Pelsaert Journal

Francisco Pelsaert was born c1590 in Antwerp, Belgium and entered the East India Company's service in 1618. Rising to the rank of commander, in October 1628 he sailed from Holland in the Batavia bound for Java, Indonesia.

Image: 'Massacre of the crew' - A drawing from Pelsaert's Journal, 1629

On 4 June 1629 the Batavia struck a reef at Houtman's Abrolhos, off the coast near Geraldton, Western Australia. Pelsaert set sail in a ship's boat for Batavia (now Djakarta, Indonesia) and returned in the Saerdam to rescue the survivors, arriving mid September.

While he was away some of the survivors mutinied and massacred 125 men and women. Pelsaert restored law and order and had the ringleaders of the mutiny tried. Seven were hanged and two were marooned on the mainland.

After the Batavia tragedy, which adversely affected his health, Pelsaert took part in an expedition to Sumatra, but died in Batavia in September 1630.

His journal Ongeluckige voyagie, van't schip Batavia, nae de Oost-Indien...(Unlucky voyage of the Ship Batavia) was published in Amsterdam in 1647. It is conservatively estimated as being worth $500,000. A facsimile version, published in 1994, is also held in the collection.

The Treasure

(Click on one of the thumbnails above to see a larger image)