«Its Causes, Course and Consequences A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in History in the ...»
One further point to be considered in the military aspect of British rule in the Moluccas. As a result of the taking of Java by Lord Minto, the threat to the safety of the Moluccas had diminished and as a consequence Raffles and 41 De Graaf 1977 op.cit. p.207.
Martin had been asked for a joint report on the military requirements for both Java and Amboyna. Martin's suggestion was the replacement of Indian Sepoys by an Ambonese Corps, founded on comparison with what he called the Provincial Battalion in Benga1 • The model would appear to have been the "irregular" corps made up of local inhabitants, which, since the 1780's had been used to police certain "tribal areas" - Bhaga1pur for example - on the
for two centuries, the only unit made up solely of Ambonese that had existed until 1810 had been the Ambon Militia, consisting of Ambonese Burgers, which was more in the nature of a home guard. As in the Corps of "Irregu1ars ll in India,
43 It is interesting to record here that this was not Martin's first experience with native Corps. Shortly after Martin had assumed the duties of the recently murdered Resident of Bencoo1en Thomas Parr, he entered the following Minute dated 25 February 1808, on the Bugies Corps of that colony: "The Resident (Martin himself) has already recorded, in his Proceedings of 27 December 1807, his opinion with regard to the expediency of maintaining a small establishment of Buginese in the service of the Company (apparently in contradiction of Parr's idea of abolishing the Corps altogether). Important advances may be derived from the service of a small regulated and efficient Corps of this description on emergencies, when it would be neither practicable nor expedient to detail a party of regular Sepoys into the country.•• (These) descendants of the Eastern chiefs still consider themselves as the... Guardians of the Company's interests and pride themselves upon being employed as agents of the Company"4 5 No doubt Martin saw the Ambonese Christians in the same light as he saw the Buginese, who also hailed from the Mo1uccas~ four years earlier.
44 See A.Barat The Bengal Native Infantry (1962) Chapter 2.
Minutes of the Bencoo1en Residency 25 February 1807.
so, under the British, were the local people given considerable powers of command • The new Ambon Corps was officered by five European and six Ambonese officers. The N.C.O.
cadre was Ambonese. Its senior N.C.O. was Sergeant Major Matulesia.
Ver Huell gives a.description of the man, which is
worth quoting in full at this point:
"Thomas Matulesia was a man of about thirty five years of age, tall but lean and very dark, who did not seem overly intelligent. He was born a Saparuan, was a member of the Reformed Church and a Burger of Saparua. He had been a sergeant major in the British Ambon Corps. During the revolt he was usually dressed in a uniform with the epaulettes of the Major of Engineers Beetjes, who was killed in the first battle of the revolt. He usually had a bodyguard with him and had adopted the pompous title of "Panhoelo Pangerang diatas Poelo Hinimoa, Haroekoe, Noesa Laoet, Ambon, Ceram dan lain jang berikot ", which means: High Chief of War over the Islands Honimoa, Haroekoe, Noesa Laoet, Amboina, Ceram and the nearby Coasts"47.
Boelen adds to this penpicture:
By local standards the men of the Ambon corps were well paid under the British; they were armed with rifles, were well dressed and did not have to fight outside the Moluccas, a clause specially written into their contracts.
This corps was recruited over the entire Ambonese islands, which accounts for the fact that Matulesia hailed from Saparua.
An unknown, but probably substantial,.number of ex-members of the corps took part in the revolt of 1817,
47 Ver Huell Herinneringen aaneen Reis naar Indie, Vol. I pp. 242-244.
48 Boelen op.cit. p.218.
although it was not an army mutiny. By that time the Corps had been disbanded. Granted Burger rights by Martin on their discharge, they now found themselves without means of support and, as Burgers, outside the village community. Their anger at the Dutch, who refused to re-engage them on acceptable terms, is understandable and as they rowed past the Dutch warships on their return journey to their villages, they gave vent to their indignation by shouting abuse at the
prehensible that the authorities failed to realize how potentially dangerous they were.
Due to the complete blockade of Dutch shipping during the Anglo-French-Dutch wars, an acute shortage of specie had arisen in all the Dutch colonies. The paper money introduced in its place was never popular. It was also unsecured and devalued rapidly. The villagers did not trust it. Furthermore it violated the church adati only silver coins were acceptable for the Poor Boxes in the Church.
Martin's concern about specie was such that, in order to obtain it he sold a quantity of cloves to a Captain Walker, the master of the private brig "Fortune". Explaining this sale, Martin wrote to Tucker, Secretary of the Colonial
Departmen-t at Fort William:
Despite these stop-gap arrangements, specie remained scarce and this would in time lead to some disastrously wrong decisions by the Commission which took over the colony for the Dutch government.
in Ambon, tended to legislate too much but to govern too little. He readily did away with much that existed, but it can be argued that the shortcomings which certainly were evident in the old system were increased by what Van Kemp calls a slipshod administration. His ideas of creating a new order of things were well intended, but it cannot be denied that the other task of the ruler, administration itself, was neglected. Nothing was done regarding the maintenance of buildings, fortifications and roads during the entire period. This meant a considerable lightening of the burden of compulsory supplies and labour and as such was welcomed by the population. However the Dutch returned and seven years of accumulated neglect had to be made good, with the subsequent heavily increased demand for supplies of 51 Martin to Bengal Civil/Colonial, 19 June 1814.
I.D.L. & R. 167/57.
materials as well as labour services, the inevitable result was a further hardening of the negative attitude to the
(Muslims), whose request to Martin to replace their Christian Raja by one of their own Islamic faith had been refused, had held a number of meetings planning a revolt, but this had been squashed • Such assertions may perhaps be put alongside the assertions of Buyske's that the governing of the natives under British rule was lacking in even handedness.
When negory inhabitants complained about their Heads, the
ient to draw up rules. A despotism such as Daendels' was not wanted, but it seems likely that Martin went to the other extreme. He failed to see that the Moluccas required a strong hand at the reins at a time when the seeds of disorganisation were already present. This was further demonstrated by unrest among the people and the murder of a British Resident in Haruku in 1815. One might speculate that his Orientalist ideas, with Christian notions superimposed upon them, clouded his judgement. It is, however, important to keep this disorganisation and unrest into its proper perspective. Such riots and murders as did occur were directed at specific officials or events and not at the government as such. Until the establishment of British rule in 1796, the Company rule had been accepted by the population in the same unquestioning way as the rule of native princes had always been accepted by the peasantry. But Martin had diminished the authority of the Regents and thereby automatically that of the government. Also his milder rule had convinced the Moluccas that Dutch rule had been harsh and as a consequence they did not look forward to their possible return. This fear and the general unruliness created a climate fit for revolt. But as we will see in Chapter III, when the revolt came, its goal was not independence of European rule but rather the retention of British government
After the revolt was over, Buyskes gave it as his "opinion" that once all the Dutch possessions had been taken over by the British, and Holland itself had been incorporated into the French empire, there had been a deliberate policy of assuring the Moluccans that the Dutch, as a nation, had ceased to exist and would never again be reinstated, so that the Moluccas would remain forever under British rule. The wish was certainly the father of the thought. Buyskes also asserted that many European officials and employees, as well as officers of the armed forces were married in the Moluccas and had settled down there and the news of the restoration of the Dutch nation and later of the London Treaty, returning these colonies to them, were far from welcome • Buyskes was "absolutely convinced" that this dissatisfaction had led to further attempts to intensify anti-Dutch feelings by reminding the people of the extortions of earlier Governors and Residents and predicting that the favourable dispositions regarding schoolmasters, compulsory services, forced deliveries and the like would be rescinded, that paper money would be substituted for hard cash, and that once again their children would be sent to Java as soldiers. They compared their lot to that of the people of Ceram and Goram islands, who could be considered free and independent of Dutch rule and who therefore could sell their produce to the highest bidder of any nation.
"Although I trust" writes Buyskes, IIthat the top British civil servants and army officers were innocent of
duals of that nation as well as some native chiefs have been guilty of those acts. How else can it be explained that the mutineers of Saparua, immediately after taking Fort Duurstede, did hoist the British flag, and that the attack on Fort Zeelandia at Haruku took place with a number of these flags Buyskes, Report No. 472 f.7.
flying?,,56 A more wide-ranging appreciation of the situation at the end of the British period comes from the work of Van
arrival 9f the British, only knew what they called (and which said it all) 'the Company'. They had always accepted that the way her servants understood their duties was the way it ought to be" • With the advent of British rule they saw the possibility of a much more liberal direction, the appeal of which grew even more, now that they saw this rule slip away again. Even if their unfavourable disposition to the returning government had not been stimulated by "unattainable ideas of liberty and independence,,58, it would nonetheless not have altered the fact that the Dutch returned under much more adverse circumstances than those under which they had left.
Through Napoleon's debacle in Russia, which suddenly opened up prospects for a restoration of old relationships, the colonial question became again acute. On a visit to England in April 1813 the Prince of Orange made some tentative enquiries as to the intentions of the British government.
They did not need to feel themselves bound by the Kew Letters since the colonies had been returned to the Netherlands at the Peace of Amiens and had afterwards been conquered again
by Britain. But Castlereagh did not hold the view that this conquest was necessarily the final word. In principle he was prepared to return the colonies to the Netherlands, but did not commit himself as to how far he was prepared to go.
From the start he coupled the colonial question to that of the future size of the Netherlands in Europe. The stronger its position on France's north boundary was going to be, the greater would be its claim on its former colonies.
Only after the battle of Leipzig did Castlereagh declare that the situation as at 1 January 1803 was to be the basis of negotiations. By the London Convention, dated 13 August 1814, it was finally decided that the colonies, with the exceptions of Ceylon and the Cape of Good Hope, would be returned to the Netherlands within six months. The Netherlands had no reason for complaint. They received back the East Indian Archipelago and with it the chance to become a major colonial power, a chance which, in the century that followed, was eagerly accepted.
Commission was appointed byWilliarn I. There were many old hands eager for appointments, but the king preferred new people and appointed C.Elout, G.Baron van der Capellen, and A.A.Buyskes as CommissionersGeneral, to take over the East Indies from the British officials on the spot.
Elout was the oldest and most capable of the three, a member of the Council of State, who had distinguished himself in a number of earlier appointments. Van der Capellen was Secretary of State for Trade and the Colonies and was Governor General designate. Buyskes, the only one who had had personal experience in the Indies, went as the maritime expert • Napoleon's return from Elba delayed the departure of
Commission arrived in Java with a group of civil servants and eighteen hundred soldiers.
To the astonishment and indignation of the Commission, Fendall, Raffles' successor, who had been led to believe that he had a three year tenure, had instructions to attempt delays. Only after receiving new instructions did he
resistance against the change of government. Outside the Moluccas only in the perpetually restless Banten and Cheribon did some disturbances occur and the Java War of Dipo Negoro, which broke out nine years later no doubt had some of its roots in the events of 1816, but that falls outside the scope of this study, as does the Padri war in Sumatra, which can be seen as the result of an Islamic religious controversy and as such not a direct result of the change of
monopoly, and the accompanying hongi-expeditions, were feared. The fierce explosion that occurred there had to be put down by Buyskes himself.