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Monday, May 30, 2005

Dutch Captain: Laurens van Heemskerck

Laurens van Heemskerck had served the Admiralty of the Maze (Rotterdam) prior to defecting to the English. Reportedly, he might have been shot if he had not defected. In 1659, he had commanded the Klein Hollandia (48 guns) in De Ruyter's fleet that was sent to the Baltic. He fought at the Battle of Lowestoft, where he commanded the Rotterdam ship Vrede (40 guns). He was assigned to Cornelis Eversen the Elder's squadron. He was courtmartialed after the battle for insubordination and eventually fled the country. In July 1666, he finally defected to the English, taking with him a list of ships lost at the Four Days Battle. He eventually was knighted by King Charles II. After the St. James's Day Battle on 25 July 1666, he guided Sir Robert Holmes in the attack on Terschelling. He had one command in the English service. In 1668, he was appointed captain of the Nonsuch. Sources:
  1. William Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present, Vol.II, 1898.

  2. Frank Fox, A Distant Storm: the Four Days' Battle of 1666, 1996.

  3. G. L. Grove, Journalen van de Admiralen Van Wassenaer-Obdam (1658/59) en De Ruyter (1659/60), 1907.

  4. J.R. Tanner, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Naval Manuscripts in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Vol.I, 1903.

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