Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp, SV/PROG

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Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp, SV/PROG

Also Known As: "Nyengana (one who comes secretly)", "Jank' hanna (the bald man)"
Birthdate: (65)
Birthplace: Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
Death: December 15, 1812 (65)
Cape Town, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of Cornelius van der Kemp and Anna Maria van Teylingen
Husband of Christina Helena van der Kemp and Sara Janse van de Kemp, SM
Partner of unknown Partner
Father of Johanna van der Kemp; Cornelis Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp; Diedericus van der Kemp; Africanus van der Kemp and Sara Theodora Kannemeyer
Brother of Didericus van der Kemp and Jean Cornelius van der Kemp

Occupation: Doctor and Missionary
Managed by: John Sparkman
Last Updated:

About Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp, SV/PROG

Name: Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp

Variations of the name: None

Origin of the name: Dutch (Van der Kamp): topographic name for someone who lived by a field or a particular domain, from Middle Dutch kamp ‘field’, ‘domain’, or habitational name from der Kamp, a place in North Holland.

Birth date: 17 May 1747

Birth Place: Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands

Arrival in South Africa: 31 March 1799 on board Sailing Vessel HILLBOROUGH

Date of Death: 15 December 1812

Place of Death: Cape Town, South Africa

Parents: Ds. Cornelius van der Kemp and Anna Maria van Teylingen

Marriage 1: Christina Helena Frank

Date: May 27, 1779

Place: Netherlands

Marriage 2: Sara Janse van de Kaap

Date: July 10, 1806

Place: Cape Town



Johanna (Antje) van der Kemp

Marriage 2:

Cornelis Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp

Didericus van der Kemp

Africanus van der Kemp

Sara Theodora van der Kemp

Occupation & Career: Military officer, Doctor, and Philosopher, who eventually became a Missionary in South Africa.





Carne, John. Lives of Eminent Missionaries. Vol. 2. London: Fisher, Son, & Co., 1833.

Thompson, Andrew. Great Missionaries: A Series of Biographies. London, New York: T. Nelson, 1870.

Van der Kemp, Johannes T. The Christian Entirely the Property of Christ, in Life and Death: Exhibited in Fifty-three Sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism. Wherein the Doctrine of Faith, Received in the Reformed Church, is Defended Against the Principal Opponents, and the Practical Improvement and Direction of it to Evangelical Piety, Enforced. Vol. 1. New-Brunswick, NJ: Printed by Abraham Blauvelt, 1810.

The Christian Entirely the Property of Christ. Volume 2. New-Brunswick, NJ: Printed by Abraham Blauvelt, 1810.


Van der Kemp, Johannes T. Extracts from the Journals of Dr. Vanderkemp and Mr. Read after their Settlement at Bota’s Place. London: Williams, 1804.

Memoirs of the Rev. J. T. Van der Kemp, M.D., Late Missionary in South Africa. London: J. Dennett for the London Missionary Society, etc., 1813.

Principles of the Word of God for the Hottentot Mission. 1804.

“Religion, Customs, Population, Language, History and Natural Productions of the Country.” In Transactions of the Missionary Society. Vol. 1 (1800): 432-68.

Specimen and Vocabulary of the Caffra Language. [London: LMS, 1804?].


Brightwell, C.L. Dr. Vanderkemp: The Friend of the Hottentot. London: LMS, 1874.

Enklaar, I. H. Life and Work of Dr. J. Th. Van der Kemp, 1747-1811: Missionary Pioneer and Protagonist of Racial Equality in South Africa. 1988.

Martin, Arthur Davis. Dr. Vanderkemp. Westminister: Livingstone Press, 1931.

Northcutt, William Cecil. Hero of the Hottentots: John Vanderkemp. London: Edinburgh House Press, 1939.

Smith, G. John Vanderkemp: 1748-1811: The First Medical Missionary to Africa. London: Nelson, 1900.

Smith, Lucius E. Heros and Martyrs of the Modern Missionary Enterprise: A Record of Their Lives and Labors. Providence, RI: Potter, [1856].

After a brief army career in his native Netherlands he took a medical degree in Scotland (1782). He joined the newly formed London Missionary Society (LMS) in 1798. One of the first three agents sent by the LMS to South Africa, he was the first missionary to work among the Xhosa (1799-1800). He became interested in the economic plight of the Khoikhoi ('Hottentot') people in the Cape Colony and strongly advocated granting then legal equality with whites. He laboured alternately among the Khoikhoi of the eastern Cape and the slave population of Cape Town. Partly as a matter of principle he married a non-white woman and thereby alienated the white settlers against his work. Armed with a background in European and classical philology, he pioneered in the study of Xhosa and Khoikhoi languages. He was made the first superintendent of the LMS's South African missions shortly before he died.

Established Bethelsdorp. Port Elizabeth’s first organised settlement.

Bethelsdorp Village was established in 1803 by Dr Johannes Theodorus Van Der Kemp, a missionary working among the Khoikhoi. Many of the old buildings in Bethelsdorp Village are protected by the National Monuments Act. The Van Der Kemps Memorial Church in the village was first built in 1803 and is generally regarded as the first Congregational church in southern Africa. It was destroyed by fire in 1890, rebuilt in 1903 and again in 1926 and extended in 1985. Behind the church is the so-called Livingston Cottage, used by visitors to the village. According to the legend, Dr David Livingstone also stayed there. In front of the church is the Market Square with the Mission Bell, erected in 1815 and in the street next to it visitors will see the Almshouse built in 1822 to accommodate the destitute.

He campaigned outspokenly against the labour practices of the Boers. By his death in 1811 he had baptised more than 100 Khoisan, but had also established a pattern of tension between the LMS and white settlers that would last for a century.

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Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp, SV/PROG's Timeline

May 17, 1747
Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
June 7, 1747
Rotterdam, Government of Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, The Netherlands
Age 59
Age 60
December 20, 1810
Age 63
Bethelsdorp, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
December 15, 1812
Age 65
Cape Town, South Africa
Age 65