Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

China: Huguenot Ship to the Cape

view all


  • Jean Rogier (c.1673 - 1724)
    ... Suggested may have been on the ship China.. Two men named Jean Roger appear in the books; one from Picardie early in 1687 and a Jean Antoine Roger from le Bousqet (near Spain) in October 1687 * Lis...
  • Jacques Roi (b. - c.1689)
    Not assigned SV/PROG status (alongside his brother) unless he had children. CJB. A mere handful of miles west of Cabrières d'Aigues is Lourmarin. Here we find André Rey and his wife Jeanne Mille, with ...
  • Jean Roi SV/PROG (1666 - 1720)
    Reference no.: MOOC8/3.106 Testator(s): Jean Roy 15 October 1720 Inboel van de mobile en inmobile goederen van Marie Catherine le Febvre weed:we van Jean Roy, op haar versoek, (uyt last van d...
  • George Mesnard, b2 (1679 - d.)
    Meinard Family in BoucherThe largest party to register for a passage on the Berg China was that of the Meinard (Mesnard) family: Jean Meinard, his wife Louise Courbonne, her mother-in-law Marie Anthoua...
  • Louis Courbon (deceased)
    André Courbon of Cabrières d'Aigues and his wife Jeanne Rousse have at least seven children.:* i. Louis, cousin of Pierre Grange - with him on the ship 'China '* ii. Pierre* iii. François* iv. André* v...

The China arrives in Table Bay 4 August 1688

Many sources give the name of the ship as Berg China, but the official Dutch records only give it as China. The confusion might stem from the fact that the China was captained by Pieter van den Berg on some of her voyages.

  • Ship’s type: Spiegelretourschip
  • Construction: Built in 1676 for the Chamber of Amsterdam at the VOC ship yard in Amsterdam.
  • Term: In use by the VOC from 1677 until 1691.
  • Length: 160 feet
  • Breadth: 39 feet
  • Draught (depth): 18 feet
  • Loading capacity: 1124 tons
  • Crew: 250-300 men
  • Flag: Chamber of Rotterdam

Voyage to the Cape:

  • Date of departure: 20 March 1688
  • Port of departure: Goeree
  • Final destination:
  • Date of arrival in the Cape: 4 August 1688
  • Length of voyage: 140 days
  • Total People: 305
  • Deaths: 20 (6,56%)
  • Details of voyage: On 20 Outer Brouwers St is a beautiful stone plaque of a ship, with the caption "The Ship China"... which was built in 1676 for the Amsterdam chamber of the VOC. It sailed four times to Batavia: the last time in 1688. That it was not always smooth sailing, is evidenced by the deaths on board. On the last trip, the ship took escaped French Huguenots to the Cape of Good Hope, but probably carried a disease from which 12 of the 34 French passengers died during the trip. Also aboard were eight young women from a Rotterdam orphanage. They were a welcome addition to the predominantly male population of the Cape, and were married within a few months. Also on the last trip was when things went wrong: the ship was so badly storm damaged that it had to stop on route back from Batavia at Mauritius and wait for materials [from the Cape of Good Hope] to repair the ship. Late in 1691 it arrived back in the Netherlands, and was so worn out that this trip was its last. This trip had taken three years. Author: Paul Rowold Translated: Sharon Doubell
  • Captain: Samuel Janse van Grol

Passengers to the Cape & Places of Origin:

  • Jean Mesnard / Minnaar (1656-1692) from Saint Martin de la Brasque, Provence x Louise Courbonne (1657-1689) from Saint Martin de la Brasque, Provence
  • Marié Anthonarde (1623-1688)
  • Jehane Marque, de Belle Etoile (1627-1688) from Saint Martin de la Brasque, Provence, dies on board
  • Jean Jordaan (1662-1689) from Provence
  • Louis Corbonne (1668-1700) from Cabrieres d' Aigues, Provence
  • Pierre Grange (c1661-1720) from Cabrieres d' Aigues, Provence, cousin of Louis Courbon
  • Pierre Jourdan, de Cabrières (1664-1723) from Cabrieres d' Aigues, Provence
  • Paul Jourdan (1666-1688), from Cabrières d'Aigues, Provence, doesn't board, or dies on board, cousin of André Pelanchon
  • André Pellanchon (1672-1708) from Sivergues, Luberon mt, behind Cabrières d'Aigues, Provence, cousin of Paul Jourdaan
  • Pierre Goiraud (1657-1688) x Francoise Rousse (1659-1688) both from Cabrieres d' Aigues, Provence, & either dodn't board, or died on board
  • Pierre Joubert (1665-1732) from La Motte, d' Aigues, Provence x Suzanne Reyne (1667-1688) from La Roque d'Antheron, Provence, dies on board or shortly before boarding
  • Pierre Malan (1664-1688) from Saint Martin de la Brasque, Provence x Isabeau Richarde (1667-1748) from Provence
  • Antoine Malan (1649-1688) from Saint Martin de la Brasque, Provence, died on board, or doesn't board x Isabeau Verdette (1665-1688), died on board, or doesn't board
  • Jacques Malan (1672-1742) from Saint Martin de la Brasque, Provence, cousin of Antoine & Pierre
  • Jacques Verdeau (1664-1689) from La Roque d’Antheron, Provence
  • Herculé Verdeau (1672-1722) from La Roque d’Antheron, Provence
  • Jeanne Mille (1633-1731) from Lourmarin, Provence, arrives in Cape with son Jacques, probably not on board the China
    • Jean Roi (1686-1720) from Lourmarin, Provence, arrives in Cape with his mother, probably not on board China
    • Jacques Roi (died 1689) from Lourmarin, Provence, not on board the China, probably dies before he gets to the Cap
  • Matthieu Frachas (1662-returned to Europe in 1711) from Provence
  • Paul Roux (1665-1723) from Orange, first teacher and voorlezer of the French congregation
  • Jean Roux (1665-1738)
  • Pierre Roux (1657-1742)
  • Jean Furet (1669-1688) from Peypin d'Aigues, Provence, didn't board or died onboard.
  • Antoine Scaet (1668-1688)

8 Dutch Orphan Girls

Passengers' Stories:

Jourdans who arrive in the Cape

It is around the middle of August 1687 that the Belle Etoile Jourdan family and Cabrières Jourdans flee the Luberon. The only Jourdans who survive the journey to the Cape are: Jean Jourdan, de Belle Etoile SV/PROG I; his brother Pierre Jourdan, de Belle Etoile SV/PROG 2; their two orphaned nieces, Marie Rousse and Marguerite Rous Viret SM/PROG; and Pierre Jourdan, de Cabrières SV/PROG 3.

Two Pierre Jourdans

On 20 March 1688 the Dutch East India Ship China set sail from Goeree for the distant Cape of Good Hope with two men on board who happened to have identical names. Both were Pierre Jourdan; both came not only from Provence, but from the same tiny district of Provence - the Luberon. In fact, they came from two villages within walking distance of each other, namely Cabrières d'Aigues and the hamlet of Belle Etoile some 500 yards outside St. Martin de la Brasque. The two men - Pierre Jourdan, de Cabrières & Pierre Jourdan, de Belle Etoile were wholly unrelated going back at least four generations.

Once at the Cape, Suzanne, daughter of Pierre de Cabrières, married Jean, son of the brother of Pierre Jourdan de Belle Etoile. However, the histories at the Cape managed to confuse the two immigrants and merged their children under the name of only one man. In reality Pierre de Cabrières lived in the very French Drakenstein district and was a strong Protestant churchman. Pierre de Belle Etoile lived in Cape Town, where his daughter married Mochamat Dayan, the son of the Rajah of Tambora and his wife, the daughter of Sheik Yussuf. Mochamat had converted to Christianty soon before and had been baptised David Sultania. ...Harry Booyens at

Extract uit brief 23 December 1687 van de Kamer Rotterdam

. . . de volgende mans en vrouw persoonen voorgekomen om pr t schip China over te varen ...

I Jeanne Marthe wed : van Jourdan out 60 jaren I Jean Jordan haer zoon out 28 jaren I Pierre Jourdan idem 24 do I Marie Jourdan wed. out 40 jaren I Jeanne Rousse haer dochter out 15 jaren I Marie Rousse haer dochter out 10 jaren I Margarete Rousse haer dochter 7 jaren Sa 7 personen in dese familie

- Botha, C Graham: The French Refugees at the Cape, 2nd Ed 1921

Jean Meisnard

Verlaat Frankryk in 1686 en gaan woon in Den Haag. Arriveer in1688 op die Berg China met sy vrou en ses kinders Left France in 1686 and lived in The Hague. Arrived in1688 on the 'Mountain of China' 'with his wife and six children SV/PROG­ MINNAAR Jean v. Provence, Franse vlugteling; * omstr. 1659.Kom 1688 met "Berg China" met vrou Louise Corbonne en ses kinders; In 1690 was by 'n wewenaar met 4 kinders. Philippe was die enigste wat getroud is en kinders nagelaat het. [Judi Meyer]

Suzanne Reyne in Harry Booyens' 'God Bless the good ship China'

One of the more interesting locations is La Roque d'Antheron. It is the only one of our group of Vaudois towns that actually lies on the south bank of the Durance River. It has a long history of Vaudois culture. In the year 2009 it will still have a Rue de Vaudois. In this area the name Rey abounds, but it is Suzanne Reyne (the feminine form of the surname) who holds our interest. In fact, there are two Suzanne Reynes in town at this time and we have no simple way to tell them apart as yet... (Two Suzanne Reynes from La Roque appear in the books; Another travels in the company of a Marie Reyne and appears at Neuchâtel)

By 31 October 1687, when this main refugee group arrives at Frankfurt, Suzanne Reyne has already been there two days. The Gardiol family from Lacoste behind the Luberon, the Verdeaus (who were at Schaffhausen with Suzanne Reyne), the two Furets and Pierre Joubert of La Motte have all been at Frankfurt since the 27th of the month -that is four days earlier. The Frachasse family of two brothers and the wife of one of them probably traveled totally separately from all the others and have arrived on the 18th of the month, nine days before.. Suzanne Reyne, La Roque d'Antheron in the Church Books: Arrives Genve: 24.09.1687 Schaffhausen 09.10.1687 Frankfurt 29.10.1687...

VOC Passenger List in Rotterdam dated 3 months before sailing: Susanne Resue23 (20) unmarried (Resue is no doubt an erroneous transcription of Resne, an alternative spelling of Reyne)... Sometime during the three month period following their arrival in Frankfurt, Pierre Joubert and Suzanne Reyne develop a relationship. Having submitted her name for going to the Cape of Good Hope, Suzanne no doubt does not want to give up this dream. And this is how she and Pierre end up on 1 February 1688 in front of the pulpit in the Belgian Walloon Church in Brielle near Rotterdam (Commission pour l'histoire des églises Wallonnes, Bul. de la Comm. pour l'histoire des églises Wallonnes, Vol.1; (1885), pp.243). Since minister Etienne Villet (ibid p246) of that church comes from Mérindol, he no doubt is favourably disposed toward Suzanne, who is from nearby Roque d'Antheron. The church promptly obtains the approval of the magistrate to have the banns of the couple read three times on that day, so that they might be married before their ship sails. This no doubt assures Pierre a berth on the ship with Suzanne....

Given that Pierre Joubert is already concluded to be aboard the ship China, it stands to reason that his wife of 48 days, Suzanne Reyne, also boards, However, she never arrives at the Cape and we are forced to conclude that she dies on the voyage. [or shortly before? Sharon Sep 2016]

Isabeau Richarde in Booyens 'China'

There are three Mallans living in and around Saint Martin de la Brasque:

  • i. Pierre Mallan is married to Isabeau Richarde.
  • ii. Anthoine Mallan is married to Isabeau Verdette and they have a little daughter.
  • iii. The third is Jacques Mallan, cousin of Pierre and Anthoine. He is as yet unmarried.

Pierre Mallan, wife Isabeau Richarde from St. Martin de la Brasque; Church records for arrival in Genève 12.09.1687; Schaffhausen 30.09.1687; Frankfurt 31.10.1687 (In South Africa she is known as Richard(e), and it is given that way also by the VOC, but at Frankfurt, the only church where Mallan's wife is identified by name, it is Tricharde. This was likely an error as the surname Richard was reasonably common in the Luberon.) VOC records in Rotterdam Dec 1687 for proposed China ship list: Pierre Malan (23) and his wife Isabeau Richarde (20)

...When Isabeau Richarde steps off the China, she is by all accounts already married to Pierre Joubert although there is no emphatic record of that. We therefore conclude that Pierre Joubert, though in a slightly different category, also sailed on the China and, likely, was married to Isabeau by the ship's unknown chaplain ...Isabeau Richarde -Boarded and survived - married to P. Mallan then P. Joubert ...Given that his wife, Isabeau Richarde, has been concluded to be on the ship, it is most likely that Pierre Mallan boards the ship with her, but perishes on board. Isabeau then marries Pierre Joubert, after he loses his own young wife, Suzanne Reyne on board.

Pierre Joubert and Isabeau Richard will give us the huge Joubert family of South Africa, including Kommandant-General Piet Joubert, leader of the Boer forces in two wars against Britain. In this he will gain the reputation of being the only military leader in the world to formally defeat Britain in a war in the Victorian era – the First Anglo-Boer War of 1881. He will also be leader in the second war and gain thereby the admiration of all of Continental Europe.

Paul Jourdan in Booyens' 'China'

Magdalene Pellade, from Cabrières d'Aigues, Provence, was the wife of the late (in 1685) Pierre Jourdan, had at least one son, Paul ... [on the ship 'China' ]

... if we assume that parties who always appear on the same days at the same places were traveling together, then the St. Martin refugees all set off in one group. A reasonable calculation allows four to five weeks for them to cover the 270 miles to Genève by the route previously described. This allows for the older members and children. This in turn implies they leave St. Martin in the middle of August 1687. They likely meet up with the Rey family from Lourmarin and the main La Motte party at Schaffhausen. The bachelor team of André Pelanchon, Paul Jourdan, Louis Courbon and Pierre Grange also team up with them at that point.

Paul Jourdan of Cabrières d'Aigues registered in Church records: Genève 10.09.1687 Schaffhausen 29.09.1687 Frankfurt 31.10.1687. In Dec 1687 VOC records in Rotterdam for proposed ship list on Berg China: Paul Jourdan 22). (Also stated here to be the first cousin of André Pelanchon (15)) Does not appear in the Batavia fund record in 1690 in the Cape - so Boarded and died; Died before boarding; or Stayed behind Given the fact that Paul Jourdan has traveled all the way from Cabrières d'Aigues with Pierre Jourdan of that town, it seems reasonable to accept that he also boarded the China, but did not survive.

Jean & Esprit Fluret in Booyens' 'China'

A small number of individuals in whom we are interested live in some other local towns. Jean and Esprit Furet live in Peypin d'Aigues, which is northeast of Saint Martin de la Brasque. Like Saint Martin de la Brasque, it is considered to be a satellite town to La Motte d'Aigues. We have no clear evidence that they are directly related to each other, but it certainly seems very likely

Jean Furet from Peypin d'Aigues in Church records: Genève 12.09.1687 Schaffhausen 29.09.1687 Frankfurt: 27.10.1687 On VOC proposed passenger list for China in Rotterdam Dc 1687: Jean Furet (18)

Not on Batavia Fund 1690 list in Cape. Didn't board, or died on board. The final implication is that Jean Furet withdraws his application before the ship sails and they are not on board,

(Esprit Furet from Peypin d'Aigues & Lour in church records: Genève 10.09.1687 Schaffhausen 29.09.1687 Frankfurt 27.10.1687. Not on VOC lists. Did not arrive in the Cape SA)

Mesnards in Booyens' 'China'

In 1685:
The head of the family is Jean Meinard who is married to Louise Courbon. Louise will state her maiden name to be Courbonne – the feminine form. Louise is 28 at this time and Jean 26. They already have five children:

  • i. Jeanne *1678
  • ii. George *1679
  • iii. Jacques *1680
  • iv. Jean *1681
  • v. Phillipe *1682 Louise's mother? , Marie Anthouarde lives with them or nearby. (The CNRS database consistently has Marie Anthouarde together with Louise Courbonne and Jean Meinard, but the Frankfurt church entry shows Marie as being “the mother of Jeanne Courbonne”. We take this to be a data entry error and that it refers to Louise Courbonne as there is no associated Jeanne Courbonne in the database. C. Graham Botha, in The French Refugees at the Cape translates “haer schoonmoeder” in the 23 December 1687 VOIC document as “her mother-in-law”, assuming it to refer to Louise Courbonne, but that Dutch phrase is ambiguous. Boucher, in his two publications on the matter, first presents her as the mother of Louise and then as the mother of Jean. The author prefers to follow the Frankfurt church and take her to be Louise's mother)...

We have no evidence that Louise Courbonne is a sister of Louis Courbon (on the ship list) as speculated by Boucher (M. Boucher, French Speakers at the Cape (1981); pp. 191)

Jean Meinard, wife Louise Courbonne, 6 children from St. Martin de la Brasque in Church records:

Jean Mesnart (28) with Louise Corbonne, his wife (30), and six children, namely Jeanne (10), George (9), Jacques (8), Jean (7), Philippe (6) and the 5m. old baby André in VOC proposed passenger list for China at Rotterdam Dec 1687. In Batavia Fund records 1690: only Jean & 4 children

Marie Anthouarde, step-mother of Louise C. in Church records: Genève 12.09.1687 Schaffhausen 30.09.1687 Frankfurt 31.10.1687 In VOC proposed passenger list for China at Rotterdam Dec 1687: Marie Anthonarde, Jean Mesnart's mother-in-law Not in Batavia Fund records 1690.

It seems hugely unlikely that Jean Meinard would board the China with all his (living) children if his wife were not with him. We therefore conclude that Jean Meinard, his wife Louise Courbonne and at least 4 of their children board, being the 4 referred to in the Batavian fund disbursement in Table 4. We thus conclude that Louise Courbonne perishes on the ship...

As to the refugees themselves, the hardest hit family is that of Jean Meinard. By the end of 1692 Jean himself will be no more. Not long afterwards Philippe will be the only survivor of the original family of 9 Meinards who set out from Saint Martin de la Brasque in August 1687. From him will descend the entire Minnaar family of South Africa


Jump Back To