Simon Van Der Stel


Simon van der Stel was the son of Adriaan van der Stel and Maria Lievens, daughter of a freed Indian slave woman known as *Monica of the Coast of Goa. He was born on the14 October 1639. Adriaan his father was appointed the first Dutch governor of Mauritius in 1639. Simon was born at sea while his father was en route to Mauritius to take up his new posting. Simon Van Der Stel was the last Commander and first Governor of the Cape Colony.

Adriaan governed Mauritius for five years, after his tenure he left Mauritius for Dutch Ceylon and was murdered there some years later by the troops of Rajasinha II of Kandy. His wife died there in 1651. Simon went on to Batavia where he stayed till age 20.

Simon remained in Batavia until he was 20 years of age. He married Johanna Jacoba Six yet they did not have a good relationship and her sister accompanied Simon to the Cape. Van der Stel never saw her again, though frequently sent her money.  However, Johanna Jacoba sent the furnishings and works of art required to fit out Groot Constantia.

In 1685 he started Klein Constantia he Had an abiding interest in tropical medicine and botany and continued the tradition of gardening at the Cape. He also travelled to Namaqualand where he made botanical zoological and topographic observations.

In 1691, the VOC replaced the office of “Commander” with “Governor Van der Stel was promoted to the new position. Therefore he was the last Commander and first Governor of the Cape Colony. Van der Stel retired in 1699 and was succeeded by his son Willem Adriaan van der Stel. His retirement was dedicated to developing his wine estates. He died in Constantia in 1712.

 The town of Stellenbosch (founded in 1679) and Simon’s Town were named after him. An early ship of the South African Navy, SAS Simon van der Stel was also named for him in 1952.

*Van der Stel was also the first Cape Governor to be of mixed race. a fact that was largely ignored by the South African government.