The first time we meet Joen Pieter Booyens is at the time of his marriage in 1694 in Blockzijl, Overijssel. At that time, he is described as "Joen Boijens, jongeselle van Catharinheert, in de Eyderst[ ]t". This is Katharinenheerd on the Eiderstedt Peninsula of what is today far northern Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, but was part of Denmark in the 1600s.
The Eiderstedt peninsula is also known in Dutch and German as the Eyderstede or Eyderstadt. Historically, the broader region is known as Nordfriesland. In Joen's time it is populated by North Frisians, Saxons, Dutch, and Danes. The Frisians have a well-deserved reputation for both their seamanship and their stubbornness. This might explain why Nordfriesland was at no time part of the Holy Roman Empire. It also explains why most English and Dutch whaling ships of Joen's time have North Frisian crews.
The second half of the 17th century is a very disturbed period in that area, and people leave to seek work and peace elsewhere. In 1672 someone named Joen Peter Bojens is listed as taking sailor's wages ("verheueren") in Tönning, a few kilometers southeast of Garding and within easy walking distance of Katharinenheerd [#1]. Even today, that part of Germany is the international hub of people with the surname Boyens/Bojens/Booyens. Is the man in Tönning our young Joen Peter Boijens? For that to be realistic, we have to assume he was born around 1656 so that he would be at least 16 years old when he hires out at Tönning. However, we have no more information beyond the indentical name and almost identical place.
Many years later "our" Joen Peter will identify himself as being "van Holstein". Holstein is the region immediately south of Tönning, across the Eider River. Perhaps our Joen was indeed born in the northern Dithmarschen region of Holstein, immediately south of the Eider. We shall return to his date of birth. More may be read about the Eiderstedt in Chapter 1 of AmaBhulu.
Four children that we know of are born from the marriage to the widow, Brechje Mollerus, in Blokzijl in the Overijssel. The first is Pieter, who will eventually become the Stamvader of the South African wing of the greater Booyens family. Keep in mind that Blokzijl is at this time on the coast. Massive tracts of land will later be reclaimed, and will render it an inland town linked by canals.
First Arrival at the Cape of Good Hope:
On 27 Sep. 1710 a man named "Joen Boeijens uit Blockziel" arrives at the Cape on the ship Wijnendaal [#2]. A month later, none other than the retired Governor Simon van der Stel has him released from the VOC to work at Great Constantia [#3]: "Huijden den 27 octob. 1710.- Zoo Ligt den ond(.) Ede. Heer Gouvern[ ] Simon van der Stel, uijt dienst der E. Comp. den Landspassat Joen Boeijens van Blokziel, voor den tyt van een geheel Jaar."
On 23 November 1711 his request to relocate to the Drakenstein parish is approved [#4]: Voor ons Burgerraden, hier ontergeteijkend: is heeden verscheenen den burger Joen Boejers v: blokziel aan ons te komen gevende sijne genegentheijd om uijt dit caapze disttrict sig met er woon, na dat van drakensteijn te begeven...
By 13 Aug 1712 "J.P. Boijens" is a schoolteacher in Drakenstein [#5]: "...eens vrijman J:p Boijens jegenswoordig schoolmeester bij ons...". He is mentioned in this particular document as having done the inventory of the late Matthijs Greef's cattle near Vier-en-twintig-revieren, which is a multiply split tributary that joins the Berg Rivier between the present Gouda and Porterville. We conclude this means he is a literate man, capable of signing his own paperwork. This point will emerge again.
By 31 December 1712, "Joen Pieter Booijns" appears on the Stellenbosch Muster Roll [#6] and son "Pieter Boeijens" appears on the nearby Drakenstein roll. "Joan Booijen/r" appears on the 1713 Drakenstein Muster Roll in the company of Pieter Erasmus & Maria Lijsebeth.
Joen leaves the Cape:
A man named "Joen Pieter Booiens uit Blokziel" departs the Cape for Batavia on 22 Feb 1714 on the ship Middelwoud [#7]. The name never appears at the Cape among the free men again. In 1714, his son, listed as "Pieter Booijs", appears on the Drakenstein Muster List in the company of the exact same Pieter Erasmus & Maria Elisabeth. Pieter will continue to be listed with the Erasmus family until 1718.
From 25 February 1715 until 5 April 1715 the Horstendaal is at the Cape on its way back to Holland from Batavia as part of a fleet of fourteen VOC ships. According to the Dutch Nationaal Archief, Joen Pieter Booiens is repatriated to Nederland from Batavia on the Horstendaal, which reaches Goeree on 6 August 1715 [#8]. More may be read about Joen and Pieter in Chapter 2 of AmaBhulu.
His Second Marriage and Second Enlistment with the VOC as John Boijens:
Brechje Mollerus presumably dies at some point before 27 December 1722, because on that day Joen gives notice [#9] in the Rotterdam Hervormde Church of his intention to marry the widow Abelina de Ligt in Rotterdam. The Dutch call this the "ondertouwe". The marriage eventually takes place in Rotterdam on 19 January 1723. Abelina is identified as the widow of Henrik Boekhout, whom she married in Rotterdam on 17 September 1697. Joen is decribed as "Wedr. van Blokziel". They reside in "Raamstraat", which still exists today. This marriage is obviously childless, given Abelijntje's age. She was baptised Tuesday 30 December 1664 [#10] by parents Cornelis Willemse and Lijsbet Cornelis.
Four months later Joen enlists again in the Dutch East India Company, this time as "Zergeant John Boijens van Rotterdam" [#11]. He leaves Goeree on 24 May 1723 on the classic Dutch fluit ship, Den Dam [#12], which arrives at the Cape on 7 September 1723. The ship is captained by Arie Jansz Verduin. Presumably Joen sees his son Pieter in Drakenstein on that occassion and meets his daughter-in-law, Geertruid Blom, for the first time in that capacity. The ship departs on 24 September 1723 and arrives in Batavia on 18 December 1723.
Meanwhile, back in Nederland, Abelina is buried  on 9 September 1724 in Rotterdam.
Joen, unaware of the death of his wife, departs Batavia [#14] on the ship Borselle on 26 September 1724 [#15], arriving at the Cape on 22 November 1724. There is no way they can know about his wife's death at the Cape by this time either. There is no means to transmit a message that quickly. It typically takes a ship bearing mail four months to make the trip from Nederland to the Cape of Good Hope. We assume Sergeant Joen Boijens visits his son Pieter. On 19 January 1725, the ship departs Cape Town and arrives back at Rammekens in the Netherlands four months later on 16 May 1725. Here we lose track of Joen for three years.
His Third Marriage and Third Enlistment with the VOC:
He next surfaces on 9 March 1728 at his (third) marriage in Rotterdam [#16] to Jannetjie Groen, widow of Crijn Trompert. Jannetjie married Trompert on 17 November 1722 in Rotterdam. Crijn was a VOC man and at one point ended up hospitalised at the Cape of Good Hope. He returned from a VOC voyage in 1724 and died later the year. He is buried in Rotterdam on 19 October 1724. At the time of this new marriage, Joen is referred to as "Joan Boijens uijt Holstein" and the couple is recorded as living in Groenendaal. This marriage is also childless.
Less than a month later, Joen again joins the Dutch East India Company as "Assistent John Boijens van Rotterdam" and departs for Batavia via the Cape as per his soldijboek [#17]. This particular soldijboek is a goldmine of information, as it shows the rest of his career. It shows that he dutifully has one third of his income paid over to his wife, Jannetjie Groen, in Rotterdam every year. She signs for it as "ijanna groen" or "ijanna Boeijens" every time. It also shows that he joins the crew of the 600 ton fluit ship Delfland as "Adjistent" for the period from 7 April 1728 until 27 November 1732. The assistents on board VOC ships--typically two of them per ship -- have scribe duties.
On his first trip on the Delfland they leave Goeree on 7 April 1728 [#18] under captain Nikolaas Vis, arriving at the Cape on 4 August 1728. We assume he visits his son Pieter every time he is at the Cape. The ship departs the Cape on 30 August 1728 and arrives in Batavia on 7 November 1728. On this trip he signs several documents relating to the inventories of crew members. His signature is well-formed and confident, and consistently reads "John Boijens". After this, he remains for a period in Batavia. His soldijboek shows him as on the Delfland until 21 February 1731, but there is no record of any sailing by the ship over that period. After this he transfers to the Strijkebolle until 27 November 1732, but no details exist for any sailing by this ship after 1730 either. Next he transfers to the similarly undocumented sailings of the Bentveld until 21 January 1734, when he transfers to land at Batavia. At this point he assumes the job of grave digger. He continues at Batavia as free man until 1737. We have not thus far found any further record of his activities at Batavia.
On 2 January 1736 "Jannetie Groen" is buried at the Prinse Kerk huurgrafte, Nieuwepandt [#19].
From Batavia to the Cape and back again:
On 12 November 1738 the shipVis leaves Batavia for the Netherlands, and arrives at the Cape on 12 February 1739 [#20]. On board is John Boijens who leaves the ship the next day at the Cape [#21]. From this day until 20 March 1744 he remains at the Cape, as best we can tell. He does not appear on the muster lists of the VOC while at the Cape. One would reasonably assume that he spent the time with his very successful son, Regional Council Member and Militia lieutenant Pieter Booyens of Drakenstein.
On 20 March 1744 he signs up for VOC service at Cape Town [#22] and immediately leaves for Batavia on the Woitkensdorp, which arrives at Batavia on 11 June 1744 [#23]. This is his last voyage.
The Life and Death of Joen Pieter Boijens aka "John Boijens":
Joen Boijens van Katherinenheerd in de Eyderstedt dies in Batavia [#24] on 2 October 1745 as Johan Boijens van Holsteijn, leaving his estate to his only remaing child, his son, described in his will [#25] as "de heer Pieter Boijens, burgemeester en Capiteijn aan Cabo de Goede Hoop". He has served on no fewer than ten VOC ships in his career, he has been to Batavia from the Netherlands no fewer than three times, and he has been back to the Netherlands at least twice. He has also been from Batavia to the Cape and back again. He has done all this in an age when it takes four months between the Netherlands and the Cape, and three months between the Cape and Batavia, and one has to live off salted meat, dried biscuit, and wine after about two months at sea, which is when the beer, fruit and cheese supply typically runs out. He has stayed at the Cape for 3½ years from 1710 to 1714, and again for five years from 1739 to 1744. He has lived in Batavia for extended periods of time. He has been a Lance Corporal in the VOC, a farm worker on the Cape Governor's estate, a school teacher in Drakenstein, a Sergeant in the VOC, an "Adjistent" with scribe duties on a VOC ship, and a grave digger in Batavia. He was a literate man with an impressive signature, and he was clearly proud of his son at the Cape of Good Hope. He married three times in his life and lost both of his last two wives while he was away from Nederland in the service of the VOC. He is the very embodiment of the VOC soldier, so often Danish, German, or Frisian.
This then is the life of the crusty "Saxon sea dog", Joen Peter Boijens, progenitor of the South African Family Booyens, a family who never knew until now just how much he had done with his life. He gave us the stamvader of the Family Booyens in Africa, Pieter Boijens.
The Birth of Joen Pieter Boijens:
The date of birth of 1656, based on the young man named Joen Pieter Bojens in Tönning in 1672, seems simply too early. Our Joen eventually dies in 1745, and a birth date of 1656 would make him 89 at the time of his death. That is simply unrealistically old for a man making multi-month sea journeys on salted meat and biscuit up to a year before his death. It would be more realistic to assume he was around 25 years of age, the legal age for own marriage consent at the time, in 1694 in Blokzijl where he married the first time. This would set his birth at around 1669, somewhere in far northwestern Holstein, not too far from Katharinenheerd. That would make him 76 at his death, which is still an amazing age at which to be sailing back and forth for months on end in an age in which traveling at sea was life threatening and many women, children, and men over 35 did not survive the journeys.
For the references, see below#