Masulipatnam cemetery: Dutch history in stone


The site were the Dutch had their villa residences is still known as Valandupalem, a corruption of Hollandpalem, and their burial ground is in a corner of the compound of a bungalow behind the Collector’s offices. It contains several tombstones in very good preservation.  The stone is the hard “nipa rayi’ on which the Hindoos carve their inscriptions, bug the Dutch must have had a trained stonemason, for almost every stone bears a coat-of-arms, executed with considerable skill. Even the gravestone of an obscure Schipper or sea captain, probably not of a degree to bear coat armour, has an effigy of the deceased with a three-cornered hat and long coat, familiar in old illustrations, reminding one that this Dutch skipper was a contemporary of the bold adventurers Gulliver an Robinson Crusoe.”

This quote from Gordon MacKenzie’s “Kistna Manual” writes J.J. Cotton C. S, in his List of Tombs or Monuments in Madras of 1905. Its subheading adds: Possessing historical or archeological interest.

Tomb of Skipper Evert Everman

Cotton continues: “The graves are enclosed by a good masonry wall, but some inscriptions have disappeared before that destructive personage, the village herdsboy who, stone in hand, delights to chop off the raised letters that tell the virtue of long buried merchants and their vrouw. Other stones have been carried off by dhobies for beating clothes.”

Full list of names

Below I’ll list the dates of death, names, functions and age from Cotton’s list:

10th June 1646 Johannes Nantius of Mddelburg Ondercoopman, 28 years
18th May 1662 Evert Everman of Bremen Schipper, passed away on fluit ship Pegu, 35 years
20th Sept. 1677 Abraham Bolwerk of Elbing Kranken bezoeker, 68 years
21 Mar. 1677 Pieter Smith Oppercoopman, 39 years
3 Jan, 1679 Catharina van den Briel of Amsterdam and Johan Kruyf of Tayouan Onderkoopman, 21 years
16th Feb. 1682 Johanna Huisman-Bolwerk, wife of Johannes Huisman Tweede Koopman, housewife 43 years
28th Aug. 1682 Hendrick van Almonde Little son of ondercoopman and fiscal. 1 year
17th Feb. 1685 Elizabeth van den Briel, wife of Marten van de Briel, onderkoopman Housewife 60 years
15th Aug. 1687

24 Aug 1687


19th May 1687

24 Mar. 1688

14th Oct. 1687

21s. Sept. 1687


Jacob Corbenier and family * of Utrecht,

his wife Margarieta Booms, of Amsterdam

Adrien Blockeel, of Ijsendijck,


Elizabeth Frontenious, daughter, of Pulicat

Willi8am Frontenius, brother, of Pulicat

James Corbesier, son of first couple, of Daatzcerom

Opperkoopman, aged about 51 years

Housewife, aged about 46 years

Onderkoopman, aged about 40 years

Housewife, aged about 21 years

Asisstant, aged more than 31 years

About 7 years

20th Apr. 1744 and

28th Nov. 1745

Agatha Keyser and Catharina Vosmaer, wife of Adriaen Vosmaer, of Delft Housewife and daughter, 25 years,

baby Catharina, 4 months

13th July 1725 Paul Verrijn, of Amsterdam Oppoercoopman, 48 years
20th Aug. 1735 Alida Keyser, wife of Adrianus Canter Visscher Housewife, 21 years
15th Oct. 1735 Maria Wilhelmina Gambier, wife of Gosewyn Maire Housewife, 32 years

The inscription about the Corbenier family continues:

“So that here lie on father, one mother,
One sister, four brothers,
Two men and two wives,
But not more than six lives”.

The records of Fort St. George mention that in 1687 there was a great contagion at Masulipatnam, which may account for some of the deaths. The whole family must have been swept away by the pestilence, for the charitable friend who wrote the inscription did not know their exact ages.

Cotton lists two more Dutch gravestones in the compound of the District  Moonsif’s Court in Masulipatnam. Christian Pit, 2- year old son of Laurens Pit in 1651, and Maria of Bengal and Frederick Braun, ondercoopman in 1679 and 1680. These stones are lost, according to Marion Peters and Ferry Andre in their In Steen Gescheven (Written in stone) book in 2002.

This courthouse was formerly Council chamber of the Dutch factory, and there is a tradition that the compound of the factory is used as burying-ground before the Dutch cemetery was opened.