Smyrna convoy of 1688

Smyrna Convoy 1687 - 1688
view of Smyrna in 1723
Gezicht op Smyrna met op de voor-
grond de ontvangst van de Neder-
landse consul Daniël Jan Baron de
Hochepied (1657-1723) in de Divan
Anoniem, ca. 1687 - 1723
Ships involved:
Stad en LandePieter van Laer
Maria ElizabethVan der Zaen
Admiraal de RuyterJan Pijn
GerechtigheidAdriaen Voshol

1 Two Smyrna convoys in peace time

1.1 Before the Nine Years War

The mounting tensions between France and the United Provinces would lead to hostilities against Dutch shipping in September 1688, when France started to seize all Dutch ships in its ports. It also meant that all merchants had to count with imminent hostilities by French warships and privateers at sea.

The 1687 Smyrna convoy commanded by Captain van Der Zaen was one of the many small convoys that were regularly sent into the Mediterranean by the Dutch Admiralties of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. It came back to Holland before the United Provinces got involved in the Nine Years War.

1.2 Not a Smyrna Convoy

I started to describe this convoy operation by looking at the Smyrna Convoy that came back to Holland with the warship Maria Elizabeth under Captain van der Zaen in August 1688. I then thought I had traced its origins back to Van der Zaen leaving Holland with a convoy to Smyrna in October 1687. This proved false when I found that Van der Zaen first met the Smyrna ships in Livorno in March 1688. In fact Van der Zaen's convoy did not contain a single ship sailing to Smyrna!

1.3 The real Smyrna Convoy

I then traced the ships that left Smyrna, and found that these had left Holland with the Warship Stad en Lande under Captain van Laer in January 1687. He had first escorted the Smyrna ships and some others to Italy, where the Merchant Admirael de Ruyter got into a fight with pirates. He then continued to Smyrna, dropped the ships of there and then turned about and escorted the merchant Admirael de Ruyter and others back to Holland. Underway he came to Cadiz in Janaury 1688, just missing Van der Zaen's convoy that sailed in the opposite direction.

1.4 Relevance

The 1687-1688 convoy to Smyrna is hardly relevant for the big picture. It does allow us to track the movements of some small warships in the Mediterranean.

2 Convoy system

2.1 Convoys before the Nine Years War

The Dutch instituted a convoy system for the Mediterranean way before the Nine Years War started. The official reason was a rather sudden and dramatic increase of activity by pirates based in North Africa. At first this piracy was limited to the Mediterranean, but soon it spread to the west coast of Spain and to Portugal, and even to the Channel. Reason enough to escort merchants to the Channel and further on.

2.2 Mobilizing the fleet

A second reason for the convoy system was that it provided an excuse to repair, equip and even build a rather large number of warships. Next to the individual convoys, squadrons to the Mediterranean were equipped. Later on a sizable fleet was active in the North Sea.

3 Van Laer's Convoy to Smyrna

14 October 1688 Convoy to 'Smyrna'
Ship Captainnext / notes Ship Captain next / notes
Warship Stad en LandeCaptain Pieter van Laer
De Son Tobias Tobiasz WulpherttSmyrna Hollandia Frans BernartsSmyrna
St. Rochus Daniel van der MartSmyrna St. Pieter Willem DonkerSmyrna
Adm. de RuyterJan PijnVenice Anna Sophia Paulus DuynMarseille
Waterslang Jacob BlassabomMarseille

3.1 Van Laer's convoy to Smyrna

The convoy that left Texel with the ships that would actually sail from Holland to Smyrna and back was commanded by Van Laer. On 6 January 1687 the ships to Smyrna: St. Pieter, skipper Donker; De Son, Tobias Tobiasz; Hollandia, Frans Bernards; St Rochus, van der Marckt and Admiraal de Ruyter, Jan Peyn set sail from Texel. Their escort Captain van Laer had sailed the day before and was awaiting them OHC 9 January 1687. Meindert Heremijt was destined to Cadiz and followed in the evening of 6 January OHC 11 January 1687

On 8 February 1687 the convoy under Van Laer arrived in Cadiz with the St. Rochus, De Son (Tobias Wulphert), San Pedro, Hollandia, Admirael de Ruyter and also: the Gouden Leeuw of Jacob Loefhouwer (cf. Battle of White Water Bank), Koning Ferdinand Frans Fransz Vos, San Francisco Meindert Heremijt, 2-3 Fluyts loaded with wood and other ships OHC 18 March 1687.

3.2 Captain Van Laer

Captain Pieter van Laer commanded the Stad en Lande (50) 190 men OHC 24 May 1687. He would also command this ship during the invasion of England.

3.3 Cadiz to Italy

On 13 March van Laer with his convoy left Cadiz for Malaga. On 17 March he reached Alicante with the Hollandia, St. Rochus, St. Pieter, De Son and some Fluyts. Jan Pijn entered Cartagena, but was expected to join in the journey to Italy OHC 15 April 1687. On 5 April these ships left Alicante. On 7 April some ships were seen from Marseille and presumed to be the Smyrna Convoy OHC 19 April 1687. On 14 April the Anna Sophia of Paulus Dwijn arrived in Marseille having left the Smyrna convoy in very bad weather at that latitude on 6 April OHC 1 May 1687

On 16 April the Smyrna convoy arrived in Genova with the Son, St. Pieter, Adm. de Ruyter, Waterslang, Hollandia, together with the Concordia under Matthew Strant OHC 10 May 1687. On 27 April the convoy sailed from Genova, and on 30 April it reached Livorno with the Hollandia, De Son, St Pieter, Admiraal de Ruiter as well as the Merchant of Livorno of John Heriton OHC 24 May 1687. There are some differences in the dates mentioned in the two previous sources, it almost looks like old style dates were communicated (perhaps by the Merchant of Livorno?). The Rochus indeed had not sailed to Genova OHC 17 May 1687 After the Smyrna convoy had reached Livorno c. 10 May it was assumed that they would spend the rest of the month in Livorno OHC 31 May 1687

3.4 Admiraal de Ruyter and Gerechtigheid against Algerines

About 3 March 1687 the Gerechtigheid / Justitia a Grain ship under Adriaen Voshol arrived in Livorno. Voshol reported that he had seen multiple Algerines that did not dare to attack him OHC 22 March 1687 Later we have the Gerechtigheid leaving Civitavecchia on 11 April and arriving in Livorno on 14 April OHC 3 May 1687

On 15 May 1687 the Admiraal de Ruyter and the ship of Adriaan Voshol left Livorno together. In the afternoon of the 16th they were approached by three Algerine corsairs. Captain Pijn gave an account published in the Oprechte Haarlemsche Courant of 14 June 1687

After leaving Livorno on 15 I sailed through the night to Gregone. On the 16th there was no wind. At 5 in the afternoon we saw three ships sailing after us. Having more wind than we, they approached quickly. About two hours before dusk we could see their detail. Each had a French flag and a pennon. I then went on board captain Adriaen Voshol and asked him what he thought of these ships. He said it were French ships going to Civitavecchia (the Papal port) to bring an ambassador, and that the officers (he had on board) had sure letters about it. But I stayed with my previous feeling and urged him to make ready for combat. While these ships were out of reach of our guns they took in their lower sails and went on board each other to discuss. Meanwhile night fell and during the night we readied everything for a successful defense.

On the 17th at dawn all three ships turned in the wind. Observing this we tacked to, in order to keep the advantage of the wind. However, these ships sailed too well and soon gained the advantage of the wind. They stayed up wind with the three of them, and after communicating amongst themselves, the admiral raised a Turkish flag in his main mast, the VA in his foremast, and the RA in his mizzen mast. They next approached like three soldiers, but we did not budge.

Shortly before that, I had sent my navigator (Stuurman) on board Captain Voshol's to ask for some soldiers, something that the major could not resolve. Captain Pietro Nangle (an Irishmen), his lieutenant and 62 men then came over to my ship. Meanwhile the three Turks approached quickly. Captain Voshol was upwind of my ship, and was not attacked at first.

The Turks were clearly planning to board my ship. First the Rear Admiral, which was the biggest ship, approached so closely that our yards almost touched. It fired strongly, but we replied in kind. Next the admiral came on, but we shortly dispatched him to, but not without damage. The last one, being the VA, and absolutely intent on boarding us, also met determined resistance. The soldiers shot their muskets so well, and the sailors manned the guns so bravely, that soon the courage of the Turks failed. Captain Voshol meanwhile did his part with all his soldiers, but suffered only a few injured soldiers.

The fight was short, but furious. While there was only little wind the Turks had trouble leaving us. We pursued them, and it were wished our ships were better sailing, because I'm sure that then they would have seen more of our guns. We had severe damage to our sails and rigging. In the fight we had 7 dead and 12 wounded. Of our sailors only 6 were wounded. Praise the lord that this ended so well. The biggest of the Turkish ships had 40 guns, and the others each 36, and many men.

On 19 May there was an after action report from Livorno, which stated that the fight had been in sight of the island of Capraia between Corsica and Livorno OHC 7 June 1687. Afterwards the ships sailed to Messina OHC 28 June 1687

3.5 Italy to Smyrna

On 16 June Captain van Laer left Naples for Smyrna with the St. Rochus, St. Pieter, De Son and Hollandia OHC 19 July 1687. He reached Smyrna on 26 July OHC 21 October 1687 (news from Marseille). While there Captain van Laer saw that there was little cargo, meaning that he would have to wait for a very long time. Therefore he sailed back to Messina without the merchant ships OHC 28 October 1687.

3.6 Van Laer towards Holland

By 13 October 1687 Van Laer had arrived back in Livorno OHC 4 November 1687. Van Laer next escorted the Admiraal de Ruyter from Livorno to the United Provinces OHC 15 November 1687. On 8 December 1687 the Stad en Lande and the Admirael de Ruyter arrived in Cartagena from Alicante OHC 3 January 1688. By 22 December 1687 the Stad en Lande and De Ruyter had still not arrived in Cadiz 22 January 1688. On 1 January 1688 the Stad en Lande was in Gibraltar together with the warships of Cornelis Draex, Mainard and Hans Hartwijk OHC 3 February 1688

On 11 January 1688 the Stad en Lande and the Admiraal de Ruyter accompanied by the warships of Draex and Mainard arrived in Cadiz with a storm OHC 17 February 1688. On 4 February 1688 the Admiraal de Ruyter and the Stad en Lande left Cadiz. After reaching the Channel they faced head winds for 10 days and were forced into Falmouth, from where Jan Pyn wrote on 19 February. Falmouth was filled with about 150 ships taking the same course. Among them the warships of Captain Broeder and Captain Hans Hartwijk OHC 2 March 1688. On 15 March the Admiraal de Ruyter left Plymouth, and on 25 March it was before Egmond, where it put a messenger on board a fishing ship OHC 27 March 1688. On 28 March the Admiraal de Ruyter and the two warships anchored before Texel with the Wapen van Sevilla and an English ship OHC 30 March 1688. The Admiraal de Ruyter became stuck for some time, but was towed loose again OHC 1 April 1688. On 21 April a ship named De Ruyter then rammed the whaler Witte Fortuyn, which sunk soon after OHC 22 April 1688

4 Van der Zaen's Convoy to Smyrna

14 October 1688 Convoy to Spain, Portugal and 'Smyrna'
Ship Captainnext / notes Ship Captain next / notes
Warship Maria ElisabethCaptain van der Saen
Wapen van Portugal Pieter Jansz. Sevilla Witte Olifant Lissabon left near Finisterre
San Francisco Meyndert Heremijt Sevilla St. Bernardus Cadiz left near Finisterre
Postiljon Cornelis Jansz. du PonSevilla
Clara Gijsbert Hendricks Barcelona
Outvader Jan Koster Barcelona
St. Thomas Swerver jr. Barcelona
St. Paulus Cornelis Alberts KramerBarcelona

4.1 Convoy to Spain, the Straits and Smyrna

The 'Smyrna' convoy of Van der Zaen had an incredibly confusing name. It sailed to Spain and Portugal and only the warship of Van der Zaen itself continued to Smyrna. There is a logical explanation for this. Van Laer would have had instructions to escort to Smyrna and wait there for a limited time. That meant that he was likely to leave the ships behind in Smyrna (as he did). This meant that the ships had to be collected somewhere in the central or eastern Mediterranean, and this provided an opportunity to announce a new convoy to Smyrna.

On 10 October 1687 the convoy to Spain, the Mediterranean and Smyrna or Scandaroon, commanded by Captain van der Saen, was near Texel. It was thought to have the Maroccan envoy on board and was ready to leave OHC 11 October 1687. The warship of Captain van der Zaen was the Maria Elisabeth. On 14 October Captain van der Zaen left Texel. It had 22 ships, of which 3 Hamburg ships, and 1 Buys AC 16 October 1687. A warship under Captain Swart remained and would transport the Moroccan Ambassador OHC 18 October 1687.

4.2 Delays in the Channel

The 12 November letters from England had the convoy still anchored near Wight OHC 18 November 1687. A few days later this was still the case OHC 20 November 1687. The English mail of 21 November was silent about the convoy in Wight, that had been at sea a number of times, but had been forced each time OHC 27 November 1687. On 5 December the Lumley Castle of Robert Darril arrived in Cadiz. It had left Wight on 24 November, where it had left the Dutch Convoy, that had tried to sail to the west four times. It was assumed to have left Wight on 25 November (which was probably conjectured from the direction of the wind) OHC 3 January 1688.

4.3 Arrival in Portugal

On 20 December the Olifant and the Witte Lam of Jan Pietersz. Raven arrived in Lisbon OHC 22 January 1688. At the same time the arrival of the convoy to Portugal was noted.

4.4 Arrival in Spain

On 23 December 1687 6 ships came in sight of Cadiz. These were judged to be the convoy that had sailed from Texel in October OHC 22 January 1688. On 28 December 1687 the convoy of Van der Saen 'finally' arrived in Cadiz after having left Texel on 14 October. It arrived together with some ships that I listed in the table for the ships to Cadiz, assuming they sailed with Saen from Holland. The San Bernardo was still missing from the convoy OHC 3 February 1688.

4.5 Arrival in Livorno

On 9 January Van der Saen's convoy and the grain ships St. Clara; Outvader; St. Thomas and St. Paulus left Cadiz for Barcelona OHC 17 February 1688. By 15 March Van der Zaen had arrived in Livorno. He was thought to sail towards the Smyrna ships that were sailing homeward OHC 3 April 1688. That the Maria Elizabeth of Captain van der Zaen was to escort the Smyrna ships home was confirmed a few days later OHC 10 April 1688.

5 From Smyrna to Holland

23 Aug 1688 Homeward Smyrna Convoy in Texel
Ship Captainnext / notes Ship Captain next / notes
Warship Maria ElisabethCaptain van der Saen
Son Tobias Tobiasz. St. Pieter Willem Doncker
Hollandia Frans Bernards St. Rochus Daniel van der Mart
Jacoba Anthony Coppenol

5.1 In Smyrna

By 27 September 1687 the Jacoba of Anthony Coppenol had arrived in Smyrna in order to join the other 4 Dutch merchant ships OHC 8 November 1687. It arrived just as the internal chaos that erupted after the Ottoman defeat in the Second battle of Mohács brought commerce to a standstill. Letters from January and 13 February 1688 from Smyrna said that the market in Constantinople was open again. The ships would leave ultimo February, or more probably in March OHC 27 March 1688

5.2 Zaen meets the Smyrna fleet

On 22 March 1688 5 ships arrived in Livorno from Smyrna. It were the Son, Hollandia, St Pieter, Jacoba and St. Rochus OHC 10 April 1688 p.1

5.3 The Smyrna fleet sails to Spain

By 20 June 1688 Van der Saen and his Smyrna ships had arrived in Alicante. Together with some other ships he then left Alicante for Cadiz OHC 17 July 1688. How sloppy the media could be sometimes is illustrated when van der Saen was in Cadiz The ships from(!) Smyrna under the convoy of Captain van der Saen have been ready to sail in this bay for a few days, and will leave for(!) Smyrna with the first favorable wind OHC 17 August 1688.

5.4 The Smyrna fleet arrives in Holland

The convoy arrived back to the United Provinces on 23 August 1688. It then contained: Capiteyn van der zaen; Son, Tobias Tobiasz.; Hollandia, Frans Bernards; St. Pieter, Willem Doncker; St. Rochus, Daniel van der Mart; and Jacoba, Anthony Coppenol(The skipper of this ship dead). Van der Saen was expected to join the fleet rendez-vous at Schonevelt immediately OHC 26 August 6888, but on August 27 there was a message that it was expected that his ship would first be careened in Medemblik, before he went to Schonevelt OHC 28 August 1688.

After the fleet that invaded England landed in Torbay on 15 November, the Maria Elisabeth went astray for 5 weeks. In a storm it lost ropes, anchors and sails, and was already thought lost, when it entered Goeree on 24 December 1688. Its captain stated to be Hendrick van der Saen OHC 30 December 1688. I think that because the Invasion England OOB has W. van der Saen in the Maria Elisabeth and Cornelis van der Zaen in the Harderwijk, we can safely assume that we have to do with Willem van der Zaan jr.

6 Sources

Most of this page is based on two papers published at the time. 'OHC 5 Aug 1689' stands for the Oprechte Haarlemse Courant of 5 August 1689, and it can be found at Delpher the site of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Dutch Library). The same goes for AC, which stands for Amsterdamsche Courant. I did not make an effort to standardize names like Van der Saen. In the digital age looking for Van der Saen with the original orthography will probably be much more effective.