Sunday, July 18, 2004

Which ship did Jan de Liefde command during the 1st Anglo-Dutch War?

As I try to answer the remaining questions about Dutch ships and captains in the First Anglo-Dutch War, one that remains is "which ship did Jan Evertsz. de Liefde command?" I have long assumed that it was the Maecht van Dordrecht (Dordrecht), built as Witte de With's flagship in 1636. She was built to similar dimensions to Tromp's flagship, the Aemilia. In Maas feet, the dimensions were 132 foot length and a 32 foot beam. For my purposes, I guessed that would equate to something like 143ft x 35ft x 14-1/2ft (Amsterdam feet). Thanks to J. C. De Jonge, we know her armament in 1642: 10-24pdr, 14-18pdr, 16-12pdr, and 6-6pdr. She was very heavily armed, for the time. If you thought that the dimensions in Maas feet were Amsterdam feet, you would have tought that she was greatly over-armed. In fact, I estimate that her armament would have been about 54.6 tons, which would have only been 6.2% of an estimated 880 tons displacement. I estimate her burden calculated English fashion to have been about 650 tons (the size of a moderate-sized English 3rd Rate). Reading Vreugdenhil's list, you might be mislead to believe that the Dordrecht survived until 1665. That seems to be wrong. Dr. Elias summarizes a list from 1655 that omits the Dordrecht. I am even skeptical that she was in service in 1652. She was too large a ship to have only carried 38 guns during the war. If that is the case, then what ship did Jan de Liefde command? Dr. Ballhausen, at one point, says it was the Jonas, a name that appears no where else in the most widely available published sources. The only reason that might be a possibility is that a widely distributed reference that originated from the 1652 volume of the Hollandsche Mercurius says that Jan de Liefde's ship was hired by the Rotterdam Directors. That would seem to contradict my identification of his ship as the Dordrecht (Maagd van Dordrecht, or Maecht van Dordrecht). InDr. Ballhausen's book, the source of the Jonas name is an obscure reference: Rotterdamsche Historiebladen, Rotterdam, 1880, III Afdeeling, I, 472. The problem with that, besides my difficulty in checking the source, is that anything that Dr. Ballhausen wrote that relies on analysis is likely to be wrong (his track record is very bad). A further problem is that the 26 February 1652 Admiralty of Rotterdam list gives Jan de Liefde's ship as the Dordrecht (dimensions 116ft x 27ft x 11ft, with 26 guns). Actually, the dimesions were in Maas feet, so they were 106ft x 25ft x 10ft. Thanks to Dr. Weber, we know the dimensions for the Gorcum (or Gorinchem), and the Dordrecht was the same dimensions as her. Perhaps the Hollandsche Mercurius was wrong, and he commanded that ship for the war. It seems unlikely, however. I am hoping that the Hendrick de Raedt pamphlet might help resolve this issue, although I would wager that it will not. I expect that the list in the pamphlet, at best, will only list captains names. At worst case, it will only list numbers. We shall see in about a week, depending on the post.

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