Zeeland Privateering Captains During the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, 1780–1784

By johan Francke, published February 2024

Abstract

Abstract

During the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780–4) the fleet of the Dutch Republic was no match for the numerically far greater British navy. Her merchant ships were taken and the navy was forced to protect the home waters and stay in their own ports. In their own numbers as well as those of their captured prizes, Zeeland privateer captains lagged far behind the successes of earlier wars. Nevertheless, they received a heroic reception; something that had not occurred in previous wars to such an extent. Only 16 privateering captains were commissioned by the Zeeland Admiralty, yet in less than two years they captured 72 prizes and ransomed another 51 ships. The proceeds of the part which is known amounted to 514,389 guilders, making the total an estimated 2.44 million guilders. The omnipresence of British privateers and naval warships in the English Channel and North Sea made it a dire necessity for Dutch privateers to ransom, rather than capture prizes; this was something never done before on such a large scale. For decades the Dutch Republic had lived in peace, so the Zeeland privateering captains lacked experience. Nearly 30 per cent of them were of foreign origin, mainly French and American.

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Filed under: Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Pirates, Corsairs & Privateers

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