Friday, December 19, 2003
My theory about the Battle off Dover, 19/29 May 1652 My thoughts had turned to the opening battle of the First Anglo-Dutch War. Leading up to this encounter, the Dutch fleet had been driven from the continental side of the Channel, due to bad weather. They had lost anchors and cables in the process. They headed for the South Foreland, to seek shelter. On the afternoon of 29 May (I prefer new style dates, using the Dutch preference), Tromp encountered Jacob Huyrluyt, Joris van der Zaan, and 7 merchantmen. They described an encounter they had, on 22 May, with Anthony Young's small detachement. They had, at first, refused to render the salute demanded by the English. Shots were fired, and the Dutch ultimately complied. When Lt-Admiral Tromp heard the story, he seems to have been greatly angered. He had already sent Jan Thyssen (commanding the Vlissingen DIrectors' ship, Witte Lam, then carrying as few as 32 guns) and Pieter Aldertszoon (I believe his ship was the Noorder-Kwartier Admiralty ship, Mem>Burcht), into the Downs. They met with Commodore Nehemiah Bourne, telling him of the Dutch plans. The Dutch fleet then entered the Downs. The English demanded that the Dutch salute their sovereignty over the seas around England. Commodore Bourne came out of the Downs with his squadron, while General-at-Sea Robert Blake came from Rye Bay. Blake was said to be a friend of Tromp's, but you wouldn't have known, by what proceeded. The English fired one shot, which they did to prompt the Dutch to strike (lower their flags in salute). I believe that Tromp, in his angry state, replied with a broadside, and the battle was started. The largest Dutch ship present was Tromp's flagship, the 54-gun Brederode. The Dutch totalled 42 ships, but all were smaller than the largest English ships. The English had about 21 ships, with some smaller craft. One of the English ships was the merchantman Reuben. The result was that the Vlissingen Directors' ship, the St. Laurens, 30 guns, was captured along with the Amsterdam Directors' ship, St. Maria, 28 guns. The St. Maria was thought be sinking, so the English abandoned her. The Dutch found her abandoned, the next day, and towed her home.