“Christiaan was born around 1743. This I know by his letter from 1815: (translated from Dutch)
“Letting you gratefully know Christiaan van der Vecht, born at the Coast of Guinea, 73 years of age and living in Weesp.”
Where at the Coast of Guinea he was born I don’t know and also how he came to the Netherlands is unknown to me.”
My name is Annemieke van der Vegt and I am a grand-, grand-, grand-, granddaughter (his grand-, grandson is my grand-, grandfather) of Christiaan van der Vegt”
For the complete story see: What was Christiaan’s name?
In this blog post and two following ones i will feature the highly remarkable research findings of a Dutch woman who is in an ongoing search of her West African forefather. By simply googling her surname in 1998 she discovered that she had a West African ancestor she was previously unaware of! She found out eventually by way of archival research that her West African forefather had been a personal servant of several members of the Dutch royal family of Orange-Nassau (at the time of his employment the Netherlands were still a Republic though). And later on (c. 1765) he was also a servant of the mayor of Weesp, a small town near Amsterdam. Most likely he had been only a child when he was brought to the Netherlands. As an adult he had several other jobs and married a Dutch woman with whom he had 10 children. He was baptized as Christiaan van der Vegt in 1777. His original African name and African ethnic identity remain unknown for now but his Dutch ggg-granddaughter, Annemieke van der Vegt, is determined to find out.
The strongly personal motivation of this sixth generation Dutch descendant to uncover the life story of her West African forefather is very inspirational. At the same time her astoundingly diligent research is proving to also have great relevance for many other people. Her work has been put in the spotlight in several Dutch media articles already, incl. the national newspaper Volkskrant, as well as a national genealogy journal. The Weesp museum has recently held a special exposition about Christiaan and three other Dutch Africans who are known to have lived in Weesp around the same time (mid 1700’s). Also historians (both within the Netherlands and internationally) are eager to tap into her specialized field of knowledge which she has been steadily compiling on her amazing blog since 2013. This was the year that marked the 150th anniversary of Dutch abolition of slavery in 1863.
- Hoe heette Christiaan? (in Dutch)
- What was Christiaan’s name? (summary in English)
- Presto returns to Ghana (in English) (incl. analysis by historian Michel Doortmont)
If you continue reading i will discuss the following topics:
- What can be learnt from AncestryDNA when trying to trace African ancestry? (ROOTS.NL, part 1)
- Is it possible to find a plausible ethnic background for Christiaan? (ROOTS.NL, part 2, upcoming blogpost)
- How does Christiaan’s life story relate to the currentday discussions on race within Dutch society? (ROOTS.NL, part 3, upcoming blogpost) Lees verder