[Sun logo]

van ANGELBEEK, Johan Gerard

Last Dutch governor of Ceylon.
Van Angelbeek was born in West-Friesland in 1727. He arrived as a civilian in India in 1754 and soon afterwards worked briefly in Batavia as a solicitor before returning to the Netherlands in 1755. In 1756 he entered service with the VOC (Dutch East India Company) as an onderkoopman [under-merchant] with appointments in Batavia and Bengal. In 1764 he was appointed Fiscaal at Colombo, with responsibilities as the chief Dutch law officer and administrator of justice on the island. Twelve months later he became Political Secretary at Colombo, followed in 1767 with the position of Koopman at Tuticorin, in South India. By 1770 he had been promoted to the highest position within the Dutch civil administration at Tuticorin as Opperkoopman. In 1783 van Angelbeek was appointed Governor, Commander and Director of Malabar and Raad Ordinair (Councillor in Ordinary) of Netherlands India in 1787.

On 1 August 1794 he succeeded his son-in-law, Willem Jacob van de Graaff (1737-), to the position of Governor of Ceylon and he held this office until forced to submit to the British military expedition under the command of Major-General James Stuart on 16 February 1796. This capitulation involved not only the surrender of the Dutch garrison at Colombo but also the complete cession of all the Dutch Maritime Provinces on the island.

Van Angelbeek remained in Ceylon and died at Colombo on 2 September 1799 and was buried the following day. A description of his funeral was recorded by the Reverend James Cordiner [A Description of Ceylon]:

"The funeral procession of the Dutch governor Van-Anglebeck [sic] paraded through the streets of Columbo by torchlight, on the third of September 1799. It was attended by a party of mourners in black gowns, all the European gentlemen of the settlement, and a crowd of natives. The body was deposited in the family vault, by the side of that of his wife, whose skeleton was seen through a glass in the cover of the coffin. No burial service was used on the occasion; but when the necessary duty was performed, a crier stood upon a tomb-stone, and proclaimed that nothing more remained to be done, and that the company might retire. Those gentlemen who felt inclined repaired to the house of the deceased, where a large party of ladies was assembled; and the rooms were soon crowded with a mixture of nations, who spent the entire evening in drinking various liquors and smoking tobacco. This is the largest and best dwelling-house in the fort of Columbo, and is now occupied by Major-General Right Hon. Thomas Maitland, governor of the island. It is situate in the principal street, and composed of two regular stories. [sic] From the upper balcony on one side is an extensive view of the sea, the road, and shipping. On the other is a richer prospect, comprehending the lake, pettah, cinnamon plantations, and a wide range of the inland territories bounded by Adam's Peak, and many lesser mountains."

Van Angelbeek's remains were removed from the Dutch Fort Church to the Wolfendaal Church in September 1813. Despite the fact that there is a monument to his wife, Jacomina Lever (1732-1793), and his daughter, Christina Elizabeth van Angelbeek (1756-1792), wife of Governor Willem Jacob van der Graaff, there is no commemmorative monument to van Angelbeek in Colombo. His son, Christian, had been Chief Adminstrator of the Maritime Provinces at the time of the Dutch capitulation in 1796.

An alternative account [Colin-Thome] suggests that van Angelbeek first arrived in South Asia on board the VOC ship Schakenbos in 1751.

de Silva, R.K. and Beumer, W.G.M. Illustrations and Views of Dutch Ceylon 1602-1796. London: Serendib, 1988 p.443.

Colin-Thome, P. "Governor Van Angelbeek & the Capitulation of the Dutch Settlements in Ceylon to the British (1796)." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Sri Lanka) Vol. 24 (1978-1979) pp. 20-48.

Cordiner, James. A Description of Ceylon: containing an account of the country, inhabitants and natural productions; with narratives of a tour round the island in 1800, the campaign in Candy in 1803, and a journey to Ramisseram in 1804. First publ. London: 1807. [Reprint 1983] Vol. 1 p.21.

Lewis, J.P. List of Inscriptions on Tombs and Monuments in Ceylon. [1913] pp.102 and 117.

Ceylon Government Gazette: Supplement 2 September 1813.

Military Terms
Place Names
Related Topics
73rd Regiment

Copyright © Macquarie University 2011