Leeghwater was born as Jan Adriaanszoon. Only later did he adopt the name Leeghwater, from laag water or low water. It is not clear exactly how the prevalent spelling of Leeghwater’s name came about. Leeghwater himself spelt his name alternatively as Leegwater, Leegh-water, Leeghwater and Leechwater. He was born and living in De Rijp in a house on the opposite of the old townhall. Official documents of the time also mention Laechwater and Laachwater. Leeghwater, as a hydraulic engineer, was pivotal to land reclamation programs along the flooded coast of the Netherlands. He was involved in the reclamation of the Beemster polder, the first polder in the world created from a lake by draining the water using wind mills. The reclamation of the Beemster was started in 1607 and Leeghwater supervised the milling. Between 1607 and 1635, the polders Purmer, Schermer and Heerhugowaard were also created under his supervision. He was also known for bell casting and clock making in the church towers in Amsterdam.
Leeghwater was among the first to advocate reclamation of the Haarlemmermeer, a lake whose growth presented a danger to the surrounding towns (several villages were swallowed and even Amsterdam and Leiden were eventually threatened). When this was finally accomplished in 1852, it was with three large steam-driven pumping installations; one at Lijnden, Kaag, and Cruquius. The installation at Kaag, the Gemaal De Leeghwater, built with a steam engine in 1845 to pump water into the Kaag lake, was named after him. The other two men honored in this way were Frans Godard baron van Lynden van Hemmen, who wrote the 1821 book ‘Verhandeling over de droogmaking van het Haarlemmermeer’ with the 3-way steam pump reclamation plan, and Nicolaas Kruik, who wrote an early “water defence” plan in 1737 using windmills.
Jan Janse Weltevree
Jan Janse de Weltevree was born around 1595, according to Hendrik Hamel in De Rijp, though other sources speak of Vlaardingen. He signed on the ship ‘Hollandia’ and went on March 17, 1626 to Dutch East Indies. He arrived in 1627 from Jakarta on the ship ‘Ouwerkerck’. On July 16, 1627, the ‘Ouwerkerck’ with its captain Jan Janse de Weltevree captured a Chinese junk and its 150-man crew bound for the port of Amoy, China. Seventy Chinese were brought aboard the Ouwerkerck. Jan Janse de Weltevree, Dirk Gijsbertsz from De Rijp, and Jan Pieterse Verbaest from Amsterdam, all from Holland, along with thirteen other Dutch crewmen went aboard the junk to sail the vessel to Tainan, Formosa. The Ouwerkerck reached safe harbor after battling a fierce summer storm that swept the area.
The storm-tossed Chinese junk carrying the hapless Dutch and Chinese ended up on the shores of an island off Korea’s west coast, during the reign of the Joseon Dynasty. Although the details of what happened next are unclear, the Chinese, with a five-to-one advantage, overpowered the Dutch survivors, captured Jan Janse de Weltevree, Dirk Gijsbertsz and Jan Verbaest, and handed them over to the Korean Joseon authorities.
The Joseon Dynasty of that time enforced an isolation policy so the captured privateers could not leave the country. Jan Janse de Weltevree took the name Pak Yǒn (박연, Pak is a Korean surname.) and became an important government official. He married a Korean woman with whom he had two children.
According to Jan Janse de Weltevree, the two other captives from the Ouwerkerck were killed in 1636 during a raid of the Manchu. They would have fought in the Korean army.
In 1653 the ship ‘De Sperwer’ was wrecked en route from Jakarta to Taiwan, with Hendrick Hamel on board, and Jan Janse de Weltevree acted as a translator and adviser. This group of 36 Dutchmen stayed in Korea for 13 years, working as military advisors to the Joseon Army, until 8 of them escaped to Nagasaki in 1666. Hendrick Hamel authored the accounts of his stay in Korea, from which we hear about Jan Janse de Weltevree.