Origins

According to the records of the  Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), Jan Grobler was from Tangermond, known in German as Tangermünde, which was then located in Brandenburg-Prussia, and which today is part of Germany.  Brandenburg-Prussia was an alliance between the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia, which existed from 1618 to 1701. The map below shows what it looked like in 1688 (around the time Jan Grobler was born), and the red arrow indicates Tangermünde’s location..

Brandenburg-Pruisse teen 1688

According to (Grobler, 1987), there is no birth record for a Jan Grobler in Tangermünde’s church records, but there is a birth record on October 10, 1678 for a Christiaan Grobler , whose father was Arnold.  Furthermore, (Grobler, 1987) states that there are no Grobler death records in Tangermünde from 1642 to 1800.  In the marriage register there are the following records:

  • Magdalena Grobler; married on 1688.10.01 to Christiaan Grantzen
  • Anna Grobler; married on 1689.04.03 to Michael Wagner
  • Dorothea Grobler; married on 1690.11.25 to Christiaan Schluss

According to (Grobbelaar, 2012), there are no entries for Jan (or Johann) Grobler in the church books of the Tangermünde Parish Church (Protestant church known as St. Stephen’s Church).  To solve the contradicting reports on these church records, it would be necessary to search systematically through all the church books in the vicinity of Tangermünde. Although there is a project to transcribe all the Evangelical church books in Germany, they have not yet processed the books from Tangermünde or surroundings.  It may also be necessary to search the books of other churches (such as Catholic churches), although it is unlikely that the VOC would have employed Catholics given the bitter background between Protestants and Catholics (after the Thirty Years’ War).

According to the Nationaal Archief  in Den Haag, the VOC personnel records refer to place of birth (geboorteplaats) or place of origin (plaats van herkomst) in the Muster Lists:

In een monsterrol vindt men van een opvarende

1. Voornaam en familienaam 
2. Geboorteplaats of plaats van herkomst
3. Rang in het jaar waarop de rol betrekking heeft (“presente qualiteyt”)
4. Jaar van aankomst in de Oost
5. Naam van het schip waarmee hij in de Oost arriveerde (soms staat op deze plaats de vermelding “in dienst” d.w.z. dat de dienaar in Indië is geboren of buiten VOC-dienst in Indië is gearriveerd).
6. Rang bij indiensttreding bij de VOC
Kamer van indiensttreding

In the ship’s accounting ledgers, the personnel record refers to place of origin (plaats van herkomst).

In een scheepssoldijboek staan in een debet en credit kolom de volgende gegevens betreffende een opvarende:

1. Voornaam en familienaam
2. Plaats van herkomst
3. Rang bij indiensttreding
4. Gage
5. Duur reis naar Indië
6. Eventuele vermelding betreffende het maken van een testament of een “maandceel”
7. Eventuele kosten uitrusting of eventuele uitkeringen door de VOC in de Republiek aan familie, laatste uitkering aan de opvarende, overlijdensdatum, of vertrekdatum uit Indië

Tangermünde can therefore not positively be identified as Jan Grobler’s place of birth, but at least as his place of origin when he enrolled with the VOC.  Jan Grobler may also originate from Grobleben – an adjacent town that is today a suburb of Tangermünde, or the nearby Tangerhütte.

(Grobler, 1987) quotes an unknown source (I suspect it is Pama): “Christiaan Grobler is the ancestor of Groblers or Grobbelaars in South Africa. He was born on 10 October 1678 in Tangermünde, Germany … “.  Notwithstanding all the uncertainties, Jan Grobler’s date of birth is accepted as October 10, 1678 in both (Malherbe, 1966) and (Grobler, 1987) and propagated to many other studies.

It is well quite certain that Jan Grobler was at least schooled in German given his use of German alphabet and writing style.

In the German family register consisting of 212 volumes (Koerner. Görlitz, 1889 – 2.1889; 3.1894 – 18.1910), there is only one reference to Grobler namely Marie Gröblerz who was married on 10 October 1687 to Peter Lüpnitz in Schönfließ. Schönfließ was located in Prussia and later incorporated into Koningsberg, which became Kaliningrad after Russia occupied it.  In this part of the world, the Germans and Slavic people overlap.  The spelling of Gröblerz with an “z” at the end is typically Polish, which may imply that she was from a Polish family. The reason why there are not more Groblers in the German family register is most likely because this register was exclusively intended for the nobility – the authors were not interested in ordinary people (I implicitly assume Grobler was not part of the nobility).

Marie Gröblerz wat op 10 Okt 1687 getroud is.

There are Grobler records in German genealogical studies (Verein für Computergenealogie, n.d. en  familysearch.org) for Groblers of the same time period as Jan Grobler  but thus far, I have not been able to link them:

  • Ann Cathrin Grobler, 13 Aug 1745, Sanne (bei Arneburg)
  • Anna Catharina Grobler, 1680, Jerichow, Sachsen, Preussen
  • Carl Friederich Grobler, 1685, Tangermünde, Duitsland
  • Christoph Hans Grobler, 13 Apr 1731, Sanne (bei Arneburg)
  • Dietrich Hermann Grobler, 27 Apr 1743, Sanne (bei Arneburg)
  • Dorothea + Zwillingsschwester. Grobler 21. Mar 1744, Sanne (bei Arneburg)
  • Joh. Georg Grobler, 1670
  • Josef Grobler, 1691, Ulm, Donau, Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • Paul Grobler, 1660, Jerichow, Sachsen, Preussen
  • Cathrin Dorothee Grobler (Grobleben). 15 Dec 1729. Sanne
  • Elisabeth Veronika Beniga Grobler (Grobleben), 2 Oct 1727, Sanne
  • Hans Grobler (Grobleben), 1698, Sanne
  • Hans Grobler (Grobleben), 1550, Sanne
  • Mathias Grobler (Grobleben) 1660