Jan Janszoon Van Haarlem
Pirate King of Salé on the Barbary Coast
Spouse(s): Soutgen Caves, Unknown, Unknown Ziden
Family tree: Jan Janszoon Van Haarlem c. 1570-c. 1641
A Salé corsair
About 1575 a child, later christened Jan, was born in the city of Haarlem, North Holland, the Netherlands. His father was also named Jan, as indicated by his patronym Janszoon (Jan's son).
Jan Janszoon was destined to become a pirate king on the Barbary Coast in North Africa. While historically identified as a pirate, he was more accurately a privateer, because he was head of state of the Republic of Salé.
He married Soutgen Caves and a daughter, Lysbeth, was born to this union in 1596. We know that there were other children, because they and their mother were paraded on the dock when Jan put into Veere, Zeeland, Netherlands, for repairs in 1622.
Jan was known in the English speaking world as Captain John, John Barber and Little John Ward. His Arabic names were Caid Morato, Morat, Morat Rais, Morato Reis, Murad, Murad Reis, Murat, Murat Reis, Murate, and Mutare Reis. In Arabic, caid means chief, and reis or rais means captain.
Salé is just north of Rabat on the west coast of Morocco.
About 1600 Jan Janszoon became a merchant seaman, and sailed from La Rochelle in 1605 with letters of marque to capture Spanish pirates from Duinkerken, a town on the coast of France that is also known as Dunkirk and Dunkerque. In 1559 Spain attacked and conquered the port, which became Spain's greatest base for privateers during the 80-year War between the Dutch Republic and Spain. From 1609 to 1621 a truce existed, but the depredations of the privateers, who turned to piracy, continued unabated.
A Second Marriage and Children
Jan married a second wife in Cartagena, Murcia, Spain. Her name is unknown. She was probably a Morisco, a Muslim who had been forced to convert to Christianity. She was likely a crypto- Muslim, secretly adhering to Islam.
Jan had several children by her in Cartagena. Abraham Jansen was born about 1602 and Philip Jansen about 1604. Anthony Jansen, husband of my 9th great grand aunt Metje Andries Grevenraet, was born in 1607, and Cornelis Jansen in 1608.
Dispite their conversion to the Catholic Church, the Moriscos were expelled from Spain in 1610, and the Jan Janszoon's Cartagena family certainly moved to Salé, Morocco, as did many of the others.
Anthony Jansen's marriage certificate, dated December 15, 1629, in Amsterdam, North Holland, the Netherlands, gave him permission to marry onboard the vessel on the way to New Amsterdam, New Netherland. That certificate, in the Gemeente Archief in Amsterdam, states that Anthony Jansen was from Cartagena. I believe he was born there. A possible reason for being married aboard ship by the captain was that Anthony's mother in Cartagena was a Muslim, and therefore had raised her child in that faith. He is believed to be the ancestor of the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Humphrey Bogart.
Sails as a Corsair with De Veenboer
Background: The Barbary Pirates of Salé
In 1618 Jan Janszoon was captured at Lancerote, Canary Islands, by the corsairs, and taken to Algiers, Algeria, where he became a corsair himself. His base of operations was Algiers. He sailed with De Veenboer, aka Sulayman Rais, who quit to shore that same year, and Jan become rais or captain of Sulayman's ship.
Jan Janszoon did not protect the crews of Dutch ships as De Veenboer did. Attacking a Spanish ship he flew the Dutch flag, for others he sailed under the red half moon of the Turks.
Sallee and Rabat in 1760
Jan elected Governor of Salé
Algiers made peace with some of the European nations about 1619, forcing Jan to set up shop in Salé, Morocco. That same year Salé declared a semi-independent pirate republic and became the home base for the Sally Rovers. He was elected admiral of the corsair fleet at Salé and governor of the city. Beginning in 1619 Jan Janszoon built as many as 17 fast corsairs.
On a raiding expedition in 1620, a Dutch merchant ship raised the red flag of no quarter, and bluffed Jan into fleeing for safety.
In 1622 Jan Janszoon is converted to Islam and became a renegado. Sporting the Moccocan flag and claiming diplomatic immunity, he entered the port of Veere, Zealand, the Netherlands, for repairs in November. The Dutch brought his wife and children to the dock to try to convince him to return home. Doubtless he was already supporting the family. A number of Dutch seamen join Jan Janszoon's crew, contrary to the wishes of the Dutch government. Leaving Veere, he attacked several French ships.
About 1623, Sultan Moulay Ziden laid siege to Salé, but failed to capture it. To save face, Moulay Ziden appointed Jan Janszoon Governor of Salé, confirming his 1619 election. Salé was now officially an independent republic.
Commerce in the Republic of Salé consisted mainly in piracy, trade in stolen property, and negotiating ransoms for captive Europeans.
Jan married a third time to a Moorish woman in 1624, the daughter of the Sultan, to cement the friendship. This counted as only two wives because the first was a Christian. He probably had children from her as well.
Jan Janszoon captured a Spanish ship in 1626, and docked at Veere, Zealand, to sell it. The next year he sailed out and moved his base of operations to Algiers. He led a raiding fleet to Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland the following year, and returned to Algiers with booty and 400 slaves for sale.
There was a famine in Morocco in 1629, and he sent two of his sons, Abraham and Anthony, to Amsterdam, North Holland, the Netherlands. Anthony Van Salee married Grietje Reyniers onboard a ship in transit to New Amsterdam, New Netherland. In 1635 Jan Janszoon participated in a truce between the Sa'adian Sultan el Walid and Louis XIII.
The Sack of Baltimore
Jan Janszoon was at the Sack of Baltimore at Cork, Ireland, in 1631, and returned to Algiers with booty and 108 slaves for sale.
Oh! Some must tug the galley's oar,
and some must tend the steed;
This boy will bear a Sheik's chibouk,* and that a Bey's jerreed.*
Oh! Some are in the arsenals, by beauteous Dardanelles;
And some are in the caravan to Mecca's sandy dells.
The maid that Bandon gallant sought is chosen for the Dey:
She's safe - he's dead - she stabbed him in the Midst of his serai;*
And when, to die a death of fire, that noble maid they bore,
She only smiled - O'Driscoll's child - she thought of Baltimore
Brooke, Stopford Augustus. A treasury of Irish poetry in the English tongue. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1900, p. 121, citing Thomas Davis' The Sack of Baltimore
[Note: *A chibouk, or chibouque, was a Turkish tobacco pipe with a long stem and a red clay bowl. A jerreed, or djereed, was a blunt javelin used in military games in Muslim countries. A serai was a sultan's palace, a seraglio.]
He was captured by the Maltese Knights in 1635. Four years later, his son Anthony Van Salee and wife Grietje Reyniers were expelled from New Amsterdam, New Netherland, finding refuge on Long Island. The next year, Jan Janszoon escaped from the Knights of Malta after five years of captivity.
When Jan returned, the Sultan appointed him Governor of Oualidia in southern Morocco. Jan Janszoon Van Haarlem served as Governor of the Castle of Maladia, on the west coast of Morocco from 1640-1641.
His daughter Lysbeth Van Haarlem and her husband visit Jan during those years at the castle. 1641 was the last year of record for Jan, and he must have died soon after. His body lies in an unmarked grave, according to Muslim custom.
The Religion of Islam
Judaism, Christianity and Islam were the three great monotheistic religions that came out of the Middle East. Adherents of all three religions were to be found in the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries. The followers of Islam called the Jews and Christians the People of the Book, because they too believed in the Prophets. The new idea was that Mohammed was the final Prophet, and his teachings replaced that of the others. The holy book of Islam is the Koran.
The religion of Islam, a word which means surrender to God, is far too complicated to explain in detail here. However the Five Pillars of Islam will give us a basis for further study.
The Five Pillars of Islam
1. Profess faith by repeating the phrase, "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet."
2. Pray five times a day, following special rituals, such as washing beforehand, facing Mecca, bowing and kneeling.
3. Give alms and show charity to the poor.
4. Practice the ritual fast during the month of Ramadan.
5. Make the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj, at least once if you have the health and means.
1549 the Sa'adian dynasty assumes rule in Morocco
1574-1576 Sultan Abu Abdallah Mohammed III el Mutawakkil accedes
1575 Jan Janszoon Van Haarlem born
1576-1578 Sultan Abu Merwan Abd el Melik I el Ghazi accedes
1578-1603 Marrakech and Fès, Sultan Abul Abbas Ahmed el Mansur accedes
1595 about, Jan Janszoon marries a Dutch wife
1596 Lysbeth Van Salee is born
1600 about, Jan Janszoon becomes a merchant seaman
1602 Abraham Van Salee is born
1603-1628 Marrakech, Sultan Ziden en Nasir accedes
1604 Philip Van Salee is born
1605 Jan Janszoon is a privateer and sailed from La Rochelle
1605 Jan Janszoon sails with letters of marque to capture pirates from Duinkerken
1607 Anthony Jansen Van Salee is born at Cartagena, Spain
1608 Cornelis Jansen Van Salee is born
1610-1613 Fès, Sultan Mohammed IV el Mamoum accedes
1610 The Moriscos are expelled from Spain
1610 The Moriscos flee to Salé, Morocco
1613-1624 Fès, Sultan Abdullah II accedes
1618 Jan Janszoon captured at Lancerote, Canary Islands
1618 Jan Janszoon is taken to Algiers, Algeria
1618 Jan Janszoon becomes a corsair based in Algiers
1618 Jan Janszoon sails with Van Veenboer, aka Sulayman Rais
1618 Sulayman Rais temporarily quits to shore
1618 Jan Janszoon becomes rais or captain of Sulayman's ship
1619 about, Algiers makes peace with some of the European nations
1619 Jan Janszoon sets up shop in Salé, Morocco
1619 Salé, Morocco, declared a semi-independent pirate republic
1619 Salé, Morocco becomes the home base for the Sally Rovers
1619 Jan Janszoon elected Admiral of the corsair fleet at Salé
1619 Jan Janszoon is elected the President of Salé
1619 Jan Janszoon builds about 17 fast corsairs
1620 Dutch merchant ship raises red flag of no quarter, bluffs Jan Janszen
1622 Jan Janszoon is converted to Islam
1622 Jan Janszoon becomes a renegado
1622 Jan Janszoon enters the port of Veere, Zealand, Neth., for repairs
1622 November, Jan Janszoon's wife and children paraded at Veere, Holland
1622 a number of Dutch seamen join Jan Janszoon's crew
1622 Jan Janszoon attacks several French ships
1623-1631 Marrakech, Sultan Abu Merwan Abd Melik II accedes
1623 about, the Sultan lays siege to Salé, Morocco, but fails to capture it
1624 Sultan Moulay Ziden appoints Jan Janszoon Governor of Salé
1624 Jan Janszoon marries a third time to a Moorish woman
1624-1626 Fès, Sultan Abd el Melik III accedes
1626 Jan Janszoon captures Spanish ship
1626 Jan Janszoon docks at Veere, Holland, to sell the Spanish ship
1627 Jan Janszoon sails from Veere
1627 Jan Janszoon captures Lundy in the Bristol Channel, holds it for five years
1627 Jan Janszoon raides Bessastaðir not far from Reykjavik, capital city of Iceland
1627 Jan Janszoon returns to Algiers, with booty and slaves for sale
1629 There is a famine in Morocco
1629 Jan Janszoon sends his sons Abraham and Anthony to Amsterdam, Holland
1629 Sultan Moulay el Malek is assassinated
1629 Anthony Van Salee marries Grietje Reyniers
1631 the Alawi dynasty assumes rule in Morocco
1631 Jan Janszoon participates in truce between Sultan el Walid and Louis XIII
1631-1635 Sultan Ibn es Cherif accedes
1631-1636 Marrakech, Sultan el Walid accedes
1631 Jan Janszoon leads the Sack of Baltimore, Cork, Ireland
1631 Jan Janszoon returns to Algiers with booty and 200 slaves for sale
1635-1664 Sultan Mohammed II accedes
1635 Jan Janszoon is captured by the Maltese Knights
1636-1654 Marrakech, Sultan Mohammed V el Asghar accedes
1639 Anthony Van Salee and Grietje Reyniers expelled from N. A.
1640 Jan Janszoon escapes from the Knights of Malta after captivity
1640 Jan Janszoon is appointed Governor of Oualidia in southern Morocco
1640-1641 Jan Janszoon Van Haarlem is Gov. of Castle Maladia, west coast
1640 Lysbeth Van Haarlem and husband visit Jan Janszoon at Maladia
1641 Jan Janszoon's the last year of record, dies soon after
Ekin, Des. The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates. Dublin: O'Brien, 2006.
Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh. Burke's Royal Families of the World II Africa & The Middle East, London 1980.
Grosse, Philip, The History of Piracy, Tudor, 1934.
Roberts, Hazel Van Dyke, Ph. D. Anthony Jansen Van Salee 1607-1676. A detailed biography of Jan Janszoon's son Anthony Van Salee, the most unusual and interesting figure in the New Amsterdam records. You will enjoy reading this even if you are not related to the Van Salee family.
Tapsell, R. F. Monarch Rulers Dynasties and Kingdoms of the World, Thames and Hudson, London 1983.
Vrijman, L. C. Kaapvaart en zeeroverij. Amsterdam, 1938.
Lane-Poole, Stanley, 1854-1931. The Story of the Barbary Corsairs. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1890.
Wilson, Peter Lamborn. Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes. 1995 Autonomedia. 210 pp. The author focuses on the corsairs' most impressive accomplishment, the independent Pirate republic of Salé, in Morocco, in the 17th century. The book is online, the link is above, or by chapter below.
- I. Pirate and Mermaid
- II. A Christian Turn’d Turke
- III. Democracy by Assassination
- IV. A Company of Rogues
- V. An Alabaster Palace in Tunisia
- VI. The Moorish Republic of Sale
- VII. Murad Reis and the Sack of Baltimore
- VIII. The Corsair’s Calendar
- IIX. Pirate Utopias
- X Afterword: A Moorish Pirate In Old New York (does not appear online)
- Bibliography (does not appear online)