the meaning: "The First Protestant Church Overseas Krist . This is not the original meaning, as the name Depok existed before there was a Christian community. The actual meaning of Depok is: ' Home of someone who lives in seclusion. And this sense reflects the attitude of Chastelein " right in this world, but not of this world."

If we realize that the biblical figure 12 represents the beginning of a "new people", and we include this number on the original twelve families, this gives content and meaning to the wish and command of Cornelis Chastelein, when he wills recorded that being "uyterste sake and intent" was "to put an attractive Christenbevolkinge mettertyt of doing groeyen ... "

As silent witnesses of the unique history of this particular village in the emerald belt, the twelve names of the original Depokers made visible since 1998. As a symbol of freedom Cornelis Chastelein gave them, they are chiseled in twelve large wooden doors of the renovated Reformed Church of Depok since 1854 occupies a central place in the life of the Depokers.

sources: W. Millenaar / Depok; Lien Heyting / NRC Handelsblad; J.d.V / The Banner, June 26, 1914; GJ en Dick van Lonkhuyzen/De sterren van de hemel en het zout der aarde – Verhalen tussen Franeker en Depo


Between the 18th and 19th centuries, the Mardijkers exchanged their Portuguese-based creole for a Malay-based one, Betawi Malay (Bahasa Betawi). Nowadays they speak Indonesian, the Indonesian national language, and use Betawi Malay only in informal contexts. The old creole still survives in old song lyrics, in the genre Keroncong Moresco or Keroncong Tugu. A part of Jakarta is called "Kampung Tugu" an area where Mardijker people had been allowed to settle for after their freedom, the neighborhood retain it's Portuguese distinctiveness.

Common Mardijker family names are De Fretes, Ferrera, De Mello, Gomes, Gonsalvo, Cordero, De Dias, De Costa, Soares, Rodrigo, De Pinto, Perreira and De Silva. Some Mardijker families also took Dutch names such as Willems, Michiels, Bastiaans, Pieters, Jansz, Fransz, Davidts.

When the Indonesians fought for independence from the Dutch they used the slogan Merdeka ("freedom"), which has the same root with Mardijker.

The name 'Mardijkers' is also used for the so-called belanda hitam (Zwarte Hollanders "black Hollanders"), soldiers recruited in Ghana, Africa who served in the colonial army (KNIL) and gained their freedom afterward.


  1. ^ Leirissa, R. Article ‘Ambon and Ternate through the 19th century’, in ‘Authority and enterprise among the people of South Sulawesi’ (Bijdragen in taal land en volkenkunde by University of Leiden, 156, 2000 no.3, 619-633, KITLV, Leiden.) p.249 [1]
  2. ^ East of Bali: from Lombok to Timor - Colonial Kupang