GENEALOGY SERIES: Bay of Bengal Roots

Two of my ancestors were noted as being from Bengal – Darius van Bengal and Lisbeth van Bengal. The toponym ‘Van Bengal’ used as surnames in records is very broad in interpretation. In the case of one of my other ancestors with this toponyms, dna shows her to trace back to the border region of Myanmar-Laos-Thailand, known as the Golden Triangle. Without dna tracking for other slaves with this toponym we can only assume that these slaves were either from Bengal / Bangladesh or from the broader Bay of Bengal.

The Bay of Bengal includes the territory of India known as the Coast of Coromandel, Bangladesh (Bengal), Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Without dna tracing Darius and Lysbeth may have come from any of these areas. The Dutch had slaver stations in Sri Lanka, Coast of Coromandel, Bengal and at Arakan (Rakhine province in Myanmar).

Darius van Bengal (bn1677 was one of my 7th great-grandfathers) had a daughter with Anna Groothenning van Bengal (bn circa 1674) slave from Golden Triangle – Myanmar-Laos-Thailand). Their daughter Maria van der Kaap (bn 1703) married Frans Verkouter (bn 1660). Their daughter in turn Anna Catharina Verkouter (1737) married Arnoldus Vosloo (bn 1724), the son of Johannes Vosloo (bn1694, slave son of  Tamara van Madagascar) and Gerbrecht Herbst (one of my 6th Great Grandmothers who was the daughter of one of  my 7th great grandmothers Lysbeth Arabus a royal slave from Madagascar, of Sumatra and Ethiopia lineage.)

Arnoldus Vosloo (bn 1763) who was married to Anna Spies had a daughter Martha Vosloo who married Johannes la Grange whose daughter Anna la Grange married Josef le Cordier, father of my paternal great-grandfather Anthony le Cordier, father of grandmother Elsie Petronella (le Cordier) Mellet (bn 1900). My paternal grandfather Pieter Francois Mellet snr settled in District Six with Elsie Petronella and my father was their first-born in 1922

Lisbeth van Bengal (bn 1643 one of my 9th great-grandmothers) was another of the earliest slaves at the Cape who is a 9th great grandmother in my family tree. She was captured in the Bay of  Bengal region, brought to the Cape and sold to Jan van Riebeeck by Rear Admiral Pieter Kemp in 1657. She had around 8 children by different fathers. Her fourth child born around 1663 was fathered by a Pieter NN and the child was named Anna Pietersz. Anna was born into slavery as her mother and herself were only freed ten years later in 1673.

Anna later first married Anthonij de Later van Japan a fellow freed Japanese slave. Anna then later married Matthys van Wijk (bn 1645) and had a daughter Elizabeth van Wyk (1679).

Elizabeth married Nikolaus von Wielligh and their daughter Johanna von Wielligh (bn 1716) married Mattheus Willemse (bn 1711). Their daughter Gertruyda Johanna Willemse (bn 1752) married Bernardus Lambertus Zaaiman (bn 1752 descendent of my 9th great-grandmother Krotoa of the Khoi Watermans or //Ammaqua) great grandfather to Elizabeth Saayman (bn c 1838) who married my 2nd great-grandfather Jacobus Johannes Mellet (1822).

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