IN THEE STAITS SERV1S 131 'his Majesty's intentions for bringing seamen over did not comprehend those taken in mer chant ships through their own carelessness in not taking or waiting for convoys but such seamen as were lately and would be willing to be in his Majesty's service.'70 To make matters worse, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, those returning sus pected of having deserted from foreign service were automatically imprisoned pending investigation: hardly an encouragement for these men to return.71 Given the circumstances, we should not be surprised when, in 1667, Downing thought that not even one out of every six prisoners of war released actually returned to Britain.72 Naval wage levels and incidence of payment Reflecting Dutch superior financial techniques and means, naval wage arrears in the Republic were under more control than in Britain, usually running to months rather than years at the peak of Dutch strength. Even the under-resourced Zeeland admiralty compared with the larger and richer centres of Amsterdam and Rotterdam - usually managed to both keep arrears to a minimum whilst provid ing wartime wage increases and bounties.73 Failure to pay crews promptly enough was courting mutiny aboard ship or riot ashore - seamen were very often prone to disorder when ashore in any case. The Rotterdam admiralty was besieged on occa sion by unpaid crews or their wives,74 whilst in Britain Cromwell himself was once in danger of his life from an armed and angry mob of seamen that had marched to London.75 Such rioting was more than an inconvenience - to many in the elite it threatened what they saw as the proper order and very structure of society. The Zeeland States deputy Michiel Michielzon waxed lyrical on a 'putrid gang of sailors' who interrupted a meeting of the Zeeland States in 1676 - demanding their wages with threats of violence. For Michielzon, their behaviour was evidence that 'the mob gradually becomes more and more the boss'.76 Yet it was not only the seamen's reaction to wage arrears that threatened the established order of things: Dutch basic naval wage rates themselves were market-driven; this offered the sea men some leverage over the authorities they tried to avoid service until wages rose. In 1665, Johan de Witt complained one day there must be something determined about keeping wages under an iron law, with out that anyone can have some hope of a rise. Otherwise the seaman is the master and the State left at the discretion of the mob.' 77 Whilst market forces and the consequent increased influence of 'the rabble' may have been seen as a critical weakness in the wider social and political sense, we shall see below that the resultant basic wages gave the Dutch an advantage over the British. Dutch finances particularly struggled to find money to pay wages during the First Anglo-Dutch War. At Leghorn, Henry Appleton, the British commander, was outnumbered two to one by the Dutch Mediterranean squadron.78 Appleton thought he could reduce the odds against him: he knew that 200 English and

Tijdschriftenbank Zeeland

Archief | 2004 | | pagina 133