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The oldest official written document in South Africa

KAB C1 page 2The oldest official written document is volume 1 of the archival group ‘Council of Policy’ (C). The first page in this volume is a prayer that is known as ‘Jan van Riebeeck’s prayer’. The second page is the first official document that contains the resolutions of the Council meeting held on board the VOC ship Drommedaris, Saturday, 30 December 1651. The first signature at the bottom is that of Jan van Riebeeck.
On Sunday, 24 December 1651, six days before the fleet of three ships of the VOC Chamber of Amsterdam that was to establish the VOC replenishment station at the Cape of Good Hope (today Cape Town, South Africa), left Texel in the Netherlands.

The three ships were: Drommedaris (Captain Davit Coninck), Goede Hoope (Captain Symen Turver) and Reijger (Captain Jan Hoochsaet).
Present at this meeting of Saturday 30 December 1651 were the three above captains, the Fleet Commander Jan van Riebeeck and also Pieter van Helm, the Provisional Secretary. The fleet arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on 6 April 1652 and established the VOC replenishment and halfway station to Batavia (today Djakarta, Indonesia).

Here is a rough transcription of the first meeting of the Council, depicting their exploits at sea on their way to the Cape of Good Hope. See the image of the original document. 

Zaterdach den 30en Decemb : 1651.
De wint Westelijck, vrij hard aencoelende. Bevinden 't schip de Drommedaris soo ranck te wesen dat wij quael : eenigh seijl ounnen voeren sonder beduchtinge van groote swaright, derhalve de schippers van de Reijger ende Hope aan boort ontboden hebben ende haer in de raedt voorgedragen de ranckheit des schips, daer bij geroepen sijnde de scheeps officieren dewelcke verclaerden niet sonder prijckel geraden met 't schip door Zee to gaen, alsoo niet mogelk is op een lagen wal vervallende daer boven te cunnen geraecken noch met een bijleggen eenige smacken van grove Zeen te cunnen affslaan, Soo ist na goed overlech ende rijpe deliberatie Eenparigh nootshalven ten meesten dienste van d' E Comp goetgevonden dewijle doch weijnigh met bijleggen cunnen vorderen, aen d' Engelse Cust met ons drie schepen bequame haven te soeken, omme 't schip den Drommedaris aldaar met eenige boots steen te ballasten ende dan gesamentlk van daer op 't alderspoedigste onse gedestineerde reijse met alien mogelijcken vlijt te bevorderen.
Aldus gedaen ende geresolveert In 't Schip den Drommedaris ten dage ende Jare als boven.
(Get) JOHAN VAN RIEBEECK
1651.
DAVIT CONINCK
JAN HOOCHSAET
SYMEN TUKVER
P. V. HELM. Secret

reprinted from eGGSA's Facebook page, 25 Jan 2019

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