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Cape Town Between East and West

Social identities in a Dutch colonial town

edited by

Nigel Worden

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capetownbetweeneastandwest

The publishers and authors gratefully acknowledge a grant from the Van Ewijck Foundation towards the publication costs of this book.

First published in 2012: in southern Africa by Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd 10 Orange Street Sunnyside Auckland Park 2092 South Africa +2711 628 3200 www.jacana.co.za Job number 001625 and in the Netherlands by Uitgeverij Verloren Torenlaan 25 1211 JA Hilversum The Netherlands +35-6859856 www.verloren.nl © Nigel Worden, 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilised in any form and by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher. Print ISBN 978-1-4314-0292-2 (Jacana Media) ISBN 978 90 8704 290 5 (Uitgeverij Verloren) Also available as an e-book d-PDF ISBN 978-1-4314-0342-4 ePUB ISBN 978-1-4314-0365-3 Cover design by Shawn Paikin and Maggie Davey Set in Ehrhardt 11/14 pt

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contents

Contents List of contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .vii Introduction Nigel Worden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi 1. The cultural landscape Antonia Malan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2. The VOC official elite Robert Ross and Alicia Schrikker . . . . . . . . . 26 3. Entrepreneurs and the making of a free burgher society Gerald Groenewald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 4. Protest and Dutch burgher identity Teun Baartman . . . . . . . . . . . 65 5. Southeast Asian migrants Kerry Ward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 6. The Chinese exiles James C. Armstrong . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 7. Jan Smiesing, Slave Lodge schoolmaster and healer, 1697–1734 Robert Shell and Archie Dick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 8. Family, friendship and survival among freed slaves Susan Newton-King . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 9. Soldiers and Cape Town society Nigel Penn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176 10. Public brawling, masculinity and honour Nigel Worden . . . . . . . . 194 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253

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contributors

Contributors

James C. Armstrong retired in 2005 after working for the Library of Congress as an overseas field director. His publications include several key articles on slavery and the slave trade between the Cape and Madagascar, and he is currently researching the Chinese community in VOC Cape Town. Teun Baartman is a graduate of the University of Leiden. He has recently completed a doctorate at the University of Cape Town on burgher factions in late 18th-century Cape Town. Archie Dick is a Professor in the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria. His research interests are the history of reading and the history of the book in South Africa. He has written numerous articles on history and literacy. His book on The hidden history of South Africa’s book and reading cultures is forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press. Gerald Groenewald is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Johannesburg. He has published (with Nigel Worden) Trials of slavery, 1705– 1794 (Cape Town, 2005) and articles about the 17th- and 18th-century Cape Colony, on topics ranging from slavery and gender and family history to the social history of early modern Cape Town. Antonia Malan is a leading historical archaeologist at the Historical Archaeology Research Group, University of Cape Town, and has published extensively on material culture, gender and identity in the 18th-century Cape Colony.

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Susan Newton-King is Associate Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape. She has published Masters and servants on the Cape eastern frontier (Cambridge, 1999) and a number of articles dealing with social and economic relations on the eastern frontiers of Dutch South Africa. She is researching at present sexuality, race and gender in VOC Cape Town. Nigel Penn is Professor of History at the University of Cape Town. His publications include Rogues, rebels and runaways: Eighteenth-century Cape characters (Cape Town, 1999), The forgotten frontier: Colonist and Khoisan on the Cape’s northern frontier in the 18th century (Cape Town, 2005) and numerous articles on 17th- and 18th-century Cape history. Robert Ross is Professor of Southern African History at the University of Leiden and author of numerous works on the early colonial Cape. He is also author of South Africa: A concise history (Cambridge, 1999) and co-editor of the Cambridge history of South Africa (2009). Alicia Schrikker is a lecturer in Modern History at the University of Leiden and coordinator of the Encompass Encountering a Common Past in Asia programme. Her PhD is entitled ‘Dutch and British colonial intervention in Sri Lanka, c.1780–1815’ (Leiden, 2006). Robert Shell is Professor of Historical Demography at the University of the Western Cape. He has written extensively on early Cape colonial society, including Children of bondage: A social history of the slave society at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652–1838 (Hanover and Johannesburg, 1994). Kerry Ward is Associate Professor of World History at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and a specialist in early modern Cape and Southeast Asian history. She is the author of Networks of empire: Forced migration in the Dutch East India Company (New York, 2009) and articles on the Cape in an Indian Ocean and transnational context. Nigel Worden is Professor of History at the University of Cape Town. His publications include Slavery in Dutch South Africa (Cambridge, 1985), Cape Town: The making of a city (Cape Town, 1998), The making of modern South Africa (5th edn, Oxford, 2012) and articles on honour and status among Cape Town’s artisans, soldiers and sailors.

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introduction

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Introduction nigelworden

Many people in the 18th century knew about Cape Town. Almost anyone who travelled between Europe and Asia visited the port, if only for a week or two’s respite during a long voyage. This included nearly a million employees of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) of the Netherlands as well as thousands of passengers and crew aboard English, Scandinavian, French and other European trading vessels. Many of these sent word home to their families and friends scattered across the towns and villages of northern and eastern Europe.1 Amongst European intellectuals, the Cape was known through the writings of philosophers, travellers and scientists, who singled out its remarkable ‘Hottentot’ population and distinctive flora and fauna.2 Artists and map-makers were familiar with its striking Table Mountain, which they usually depicted in exaggerated proportions.3 In Asia the 18thcentury Cape was also known, but for different reasons: as a forbidding place of exile and bondage, the Pulo Kap (Cape island) which lay on the fringes of the world.4 As is largely still the case today, Cape Town became widely renowned for its distinctive images of mountain and sea and for its unique geographical position at a tip of the African continent, balanced between the worlds of the Atlantic to its west and the Indian Ocean to its east. What was often less well understood was that a small urban community was growing at this distinctive geographical site, one which drew from the triangulation of its African, European and Asian setting. After decades of use by various Europeans as a stop-over for water and meat supplies, Cape Town was established by the VOC in 1652 as a refreshment post with a garrison to defend it from its European rivals. Unlike many European trading posts in Africa and Asia, its site at the point where fresh-water streams flowed into Table Bay was not that of a pre-existing local port or settlement. Its early

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history was rather one of settler appropriation of Khoe herding and grazing lands, a history which caused major dislocations of local societies. Though indigenous pastoralists and hunter-gatherers left some archaeological residue on the shores of Table Bay, by the 18th century their presence in the town that emerged there was minimal.5 Rather, Cape Town’s population was overwhelmingly made up of immigrants from outside southern Africa and their descendants. These included VOC administrators, soldiers and artisans from the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic; passing crewmen and passengers from across the Atlantic world; slaves from Mozambique, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Java, Bali, Sulawesi and the islands of eastern Indonesia; European, Chinese and Asian convicts sent from Batavia and Colombo; and exiled Asians who posed threats to Company control in the East Indies. Some stayed for the remainder of their lives, either if they left Company employ and became burghers or in circumstances less of their own choosing as slaves or convicts. Others were temporary sojourners, whether for only a few days or weeks or for many years. By the standards of the port towns of Asia, the colonial Americas or Europe the resident population of 18th-century Cape Town was not large. There were about 3,000 VOC employees, free burghers, convicts and slaves in the town in the early 1730s. By the 1770s, the latest decade for which we have reasonable records, this had grown to over 7,000.6 As Antonia Malan shows, the town’s geographical boundaries were never clearly demarcated and its market gardens climbed up the mountain slopes behind it, but it remained a relatively compact settlement in the bowl of the mountains surrounding it on three sides and fronted by the bay. But this is not the whole story. The population of the town was boosted by a large transient population of both upcountry farmers coming to market and visiting crewmen, soldiers and passengers who crowded its streets and taverns when their ships were in harbour. For Cape Town’s boundaries were wide indeed. It drew sustenance from a rapidly expanding settler farming economy in its hinterland, a hinterland that had spread hundreds of kilometres inland by the middle of the century. At the same time it was the supplier of all imported goods to the farms, cattle ranches and small towns of the Cape interior. But it also had a hinterland in the south-west Indian Ocean, linked to the regions of modern Mozambique and the great island of Madagascar from which it traded in rice and slaves, as well as further across the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka and India and to the VOC’s administrative capital in Batavia and the Indonesian archipelago beyond.7 From there it drew supplies and slaves, who arrived on the VOC vessels embarked from

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Colombo, Galle and Batavia on their way to Europe. From the North Atlantic it received manpower and a range of imported goods from the Company’s ports in the Netherlands, which were in turn linked to the wide-ranging migratory pattern of labour in northern and central Europe.8 It is in this transmarine and transcontinental context that Cape Town’s history needs to be understood. The social history of early Cape Town has only recently received concerted attention. Historians of the VOC Cape have tended rather to focus on the rural regions of the colony where the great themes that shaped so much of early colonial South Africa played out: conflict with indigenous inhabitants, land appropriation, stratification by wealth and class in settler and trekboer societies, agrarian slavery.9 Cape Town was usually acknowledged only briefly, if at all, in these histories. However, in the 1980s and 1990s more concerted research was undertaken by the Cape Town History Project at the University of Cape Town (UCT). This applied the approaches of the new urban history that was currently influential in Britain and Australia, emphasising the lives of all the city’s inhabitants and in particular seeking to give voice to the poorer and less privileged.10 The material produced by the project on the VOC period gave new insights, particularly on the experiences of the underclasses in the settlement. At the same time scholars in the Historical Archaeology Research Group at UCT focused on the material residues of the early colonial settlement and moved beyond the description and classification of excavated remains to interpreting the significance of material culture in terms of status and representation.11 The collective work of these two projects transformed our understanding of the social and material nature of the early colonial settlement. This book is the product of newer work that has emerged over the past decade. A major impetus was provided by the establishment of an interdisciplinary research group in 2003, run jointly at the universities of Cape Town and the Western Cape and entitled ‘Social Identities in VOC Cape Town’.12 The group wanted to maintain the impetus of previous research on the early colonial town, but with new emphases. For example, the focus of much existing work on slavery neglected other social groupings in Cape Town’s underclasses, such as sailors, soldiers, artisans, convicts, exiles and freed slaves, as well as the more elite inhabitants such as burghers and Company officials. Scholars now wanted to study the port settlement in all the complexity of its social interactions. The project also marked the influence of a ‘cultural turn’ by social historians. The thematic focus had become social identity. This shifted

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away from an earlier emphasis on economic structures and forms of control and resistance, to self-perception and status. It did not negate the more conventional issues of power, class, gender and race, since, in the words of the British empire historian Kathleen Wilson, ‘identity results from the negotiation between where one is placed and where one places oneself within social networks, working through what is possible and what is forbidden’. This is ‘a historical process, identity is tentative, multiple and contingent, and its modalities change over time’.13 In VOC Cape Town, as elsewhere, ‘social performance was paramount in defining the relations between self and world’,14 a means of stating identity with those with whom one wishes to share status, while distancing oneself from others who lack the respectability required to maintain such status. This notion deepens our understanding of the ways in which class or ethnicity operated in the town. But it also means that we are interested as much in individuals and the way they viewed themselves and performed their lives in relation to others, as in broad generalising categories such as legal classification, racial descriptors or class.15 Identity construction can also be traced through markers of cultural practices and material culture. Here the project has benefited from a major enterprise with which it was closely connected, involving the transcription of estate records and, particularly, household inventories, held at the Western Cape Archives repository. These records are only preserved in any systematic way for the 18th century, which explains the chronological focus of this book.16 This extraordinarily rich set of data is now available online where, together with digitalised data from the VOC’s archives in the Netherlands, it has given an important impetus to local research.17 It is particularly valuable given the scarcity of personal records, such as letters, diaries or other egodocuments for the period. Social historians have drawn instead on judicial and estate records, in which the art of reading against the grain or interpreting evidence produced for a very different purpose has been essential. Susan Newton-King’s and Robert Shell and Archie Dick’s chapters in this book are thus ground-breaking. Using newly discovered and rare private letters and notebooks written by slaves and freed slaves, they pioneer new ways of understanding their subjects’ perceptions and ambitions. The focus on the town provides a specific social context. New urban cultural histories of both early modern Europe and its colonies have informed much of our thinking around, for example, issues of migration and the status of outsiders, the use and perception of private and public space, and distinctive urban forms of material culture.18 A particularly pertinent

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argument is that of historians of the early modern Dutch city, who contend that economic and political dislocations and widespread (im)migration lessened pre-existing household, kinship and community bonds. The construction of new identities was likelier in the context of the city, where the resources for multiple self-refashioning were more readily available than in rural areas.19 How much more might this have been the case in a colonial Dutch town where new lives were being formed and shaped far away from the confines of the metropolis? A further aim of this book is to position VOC Cape Town in a wider geographical and cultural context. Contributors have used the insights obtainable from the rich social history of the Netherlands in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as work on other Company trading towns and settlements in the Indian Ocean and Asian worlds.20 But it also aims to go further than comparisons. It is clear that Cape Town was directly shaped by forces beyond its immediate geographical confines, as a port which was part of a much wider network of interchanges of people, material goods and ideas. Identities were the product of this complex and transnational interchange. We have been strongly influenced in this regard by the work of Kerry Ward, who has demonstrated how Cape Town both shaped and was shaped by the wider Indian Ocean world.21 Each chapter in this volume stands in its own right and all report the findings of individual research. However, they are also written with the broader issues outlined above in mind. Antonia Malan sets the scene by examining the physical and spatial context of 18th-century Cape Town. Using a rich range of cartographic and visual material and newly digitalised and database resources of deeds records and household inventories, she shows how the pre-colonial landscape of transhumant pastoralism and huntergathering was transformed during the VOC period by mapping, surveying, land allocation and the building of public and private properties. Beyond the central core of buildings and grid-patterned streets lay market gardens and farms owned by town dwellers, which formed an integral part of the urban community. Although the Company might have envisaged this as an orderly and planned process, Malan demonstrates that Cape Town during the earlier decades of the century was not a stable and established community but one where there was a rapid turnover of property ownership and considerable speculation, with poorer and wealthier inhabitants living cheek by jowl. However, while buildings in the 17th and early 18th centuries tended to be multi-purpose clusters with diverse and eclectic forms transplanted from

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their inhabitants’ region of origin, she argues that ‘between 1720 and 1750 a more patterned style of building and living was being adopted, first by the wealthier burghers and then more generally’. By the 1770s and 1780s a more distinctive Cape Town style of building had emerged, which was adapted to local needs and circumstances. Cape Town by the end of the century was a larger and more complex community, yet also one in which a distinctive local identity was becoming evident in its physical form. Part of that distinctiveness lay in the incompleteness of Company control, in the pockets of illicit and unofficial living in the streets, back gardens and fringes of the town. Cape Town’s spatial reality was only partially revealed in the official maps and plans of the settlement. A fundamental question raised by this evidence, and which is the concern of all the contributors, is the extent to which the trend towards a local style of building and spatial form during the course of the 18th century was matched by a growing and distinctive local identity amongst the town’s inhabitants. Robert Ross and Alicia Schrikker pose this in relation to the higher-ranking VOC officials. These men and their families featured prominently in the town, their elite status accentuated through much pomp and ceremony. Their presence has often been overlooked by Cape Town historians, who saw them as outsiders, part of the network of VOC high management whose lives spanned the worlds of Europe and Asia, rather than as residents of the town.22 Yet it is precisely this wider global perspective that makes them intriguing as a case study. Ross and Schrikker draw our attention to significant work on VOC officials in Asia. While Jean Taylor almost 30 years ago made the influential argument that Company officials saw themselves as part of a new Eurasian social world in Batavia through their marriage alliances with local women, Ulbe Bosma and Remco Raben have more recently argued that a Dutch cultural and social identity continued to be important to higherranking officials throughout the VOC period, albeit less evident in outlying Asian posts or in Sri Lanka than in the Batavian imperial capital.23 Where did the Cape fit into this scenario? Ross and Schrikker demonstrate that higher-ranking officials in Cape Town often made their careers in Asia and that a number of them had experience of working in Batavia, Ceylon or elsewhere both before and after postings at the Cape. Their experience in the town was characteristically ‘expat’. This was not so much the case for middle- and lower-ranking officials, almost half of whom (as in Asian stations) were locally born while most of the remainder were appointed directly through patronage networks in the Netherlands. Together with the relative physical proximity of Europe, this

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meant that although Cape Town’s Company officials were subject to Batavia, they tended to be more Dutch in orientation than their Asian counterparts. Locally born appointees as well as some of the immigrants could become part of Cape Town’s permanent urban community, especially if they married the daughters of free burghers or freed slaves. By the 1750s and 1760s, argue Ross and Schrikker, ‘the apparent rootedness of VOC officialdom became most prevalent’. The process was, however, never complete. Ross and Schrikker suggest overall that ‘mobility and rootedness were combined in VOC families at the Cape’. In the final decades of the century a localised identity among Company officials in Cape Town was countered by more high-ranking appointments directly from the Netherlands. In addition, examination of the careers of officials through the VOC world shows that over the course of the century an increasing number of Cape-born men entered Company service, usually in the lower ranks, but sometimes achieving careers in higher office in Asia through the right family and kinship connections. Such men readily left the Cape for Asia or Europe when favourable opportunities arose. Capeborn women also married VOC officials and spent the rest of their lives away from the colony. Cape Town was thus enmeshed in a network of kinship and patronage across the VOC worlds of Europe, Africa and Asia, a factor little apparent to those historians who focus on the town in isolation. The VOC elite of the Cape, conclude Ross and Schrikker, may have been ‘the least Asian of any VOC station’ but its members were also ‘the least localised segment of the population’ of the town. The construction of a local identity while utilising the resources of a wide world is more evident in the case of Cape Town’s free burgher population, those who made the city their permanent home. Gerald Groenewald takes the sample of a group of successful entrepreneurs, the alcohol pachters, to illustrate how urban burghers could construct a position of wealth and status for themselves in a new colonial context. Lacking the background of established capital or long-established kinship connections of the kind that social elites expected in Europe (or indeed Asia), these men consciously built up their own kinship networks and social relationships of trust and mutual support in their new environment. In the earlier decades of the 18th century, many alcohol pachters were Germans, who used the social capital of their common language, religion (mostly Lutheran) and marriage alliances to provide a network of mutual support in the town and thus acquire high status as wealthy burghers. In the later decades this still continued to be of importance, although by the 1770s and 1780s alliances with other locally

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born burghers and rural settlers were changing the focus: ‘factors centring on a shared ethnicity were increasingly giving way to alliances that were aimed at strengthening local ties’. Groenewald’s analysis of urban networks and their transitions is illuminated by the ways in which the pachters marked and made known their identity as successful entrepreneurs. Household inventories suggest that the conspicuous possession of items such as slaves, carriages, ornate buckles and hanging curtains all served to advertise the wealth and status of the owner. Membership of the burgher militia, a key institution which Teun Baartman and Nigel Penn also discuss in their chapters, made them prominently visible at official ceremonial occasions. The performance of a prosperous burgher identity was as significant as its acquisition and essential to its maintenance. With acquisition of status came the danger of its loss. Groenewald’s chapter also introduces a theme that several other contributors emphasise, that of honour and reputation. Not only was status for the pachters acquired through wealth, marriage and conspicuous consumption, but it was maintained through trustworthiness. Loss of reputation through financial or moral corruption could destroy the gains of social capital. This was the case for the merchant communities of early modern Europe, but it was especially so in a colonial town where the reliability of newcomers and first-generation descendants was unknown and so particularly uncertain. As Teun Baartman shows, Cape Town’s burghers were highly sensitive to threats to their status. By compiling a detailed prosopography of the participants in the disputes that arose between a group of burghers and the Company in the late 1770s, he argues that this movement, sometimes seen by historians as an expression of a unified local settler identity in opposition to a restrictive colonial trading company, was in fact a marker of local division. The distinction between those burghers who supported the protests and those who did not was characteristic of the factions that emerged in Dutch city-states of the 17th and 18th centuries. The non-supporters were more closely tied by kinship and patronage networks to the Company and its higher-ranking officials, the men whom Ross and Schrikker have analysed. Those burghers who protested were excluded from these cliques and felt that their burgher rights and status had been ignored. Such notions had less to do with colonial proto-nationalism than with a sense of injustice based on Dutch precedents and perceptions. Moreover, Baartman argues that burgerschap (burgher status) was not racially exclusive, and access through birth, marriage or purchase enabled at least some descendants of freed Asian and African slaves to obtain burgher status. He concludes that

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‘Cape burgher identity was rooted in a Dutch political world and history based on a pragmatic mix of status, honour and networking rather than on a principled racial or national awareness’. Neither class nor race assists us much in understanding these events, the driving forces being instead local kinship and patronage connections. The identification of race with status is also questioned in many of the chapters that follow. Kerry Ward views Cape Town through the perceptions and experiences of its inhabitants of Southeast Asian origin: the exiles, convicts and slaves who were transported to the Cape by the Company from Batavia and its other Asian stations. Ethnicity did not predetermine the ways in which Asians negotiated identities within the town any more than was the case in Southeast Asia itself. Some high-ranking exiles arrived with their own slaves, whose possession, as in Asia, continued to emphasise their prestige and status. Some socialised with high-ranking Company officials, although they were kept under careful watch at the Castle or on estates outside the town. Yet others lived and worked alongside convicts, both of Asian and European origin, and slaves at the Company’s fortifications, quarries and outposts or on Robben Island. James Armstrong shows how Cape Town’s Chinese population, overwhelmingly male convicts by origin and largely an extension of the Hokkien diaspora in Southeast Asia, was defined by the Company as a single ethnic group. Yet they carried out a variety of roles in the town, from traders who owned their own slaves to poor convict labourers. Some married free women, often their own slaves whom they had manumitted, and thus became part of the broader free population. Some time-expired convicts eventually became free burghers. Although their cultural and linguistic legacies enabled them to retain a stronger sense of ethnic identity than many Asians in the town, an identity also emphasised by the Company in its separation of Chinese names in its records, this did not necessarily lead to social solidarity. Moreover, Armstrong argues that intermarriage with slave women led to a diminution of Chinese ethnic identity after only one generation. Contrary to the assumption of many historians that it was only those Capetonians of European origin who retained contact with their homelands, several contributors here show that the town’s Asian inhabitants also continued to be part of transnational networks of interaction. Chinese and Southeast Asian convicts and exiles in Cape Town retained links with their kin in Batavia and elsewhere. Repatriation of Southeast Asians and Chinese was frequently requested and, as both Armstrong and Ward show, a number did take place. Asian sailors manned Company ships in Table Bay, especially

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in the later 18th century. The link between Asians and the Cape was thus not a one-way passage. Ward argues that there was a continuing ‘mental world of connection of Asians to their homelands’. This was most clearly evident in the distinctive forms that Islamic practice and belief took in Cape Town, strongly influenced by Javanese ideas and forms, such as the veneration of gravesites of mystics and teachers, which still today are important sites of pilgrimage and devotion in and around the city. Armstrong shows that some Chinese convicts and exiles were also Muslim, while others followed distinctively Chinese religious and burial practices. Asian Capetonians of the 18th century were not divorced from their roots and, like the burghers and Company officials of European origin, they drew from the cultural repertoire of their homelands to construct new identities in the town. These connections are difficult to pin down in the absence of evidence from the colonial archive, which was overwhelmingly produced by officials with little interest in such matters. This is particularly true for slaves and their descendants, who formed around 40 per cent of the permanent population of Cape Town throughout the 18th century. Their presence in such numbers clearly distinguished Cape Town from Dutch towns and placed it in the same category as Asian port settlements.24 Slaves were removed from kinship networks by the circumstances of their enslavement and were condemned to a life of permanent exile, divorced from Asia or even closer regions of origin such as Madagascar, Mozambique and its south-east African hinterland. Over the past few decades, several historians have searched for signs of slave identities at the Cape, and some new work is showing how distinctive slave linguistic, cultural or religious beliefs were manifested in the colony.25 Ward analyses several cases of resistance by Southeast Asian slaves that suggest how ideas of self-respect and honour, drawing in these cases from Asian concepts, were as significant to slave identity as they were to burghers and other free people. This is a theme to which Nigel Worden returns in the final chapter of the volume, drawing on judicial records. But what this emphasis on distinct slave or Asian and African cultural forms neglects is the extent to which slaves and freed slaves could forge identities in Cape Town that transcended their bonded status. Did they use essentially the same methods as the town’s burghers, such as kinship and credit networks, property and other material and cultural markers of status, to try to establish themselves in a new context? As Antonia Malan shows in the case of the children of the exiled Raja of Tambora, acquisition of property and Christian conversion were ways of integration into Cape burgher society for elite Asian descendants, as well as for freed slave women who married

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burghers. How far was this true for others of slave descent? Several contributors begin to answer these questions by using new and different kinds of sources. Their findings on the perceptions and identities of individuals of slave origin are breakthroughs in Cape historiography. Robert Shell and Archie Dick analyse a notebook annotated by Johannes Smiesing between 1721 and 1734, ‘the earliest known writing of a Cape slave’. The book, they remark, ‘makes the invisible visible’ in revealing to us the complex identity of a Company slave. Slaves owned by the VOC, unlike their counterparts owned by burghers, had some schooling and literacy in Dutch, giving them access to resources unavailable to other Africans and Asians in Cape Town. What is striking is that not once does Smiesing mention his slave status, including even the momentous event of his own manumission. The focus of the notebook is rather on the markers of his Company education and his Christian conversion: commercial arithmetic, alphabets and a hymn. But also striking is the recording of medicinal remedies written in Tamil. Shell and Dick argue that this combination of literacy, Siddha medicinal knowledge and Christian belief gave Smiesing particular opportunities to bridge the gap between slavery and freedom. Also of supreme importance to him were his kin. Through them Smiesing obtained both freedom and an inheritance. As a free man he swiftly obtained markers of the free status of an educated man: a wife, two slaves and an estate that included a collection of books. The failure of his marriage led to an angry scratching out in his notebook: was this only personal grief or also frustration at the loss of a social marker of success in Cape Town’s free society? In the long term, however, he succeeded: his son became a Company blacksmith and subsequently a free burgher. Smiesing’s struggle to establish himself as a free man of status, achieved through a complex network of kinship support and access to both Dutch and Asian knowledge systems, is paralleled by the experiences of slaves and freed slaves (or ‘free blacks’ as they were described at the time) discussed by Susan Newton-King. She uses a remarkable collection of personal letters of another freed Company slave, Arnoldus Koevoet, and his wife, Anna Rebecca of Bengal, who also lived in Cape Town in the late 1720s and early 1730s. As with Smiesing, the letters suggest a more widespread literacy than historians have usually been prepared to recognise for Cape slaves and freed slaves. They also underscore the importance of maintaining both horizontal links with kin and friends (including Jan Smiesing, who was his exact contemporary in the Slave Lodge, born in the same year) and vertical ties of reciprocal loyalty and support with Company officials and their extended families. These could be wide-ranging. Koevoet’s letters reveal a chain of communications reaching

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kin in Batavia as well as previous owners now retired in Amsterdam, both of whom corresponded with affection across the world. Koevoet and Anna Rebecca, no less than the Company officials described by Ross and Schrikker or the burghers analysed by Groenewald and Baartman, were part of a wide geographical network and used it to their advantage. Koevoet and his wife, like Smiesing, were Christian converts, and their writings show that they took their faith seriously. This and their literacy made them unusual among the slave population of the town, although perhaps less so for the Company’s slaves at the lodge.26 Certainly they were exceptional in acquiring their freedom. And yet those identities could be particularly precarious. Lacking capital, they were very dependent on kin or patrons and more vulnerable to failure. Shell and Dick show how Smiesing’s unsuccessful marriage was a bitter blow to his self-respect and ambition. Newton-King draws attention to the ‘exceptional urgency and resolve’ with which freed slaves in Koevoet’s circle made wills and used bequests, in their anxiety to ensure that their meagre acquisitions of property and capital would be held together for their descendants. Their new-found identity could be readily damaged by death or lack of credit. This conclusion accords with Armstrong’s evidence of the extensive making of wills by Chinese inhabitants. It was no different in essence from the ways in which Groenewald’s pachters asserted status in the town, but in the case of freed slaves like Koevoet and Anna Rebecca the margins for manoeuvre were considerably more restricted. The final two chapters in this book focus our attention on people whose position within Cape Town was also precarious, but for rather different reasons. Nigel Penn examines the circumstances of soldiers in the Company garrison, young and often inexperienced men whose identity was forged in the often traumatic experience of long journeys from their homelands within continental Europe to Holland and the subsequent sea voyage to the Cape, as well as the harsh conditions of employment once they arrived there. Penn shows how hunger forced them into a variety of jobs in the town and its hinterland, where they had much contact with slaves and others at the lower ends of Cape Town’s social order. A number deserted, sometimes along with runaway slaves. A more desirable way out of this situation was through marriage to a local burgher’s daughter once their period of garrison service was over. Patronage and the right connections with burghers or Company officials assisted some soldiers in achieving this mobility into the ranks of the burghers, just as personal links aided Smiesing and Koevoet to establish themselves. Other soldiers formed alliances with slave women and sometimes marriages with freed slaves. It is here that the parallels with the indigenised

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xxi

VOC employees of Asian VOC settlements identified by Bosma and Raben are perhaps most apparent. By the later 18th century, Cape soldiers were facing new challenges. Penn shows how the arrival of more professional mercenaries in the town from the late 1770s, as the Cape became embroiled in the colonial rivalries of the era, led to rivalry and mutual antagonism between the newcomers and the less well-trained and well-equipped local garrison. In the process the sense of their own self-respect and identity as soldiers was accentuated. Nigel Worden uses the lens of masculinity and violence, as revealed through cases of public brawling, to examine the importance of honour and self-respect amongst men of lower rank in the town. In particular he shows how such conflicts frequently were not just the result of random excesses of alcohol and testosterone but drew on distinct cultural repertoires. The causes and the characteristics of these episodes of physical conflict reveal much especially about how lower-class men perceived themselves. These include the distinctive identity of sailors, whose experiences of life ashore differed markedly from those of soldiers and other Company employees; the accentuated sense of honour displayed by soldiers, especially those who came from German-speaking regions where such notions were highly developed; and the sensitivity of artisans to slights to their reputation, which could ruin the prospects of their ambition to make a local marriage and become free burghers. Slaves from Asia and from other regions of Africa also defended their honour through ritualised forms of public violence. Once again, what is revealed is the importance of reputation in a town where each man had to strive to assert himself to obtain and maintain status. In so doing, the lower ranks of Cape Town society drew on the cultural repertoires of their own backgrounds to construct and defend a role for themselves in new circumstances, just as higher-ranking officials and burghers did. The gendering of identity emphasised by Worden is evident in many of the other contributions to this book. Cape Town throughout the 18th century had a predominantly male population, the result of the gender imbalance of its VOC employees and slave imports. Identity construction through public reputation, material possessions, office holding or advantageous marriage was a characteristically masculine tactic. Such methods were less accessible for slaves, convicts or low-ranking soldiers than for free burghers or officials, although case studies in this book show that for at least some freed slaves, ordinary soldiers and Chinese convicts it was not impossible. For women the position was somewhat different. Evidence from these chapters suggests that they could play major roles in economic enterprises or property ownership in

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their own right. But more usually they assisted men in the process of identity construction by their marriages and provision of children and extended kin. For some slave or freed slave women this could entail a transition of rank and status: as in VOC Batavia, the opportunities for slave women or their children to acquire a new identity were wider than for most slave men.27 As Ross and Schrikker show, for some burgher daughters marriage to a highranking official could also lead to a new-found status. Each of the many people analysed in this book shaped his or her life and identity in specific ways, some more strikingly so than others. The overall impact of these studies is to reveal a rather different picture of early colonial Cape Town’s population from that with which we were previously familiar. Men and women constructed their identities with whatever resources they could, and not always in ways determined by the legal categories of free and unfree, burgher and employee, or in accord with their class or ethnicity. Using ideas, cultural forms and practices derived from diverse roots in Europe, Asia and Africa, they adapted themselves to new circumstances with a high degree of innovation and flexibility. As the 18th century progressed, many inhabitants of the town came to identify themselves more consciously as locals, whether they were rich or poor, of free or slave origin, and they asserted this through material means, kinship networks and assertions of honour. Differences of resources and access to power determined just how successful they could be, and clearly those who started as slaves, convicts or impoverished soldiers were less likely to rise in the social hierarchy than others. These new identities did not apply to everyone, and the continued inflow of newcomers, be they Company officials, soldiers or slaves, ensured that the process of local self-fashioning was never complete. Much was to change in Cape Town after the defeat of the VOC in 1795 and the transfer to British rule. New ideas about a particular type of British colonial respectability started to permeate the social and cultural milieu of the town, at all levels, as recent historical work has shown.28 Capetonians consciously adapted themselves to this or, in some cases, deliberately rejected it. But they did so in the context of a pre-existing urban community whose members had also forged their own particular identities. Cape Town’s 18th-century inhabitants of all classes and ethnicities, as this book seeks to show, were individuals acutely aware of the need to fashion themselves in a new colonial world and to defend this self-image both to themselves and to those around them. Studying them in this way reveals that Dutch Cape Town was a more complex and intriguing world than historians have hitherto acknowledged.

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theculturallandscape

1

1

The cultural landscape antoniamalan

The first permanent settlement at the Cape was a VOC outpost at the halfway point on the sea route between Europe and Asia. Its purpose was to provide fresh food and water to ships, rest and recuperation for sick and injured Company servants, and basic amenities for a garrison supported by a free and enslaved workforce. Within 20 years the landscape of Table Valley1 was irreversibly transformed from a ‘natural’ into a ‘cultural’ environment. The entrepôt at the Cape was not intended for colonial settlement. The basic requirements were fortifications and civil engineering infrastructure designed on military engineering principles and intended for the benefit of mercantile exploitation and international trade.2 In the process of constructing a VOC outpost, however, wider and long-lasting impacts occurred through the private enterprise of settlers who needed homes and the means of economic subsistence. Not only were structures planted firmly on the ground, but soils, watercourses and vegetation were exploited and manipulated to suit the purposes of the inhabitants of the Cape. In the colonising context, there was also a strong incentive to tame the wilderness and impose order on chaos.3 In most histories of the Cape the story of Table Valley is soon put aside as attention focuses on the spread of farming and the colonisation of the Cape Peninsula and its hinterland, with a considerable amount of emphasis on the role of land tenure and social relations on farms, villages and frontiers spreading beyond the Salt and Liesbeek rivers. The publication of Cape Town: The making of a city in 1998 provided the first comprehensive overview of the town itself. Before that, few histories attempted to explore the characteristics of the early settlement as a developing cultural landscape, or to elucidate the material world of families and individuals who lived in the town.4

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2

capetownbetweeneastandwest

As Michel de Certeau put it, a community can be viewed as a whole, from the institutional perspective, looking down from on high (as maps and plans do), and at the same time as individuals at ground level, through ‘the practice of everyday life’, never fully determined by the plans and utilitarian layout of the grid of streets.5 This chapter is about digging deeper into pictorial images and cadastral and notarial records in an attempt to map and understand the cultural landscape of VOC Cape Town. Material has been combined from property transactions and deceased estate records, and maps, plans and views. The focus is on the period before 1740, though references are made to later years as a comparison. The small town became home to a wide variety of people who lived in an assortment of places and spaces where they built and altered buildings, lived and died, worked and entertained themselves. What was the extent of the town? What did it look like and when did it change? How was land for private ownership allocated and who developed it? What sorts of dwellings and other structures were built? Where did people live, and what were they doing there? How did Cape Town compare with other VOC towns in the East Indies domain? Planning a place The conceptual model for late-17th-century European town planning was formality and symmetry. This pattern was repeated throughout the VOC world, with minor adjustments to suit the local situation, such as suitable topography, especially the location of sources of fresh water and raw materials for building. The standard pattern was a functional relationship between public structures associated with military rule, government, economy and trade, and residential habitation. The Cape was unusual, however, as the template was laid on ‘virgin’ ground, whereas most other VOC posts had to take existing settlements or infrastructure into consideration. At the Cape the most important resources were a fort and a garden. They were linked by a primary axis that ran from the seashore towards Table Mountain. Secondary structures – a hospital and a church – were aligned along this axial street, later named Heerengracht.6 On the shore were the Company stores and workshops, vital to a replenishment and recuperation point on the sea route to and from the Indies. The settlement was not planned or built as an impressive sight for sea-borne arrivals, but was fronted by these practical structures. Except perhaps for the Castle, which was usually exaggerated in scale when drawn or painted, the public buildings were unremarkable.7 Table

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theculturallandscape

3

Mountain was the iconic landmark in this cultural landscape, and the buildings clustered inconspicuously near the shore (see Plates 1 and 2). Despite any original intentions, the final layout of the settlement did not entirely conform to the model. For example, the repositioning of the second fort off to the side of the settlement was dictated by its defensive function and perceived enemies. The authorities decided that bombardment by fellow Europeans from the sea or from the vantage point of Kloof Nek was a more likely and serious danger than attack from indigenous enemies armed with spears, bows and arrows.8 The Castle of Good Hope (1699) thus replaced the original fort, which had been more symmetrically pleasing on paper but in the wrong defensive position. The Commander had also allowed free burghers to build houses too close to the old fort, compromising the lines of fire, and these buildings were demolished. Access from the shore to the foot of the main axis, the Heerengracht, was not direct. Owing to the Castle’s position to one side, visitors would more probably have entered the residential streets at an oblique angle, walking across the Fortspleijn (Parade) with the Castle at their back, the mountain towering over their left shoulder, and the sea almost invisible behind a row of buildings. By 1730 the Heerengracht was almost closed off from the shoreline, with only a narrow alley between the Company depot and free burgher properties (see Plate 3). The southern boundary of the open space beside the fortification was used to define a secondary axis, linking the Castle to the grid of building blocks allocated to permanent inhabitants. A small resident population of free burghers and free blacks emerged over the years as people decided to become permanent settlers instead of returning ‘home’, and they had to be housed and provided with business premises. The buffer between Castle and dwellings became the military parade ground, the main public open space related to the military and political power of the Company. Nearby, punishments meted out by the court took place in full view – breaking on the wheel, hanging, drawing and quartering, and other means of retribution. A second public open space, for the benefit of settled inhabitants, was later created in the residential area and on the secondary axis formed by the southern edge of the parade ground. It functioned as a market for fresh produce (Groen[t]e Markt) and later the seat of local administration (Burgher Watch House).9 In 1724 a third open space, Boeren Plijn (now Riebeeck Square), was set up as an outspan for livestock, farm wagons and carts, to prevent damage to the parade ground and along residential streets.10 The grid system for defining street layout and allocating land for dwellings

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capetownbetweeneastandwest

and commercial use was based on a system of rectangular blocks and division into lots. It was designed for an urban environment, with dense, ordered occupation of land on relatively flat ground. The blocks were of standard dimensions, but the lots could vary in size and were easily amalgamated or subdivided within the block. Each block had its houses ranged round the outside and facing the street, with annexes, outbuildings and backyards tucked behind. While this resulted in a town layout that would have been familiar to those who travelled between VOC towns in the Netherlands and the East and West Indies, the particular circumstances of Table Valley resulted in differences in detail, such as recognisably ‘Cape’ architectural styles and domestic economies. These became more pronounced during the early years of the 18th century. For privately owned farms (plaatsen) and market gardens (tuinland) in Table Valley the pattern of land allocation was different from house erven, as it was premised on ensuring access to water and needing to adapt to the ridges and valleys on the lower slopes of the mountain. At first, market gardens were established on sandstone and granite soils, detached or grouped in clusters with wide spaces of undeveloped (woeste) land between them. The sides of the valley on the lower slopes of Devil’s Peak and Signal Hill, with light Malmesbury soils and no perennial streams, were more suitable for grazing and dairy farming. The contrasting morphological patterns between town (which included the formal Company Garden) and gardens can be clearly seen on maps and plans of Table Valley (see Plate 4).11 The early garden land grants were of varied extent and asymmetrical shapes, unlike the standardised rectangular grants of early farms on the Liesbeek and in the rural Stellenbosch and Drakenstein districts.12 Though the watercourses of Table Valley were already modified by the early 18th century (optimal use was made of the sloping terrain for irrigation and water supplies),13 the orientation of garden lands broadly responded to the path of the two major perennial watercourses, one leading to the Castle (Platteklip) and the other through the Company Garden (unnamed), and wagon roads such as the route over Kloof Nek. Gardens were also established on the sites of springs, the largest being Oranjezicht. Allowance had to be made for reservations (doordrift) between private properties to permit public access to resources such as washing places, grazing and fuel supplies. As the natural vegetation was reduced by overgrazing and burning and cutting for firewood, so new land grants were made and species such as oaks, stone pines and poplars were introduced to form a new planted landscape.14

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theculturallandscape

5

Mapping Table Valley Each historical map, plan or picture was done for a purpose, reflecting the interests of the draughtsmen and those of the local government. They were created and used for military operations, for recording spatial information about boundaries and land ownership, for land management and the collection of taxes, for architecture and town planning, for purposes of trade, for hydraulic works, and for efficient land and sea travel.15 Views, perspectives and plan layouts could even be combined.16 One of the more unusual, to our eyes, is an anonymous painting of Table Bay in about 1730 that shows the arc of bay and mountains in profile, and the town and farms in plan (Plate 5).17 Central to the process of transformation of the pre-colonial huntergathering and transhumant pastoralist environment in Table Valley was a system of allocating, granting and registering land in the ownership of individuals. Administration relating to property ownership resided with the Council of Justice, and a basic registration and recording process (cadastral system) had already been established by the VOC at the time the Cape was permanently settled in 1652. There were three categories of land grants in Table Valley: a lot (erf), garden land (tuinland) and farm (plaats). A dwelling house on a lot or garden was called a huijs, and on a farm it was called a hofstede (or opstal on a loan farm). A small piece or strip of land annexed to an existing property was a reepje. Land tenure in Table Valley in the 1730s was in the form of freehold grants and transfers, vollen en vrijen eijgendom, often with special conditions or servitudes included in the registered deeds. The privately owned land parcels fell into two main groups, house lots within the boundaries of the formal town (huiserven) and garden land on the outskirts (tuinland).18 The original cadastral principles and system enforced soon after the settlement was established are more or less followed today, and the modern city’s streets and blocks still reflect the original format. Plans and maps of Table Valley show that the house lots were laid out in a chequerboard pattern, whereas the garden land was more organically fitted to the terrain and water points. The task of the official land surveyor and chart-maker was to measure out pieces of land, demarcate their boundaries, make a diagram of each land parcel, measure and define its extent, and give it a numerical designation. Each land grant was systematically recorded in various ways. The document included the name of the owner, the location and extent of the property, its shape and orientation and relationship to neighbouring properties, its price and method of payment.19 The system was gradually refined during the

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6

capetownbetweeneastandwest

18th century. Kaje Jesse Slotsboo, a long-standing member of the Council of Policy and an able administrator, developed a sophisticated method of recording how portions of land were interconnected, both in written summary and drawn on the survey diagram. His trainee and successor as Company surveyor (from 1718 to 1739) was Evert Walraven Cochius, a military engineer.20 Despite this orderly registration process, the naming of property parcels and registration of early grants and transfers were often inconsistent. Various labels were used to locate properties at different periods and between documentary sources.21 Some of the landmarks are easy to interpret, such as the mountains, but it is often difficult to pin down the position of others, such as the tavern known as the Schotse Tempel.22 Unless at least one of the elements in a property description can be linked to a known spot, the place sits in a spatial void. Though the position of properties in grants and transfers was often vague, the descriptions of neighbours and adjacent landmarks, together with the occasional conditions of sale, do tell us something about who was where and what was going on. The documents relating to two neighbours in 1722 (lots 1, 2 and 3 in block JJ (ii)) show that once a place, person or landmark is clearly identified, the relative position of other properties can be worked out. For instance, the Gouwde Valk (Golden Hawk) tavern was located on today’s Greenmarket Square (‘the market or Cape’s inner square’). No master plan was drawn up to mark the positions of allocated land, or to map the ownership or extent of settlement in Table Valley in the early 18th century, perhaps because expansion of the settlement was not intended.23 The earliest surviving plan of urban blocks and lots (Plate 6) was commissioned to show the distribution of properties in the town during a period of urban expansion and increased administrative attention.24 This schematic plan, drawn up by Carel David Wentzel in 1751, is therefore an extremely valuable document, and has been used as a base plan for reconstructing the situation in the 1730s. In the early 18th century, the authorities were still dealing with a limited number of land grants in a contained space. Officials could look out of the Council chamber window and see what they were talking about, and so perhaps it was sufficient to report day-to-day decisions in the minute books of the Council of Policy and to keep the property registers updated. By 1700 the first house lots had been granted between the streets on the seaward side of today’s Shortmarket Street (then Bergstraat or Tuinstraat), in blocks from A to O, plus R, S and DD. In the next five years properties in blocks T, LL, NN, OO, MM, X, V and VV were granted. By 1710

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theculturallandscape

7

some buildings were also erected in blocks EE, FF, GG, JJ and KK and ‘behind’ blocks A, E and Q (that is, lots were attached on the sea side).25 Over the next ten years no new areas were opened up, but the existing blocks were gradually built up and there were readjustments within them that required the preparation of new survey diagrams, for instance as a result of subdivisions or the annexing of neighbouring land. Perhaps the lull in land development was related to the 1713 smallpox epidemic, which decimated the labour force and reduced the demand for housing. It was only in 1734 that new blocks were granted for development, including SS/ZZ, HH, PP, RR and the remainder of OO. Blocks TT and W were allocated by 1740. Wentzel’s survey (1751) shows that blocks QQ , WW, XX, YY and ZZ were under development at that time. Once the alphabet letters had been exhausted, the next sequence of blocks were numbered from 1 to 21, and were granted between 1763 and 1786. The Bo-Kaap (Waalen Dorp) was first recorded as a specific location in 1786, and the ‘old hospital’ site, on block BB opposite the Slave Lodge, was subdivided into ten erven and redeveloped in the same year. These later building events were surveyed and mapped as a sequence dating through the 1780s and 1790s. This period of research is therefore enriched by a valuable collection of pencil-and-wash maps, looking similar in style but each done for particular purposes, such as identifying the dwellings of ward masters, plotting defences or showing property boundaries (see Plate 7).26 On the version dated to 1785, the red-coloured blocks were government structures and green denoted open spaces. This plan shows clearly the expansion of the residential urban sector in relation to Company-dominated places and spaces. Despite the large new hospital redefining the Castle precinct, the focus of expansion had moved westwards with the creation of another municipal square (Boeren Plijn) with its guard house, and the allocation of new residential blocks beyond the Buitengracht. Garden land outside the western perimeter of the Company Garden was being replaced by residential blocks. Land transactions and property developers While the records related to land registration and the subsequent transfers of each piece of land are still available, very little is known about how and why people came to be allocated land, how decisions were made about where to build, and who built structures on the properties. It is also not clear on what basis properties were evaluated, and why some were more expensive than others. Was it location, size or existing infrastructure, or all of these factors?27

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Some people owned more than one property at a time or were involved in several property transactions. While several familiar names come up in the records of multiple property transactions during the 1730s – De Waal,28 Eksteen,29 Gockelius, Artois, De Wit – a complete stranger also emerges: Thomas Pietersz. He is almost invisible in the standard genealogical and social history reference works (he was briefly listed in the opgaafrollen, the annual population returns, as a single man), since he did not marry or die at the Cape, held no local office and did not have a criminal record. However, he was an active property speculator and developer, and a trail of his property transactions runs through the volumes of transfer deeds, and references to approval of Pietersz’s purchases have been subsequently traced in the resolutions of the Council of Policy. From 1720 until he left the Cape in 1732, he was party to 22 property transactions in several different blocks. Thomas Pietersz came from Amsterdam.30 He was appointed Baas Messelaar (head mason) to the Company in 1714, which suggests that he brought with him more than just the common seaman’s skills, such as carpentry. In 1718 Pietersz purchased lot 8 in block MM, and in 1720 he applied for ground in Table Valley ‘on which to build a house’ (lot 10 in block KK). This area of the settlement was expanding rapidly during that period. Despite all this property-dealing activity, we do not know where he actually lived or who his associates were. In his assessment of the Cape’s inhabitants in 1731, Governor De la Fontaine merely noted that he was ‘a mason and well off ’. Deceased estate records show that Pietersz loaned money to Helena Siebers and Jan Stavorinus, and at his death Dirk Snit still owed the last two payments to Pietersz for the purchase of lots 10 and 11 in block FF (Pietersz must have foreclosed on the debt as he resold the property).31 Auction lists record him purchasing household items, silverware and building materials from various deceased estates.32 Table 1 shows that Thomas Pietersz made money from his property dealings (a total gain of 27,360 guilders over 18 years). Profitable deals also resulted from Pietersz taking advantage of someone’s misfortune, as when he made a second profit on the sale of a particular property after Dirk Snit died insolvent. The substantial increase in value between purchase and sale of some properties over just a year or two may have been because he was a speculative builder and had made substantial ‘improvements’ to the land. Pietersz was a building contractor as well as property dealer. For instance, he drew up a contract to build a house for Ernst Frederik de Swart, who bought a building plot from him in 1726. As he became more prosperous, he contracted

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theculturallandscape

9

Table 1: Property transactions of Thomas Pietersz Date bought / sold 1718-1720

Block & lot

Extent

Bought from

Sold to

MM 8

16sr 20sf

?Olivier, Cornelis

Balthus, Dirk

1720-1721

KK 10

20sr 120sf

Grant

1721–1722

FF 2 & 5

46sr 87sf / subdivided

Harts, Catharine (widow Vogel)

1722-1723

L3

45sr 132sf

1722-1724

JJ 2 & 3

1723-1723 1723-1724

OO 5 L4

22sr 115sf 42d 37sr 39sf 8sr 69sf

Louens, Luisa (widow) Eksteen, Hendrik O. Schuurbeek, Job Widow Ackerman

1723-1724

Zeestraat

Jonasz, Daniel O. Wagenaar, Anthonij & Mulder, Nicolaas J. Van Bergen, Jan D. Leever, Abraham Coetse, Jan Mulder, Johannes J. Jacobsz, Claas

1723–1725

FF 10 & 11

1724-1725

NN 5 & 7

De Wit, Jan 35sr 85sf

Ruijgrok, Arnout

1725–1726

30sr 41sf 54d Van Donselaar, Rijkje JJ – on 6sr 70sf 72d Kien, Baldina Greenmarket (widow P. de Square Chavonnes) BB? 27sr 12sf De Wit, Jan

1725-1729

FF 10 & 11

35sr 85sf

1726-1726

OO 5 & 6

37sr 39sf

1726-1728

L

10sr 69sf 73d

1726-1729

OO 6

28sr 96sf

1727 1727-1728

MM 8 G

7sr 139sf 72d 47sr 57sf 54d

1727-1728

J 10

1727-1729

T6

7sr 116sf 128d 67sr 85sf 72d

1728-1730

J6

20sr

1730-1730

OO 9

20sr 60sf

1725-1726

Cape Town book.indd 9

Snit – foreclosed debt? Coetse, Jan

Amount bought / sold (ƒ) 1,200 / 1,700 Grant / 4,500 240 / 3,000 + 6,500

Gain or loss

3,000 / 3,600 850 / 8,000

+600

600 / 2,850 2,000 / ?

+500 +4,500 +9,260

+7,150 +2,250

3,300 / 4,600 Snit, Dirk 3,400 / 4,600 Van Es, Isaacq 1,200 / 6,600 La Roche, Jean 6,000 / Baptist 6,500

+1,300

De Swart, Ernst F. Van Schoor, Jan Smit, Elisabeth (widow) Scheffer, Jacob

-

1,000 / 1,000 ? / 5,000

2,180 / 2,400 Brand, Dirk 2,525 / 2,100 ? Siekermans, 2,180 / Anna (widow) 2,200 (Balthus, Dirk) Artois, Paulus ? / 400 Buurman, Fredrik Van den 6,100 / Heven, Jurgen 8,000 Quint, Engela Uijltjes, Jan 2,800 / 2,200 Bek, Johan Z. Stokvliet, Jan J. 4,675 / 13,100 Kruijwagen, Jan Smuts, 8,000 / M. Hermanus 7,500 Smuts, Cornelis & Le Sueur, 2,700 / Van Ek, Anna Franciscus 2,700

+1,200 +5,400 +500

+220 -425 +20

+1,900 -600 +8,425 -500 ?

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the assistance of knechts such as ex-sailor Jan Verkeek and bosschieter Jan Breugman.33 According to the inventory of Arnout Ruijgrok, Pietersz also hired the services of this baas huis timmerman (head house-carpenter).34 The table also reveals no correlation between the size of a plot and its value. For instance, a tiny plot of just over 6 square roods in block JJ was worth a lot, and was in turn the residence of Baldina Kien, the widow of Pasques de Chavonnes, and then Jean Baptist La Roche. Does this mean that Greenmarket Square was a particularly desirable address, or that a prestigious dwelling had been built there, or both? The to-and-fro pattern of registrations, in some cases between dealers, suggests that property was easily, even casually, bought and sold, without restrictions or complaints from authority, and that it was a suitable tool for speculation. Property speculation was thus a profitable practice for Cape settlers, yet little is known about regulations or the relationship between private speculators, builders and artisans at the Cape. The Resolutions record that the Council commissioned reports and gave instructions for public building maintenance and plans for new works for Company properties and roads, and this too may have provided profitable business for constructors. On the ground As Ross and Schrikker remind us in this book, all servants of the VOC who had come out from the Netherlands would have visited the Cape at least once. The first sight of Table Mountain after months at sea must have been welcome and memorable. The first landfall for mariners would occur at the landing place, ’t Hooft. It was flanked by open seashore where there were fishing boats in Roggebaai, and the flotsam and jetsam of the settlement’s rudimentary system of disposing of rubbish, which was flushed down the watercourses or thrown into the sea. The main road from the north-east hinterland and Liesbeek River region crossed the scene past the Castle. There must also have been a considerable traffic of porters and animaldrawn carts between the jetty and the Company warehouses and shambles. The slaughter of sheep at the Company shambles, according to the traveller Valentijn, attracted the world’s ‘most impudent and innumerable flies’.35 Building materials at the Cape were very basic and limited to stone, shell lime, clay and reeds. There was hardly any indigenous timber, especially in lengths and hardness suited to European-style timber framing, and little fuel to bake hard bricks or clay tiles. From 1679 onwards, the distribution of wood and thatching reed was controlled and delivered by Company transport from the depot at De Schuur in Rondebosch. Skilled builders were scarce, although

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1. E. van Stade, Panorama of Cape Town, 1710. (NA, TOPO 15.86)

2. Panorama of Cape Town, 1727. (MuseumAfrica, U5)

3. Panorama of Cape Town (detail), 1727. (MuseumAfrica, U5)

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4. Map of Table Valley, c.1800. (Cape Archives, M1/338)

5. Detail of view of Table Bay, c.1730. (NA, AANW 1420)

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as men sought freedom from contract to the Company several artisans applied for free burgher status on the basis that they could subsist as masons, brick-makers, lime-burners, thatchers and carpenters. Slaves provided the hard labour. The result was construction of mass-walled, squat and thatchroofed buildings, with rock rubble foundations topped with shuttered clay or sun-dried brick walls, which had to be lime-plastered to be waterproof. The status of more important Company buildings was enhanced with semidressed local shale, imported bricks (klinkers), tiles, wooden joinery and oilbased paint.36 After the old fort precinct was demolished, the Company set up a new brick-making site (steenbakkerij) outside the north-western corner of the Company Garden where there was water and suitable clay, established kilns to roast sea shells for making lime plaster and whitewash, and opened stone quarries on the hillsides. Locally sourced whale oil (traan) was used for waterproofing and there was a whaling station on the shore of Table Bay. By the 1730s there were some privately run brickyards and lime kilns.37 An early painted view of Table Valley (Plate 2, of 1727)38 shows a range of structures, including official buildings (Company warehouses and workshops) and residential blocks between Zeestraat (Strand Street) and the shore. Blocks A and E were shown before they were extended towards the sea, and blocks RR, SS and TT had long enclosed yards on the seaward side. At the far side of the Parade were blocks S and R, and beyond them were gardens and garden houses (tuinhuijsen). The foreground buildings were aligned either longitudinally or at right-angles to the shore and streets. The buildings were whitewashed and most had pitched thatched roofs, some of which had hipped ends and others gabled ends. Smaller buildings had sloping lean-to (afdak) roofs. The extent of symmetry in the façades was variable. Note, too, the predominance of singlestorey structures, and the presence of little upper or dormer windows and some elevated front entrances with high steps, which were associated with buildings that appeared taller by being raised on an under-storey or semi-basement. Company warehouses and the hospital, requiring maximum space under a single roof, were likely to have been built on the plan of a three-aisled structure, similar to those in other VOC towns such as Batavia and Galle. But this style required access to at least some substantial lengths of timber to span the roof. Otto Mentzel described the naval storehouse (equipage) as ‘the most prominent building at the Cape next to the Castle’ and explained that it was ‘large and lofty’, with an ‘exceptionally high roof ’ covered with old-fashioned tiles, which had to be enclosed in a framework of laths and iron clasps to prevent them being blown off by gales. He waxed lyrical about the new hospital opposite the Slave Lodge, as ‘an ornament to the Town’.39

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Unfortunately the building is not visible in views taken from Table Bay. Other public buildings itemised by Mentzel were the church, silk factory, Company stables, reservoirs and jetty, a public fountain on Fortspleijn (the parade ground), a water-powered flour mill, and the watch house (wachthuis). No unaltered domestic buildings survive from that period, but evidence from inventories of deceased estates, early maps and the E.V. Stade drawings (1710) indicates that the early architecture of Cape Town was very different from the ‘Cape Dutch’ style that came to epitomise the Cape colony during the 18th century. Not surprisingly, people brought with them a ‘building competence’ from their own backgrounds, and it was only later that a recognisably local Cape architecture developed.40 Apart from the constraints of available building materials, the first substantial dwelling houses reproduced European or Eurasian styles. Some people preferred the European groot kamer layout associated with a big, multi-purpose living room with a hearth (sometimes named groot kombuis) behind an asymmetrical façade. The groot kamer style was associated with individual nouveaux riches. Hermina Herwig from Amsterdam became a prosperous burgeresse, business-woman and property owner. Once she could afford it, she chose to live in a traditional European style, having a large, multi-purpose living room with a great fireplace.41 This large space lay behind two modest front rooms and was crowded with opulent furnishings and fittings. The windows and curtained bed were draped with red fabric. The household inventories of this early period have several examples of such groot kamer layouts in the town and on the garden lands, but the style and room name disappeared from the records during the 1740s. The new ruling class at the Cape followed the style of the ‘double house’ or neo-classical landhuis or heerehuis (country house or gentleman’s residence) which had been adopted by wealthy Dutch burghers in Europe and their compatriots in Batavia. The heerehuis styles were closely associated with the status-seeking Van der Stel family at Groot Constantia and Vergelegen, and their cronies such as Johannes Blesius at the garden property Leeuwenhof and Henning Huising in the town. Development of distinctly Cape architecture After years of experimentation, Cape builders ended up with a limited repertoire of building forms and layouts appropriate for all except the major Company buildings, for which the Company provided imported materials to give more stylish and durable finishes. Between 1720 and 1750 a more patterned style of building and living was adopted, first by the wealthier

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burghers and then more generally. Its most recognisable attributes were transverse plan (parallel to the street), symmetrical façade with central gable, gabled rather than hipped ends to the roof, and ‘letter-of-the-alphabet’ floor plan. In Table Valley, this form (confusingly known as ‘Cape Dutch’) was at first similar to that built on rural estates, but the town houses later diverged from their rural counterparts into a plan more suitable for urban spaces (compact double- or triple-storey) and more fire-resistant (flat, plastered and tarred or red-tiled roofs).42 The single-storey, thatched and gabled ‘Cape’ style that evolved by the middle of the 18th century was the result of a combination of factors: the development of a Cape vernacular responding to the environment, limited available building skills and material resources, a desire for symmetry, and the social organisation of domestic households. The end result was a symmetrical layout of rooms in ‘letter-of-the-alphabet’ shapes, with a central entrance room (voorhuis) and a large inner room (galdery) at the core of the house.43 Debora de Koning’s inventory in block S represents an early (1748) fully symmetrical house, and the layout and room functions, including a galdery, were a precursor to the large, symmetrical Cape town houses of the later 18th century.44 The style became common from the 1760s. The climate had a part in dictating how the layout of dwelling houses became adapted to local conditions. Hot and windy summers and cold, windy and wet winters required both effective controlled ventilation and substantial wind- and waterproofing. The rooms were ‘spacious and lofty for coolness’, and adaptable for any use. Households had to accommodate a combination of domestic slave labour and an ever-changing population of visitors, lodgers, waifs and strays who needed accommodation. Either of the front side rooms could function as a parlour, for retail or production, and as sleeping quarters. All household activities could be supervised from the galdery, as rooms and stairways led off it, and the wide glazed doors afforded an unobstructed view out of the front door and into the back courtyard.45 Related, localised expressions of Dutch colonial architectural style were echoed in Batavia, Ceylon and the Caribbean. As at the Cape, ‘the high point of prosperity throughout the Dutch colonial world seems to have been reached in the 1760s and 70s’.46 Landed estates gave rich Batavians novel ways to display their fortunes and provided a fresh context for the elaboration of a peculiarly Eurasian culture.47 In similar vein, it has been suggested that further elaborations of this local style (‘Cape Dutch’) on rural estates in the south-western Cape after the 1750s were linked to increased social stratification and the articulation of a rural gentry. Material culture

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was employed to demonstrate wealth and social standing and to dominate the lower classes.48 Martin Hall and Yvonne Brink have indicated how the ‘classically’ symmetrical, gabled Cape houses of the second half of the 18th century were made more imposing by careful positioning in the landscape, setting the homestead on top of a raised platform and lavishly ornamenting the gable and front door.49 Unlike the grand heerehuise of the Van der Stel era, after the mid-18th century a distinctive indigenous Cape style and form emerged as a local architectural expression that reflected formal neo-classical architectural models in Europe and the colonial world elsewhere.50 After the mid-18th century, house styles in the town diverged from those in the rural areas. We know that single-storey thatched and gabled houses in the Cape style were built in Cape Town from about 1750 and to a largely standard layout, but owing to the lack of surviving examples it is difficult to confirm the extent or longevity of this style, or when ‘high handsome stuccoed’ double-storey Cape-style town houses with flat roofs and parapets were first built.51 However, a close reading of household inventories and careful inspection of an invaluable picture by the Lutheran pastor Jan Brandes have been used to interpret the town house styles that existed in Strand Street in 1786.52 Company officials and officers, merchants, traders, and skilled artisans and craftsmen owned properties there. The inhabitants were young and old, immigrant and second-generation householder families, slaves, servants and lodgers. As the families settled, grew and prospered, their properties architecturally reflected a maturing town and, as in the countryside, differentiations of wealth and status as well. The south side of Strand Street shows a mixture of the mid-18th-century Cape styles: the older pitched-roof, thatched and gabled dwellings among later flat-roofed houses and warehouses. Many double-storey town houses developed from existing buildings. Room-by-room inventories record the sequence of alterations, and it is possible to plot changes in internal layout and the way that spaces were used. For instance, old furniture may have been moved upstairs to make place for new fashions in public rooms.53 The documents also show that an interim process took place when expanding a town house from a single storey upwards. By the 1760s attic space in many pitched-roof houses was being used as sleeping quarters as well as storage space. First, existing space under the roof was divided into separate rooms, and then the upper walls were raised up under a new flat roof. The second floor thus gained a full complement of rooms that reflected the layout downstairs. The house on the far right-hand side of Brandes’s picture belonged to

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the Vos family in 1786. When Batavian-born silversmith Johan Hendrik Vos Senior died in 1765, it was a single-storey building with an attic upstairs.54 It had a voorhuis cum eating room, multi-purpose rooms either side, and a kitchen in the tail wing. Behind the house was a small piece of garden land. By 1786 his widow, Johanna Bok, had subdivided the plot and altered the house into a two-storey building with a flat roof, and the voorhuis was reduced to a passage in width. Next door was a corner house that had been built on a portion deducted from Vos’s property, so although it was missing a bay on the right, it had the advantage of windows on two walls of the best front room to the left of the front door. Brandes drew a man standing on the stoep, monitoring the peaceful scene and smoking his pipe. He could be a member of the family of Jan Koster, the owner of the house, who came to the Cape from Germany as a soldier in 1764 and worked as a smith in Paarl. This is a rare picture of people getting on with their everyday lives, such as the coachman and his companion and some slaves cleaning windows further down the street. The sentry is from the Meuron Regiment. The thatched and gabled house in Bree Street (block W) belonged to Nicholas Fuchs, a Swiss surgeon. The house was in the typical single-storey Cape style, with central door in a symmetrical façade and neat holbol gables. However, unlike its rural contemporaries, it had a ‘passage’-type voorhuis (note the absence of narrow windows on either side of the door), and probably L- or U-shaped rear wings. The double-storey house on the corner of Loop and Strand streets belonged to Johan David Prins and his family for 30 years (1761–91). The inventory taken on his death in 1773 described a single-storey house.55 The top storey was therefore added after that date. Behind a passage-type voorhuis there was a galdery reception cum dining room with wall cupboards. Scarcely visible at the furthest end of the street are both single- and doublestorey buildings. At the right-hand corner of the block on the intersection with Long Street (block J lot 9) was the grandest house in the picture, built of three storeys above a basement, fronted by a wide stoep with railings, and topped by ornamental plasterwork. A similar, but only two-storey, building lower down on the corner of Burg and Strand streets (block F) was painted by Samuel Davis four years later (1790).56 This later picture adds details that Brandes only sketched. It was an impressive town house richly ornamented in rococo style, taking advantage of a conspicuous corner site on an intersection along a major route. There were curvilinear rococo parapets on the adjacent houses in Burg Street. It is striking how these buildings contrasted with the very simple, unadorned lines of the houses and warehouses around them.57

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Brandes drew a thatched building on lot 8 in block J. This had been developed on an older core structure by Johan Böttiger in about 1760. Pieter Malet from Amsterdam bought the property in 1771, and by 1793 substantially remodelled the house with the addition of front rooms behind an elegantly proportioned and impressive but restrained neo-classical façade. This building survives, though in drastically reduced surroundings, and is furnished in the period of the 1790s to 1810s.58 The only full block-wide remnant of 18th-century Cape Town that still stands today is the group of buildings directly behind Brandes when he drew this picture. The whole block (block 8) had been granted to Martin Melck in 1764, and he donated one of his warehouses in 1774 for services of the Lutheran congregation, and this became the Lutheran Church (1780). On the south side a parsonage was erected (1782) and on the north corner ‘Lutheran House’ was built to be let out as a source of income. The fabric and layout of these late-18th-century buildings have been largely retained.59 Up the garden path Any description of the function and layout of the town would be incomplete without understanding the relationship between properties within the street grid and the market gardens which closely surrounded them and which supplied households and markets with fresh produce daily.60 Otto Mentzel carefully explained the difference in garden layout between properties in the town proper and garden lands on the outskirts, below Table Mountain. The former had courtyards behind the house, while the latter had houses set in the middle of a surrounding garden. A third type, with a front garden and rear courtyard, was found directly to either side of the Company Garden, such as the inn of the widow Van Berg near the Company stables.61 Some people owned both types of property. What role did these garden properties play in the social and economic lives of Capetonians? This section also explores the land uses at these gardens – for small-scale horticulture, as intensive market-gardens, as more expansive multi-purpose farms or estates, or other purposes. Garden land properties in the 1730s varied in size from about 125 square roods upwards, but almost all were less than 10 morgen in extent. This was half the size of the early rural farm grants of 20 morgen. The properties Zonnebloem and Leeuwenhof were 12 and 15 morgen, respectively, and later became re-registered as farms (plaatsen). Some of these smaller tuine were later consolidated, reclassified as farms and became grand estates, and some ended up being divided into house erven as the urban edge expanded.

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Gardens were not just functional places developed for economic purposes, but were also troublesome elements in the surrounding spaces of the settlement. Cape Town’s streets were not protected within fortified walls. Though there were symbolic attempts at creating canals as barriers they were little more than ditches, and domestic dwellings, businesses, gardens and daily activities bled outwards to all quarters. The town and its gardens were in turn set in an uncontrolled wilderness of steep heights, rocks and scrubby plants. Untamed animals and people lurked on the margins between them.62 The edges of the formal streetscape of Table Valley during the 1730s offered permeable and exploitable places for illicit activity, along an interface between the patrolled streets and the lower mountain slopes. From the upper fringes of the valley and in the woeste (undeveloped) spaces, it was possible to see yet not be seen. During the 1730s, cases of theft, attempted murder, arson and secret assembly (associated with ‘excessive’ smoking, drinking and gambling) were reported at the houses, kraals and gardens flanking the Company Garden. Hermina Herwig’s tannery and kitchen garden (Stalplein), the sheep kraal of the widow De Kock (block T) and Van Laer’s garden house (Breda Street) featured in evidence given at criminal trials.63 The gardens also provided places to meet or to take refuge for people escaping from surveillance or the scene of a crime. In 1736, after a fire broke out at a tannery, the fiscal took the opportunity to berate both the ‘rogues’ who caused it and their neglectful owners for allowing them to congregate ‘out there’, unsupervised at night.64 This context can be illustrated by the list of possessions at a garden property owned by Anna de Koning. Seven of her male slaves were living on her garden in Table Valley in 1734, while she was based at her home in Heerengracht (with 19 slaves in attendance, together with their 4 children).65 There was a single-roomed structure recorded at De Koning’s garden property, which contained basic furniture, cooking equipment and tableware in among sacks of dried goods and tools, and there was a cellar with winemaking and storage equipment. Josina van Dam and Jan van der Swijn owned the garden that became Uitvlugt (at the top of St John’s Street, now buried beneath school playing fields). Their dwelling house was in block K, but a camp bed, tableware, gaming boards, skittles, glasses, bottles, numerous chairs and tables, as well as carpenter’s, woodworking and garden tools, were kept at the garden.66 Van Dam owned several slaves, 18 men and 3 women. Though the inventory does not specify this, it can be assumed that domestic slaves based in block K would include the women and perhaps the one man who was not sold at

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auction (Absolon van Madagascar), but some of the rest may have stayed at the garden. The inventoried contents of Van Dam’s garden house included a pewter inkstand, 18 pictures, 2 mirrors, porcelain teaware and 2 tobacco boxes. There were 25 golf clubs and balls. This suggests that the garden house was not set up for the convenience of the slaves and servants and their ‘roguish’ friends, but for the family to use for their pleasure. There is no evidence of serious farming or gardening, and no livestock were kept there except two cart horses. ‘Pleasure houses’ or ‘play houses’ (lusthuijse, speelhuijse) were a feature of the architectural layouts and landscape of Dutch households in Batavia and Ceylon. They were separate from the main dwelling, often overlooking a canal, and were used for playing cards and board games, and drinking and smoking. The Governor in the Asian outposts entertained guests in his pleasure house.67 There was a similar ‘guest house’ in the Company Garden at the Cape for the Governor’s use. In Batavia, those who could afford it retreated during certain seasons to properties outside the town (buiten plaatsen), where bungalows were set in large gardens planted with trees, and ‘constructed with an eye to convenience rather than elegance’.68 Similarly, Cape Governors rode out to garden estates at Rustenburg and, later, Newlands. The alcohol sector was good business at the ‘Tavern of the Seas’ and household inventories reveal distilling activities in gardens. Angela van Bengal owned several properties in Table Valley, but spent her last days at a garden off today’s Kloof Street (later Weltevreden). While it was a productive market-garden, and supported a flock of 39 goats, in 1720 she and her slaves were also distilling alcohol ‘in the garden house’, which was a separate building from the dwelling house and next to a cellar. Cornelia Junius and her husband Cornelis Victor distilled liquor in the kitchen of the dwelling house and made wine at their garden (later Uitkijk) in 1727.69 There is evidence in his 1733 inventory that Dirk van den Berg and Anna Heijlon were making wine and distilling in a pakhuijs at their garden, but this was not the main source of income. They were also involved in the fishing industry and probably hawked fresh produce to ships in the harbour, as the same pakhuijs housed a boat and all its equipment.70 They owned a secondary house and two erven in block X, plus a farm (plaats) on the Salt River in partnership with Hermanus Kriel. At Salt River there were 120 sheep. The transport of goods from farm to town required an oxwagon and 14 oxen, which were inventoried at the garden alongside a horse and cart.71 Their farming operations were extensive and varied. Stijntje de Bruijn (widow

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Botma), who lived in town but had a small farm (plaatsje) at Schotsekloof (now in the Bo-Kaap), also varied her options. She had 3 pigs (one of which was slaughtered to feed the people who attended the subsequent auction of her estate), a plough and harrow, 2 fish nets, 26 oxen and 195 sheep.72 Garden lands were used for other purposes than gardening or rearing livestock. The Van den Bergs, mentioned above, were well off, but they had more modest neighbours at Salt River. Jan Brand and Christina de Vyf bought some garden land from Hermanus Kriel in 1734. Brand operated a cooper’s shop and had a net for fishing. Though they owned four adult and two child slaves, the estate was barely solvent when Brand died in 1741, leaving eight children under the age of 14. Andries Bruijns baked bricks in a garden beside his house. In 1729 his stock of 80,000 baked and unbaked bricks was worth 570 guilders. His widow, Anna Boekelenberg, then married Ernst (Johannes) Heger, a baker, but from Heger’s inventory in 1737 we learn that the brick-making business continued alongside the bakery, and that the brick oven in the garden had four ‘mouths’. Dirk Balthus owned a four-morgen garden (later Nooitgedagt) on the other side of Kloof Street from the Company brickyard, and he made bricks in a five-mouthed oven. A condition of the sale of his property in 1736 was that the Company reserved the right to use the clay source.73 Not all gardens were on the edges or outskirts of town. A garden of over one morgen in extent was in block NN, with a collection of garden tools, a chicken run, oil vats and tools. Though it is difficult to substantiate, the owner, Catharina Meijer (separated from Amos Lambrechts), could have been in the lodgings business as there were two bedroom suites in the back portion of her house (agtersijkamers) with separate sets of drinking, smoking, cooking and eating utensils.74 The function of gardens as places of dairy production (cows and goats) and stock-keeping (if not breeding, at least temporary storage in a kraal), as well as the presence of oxen and wagons on all types of properties in Table Valley, raises the still unanswered question of the presence and role of Khoekhoen in 18th-century Cape Town. As wagon drivers and drovers, they would have brought in produce and livestock from rural areas on a regular basis, and may well have stayed overnight or for longer, but were they ever long-term or permanent residents? So far, the sources are mute. There is no evidence in the grants and transfer deeds that any person defined as a ‘Hottentot’ owned fixed property, and the individuals who occasionally appeared in the Orphan Chamber inventory and auction records were debtors or creditors of farmers in rural areas.

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Inside view By 1730 a visitor to the Cape had a wide selection of houses in which to stay and a choice of places of refreshment and entertainment. Several people had established successful services and industries for the Company and the townspeople. There were some taverns with evocative names – ’t Laaste Stuijvertje (Last Penny), De Valk (The Falcon), Half Aamtje (Half-pint), Caabs Welvaaren (aka Grauwe Ertjes) (Cape Health or Prosperity) – but many of the watering places were mere bars (schaggerijen) or rooms in someone’s house, probably known by the tapster’s or host’s name and catering to a specific clientele.75 The owners of formal taverns were members of the pachter class, with licences to trade in various types of alcohol.76 The Laaste Stuijvertje was in Strand Street near the Company wharf, the first and last opportunity for a drink before disembarking or embarking. De Valk in Oliphantstraat and Caabs Welvaaren in Tweedebergdwarsstraat were located in the middle of the town, and the Half Aamtje was on an erf that extended between Church Square and the easternmost edge of the house blocks. A closer look can be taken at the domestic and business lives of an innkeeping couple through the inventory and auction list of the estate of Jan van der Swijn and Josina van Dam, recorded after her death in 1732.77 She had been married before, to Jan Stokvliet, who held various alcohol licences during the 1720s, and Jan van der Swijn continued the business through the 1730s and 1740s. As well as their tavern, Laaste Stuijvertje in Strand Street, they owned two houses and a warehouse in block K, three houses in block T, and a house on garden land adjacent to that. Not surprisingly, the inventory lists among their possessions a considerable amount of alcohol and the means for storing and drinking it, as well as the entertainments that go with inn-keeping, such as a billiard table, draughts and backgammon boards, and playing cards. Though the Company was protective of its monopoly of commercial life, private enterprise gained a foothold in the streets of Cape Town. An example was the tannery owned by Hermina Herwig, who by 1731 had established a successful shoemaking business in partnership with a sequence of four husbands,78 and with the assistance of several slaves and apprentices. Herwig started off with almost nothing. At the death of her first husband, Abraham Staal, in 1708, they were living in a rented house and, after all expenses were paid, she ended up with only 190 guilders to her name.79 By the time she died 23 years later she owned ten house lots, an extensive business and six adjoining houses in blocks VV and X. Her sons inherited a market-garden

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called Uitkijk (in today’s Oranjezicht), and for them and her other heirs a four-day auction of the estate realised 4,500 rixdollars.80 In 1731 this prosperous business was situated on the eastern edge of the residential area. Judging by the layout of buildings described in the inventory, the workshops were adjacent to the dwelling houses and the smell from the tanning hides must have spread some distance around. A pig lived in the yard behind the house. Herwig’s tannery was conveniently placed next to the Company stables in Stalplein, a source of horse and cattle hides for leather products. The memory of tanneries remained there in the form of the name Looijersplein, until 1845 when a Roman Catholic church was built on the open square.81 As Gerald Groenewald points out in this book, part of the process of achieving success as an entrepreneur in a new world was based on economic networking abilities. Jan van der Swijn, for instance, doing very well after he had married into the alcohol business, was widowed in 1732 and married Catharina Chrytsmar, the daughter of Hermina Herwig, in the same year. Success was not always easy to achieve, nor inevitable. What other options were open to early settlers, and how did they identify with and benefit from the place in which they lived? It is difficult to know where and how people lived unless they owned property or their estates were inventoried, but the Sultania family keeps cropping up in the records. They were first-generation Capetonians, children of the Raja of Tambora, a political exile who died at the Cape during his second period of banishment. Four of the Sultan’s children adopted Christianity and married Christians, and one wonders how that decision affected their lives, and what would have happened if they had instead followed Islam, more often associated with exiles, slaves and free blacks.82 Three took the surname of Sultania, but the eldest, Ebrahim Adahan, became known as Abraham Adehaan (or De Haan). In 1731 Governor De la Fontaine dismissed him as a ‘fisherman with a wife and four children’, but he was somewhat more than that. Between 1731 and 1734 Abraham de Haan owned a property on the corner of Tweedebergdwarsstraat and Heerestraat (block F lot 6). His sister, Maria Dorothea Sultania, and her husband rented a house. The inventory of her estate reveals a modest household with possessions evaluated at 154 rixdollars, but the estate was only worth just over 33 rixdollars once the funeral costs were paid. No slaves were listed in her possessions. Her home’s small entrance or voorhuis was flanked by a room to the right (equipped for members of the public to eat or drink in), and one to the left (with the children’s beds and porcelain tableware). A back

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room held the marital bed, jewellery, clothes and stores, and then came the kitchen.83 Isaacq Sultania owned several properties and hired out rooms and dwellings.84 He appeared in the memorials to the Council of Policy several times in the 1740s, standing surety for people applying to manumit members of their family, children or partners. The inventory of the estate of Appolonia van de Caab in 1762 recorded her possessions ‘in a hired room of the house of burgher Isak Sultania’. She and her first husband, Cornelis de Cat, had previously owned property in block MM, taking transfer of MM 8 from Johanna Labat (Jeanne de la Batte, widow of Guillaume Nel) in 1736. Sultania’s second wife, Sophia Wurmer, died in 1768, and her inventory was taken at block MM 10, which he had purchased in 1735. She loaned small sums of money, for instance 9 rixdollars to Evert Schut and 3 rixdollars each to Evert Foks, Hendrik Bremen, ‘mooyje’ Sanna, Leektje (slave) ‘van s[eigneu]r Dessin’, Bettje Davidze, Fredrik Jansse, Hendrik ‘de coper slager’, Stephanus Beijer and Adolff Daniels. There was perhaps a neighbourhood support network related to this block. Several inhabitants of early 18th-century Cape Town were people who had been released from slavery, and some were convicts who stayed on after serving their sentences.85 Manumitted slave women, who often had relationships or marriages with European men, made a living through various activities, including manufacturing and retail, cooking and sewing. Some men made a living as artisans, fishermen and builders, and a few, such as Angela van Bengal, were successful enough to buy properties in town or market-gardens on the outskirts.86 Others depended on charity from friends or the church. A Company resolution of 1732 refers to the Church Board requesting a building lot behind the Schotse Tempel on which to build little houses for needy people who could only afford to pay monthly rent.87 A ‘free Chinese’ named Juko adopted Christianity, taking the name Abraham de Vyf, and married the freed slave Maria Jacobs. He had been a fisherman and marketing agent for Simon van der Stel. At his death in 1712, though the estate was insolvent, the house in block OO contained imported porcelains, exotic timber and other Oriental goods, as well as comfortable European-style furniture and fittings and fishing equipment. Their son, Daniel, married a locally born free black woman, Maria van de Kaap, and the two girls married Europeans. Christoffel Ameen of Rostock and Jacoba Campher (daughter of Ansela van de Kaap) owned a fishing boat and nets and ran a lodging house in block O. Henrietta Claasz Wittebol made clothes, ran a tavern and also provided beds for visitors. She outlived both her European-

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born husbands, Johann Möller and Willem Wiederholt. Similarly, Griselda van de Kaap and the baker Jan Stavorinus dispensed liquor and provided entertainment such as gaming. Maria Kleef was married to Corporal Hendrik Hesse, a tailor by trade, and the inventory of her estate in 1738 lists cloth and clothing accessories, sewing equipment and seven smoothing irons.88 The blocks on the seaward side of Strand Street were home to a wide variety of people of modest means, and many of the houses were hire houses (huurhuijsen, which were often described in the inventory assessments as plathuijsen, literally ‘flat[-roofed] houses’). The hire-house layout and contents of the rooms were not often described in the landlord’s list of assets and the tenants’ names are unknown; increasingly crowded conditions are suggested. In 1741 the Artoijs family owned two plathuijsen on lot 1 in block RR and this had risen to six by 1756. By then a portion of the lot had also been subdivided and sold to Willem Boomsaijer, and he lived in a substantial house there as well as letting out a hire house behind it. (He and his neighbour on lot 2, Hans Bentfeld, owned fishing boats.) George Schoester, who lived in block Q in 1754, had owned three houses in block RR since 1739. The De Waal family accumulated 13 hire houses in blocks A and RR by 1794.89 Changes to the landscape between 1730 and 1780 During the 17th century and the first decades of the 18th century, people were making a living and forming households in the new settlement in any way they could, bringing with them the local architectural preferences of their countries of origin. Their premises generally consisted of multipurpose clusters of buildings and workplaces. Some people lived solely on their garden land, and others had a primary residence in the town as well as a garden. The agricultural produce of gardens was an important factor in the economy of the settlement. The administrators made a clear distinction between house lots, gardens and small farms in Table Valley. This was reflected in cadastral records, and the manner in which the gardens were drawn on maps and plans was very distinct from the blocks and streets of town. But what went on out there, including family and social interactions, was inextricably connected with town life. The early 18th-century views of Cape Town showed a cluster of buildings clinging to the shore of Table Bay. By the end of the 1730s, house lots for building dwellings, workshops and warehouses had been granted in the blocks bounded by today’s Waterkant and Dorp Street, and between Plein and Loop streets. Although the town layout would have been familiar to those who travelled between VOC places in the Netherlands and the East

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and West Indies, the natural resources of Table Valley resulted in a different appearance to the buildings and gardens. Only the stone-built Castle came close to matching public buildings elsewhere in the VOC world, and perhaps the original 17th-century dwelling houses of Governor Van der Stel and a few rich merchants rivalled those in Europe or Batavia. Everyone else lived according to more modest means. While the interiors of some early Table Valley houses may have resembled those of successful people in Europe, with rich furniture and furnishings and many Asian objects, the overall impression of a cluster of low-walled, whitewashed, thatch-roofed structures did not impress visitors. A distinctive Cape architectural form and style emerged during the early years of the 18th century, and an urban version was developed by the mid-18th century. The impression gained from the inventories is that houses and outbuildings in general became more standardised after about 1740. The layout and contents of rooms become more predictable in documents of the later period, whereas each early example has to be carefully read and interpreted. Nevertheless, not all of the older houses were upgraded at once. The fire wardens were still complaining about illegal buildings and afdakken in 1725; the panoramas painted by Schumacher in 1776 show a mixture of thatch and flat roofs; and a photograph dating to about 1880 shows one single-storey thatched house still standing in Bree Street and a second one in the background.90 On the ground in the early 18th century, it would have been impossible to separate the physical, contingent lives of rich and poor, Company and colonist, master, apprentice and slave, or resident and visitor, even though their separate identities were deeply inscribed in the language of the documents – by name, occupation, employment, honorific, level of freedom, value of possessions. For people at street level, each building, road and alley would have been inhabited by their individual experiences and memories. Human stories were not shown on traditional maps. Access routes for pedestrians, hawkers, animals and wagons crisscrossed the streams, leading to outspans, grazing, graves, springs and wells, and linking houses and families. There was a landscape of retreat and refuge into attic roof spaces and escape over flat roofs (‘roofscapes’) which emerges from evidence in court cases. The town was still a small confined space, and the uncontrolled corners and outer edges of Table Valley became appropriated as places of escape, clandestine activities, and the pleasures of music and dance, as well as being familiar to medicine collectors and those seeking spiritual solace. The most obvious change in subsequent decades was a matter of scale as the urban grid and patchwork of gardens were more densely occupied and

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extended outwards and upwards. The settled population grew from about 3,000 in 1731 to 13,000 by 1795, and (according to estimates by Valentijn and Stavorinus) the number of houses grew from 254 in 1714 to 500 in 1777.91 In 1776 Johannes Schumacher painted sweeping panoramas of an organised, apportioned and settled landscape, no longer an outpost but a town (see Plate 8). The streets were straight and houses were confined to regular blocks, some were thatched and others had flat roofs, while the gardens and livestock were enclosed within walls and hedges. Nevertheless, in the view taken from Devil’s Peak towards Signal Hill the same four important sites as in the earlier picture – the church, a place of execution, the Castle and the landing jetty – were in the foreground (see Plate 9).92 These VOC sites of governance and trade remained the most important features of the settlement for the Company artist to depict, although clearly by this stage Cape Town was a settlement of much greater complexity.

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Cape Town: Between East and West