Celebrating their Dutch ancestry


Family head: Patriarch Alexander and wife Josephine depicted in photos of bygone years.

NINETY-FOUR members of the extended family of Malacca’s Dutch Minjoot clan of Banda Hilir met up during their first ever reunion at the Portuguese Settle-ment.

Five generations of family members came dressed in orange from as far away as Australia, as well as Singapore and other parts of Malaysia.

Orange is considered the Netherlands or Holland’s national colour, dating back to the time of Willem Van Orange or William of Orange (1533-1584), who is known as the founding father of Dutch independence.

Each wore a name tag to make identification easier and feasted on a sumptuous Portuguese-Eurasian buffet-styled dinner while listening to stories of family trees and watching power-point presentations marking births, weddings, funerals and other joyful celebrations.

The principal guests of honour were the oldest and youngest members of the clan.

They were 93-year-old Alberta Maud nee Minjoot the daughter of patriarch Alexander John Minjoot and 89-year-old Theresa Minjoot, his daughter-in-law married who was married to his son, Vivian.

The youngest present was seven-month-old Emma Anne Sta Maria, the great, great, great grand daughter of Alexander and matriarch Josephine de Souza.

The group also remembered the reunion’s original organising committee chairman Dennis Rozario, the 61-year-old son of Alberta.

Dennis passed away a couple of weeks before the reunion. Carole Theseira, the granddaughter of Alexander paid tribute to Dennis with an eulogy.

For the reunion, Alexander’s grand daughter Anne Minjoot and her husband Dave Mason, who live in Perth, Australia presented a research paper on their family’s ancestry.

According to Anne, it all began with the Pieternella Bastiaens family in Middleburg, Zealand in the Netherlands.

“This union led to Bastiaan Minjoot and Miquella De Costa giving birth to a child, named Cornelis Minjoot, being born in Malacca in 1711.

“Alexander and his family were the ninth generation of this particular couple and Alexander was born on March 28, 1875,” she noted.

Family records state that Alexander, a Malacca High School student joined the then government service as a clerk in the local Land Office in the early 1900s and also enlisted as a private in the mixed race Malacca Company of the Singapore Volunteer Corps.

He also acted as deputy registrar of the Malacca Supreme Court from 1919 to 1926 and married Josephine in 1905.

In 1921, Alexander was appointed secretary of the Malacca Rural Board and in 1935 he was transferred to the Officers’ Reserve Unit of the Malacca Volunteer Corps.

Subsequently, he was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for service and duty rendered to the state.

A small souvenir depicting the photos of the patriarch and matriarch plus a copy of their family tree structure, were presented to all, courtesy of Anne and Dave.

In her parting words, Anne said: “The Malacca Eurasian community of Dutch descent is much smaller than those of Portuguese or British ancestry. Malacca’s Dutch heritage is evident in structures such as the Stadthuys (now housing the Malacca Museum) and the Dutch Reformed Church (now known as Christ Church) and streets such as Jonker (renamed Jalan Hang Jebat) and Heeren (now called Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock).

“The Dutch legacy, however, does not stop at streets or buildings.

“Like the Portuguese, many Dutch men who came to then Malaya, took local women as wives.

“Such inter-marriages were encouraged and the unions flourished.

“Though many of us now no longer live in Malacca, nevertheless this place will always be special to us Dutch Eurasians.”

Local history records state that Dutch Eurasians are the ‘kinderen van de VOC’, (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or Dutch East India Company) which monopolised trade in the Far East.

In 1641, the Dutch traders-turned-colonisers conquered the port after defeating the Portuguese.

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Family & Community , Dutch roots

   

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