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Monday, April 16, 2007

Vreugdenhil's list revisited

A. Vreugdenhil's list, Ships of the United Netherlands 1648-1702, was published in 1938 by the Society for Nautical Research. For almost 70 years, this has been the only comprehensive list of Dutch ships from the latter 17th Century. My main complaint with the list is that it was largely prepared without referring to the Nationaal Archief in The Hague. Vreugdenhil apparently did consult the Staet van Oorlog te Water for the year 1654, which has problems. One problem is that in Vreugdenhil's list, he mixed dimensions in Amsterdam feet (283mm and 11 inches) and Maas feet (308mm and 12 inches). When I had seen that the Brederode had dimensions of 132ft x 32ft x 13-1/2ft, I assumed that the Brederode was extremely small for a 54 gun ship. I couldn't figure out how the Prinses Louise carried 36 guns on dimensions of 110ft x 26-1/2ft x 11-1/2ft. The answer is that in one sense, she didn't. In Amsterdam feet, her dimensions were 120ft x 28ft-4in x 12ft-6in. In another sense, in English feet, her dimensions were approximately those in Maas feet! The English foot is about 305mm and is divided into 12 inches. The main problem, aside from this, is that Vreugdenhil's list is very incomplete, at least for the 1652 to 1653 period. In another sense, he has information that is just plain wrong. One example is that he lists a Rotterdam Directors' ship named Burcht or "De Burcht". I can understand this in one sense, as Dr. Elias indicated that the ship commanded by Hendrick Glas, the Burgh, was a Rotterdam Directors' ship. In reality, this was the Amsterdam Directors' ship, Nassouw van den Burgh. By the fall of 1652, the ship was usually called the Burgh (Burch being another way of spelling the name). He also has dates wrong. The Amsterdam Directors' ships Blauwe Arend was actually hired in March 1652 and served until late 1653, but Vreugdenhil gives the date as just 1653. There are many more of this sort of error. What is needed is someone to get a new list into print. In my case, I can really only cover 1652 to 1654.

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