The brothers Ploos van Amstel
Jan Willem Ploos van Amstel was born in the Netherlands in 1827. The Ploos van Amstel family was a prominent Dutch merchant family in the 19th century. The family roots can be traced back to the 15th century and the family produced important theologians, painters and lawyers,
Together with his brother Daniel (born in 1830) he established the firm J.W. Ploos van Amstel & Co in Melbourne, the business was in operation from 1859 till 1893. Their brother Eduard also joined the firm and it was he who closed the business in 1893.The ties with the Dutch family remained strong and they travelled several times to the Netherlands.
In 1862 the Governor of Victoria acknowledged Jan Willem as the Netherlands Consul General for the Colony of Victoria and Daniel and Eduard acted as Vice-Consuls. Because of their frequent travels this function alternated between the two brothers. It also looks like when Jan Willem was overseas Daniel took over the function of Consul General.
The Ploos van Amstels were a prominent figure in the early colonial society of Melbourne, and they played an active role in the development of trade and diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Australia. He was involved in several important commercial ventures, including the establishment of the Netherlands Trading Society in Melbourne.
They were also respected members of the Dutch community in Australia, and Jan Willem was instrumental in the founding of the Dutch Club in Melbourne. He died in Melbourne in 1878 and was buried at the Melbourne General Cemetery. Daniel died in Amsterdam in 1890. Hi other brother Edward (born in 1835) became Vice-Consul in 1864 en died in Geneva in 1913.
Jan Willem an artist, traveller and writer
Jan Willem made watercolour sketches and photographs during his travels around Australia.
As a sketcher and photographer, he is known for a watercolour of a settler’s camp, dated 1855, watercolour landscapes and photographs of Aboriginal groups, dated 1860, and several watercolours of Sweers Island, Qld, one dated 1871 (all National Library of Australia [NLA]). Dutch Consul-General who was stationed in Melbourne, Vic, living in St. Kilda in about 1864.
Jan Willem Ploos Van Amstel travelled to Sweers Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, North Queensland on board the steamship Curaçao, in 1871. The NLA has Amstel’s book Verslag eener reis van den Nederlandschen Consul-General to Melbourne, aan boord van Zr. Ms. stoomschip Curacao, langs de oost-en noordkust van Australië, in Julij-October, 1871 . J. W. Ploos Van Amstel was a prolific report writer.
A portrait of Amstel appears in a group portrait wood engraving by Nicholas Chevalier , dated July 25, 1863, titled Farewell banquet to the French Consul (State Library of Victoria).
Co-Commissioner Jan de Groot
Together with Daniel Ploos van Amstel Jan de Groot was also a Commissioner for the Netherlands, during the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880. De Groot was a keen oberserve of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). He discussed with Australian officials the threat of a united German, which had just won the Franco-Prussian War which also led to the unification of Germany.
For its global expansion it also eyed on being able to establish ports on the Netherlands East Indies. For more details click here.
Below are the three references to Jan de Groot in this article of the Sydney Mail from 28 July 1879 (see full pdf article at the end).
“Amongst the passengers by the mail steamer for Sydney was Mr. De Groot, the commissioner appointed by the Government of Holland to represent that country at the forthcoming International Exhibition. Taking advantage of the few hours’ detention of the Siam at Melbourne, Mr. De Groot visited the Exhibition buildings, and had an interview with Mr. Levey, the secretary, on the subject of the representation of Holland. It is his intention to remain some time in Sydney, and then return home in order to make all necessary arrangements in connection with the Melbourne Exhibition next year.”
“Mr. J. de Groot, who came to Sydney as the commercial representative of several Netherland houses, has been introduced by the Dutch Consul as the official representative of Holland.”
“Mr. J. de Groot, Commissioner for the Netherlands ; Mr. Gustave Lix and M. Bourdil, of the French Commission, were on Tuesday presented to his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, as president of the Exhibition Commission, by the Executive Commissioner (Mr. P. A. Jennings).”