|4th Governor of Formosa|
|Preceded by||Pieter Nuyts|
|Succeeded by||Johan van der Burg|
Career in Asia
Born in Middelburg, Putmans came to Asia in 1621 in the service of the Dutch East India Company. Over the first three years of his career, he was stationed in Siam, Cambodia, Patani, Sumatra's west coast and Java's north east coast. In 1624, he came to Batavia; four years later he became the president of the college of Aldermen and the overseer of the Chinese citizens.
Governor of Formosa
In 1629, he became the fourth governor of Formosa, present-day Taiwan. In 1633, he led a military campaign on the Chinese coast against the Chinese admiral Zheng Zhilong. In addition to Dutch vessels, Putmans commanded a great number of Chinese pirate vessels which he hired for the campaign. In July of that year, in a surprise attack near the island of Gulangyu, near Xiamen, he managed to destroy the fleet that Zheng Zhilong was building there. On 22 October, however, Putmans' fleet was defeated at the Battle of Liaoluo Bay, where Zheng Zhilong destroyed three Dutch East Indiamen with fireships and captured another, putting the remainder of the Dutch fleet to flight.
Defeated in the battle, Putmans turned his attention to agriculture, establishing a policy of attracting settlers from the Chinese mainland to Formosa, in order to cultivate rice and sugar on the fertile plains on the west side of the island. In time, this policy would become very successful.
Return to the Netherlands
- Blussé, van Opstal and Ts'ao Yung-Ho, De Dagregisters van het Kasteel Zeelandia, Taiwan, I, 1629-1641 (The Hague 1986), 2n6
- Tonio Andrade, Lost Colony: the untold story of China’s first great victory over the West (Princeton 2011), ch. 3 and 4.
- Tonio Andrade, How Taiwan became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century, ch. 6.
- His marriage with Elizabeth van Zanten on 9 October 1638, as recorded in the Delft municipal archive, describes him as 'coming from Amsterdam'. Collection Delft, archive 14, inv. nr. 125.
- Death certificate in Collection Delft, archive 14, inv. nr. 39.