By the end of the 18th century, the Dutch Republic, officially named Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (1579 - 1795), found itself in a deep economic crisis. The crisis was caused by the devastating results of Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780 - 1784) in which Britain and the Dutch Republic disagreed on the legality and conduct of Dutch trade with the rebelling American colonies and their allies.*^
The war between the Dutch Republic and Britain primarily consisted of a series of operations against Dutch colonial economic interests and ended disastrously for the Dutch Republic and the Dutch East India Company, a chartered company established on March 20, 1602 by the States General of the Dutch Republic, to carry out trade activities in Asia.
However, while the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War exposed weakness of the political and economic foundations of the Dutch Republic, the countries banks held much of the world's capital, with government-sponsored banks owning up to 40% of Great Britain's national debt.
At the same time, the deep economic crisis, coupled with the discontentment of the Dutch with the authoritarian regime of stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange, resulted in the Batavian Revolution. This revolution ended with the formation and proclamation of the Batavian Republic (also known as the Batavian Commonwealth) on January 19, 1795.*
The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War not exposed weakness of the political and economic foundations of the Dutch Republic, British naval attacks in Europe and Asia also reduced the Dutch United East India Company's fleet by half, removed valuable cargo from its control and eroded its power in Asia, reducing the company's net assets to zero. And when attempts by the provincial States of Holland and Zeeland failed to rescue the company, the newly formed Batavian Republic, on March 17, 1798, nationalized the company, with a formal expiration of the company's charter on 31 December 31, 1799.
Following the establishment of the formation of Batavian Republic, William V fled to England, where he issued the Kew Letters (also known as the Circular Note of Kew) **, proclaiming that all Dutch colonies were to fall under British rule.
Possessions of the former Dutch East India Company, nationalized by the Batavian Republic, were subsequently occupied by Great Britain and restored to this successor state of the Dutch Republic after the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. *^^
Between 1811 and 1816, after the annexation of the Kingdom of Holland by France, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles (July 5, 1781 – July 5, 1826) served as one of the British Governors of Indonesia.
Raffles followed the directions of Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 1st Earl of Minto, April 23, 1751 – June 21, 1814), also know as Lord Minto, the Governor-General of India between July 1807 and 1813, who, in 1811, before leaving Java, instructed Raffles that the Dutch system of forced agricultural deliveries-in-kind was vicious and needed to be abolished. With this in mind,
Raffles, during his relatively short rule as lieutenant-governor of Java, attempted to replace the Dutch system with a cash-based land tenure system of land management. This news system was, in part, influenced by the earlier anti-feudal critique from Dirk van Hogendorp,*** In this process, Raffles was advised by the president of the High Court of Java, Herman Warner Muntinghe, a holdover from the previous Dutch regime on Java.
As part of land reforms, and in an effort to stabilize the finances of Java, Raffles proposed a cautious continuance of the sale of extensive tracts of public land in Samarang (Central Java) and Surabaya (East Java) to private purchasers, which started under Herman Willem Daendels (October 21, 1762 – May 2, 1818), who served as the 36th Governor General of the Dutch East Indies between 1808 and 1811. Raffles considered the sale of the land not only acceptable for legal and financial reasons, but believed that it would also be 'an experiment of private industry against the feudal system' on Java. ^
In a notice of sale, published in the Java Government Gazette, on November 14, 1812, conditions under which the sale could be made, were made public. The conditions for sales included included a stipulation that 'all feudal services to the government and all forced labor deliveries at inadequate rates' were abolished on the lands sold... and that 'No feudal services are to be exacted on these lands from ther persons residing thereon, nor any payments of revenue to be raised from the people, except such as derived from the produce and culture of the soil, or from the rent of houses and and buildings.'
Pamanoekan and Tjiasem Lands
One of the most extensive for these freehold properties (which, following the sale, were given special autonomy rights to manage and establish their own independent government), offered for sale during Raffles tenure as Lieutenant-Governor of Java was that of the Pamanoekan and Tjiasem Lands (also known as P & T Lands) near Subang (West Java).
The territory originally formed two separate areas, one that of Pamanoekan and the other of Tjiasem, both names after important villages and situated not far from the sea. On January 1, 1813, the lands were sold by public auction, each for 35.000 Spanish Dollars (about £ 20,000, today £ 2,009,377.12 or US $ 2,561,312.83). In the Land Registers of the Batavia Residency the sale of both freeholds were entered in the joint names of James Shrapnell and Philip Skelton, owners of Shrapnell, Skelton & Co (after the death of James Shrapnell renamed to Skelton & Co), which was owned, in part, by Forbes & Co of Bombay (British India).
The two separate territories of the Pamanoekan and Tjiasem Lands are enclosed by natural boundaries. To the North is the Java Sea, to the south the mountains that form the northern boundaries of the Preanger Residency. The eastern border of the territories included the Batavia and Cheribon Residencies and the western border was formed by the Tjilamaja river. The dividing line between the two properties was formed by the Tjiasem river (from the mountains to the sea. The extend of the entire, combined, freehold properties was 290,80 bouws or approximately 507,640 acres.
Early history of the P & T lands
Little is known about the history of the P & T lands. After the lands were purchased in 1813, no reference are made to the lands until September 28, 1816, when Skelton & Co offered the lands for sale (as advertised in the Batavia Courant). This initial attempt did not result in the sale of the estates. In 1819 the executors of the estate of James Shrapnell sold the Shrapnell's share of the properties to Sir Charles Forbes and William Taylor Money, the British Consul General in Venice. After the death of Philip Skelton on April 23, 1821, 50% of his share of the estate was left to his elder brother, John Skelton, a Major-General in the service of the (British) East India Company. John Skelton split his share, and later documents show that the property was now owned by Sir Charles Forbes, Michie Forbes, William Taylor Money, John Skelton and John Stewart.
Following the growing interest of Forbes and Money in the P & T lands, a more active development policy was pursued. This conclusion is based on the fact that on May 26, 1829 a mortgage was executed on the property in favor of Inglis, Forbes & Co. of Mansion House Place in London for securing a 'certain large sum of money.' Based on supporting documents , it seems that this mortgage was soon paid off on June 1, 1829, probably in combination with mortgages given as security to Forbes & Co. of Bombay. The extent of which the P & T lands were developed, and the various commodities under cultivation is not really clear, however from correspondence between the owners and their Agents, it is understood that these products included Rice, **^ Sugar, Arrack (a distilled alcoholic drink typically produced in India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers or sugarcane), Timber (Arang tree, Cocoa Nut Tree, Kiabooka wood), and Coffee.
William Taylor Money dies in 1834. His share of the ownership of the estates was given to the executors of his will, Sir Charles Forbes, John Stewart and his widow Eugenia Money. At the same time John Skelton, transferred his share in the P & T Lands to Charles and Michie Forbes and John Stewart in an attempt to pay off a loan from Forbes & Co. In August 1839 Michie Forbes died, leaving his share in the estate to his eldest surviving son.
By the beginning of 1840, the P & T lands were wholly controlled by Sir Charles Forbes and John Stewart, with a minority ownership by Eugenia Money as the third executor of her husband's estate and Mary Ashburner as the executor of the will of Michie Forbes.
Under new management
On March 4, 1840 Johann Erich Banck, a landowner living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, together with Peter William Hofland and his older brother Thomas Benjamin Hofland, sugar contractors to the Dutch colonial government in the residency of Pasoeroean in East Java (now: Pasuruan, Jawa Timur), purchased the Pamanoekan and Tjiasem Lands from Sir Charles Forbes and his business partner John Stewart for £ 225,000 (today, 183 years later, the equivalent value is £ 29,326,044.40 or US $ 37,268,856.90).
Peter William Hofland was born on September 2, 1802 in Jagannadhapuram (Daatijeroon) (Cocanada) Godavery, Madras (British India).^^ Compelled by the British colonial government, he moved to Java, where, in 1833, he received a lucrative contract from the Dutch colonial government to cultivate sugar in Surabaya (East Java). Hofland was considered a charitable landowner who providing adequate wages to indigenous people who wanted to work on plantations (traditionally called 'coffee gardens') owned by Pamanoekan and Tjiasem Lands.
Being the owner of the freehold property, Hofland also greatly benefited the local residents by refusing to implement the forced cultivation system (known as 'cultuurstelsel'), a revenue system that forced farmers to pay revenue to the treasury of the Dutch colonial government in the form of export crops or compulsory labor, introduced in 1830.
Hofland, who was a recipient of the Order of the Dutch Lion (Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw), one of the oldest and highest Dutch civil orders established by King William I on September 29, 1815, died on February 5, 1872 in Subang (West Java).
Notes & References
*^ Although the Dutch Republic never enter into a formal alliance with the American colonies, John Adams, the American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and a Founding Father of the United Staes, who served as the countries second president (from 1797 to 1801), establish diplomatic relations with the Dutch Republic, making it, in April 1782, the second European country to diplomatically recognize the Continental Congress. This was followed in October that same year with the signing of a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded as well.
* The Batavian Republic ended on June 5, 1806 when the Emperor Napoleon installed his brother Louis as King of Holland. In 1810, the countr was annexed into the First French Empire.
** The Kew Letters were a number of letters, written by stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange, between 30 January and 8 February 1795 from the 'Dutch House' at Kew Palace, where he temporarily stayed after his trip to England on 18 January 1795. The letters were written in his capacity of Captain-general of the Dutch Republic to the civil and military authorities in the provinces of Zeeland and Friesland (who had not yet capitulated at the time), to the officers commanding Dutch naval vessels in British harbors, and to Dutch colonial governors. It urged them to continue resistance in cooperation with Great Britain against the armed forces of the French Republic that had invaded the Dutch Republic and forced him to flee to England. The Kew Letters were in particular for the colonial governors, because it ordered them to surrender the colonies to the British. As a result, the governors of Malacca, Amboina, and West Sumatra complied without a fight. Cochin surrendered after a brief bombardment. The rest of the Dutch enclaves in southern and southeastern India and the costal Sri Lanka were quickly taken as well. Elsewhere, though the governors did not comply with the order, with many being confused and demoralized by the orders contained in Kew Letters.
*^^ Following the Napoleonic Wars, the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, and the creation, by the Congress of Vienna, of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 (which included the territory of Dutch Republic, Austrian Netherlands, and Prince-Bishopric of Liège) some of the colonial territories were restored to this successor state of the Dutch Republic.
*** Dirk van Hogendorp (October 13, 1761 - October 29, 1822), a Dutch officer, was comte de l'Empire (French Republic), a colonial administrator (under the Dutch United East India Company or VOC), a diplomat and Minister of War, for the Kingdom of Holland. He was also a confidant of Napoleon Boneparte. In 1812 he became governor of Vilnius (now the capital of Lithuania) and in 1813 he was appointed as the governor of Hamburg. Van Hogendorp was an early critic of the Dutch colonial system implemented by the United East India Company His ideas about reforms in the Dutch East Indies were to a large extent realized by the Commissioners-General of the Dutch East Indies, through the behind the scenes influence of his friend, the president of the High Court of Java, Herman Warner Muntinghe, first as adviser of Stamford Raffles, and later as adviser of the Commissioners-General.
^ Interestingly, while the sale of land was considered 'an experiment of private industry against the feudal system on Java, landowners were not allowed to export their coffee privately, despite the wish to that effect recorded by Lord Minto in October 1811 (Public Consultations, March 7 and July 3, 1812)
**^ In 1910, nearly 80 years later, Pamanoekan Rice was famous throughout the Southeast Asia and on the Amsterdam market as being of outstanding quality among Java export rice.
^^ Thomas Benjamin Hofland was born in 1795 in Jagannadhapuram (Daatijeroon) (Cocanada) Godavery, Madras (British India), he died on May 21, 1858 On Board the Pera in The Mediterranean Sea.