Johan DeWitt soon
brought the First Anglo-Dutch Wars (1652 - 1654) to an end by accepting
the demand of Oliver Cromwell of England that Holland abolish the office
of stadholder (governor), which was formerly held by the prince of Orange.
His defence for his actions became a key statement of Dutch republican
When Charles II was restored to the English throne in 1660,
the office of stadholder was restored. However, Johan DeWitt blocked the
elevation on William III of Orange. The demands of Charles on behalf of
William, his nephew, and the deepening commercial and colonial rivalry
between the Dutch and the English led to the Second Anglo-Dutch Wars in
1665. Under the guidance of Johan DeWitt, the Dutch navy inflicted major
defeats on the English. In 1667, Charles accepted the Treaty of Breda and
thus ending the war.
The Dutch then entered in a Triple Alliance (in
1668) with England and Sweden to halt the French invasion of Spanish
Netherlands, however in 1672 Louis XIV of France persuaded Charles II to
abandon the Dutch. When French armies overran Holland, the Dutch people
turned to William III for leadership. Johan DeWitt resigned on 4 August
While Johan DeWitt and his brother Cornelis DeWitt were
imprisoned on charges of plotting against William III, the prince of
Orange, they were murdered in The Hague by a mob of William's supporters
on the 20th August 1672.
In the book 'The Dutch Seaborne Empire' by C.
R. Boxer under the chapter 'Burgher - Oligarchs and Merchants Adventures',
Johan DeWitt was described as "the perfect Hollander" and "one of the
greatest Netherlanders of all time" by Sir William Temple. A romanticised
version of the story of the two brothers is also depicted in 'The Black
Tulip' by Alexandre Dumas.
From research obtained from the Centraal
Bureau Voor Genelogie, The Hague, the last of Johan DeWitt's male
descendants perished in the 18th century. This was confirmed by the letter
from Hoge Raad Van Adel, The Secretary of the Supreme Council of Nobility,
Netherlands. According to an article by C.A. van Sypesteyn, published in
De Nederlandsche Heraut 1886, the last male descendants of Johan DeWitt
and Cornelis DeWitt died at the end of the 18th century. The DeWitt family
from Melaka is not directly descended from them. However, the author
believes that other branches of the DeWitt's from Dordrecht may still be