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Jan van Riebeeck

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Jan van Riebeeck
Jan van Riebeeck.jpg
1st Commander of the Cape
In office
7 April 1652 – 6 May 1662
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Zacharias Wagenaer
Personal details
Johan Anthoniszoon van Riebeeck

21 April 1619
Culemborg, Gelderland
 Dutch Republic
Died 18 January 1677(1677-01-18) (aged 57)
Flag of the Dutch East India Company.svg VOC East Indies
Resting place Groote Kerk, Jakarta
Nationality Flag of the Dutch East India Company.svg Dutch
Spouse(s) Maria de la Quellerie
Children Abraham van Riebeeck
7 others
Occupation Colonial administrator

Johan Anthoniszoon "Jan" van Riebeeck (April 21, 1619 – January 18, 1677) was a Dutch colonial administrator and founder of Cape Town.


Van Riebeeck was born in Culemborg in the Netherlands as the son of a surgeon. He grew up in Schiedam, where he married 19-year old Maria de la Quellerie on 28 March 1649. (She died in Malacca, now part of Malaysia, on 2 November 1664, at the age of 35). The couple had eight children, most of whom did not live through . Their son Abraham van Riebeeck, born at the Cape, later became Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.

Joining the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1639, he served in many posts, like an assistant surgeon in the Batavia in the East Indies. He then went to Japan. His most important position was that of head of the VOC trading post in Tonkin, Vietnam. However, he was called back from this post as it was found that he was working trade for his own account.

In 1651 he was asked to undertake the command of the initial Dutch settlement in the future South Africa. He landed three ships Drommedaris, Reijger and Goede Hoop at the future Cape Town on 6 April 1652 and strongly make the site as a way-station for the VOC trade route between the Netherlands and the East Indies. The Walvisch and the Oliphant came later, having had 130 burials at sea.