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The story of Johannes (Jan) Coert  (1737 – 1801) the ancestor of the Indo-European Family

 

(Narrated and research by Roy J. Coert, December 2001)

 

Johannes Coert must be seen as the ancestor of the Indo-European family COERT. Where and how Johannes Coert spend the first years of his life before he joined the United Dutch Indian Company (VOC – Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) as a soldier in the year 1756, is so far not known.

 

The Course of Life of Johannes (Jan) Coert

 

Johannes Coert became ‘Dienaar’(servant) of the VOC. Most probably he was press-ganged  since he signed a confession of guilt (‘Ceel’) of fifty Guilders in favor of the Widow Bouwmeester and which amount was paid to Jan Janz in Amsterdam. At that time it was quit common that boarding house owners like the widow Bouwmeester or so called soul-vendors ‘zielverkopers’ were active in recruiting soldiers and sailors for the VOC.

 

After being recruited, on the 2nd of February 1756 Johan Coert van Hofberg sailed out with the vessel ‘De Vrouwe Rebecca Jacoba’ (150 feet long and with a tonnage of 1150) from Texel island.

This vessel belonged to the Amsterdam Charter of the VOC. Via Cape of Good Hope (Valsche Baai) he arrived at Batavia on 23 October 1756.

 

In the so called ‘Scheepssoldijboek’ (the payment register) of the vessel ‘De Vrouwe Rebecca Jacoba’, Johannes Coert was also found under the names Jan Koert /Jan Coert with place of origin Schotbergen and Scheppenroo. It is not known whether one these places is the place of birth of Johannes Coert or his last place of stay before his embarkation to the Dutch East-Indies from Texel.

 

The first ten years on the island Java of the Dutch East-Indies, from October 1756 until July 1766, Johannes Coert was placed at the garrison of Batavia belonging to the 137 heads of the Regiment Infantry. In 1760 he became the rank of Corporal with a wage of 14 Guilders per month. In 1762 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant with a wage of 20 Guilders a month.

 

According the payment register, Johannes Coert must have been 25 years of age in 1766 when he was transferred to city of Semarang, the Military Head quarters for the East Java region, where he stayed until the end of August 1773. During this time in Semarang Johannes Coert became in 1771  ‘Vaandrig’ (reserve officer candidate) at the Infantry Regiment with a wage of 40 Guilders.

 

In 1773 Johannes Coert was quartered in ‘Fort VREDENBURG’ at Yogjakarta where he had, together with Lieutenant Jan Hendrik Ham, the command of a half battalion Infantry. (note: This Fort Vredenburg still exists and is a public museum now.)

In 1781 followed his promotion into Lieutenant with a wage of 50 Guilders. During this period his marriage with Maria Agnita VAN HAAK ended due to her death.

In 1784 he was transferred to Bancallang at the island of Madoera. In 1776 he was nominated as Commander of Bancallang.

 

In the ‘Memorie tot narigt’ (turn over of office letter) from Johannes SIBERG, Governor- and Director of Java’s North-East Coast to his successor Jan GREEVE, dated 18 September 1887, Johannes SIBERG wrote under paragraph 81: ‘At Bancallang, the place where the Prince of Bancallang resides, there is a well equipped small fortress with 31 heads including the European servants for the Prince. As Commander, the recently stationed Johannes Coert which seams to get on very well with the Panembahan (Prince)’.

 

Johannes Coert was transferred in the year 1792 to Pasuruan as Lieutenant and Commander of Pasuruan, where he replaced the Major tit. Adriaan van Rijck who  deceased on 14 August 1792.

 

In the years 1799 and 1800 Johannes Coert lived at Surabaya.

On 3 July 1800 it was permitted to Johannes Coert and to the Resident of Passourouang (Pasuruan) Ligten to incorporate each a Sugar mill in the Passourouang area. At that time it was quite common that high VOC servants receive benefits such as a piece of land called ‘Apanage’ and where the yield of the land were fully for the Apanage-holder.

 

Johannes Coert became also Apanage-holder of a piece of land (approximately 45,4 hectare) at the south-east side of Pasuruan which he selected himself and which was named ‘KEDAWOENG’  He established there a Sugar mill which is still in operation. (The name Kedawung is corrupted from the Javanese wording ‘ke da-ung’ which means ‘rich of leaves’. The place where the Sugar mill and the house of Johannes Coert was build stood in the vicinity of very old Waringin threes. The Waringin is considered on the island of Java as a holy three with supernatural powers.)

 

On or around 29 or 30 September 1801 Johannes Coert died at Pasuruan. Most probably he was buried in his own garden at Kedawung.

 

(Sources: VOC archives at Algemeen Rijks Archief, The Hague; Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, The Hague and ARSIP, Jakarta)