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FRETZ, Dietrich Thomas

[also spelt Diedrich, Diederich, Dieterich)

Last Dutch governor of Galle

Born at St Goar (Hesse Nassau) in November 1743. Son of Jan Frans Fretz and Anna Gertruida Herpel.

In 1763, at the age of 20, Fretz travelled to East Indies as a Kapitein on board the 850 ton VOC vessel Gouverneur-Generaal (built in 1749).

Fretz departed from Goeree, Holland on 23 July 1763, reaching the Cape of Good Hope on 25 December 1763 where the ship remained until 16 January 1764. The Gouverneur-Generaal continued its voyage and arrived in Batavia (via India) on 11 September 1764.

The Gouverneur-Generaal sailed with a crew of 111 sailors, 188 soldiers and 9 passengers; 17 people died between the Netherlands and the Cape, and 2 individuals between the Cape and Batavia. The Gouverneur-Generaal called at S. Tiago (15 - 22 September 1763) and at Tuticorin (8 May - 24 July 1764); at S. Tiago 3 sailors and one soldier died, 3 soldiers deserted, one sailor and one soldier were taken on board. At Tuticorin, on the eastern coast of India, 24 sailors, 148 soldiers and 9 passengers went ashore, while 2 sailors came aboard.

Fretz married Cornelia Reyniera van Sanden (17**-1790) [from Jaffna] in Colombo on 28 October 1764 and so it must be assumed that he disembarked at Tuticorin, and from here proceeded to Colombo where he married his bride. There are currently no surviving records to indicate whether he first met her in Tuticorin or Colombo.

Kapitein (captain) in Colombo 1765
Opzichter (overseer/supervisor) in Galle corle in 1769
Hoofd (head/chief) at Mahabadde in 1780
Koopman (merchant) in Matara provincial dissave in 1785
Koopman (merchant) in Colombo dissave in 1787
Commandeur (commander/governor) of Galle 1792-1796

Travelled to Kandy with van Angelbeek and Screuder twice in 1786 [March-April, August-September] as a member of a Dutch delegation to the King of Kandy.

Fretz died on 27 March 1815 in Colombo. The entry in the Ceylon Government Gazette states:

"At Colombo on the 27th March Diederich Thomas Fretz Esq. late Commandeur of Galle in the Dutch Service, aged 71 years 5 Months and 25 days. The remains of this very respectable Gentleman were followed to the Grave by the principal Civil and Military Servants of this Government, and by an immense concourse of the Dutch and other Inhabitants."

Dietrich Thomas Fretz married twice.

First marriage: (1) Cornelia Reyniera van Sanden (d.1790)[from Jaffna]. Married in Colombo on 28 October 1764, with whom he had eleven (11) children [4 sons, 7 daughters]. She died in 1790.

Second marriage: (2) Gertruida Henrietta Bartels (c1761-18??) (from Tutucorin), daughter of Jeronymus Bartels and Natalia Gomez; with whom he had three children. The marriage date is unknown at this stage, but presumably c.1796, as a son, Diederich Gerrard (1796-1836), was baptised in Galle on 16 October 1796 - though strangely, Macquarie makes no mention or intimation regarding a forthcoming marriage for the widower Fretz in his 1796 Sri Lanka journal entries for Galle.

Additional Information:
Macquarie's writings and contemporary archival sources often refer to Fretz as 'D.F. Fretz'. It is unclear what name the initial 'F' refers to. Macquarie refers to Fretz as 'D.F. Fretz' in 1796 and later in 1806 he addresses a letter to 'L.F.E. Fretz' In the case of the latter, the initial 'L' possibly refers to the title landvoogd meaning 'governor'; however the meaning of the initial 'F' as well as 'E' currently remain a mystery.

Ceylon Government Gazette. 5 April 1815 [No. 707] p.4b.

Ceylon Literary Register Vol. III 1888-1889 p.375.

De Navorscher

Lewis, J. Penry, List of Inscriptions on Tombstones and Monuments in Ceylon. Colombo: Government Printer 1913 [Entry no. 1562].

de Vos, F.H. "Monumental Remains of the Dutch E.I.C. in Ceylon." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Ceylon Branch Vol. XV No. 49 1898 pp.213-290.

de Vos, F.H. Jde Navorscher: Genealoische en Heraldische Aanteekeningen Aangaande. Hollandsche Familien te Ceylon.

de Vos, F.H. "List of Some of the Founders of Families which settled in Ceylon from Europe during the Dutch Administration AD. 1640-1796." Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union Vol. I 1908 pp.37-40.

de Vos, F.H. "Genealogien." Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union Vol. II No. 2 1909 pp.71-74.

R.G.A. "The Fretz Family." Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union Vol. XVI July 1926 Part 1 pp.88-90.

van den Bosch, R.P. 'Ceylon During the Dutch Rule of the VOC from 1656-1796, Historic-Genealogical and Heraldic Notes'.

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