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Adolph Jonker

Arabic: Abdullah Jonker
Also Known As: "Abdullah", "Abdul"
Birthdate: (60)
Death: circa February 1779 (52-68)
Paarl, Cape Winelands, Western Cape, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of Jonker van Makassar, SV/PROG and Rosetta van Java, SM/PROG
Husband of Maria Petronella Langeveld, b2 SM
Father of Adriaan Jonker, b1; Adolph Jonker, b2; Pieter Jonker, b3; Johanna Jonker, b4 SM; Johannes Jonker, b5 and 5 others
Brother of Johanna Jonker and Catharina Jonker
Half brother of Jacob Jansz; Johannis Bastiaens and Adriaan Bastiaens

Managed by: Jansi Syfert
Last Updated:

About Adolph Jonker

JONKER Adolph:

Written by Martina Louw & Jaco Strauss. Posted in H - J of South Africa's Stamouers (June 2015)

There has been much controversy for over 2 centuries regarding the origin of stamvader Adolph Jonker.

Since the late 18th century Jonker has been mentioned by numerous authors and several theories emerged, but all without conclusive evidence to back them up fully:

• 1772: Naturalist Sparrman indicated Adolph was of mixed race, his mother being non-European

• 1902-1954: Historians Colenbrander, Moritz and Redelinghuys indicated that Adolph was of German descent

• 1958: Genealogist Dr. J Hoge1 unleashed much controversy by claiming that Adolph was the son of free slaves Jonker van Makassar and Rosetta van Java. His cited documents indicated that he also believed Jonker van Makassar to have been the same person as banned Prince Catchiri Daijman Mamoedi from Ternate (aka Ketees Malocco). No explanation for this conclusion was given however

• 1965-6: Dr A.H. Jonker2 and Dr. C. Pama supports German descent

• 1959-1986: Malherbe3 (1959) and Heese & Lombard4 (1986) support Jonker van Makassar as Adolph’s father

• 2013: Mansell Upham5 supports Dr. Hoge’s 1958 claims.

[Note: Most of the above historic references have been added to ‘Photos and Documents’ on the ‘Adolph Jonker Ancestry Puzzle’ page]

Recently two genealogists Martina Louw (descendant of Adolph Jonker) and Jaco Strauss (administrator of the FTDNA Cape Dutch Y-DNA Stamvader Project) combined modern DNA technology with rigorous documentary research, to establish the truth about stamvader Adolph Jonker’s origin. Their findings have been published in a comprehensive article Die Herkoms van Stamvader Adolph Jonker (1718-1779)6 in Familia. The following information is a summary of this article.

The researchers approached two male descendants of Adolph Jonker who agreed to join Jaco’s Cape Dutch Y-DNA Stamvader Project7 and have their Y-DNA tested in support of Jaco and Martina’s archive research. One of them is Martina Louw’s cousin Hennie Jonker, and the other Dr. Koos Jonker, half-brother of poet Ingrid Jonker, and son of Dr A.H. Jonker2. Their Y-DNA identified the haplogroup of their common patrilineal ancestor Adolph Jonker as well as the male ancestors before him in this direct line. Results showed that they both belong to a very rare subhaplogroup of haplogroup K that originated in south-east Asia.

Adolph Jonker is thus the first Afrikaner stamvader whose non-European patrilineal roots have been confirmed by Y-DNA analysis. More information about haplogrop K and other Y-DNA haplogroups, as well as a graphic representation of their spread throughout the world can be found at DNAeXplained8 - as illustrated by this map:

South east asia Y DNA

Rigorous archive research also established conclusively that his parents were indeed the free slaves Jonker van Makassar and Rosetta van Java, but that Jonker van Makassar was definitely not the same person as the banned Indonesian Prince Catchiri Daijman Mamoedi from Ternate (aka Ketees Malocco). They were indeed different people with very different values and lifestyles, as illustrated in this table:

Stamouers Jonker table 1

It could not be established with certainty when Jonker van Makassar and Rosetta van Java came to the Cape. We do know that Jonker required a Portuguese-Dutch translator in order to draw up his will. This is not surprising since Makassar in Sulawesi had been a major Portuguese trade centre until the Dutch took over in 1667 and families (many of nobility) heavily involved in Portuguese trade, had to flee or were forcibly relocated to other parts in the Dutch empire24.

Considering that he was called “Jonker” which was a Dutch form of address for a nobleman or son of a nobleman25, it is quite possible that Jonker van Makassar’s family could have suffered this fate, resulting in him eventually being enslaved and taken to the Cape. This is of course speculation.

While most freeblacks were very poor26, soon after being manumitted Jonker van Makassar was able to own a fishing boat and purchase slaves of his own. In his 1727 estate he left 4 slaves to serve his family members. He was without doubt very hardworking, but his business acumen, ambition and will to improve his family’s lifestyle could perhaps also be an indication of a privileged prior life.

We know from the first two wills 27,28 of freeblack woman Rosetta van Bengal (1939 and 1947), that Jonker van Makassar’s wife Rosetta van Java /Boegies was Rosetta van Bengal’s slave owner after her manumission, and that they had become such close friends that Rosetta van Boegies’s children were named in these wills as beneficiaries. In 1742 Adolph Jonker stood surety to enable Rosetta van Bengal’s husband Aron van Balij to free his slave Corydon van Bengal29.

Adolph Jonker was the eldest child of free slave Muslim fisherman Jonker van Makassar and his wife Rosetta van Java , and would have been known as Abdul(lah) for the first 14 years of his life. He would have attended the Cape school in which Adolph Hofman30 was appointed teacher in 1723. It seems as if Adolph Jonker was a bright pupil and Adolph Hofman an inspiring teacher and mentor, considering Adolph Jonker’s later choice of career – teacher and koster of the Drakenstein congregation. He may even have been named after his teacher and mentor when baptised in 173331.

Adolph Jonker’s life was not without sadness, he lost his father Jonker van Makassar at the tender age of 913, and 4 years later aged 13 he also lost his mother Rosetta van Java 9.

On 16 Oct 1734 Adolph Jonker became a burgher of Drakenstein33 aged 16. (It was a requirement that men register within 6 weeks of turning 1634, thus we know he would have been born between 4 Sept 1718 en 16 Oct 1718.)

Six years later on 26 June 1740, Adolph married35 Maria Petronella Langeveld, daughter of Pieter Pietersz Langeveld and Cornelia Jacobs. They had 10 children, all but the first born baptized in Drakenstein where Adolph was appointed teacher and koster on 20 June 174536.

The children were named after family members, close friends and significant people in their lives, often signing witness to the baptisms. These baptismal records expose the close bonds that continued to exist between Adolph and various friends and family members, including his older half-brother Jacob Jansz, his sisters Johanna and Catharina Jonker, his younger half-brothers Johannes and Adriaan Bastiaans, and his step-parents Arij Bastiaans and Pieternella van die Kust(Kaap)– as illustrated in this table:

Stamouer Jonker table 2

We do not know what Adolph Jonker did for a living between 1734 and 1745, but he was allowed to wear a sword which was a rare privilege at the time, and used a wax seal with strong Germanic traits to seal important documents. There is a wax impression of Adolph’s seal as used on 20.2.1753 in the Government Archives in Cape Town - seen in the photo below:

A Jonker seel in argief

Adolph retired as teacher in Drakenstein after nearly 17 years on 5 May 1762. Apparently few teachers held their positions this long in those days. It seems he gave up teaching in order to become a farmer on pieces of land he had purchased37. At the time of his death he owned 130 goats, 15 cattle and a horse. He continued to be koster until his death in 177938.

Adolph was fluent in Dutch and German, and was also well-read. Although books were scarce in those days, he owned 20 on a variety of subjects, as well as 2 bibles. By all accounts he was an excellent teacher, a loyal friend and a dedicated familyman. In spite of his lowly freeblack background, he became a respected member of the Cape community and progenitor of the South African JONKER family.

Adolph Jonker is the first Afrikaner stamvader whose non-European (Indonesian) patrilineal roots have been established by archival research and confirmed by Y-DNA analysis.

Since traditionally South African Stamvaders are considered to be the first known male progenitor in each patrilineal line that settled at the Cape. Now that it has been established with certainty that Adolph Jonker’s father was Jonker van Makassar, it is expected that Jonker van Makassar will carry the title of Jonker Stamvader in future.

References and Sources:

  1. HOGE, dr J., 1958. Bydraes tot die genealogie van ou Afrikaanse families; verbeterings en aanvullings op die Geslacht-Register der Oude Kaapsche Familiën. Amsterdam: A. A. Balkema.
  2. JONKER, dr. A.H., 1965. Die stamvader - Adolph Jonker (I). Familia 2, 1965.
  3. MALHERBE, DF du T, 1959. Driehonderd Jaar Nasiebou - Stamouers van die Afrikanervolk. Stellenbosch: Tegniek.
  4. HEESE, J.A. & LOMBARD, R.T.L., 1986-1992. Suid Afrikaanse Geslagregisters. Pretoria : Raad vir Geesteswetenskaplike Navorsing.
  5. UPHAM, M., 2013. Uprooted Lives (UL28): God’s Slave and the Afrikaner ‘Hearts of Darkness’ – Abdullah alias Adolph Jonker c.1707-1779.
  6. LOUW M. & STRAUSS J. (2015), Die Herkoms van Stamvader Adolph Jonker (1718-1779), Familia-52 2015 no 2.
  7. STRAUSS J. FTDNA Cape Dutch Y-DNA Stamvader Project: (as on 22/02/2015)
  8. MACDONALD J.D. 2005, Y haplogroups of the World. (as on 26/02/2015)
  9. HEESE H., Opgaafrolle for Cape Town and District (1719-1735). Cape Town Archive.
  10. Resolutions of the Council of Policy of the Cape of Good Hope (11 Feb. 1733) C. 91, pp. 108-117.
  11. SHELL R. Slave Transactions 1658-1731
  12. LEIBBRANDT H.C.V. (1896). Precis of the Archives, Letters Received 1695-1708, no 282, p512, of 03/01/1704 and no 276, p437 of 01/02/1704. Kaapstad: W.A. Richards & Sons
  13. (1727): CJ 2604:05 Jonker, van Maccassar. Cape Town Archive.
  14. WORDEN N. & GROENEWALD G. (Editors) 2005, Trials of Slavery: Selected Documents Concerning Slaves from the Criminal Records of the Council of Justice at the Cape of Good Hope, 1705-1794. Kaapstad: Van Riebeeck Society.
  15. DEACON H., (editor, 1996). The Island: A History of Robben Island, 1488-1990. Kaapstad: David Philip Publishers.
  16. Resolutions of the Council of Policy of the Cape of Good Hope (24 Nov. 1722): C 61, pp 27-34.
  17. Resolutions of the Council of Policy of the Cape of Good Hope (22 Des 1722): C. 62, pp. 22-35.
  18. Bundle VC 50 – Monsterrollen – Vrije Lieden : 1726 – 1733. Cape Town Archive.
  19. DRC Cape Town baptism: Rosetta and Bastiaen van Ceijlon’s son Johannis (24/09/1730)
  20. DRC Cape Town baptism: Rosetta and Bastiaan van Ceijlon’s son Adriaan (14/01/1731)
  21. Slave Manumission - Obligatiën, Transporten van Slaven, Vrijbrieven: CJ 3083 (1733). Cape Town Archive.
  22. Slave manumission: Slave Johanna van der Kaap, ID nr 3252, aged 1 (14 Jan 1717). Cape Town Archive Court of Justice 3074, at (as on 17/08/2013).
  23. DRC Cape Town baptism: Slave Rosetta from Batavia baptises her manumitted daughter Johanna (14 Feb. 1717).
  24. WARD K., 2009. Networks of Empire: Forced Migration in the Dutch East India Company. USA: Cambridge University Press, pp 196.
  25. VAN DER SIJS N. ,2010: Jonker (Aanspreektitel voor adelborst) (as on 23/02/2015)
  26. GILLIOMEE H., 1731. De la Fontaine Report: “Vrijswarten, of ex-bandieten sijn doorgaans arm, veele bestaan van visschen”
  27. Will (1739): CJ 2609:06 Rosetta van Bengaelen. Cape town Archive.
  28. Will (1747): CJ 2658:48 1747; MOOC 7/1/10 - 37. Rosetta van Bengale. Cape town Archive.
  29. LEIBBRANDT H.C.V. (1896). Precis of the Archives, Requesten (Memorials)1715-1806:1742, no32.
  30. Resolutions of the Council of Policy of the Cape of Good Hope (21 Sept. 1728) Footnote [5].
  31. DRC Cape Town baptism: bejaarde doop - Adolf (25 Jan 1733).
  32. DRC Cape Town baptism: Rosetta’s daughters Johanna and Catharina (2 Dec 1731)
  33. Eedboek, C. 678. (16 Okt. 1734).
  34. Resolutions of the Council of Policy of the Cape of Good Hope (18 Okt. 1708): C.26, pp 107-109.
  35. DRC Cape Town marriage: Adolf Jonker and Maria Pieternella Langveld (26 Junie 1740).
  36. DRC Paarl, Minutes: 1731-1784.
  37. LEIBBRANDT H.C.V. (1896). Precis of the Archives, Requesten (Memorials)1715-1806: 1752 no 75.
  38. Estate: Adolph Jonker, Koster of Drakenstein: MOOC 8/17.51 (20 Feb 1779). Cape Town Archive.

The above English synopsis of Jaco and Martina's article can be viewed at

The full length Afrikaans article that was published in Familia 52 (2015-2) "Die Herkoms van Stamvader Adolph Jonker" can be downloaded in pdf format at


Previous publications about Adolph Jonker:


There has been some controversy regarding the origin of Adolph Jonker. According to genealogist Dr Hoge and later also Dr. Malherbe, Adolph was the son of two slaves - Jonker from Macassar and his wife Rosetta from Java. According to the book Heraldry of South African Families, Adolph Jonker was born about 1715 in the Cape. According to R Elphick and H Giliomee’s, The Shaping of South African Society p.153, “Free black fishing began as early as 1722, when we have a memorial requesting fishing rights signed by both European and black fishermen. Among them was one Chinese, Sobinko, and two Indonesians Jacob of Bugis and Jonker of Macassar”. But in Jonker van Macassar’s will his children are named Jacob, Jamela, Adol Jolle and Raja - no Adolph mentioned.

Dr. A.H. Jonker could not find any evidence of Adolph’s birth in the Cape. According to him, Dr. Hoge had made an assumption that Jonker from Macassar was the only Jonker at the Cape in the first half of the eighteenth century, which was incorrect, and Dr Malherbe supposedly just reprinted Dr. Hoge’s information without checking its validity.

According to Dr. Jonker the earliest document mentioning Adolph Jonker appears to be a record of his confirmation in the Dutch Reformed Church, the “Groote Kerk” in Drakenstein (Paarl) on 10/7/1734. This implies that he must have been baptised previously, but he could find no evidence of this having happened at the Cape. Unfortunately there is also no record of him arriving by ship either, but based on his Christianity, German features of the seal that he used, and his social standing in the community, Dr Jonker considers it most likely that he originated from Germany.

On 16/10/1734, Adolph Jonker became a “burger” of Drakenstein. Six years later on 26/6/1740, he married Maria Petronella Langeveld, daughter of Pieter Pietersz Langeveld and Cornelia Jacobs, in the “Groote Kerk”. She was born around 1722 in the Cape and died on 4/1/1773 in Drakenstein.

They had 10 children: 1. Adriaan ~ Cape 30/4/1741, died young. 2. Adolph ~ Drakenstain 15/12/1743, x 30/11/1766 Maria Sauerman 3. Pieter ~ Drakenstein 28/11/1745 x 21/11/1773 Martha Petronella Langeveld, his cousin. 4. Johanna ~ 29/9/1747 x 29/5/1768 Willem Landman from Amsterdam 5. Johannes ~ Drakenstain 29/6/1749 6. Jacobus ~ Drakenstain 22/11/1750 7. Adriaan ~ Drakenstain 18/11/1753 x 15/11/1778 Aletta Margaretha van Deventer 8. Daniel Johannes ~ Drakenstain 12/10/1755 x CT 21/2/1800 Magdalena Catharina Delport 9. Michiel ~ Drakenstain 15/4/1758 x Paarl 26/5/1793 Cornelia Elizabeth Horn 10. Johannes ~ Drakenstain 21/9/1760 x 31/10/1784 Magdalena van Zyl

We do not know what he did for a living between 1734 and 1745, but he did use a seal marked A. Jonker to seal important documents. There is a wax impression of it in the Government Archives in Cape Town, dated 20.2.1753. This crest on it corresponds with features of the North and South German Jonker crests. He was also allowed to wear a sword, which was a rare privilege at the time.

Adolph must have been quite well-off, since he signed numerous documents as witness or sponsor to have slaves freed. He must have been reasonably wealthy to have been permitted to be a sponsor.

On 16/5/1745 both Adolph Jonker and German Andreas Seitz applied for the position as sexton of the Drakenstein congregation. Adolph was selected. On 20/6/1745 he was appointed both as sexton of the church, and as teacher in the state school, even though Seitz was already a registered teacher. Now Adolph also became one of the few registered teachers permitted to teach in public schools. There were only six – four in the Cape, one in Drakenstein and one in Stellenbosch.

Adolph taught for nearly 17 years until 5/5/1762 when he retired as teacher. Apparently few teachers held their positions this long in those days and as soon as he had left, the church had problems with the new teacher. He continued to be sexton though until his death in 1779. It seems he gave up teaching in order to become a farmer. He had acquired various pieces of land and seemed to start farming on a large scale. Between 1752 and 1779 he owned 3 pieces of ground in the heart of Drakenstein, with a combined value of 7000 Guldens. He also owned many cattle and goats and had 10 000 vines growing on one farm.

Adolph was also well-read. Although books were scarce in those days, he owned a small library of 20 books on a variety of subjects as well as 2 Bibles. He was an excellent teacher, a very religious man, a loyal friend, caring towards others less fortunate than himself, and a supporter of the abolition of slavery. He died in 1779 in Drakenstein.

References and Sources: PAMA & HEESE/LOMBARD HF Heese, Groep Sonder Grense R Elphick, H Giliomee, The Shaping of South African Society Dr. A.H. Jonker, "Die stamvader Adolph Jonker", Familia, 1965 no 2 Cornelis Pama, 'Die wapens van die ou Afrikaanse families', AA Balkema, Cape Town, 1959, Mansell Upham of GSSA, western Cape ( Arlene Langsmith (

Thanks to Submission by: Martina Louw

Regarding the aka Name Abdullah:

1) In Adolph's father Jonker van Makassar's will the handwriting is not very clear and the name appears badly misspelt by the Portuguese-Dutch translator to whom the ill Jonker van Makassar dictated his will in Portuguese. The translator wrote something looking like AdulJolle or AdolJolle.

2) Secondly, it appears as if he was called Abdul in the 1738 opgaafrol. It seems likely that the census recorder might have known him by this name as a child, because it is the only single Jonker man's entry that appears likely to be him, and his usual entry named Adolf happens to be missing at the same time Em Lo June 2015

See also:

  • "God's Slave & Afrikaner 'Hearts of Darkness' -

Abdullah alias Adolf Jonker (c. 1709-1779)" by Mansell Upham - published on the website of The First Fifty Years project. (May 2013) & borne out by

view all 14

Adolph Jonker's Timeline

October 1718
January 17, 1733
Age 14
Age 22
Cape of Good Hope
Age 24
Paarl,Kaapkolonie,Suid Afrika
Age 26
Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa
September 29, 1747
Age 28
Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
Age 30
Cape of Good Hope
Age 31
Paarl,Kaapkolonie,Suid Afrika
Age 34
Cape of Good Hope