132 IN THEE STAITS SERVIS Scots seamen were aboard the Dutch warships and that the crews were owed fif teen months' wages. He asked the administration at home for ready cash to offer these British seamen two or three months' pay: this would 'entice' the majority from Dutch service.79 It is unknown whether Appleton was successful in his request; given the pressure on British finances, it is highly unlikely. The British were blockaded in Leghorn and heavily defeated in 1653, leading to their with drawal from the Mediterranean. Besides wage arrears, another severe problem in Britain was the issue of bond pledge 'tickets' instead of hard cash. Seamen were able - in theory to redeem these tickets at the navy Pay Office in London. In practice this involved travel from the port of discharge up to London as well as extra living expenses for an indeterminate period whilst they stayed in London trying to get the Pay Office to disburse their wages. There was, of course, no guarantee that money would be available. This meant that seamen were effectively forced to sell their tickets at dis count to petty brokers to obtain ready cash quickly, with the discount decided for practical purposes by the broker on the likelihood of his recompense from the Pay Office.80 British finance was already in trouble in 1665, in 1666 ticket discounts were 20% to 25%. With finance in total collapse by 1667 they reached 60% that June.81 One month after the Medway disaster British deserters were still joining the Dutch; the Rotterdam Gazette albeit a biased source servicing an ex-patriate and exile community reported tickets as virtually worthless. Returning Dutch prisoners told that Royal Navy seamen 'greatly complayned that in many monthes they had received noe wages, whereby they were soe impoverished, and in want, that they were forced to sell a whole monthes wages for a shilling, that there was allsoe such a great poverty under the seamens wives, and children, that the seamens wives to get bread for them as there children, were nescesytated to prostytute there bodys to whoredom' The account emphasised that some released English prisoners of war preferred Dutch service to returning home.82 The actual basic wage levels themselves were normally in parity for able (that is, skilled) seamen during peacetime: British wages being fixed at 24 shillings per month from late 1652 until the great fleet mutinies of 1797. The Dutch rate was an equivalent twelve guilders, making the navy one of the worst employment options in the whole Dutch maritime sector. Market-driven naval wages, however, rose rapidly during recruitment to induce seamen to volunteer. The levels were decided by the individual admiralties according to the local manning situation, so there were regional wage variations during specific periods. Sometimes an admiral ty offered different rates during any one period or within a very short space of time. When recruitment proved a 'major problem' in the spring of 1665, the Holland States backed pay increases for the simple reason that those admiralties that had already resorted to this solution had got more seamen; the Admiralty of Amsterdam having initially tried to hold to the peacetime rate of 12 fl.si Resulting jealousy between the seamen endangered their 'merry' mood during the preparation of the fleet for the first campaign of the Second Anglo-Dutch war in 1665; they had signed on at different rates and then threatened to strike for 18, 20, or even 25 fl.M

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Archief | 2004 | | pagina 134