Monday, June 28, 2004

Dutch ships captured by the English at the Battle of the Gabbard

I would have thought that hired merchant ships would not have seen service after capture, but that was not the case for the ships captured at the Battle of the Gabbard in 1653. What I think is interesting is to look at the ships that survived to the Restoration and past, as they obviously were valued.

Two of the captured ships are listed as 5th Rates in Frank Fox's book, Great Ships: the battlefleet of King Charles II. They were the Half Moon (Halve Maan) and the Rosebush (Rozeboom). Two others were 4th Rates: Mathias (Sint Matheeus) and Elias (same name in both Dutch and English service). The Mathias was a really good ship that came to a bad end in 1667, when she was scuttled during the Dutch raid on the Medway. It says something that she had served for 15 years in the English service, after being captured. Her Dutch dimensions were 144ft x 36ft (unknown depth in hold)(Amsterdam feet of 283mm). The dimensions for the Elias were 132.5ft x 30ft x 13ft. She carried 34 guns: 4-24pdr, 14-12pdr, 10-8pdr, 4-6pdr, and 2-3pdr. The only other ship that we have the Dutch data for is the Rozeboom. The dimensions were 118ft x 27ft x 12.5ft. Her guns were 12-12pdr, 8-8pdr, 6-6pdr, and 2-3pdr.

I keep hoping that documents will surface that will fill in the (big) gaps in our knowledge of Dutch ships during the First Anglo-Dutch War. There is some reason for hope, as Dr. Elias had seen and noted a good number of documents, in the period 1916 to 1930, that I have not yet been able to find (or rather, Rick van Velden had not been able to find). The titles and dates listed in Schetsen uit de Geschiedenis van ons Zeewezen really look promising.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Noorderkwartier ship, the Jonge Prins in July 1654

This is another in the continuing series of posts about Dutch ships from the 1654 list (the "Staet van Oorlogh te Water voor den Jaere 1654").

Ship:Jonge Prins
Date built:1634
Captain:Cornelis Barentszoon Slordt
Length:120 feet
Beam:28 feet
Hold:11-1/2 feet
Brass Guns:2-24pdr, 2-12pdr
Iron Guns:8-12pdr, 8-8pdr, 2-5pdr, 4-4pdr, and 2-2pdr

Block coefficients and displacement

Displacement is the basis for comparison between fleets in Jan Glete's book, Navies and Nations. It turns out that Jan Glete is using the navigational draft for computing block coefficient and displacement. I can understand that it might be "fair game" to define a method and that would be a useful way of camparison. One issue is that you would not be able to compare his displacements and block coefficients with other sources, where they are computed using different standards.

Both Ab Hoving and Frank Fox arrive at much greater block coefficients than Jan Glete. The reason is largely that the more standard block uses the mean draft, rather than the navigational draft (the maximum draft). Jan Glete's block is larger for the same displacement, so the block coefficient is smaller.

Block coefficient = (displacement x 35 cubic feet/ton) / (water line x beam x draft)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Dutch captains: Adriaan Janszoon den Oven and Abel Roelants ("Vader Abel")

During 1652, Adriaan Janszoon den Oven commanded the Zeeland yacht, Gloeyenden Oven (14 guns). He was also called Adriaan Janszoon den Gloeyenden Oven. Possibly, the yacht named after him, as maybe it was hired from him, with him as captain in 1652.

By the end of 1652, another captain had taken command of the yacht. Captain den Oven commanded the Zeeland ship Neptunus (28 guns) at the Battle of the Gabbard, where the ship was lost to the English. That is why he was absent from Scheveningen. The yacht, the Gloeyenden Oven was serving as a fireship at the Gabbard, and was captured by the English and taken to the Thames.

Captain den Oven had been made a captain in 1636. He fought under Evertsen against the Dunkirk admiral Collaert in 1636. In 1637-1639, he distinguished himself against the Dunkirkers and at the Battle of the Downs. In 1643, he was in the blockade service in front of Dunkirk. In 1645-1646, he fought against the Dunkirkers.

As for Abel Roelants, he definitely served the Admiralty of Rotterdam. It seems that he took command of Witte de With's old flagship, the Prinses Louise (36 guns) in early May 1653. There is a note that in late 1652, the Prinses Louise carried as many as 46 guns. I really would like to find the documents that are mentioned in the note, as they would seem to be of great interest: List of ships of the Admiralty of Rotterdam near the letters of this admiralty, and "Hare Hoog Mogenden, of 27 September and 18 November 1652).

Apparently, Abel Roelants was a division commander (Rear-Admiral) in Egbert Meeuwsen Kortenaer's squadron in October 1653 (one of 16 ships). The other division commander was Gideon de Wildt, who as Vice-Admiral in Kortenaer's squadron. Kortenaer flew his flag on the Brederode. I imagine that Gideon de Wildt was still using the Amsterdam ship Vrede (44 guns) as his flagship and Abel Roelants was probably still using the Prinses Louise. I don't have any information about Abel Roelants, after 1653.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Royal Navy: A History from the earliest times to the present, Vol.II, page 431 and note

Even the most prominent authors sometimes "gets it wrong". Mostly, it is due to lack of knowledge of the material in question. That seems to be the case with William Laird Clowes and his monumental 7 volume work, The Royal Navy: a history from the earliest times to the present. In volume II, page 431, and note 2 on that page, he makes several errors. On December 25, 1666, an English squadron commanded by Robert Robertson, captain of the Warspite, fought an action with five Dutch ships. He says that the English captured three ships, the Cleen Harderwijk (38 guns), the Leijden (36 guns), and the Els (36 guns). In his footnote, he notes that the contemporary accounts called the ships Clean Harder, Leyden, and Eeles. The only one of the ships that he got right was the Leiden. Both Leijden and Leyden were acceptable, contemporary spellings for the ship that had fought in the First Anglo-Dutch War. The footnote is closer to the right names. The first ship was actually the Klein Harder. The last ship was the Elias. The Elias seems to have been the only one which was taken into the English service. Frank Fox lists her in an appendix to his book, Great Ships: The Battlefleet of King Charles II. He gives the English dimensions as 78ft x 27ft x 8ft, with an English burden of 302 tons. Her armament was 34 guns. My estimate for her Dutch dimensios are: 102ft x 30.5ft x 9ft. I am somewhat skeptical of these dimensions. The length seems short for the beam and the depth also seems too small. We have to use the few cases where we definitely have both the English and Dutch dimensions as a guide, and what I have given are based on the average factors.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

There will be a new research result posted at

At some point, relatively soon, there should be a new "Research Result" posted to It is a comprehensive listing of information about Directors ships from 1652 to 1653. It is mostly in outline form, but parts have more discussion, based on what is known from sources. If you want a copy of the Word document version, I can send that upon request (e-mail). I can't guarantee that I would be able to reply before Tuesday night, as I will be traveling on a long weekend.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Jan Glete's assumptions about calculating Dutch and English sailing warship displacements

Jan Glete is an acknowledged expert on sailing warships. I have found his two-volume work, Navies and Nations to be very helpful in my research. His bibliography and notes are comprehensive. A key aspect in his work is comparison of navies by displacement. To do that, he developed a system for estimating displacements.

Jan Glete assumed, for various reasons, that English ships had finer lines than Dutch ships. My impression is that Ab Hoving agrees with that. When he designed the lines for the new Zeven Proviniën, he gave her very full lines. Jan Glete made the following assumptions:

  • Even in the 1650's Dutch ships were heavily armed, mainly with iron guns, which were heavier than brass guns.
  • The Danish and Swedish navies found ships built by Dutch design principles to be slower than ships built using English design principles.
  • The French found that English prizes sailed better than Dutch prizes.
  • English ship design methods required finer lines than more boxlike Dutch lines. Ab Hoving's book about Nicolaes Witsen illustrates this.
  • In retrospect, Jan Glete wonders if the difference might not be so great. He also now thinks that Dutch drafts might be greater than he had previously thought.

    This is more information transcribed from the "Staet van Oorlogh te Water voor den Jaere 1654", from July 1654. The two ships that I list here were both active participants in the First Anglo-Dutch War. I expect that the armaments listed here are either that carried during the war, or at least representative of what they carried. The Campen had been Joris van der Zaan's ship in the opening act of the First Anglo-Dutch War, when Jacob Huyrluyt and Joris van der Zaan had been convoying 7 Straatsvaarders returning from the Mediterranean. They were stopped by Anthony Young, off the Start. They exchanged a few shots, and then continued on to meet Tromp and his fleet, near Dover, leaving their charges behind, at the Start. Willem van der Zaan took command, after the Battle of Portland, where his brother had been killed.

    Date built:1645
    Captain:Jan Egbertszoon Ooms
    Length:120 feet
    Beam:29-3/4 feet
    Hold:11-3/4 feet (estimated)
    Brass Guns:4-18pdr, 6-6pdr, and 2-4pdr
    Iron Guns:14-12pdr and 8-6pdr

    Date built:1652
    Captain:Willem van der Zaan
    Length:128-1/2 feet
    Beam:32 feet
    Hold:13 feet
    Brass Guns:4-18pdr, 6-12pdr, and 4-6pdr
    Iron Guns:16-12pdr and 10-8pdr

    Wednesday, June 09, 2004

    The Battle of Plymouth

    I did another simulation run of the Battle of Plymouth scenario. It only confirms my view that the English did very poorly, when they should have given the Dutch a sharp defeat. I tend to blame Sir George Ayscue's leadership, and have wondered if he was relieved from his command due to his performance. Frank Fox says that it was not the case, and that it was more for political reasons. Sir George Ayscue served after the Restoration, so he must have been viewed as Royalist sympathizer by the new administration.

    Tuesday, June 08, 2004

    Dutch guns

    From my perspective, there are many unanswered questions about Dutch guns in the 17th Century. My basic concerns are to learn dimensions and weights for the different types. The types are:

  • normal Iron guns
  • normal brass guns
  • chambered brass guns
  • drakes or draakjes
  • "light" brass guns
  • "klokwijs" guns (with a flared muzzle)
  • steenstukken (Jan Glete says that these were swivels)
  • What I want to be able to do is to estimate weights for all the types. For example, I have quite detailed information about guns from 1628 to 1633 and for 1654. I want to be able to do a weight analysis for ships, and that means knowing the gun weights.

    Sunday, June 06, 2004

    There is new information at

    I just posted two new items at One has three Dutch guns from the 17th Century and the other is a table of gun data from the same source.

    Portrait of Sir George Ayscue (another experiment)

    I tried to do a lot more digital painting on this portrait of Sir George Ayscue, and it probably isn't as successful as the De Ruyter portrait. I thought it fitting that De Ruyter's opponent at the Battle of Plymouth would be the next portrait that I attempted. This is done after Peter Lely's portrait of Ayscue.

    Sir George Ayscue after Peter Lely

    Portrait of Michiel De Ruyter (an experiment)

    As an experiment, I tried doing as portrait of Michiel De Ruyter, after a well-known painting. My picture is a combination of pencil and graphic painting. I wanted to see what I might be able to quickly do. If I can come up with a reasonable approach, I want to do portraits, in a common style, of commanders during the Anglo-Dutch Wars.

    Portrait of Michiel de Ruyter after Bol

    Portrait of Michiel De Ruyter after the painting by Ferdinand Bol.

    Saturday, June 05, 2004

    The "Gulden Dolphijn" or "Dolphijn"

    The dimensions that I just listed for the Gulden Dolphijn are those from the "Staet van Oorlogh te Water voor den Jaere 1654", but they considerably differ from those listed in the 26 February 1652 Admiralty of Rotterdam list. In that list, they are: 110ft x 25.5ft x 12.5ft (not 116ft x 25ft x 12ft). That converts to more reasonable dimensions in Amsterdam feet: 120ft x 27.75ft x 13.5ft (generously rounded). The 26 February 1652 list, in its entirety is available at: Research Results. I have found that it is not so unusual to have conflicting information about dimensions (sadly).

    This is more information transcribed from the "Staet van Oorlogh te Water voor den Jaere 1654", from July 1654. I have not seen this information in published form. Vreugdenhil only published the dimensions, not the armament details or names of captains. Since all Rotterdam ships are said have dimensions in Maas feet (308mm), I have done the conversion to Amsterdam feet (283mm), as well.

    Date built:1641
    Captain:Gillis Tijssen Campen
    Length:128 feet
    Beam:31-1/2 feet
    Hold:12 feet
    Brass Guns:4-10pdr, 2-12pdr, 4-8pdr, and 4-4pdr
    Iron Guns:16-12pdr, and 4-8pdr

    Ship:Gulden Dolphijn
    Date built:1634
    Captain:Paulus van den Kerckhoff
    Length:116 ft (Maas), 126-1/2 ft (Amsterdam)
    Beam:25 ft (Maas), 27-1/4 ft (Amsterdam)
    Hold:12 ft (Maas), 13 ft (Amsterdam) /td>
    Brass Guns:4-chambered 24pdr, 2-chambered 5pdr
    Iron Guns:16-12pdr, 8-6pdr, and 2-4pdr

    Thursday, June 03, 2004

    Rationale for tonnage calculations

    There are several reasons for being concerned with estimating dimensions and doing tonnage calculations for sailing warships. One is for analytical reasons. Tonnage seems to be a reasonable metric for comparing fleets. Alternatively, you might estimate displacement. Tonnages (burden or burthen) is easier, as displacement requires estimating drafts and block coefficients. Tonnages only require estimating beam and keel length. Usually, we know either the keel length, length on the gun deck, or length from stem to sternpost. We are then reduced to comparing with the few known examples to estimate the values for a new ship. Even harder is to do estimates for Dutch ships, which were measured on a totally different basis (length from stem to sternpost and beam inside the planking).

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