Frederick de Houtman

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Frederick de Houtman
Frederik de Houtman.jpg
Portrait by David de Meyne in 1617
DiedOctober 21, 1627 (aged 55–56)

Frederick de Houtman (1571 – 21 October 1627), or Frederik de Houtman, was a Dutch explorer who sailed along the Western coast of Australia en route to Batavia, known today as Jakarta in Indonesia. He made observations of the southern stars and possibly contributed to the creation of 12 new southern constellations.


Frederick de Houtman was born in Gouda, Holland, Seventeen Provinces.

He assisted fellow Dutch navigator Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser with astronomical observations during the first Dutch expedition to the East Indies in 1595–1597 (during which Keyser died).[1] He also sailed in 1598–1599 on a second expedition led by his brother Cornelis de Houtman. Cornelis was killed on that expedition, and Frederick was imprisoned by the Sultan of Aceh in northern Sumatra, but used his two years of captivity to study the local Malay language and to make astronomical observations. These observations supplemented those made by Keyser on the first expedition. The constellations formed from their observations were first published in 1597 or 1598 on a globe by Petrus Plancius, and later globes (particularly one published by Willem Blaeu in 1603) incorporated adjustments based on de Houtman's later observations.[2] Today, credit for these constellations is generally assigned jointly to Keyser, de Houtman, and Plancius[1], though some of the underlying stars were known beforehand. The constellations are also widely associated with Johann Bayer, who included them in his celestial atlas Uranometria in 1603.

Monument for Cornelis and Frederik de Houtman in Gouda, Netherlands

In 1603, after his return to Holland, de Houtman published his stellar observations in an appendix to his dictionary and grammar of the Malayan and Malagasy languages.[3]

In 1619 de Houtman sailed in the VOC ship Dordrecht, with Jacob d'Edel in the VOC ship Amsterdam. They sighted the Australian coast near present-day Perth, which they called d'Edelsland. After sailing northwards along the coast he encountered and only narrowly avoided a group of shoals, subsequently called the Houtman Abrolhos. De Houtman then made landfall in the region known as Eendrachtsland, which the explorer Dirk Hartog had encountered earlier. In his journal, de Houtman identified these coasts with Marco Polo's land of Beach, or Locach, as shown on maps of the time (e.g., by Petrus Plancius and Jan Huygen van Linschoten).[4]

De Houtman died in Alkmaar, Holland, Dutch Republic.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kanas, Nick (2009). Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography (2nd ed.). Springer. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-4614-0916-8.
  2. ^ Dekker, Elly (1987). "Early Explorations of the Southern Celestial Sky". Annals of Science. 44: 439–470. doi:10.1080/00033798700200301.
  3. ^ Fr. de Houtman, Spraeck ende woord-boeck, in de Maleysche ende Madagaskarsche talen, met vele Arabische ende Turcsche woorden. Inhoudende twaelf tsamensprekeninghen inde Maleysche, ende drie in de Madagaskarsche spraken, met alderhande woorden ende namen, ghestela naer dordre vanden A.B.C. alles int Nederduytsch gestellt: noch zijn hier byghevoecht de declinatien van vele vaste Sterren, staende ontrent den Zuyd-pool (Amsterdam: Jan Evertsz. Cloppenburch, 1603) online link.
  4. ^ Letter of Commandeur Frederik de Houtman to the Chamber Amsterdam, 7 October 1620, Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, 982, 1620 II, fol147-151, fol.148r; quoted in P. A. Leupe, De Reizen der Nederlanders naar het Zuidland of Nieuw-Holland in de 17e en 18e eeuw, Amsterdam, G. Hulst van Keulen, 1868, p.29, 32; cited in Frederik Willem Stapel, De Oostindische Compagnie en Australië, Amsterdam, P.N. van Kampen, 1937, pp.11 en 28.

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