First posted on June 23rd 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004






External Links : Biographies of Famous Dutchmen; to the History of the Era of Discovery

For links on general biographical sources, go to Biographies Main Page

Discoverer's Web, in English
Dutch Portuguese Colonial History, by Marco Ramerini
Who had gone before ?, chronological listing of telegram style notes on discoverors, discoveries, posted by Michael Dickinson
Alphabetisches Suchverzeichnis der Reisenden in China und Tibet bis 1949 (Alphabetic Index of Travellers in China and Tibet until 1949), from Das Klassische China (Classical China), in German
Explorers of Africa, from Enchanted Learning
List of V.O.C. Governors of the Dutch East Indies, from Nusa Bali, in Dutch, from De V.O.C. Site, in Dutch
Printed Reference : Biographies related to the History of Dutch Discovery and early Colonialism





Biographies of Dutch Discoverers and Colonial Administrators

Note : Discoverers of non-Dutch background, sailing on behalf of Dutch Colonial Enterprises, are here treated as Dutch.

Regarding the spelling of Dutch names : "van" is an adjective and, as such, part of the family name. It is not to be capitalized, unless the sentence is begun with the word. "Cornelisz." or "Corneliszn." stands for Corneliszoon; in English language sources Dutch names ending on ..z. or ...zn. are sometimes misread, wuth the ..z. or ...zn. simply being dropped.



Barentsz, Willem c.1550-1597
Dutch navigator and explorer; in search for the Northn East Passage, he sighted Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and explored the western coast of Novaya Zemlya. Died during the expedition, after having spent the winter on Novaya Zemlya.

Willem Barentsz and the North East Passage, by Northern Lights Route
English language biography, from Wikipedia


Brunel, Olivier (c.1540-1585)
After having traveled to Russia, and, on behalf of the Stroganoff merchant family, to the Kola peninsula (1576) he returned to the Low Countries. Undertook a first expedition by sea to the Kola peninsula in 1577; in 1585 he reached as far east as the Kara Sea (mouth of the River Ob); drowned at sea. His expedition returned..

The Arctic Voyages of Olivier Brunel, posted by Discoverers Web

Coen, Jan Pietersz., 1587-1629
V.O.C. Governor 1619-1623, 1627-1629, founded Batavia in 1619, ordered the Banda Massacre of 1621 (in retaliation for the previous murder of Dutchmen visiting the island). Established the V.O.C. Empire in Asia.

Dutch language biography, from Univ. Wien

Diemen, Antonio van 1593-1646
V.O.C. Governor 1636-1645; sent out Abel Tasman on his journey of discovery. Van Diemen's Land is named after him

Dutch language biography, from Antonio van Diemenstam (Dutch Scout Group)
English language biography, from Flinders Ranges Research


Hamel, Hendrik
V.O.C. employee, in 1653, on board the ship "de Sperwer" en route to Japan, during a typhoon which drove the ship off course, suffered shipwreck on the coast of Cheju-do, Korea (which in contemporary maps appeared as Quelpaert). Circymstances forced him to live in Korea until he fled to Japan (the V.O.C. had a trade factory in Nagasaki) in 1666. After his return, he wrote an account of Korea, and then received a pension from the V.O.C.

Hendrik Hamel Website, posted by Henny Savenije

Houtman, Cornelis de, -1598
Dutch navigator. In 1595 he commanded the first Dutch fleet to sail around the Cape of Good Hope to India, destination Bantam on Java. He sailed on behalf of the "Compagnie van Verre" (Company of the Distant), founded in 1594. Houtman was deprived of his command by a mutiny; the expedition suffered from the hostility of the Portuguese and barely made it back to Amsterdam (1597).

English language biography, from Wikipedia


Hudson, Henry c.1570-1611
English Navigator; in 1609, on behalf of the V.O.C., charged with finding a Passage to Asia in the North. Reached Novaya Zemlya; then turned west. Looked for a navigable river into North America; tried the Hudson River. In 1611, on his fourth voyage, he tried to find the Northwest Passage further north, entered the Hudson Bay; he never returned..

English language Biography, from Half Moon Press, by Ian Chadwick

Janszoon, Willem (Willem Jansz)
Dutch navigator in the service of the V.O.C.; in 1606 he passed the Torres Strait; sighted parts of Northern Australia.

The First Europeans in Australia, from WebChron

Linschoten, Jan Huygen (1562-1611)
Dutchman who travelled to India in 1581 on board a Portuguese vessel, as secretary of the Archbishop of Goa. He returned to his native Enkhuizen in 1592, where he published two books about his experience in India. He participated in two expeditions trying to find the North East Passage.

Dutch language biography, from Linschoten-Vereniging

Neck, Jacob Cornelisz van 1564-1638
Dutch navigator; the second commander of a Dutch fleet sailing for the East Indies (after Houtman). His expedition 1598-1600 was a commercial success. Contributed greatly to the trading empire in Asia of the V.O.C., established in 1602.

Dutch language biography, by Ewald van Vugt


Noort, Olivier van 1568-1627
Dutch navigator; first Dutchman to circumnavigate the globe (1598-1601). He passed the Magellan Straits, took Spanish ships along the coast of Chile and Peru, plundered in the Philippines, visited Java, returned via the Cape of Good Hope.

English language biography, from Famous Americans
Dutch language biography, by Aad's Homepage


Roggeveen, Jacob, 1659-1729
Dutch Navigator, on behalf of the W.I.C., sailed out (1720) to discover an assumed land in the south of the Pacific; sailing past Cape Horn, he failed to find it, but discovered Easter Island (1722). He returned in 1722.

Dutch language biography, from Wikipedia, from Politieke Geschiedenis "Expeditie naar het Zuidland", in Dutch
Source : Roggeveen's encounter with a native of Easter Island, from Politieke Geschiedenis "Expeditie naar het Zuidland", in Dutch


Schouten, Willem Cornelisz. (c.1567-1625)
Dutch navigator; not connected with the V.O.C.; in an attempt to find a new route to the Indies, he and his companion Jacob le Maire avoided the Cape of Good Hope as well as the Magellan Straits, but instead sailed around the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, which he named Cape Hoorn (1616). Crossing the south Pacific, he sailed along the northern coast of New Guinea. Arriving at Java, he was placed under arrest and his ship confiscated - under the suspocion of having violated the V.O.C. monopoly. He returned to the Dutch Republic in 1617.

English language biography, from Columbia Encyclopedia, from MapHist
Le Maire, Schouten, and Cape Horn, from European Discoveries South Pacific and Indo-West Pacific


Tasman, Abel 1603-1659
V.O.C. navigator, arrived in the East Indies in 1634. He undertook many exporation journeys, the most important, in 1642, leading him to New Zealand (Nieuw Zeeland, named after a Dutch province), to Tasmania, named after him. On this voyage he proved Australia to be an island (previously it was believed that Australia was connected to Antarctica). Regarded the (European) discoverer of New Zealand.

Abel Tasman Website by abeltasman.org, in Dutch
English language biography, from EB 1911, from New Zealand in History
Abel Tasman's Journal of his voyage of discovery 1642-1643, posted by Brian Hooker


Vries, Maerten Gerritsz.
Dutch navigator; in 1643, on behalf of the V.O.C., he sailed along the east coast of Japan, to Hokkaido, the southern Kuril Islands and the southern tip of Sakhalin.

Dutch Encounters with Sakhalin and with the Ainu People, by Tjeerd de Graaf
The 17th and 18th Centuries, from Sakhalin and the Kuriles, has narrative of his exploits


Weltevree, Jan Janse
Dutch navigator who in 1628 suffered shipwreck on the Korean coast. He then served the King of Korea by casting cannons; assimilated into the Korean culture. In 1653 he was joined by another Dutchman who had suffered shipwreck, Hendrik Hamel. Weltevree never returned to his native Netherlands; we only know of his exploits through Hamel's narrative.




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