Letter from the Chaophraya Phrakhlang on behalf of King Thai Sa (r. 1709-1733) to the Supreme Government in Batavia, (received) 9 March 1730, and the answer from Batavia, 3 August 1730


(This letter from the Phrakhlang is being sent to Governor-General Diderik Durven and members of the Council of the Indies. The letter and the gifts were received according to ancient custom. From the letter and the account of the skipper it was evident that Diderik Durven had been promoted to Governor-General. It is hoped that affairs in Siam will continue according to the example of Governor-General Mattheus de Haan, and in keeping with the content of the contracts. The brown stallion sent was too old and not of the required beauty. It is hoped that the Company will send one or two horses per year according to the model sent previously.)

The cashes [1] and malmols, 80 pieces each, are only of an ordinary quality, not in agreement with the sample sent from here. The malmols are too thin and light, and the thread of the cashes is too thick. Once more the request that in future a good quantity of cashes may be sent hither, in agreement with the model sent, and of the required samarese linens 4 to 5, or 9 to 10, if they are available. Of the spectacles ordered, 4 to 5, but no more, as we do not need many of them. After they are received in Batavia [from Holland] we look forward to getting the embroidered lace garments.

Although previously we requested you to send here no more than 400 to 500 fotases or gewatrang, seeing that we have an abundant supply of that kind of linen, at the request of the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies I have allowed the Khlang to accept 1,100 pieces, in the hope that from now on a mere 400 to 500 will be sent over annually.

Concerning the broadcloths it is noted that here they are required to be of a more common and thicker sort, and of different colours from the ones sent before, as has often been written. The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies once more send five of scarlet-red, five of grass-green, and five of sky-blue.

With regard to the moneys of 1,950 rix-dollars loaned to the royal servants amounting to 6 maas each, in silver 36 catty, 9 tael and 1 paha, for which 51 horses were purchased and transported hither, in reply I write that the Khlang has already been instructed to settle that amount with the Company’s senior head in the yearly fashion. I request the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies from now on again to send the horses in two different vessels as was done before, with 20 or more horses in each. For several years the 40 to 50 horses that the royal servants buy have been embarked on one ship. Halfway through the voyage four of them died because of lack of space; many have arrived here thin and sickly, and after unloading sometimes 5 to 6 die miserably. In this way we sometimes lose 9 or 10 out of the shipment.

I am now delegating Hoen Tsjat Tsiene Hoewisaan Asadid Mampit Raksa and Pankoen [2], who are well acquainted with how to handle horses, and will travel in the Company’s ship, with the request to extend a loan to them in the usual way, and that these people may be taken to Semarang with a letter of recommendation and an interpreter by Company vessels, and then to the towns and villages where many horses are bred. Also that after they have made their purchases these people may be taken with the animals from Java to Batavia according to the old custom, and then onwards hither with the despatch of Company goods.

Concerning the calculation of sappan wood, the backlog in delivery by the King has become very apparent to me. When the cargoes brought by Company ship arrive I shall have the Khlang accept them and settle the payment. I shall see to it that annually a quantity of from 14 to 17 hundred pikols of sappan wood are supplied to the Company as has always happened. However, seeing that in this Year of the Rooster there has been a great large number of deaths among the buffaloes and oxen, both in places inland and on the coast, the supply has turned out badly for a lack of the animals needed to pull the wagons with which sappan wood is conveyed to the vessels. Some places where the sappan wood grows are a good 7, 8, 9, 10 or even 12 days’ travel from the waterside. The collection of that dye-wood for the King’s account has turned out badly this year. Nevertheless I have ordered the Khlang to supply half of the usual annual quantity of 8,000 pikols to the Company.

It has not been possible to send the large koyans of rice requested that are required in the realm of Jacatra as food for the inhabitants and servants of the Company. Calculated according to the Siamese measure these would comprise 750 Siamese koyans. Because of the extraordinary deaths of the buffaloes and cows the farmers have on many occasions had to plough their sowing-land by hand. The harvest in this Year of the Rooster is nowhere near as much compared with previous years. Apart from this, in the eighth and ninth months because of unusually heavy rain there has been a great runoff whereby many paddy fields were submerged and the paddy plants standing there fully grown were ripped out of the ground. On mature consideration, bearing in mind our mutual friendship, I have approved and permitted that the Company’s senior head may buy up 200 Siamese koyans of rice and have them exported.

Seeing that we here in Siam would be very pleased to get good attar of roses, the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies are requested to seek out 2, 3, 4 to 5 djabols (bottles?) of that sort of attar and send them here.

Since the time when, many years ago, the Company entered into alliance with Siam, established a lodge, and concluded a contract, among the Company’s senior heads there have been some sensible men who were experienced and who upheld the Siamese customs and laws, and others who were not so experienced. When the latter committed offences they were warned not to cause harm or hindrance to the Company’s trade. The Cassa Taboedi [3] punished the worst errors.

At present Aldewerelt [4] has been appointed as senior head, and he has been in Siam for a long time as deputy, and thus knows well what the Siamese way of doing things is. I must admit that he is not of a good character, with no understanding of how to cultivate friendship, a trouble-maker, hasty and a very stubborn man who does everything according to his own opinion, and speaks poorly. Notwithstanding, with a view to our mutual friendship, I have warned him about this and that, but all in an amicable way.

However, because the Governor-General now in his letter requests the purchase of 500 koyans of rice and we can spare no more than 200 Siamese koyans because of our own shortage, on my orders notice of this has been made to the senior head through the interpreter Choen Trang Paniet. However, after he had sent persons to take delivery of the rice, in the presence of the clerks of the Olowant Tsocick and all the Choen Moens [5] of the fields and paddies, he gave orders to carry on with weighing the rice, in order to take more of it than I had instructed in writing. But when the interpreter Choen Trang Paniet replied to this that the quantity had been supplied as the order dictated, and that they could therefore not continue weighing, then in a fit of temper the senior head, without considering the fairness or unfairness of it, dealt the interpreter Choen Trang Paniet such a punch on the jaw and other blows that his face was swollen and his body displayed black and blue bruises in various places.

Thereupon I sent Olowang Tsjodick Tsjani [6] to the senior head to speak to him [about the incident], and he got as answer from the senior head: ‘It’s true, I have done the wrong thing’. However, seeing that Choen Trang Paniet is a very senior interpreter and a royal servant of the syahbandar, whom the Company allows to speak to the senior head, by maltreating Choen Trang Paniet in such a way the haughty head has acted very badly, contrary to the contracts and the Siamese customs. For the purpose of preventing such disorderly behaviour I request the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies to investigate the attitude and conduct of the high-handed senior head. If the said senior head should remain in Siam for a longer time, the Company’s affairs will not be treated on a good footing and not without frictions. Also the mutual friendship and alliance will be in danger of lapsing.

Also it is stated in the old contract on the back that all the tin at Ligoan [7], except that of the king, must be sold to the Dutch and nothing to foreign merchants. The successive residents of the Company who have resided at Ligoan have of old annually collected a good quantity of that mineral from the Ligoan subjects, not counting the tin of the king. The people of the Khlang at Ligor provided for the annual delivery of tin, which was settled with the account of linens, horses and gifts supplied [by the Company].

The balance of the king’s tin, whether it be much or little, is always administered by the Khlang. On the orders of the Khlang in Siam this is always sent to Siam and transferred in ships. The Choen Moen’s servants, who were sent out to deal with the heads and regents of the tin at Ligor, have also always transported the tin to Siam, either much or little. Sometimes somewhat more was transported by the Khlang than was usually needed. In such cases a Choen Moen or a royal servant was despatched with silver from the king in order to make a purchase of tin at Ligor or its surroundings for it. Sometimes that mounted up to a quantity of 200, 300, 400 to 500 catties per purchase, for which then 400, 500, 600, 700 or perhaps 800 bahar of tin was brought to Siam.

The [Company] residents of Ligor have never opposed this procedure. They communicated the quantity of tin being carried to Siam by means of a letter to the senior head there. The syahbandar checked whether the cargo delivered was in agreement with the senior head’s statement and the permission granted. If it tallied, then this was reported to the senior head. Recently the clerk Iskayoe [8] was sent by the senior head of Siam to Ligor in order to occupy the position of Company resident there. I have sent written orders to the Khlang that after the supply of tin to the Dutch in Ligor the remainder of the tin (whether much or little) should be sent to Siam by delegated royal servant. When the remaining tin of 101 bahars was about to be sent here according to orders, the resident confiscated the vessel with the tin, when it came in front of the lodge. The king’s tin was unloaded from the ship and taken to the warehouses. He would not even listen to the arguments of the heads, land-regents and the royal servants, who said they had received orders to send the tin [to Siam]. Therefore the resident Iskayoe has acted contrary to the contracts, and also contrary to the usages of previous residents, under whose management such incidents have never occurred. (With the request to appoint other persons as senior head and resident.)

Although in earlier letters I have given notice that here in Siam a good quantity of flints [9] is needed, with the request to send 2,000 to 3,000 per year, Governor-General Mattheus de Haan and the members of the Council of the Indies have only sent a meagre number of 1,000, and in the Year of the Rooster nothing. I therefore request the Governor-General Diderik Durven and members of the Council of the Indies to send 2,000 to 3,000 flints to Siam annually from now on.

The present gift from my lord and king, Prabat Somdat Broem Boepit Pra Poditjoe Joehwa, to Governor-General Diderik Durven and members of the Council of the Indies consists of 1,513 pikuls and 27 kati with 5 tael, 1 paha and 1 maas in Chinese weights of sappan wood. Furthermore, of 34 bahar, 1 pikul and 17 kati, 12 tael, 3 and ¼ maas and ¼ bahar in Chinese weights of tin. And I [myself] am sending 340 pikul and 25 kati Chinese in sappan wood, and in tin 7 bahar, 2 pikul, 20 kati and 8 tael Chinese to Governor-General Diderik Durven and members of the Council of the Indies.

[I send this] with the kind request that everything may continue according to the older custom, without errors, founded on the good agreement and the mutual friendship of my lord and king Prabat Somdat Broem Boepit Pra Podit joe Jochwa with the Prince of the Dutch and the Dutch Company. [And I ask] that a lasting and sincere agreement may be maintained and strengthened with Governor-General Diderik Durven and the members of the Council of the Indies, so that all foreigners and aliens may come and return again [to their own places] to pursue trade without any obstruction from either side.

Written on Monday, being the 15th day of the second month in the Year of the Rooster.



Letter from the Supreme Government in Batavia to the Phrakhlang, 3 August 1730.


(The letter in the name of the emperor through the Phrakhlang of Monday the 15th day of the second month in the Year of the Rooster has been received and welcomed with due pomp and ceremony. The Phrakhlang is thanked for all his help and assistance in dealing with the Company’s affairs according to the renewed promise and pledge. Also with regard to the recently sent bahar of silver that [the senior head] has not received due to the pressing duties of the Khlang prior to the departure of the ships.)

The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies have decided, following the complaints of the Phrakhlang and also for other reasons, to have the senior head of Ligor replaced with the present deputy, Jan van Gog; [and] in the place of Van Gog the bookkeeper Jacob de Bucquoy is being sent thither, in the expectation that they will adhere to the contract, for the sake of preserving the mutual unshakable friendship. We also do not doubt that the Phrakhlang will see to it that the tin that the king himself needs will be delivered from Oedjong Salang [10] or Tjaja [11] according to the precedent of former times.

With regret the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies have deduced from the Phrakhlang’s letter that the senior head in Siam did not adhere to his duty. They trust that in the future this will no longer happen, and anticipate that what occurred will not form an impediment in the advancement of affairs and the durability of the alliance.

As evidence of the Phrakhlang’s good intentions the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies have accepted his offer and promise of more deliveries of rice. They have accepted the reasons of the large number of deaths among the buffaloes and cows, and the unusually heavy rainfall and floods. In view of the successful rice crop on this island of Java at present we do not need anything, but hope that the delivery can be made on another occasion.

The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies have learnt from the Phrakhlang’s letter that the cashes and malmols sent last year did not correspond to the sample supplied, but the former were too thin and light, and the latter too thick of thread, and hence not suitable for the required use. They hope that what is now being sent will be more to your liking and will be of the required quality.

The 4 to 5 large spectacles and the karate garments that you asked for will be sent over as soon as they come from Holland. Hereby are coming the items of silver ware requested for the Emperor, just received from Europe. We hope that these will be to the pleasure and the taste of the king, and that the delivery of these will be considered as an undoubted token of good will from the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies. With this in mind we also accompany these gifts with the bottles of attar of roses you desired, and shall as far as possible attempt to supply annually the 2,000 to 3,000 flints requested.

We have also noted what the Phrakhlang wrote regarding the fotasses, and are now sending no more than the 400 to 500 you asked for. And several broadcloths, of the desired colours and of the usual and thickest sort, such as are now in stock. The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies express their thanks that [thanks to] the Phrakhlang the extra fotasses sent last year have been accepted by the Khlangs.

The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies have assisted the grooms sent over from Siam with the purchase of horses and have extended [to them] 2,050 rix-dollars in cash as a loan. Transport has been provided to these horse-buyers to Semarang, from where they have recently returned with 52 horses. The grooms are now going to Siam in the ship Berbice, as dividing the horses over two ships as the Phrakhlang wants has been impracticable this year. We can only send one ship to Siam. The voyage of the ship via Ligor for carrying money and fetching tin takes too long to guard the animals against hardships and disasters. The vessel now leaving is spacious enough, so that the above animals can easily be placed in it. We do not doubt that they will be transferred in good condition, together with the two Persian horses that we recently obtained.

Although the supply of a larger quantity of sappan wood than last year would have been agreeable to the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies, they will have to content themselves with the reason given, namely the number of deaths among buffaloes and cows and so forth. However, they anticipate that in future this supply will be better.

The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies have with esteem and respect received the gift of tin and sappan-wood as well as the Phrakhlang’s letter. As evidence of continuing friendship and good will for the person of the Phrakhlang, the latter is recompensed with a return-gift consisting of the following goods:

  • 3 pieces of various broadcloths, namely
  • x pieces of scarlet
  • x pieces of golden yellow
  • x pieces of grass-green
  • x pieces of red camlet [12]
  • x pieces of red perpetuan [13]
  • x pounds of European gold thread
  • x bottles of attar of roses
  • 40 pounds of various sorts of spices:
  • 10 pounds of mace
  • 10 pounds of cloves
  • 10 pounds of nutmeg
  • 10 pounds of cinnamon
  • 20 moeris [14], red Coast
  • 20 mallemollen, fine
  • 50 various kinds of files
  • x sliding whetstones
  • x pounds of small grindstones.

Written in Batavia Castle on the island of Great Java in the kingdom of Jaccatra, 3 August in the year 1730, [signed] the Governor-General of the Netherlands Indies, Diderik Durven.



[1] A smooth, soft cotton cloth.

[2] There are actually four persons mentioned here: two of khun rank, one of mun rank and one of phan rank.

[3] This refers to the Phrakhlang minister (kosathibodi).

[4] Rogier van Alderwereld, executive trader 1722-1723 (acting), 1728-1731.

[5] “All the khun and muen” (meaning “all the officials”).

[6] Okluang or Luang Choduek Ratchasetthi, head of the port department of the left, a position held traditionally by Chinese.

[7] Ligoan, a misspelling of Ligor (Nakhon Si Thammarat).

[8] Probably Isaac Clemen (?).

[9] Flints were used for flintlock rifles (snaphanen).

[10] ‘Junk Ceylon’, that is, Phuket.

[11] Chaiya.

[12] Camlet, fine and extremely expensive cloth woven from Angora goat hair or mixtures of silk and wool, from Arabic khaml.

[13] Perpetuan, “perpetuano”, a durable woollen fabric manufactured in England from the sixteenth century onwards.

[14] Moeris, mori, plain white textile from Coromandel, often used as base for chintz.