A Colourful life - Reinier Scherius

Right now I am intrigued and interested in the life of my great-great grandfather on my mother's side Reinier Scherius. He was born 12 June 1810 in Amsterdam and was sent off to sea for health reasons. He was prone to infections and in those days it was thought that sea air was the cure.

He ended up in Java, Indonesia and made a career in government. He was appointed to the post of Resident of Probolingo but before that had various postings around Indonesia, starting with Palembang, then Menado and also Gorontalo, all of these were quite remote. He was evidently a well respected administrator and in his posting to Menado as Resident he had a young Edward Douwes Dekker working for him as secretary who became a famous Dutch writer with the name of Multatuli. His most important novel Max Havelaar, is a protest against the Dutch exploitation of the local indigenous Indonesian population. Apparently Reinier shared some of his views.

His private life is most intriguing. He had three partnerships. The first one was with a local woman Tjiermoet when he was posted to Gerontolo and at the age of 27 fathered his first child, a daughter Mimi, and in 1939 another daughter was born, Julie. Though he didn't marry her, he did recognise the children and sent them off to Holland where they were brought up by relatives. This was not uncommon.

His next relationship was with Anna Dorothee Pietersz, who was of mixed blood, when he was posted to Ternate . It is possible that she was the granddaughter of the Sultan, but there is no confirmation for that. Anna bore him two children, a boy and girl and he provided for them even though he left them in Ternate when he was posted to the remote location of Saparoea, one of the most important spice islands.

He finally marries at the age of 45 the young 18 year old Charlotte Nagel in Probolingo where he was appointed as Resident in 1855. Six of their children were born in Probolingo and in 1864 he was appointed Resident of Semarang but he did not accept this post because of his poor health. Instead he took two year sicks leave and the whole family travelled via Cape Good Hope back to Holland.

In 1864 Reinier Scherius was granted a knight hood - Ridder in de orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw. At the end of his two year leave Reinier retired from Government service and settled with his family in Brussels, Belgium. His last child, a daughter, Victoire Pauline was born there on 4th January 1869 and sadly Reinier himself died only a few months later.


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