The "Hoofdadministrateur" and officers connected with his
During the period under review the "hoofdadministrateur" took a
particularly prominent place in the Council. We might say that this officer was
at the head of the trade department. Being instructed originally to "attend to
all matters connected with the chief administration of Colombo"
, to assist the Governor, the "hoofdadministrateur" in the
year 1661 was already in charge of the central accounting of the government,
and all matters of trade were referred to him.
He was the fourth in order of precedence in the Council and was
responsible to the Governor only. Later when he became regularly established as
the chairman of the "raad van justitie", the court of justice, which was the
supreme court of the Island, his power was considerable, because he was both
administrator and controller, and as such, was one of the many officers of the
V.O.C. in whom the civil and the judicial administration were combined. In
addition, as he supervised all commercial and financial transactions he had the
"negotie-comptoir" in his charge, which meant that he controlled the accounts
of the other officers, every person and everything dealing with the
government's finances and income thus came to some extent within his
The instructions left over for the guidance of this officer in
the performance of his duties are rather vague: it should be remembered that
more often than not men with experience in the lower ranks of the service would
be appointed to this office. Moreover, the alterations in the instructions
issued by governor Rijckloff van Goens date chiefly from the beginning of the
18th century, the major part of the documents in respect of which period are in
a state of decay. The functions of this office have therefore to be
reconstructed from indirect sources.
The relations between the "negotie-boekhouder", the
"equipagiemeester", the "dispensier" and the "winkelier" are not always clear.
If they maintained archives at all, they have not survived.
As regards the subordinates of the "hoofdadministrateur", of
whom some were of sufficient importance to be council members, it may be said
that officially they were not independent. The best way of understanding their
functions and position, which was more or less connected with the chief
administration, is to compare them with that of their "opposite numbers" in
Batavia. Roughly speaking, the "negotie-boekhouder" kept the main ledger of the
department; the "soldy-boekhouder" did the same kind of work as paymaster in
The functions of the "pakhuismeester", the "dispensier" and the
"winkelier" were connected with the issue and distribution of the goods stored
in the warehouses.
The position of the "sabandaar", who should be mentioned in this
connection, is explained below.
Although the residence of the "hoofdadministrateur" was in the
fort of Colombo, quite close to the secretariat, his archives have not been
regularly preserved. The most important part of what is left are the accounts
which were sent to Colombo from all over the Island
Some lists of the documents in the "negotie-kantoor" have
. By means of these lists it is possible to obtain some
idea of the documents preserved in this office. The term "hoofdadministrateur"
is still used in the Dutch East-Indies.