Inventaris van het archief van de Nederlandse Factorij in
Japan te Hirado [1609-1641] en te Deshima, [1641-1860]1609-1860
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
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.