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Frederick de Houtman

Frederick de Houtman (c. 1571 – 21 October 1627) was a Dutch explorer, navigator, and colonial governor who sailed along the coastal regions of western Australia on the first Dutch expedition to the East Indies from 1595 until 1597, during which time he made observations of the southern celestial hemisphere and contributed to the creation of 12 new southern constellations.

Frederick de Houtman
Frederik Houtman SK-A-2727.jpg
De Houtman c. 1615
Governor of the Moluccas
In office
11 July 1621 – 25 February 1623 (1621-07-11 – 1623-02-25)
Preceded byLaurens Reael
Succeeded byJacques le Fèbre
Governor of Amboyna
In office
1 March 1605 – 18 February 1611 (1605-03-01 – 1611-02-18)
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byCaspar Janszoon
Personal details
Frederik de Houtman

Unknown date, c. 1571
Gouda, Seventeen Provinces
Died21 October 1627(1627-10-21) (aged 55–56)
Alkmaar, Dutch Republic
Spouse(s)Vrouwtje Cornelisdr Clock
RelativesCornelis de Houtman (brother)
OccupationExplorer, navigator, governor


East IndiesEdit

De Houtman was born in Gouda. De Houtman assisted fellow Dutch navigator Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser with astronomical observations during the first Dutch expedition to the East Indies from 1595 until 1597.[1] De Houtman also sailed on the second expedition from 1590 until 1600, led by his brother, Cornelis de Houtman, who was killed. Frederick was imprisoned by the Sultan of Aceh, Alauddin Riayat Syah, in northern Sumatra.

He used his two years of captivity—from September 1599 until December 1601—to study the local Malay language and to make astronomical observations. These observations supplemented those made by Keyser on the first expedition. The constellations formed from their observations were first published in 1597 or 1598 on a globe by Petrus Plancius, and later globes incorporated adjustments based on De Houtman's later observations.[2]

Credit for these constellations is generally assigned jointly to Keyser, De Houtman, and Plancius, though some of the underlying stars were known beforehand.[1] The constellations are also widely associated with Johann Bayer, who included them in his celestial atlas, Uranometria, in 1603. After De Houtman's return to Europe, De Houtman published his stellar observations in an appendix to his dictionary and grammar of the Malayan and Malagasy languages.[3]


In 1619, De Houtman sailed in the Dutch East India Company's ship, the Maeght van Dordrecht, along with Jacob Dedel in the Amsterdam. They sighted the Australian coast near present-day Perth, which they called Dedelsland. After sailing northwards along the coast he encountered and only narrowly avoided a group of shoals, subsequently called the Houtman Abrolhos.

De Houtman then made landfall in the region known as Eendrachtsland, which the explorer Dirk Hartog had encountered earlier. In his journal, De Houtman identified these coasts as Locach, mentioned by Marco Polo to have been a country far south of China and indicated as such on maps by cartographers Plancius and Linschoten.[4][5]

See alsoEdit

  • John Davis – English explorer who accompanied De Houtman on the first East Indies' expedition as its pilot



  1. ^ a b Kanas 2012, p. 119.
  2. ^ Dekker 1987, pp. 439–470.
  3. ^ De Houtman 1603.
  4. ^ Leupe 1868, pp. 29–32.
  5. ^ Stapel 1937, pp. 11–28.


  • De Houtman, F. (1603). Spraeck ende woord-boeck (in Dutch). Amsterdam: Cloppenburgh. OCLC 68675342.
  • Dekker, E. (1987). "Early exploration of the southern celestial sky". Ann. Sci. 44 (5): 439–470. doi:10.1080/00033798700200301.
  • Kanas, N. (2012). Star Maps: a history, artistry, and cartography. New York: Springer. ISBN 9781461409168.
  • Leupe, P. (1868). De reizen der Nederlanders naar het Zuidland (in Dutch). Amsterdam: Hulst van Keulen. OCLC 71447539.
  • Rouffaer, G.; IJzerman, J., eds. (1915). De eerste schipvaart (in Dutch). 1. The Hague: Nijhoff. OCLC 1042910864.
  • Rouffaer, G.; IJzerman, J., eds. (1925). De eerste schipvaart (in Dutch). 2. The Hague: Nijhoff. OCLC 1043001128.
  • Rouffaer, G.; IJzerman, J., eds. (1929). De eerste schipvaart (in Dutch). 3. The Hague: Nijhoff. OCLC 1042945897.
  • Stapel, F. (1937). De Oostindische Compagnie en Australië (in Dutch). Amsterdam: Van Kampen. OCLC 254249686.

External linksEdit