Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667)

Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667)

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Second Anglo-Dutch War, 1665-1667

Once again commercial rivalries led to conflict between England and Holland, provoked largely by the English, who attacked the West African bases of the Dutch slave trade in 1663, and captured New Amsterdam (now New York) in 1664. War was declared in May 1665 after the Dutch recaptured their West African bases and an attack by Michael de Ruyter on Barbaros. English prosecution of the war was weakened by two major disastors at home - the Great Plague (1665-6) and the Great Fire of London (2-9 September 1666).

Fighting began with a Dutch attack led by Jacob Opdam with 100 ships against a 150 strong English convoy returning from Hamburg. The English countered with a much larger fleet (150 ships) under Prince James (The future James II) and at the battle of Lowestoft (3 June 1665), inflicted a severe defeat on the Dutch, who lost 30 ships and Opdam, who was killed in the fighting. The Dutch retreat was covered by Cornelis van Tromp, son of Maarten Tromp. Prince James failed to pursue the defeated Dutch and was replaced in command by Earl Edward Montague of Sandwich, who in August chased a Dutch convoy into Bergen harbour (Denmark), from where he was repulsed by the Danish shore batteries. In January 1666 France entered the war on the side of the Dutch, honouring a treaty with the Dutch.

This had an impact during the Four Days' Battle (1-4 June 1666), At the end of May, George Monck, commanding a fleet of 80 ships, sent Prince Rupert's 25 ship strong squadron away to intercept a French fleet mistakenly thought to be coming from the Mediterranean. De Ruyter, with 80 ships, took advantage of this to sail against Monck, who himself made the first attack (1 June). On 2 June, the Dutch were reinforced, and Monck started to pull back, but on 3 June Prince Rupert returned, and on 4 June a fierce battle ensued. The English lost 20 ships and retreated into the Thames estury. De Ruyter responded with a blockade of the Thames, which was broken by a refitted English fleet at the battle of the North Foreland (or St. James's Day), 25 July 1666, which then went on to destroy 160 Dutch merchantmen at anchor. Nearly a year of peace negotiations then followed (August 1666 to June 1667). Believing the war to be at an end, and under the impact of the plague and the great fire, Charles II moored the fleet and dismissed the crews, in order to save money, a gesture not followed by the Dutch, and in June 1667 de Ruyter launched a raid into the Medway, reaching as close as 20 miles from London, and causing huge amounts of damage on the river, after which the English made more serious efforts for peace, which resulted in the Treaty of Breda (21 July 1667), which was in general in favour of the Dutch, although did confirm English occupation of New Amsterdam.

Subject Index: Anglo-Dutch Wars

  • Author : Gijs Rommelse
  • Publisher : Uitgeverij Verloren
  • Release Date : 2006
  • Genre: Anglo-Dutch War, 1664-1667
  • Pages : 230
  • ISBN 10 : 9065509070

Studie van de politieke en diplomatieke ontwikkelingen in Groot-Brittannië en de Republiek der Verenigde Nederlanden voor en na het uitbreken van de Tweede Engels-Nederlandse oorlog in 1665.

The Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667): Raison d'Etat, Mercantilism and Maritime Strife

England and the Dutch Republic fought three wars in the seventeenth century. The English Commonwealth and the United Provinces engaged in the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54) and England under Charles II fought the Dutch Republic in the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-67) and Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-74). Several studies have examined the three wars as a whole. But, Dr Gijs Rommelse, currently a history teacher at Haarlemmermeer Lyceum in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands, focuses on the origins and con England and the Dutch Republic fought three wars in the seventeenth century. The English Commonwealth and the United Provinces engaged in the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54) and England under Charles II fought the Dutch Republic in the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-67) and Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-74). Several studies have examined the three wars as a whole. But, Dr Gijs Rommelse, currently a history teacher at Haarlemmermeer Lyceum in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands, focuses on the origins and conduct of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in his published doctoral dissertation (Leiden University, 2006). Rommelse’s most recent works include (as co-author with Roger Downing) A Fearful Gentleman: Sir George Downing in The Hague, 1658-1677 (2011) and (as co-editor with David Onnekink) Ideology and Foreign Policy in Early Modern Europe (1650-1750) (2011).

In this study, Rommelse places the origins and conduct of the war in context of international politics and alliance systems. He fully explores the domestic politics of England and the United Provinces, along with the maritime and commercial rivalry between the two states that resulted in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The author examines how the economic rivalry, including the struggle for colonial and European markets, influenced English and Dutch political decision-making that led to war.

Rommelse depicts the maritime conflict, including privateering and naval battles. In the conflict Charles II of England had support from his ally Christoph Bernhard von Galen, the Bishop of Münster, while the United Provinces maintained an alliance with Louis XIV of France and Frederick III of Denmark. During the course of the war, the English defeated the Dutch fleet at the Battle of Lowestoft (June 1665). Rommelse states that the Four Days’ Battle was “the biggest, longest and bloodiest confrontation in the age of sail” (p.195). The Dutch then defeated the English fleet in the Four Days’ Battle (June 1666) and St James’s Day Battle (July 1666), followed by the English carrying out the Holmes’s Raid (August 1666) on a Dutch merchant fleet in the Vlie estuary and the town of West-Terschelling in Friesland. Meanwhile, however, the plague and the Great Fire of London financially weakened England, forcing Charles II to lay up most of his fleet. As such, the Dutch Republic controlled the English Channel and North Sea, and, led by Grand Pensionary John de Witt, conducted a raid up the Medway River and destroyed or captured a significant portion of the English fleet in June 1667. Rommelse writes that the “result of the naval raid was disastrous to English military and political prestige” (p.181). The war was interrupted by Louis XIV’s army invading and overrunning the Spanish Netherlands in the War of Devolution (1667-68). The Dutch Republic lacked a sufficiently strong army to adequately support Spain against France. As such, both England and the United Provinces sought a peace settlement (Peace of Breda in July 1667) to focus diplomatic and military efforts against Louis XIV.

The Peace of Breda (1667)

The Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–1667) can be attributed to a multitude of factors, while views vary widely as to which factors were most significant. Burgeoning political and personal ambitions of those closest to the British King Charles II (1661–1685), along with tensions relating to Protestantism, are merely two. These, alongside the fierce commercial competition, and ensuing disputes, between the British monarchy and the Dutch Republic of the United Provinces, paved all the disagreements within England on one common path towards one common goal, that of war, victory, and all the wealth that was expected to come with it. The Dutch on the other hand would do everything in their power to defend their economic interests. From an English point of view, victory over the Dutch was expected, especially after their first success off Lowestoft in 1665. Little did the English know that the Dutch would fight to the very end with resilience. This would cause a weakening of relationships within the internal political structure of England. As a result, by 1667, peace was virtually demanded by English mercantilist factions and Parliament. And with the added pressure of the plague and the Great Fire, financial growth had already come to a halt and made the signing of a treaty an absolute necessity.

Great Britain and the Dutch Republic were not the only two countries involved in this maritime conflict. France had, in 1664, already tried to mediate between the two rivals to prevent war from breaking out. These attempts had failed. But this mediation did not derive from an altruistic source. Louis XIV (1643–1715) had a powerful motivation to minimise the risk of war because he was under an obligation to aid the Dutch if attacked by any enemies, as per the treaty signed by France and the Dutch Republic on 27 April 1662 (7 CTS 139). Should France join forces with the Dutch Republic, there was potential for an Anglo-Spanish alliance that would not help the soon-to-be French claims to the Spanish Netherlands. War did eventually break out in 1665, with continued French mediation again a failure. The French joined the war in 1666.

Although England was hopeful of an alliance with Denmark, the Danish joined France and the Dutch Republic as a fellow belligerent a month after the French entered the war. A further blow to the English came when Brandenburg also allied with the Dutch. The English, however, had concluded a treaty with Sweden on 1 March 1665 (8 CTS 263), which was specifically a defensive alliance of the two nations against the Dutch. Sweden had not forgotten the Dutch assistance to Denmark during the Dano-Swedish Wars and Dutch refusal to rescind the 1659 Elucidation Treaty (5 CTS 309), preventing Sweden from many commercial claims. Sweden did not want a possible Dutch victory to place an obstacle in the way of its ambitions to reclaim certain territory, such as Delaware. With French successes in the Caribbean and the domestic turmoil in England, all hope for English victory was dashed. It was time for peace.

The English, Dutch, French, and Danish all attended the Peace Conference at Breda in 1667. Swedish ambassadors were also present as mediators to the peace negotiations. Although The Hague was proposed as the initial location for negotiations, the fear that England might underhandedly entice and collaborate with the Orangists meant that Breda was chosen as a more acceptable location. All powers would enter into separate treaties following their bilateral talks. The negotiations initially seemed promising for Great Britain. The Dutch were at the point of making fair treaty terms, through the application of uti possidetis equally to both sides. France was also mindful of its interests in the Spanish Netherlands and wanted to guarantee English neutrality. Unbeknown to the English, however, the Dutch were planning to take advantage of the lack of attention the English were paying to their Navy. As far as the English were concerned, the war was over, their fleet had been paid off, and Chatham was deemed a safe place for the ships to sit whilst negotiations in Breda took place.

Dutch ships sailed into the Thames and attacked English ships in the Medway and, on 24 June 1667, all in Breda heard news of the aggressive attack. Michiel de Ruyter and Cornelis de Witt’s triumphant ‘Raid on the Medway’ would go down in history as England’s ‘most humiliating defeat’ (Boxer 1974). This was the point at which England knew that any favourable terms had been compromised. It would have to give in to Dutch demands and make considerable concessions. This good news arrived at a good time for the Dutch, who were also anxious to make peace after a French attack on Flanders.

The Treaty of Breda (10 CTS 231) was signed on 31 July 1667 in quite a hasty manner with many advantageous clauses for the Dutch. This included the right of the Dutch to transport German goods to England, relaxing the Navigation Act of 1651. The Act had been a major cause of the first Anglo-Dutch War (1652–1654), as it prohibited trading activities between the colonies and the Dutch Republic, France, and Spain. The Act’s aim was to ensure that trading benefits were limited to within the British Empire. It additionally prescribed that no goods could be imported from Asia, Africa, or America unless transported in English ships, and that goods produced in Europe could not be brought into England unless transported in English ships or unless the goods being shipped were in fact produced in the country exporting them. The Act severely restricted Dutch trade. The Treaty of Breda, however, made significant concessions, much to the favour of the Dutch, who sought complete freedom of the seas. Although the Dutch desired the complete removal of all mercantilist legislation, these demands were not accepted. Allowing German goods to be transported into England via Holland was as much as the English could accept, as affirmed by a separate friendship and navigation treaty also signed in 1667 (10 CTS 255). The scope of Dutch shipping in British ports was therefore expanded. Of additional importance in this navigation treaty was the recognition afforded by the British to neutrals and their trading rights during war.

Other clauses that were agreed included no restitution of property seized during the war and free exchange of prisoners. The colonies taken by either side before 20 May 1667 were not restored and both sides were allowed to keep territories that they had claimed during as well as before the War. This included England’s retention of New Netherlands, including New Amsterdam, which was renamed New York by King James II, as well as New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The Dutch kept possession of Surinam and Pulo Run in the East Indies.

The Peace of Breda was significant for a number of reasons. Its creation was a product of the imbalance of powers and strategic and shifting alliances of the great states, England, the Dutch Republic, and France. The separate friendship and commerce treaty between England and the Dutch Republic, however, was also signed because England’s hand was forced by the Dutch victory. The second Anglo-Dutch War, and what would ensue within subsequent treaties, can be seen to have had a major impact on international law and politics, so much so that it also added to the risk of future conflict, which would materialise in 1672 when England and the Dutch Republic would go to war again for the third time in that century. Despite England’s defeat, the Treaty did position the country, alongside France and the Dutch Republic, as a great nation in the European arena, and as Rommelse states, in the European ‘powerplay’. It also, however, saw the beginning of the Dutch golden age in international trade.

Treaties Forming the Peace of Breda (1667)

Treaty of Peace and Alliance between Great Britain and The Netherlands, signed at Breda, 21(31) July 1667, 10 CTS 231.

Treaty between Great Britain and The Netherlands, signed at Breda, 21(31) July 1667, 10 CTS 255.

Treaty of Peace between Denmark-Norway and Great Britain, signed at Breda, 21(31) July 1667, 10 CTS 287.

Treaty of Peace between France and Great Britain, signed at Breda, 21(31) July 1667, 10 CTS 215.

Treaty between England and the Netherlands, signed at Westminster, 5 April 1654, 3 CTS 225.

Treaty between France and the Netherlands, signed at Paris, 27 April 1662, 7 CTS 139.

Treaty of Peace and Alliance between England and the Netherlands, signed at Whitehall, 4(14) September 1662, 7 CTS 193.

Treaty of Defensive Alliance between Great Britain and Sweden, signed at Stockholm, 1 March 1665, 8 CTS 263.

Treaty between Sweden and the Netherlands, signed at Elsinore, 29 September 1659, 5 CTS 309.

Charles Ralph Boxer, The Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th Century, 1652-1674 (London: HM Stationery Office, 1974).

Gijs Rommelse, The Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667): International Raison D’État, Mercantilism and Maritime Strife (Hilversum: Uitgeverij Verloren, 2006).

JR Jones, The Anglo-Dutch Wars of the Seventeenth Century (London and New York: Longman, 1996).

Steven CA Pincus, Protestantism and Patriotism: Ideologies and the Making of English Foreign Policy, 1650-1668 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Jonathan Irvine Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall, 1477-1806 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998).

GJA Raven & NAM Rodger, Navies and Armies: The Anglo-Dutch Relationship in War and Peace 1688-1988 (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1990).

David Roger Hainsworth & Christine Churches, The Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars 1652-1674 (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998).

Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667) - History


Medway : detail, by the Dutch artist Jan van Leyden (active 1661- 1693), c1667/69 – Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Ruyter : detail, by the Dutch artist Ferdinand Bol (1616- 1680), 1667 – National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Map (Medway): licensed under Creative Commons – Duke of York : by the English portrait painter John Riley (1646- 1691), 1660s – Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, England.

xxxxx As we have seen, the First Anglo- Dutch War broke out in 1652 (CW) . The Dutch enjoyed some early success, but in 1653 they were defeated off Texel and, by the Treaty of Westminster in 1654, were obliged to accept the English Navigation Acts they had fought to remove. In 1664 , however, the English occupied New Amsterdam and renamed it New York, and this led to the second conflict. The English won the Battle of Lowestoft in June 1665 but, after this, the Dutch gained the upper hand. In 1667, in the wake of the Great Plague and Great Fire of London, their fleet, commanded by Admiral de Ruyter, set fire to Sheerness and then, sailing up the Thames, destroyed the shipyard at Chatham and a large part of the English fleet. However, despite their success, the Dutch, fearing an invasion by the French, agreed to the Treaty of Breda of 1667. They gained concessions on trade, and retained Guiana and Surinam, but they conceded New Amsterdam (New York) and New Jersey to England. The third war came in 1672 !

xxxxx As we have seen, the First Anglo- Dutch War broke out in 1652 (CW) . Alarmed at England's introduction of the Navigation Acts - passed the previous year and aimed at restricting Dutch trade with British possessions - the Dutch went on the attack. Under their brilliant admiral Maarten Tromp, they enjoyed some early success against the English, notably in a battle off Dungeness, but in 1653 their fleet was roundly defeated off Texel, and by the Treaty of Westminster, concluded in April 1654, they were obliged to accept the Navigation Acts they had fought so hard to remove.

xxxxx It was commercial and colonial rivalry which again led to conflict between the two maritime nations, though the king's dislike of the Dutch republicans certainly played a part. The Second Anglo- Dutch War officially began in 1665, but in the previous year, 1664 , the English had already captured a slice of New Netherlands in North America and occupied New Amsterdam, renaming it New York. They followed this triumph up with a victory off Lowestoft in June 1665. But from then on the conflict did not go England's way. Most encounters at sea during 1666 were won by the Dutch, whilst on land, England's ally, the principality of Munster, having sent troops into Holland earlier, pulled out when the French entered the war on the side of the Dutch in January 1666.

xxxxx At x home, too, the English were beset with two major disasters, the Great Plague of 1665 followed by the Great Fire of London the next year. In June 1667, in the wake of these catastrophes, the Dutch fleet under Admiral de Ruyter ( illustrated ) set fire to Sheerness and, sailing up the Thames and Medway, destroyed the shipyard at Chatham ( arrowed on map ), and a large part of the English fleet moored there. And as if this were not sufficient humiliation for the English, they returned home, so we are told, with the Royal Charles , the royal barge! Samuel Pepys gave an account of this Dutch "invasion" in his famous diary and later, as secretary to the Navy, was the man largely responsible for restoring England's naval supremacy. And some two centuries later the English writer and poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem deploring the state of the English navy at that time.

xxxxx Despite their success at sea, the Dutch, concerned at the French invasion of the Spanish Netherlands, were anxious to bring the war to an end. By the Treaty of Breda of July 1667 they did obtain concessions concerning the English Navigation Acts, gaining permission for their ships to carry goods to England that had come down the River Rhine. On the other hand, in the settlement of colonial territorial disputes, England obtained the New Netherlands (made up of New York and New Jersey), and recovered Antigua, Monserrat and St. Kitts in the West Indies. Holland retained Guiana and Surinam, but abandoned its claim to New Amsterdam, and the French recovered Acadia from the English.

xxxxx Incidentally , the king's brother James, the Duke of York and the future James II, was made lord high admiral at the Restoration and showed a great deal of interest in colonial affairs. It was on his initiative that New Amsterdam was captured from the Dutch in 1664, so it is hardly surprising that it was renamed New York in his honour! Later he commanded the fleet in the opening battles of the war, and he also played a part in the in third Anglo- Dutch war of 1672 .

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Bennett, Richard (bap. 1609–ca. 1675)

Richard Bennett served as governor of Virginia (1652–1655), in the House of Burgesses (1629), and served two stints on the governor’s Council (1642–1652 1658–1675). Born into an English merchant family, he came to Virginia around 1628 to run his uncle’s estate and set about acquiring thousands of acres of his own as well as importing Puritan settlers who helped provide him an important political base. In 1646, he led a force of Puritans to assist the exiled governor of Maryland and helped start a Puritan migration to the colony. After Parliament’s defeat of Charles I in the English Civil Wars , Bennett negotiated the bloodless submission of the Virginia and Maryland colonies, which were loyal to the Crown. The General Assembly then elected him governor of Virginia, and during his term he tried but failed to politically unite the Chesapeake Bay colonies. Not long after Catholics and Puritans fought a bloody battle in Maryland, Bennett stepped down as governor, but in 1657 he helped negotiate a treaty that restored Maryland’s charter rights. He then served on the governor’s Council and, as a major general in the Virginia militia, helped defend the colony during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–1667). Bennett died early in 1675.

Bennett was one of the sons of Thomas Bennett, a member of a large family of English merchants who dealt extensively in international trade during the seventeenth century. His mother’s name is unknown. Bennett was probably born in or near Wivelscombe, Somersetshire, England, where he was baptized on August 6, 1609. He could scarcely have avoided being involved in the young Virginia colony. His uncle Edward Bennett, one of the great London and Amsterdam merchants, was auditor of the Virginia Company of London and in 1621 patented a large property called Bennett’s Welcome near the former Indian village of Warraskoyack in what became Isle of Wight County.

In about 1628 Richard Bennett traveled to Virginia to take over management of Bennett’s Welcome. Two of his uncles and a younger brother had perished in the colony, but Richard Bennett thrived and used the transatlantic influence and affluence of his family to achieve almost immediate prominence as a prosperous planter and political leader in Virginia. He lived on another of Edward Bennett’s properties, Bennett’s Choice, on the Nansemond River, and during the 1630s patented more than 2,000 acres of land at Bennett Point and Parraketo Point. Eventually he amassed more than 7,000 acres in Virginia and Maryland, with much of it obtained through the headright system, which awarded him a right to 50 acres for each colonist he transported to Virginia. Overall his family sponsored the immigration of approximately 600 settlers, many of them Puritans, who were to provide him a base of political influence after 1640.

Bennett’s political career began with his election to the House of Burgesses as a representative from Warrosquyoake in 1629, and he became a commissioner for that district two years later. He was appointed to the governor’s Council in 1642, the same year that he patented 2,000 acres along the south bank of the Rappahannock River. During the turbulent years of the English Civil Wars and Protectorate, Bennett was the highest-ranking and most active Puritan leader in the Chesapeake. With his brother Philip Bennett he recruited three Puritan ministers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1642 to serve the Calvinists of Upper Norfolk County. Governor Sir William Berkeley and other Anglicans were hostile toward the Puritans, however, and made them unwelcome.

In 1646 Bennett organized a mercenary Puritan army to assist the exiled governor of Maryland, Leonard Calvert, in ousting a gang of brigands from his capital at Saint Marys City. Many of the mercenaries remained in Maryland and became the vanguard of a vast Puritan migration to that colony during the years between 1648 and 1650. Bennett’s commercial and political connections by then included William Claiborne , of Virginia, and Maurice Thompson, the most influential of all the Puritan merchants of London. Throughout the period Bennett engaged in profitable commerce with England and the Netherlands.

On September 26, 1651, the English Council of State appointed Bennett and Claiborne to a four-man commission to force or negotiate the submission of the Chesapeake Bay colonies to the Commonwealth of England. Supported by a Parliamentary fleet, Bennett, Claiborne, and Edmund Curtis, who succeeded to the commission after the other two original members drowned during the transatlantic voyage, accepted Virginia’s bloodless capitulation at Jamestown on March 12, 1652, and obtained the surrender of Maryland’s leaders two weeks later.

The General Assembly then elected Bennett to the vacant office of governor of Virginia. He served from April 30, 1652, to March 31, 1655, with Claiborne as secretary of the colony. Their administration represented a spectacular temporary triumph for Maurice Thompson’s London-based group of mercantile imperialists, which had significantly influenced the Chesapeake’s commercial and political evolution since the 1620s. Hoping to achieve the elusive goal of a united, centrally administered Chesapeake, Bennett and Claiborne sought to abrogate Maryland’s charter rights to the land north of the Potomac River. By appointing Protestants friendly to Virginia to offices in Maryland and placing like-minded militia colonels on the Council in Jamestown they brought a measure of stability to the Chesapeake. On July 5, 1652. Bennett and a select group of Virginia Puritan émigrés ended a decade of Indian warfare in Maryland by negotiating a comprehensive peace treaty with the powerful Susquehannocks, Claiborne’s longtime business partners in the upper Chesapeake beaver trade.

Bennett’s ambitious attempts to expand Virginia’s political control throughout the Chesapeake region, with unprecedented authority accorded to the House of Burgesses, was a significant milestone, but such profound and rapid change was destined to be short-lived. Given the prevalent revolutionary turmoil in England, Bennett’s government lacked the support it needed to withstand either the growing resentment of Virginia’s planters toward the new Navigation Acts, designed as they were to terminate the profitable commerce between the colonies and the Netherlands that had helped make men like Bennett wealthy, or the resistance of Catholics and Anglicans to the ideological rigidity of the Puritan leadership in Maryland. The bloody Battle of the Severn on March 25, 1655, fought between the Catholic pro-Calvert forces and Puritans near Bennetts’s own lands at Greenbury Point, Maryland, produced such gruesome atrocities that it probably precipitated Bennett’s retirement from the governor’s office six days later.

It is to Bennett’s credit that no such turmoil occurred in Virginia and that even political rivals with religious differences respected the peaceful succession of power at Jamestown. In December 1656 the General Assembly appointed Bennett one of its lobbyists in London, but instead of acting to increase Virginia’s power, at Cromwell’s instigation he helped negotiate a treaty of November 30, 1657, with Cecil Calvert, second baron Baltimore, that restored Maryland’s charter rights and original boundaries. Bennett served again on the governor’s Council from 1658 until his death, much of the time during the second administration of his old adversary, Sir William Berkeley. From 1662 to 1672 he also served as the second major general ever appointed in the Virginia militia and helped defend the colony against invasion during the Second Anglo-Dutch War.

Bennett’s political designs for a greater Virginia were thwarted, but in his personal life he achieved linkages across the many divisions that separated the two Chesapeake colonies. Late in the 1630s he married Maryann Utie, widow of Councillor John Utie. Their only son, Richard Bennett, attended Harvard College, married into a prominent Catholic family in Maryland, resided there for most of his life, and had a namesake son who became one of the wealthiest planters in Maryland. Bennett’s daughters chose influential husbands from both colonies. Elizabeth Bennett married Charles Scarburgh, a Puritan from the Virginia Eastern Shore, and Anna Bennett first wed Theodorick Bland , of Virginia, and then married St. Leger Codd, of Northumberland County, Virginia, and Cecil County, Maryland.

Bennett bequeathed 5,300 acres of land on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to three of his grandchildren and donated 300 acres to his local parish to be applied “towards the relief of four poor, aged, or impotent persons.” Bennett died, probably at Bennett’s Choice, between March 15, 1675, when he dated his will, and April 12, 1675, when it was proved in court.

England and the Netherlands: the ties between two nations > The Anglo-Dutch wars

The rivalry between the two trading countries led - among other things - to four wars that are known in English as the (Anglo-)Dutch wars and in the Netherlands as the Nederlandse-Engelse (Zee)oorlogen. (Dutch-English (Naval) Wars). Three of them were fought in the seventeenth century, one in the eighteenth. Trade conflicts and naval supremacy were at stake in these wars. For instance, the Dutch hegemony in the East Indies often led to dissension. The Dutch herring fleet operating in English coastal waters did not go down well with the English either.

It goes without saying that these clashes influenced the opinion the English and the Dutch had of each other. Every time a war broke out, there was an upsurge of propaganda activities on both sides. As always, each party was convinced it had God on its side. In 1664, for instance, an Englishman pointed out in ‘The English and Dutch affairs displayed to the life’ that God’s punitive hand was instrumental in the death due to plague of more than a thousand inhabitants of Amsterdam within a week. Two years later, the Dutch lost no time in seeing the 1666 Great Fire of London as our Lord’s justified punishment for the sinful life led by King Charles II and his subjects or for ‘Holmes’ Bonfire’, as Sir Robert Holmes’ cowardly attack on the Dutch merchant fleet in the Vlie passage to the sea and the plundering of the island of Terschelling were called. The anger of the English at the Ambon murder (1623) found its counterpart in the Dutch indignation over the decapitation of King Charles I Stuart in 1649.

The first Anglo-Dutch War (1652-1654)
In 1651, the English Parliament voted in the Act of Navigation limiting cargo trade to England to the English merchant fleet. The relations between both countries turned sour and it was not long before a clash of arms followed. When the Dutch vessels under Maarten Harpertsz. Tromp engaged the English fleet under Admiral Robert Blake off Dover in 1652, they refused to make the first salute. A battle ensued (Battle of Goodwin Sands). A mission to London failed, and one naval battle after another was fought out. In August 1652, Michiel de Ruyter defeated the English fleet off Plymouth, but then the tide turned. In October 1652, Witte de With was defeated by Admiral Blake at the Battle of Kentish Knock in February 1653, Tromp was defeated at the three-day battle that took place between Portland and Calais (Battle of Portland) and again four months later at the battle fought off Nieuwpoort. Th English thereupon laid a blockade along the Dutch coast, but it was lifted as early as August following sea battles off Wijk aan Zee and Ter Heijde (Battle of Scheveningen). Unfortunately Admiral Maarten Harpertsz. Tromp fell at the latter.

On 15 April 1654, the Treaty of Westminster put an end to the first Anglo-Dutch War. The terms of peace were unfavourable for the Dutch and the Act of Navigation remained in force. Moreover, the Treaty included a secret clause (the so-called Act of Seclusion) stipulating that William III, the young prince of Orange and the son of Stadholder William II, would never be allowed to become stadholder himself.

Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667)
Charles II, who had ascended the English throne in 1660, did everything possible to have William III designated as stadholder of the Republic of the United Netherlands. To achieve his goal, he played the pro-Orangists and their adversaries off against each another. In England, the mood was bellicose: the country hoped to frustrate Dutch trade to such an extent that they would be able to become the dominant trading nation. In 1664, England conquered the island of Curaçao, New Amsterdam (now New York) and the West African strongholds, from where the Dutch West India Company operated the slave trade. Michiel de Ruyter was sent to Africa and managed to reconquer the lost possessions, but the war shifted to Europe in 1665.

The Battle of Lowestoft, the first major naval encounter, took place on 13 June 1665 and ended in an English victory. On that occasion, Admiral James of Wassenaar Obdam’s flagship De Eendragt exploded. In January 1666, France involved itself in the war on the side of the Dutch and Fleet Admiral Michiel de Ruyter became known for the great successes he achieved in the Four Days’ Naval Battle (1-4 June 1666) against the English fleet under the command of General George Monck. He is also famed for his adventurous raid on Chatham, known in English as the Battle of Medway. The Dutch fleet sailed up the Thames as far as Gravesend and then up the Medway as far as Chatham. There it broke through the chain barrier, sank four ships and towed the pride of the English fleet, HMS Royal Charles, off to the Netherlands.

On 9 August 1666, Admiral Robert Holmes led an attack against the East Indiamen that were moored in the Vlie. Some 150 ships were destroyed and the town of West-Terschelling was sacked. This attack, that was to become known as Holmes’ Bonfire dealt a heavy blow both to the Dutch merchant navy and to the entire war effort. On the other side, the English lost only twelve men. When London was ravaged by the Great Fire a month later, many people in the Netherlands saw the event as God’ s punishment for the attack.

The terms of the Treaty of Breda, which put an end to the Second Anglo-Dutch War, were considered to be favourable for the Netherlands. The English navigation laws were relaxed. On the other hand, the Republic had to reconcile itself with the fact that New Amsterdam would remain in English hands for the time being. The town was renamed New York, after James II, Duke of York, and the brother of the English King. Surinam remained a Dutch possession. In fact, a final decision regarding the ‘ownership’ of the colonies was postponed.

Third Anglo-Dutch Was (1672-1674)
The Year of Disaster is the name the Dutch still give to the year 1672. England had joined an alliance consisting of France, Munster and Cologne. On 6 April of that year, these countries declared war on the Republic. The Netherlands were attacked on land and at sea. Michiel de Ruyter managed to inflict a number of heavy losses on the Anglo-French fleet and was able to prevent an invasion from the sea. On land, events took a less favourable course for the Dutch. A 120,000-strong French army marched on Cologne and invaded the Republic via the Rhine. At the same time, the bishop of Munster and his troops crossed the border in the eastern province of Overijssel. History books describe 1672 as the year ‘the people took leave of their senses, the government was at its wits’ end and the country irretrievably lost’.

In great haste, William III was appointed stadholder and Johan de Witt resigned as Grand Pensionary. The popular fury showed itself in the gruesome lynching that was to cost the life of both Johan de Witt and his brother Cornelis.

The Second Treaty of Westminster ended the war. England acquired the right of first salute and received an indemnification of a million English pounds. However, William III had succeeded in breaking up the Anglo-French alliance, which had been so dangerous for the Netherlands. New Amsterdam, which the Dutch had managed to reconquer in 1673 and had now baptized Nieuw-Oranje (New Orange), was handed over to the English for good, but the Dutch retained Surinam.

Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784)
Since the Glorious Revolution and the accession to the English throne of William III and Mary II Stuart, trade supremacy had shifted to England, with London becoming increasingly important as a centre of trade. In the American colonies, the Netherlands supported the rebellion against English rule. The Dutch supplied the Americans with weapons and ammunition via the isle of St Eustatius in the Caribbean. America was an example for the Dutch Patriots who wanted to restrict stadholder William V’s power and establish a more democratic form of government.

In 1780, the English arrested Henry Laurens, the newly appointed American ambassador to the Netherlands on his way to Amsterdam. A secret agreement between the Amsterdam merchant Jean de Neufville and the American diplomat William Lee was found in his luggage. Although both gentlemen had acted in a private capacity, without support from their respective governments, England took the matter most seriously. Moreover, it feared that the Netherlands would join the Union of Armed Neutrality formed by Russia, Sweden and Denmark, which – just as the Netherlands – had a lot of trouble with the English, who ran in neutral ships on a regular basis. These countries wanted to maintain their neutrality, by force of arms if need be and this would mean further protection for the trade with America. England declared war on the Republic, thereby depriving the Netherlands of their status of neutral country. As a result, the Republic could not rely on the support of allies, who did not want to engage in a naval war with England. A well-known Dutch victory was the Battle of the Dogger Bank however, the Dutch fleet was not to leave port any more after that battle as it was not strong enough to face another engagement. In February 1781, the English conquered St. Eustatius, laying their hands on a great number of ships, and a lot of merchandise and weapons at the same time. Moreover, they conquered all the African strongholds of the West India Company, except Elmina, which was to remain a Dutch colony (the last) in Africa for about another century.

In 1784, the Treaty of Paris put an end to the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. A year before, an armistice had already been concluded. England received the right of free navigation in the East Indies the Republic had to give up Negapatnam on the east coast of India. As it turned out, the fourth Anglo Dutch War was to mark the beginning of the end for the Republic of the United Netherlands.

Hampton Roads Invaded: The Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars

During the colonial era European conflicts often spilled over into colonies along the Atlantic seaboard. Caribbean islands produced sugar Southern Atlantic colonies produced cotton, tobacco, and ship stores and the Northern Atlantic colonies were famous for furs and lumber. As the Europeans fought, they likewise sought to control all of their enemies’ commerce and resources.

The Anglo-Dutch Wars were a series of three 17th-century conflicts fought for control of worldwide trade and were mostly conducted by naval warfare. Both the Netherlands and England were rapidly expanding commercial nations, and each wished to control these vast profits. To do so meant that either England or the Netherlands had to destroy their enemies’ fleet, conquer or raid their colonies, and capture or disrupt their merchant marine. The Second and Third Anglo-Dutch naval wars involved both the Dutch and English and this fierce economic rivalry brought these wars to the shores of Hampton Roads.

The Navigation Acts
Tobacco Farming in Virginia, ca. 1650. Sidney E. King, artist, public domain. Courtesy of National Park Service.

The “Acts of Trade and Navigation” were a series of English laws designed to control English shipping, trade between other countries, and its own colonies. These laws were based on mercantilist theories that England was to profit and control the majority of worldwide trade. The acts detailed that only English ships would be allowed to bring goods into England and that North America and all other English colonies and trading posts in places like West Africa, the Caribbean, and Bombay could only sell their commodities to England. The Navigation Acts, beginning in 1651, were protectionist laws especially designed to destroy Dutch commerce through the control of maritime trade routes and overseas resources. These acts resulted in three naval wars between the two maritime powers, the first being fought between 1652 and 1654.

Second Anglo-Dutch Naval War

The first naval conflict did not resolve the trade competition between England and Holland. “What matters is not this or that reason,” noted George Monck, the Duke of Albemarle. “What we want is more of the Dutch trade.” <1>The English wished to overtake or end the Dutch leading position in world trade. The English began to bully their way into taking over the Dutch slave trade by capturing the Dutch East Indies Co.’s Cabo Verde slave trading post in West Africa. Then they conquered the Dutch North American colony known as New Amsterdam beginning in June 1664. After the English captured two Dutch convoys in early 1665, the Netherlands declared war on England on March 4, 1665. While the war initially went well for the English, the Royal Navy was overtaxed to defend the approaches to England itself as well as its overseas empire.

The Fall of New Amsterdam. Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, artist (1863-1930).. New Amsterdam residents beg Peter Stuyvesant to surrender to the British in 1664. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Following the First Anglo-Dutch Naval War, the Dutch improved their fleet while England lacked the finances to expand the Royal Navy at the same rate. After the English victory during the July 25, 1666, St. James’s Day Battle, King Charles II thought that the Dutch fleet was so severely beaten that he laid up most of his heavy ships at Chatham on the River Medway. He just could not pay his crews. Between June 19 and 24, 1667, the Dutch sent a fleet into the Thames and Medway to destroy and capture numerous major English ships.

The Four Days Fight, 1-4 June 1666. Pieter Cornelisz van Soest, artist, 1663. Royal Museums Greenwich, CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0 .

Consequently, English morale was at a low point. The Black Death had visited the nation in 1665 to 1666, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths and the Great Fire of London in September 1666 had destroyed much of the city. The Dutch, because of their great victory in the Medway in 1667, now appeared to be in control of the seas and turned their attention to the British overseas empire.

Map, showing the main battles of the Anglo-Dutch War 1665-1667. CC BY-SS 3.0

Defending the Chesapeake

When the war between England and the Netherlands erupted in 1665, Virginia was virtually defenseless. Governor Sir William Berkeley received instructions on June 3, 1665, from King Charles II to ready Virginia to repel any Dutch invasion or raid. Hampton Roads, Virginia, was the roadstead for the annual tobacco fleet convoy which took valuable Virginia and Maryland product to England each year. As Berkeley endeavored to organize the militia, he knew that the greatest danger was to the tobacco fleet. He lobbied London for cannons and powder. Berkeley decided to identify four defensive anchorages including: Jamestown, Tyndall’s (Gloucester) Point on the York River, an unnamed site in the Rappahannock River, and Pungoteague on the Eastern Shore.

Charles II, King of Great Britain and Ireland, detail. Sir Peter Lely, artist., ca. 1675. Encyclopaedia Britannica online. Accessed October 14, 2020.

Berkeley planned to abandon the fort on Old Point Comfort and remove its cannons to Jamestown. The fort at the entrance to Hampton Roads had been rebuilt in 1632 and had fallen into disrepair. The governor did not believe that any defenses on Old Point Comfort could effectively defend Hampton Roads. Nevertheless, the King and his Council thought otherwise and ordered that the derelict fort be rebuilt.

Berkeley believed that the colony’s militia, commanded by leading citizens like Colonel Leonard Yeo of Elizabeth City County and Colonel Miles Cary of Warwick County, would be capable of repelling any land invasion of Virginia. Yet, he feared that the riverine fortifications were incapable of guarding the colony or the tobacco fleet, and he requested that a frigate be sent to Virginia to act as a guard ship. The Admiralty complied however, the vessel sent was indeed a relic. The HMS Elizabeth was built in 1647 as a 32-gun frigate. The ship was worn out and it appeared to the Lord High Admiral that the Chesapeake was where it could do the best service.

Col. Miles Cary of Richneck (1655-1709). Artist unknown. Published in The Virginia Carys An Essay in Genealogy. CS71 .C332 1919. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va. Courtesy of Encyclopedia Virginia.

When Elizabeth arrived in the James River, it delivered 10 cannons to Jamestown. The frigate’s commander, Captain Lightfoot, discovered that the forts planned for the York River, the Rappahannock River, and the Eastern Shore were useless. Furthermore, his own ship was in such bad condition that it required extensive repairs. Virginia remained unprepared to protect the tobacco ships that were assembling in late April in Hampton Roads and the James River.

The Dutch Strike Like a Crimson Tide

Admiral Abraham Crijnssen, a hero of the Four Days’ Battle, was dispatched to the Caribbean on December 30, 1666, to coordinate with the Dutch’s newest ally, France, to capture or re-capture various English possessions. Crijnssen (called “Crimson” by the English) successfully re-captured Suriname, Tobago, and St. Eustatius. Yet, he found it exceedingly difficult to work with the French navy and decided to sail to the Chesapeake Bay.

Naval Battle in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. From The Miscellaneous Works of John Dryden, by Dryden, John. The Mechanical Curator collection, courtesy of the British Library. Accessed October 14, 2020.

Crimson had several warships under his command including: the frigates Zeelandia (34-guns), West-Cappel (28-guns), and Zerider (34-guns). As the Dutch fleet neared the Virginia Capes, the Dutch captured a small shallop. The crew members told Crimson that almost 20 tobacco ships were at the mouth of the James River. Then, the Dutch encountered a 20-gun merchantman commanded by Captain Robert Conway of London. Its destination? Tangier Island. Conway valiantly resisted the Dutch however, he was forced to surrender. Conway was given the captured the shallop Pauls Grave in return for guiding Crimson’s fleet into the James River.

On June 5, 1667, the Dutch ships, flying English colors, sailed right into the tobacco fleet and steered toward the frigate Elizabeth. The Zeelandia sailed alongside the English warship and fired three broadsides into the frigate. Only able to fire one gun in reply, the Elizabeth surrendered. Captain Lightfoot was not with his ship, despite having prior knowledge of the Dutch fleet’s entrance into the bay. Rather, he chose to attend a wedding with a wench he had brought with him from England.

Once the Zeelandia made a wreck of the Elizabeth, the other Dutch ships captured 19 tobacco ships. Crimson now had to decide which vessels he could take back to the Netherlands. The Dutch admiral just did not have enough men to operate all of the captured vessels. So, he burned six ships and prepared 13 to leave the Chesapeake with his fleet. But before he could depart, he needed to obtain fresh water. Crimson’s men made several landings yet each time they were repulsed by the Virginia militia.

On June 8, the Dutch attacked Old Point Comfort. During that engagement, Colonel Miles Cary, a member of the Governor’s Council, was mortally wounded and died two days later. The Dutch still had to remain in Virginia waters to secure water.

Miles M. Cary gravesite. Find a Grave online. ( : accessed 13 October 2020). Find a Grave Memorial no. 9702282, citing Miles Cary Cemetery, Newport News, Virginia, USA.

Berkeley Strives to Strike Back
Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, ca. 1663. Painting by Harriott L.T. Montague, ca. 1917, after original painting by Sir Peter Lely at Library of Virginia. Public domain.

Governor Berkeley was distressed over these sad events and was determined to gain revenge and recapture some of the tobacco transports. He knew that the Dutch could sail up to Jamestown and destroy the capital of Virginia. Therefore, Berkeley decided to arm the nine York River tobacco ships. These vessels, along with the three ships that had escaped to Jamestown, would attack Crimson’s fleet in a double envelopment movement. Lightfoot volunteered his services as well as that of his crew. The governor also mustered more than 900 men, in three regiments, to help man the tobacco ships. Everyone involved appeared to approve the plan.

Berkeley planned to command the entire force. Yet, there were so many delays, that the assault was never launched. On June 11, 1667, Crimson’s command and its prizes left the Chesapeake to return to the Netherlands. The Dutch raids had been disastrous for Virginia and these losses were only compounded when a hurricane struck the colony with devastating effect on August 27, 1667. It had been an awfully bad year for Virginia!

Map of Lower Chesapeake Bay. Researchgate online. Accessed October 2, 2020.

Third Anglo-Dutch Naval War

The Second Anglo-Dutch naval conflict was a tremendous humiliation for England. The next war was not necessarily associated with trade. Rather it was connected to King Charles II’s secret alliance with King Louis XIV of France and was intended to isolate the Dutch provinces and conquer the Spanish Netherlands. King Charles needed the French subsidies to circumvent Parliament. Even though the French secured some initial land victories, the combined Anglo-French fleet was defeated in several engagements which helped to save the Dutch from defeat.

Virginia Prepares

The August 27, 1667 hurricane had completely destroyed the fort at Old Point Comfort. This enabled Governor Berkeley to move forward with concepts of Virginia’s coastal defense. So, he advanced, at least in theory, to fortify Jamestown, Tyndall’s Point on the York River, Corrotoman on the Rappahannock River, and a bluff at the mouth of the Nansemond River. All of these forts were either poorly constructed or were never begun. They lacked cannons, ammunition, soldiers, and skilled construction workers. The Virginians had certainly forgotten the lessons of the Dutch invasions of 1667.

Guard Ships Required, Requested, and Readied
Ship model- replica of English 50-gun ship, ca.1687. August F. Crabtree, maker. The Mariners’ Museum 1956.0021.000001A

When the Third Anglo-Dutch Naval War erupted in Europe, Governor Sir William Berkeley once again pleaded to have guardships sent to protect and escort to England all of the tobacco transports assembling in the lower Chesapeake Bay. England immediately consented with a pair of frigates. The two 50-gun warships that arrived in Spring 1673 were Barnaby, commanded by Captain Thomas Gardiner, and Augustine, commanded by Captain Edward Cotterell. This made the Virginia governor feel somewhat relieved. Unfortunately, these ships were not quite as powerful as they appeared and needed repairs and supplies. Most of the tobacco ships nevertheless, had already arrived in the lower James River and were ready for the escorts to take them to England.

Governor Berkeley received intelligence in late April that a Dutch force intended to soon attack Virginia. He considered calling out the militia to place 50 soldiers on each transport, waiting until those ships could safely leave the Chesapeake. Yet, Berkeley feared Indian attacks and possible slave uprisings (the first slave revolt in Virginia was on September 1, 1663, in Gloucester County). He was also unsure of the militia’s combat readiness or if the troops had the capability of manning the unfinished forts. The governor knew that the Dutch would soon return to Virginia.

Another Unwelcome Visit

Two different United Provinces forces were ordered to the South Atlantic and Caribbean to harass English shipping. One was commanded by Vice-Admiral Cornelius Eversten the Youngest, and the other by Admiral Jacob Binkes. Both men had served with distinction during the Second Anglo-Dutch Naval War. Eversten had actually been given command of England’s captured great ship, Royal Charles, captured during the raid on the Medway. Both of these officers had separate, but similar orders to intercept the homeward bound English East India Convoy.

They were interrupted in their tasks as they came upon a larger English squadron and went to the Caribbean instead. There, Eversten and Binkes would join commands. Together they captured the island of St. Eustatia on June 8, 1673. Believing that they had achieved enough in the Caribbean, the powerful Dutch squadron steered toward the Chesapeake Bay. The Dutch entered Virginia waters on July 11, 1673, and anchored in Lynnhaven Roads.

Coastwatchers sent word to Jamestown that a fleet of eight ships had entered the Chesapeake. The Dutch squadron included the 46-gun flagship Swanenburgh and seven other warships. When news arrived of the enemy’s arrival, it was decided that the English would maintain a defensive posture using the Augustine and Barnaby along with six large, well-armed merchant ships. The thought was that if the Dutch chose to attack the tobacco fleet, the English were well prepared to hold off the dangerous enemy.

Hampton Roads, Virginia. From official state map published in 1859. Public Domain.

The Battle is Joined

While this seemed to be a good defensive plan, the eight-ship Maryland fleet was observed coming down the bay heading directly toward Eversten’s squadron. Therefore, on the morning of July 12, the English were forced to quickly act to save the Maryland transports. Capt. Gardiner of the Barnaby took decisive action and, with Capt. Cotterell, decided to attack the Dutch in an effort to engage the enemy. The small squadron sailed out of Hampton Roads to draw the enemy toward Hampton. En route, four merchantmen ran aground, while a fifth retreated toward the James River. As this force neared the Dutch, the sixth tobacco transport, captained by a man named Groves, turned away to avoid the engagement.

Nevertheless, the two English warships sailed directly toward the Swanenburgh and raked the Dutch warship with a heavy broadside. As Gardiner changed course back toward Hampton Roads, a running battle ensued between the Dutch ships and the Barnaby. In doing so, Barnaby blocked the wind from the Dutch squadron. For more than an hour, Gardiner fought Swanenburgh with great zeal and with no support from the Augustine. Captain Cotterell did not take advantage of his firing position and fled toward the mouth of the Elizabeth River. Darkness shrouded Hampton Roads and the battle ended when Swanenburgh ran aground.

The Barnaby had suffered serious damage to its masts and rigging, Gardiner had saved the day for almost all of the tobacco transports, While the battle raged, the Maryland tobacco fleet was able to slip past the Chesapeake Capes with the loss of only one vessel. Simultaneously with the engagement, 22 tobacco ships escaped up the James River toward Jamestown about 12 merchantmen found protection within the Nansemond River. The Barnaby had indeed achieved victory from the jaws of defeat.

Cornelius Eversten, Lieutenant-Admiral of Zeeland. Painting, ca. 1680. Nicolaes Maes, artist. Courtesy of Rijksmuseum.

Eversten and Binkes seemed to have trapped the tobacco fleet however, they just could not get at those merchantmen. That evening, Binkes captured Grove’s grounded merchantman and a tobacco shallop coming down the bay. The next day, July 13, the Dutch did not wish to try to sail into the uncharted waters of the Elizabeth and Nansemond rivers for fear that they would run aground on a shoal. As Eversten and Binkes considered their options to attack the nearby warships and tobacco ships, Eversten sent three vessels — Zeehond, Schaeckerloo, and Captain Boes’s shallop — into the James River where they came upon five tobacco transports that had not made it to the protection of Jamestown. All had been grounded on shoals and four were burned as they were soundly stuck in the sand. The Madras was freed and taken back down river to the Dutch fleet’s anchorage.

A Council of War Before the Battle of Scheveningen, August 7, 1653. W V Velde, artist, the Netherlands. Ca. 1653-1658. Drawing. The Mariners’ Museum 1945.0002.000224.

Off to New York

By now, the Dutch had been in the bay for five days and had captured several ships however, they were unable to capture or destroy the rest of the tobacco fleet. Gleaning information from a captured vessel, they learned that New York (which nine years before was known as New Amsterdam) was poorly defended. So, the Dutchmen left the bay with their prizes. Sailing north, they reached New York in August 1673 and recaptured the town for the United Provinces. Eversten and Binkes then returned to the Netherlands with news of their victories.


Once the Dutch left the Chesapeake, the Nansemond River and James River tobacco fleets joined up with the Rappahannock and York rivers tobacco convoy. These combined fleets, escorted by the Barnaby and Augustine, set sail for England on August 10, 1673. They arrived safely, helping to revitalize the Maryland and Virginia economies. In the meantime, Berkeley endeavored to finish the construction of his planned forts so as to give the Virginians a stronger sense of security against another Dutch raid. The 1667 Dutch attack had damaged the Virginia economy in such a manner that it did not recover until the end of the Third Anglo-Dutch War. Resolute action during the 1673 raid by the English guardships had saved the colony from yet another disaster.

James II of England, Wearing Garter Robes. Painting by Peter Lely (school of). Bolton Library & Museum Services, Bolton Council, CC BY-NC-ND.

The English citizenry had become dis-illusioned with the war and England’s ally, France. Consequently, the Third Anglo-Dutch Naval War ended on February 17, 1674, by the Treaty of Westminster. One of the treaty’s terms entailed that the English would return Suriname to the Netherlands and receive New York in exchange. Somehow the Dutch believed that Suriname was more valuable than the city on New York Bay!

Virginia was not to be invaded by sea again for over a hundred years. Several forts would be constructed again on Old Point Comfort, all of which were destroyed by hurricanes. Then in 1779, Virginia’s former royal masters invaded the lower Chesapeake only to be defeated by the new United States and its ally, France. The British would return in 1813 and 1814 however, in the aftermath of the War of 1812, the young nation would build significant fortifications defending Hampton Roads on Old Point Comfort and Rip Rap Shoal. Both forts still stand today, echoes of past conflicts.

Fort Monroe National Monument, Hampton, VA. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

<1>Christopher Hill, The Century of Revolution: 1603-1714. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1980, p.181.


Crutchfield, James A. The Grand Adventure: A Year by Year History of Virginia. Richmond, Virginia: The Dietz Press, 2005.

Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.,1971.

Hill, Christopher. The Century of Revolution: 1603-1714. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1980.

Lockyer, Roger. Tudor and Stuart Britain. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1964.

Quarstein, John V. A History of Ironclads. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2007.

____ and Rouse, Parke S. Jr. Newport News: A Centennial History. Newport News, Virginia: City of Newport News, 1996.

Salmon, Emily J. and Campbell, Edward D.C. The Hornbook of Virginia History: A Ready Reference to the Old Dominion’s Peoples, Places, and Past, 4th Edition. Richmond, Virginia: Library of Virginia, 1994.

Shomate, Donald G. Pirates on the Chesapeake. Centreville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1985.

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