kolff: history: persons: dirk hendrik kolff (1800-1843): 1

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Dirk Hendrik Kolff (1800-1843)

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tak b Title of the article: A servant to the gouvernment
by: Dirk Kolff, archivist (CBCA XVIIIn)
Most Kolffs have earned their living either by trading, working for companies, or in free professions. This is still the case, in general. Few worked for gouvernments, as civil servants or in the military. Ofcourse there were exemptions of which the most spectacular are the six members of the oldest branch of the family, the Betuwe Kolffs (see also: Biographies: Deil). For 170 years, with an interruption of a mere twelve years, the municipality of Deil was gouverned by Kolffs, first as bailiff later as mayors. This was from 1804 untill the liquidation of this municipality which became then part of a larger entity. Were they civil servants? They can better be described as gouvernors in the region - in the best sense of its meaning.

And so there were only a few that choose a military career. One of them was Dirk Hendrik. That choice was obvious. His father, also a Dirk Hendrik, had climbed to the rank of naval captain, while the grandfather on his mothers' side had even reached the rank of vice-admiral. So since 1814 he had joined the navy and, for its great prospects in opportunities there, he joined the service 'following the advice of his guardians' in the Neth. East Indies. He must have regretted that later. His 22-year carreer in the navy shows notable achievements but at the same time disappointment in the carreer he had hoped for.

Dirk Hendrik KolffWithin a few years his qualities drew attention. Nelleke Manneke mentioned in her book the battles near Sumatra in 1821, for which he was awarded with Militaire Willemsorde 4e klasse (R.M.W.O.4), which is the highest in its class). In 1824 he was commanding, as lieutenant-commander 'a colonial war brig of the first charter'. This ship was the Doerga, with which in 1825 and 1826 he explored the Eastern part of the Indonesian Archipelago. This voyage had the character of both exploration as well as colonial expansion. During his leave 1828 and 1829 in the Netherlands he published his "Reize door den weinig bekenden zuidelijken Molukschen archipel en langs de geheel onbekende zuidwest kust van Nieuw-Guinea ... (translation: below) ", which was later also published in English. The King awarded him with a Gold Medal with inscription: "To award good behaviour and exceptional attempts to expand useful knowledge". At the same time the Minister of Colonies and Navy informed him that he would be recommended 'with special notice' with the gouvernment in the Neth. East Indies.
Note: On father and son much has been written in Nelleke Manneke, Kolff in zeven eeuwen, Rotterdam 2001, 41-46.
Translation: Reize door (...) Nieuw-Guinea: "Journey through the little known Southern Moluccan Archipelago and along the entirely unknown Southwestern Coast of New Guinea".