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Ocean Liner History and Stories from the Sea, Past and Present. With an In Depth focus on Holland America Line

Baron, Jan.

Captain Jan Baron as seen in 1914 when in command of the ss  Nieuw Amsterdam (I) (e)

Captain Jan Baron was born on 21 of October 1860 in Kampen, the Netherlands.  Kampen is located in the Eastern half, about 60 kilometers North East of Amsterdam at the other side of  the dutch inland sea then called the Zuiderzee), as a son of father “Rijk Baron” and mother “Geesje Hoeve”. (a)

His father is mentioned as being a skipper. I have not been able to trace his school days yet or with which company he had his cadet ship and then sailed.

Which he must have done as he joined Holland America on the 14 October 1890 as a Fourth Officer. Council records indicates that the married on 28 June 1888 with Berber Burghout (born on 14 April 1864 at Harlingen)

There were 3 children:

Mrs. Baron and the three sons.

Rijk Baron; born 06 January 1889 at Harlingen. He also went to sea but as a purser. He passed away at sea when he missed a step when going into the lifeboats when his ship the ss Volendam was torpedoed on 30th. of August 1940. He was the only casualty. Everybody else, mainly children as this was a evacuation transport, were saved. His body drifted ashore  and he was buried at Tiree on the Clyde. A tombstone is still in place to indicate his grave.


Jan Baron; born 31 August 1890 at Charlois (suburb of Rotterdam)

Johan Gijsbert Baron  born 20 May 1893 at Charlois (suburb of Rotterdam)

(d) His wife was still alive when he passed away in 1924.

In February of 1890 year he had obtained his Captains ticket (Class A ticket as it was called then) so he must have been sailing for about 10 years before he joined Holland America. In what capacity we do not know but in 10 years of sailing he could have made captain/skipper of a sailing ship. So it must have been for a special reason, that at the age of 30 he joins as 4th. Officer with the company. Then his promotion goes very fast as in 2 years’ time he is chief officer and in 11 years’ time Captain. He had the age and he must have had the experience.

This photo shows Captain Jan Baron as Lieutenant 2nd class in the Dutch Royal Navy. (d)

In 1895 he is given leave to go for training as Reserve Officer in the Dutch Royal Navy. A program that had been established in 1894 and was supported by Holland America.

There is very little information in the archives, about his subsequent career, so what I know at the moment comes mainly from newspapers.

An early entry was for 1903, when the papers advise that the Captain and his ship the Sloterdijk (I) are overdue and missing. But he safely arrives eventually. This was voyage 7 of the Sloterdijk (Jan Baron was the first captain of the ship when it was new) and it turned out he had to sail at a very slow speed as the crankshaft was broken and with the ship having  only one propeller, he had to make sure that the crankshaft did not break completely. So instead of making a crossing of 14 days, it took almost a month to cross the ocean and then he called at New York for repairs instead of Newport News where the ship was supposed to go.

The ss Sloterdijk (I) The neutral lettering on the side of the ship indicates that this picture was taken  during the First World War. The Netherlands was not involved in that conflict so the arrangement was that neutral flagged ships would display ships name and home port on the side. And then one had to hope that the U-boat captain would first put his reading glasses on and then omitted from pulling the trigger.

In 1909  he is back in the newspapers, or better said his ship the ss Soestdijk (I)  is. This ships transports a replica of the “Haelve Maen” to New York.  This was a full size replica of the ship that brought Henry Hudson to the Manhattans, where then the Fort of Nieuw Amsterdam (later New York) was founded. In 1909 the Hudson-Fulton celebrations took place and hence the Dutch Government donated a copy of the sailing ship.

Captain Baron was appointed Knight in the order of Orange Nassau. (Note a Dutch knight is not the same as an English Knight, it is a lower ranking as the Dutch higher ranking and comparable is Officer. The Dutch and British system work the other way around) The exact date is unknown.

The Haelve Maen being loaded on board the ss Soestdijk (I) for transport to New York.

By 1911 he is captain of the 2nd largest ship of Holland America, the ss Nieuw Amsterdam (1) and that lands him in front of the Maritime Board of Inquiry in 1913 when he is accused to be complicit in the suicide of an engine room rating. The man had been admitted to hospital for diarrhoea and vomiting but on his own request (!!!) the doctor discharged him a day later. He must then have jumped overboard as he was not found again. A colleague assisted by his father then puts in a complaint. The captain had not even known about this until he was informed about the missing person. As was expected the Captain Baron was cleared of all blame.

By 1914 the First World War broke out and the Netherlands, and thus its fleet, was neutral.  Thus the ships could continue to sail and should not be torpedoed. The question was how good was the U boat Commander in adhering to the arrangement ? The ships sailed full with passengers trying to get home or out of Europe and the passengers on the voyage just after the outbreak of the war, were so grateful for a safe delivery to the USA, that the Captain and the ship received a special plaque as an acknowledgement.

Presented to Captain Jan Baron by his grateful passengers.

The Nieuw Amsterdam (I) was one of the few ships which sailed throughout the war, even after the unlimited Submarine war was declared by Imperial Germany. It carried eastbound full cargo holds of grain which were a life line for the Dutch population, especially in the West of the Netherlands. The ships speed made it reasonably safe against torpedoes. Still there was the danger of mines and on 31 January 1917 after arrival in New York, Captain Baron advises the press that when approaching the English port of Falmouth on 21 December 1917 a British minesweeper who had been dispatched to clear mines from the approach route to the port, hit a mine itself. 11 Officers and 7 crew died in the explosion which totally wrecked the navy ship. The Nieuw Amsterdam was only 5 miles away when the tragedy occurred.

Captain Jan Baron in his captains cabin on board the ss Rotterdam (II) (e)

Captain Jan Baron stayed with the ship until 1918. Then there is the transfer to the Flagship the ss Rotterdam (IV) This was as far as a captain could rise in the fleet. Being in command of the largest ship of the fleet and the largest passenger ship of the fleet. He replaced Commodore Geert Stenger who retired. The company had started having commodores in the fleet in 1893, following international example. But if one retired, the next one was not always directly appointed straight away.

the ss Nieuw Amsterdam I of 1906. When she entered service, she was the 10th. largest ship in the world.

In 1920 he is promoted to Commodore of the company and remains in command of its flagship the ss Rotterdam (IV) here he stays until he falls ill in late 1923. In the same year he is again in the newspapers as know having been awarded on 23 March received the “De Ruyter” medal in Silver. This is the highest civilian order the Dutch Maritime Industry has available. (Apart from the Gold version). The announcement does not say why he received it, but my educated guess was that he honoured for his state of service and being commodore of the Holland America Line.

The ss Rotterdam (IV) flagship of the company from 1908 to 1929

In November 1923 he is listed as “temporary” ashore due to illness. Temporary in HAL language indicates that it was expected that he would return in due course to his ship. Otherwise the entry would have read: dismissed to due ill health.  Cause of the illness is unknown but sadly he passes away on 04 February 1924 in Voorburg The Netherlands. The newspaper announcement reads: “After a short period with intense suffering”.  He left behind his wife,  3 childeren and two grand children. (e)

Capt. Jan Baron in later years. approx. around 1920 as he wears the Insignia of the “Knight of the order of Orange Nassau (e)

Mrs. Jan Baron – Berghout  around the same time (e)













a. Mr. Bert Kruidhof

b. Stamboek Personnel information Holland America Line archives as held by the Municipal ARchvies o the city  of Rotterdam

c. Newspaper articles : NRC Handelsblad, De Nieuwe Tilburgse Courant via Delpher

d. Mr. Pieter Hartog (Family of the captain)

e. Mr. Rijk Baron, grand, grandson of the captain.

last Updated: 07 September 2023

Sailing List (b)

Came from other company.

14 Oct. 1890       4th. Officer                         P. Caland                                           40,–

First mate (captains ticket A class) 13 Feb. 1890

22 May. 1890       3rd Officer                           P. Caland                                            50,–

19 Oct. 1890       2nd Officer                          P. Caland                                            70,–

05 Feb. 1891       2nd Officer                          Veendam                                           70,–

05 Jun. 1891       2nd Officer                          Obdam                                               70,–

Transferred in New York.

11 Jul. 1891          2nd Officer                       Veendam                                              70,–

Transferred in New York

11 Sep. 1891       Chief Officer                      Veendam                                           100,-

21 Jan. 1895       Chief Officer                      Werkendam                                      100,-

15 Jun. 1895       Chief officer                        P. Caland                                             100,-

30 jun. 1895        Temporary dismissed for Royal Navy duty six months leave

01 Oct. 1895       Chief Officer                      Amsterdam                                       100,-

19 Aug. 1896      Temporary dismissed for Royal Navy duty,

21 Mar. 1897      Roundtrip on the ss Pennsylvania until 26 April 1897

13 May 1897       Chief Officer                    For ss Rotterdam to Belfast   100,-

17 Jan. 1898       Chief Officer                      Rotterdam                                        110,-

15 Feb. 1900       Temporary dismissed for Royal Navy duty. 3 months duty.

26 May 1900       Chief Officer                      Rotterdam                                        110,-

30 May 1901       Temporary dismissed

12 Jun. 1901       Chief Officer                      Statendam                                        110,-

24 July 1901        Chief Officer                     Soestdijk                                            110,-

01 Oct. 1901       Captain                                Soestdijk                                            200,-

22 Feb. 1902       Temporary dismissed and to Hartlepool for ss Sloterdijk

10 Mar. 1902      Captain                               Sloterdijk                                          200,-

13 Sept. 1902     Temporary dismissed due to Illness.

23 Oct. 1902       Captain                               Sloterdijk                                           200,-

01 Jan. 1903       Promoted to Lieutenant First Class Royal Navy.

28 Jul. 1903         Captain                               Soestdijk                                            200,-

14 Sep. 1903       Captain                               Sloterdijk                                           200,-

29 Nov. 1904      Captain                               Soestdijk                                            200,-

17 Feb. 1905       Captain                               Amsteldijk                                         200,-

31 Jul. 1906         Captain                               Soestdijk                                            200,-

10 Jan. 1908       Captain                               Noordam                                           200,-

19 Feb. 1908       Captain                               Potsdam                                            200,-

07 Aug. 1908      Dismissed and put on standby

03 Sep. 1908       Captain                               Soestdijk                                            200,-

31 Oct. 1909       Temporary dismissed due to illness

22 Mar. 1910      Captain                               Noordam                                           200,-

01 Jan. 1911       Due to changes in wages, new pay                                          300,-

15 Jul. 1911         Temporary ashore and on standby

30 Jul. 1911         Captain                               Nieuw Amsterdam                          300,-

24 Nov. 1915      Captain                               Rotterdam                                        300,-

01 Jan. 1916       wages increased to                                                                      350,–

01 Sep. 1916       Captain                               Noordam                                           350,-

13 Oct. 1916       Captain                               Rotterdam                                        350,-

30 Oct. 1916       Captain                               Nieuw Amsterdam                          350,-

30 Jan. 1917       Captain                               Rotterdam                                        350,-

21 jun. 1917        Captain                               Nieuw Amsterdam                          350,–

05 Jan. 1918       Captain                               Rotterdam                                        350,–

01 Aug. 1918      wage increase to                                                                          400,-

01 Jul. 1919         wage increase to                                                                          800,-

01 Jan. 1920       wage increase to                                                                          825,-

15 Oct. 1920       wage increase to                                                                          850,-

01 Jan. 1921       wage increase to                                                                          900,-

15 Nov. 1923      Temporary ashore due to illness

04 Feb. 1924       Passed Away.



  1. Goedemorgen Capt. Albert,

    Uw Blog over de gezagvoerders van de H.A.L. is zeer interessant.

    Momenteel zijn wij met een 40-tal personen bezig om alle Nederlandse koopvaardijschepen “vanaf 1813 tot heden” in kaart te brengen en in onze database marhisdata.nl in te voeren. Niet alleen de gegevens van de schepen, maar ook de afbeelding en historie van het schip en hun gezagvoerders.
    Inmiddels zijn de meeste gezagvoerders tot 1900 door een van de medewerkers in kaart gebracht. Nu ben ik zelf begonnen met de gezagvoerders vanaf 1900 tot 1940 en enkele daarna op te zoeken en vervolgens dan in onze database op te nemen. Een zeer intensief werk, maar ook wel zeer interessant.
    Ik neem aan dat U er geen bezwaar tegen hebt als ik Uw gegevens overneem en daarbij de bronvermelding vermeldt ??
    Graag zou ik met U gegevens uitwisselen over de gezagvoerders.
    Inmiddels heb ik al vrij veel gegevens gevonden van de H.A.L. captains.
    Hierbij de eerste – Jan Baron.

    Jan werd geboren op 21 okt. 1860 te Kampen als z.v. Rijk Baron (schipper) en Geesje Hoeve.
    Jan (27) trouwde op 28 juni 1888 te Harlingen Met Berber Burghout (24) – geb. te Harlingen als d.v. Jan Burghout en Jantje Strak.
    Jan overleed op 04 febr. 1924 te Voorburg (63).

    Rott. Nieuwsblad 07.01.1924
    Rechtszaken. Arrondissement Rechtbank. Politierechter.
    Zitting van Maandag 7 januari. Het beloofde land van Hoboken.
    Nadat twee varensgezellen, de 20-jarige C. v.d. E. en de 21-jarige C. B. wegens desertie bij verstek veroordeeld waren tot respectievelijk 7en 14 dagen hechtenis, moesten achtereenvolgens terecht staan 2 varensgezellen, die monsterden voor een reis met de ROTTERDAM, gezagvoerder de heer J. Baron, van Rotterdam naar New York en terug. De beide beklaagden J. V. en J. A. v.d. B. deserteerden te Hoboken waar zij dachten, zoals zij voor mr. Yssel de Schepper beweerden, hun levenspositie te kunnen verbeteren. De toestand in het beloofde land van Hoboken bleek echter van dien aard te zijn, dat J. V. en J. A. v.d. B. zich genoodzaakt zagen, naar hun bakermat terug te keren, met het gevolg dat het O. M., waargenomen door mr. J. G. Holsteyn, tegen J. V. 14 dagen hechtenis eiste, hetgeen gehandhaafd bleef, aangezien beklaagde zich reeds eerder schuldig heeft gemaakt aan desertie, en tegen J. A. v.d. B., die „nog nooit gedeserteerd geworden geweest was”, 7 dagen hechtenis, hetgeen in een vonnis van 2 dagen gewijzigd werd.

    Alg. Handelsblad 07 febr. 1924
    Jan Baron †
    Te Voorburg is, 63 jaren oud, overleden de heer Jan Baron, gezagvoerder bij de Holland Amerika Lijn, waar hij 34 jaren gevaren heeft. Op 1 februari 1890 trad hij in dienst der Maatschappij als vierde officier op de P. CALLAND. Na op verschillende schepen de diverse rangen te hebben doorlopen, werd hij op 1 oktober 1901 kapitein, commandeerde als zodanig een aantal vrachtschepen en vervolgens de passagiersschepen POTSDAM, NOORDAM en NIEUW AMSTERDAM, om in 1915 de ROTTERDAM onder zijn bevel te krijgen. Dit bleef zijn boot tot november jl. toen hij door ziekte gedwongen, het varen er aan moest geven. Bij de Hudson-Fulton feesten heeft hij als kapitein van de SOESTDIJK het scheepje HALVE MAEN naar New York overgebracht. Bij die gelegenheid werd hij benoemd tot ridder in de orde van Oranje-Nassau.

    In de Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant van 07 febr. 1924 staat de overlijdens advertentie.

    Met vriendelijke groet,
    Bert Kruidhof.

    • Mijn dank voor uw reactie

      Ik werk gaarne mee, aangezien wat uw aan het ondernemen bent een enorme klus is. Ik moet nog steeds veel informatie op de blog zetten want tot de 50er jaren heb ik de bio informatie aardig compleet. Allesn mist er vak de familie achtergrond en dat kost veel tijd.

      Ik neem contact met uw op via mijn hobby email.


      Capt. Albert

  2. Dit ga ik van harte uitgebreid bestuderen als kleindochter van Johan Gijsbert Baron. Fantastisch dat u zoveel weet, ik weet nog aanvullende zaken.

    • Dank U wel,

      als uw nog aanvullende informatie hebt, of photos, vooral van op zee, dan houdt ik mij van harte aanbevolen om de biografie teverbeteren en aantevullen.


      Capt. Albert

  3. Goedemiddag Alpert,

    U kunt contact met me opnemen ik ben de achterkleinzoon van Jan Baron, en heb van mijn vader de kleinzoon van Jan Baron het nodige aan fotos’s e.d. gekregen. helaas kan ik het meeste niet plaatsen.

  4. Goedemiddag Capt. Albert,
    Ik ben rijk Baron de achterkleinzoon van Jan Baron.
    Ben in het bezit van wat foto’s alleen heb ik geen idee waar deze genomen zijn. Gekregen van mijn vader Jan Baron zijn kleinzoon. U kunt contact met mij opnemen.
    Hartelijke groet
    Rijk Baron

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