CJ 780:147 Trijntie Theunissen Van Harmelen :: Hendrick Cornelissen van Ouderkerk :: Jan Theunissen van Houten - Sentence 1673

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Court of Justice, Criminal Sentences 1652-1697, CJ 780 ref. 147 pp. 574-676, Trijntie Theunissen van Harmelen - Hendrick Cornelissen van Ouderkerck - Jan Theunissen van Houten.

Sentences of Trijntie Theunissen of Harmelen, and her two servants (kneghts) Hendrik Cornelis of Ouderkerck and Jan Theunissen of Houten, for (their part in) the stealing and slaughtering of two cows in 1673.

The document starts off with an introduction of the protagonists and a summary of the crime(s) they were found guilty of, followed by the usual statement that crime cannot be tolerated in a law-abiding society and that an example should be set, and finally the actual sentence and when executed.

It is alleged that on the 26th of August 1673 Trijntje ordered two of her servants, to slaughter and salt down two cows which belonged to some Hottentots. The cows had presumably been taken home by mistake with the rest of the herd after a days grazing by another servant Jan Mahu. Their mistress was not home that evening, so he informed the other servants, Hendrick and Jan. The following day the two strange cows accompanied the herd to graze in the fields and were once more taken home with the rest of the herd in the evening, and subsequently killed, skinned, cut into pieces and salted down by Hendrick Cornelissen and Jan Theunissen. As rumours spread in the following days, Trijntje instructed Hendrick Cornelissen to bury one of the cow hides in the garden in an attempt to cover up the deed.

The sentence dictates the Trijntje was to be tied to a pole with a cow hide above her head and a rope (noose) around her neck, and to be severely scourged, branded and subsequently be confined on Robben Island for  a period of twelve years, as well as the confiscation of all her goods and property. Hendrick Cornelissen and Jan Theunissen were to receive similar sentences, but instead of twelve years they were to serve six years in chains on public-works. The sentences were passed on 22 and executed on 23 September 1673. Through the intervention of some respectable woman and Trijntje's own children, she and one of her servants were spared the branding [1].

Trijntje was also known as Catharina Theunis Gansevanger, the widow of Gijsbert Dircksz Verweij. Her loyal servant Hendrick Cornelissen, also known as Hendrick Cornelisz Olivier, later became her son-in-law when he married her daughter, Beatrix Gijsberts Verweij on 30 May 1677. From contemporary sources such as the Cape Town baptism and marriage registers, and the lists of free men, it is evident that Trijntje Theunis and Hendrick Cornelisz did not serve the full terms of their sentences. In fact Trijntje, who had 4 minor children at that time, was recorded on the list of free men (and woman) by 1674, and Hendrick, together with his brother Ocker Cornelisz, by 1677.

Below is the link to the complete transcription of the sentence.

Transcript of CJ 780 ref. 147, pp. 574-576

(transcribed by Corney Keller - 2015)

Additional sources:
[1] Leibrandt, H.C.V. Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope, Journal, 1671-1674 & 1676, pages 159-160

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