A particularly fine copy of the extremely rare first edition of this important source for the history of early Australia. Pelsaert’s dramatic account of the voyage of the Batavia provides the first account of a landing on Australian soil, the first European images of the continent and records the first European settlers in Australia.
Having served as Chief Factor of the Dutch East India Company in Agra, Pelsaert sailed from Texel in North Holland as President of a fleet of vessels in October 1628. His flagship the Batavia, which was loaded with passengers, goods for trading and a treasure chest, was captained by Adriaen Jacobszoon, with whom Pelsaert had previously quarrelled violently. Relations remained difficult between the two men and at the Cape of Good Hope Pelsaert accused Jacobszoon of being drunk and assaulting a female passenger who was en route to Java.
Jacobszoon subsequently conspired with Jeronimus Cornelisz to mutiny, planning to sail the Batavia away from the rest of the fleet, but fate intervened and the ship was driven off course and separated from the other ships. Blown south, the Batavia ran aground on the Houtman Abrolhos off the West coast of Australia on 4th June 1629 with the loss of seventy lives. Pelsaert however successfully landed one hundred and eighty of the survivors on one island and forty on another, and then set out to find fresh water. However, his search was in vain and so he made for Batavia, arriving a month later.
After only a week on dry land Pelsaert sailed to rescue the survivors on the Abrolhos. They meantime had divided into warring factions. Cornelisz declared himself Captain-General and executed 125 of the survivors. The reign of terror ended with Pelsaert’s arrival and he tried the ringleaders on the spot and hanged seven of them. The rest of the survivors returned to Batavia where a further six men were tried and executed.
Two mutineers however had their death sentences commuted. Wouter Loos and a young cabin boy by the name of Jan Pelgrom de Bye, were marooned on the mainland by the mouth of the Hutt River. They thereby became the first European settlers in Australia. Their planned rescue never materialized as Pelsart died soon after in 1630 and some twelve years later Abel Tasman never reached them despite instructions to find the Batavia’s treasure and rescue them.
First edition. Small 4to, , 118 pp., 6 folding engraved copperplates, with 15 separately engraved images; also 3 fine engraved initial letters & 1 tailpiece. Gothic and Latin type. Later vellum, without the final blank leaf, light stain to top margin and gutter, not extending beyond the 4th line of text; preserved in a handsome burgundy calf drop-back box.
Landwehr, VOC, 406; Tiele, 850; Howgego I, P39.
Stock ID: 97821