Owner of the Koning Willem II


Mr. Pieter Varkevisser (1793 – 1862) of Scheveningen, Holland was the owner of the Koning Willem II. A great deal is known about this remarkable man, thanks to the research and writings done by author/historian Mrs. Nel Noordervliet–Jol of Scheveningen.

The picture she paints of Mr. Varkevisser is one of an extremely gifted, caring and generous individual. Extracts from his book-keeping ledgers which have been preserved, show, that he had a workers sickness compensation plan in place, from which he paid Doctors/Hospital accounts, and entitlements to employees who were ill.

When one of his employees drowned whilst rescuing the occupants of a stricken vessel, he personally looked after the widow and her 5 children as he was extremely concerned about their wellbeing. The moneys collected for the bereaved family he invested astutely, and from this he supported the family, educated the children and on reaching adulthood paid each a substantial sum of money.

Mr. Varkevisser was a man who had a substantial influence on the people of Scheveningen as a great number of them were employed by him. He had followed in his father’s footsteps as a shipowner, trader and stevedore, trading under the name of “Pieter Varkevisser and Sons”. He owned 13 seagoing trading vessels in Scheveningen and also owned shares in another 10 Barque and Frigate vessels in Rotterdam. As well as being a wealthy shipowner, he also owned houses, a farm, and timberyard and was a shareholder in several Insurance Companies.

In addition, Mr. Varkevisser was also appointed to many influential positions in business and public life. One interesting appointment he held, was that of Committee member of the “Royal North and South Holland Rescue Company” from its founding in 1824 until 1861, when he resigned because of age. This Company has a rich history of heroic rescues and is still active today, co-ordinating all sea rescues along the Dutch coastline.

Mr. Varkevisser, because of his long association with all types of marine matters and business acumen, was regarded as an honourable and most important figurehead in Scheveningen and other places in the Netherlands. He was an experienced and responsible shipowner, who intimately knew the requirements of outfitting a seagoing vessel. After he died in 1862, the Chamber of Commerce of The Hague City Council wrote this tribute about him “well versed in the Wholesale Trade, Marine and Insurance matters, which he gave his everything for years with unending zeal, despite times of adversity not letting frustration interfere with his enterprising goals. Many positions, confidently placed upon him by his fellow men, were occupied by him”. To sum up he was actively involved in anything that mattered in his community.

Pieter Varkevisser about 1855  Courtesy Museum Scheveningen