English summary of the inventory of the archives of the Dutch factory in Japan, 1609-1860

Fonds Specifications


Biographical History (Sketch of the Record Creator)

5. The personnel of the factory.
By a regulation of 1678 june 7, Governor-General and Council decidedthat the personnel of the factory should consist of a merchant, a second merchant, two to three undermerchants and fourteen to fifteen assistants. (A surgeon and his assistant included). The merchant bore the title of "Opperhoofd" (Chief); he held a seat in the Council of Justice at Batavia every period when he was out of office. In 1640 the Japanese demanded that a new Opperhoofd should beappointed every year. This gave raise to a system of rotation, by which every Opperhoofd held the highest post of the factory three to four times. In 1790 the Director-General of the trade, Johannes Siberg, succeeded in obtaining approval of a longer stay.
The council of the factory consisted of the Opperhoofd, the second merchants and the undermerchants. Since 1764 the scribe (at the same time bookkeeper and warehouse custodian) attended the meetings of the council and also signed the resolutions. The scribe had the power to pass notarial and secretarial instruments and to confirm sworn testimonies. Initially he had the rank of an assistant, later on - as warehouse custodian-book-keeper-scribe - of an undermerchant.
After the dissolution of the company in february 1796, no great changes occurred regarding the number, the task and the competence of the inhabitants of Dishima. Sometime between 1796 and 1816, the Council taking resolutions independently within the limits of their instructions from G.-G. and Council, dissapeared; after 1816, the Opperhoofd decides alone. The tiltle "Opperhoofd"changed into "Gouvernmentkommissaris voor Japan" (Government Commissioner for Japan) in 1855 and since 1859 the representative of the Netherlands was also Consul-General for Japan and Political Agent of the Netherlands in Japan. The last Opperhoofd, J.H. Jonker Curtius, who bore each of these titles in turn, signed the first treaty between the Netherlands and Japan in 1856.