IN THEE STAITS SERVIS 125 ing the bad winter weather, stimulating both trade and privateering; though as our period wore on navies increasingly sought to maintain operations during the win ter. The following spring the race was re-run. Manpower was critical to national survival and shortages were ubiquitous. During the Anglo-Dutch alliance the emigrant seamen were no longer aiding an enemy, but concern over the numbers still prompted the English Privy Council's attention. Nonetheless, securing the return of seamen even from an allies' fleet could be difficult.31 In 1691 a 'highly displeased' William III had a Royal Navy captain twice reprimanded for pressing British seamen resident at Rotterdam. The practise was 'contrary to all methods, and in open breach of the laws of all nations'.3- Doubtless William's anger was due to the theft of the hard-pressed Dutch navy's manpower resources from under their very noses, as much as the infringement of the stronger of his two territories on the weaker. The British and Dutch naval recruitment systems are usually classified as fun damentally opposite: the British method as 'unfree' compulsion and the Dutch as 'free' or voluntary. In the British case this is clearly based on the infamous press but tends to ignore the place of volunteers that has been conclusively demonstrat ed by N.A. M. Rodger, B. Capp and J.D. Davies.33The volume of British serving abroad was sufficient enough for the press to be extended to foreign merchantmen and warships. James, Duke of York's General Instructions to Captains1663, spelt out that any foreign ship met with was to be searched for English seamen; a prac tice that often embroiled the British with neutrals.34 In the Downs, January 1694, the Swedish warship Hope was boarded by a party of four British seamen from Garland. The Swedish crew forcibly ejected them. Later, by way of reprisal, the Swedish lieutenant, Nils von der Wyk (the senior officer in the absence of the cap tain in London), was lured ashore and severely beaten by the British captain Robbeson and then imprisoned. Hope s remaining officers had her main battery loaded for action.35 With Anglo-Dutch relations improved from the late 1670s, more tact and sensitivity might produce the desired result: Captain Wyborne told Pepys around 1680 that he had found 52 Englishmen aboard a large Dutch war ship 'which (according to practice) he demanded as our King's subjects from her captain'. The latter was willing to surrender all his English crew, but 30 or more had wives in Holland: Wyborne 'thought it reasonable to leave them' and only took about 20 men.36 By the present period of study, the use of force was deemed incompatible with the Dutch concept of freedom. The Dutch did, however, occasionally use force against prisoners of war and enemy seamen (merchant and naval) at sea. In 1652 the crew of an English prize were dispersed amongst the Dutch Mediterranean squadron and denied shore leave to prevent their escape.37 Sweeping down the English east coast in 1652, Maarten Tromp took fishing and merchant crews off their ships and forced the vast bulk into Dutch service. One Dover skipper had all his crew taken including his son. He later managed to go aboard Tromp's flag ship in an attempt to get his men back, but 'he could not prevail, but Tromp would have persuaded him to have served, promising very great terms to him, but he refused, and had only his son away with him. [The Dutch are so] weakly manned: that they take all the English they can, and force them to serve them.' 38

Tijdschriftenbank Zeeland

Archief | 2004 | | pagina 127