Jan David Pasteur (1753-1804), Dutch naturalist

Jan David Pasteur, born 23 May 1753 in Leyden, died 9 January 1804, held important positions of state after the revolution of 1795. This did not stop him from becoming one of the country’s most prolific writers. He also translated more than 80 works, Cook’s travels, among them. He also wrote a “Condensed Natural History of Mammals in 3 parts for young people”, which was well presented, detailed and richly illustrated.

Source: Regt, J.W.: Neërlands beroemde personen. Schoonhoven, 1869.

Jan David Pasteur, was born on 23 May 1753 in Leyden of a wealthy middle-class family. After studying ancient languages at the Latin School, he took up Law, intending to make it his career. On 13 Feb. 1776, at the age of 23, he became Commissioner of Customs and Excise Taxes and secretary in Gravendeel, where he spent his spare time studying his favourite subject, Natural History. However, political troubles in which he was involved brought this to an end. In 1795 the Provisional Representatives of Holland instructed him and naval commander Jan Louis Vitriarius to go to England to obtain the return of the Dutch ships held there, to re-establish communication between the two nations, and also to inform the captains of the situation at home and to convey the Government’s wish that they leave Great Britain with their ships as soon as possible and put into a harbour of a friendly nation. After the success of such a mission he was appointed member of the Republic Navy in 1796 and also representative of the first National Assembly. That same year, in October, he was sent to Paris, together with Lestevenon and Meyer as commissioners of the Batavian Republic, to attend the peace negotiations between de la Croix of France and the English ambassador Malmesbury. Back home he opened the first session of the Second National Assembly on 1 Sept. 1797. During the revolution of Jan. 1798 he was imprisoned in Huis ten Bosch but was released in June of the same year. As soon as constitutional order had returned in Sept 1798 he was appointed Secretary of the Second Chamber of the Representative Body and in October 1801, when a new constitution had been enacted, he took on the post of Secretary of the Legislative Body of the Batavian Republic. He died on 9 Jan 1804, leaving a widow, Johanna Hendrika Kraane, whom he married in 1778, and two sons and two daughters.

The poet P.M.Marron wrote an epitaph for him and A.J.Verbeek gave his obituary in the “Konst-en Letterbode”, 1804.

He wrote an Abridged Natural history of Mammals and translated more than 80 books and 300 pamphlets, i.e.

    • Le Vaillant’s Travels into the interior parts of Africa
    • Cogan’s Journey by the borders of the Rhine
    • De Florian’s Numa Pompilius
    • Mercier’s The year 2440
    • Cook’s Voyages Around the World
    • Faujas de Saint-Fond’s Histoire naturelle de la Montagne de Saint-Pierre de Maestrich

Source: Aa, Abraham J. van der: Biographisch woordenboek der Nederlanden. D. 15. Haarlem, 1872.

Translated from Dutch by Jan David Pasteur.

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