«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 ...»
Dutch government (who, incidentally had a grudge against the British, since Resident Martin had deposed them for alleged misconduct) informed the Resident that a meeting had been arranged in the forest of the Liang district, in Hitu, of over one hundred men on 4 April, on which occasion a conspiracy against the Dutch was entered into and the conspirators vowed, by means of Open Letters to the inhabitants of Ceram and other islands, to influence them to break with the Dutch government and join their conspiracy22 Equally perplexing is the fact that those Dutch officials did not act against these assemblies when informed of them by some loyal Heads. Those officials not only refused to believe them, but had their informants flogged and arrested for their trouble. Not just one but every official the Heads turned to, acted with the same lack of insight.
occurred soon after his arrival. An Ambonese Burger, Anthony Rhebok, son of an old and respected Saparua family who had served the Company faithfully for many generations, and his friend Filip Latumahina, while drunk, had beaten one Daniel Sorbeck, until the latter fell into the water.
Sorbeck lodged a complaint with the Resident, who heard the case and sentenced Rhebok to a caning. This was a grave mistake as it went completely against the burger rights.
Burgers, when sentenced to corporal punishment, were tied to a wooden bench. On this they lay and were then beaten with.a rope. Only Negory-folk and other non-burgers were tied to a tree and caned. The punishment amounted to much the same thing, but it was the "form" that mattered, Rhebok and Latumahina had "lost face". Benjamin Pattiwael, a son of the Samuel Pattiwael who took part in the revolt and took care of the surviving child of the Resident (see p.84)
described the sequel of the caning as follows:
Rhebok in particular was seething with rage and soon became Matulesia's Second in Command.
The Resident, although aware that rumours had been circulating regarding discontent among the Saparuans but convinced that he was enforcing the orders of the Governor in a reasonable manner, saw no reason to attach any weight to such "marketplace gossip,,24. When one Pieter Soehoka came to report these rumours to him, he investigated the matter privately. He also summoned the Regents of Booy and Nollot and, on their as.surances that all was well, he had Soehoka also caned. A few days later, however, the Njora of Nollot, the Raja's wife, while having a cup of coffee with Mrs Van den Berg told her in all innocence that Soehoka had told the truth and had been unjustly punished, since there were indeed daily meetings at Nollot, and the negory folk were readying their weapons But, like his chiefs in Ambon, so too did Van den Berg ignore the warnings.
faithful servant of the Dutch government, had also heard of plans for a revolt. He was reluctant to inform the Resident for fear that the latter would name him as his informant;
the result could have been death at the hands of villagers, both for himself and his family. He therefore decided to report these rumours to the Governor in Ambon in person, but neither Governor Van Middelkoop nor his fellow Commissioner Engelhard would believe his confidential report and for his trouble he found himself under townarrest in Ambon.
The Resident of Haruku, Uytenbroek, also received a warning from several Heads, including the Raja of Pilauw.
This Resident sent for the Raja of Sameti and secretly ordered him to investigate. This Raja reported in due course that the rumours were figments of the imagination of the informers and the Resident had them sent to Ambon, where, like the Raja of Siri-Sori, he was placed under strict police surveillance.
26 The Siri-Sori Negory was divided into two Communities;
Siri-Sori Serani which was Christian and Siri-Sori Slam which was Muslim. Each of these two communities had its own Raja.
27 Both the cutting of timber and the supply of the orembaai for its transport were demanded under the compulsory labour obligations. The people of Porto and Haria, from where the timber was to be shipped, were not satisfied with the wages paid. Although the population in V.O.C. times had always been obligated to supply both the boat and the rowers for the government, this custom had lapsed under British rule and its re-instatement was strongly resented. More will be said about this later in this chapter.
den Berg received orders to have this timber cut and
at Porto. The Resident, who now had been warned by the coffee-drinking Njora of Nollot, decided to send an orderly to Porto with orders for the vessel to depart and for him to travel with to Ambon, with a letter informing the Governor of the current rumours The orderly ran into a hostile crowd who refused to let the vessel sail, mistreated him and kept him captive.
masters. It records the plundering of the post 'prahu at Porto. It begins by describing how six men, including Johannes Matulesia, a brother of Thomas l1atulesia, went round the houses at Haria to urge the men to come to a meeting in the "wildernis" of Haria, to discuss the rumour that the Company was going to press people to go to Java as soldiers.
One hundred men then gathered and, after prayers, decided to destroy Saparua's Fort Duurstede. Anybody who refused to participate would be killed by the community and their families exterminated. Six days later, on 9 May, another meeting was called to appoint a leader or Kapitan. Thomas Matulesia got up and said: "I shall be Kapitan and will Buyskes quotes as an example of Van Middelkoop's injudiciously given orders the order of 12 April 1817, for the supply of timber. Cf Chapter IV.
29 Qrembaai - a large prahu - see illustration next page.
30 Van Doren p.18.
31 The Porto Report is an unsigned report dated 13 November 1817. It is a Report on the Revolt by the schoolmaster of Porto who took part in the revolt. There is some doubt as to his true identity: he was either Rissakota or Strudiek. The original is in the Van Alphen Archive, Rijks Archief, The Hague, No. XXII - 315.
8l Kora kora engraving from Valentijnes Oud en Nieuw Oost Indie.
gather a fleet of Orembaais, attack and destroy Fort Duurstede and kill the Resident".
Porto, the Resident - who, whatever his failings, does not seem to have been lacking in personal courage - rode to Porto alone, where he was accosted by the rebels and not allowed to return home. When this news reached Saparua his clerk Ornek at once rode off on horseback to relieve his chief but after encountering an armed mob and getting shot in the hand, he was forced to retreat to Saparua to obtain reinforcements. Ornek now made a second attempt with a force of twelve Javanese soldiers and some twenty armed burgers. After further casualties they had to retreat to Saparua once more. Among the rebels they encountered were Rissakota, Strudiek, Pattiwael and Thomas Matulesia, all of whom lived at Haria.
The rebels intended to murder the Resident immediately but Rissakota argued with the mob explaining that the revolt was a matter of the entire island; why should the Resident be killed in Porto or Haria, thus putting the blame on. these two negories alone. The Resident was then allowed to go back to Saparua and the Fort Duurstede. Rissakota's admonitions could indicate that he was not completely convinced that the rebels would be victorious, or that his sympathies were at least to some extent with the Resident.
These same sentiments could also have been the reason why Soehoka and others reported the forest meetings to the authorities.
visit from Anthonie Rhebok and Latumahina, the sons of prominent Saparuan families, whom he had caused to be caned some weeks earlier. On the face of it Rhebok seemed to have taken the punishment in good part because he now came, he explained, to give the Resident some good advice. He pointed out that the situation was critical since not only the island of Saparua was in revolt but Ambon was also involved in the movement. Rather than take harsh measures, he said, it would be wiser to try to solve the matter peacefully.
Van den Berg expressed readiness and assured Rhebok that he regretted the punishment he had had to impose. At Rhebok's behest he then wrote a letter to people of Siri-Sori Slam, who, according to Rhebok felt particularly aggrieved. He agreed to deliver the letter. All he did with it was to stick it to a post in the Saparua market place. He had no doubt used the opportunity provided by his journey to see what the defences of Fort Duurstede were like.
managed to get a boat to go to Ambon with a letter to her uncle, the Commissioner Engelhard, imploring him to send ief. The clerk Ornek, whose loyalty never faltered, sent a letter by the same carrier to Cornnissioner Midde1koop, the Governor.
pending the arrival of reinforcements, bringing his guns into play to scare off the rebels, the resident, possibly because he believed the situation was hopeless, now had the white flag hoisted. This act, on the morning of 16 May, was certainly not an act that would encourage the garrison. The stream of mutineers steadily increased and Matu1esia was now asked to lead an assault on the Fort. In the first wave, the Resident was shot in the leg and collapsed. The twelve Javanese soldiers - the entire native garrison - thinking that the Resident was dead, jumped down the walls, perhaps to flee, but were promptly killed by the rebels, who now scaled the walls in their hundreds. The Resident, who was still alive, was tied to a pole, a schoolmaster stepped forward to say a pr.ayer and the Resident was shot repeatedly. The rebels then dragged Mrs Van den Berg and her children to where her husband's body lay and they were literally hacked to death.
Only one child, a little boy of about five, survived • The rebels then - significantly - ran up the British flag over the fort.
already spread to Haruku and Hitu, the Commissioners General in Ambon were acting in a most peculiar fashion. Engelhard reports a hysterical dispute that broke out when Van 33 The little boy who survived was seriously wounded; he had a sabre cut across the head and his ear was cut in two.
Later in the night when some natives came to have another look at the place of the massacre, the child lifted it's
head saying "Goea belom mati" - I am not dead yet. (Source:
Pattiwael Report quoted by Van den Berg (1945) op.cit.) Cf. Ch. III p.78. One of the women took it and brought it to Matulesia. There are two versions of his reaction. The first is that he said to those who as yet wanted to kill the child that "God had shown He wanted the child to live and God would be angry if His wishes were ignored". The other version is that where an ex-servant of the Resident asked that he and his wife might look after the child, Matulesia said; "Tra verdoelie, abil itu babie putih" - It doesn't matter, take the white pig. Whichever version is the correct one, the child was looked after by Salomon Pattiwae1 and his wife, who lived in the forest until the end of the rebellion. In November 1817 a band of rebels surrendered at Tiouw bringing the child with them. Commander Ver Heull then had the child looked after on board his ship and in due course handed it over to its grandparents in Sourabaya. The boy lived to the ripe old age of 82. Source: Ver Hue11 PPM 230-240. The boy's great-grandson is the author of De Tragedie in Saparua, an attempt at justifying Resident Van den Berg's conduct in 1817.
Middelkoop planned to send a new Resident to his post without allowing him any fund whatever. When Engelhard did not concur with his decision, Middelkoop declared that he was unable to govern with Engelhard's obstructions and threatened to relinquish the Governorship. He demanded to be placed under arrest by the military commander, who promptly refused, saying that it was not within his competence to arrest a governor. Van Middelkoop was dissuaded, but the incident shows the caliber of the men who were in charge of the Moluccas at that critical time.
When Mrs Van den Berg's letter and the one from the clerk Ornek about the revolt at Saparua reached Ambon, the High Council gathered to discuss ways and means to quell the revolt. Commander Ver Huell of H.M. "Evertsen" wanted to sail for Saparua immediately to relieve Fort Duurstede.
There were drawbacks to this plan, such as the large size of the ship for the shallow waters of Saparua and the weather at that time of the year. The East Monsoon had set in, bringing very rough seas to the South of the Uliasan islands.
In the ship's Journals of the next few weeks several accidents caused by the monsoon are recorded, but since "Evertsenlt's Commander was prepared to take his ship, there was much to be said for immediate strong action to relieve the fort, save the people and suppress the revolt quickly.
34 Engelhard Letter to Commission General, Batavia dated 12 June 1817, quoted by Van der Kemp in Bijdragen Vol. 65 (1911) p.6l1.
The fate that had befallen the government people of Saparua on 16 May was as yet unknown in Ambon. Rather than heed the opinions of Commander Ver Huell, the Council took the doubtless well meaning advice of Resident Martin (who was sailing for Bengal the next day), and the Harbour Master, Waith, who, on the basis of earlier experiences, felt that it would be unwise to send a ship of the line. The only ship not too large to sail out of the Bay of Ambon and into the Bay of Saparua at that time of the year, they advised, was the Corvette H.M. "Iris". But she had arrived in port only the day before in a rather distressed state and it would require a number of days to make her shipshape again.