Fourth Anglo-Dutch War

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Fourth Anglo-Dutch War
Part of the Anglo-Dutch Wars
The Battle of the Dogger Bank 5 August 1781.jpg
The Battle of Dogger Bank by Thomas Luny

Decisive British victory [1]

Dutch cede Negapatnam to Britain.
Statenvlag.svg  Dutch Republic
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg  France
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
Statenvlag.svg Andries Hartsinck
Statenvlag.svg Johan Zoutman
Statenvlag.svg Jan Hendrik van Kinsbergen
Statenvlag.svg Reynier van Vlissingen
Statenvlag.svg Iman Willem Falck
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Bailli de Suffren
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Armand of Kersaint
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Sir Hyde Parker
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Sir Edward Hughes
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg George Rodney
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg George Johnstone
Casualties and losses

Statenvlag.svg Netherlands:
500 killed in combat
Thousands died of disease
1,000+ captured [3]
3 ships-of-the-line captured
1 ship-of-the-line sunk
3 frigates captured [4]
230+ merchant ships captured [5]


Royal Standard of the King of France.svg France: Unknown

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (Dutch : Vierde Engels-Nederlandse Oorlog; 1780–1784) was a conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Dutch Republic. The war, contemporary with the War of American Independence, broke out over British and Dutch disagreements on the legality and conduct of Dutch trade with Britain's enemies in that war.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 23 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

Kingdom of Great Britain Constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

Dutch Republic Republican predecessor state of the Netherlands from 1581 to 1795

The Dutch Republic, or the United Provinces, was a confederal republic that existed from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces—seceded from Spanish rule—until the Batavian Revolution of 1795. It was a predecessor state of the Netherlands and the first Dutch nation state.

Although the Dutch Republic did not enter into a formal alliance with the United States and their allies, U.S. ambassador (and future president) John Adams managed to establish diplomatic relations with the Dutch Republic, making it the second European country to diplomatically recognize the Continental Congress in April 1782. In October 1782, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded as well.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The President of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

John Adams 2nd president of the United States

John Adams was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Before his presidency he was a leader of the American Revolution that achieved independence from Great Britain, and also served as the first vice president of the United States. Adams was a dedicated diarist and regularly corresponded with many important figures in early American history including his wife and adviser, Abigail, and his letters and other papers are an important source of historical information about the era.

Continental Congress convention of delegates that became the governing body of the United States

The Continental Congress was initially a convention of delegates from several British American colonies at the height of the American Revolution era, who spoke and acted collectively for the people of the Thirteen colonies that ultimately became the United States of America. The term most specifically refers to the First Continental Congress of 1774 and the Second Continental Congress of 1775–81. More broadly, it also refers to the Congress of the Confederation of 1781–89, thus covering the entire period the Continental Congress served as the chief legislative and executive body of the U.S. government.

Most of the war consisted of a series of British operations against Dutch colonial economic interests, although British and Dutch naval forces also met once off the Dutch coast. The war ended disastrously for the Dutch and exposed the weakness of the political and economic foundations of the republic. [6]

Battle of Dogger Bank (1781) naval battle that took place on 5 August 1781

The Battle of the Dogger Bank was a naval battle that took place on 5 August 1781 during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, contemporaneously related to the American Revolutionary War, in the North Sea. It was a bloody encounter between a British squadron under Vice Admiral Sir Hyde Parker and a Dutch squadron under Vice Admiral Johan Zoutman, both of which were escorting convoys.


Although Great Britain and the Dutch Republic had been allies since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Dutch had become very much the junior partner in the alliance, and had slowly lost their erstwhile dominance of world trade to the British. During the Second Stadtholderless Period, the Dutch Republic had more or less abdicated its pretences as a major power and this became painfully evident to the rest of Europe during the War of the Austrian Succession. Near the end of that war in 1747, an Orangist revolution restored the stadtholderate with vastly increased powers for the stadtholder (the stadtholderate became hereditary). However, this did not lead to a resurgence of the republic as a major power because of what many in the republic saw as the mismanagement of the stadtholderian regency during the minority of stadtholder William V, and subsequently during his own reign. Instead, the republic remained stubbornly neutral during the Seven Years' War, which enabled it to greatly neglect both its army and navy. The stadtholderian regime was pro-British (the stadtholder being a grandson of king George II of Great Britain), but his opponents for this reason favored France, and those opponents were strong enough in the States General of the Netherlands (the governing body of the Republic whose "first servant" the stadtholder was) to keep Dutch foreign policy neutral. [7]

Glorious Revolution 17th Century British revolution

The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, was the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English politicians with the Dutch stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange, who was James's nephew and son-in-law. William's successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascension to the throne as William III of England jointly with his wife, Mary II, James's daughter, after the Declaration of Right, leading to the Bill of Rights 1689.

War of the Austrian Succession Dynastic war in Austro-Hungary

The War of the Austrian Succession involved most of the powers of Europe over the issue of Archduchess Maria Theresa's succession to the Habsburg Monarchy. The war included peripheral events such as King George's War in British America, the War of Jenkins' Ear, the First Carnatic War in India, the Jacobite rising of 1745 in Scotland, and the First and Second Silesian Wars.

Stadtholder title used in parts of Europe

In the Low Countries, stadtholder was an office of steward, designated a medieval official and then a national leader. The stadtholder was the replacement of the duke or earl of a province during the Burgundian and Habsburg period (1384–1581/1795).

Initially, the British considered the Dutch allies in their attempt to stamp out the rebellion in their North American Thirteen Colonies. They attempted to "borrow" the mercenary Scotch Brigade of the Dutch States Army for use in the Americas, in a similar manner to the Hessian and Brunswicker contingents they hired and deployed. However, this was strongly opposed by the Dutch sympathizers of the American Revolution, led by baron Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, who managed to convince the States General to refuse the British request. [8]

Thirteen Colonies British American colonies which became the United States

The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Floridas.

Dutch States Army

The Dutch States Army was the army of the Dutch Republic. It was usually called this, because it was formally the army of the States-General of the Netherlands, the sovereign power of that federal republic. This mercenary army was brought to such a size and state of readiness that it was able to hold its own against the armies of the major European powers of the extended 17th century, Habsburg Spain and the France of Louis XIV, despite the fact that these powers possessed far larger military resources than the Republic. It played a major role in the Eighty Years' War and in the wars of the Grand Alliance with France after 1672.

More importantly, Dutch merchants, especially those from Amsterdam, became involved in the supply of arms and munitions to the rebels soon after the start of the American Revolutionary War. This trade was mainly conducted via the entrepôt of St. Eustatius, an island colony of the Dutch West India Company in the Caribbean. There, American colonial wares, such as tobacco and indigo, were imported (in contravention of the British Navigation Acts) and re-exported to Europe. For their return cargo, the Americans purchased arms, munitions, and naval stores brought to the island by Dutch and French merchants. To add insult to injury, in 1776, the governor of the island, Johannes de Graeff, was the first to salute the flag of the United States, leading to growing British suspicions of the Dutch. In 1778, the Dutch refused to be bullied into taking Britain's side in the war against France. The British invoked a number of old treaties (1678, 1689, 1716) to have the republic support them militarily, but as in the Seven Years' War, the Dutch government refused. [9]

Amsterdam Capital city of the Netherlands and municipality

Amsterdam is the capital city and most populous municipality of the Netherlands. Its status as the capital is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands, although it is not the seat of the government, which is The Hague. Amsterdam has a population of 854,047 within the city proper, 1,357,675 in the urban area and 2,410,960 in the metropolitan area. The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country but is not its capital, which is Haarlem. The Amsterdam metropolitan area comprises much of the northern part of the Randstad, one of the larger conurbations in Europe, which has a population of approximately 8.1 million.

Entrepôt port, city, or trading post where merchandise may be imported, stored or traded, usually to be exported again

An entrepôt or transshipment port is a port, city, or trading post where merchandise may be imported, stored or traded, usually to be exported again. These commercial cities spawned due to the growth of long-distance trade. Such centers played a critical role in trade during the days of wind-powered shipping. In modern times customs areas have largely made such entrepôts obsolete, but the term is still used to refer to duty-free ports with a high volume of re-export trade. This type of port should not be confused with the modern French usage of the word entrepôt, meaning warehouse.

Dutch West India Company Dutch trading company

Dutch West India Company was a chartered company of Dutch merchants as well as foreign investors. Among its founders was Willem Usselincx (1567–1647). On June 3, 1621, it was granted a charter for a trade monopoly in the Dutch West Indies by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and given jurisdiction over Dutch participation in the Atlantic slave trade, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America. The area where the company could operate consisted of West Africa and the Americas, which included the Pacific Ocean and the eastern part of New Guinea. The intended purpose of the charter was to eliminate competition, particularly Spanish or Portuguese, between the various trading posts established by the merchants. The company became instrumental in the largely ephemeral Dutch colonization of the Americas in the seventeenth century. From 1624 to 1654, in the context of the Dutch-Portuguese War, the WIC held Portuguese territory in northeast Brazil, but they were ousted from Dutch Brazil following fierce resistance.

After the French declared war on Britain, the Amsterdam merchants also became heavily involved in the trade in naval stores with France. The French needed those supplies for their naval construction, but were prevented from obtaining those themselves, due to the blockade of the Royal Navy (France being the weaker naval power in the conflict). The Dutch were privileged by a concession obtained after their victory in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, known as the principle of "free ship, free goods", which was enshrined in the Anglo-Dutch Commercial Treaty of 1668 (reconfirmed in the Treaty of Westminster (1674)). This early formulation of the principle of Freedom of Navigation exempted all but narrowly defined "contraband" goods, carried in Dutch ships, from confiscation by the British prize courts, in wars in which the Dutch remained neutral. According to the treaty naval stores (including ship's timbers, masts, spars, canvas, tar, rope, and pitch) were not contraband and the Dutch, therefore, were free to continue their trade with France in these goods. Because of the still-important role of the Dutch in the European carrying trade, this opened up a large loophole in the British embargo. The British, therefore, unilaterally declared naval stores to be contraband and enforced their embargo by arresting Dutch (and other neutral) ships on the high seas.

This led to strong protests by the affected Dutch merchants, who demanded institution of convoys escorted by the Dutch navy, to protect them against the Royal Navy and British privateers. According to customary international law, such convoys were (and still are) exempt from the right of Visit and Search by belligerents. Initially, the stadtholder managed to prevent this, but strong diplomatic pressure by France, that selectively applied economic sanctions to Dutch cities supporting the stadtholder in this policy, forced his hand in November 1779. The States General now ordered him to provide the escorts and the first convoy, under command of Rear Admiral Lodewijk van Bylandt, sailed in December 1779. This led to the humiliating Affair of Fielding and Bylandt on 31 December 1779, which enraged Dutch public opinion and further undermined the position of the stadtholder. The incident motivated the Dutch to seek adherence to the First League of Armed Neutrality, which espoused the principle of "free ship, free goods", especially after Britain formally abrogated the Commercial Treaty of 1668. The Dutch hoped to gain the armed support of the other members of the league to maintain their neutral status. [10]

The war

Declaration of war

The British government saw the danger of this move (it might embroil Great Britain in war with Russia and the Nordic powers Sweden and Denmark–Norway also), so declared war on the republic shortly after its adherence in December 1780. [11] To forestall Russia from coming to the aid of the Dutch (something Empress Catharine II of Russia was not keen on, either), the British government cited a number of grievances that were ostensibly unrelated to the Dutch accession to the league. One of these was the shelter the Dutch had (reluctantly) given to the American privateer John Paul Jones in 1779. [12] More importantly, much was made of a draft treaty of commerce, secretly negotiated between the Amsterdam banker Jean de Neufville and the American agent in Aix-la-Chapelle, William Lee, with the connivance of the Amsterdam pensionary Van Berckel, and found among the effects of Henry Laurens, an American diplomat who had been apprehended by the British cruiser HMS Vestal in September 1780, on the high seas. He had been sent by the Continental Congress to establish diplomatic relations with the Dutch Republic. The draft treaty was cited as proof by the British of the non-neutral conduct of the Dutch. [13]

Progress of the war

Dutch naval power had been in decline since 1712. The fleet had been long neglected, and the Dutch navy, having only 20 ships of the line at the start of the conflict, was no match for the British Royal Navy. Although the States General had decided on a substantial expansion of the fleet in 1779, just before the fateful decision to offer limited convoys, and had even voted the funds for such a naval-construction program, it progressed but slowly. Another reason for the slow expansion of the Dutch fleet was a lack of suitable recruits—the Dutch navy paid lower wages than the merchant marine and did not use impressment like the Royal Navy. [14] The number of available ships was diminished even more at the start of the war when several ships were captured by the British in the West Indies because they were unaware the war had started. A convoy under Rear Admiral Willem Crul was lost this way near St. Eustatius in February 1781, and the admiral was killed in the short action; [15]

The pronounced inferiority of the Dutch fleet, and its state of "unreadiness" was a frequently reiterated excuse for the Dutch naval commanders, especially Vice Admiral Andries Hartsinck, who commanded the Texel squadron, to keep the fleet at anchor, thereby ceding dominance of the North Sea to the blockading British fleet. Within a few weeks of the beginning of the war, more than 200 Dutch merchantmen, with cargo to the amount of 15 million guilders, had been captured by the British and 300 more were locked up in foreign ports. [16]

Another reason for the lack of activity of the Dutch navy was the fact that diplomatic activity never ceased and gave the Dutch government the illusion that the war would be of only short duration. First Empress Catharine, though she refused to come to the aid of the Dutch, was very active in offering her services to mediate the dispute. Both the British and the Dutch, with varying amounts of sincerity, cooperated in these diplomatic maneuvers, which came to nothing, but helped to keep military activities at a low level while they lasted. [17]

The British government also made overtures to the Dutch to come to a speedy conclusion of hostilities, especially after the cabinet of Lord North had been replaced by that of Rockingham and Fox in March 1782. Fox immediately proposed a separate peace on favorable conditions to the Dutch government. Unfortunately for the Dutch, they had just bound themselves closer to France by agreeing to act "in concert" with France in naval actions, so a separate peace was no longer an option. A real military alliance with France was, however, still blocked by the stadtholder, despite the fact that many in the republic favored it. [18]

The war, as far as it went, was fought in three main theatres. Britain blockaded Dutch ports in Europe, and embarked on expeditions to seize Dutch colonial properties throughout the world. These were almost entirely successful; only an attempt to capture the Dutch castle at Elmina on the Africa's Gold Coast (modern Ghana) failed. While many Dutch territories in the West Indies were taken by the British, some, like Curaçao, were not attacked due to their defensive strength.

West Indies

The capture of St Eustatius by the British fleet in February 1781. The island is sacked by the British. Ile de Saint Eustache en 1781 (haute resolution).jpg
The capture of St Eustatius by the British fleet in February 1781. The island is sacked by the British.
The same year, the island is issued by a French landing troops. Prise de Saint Eustache par les troupes de Bouille sept 1781.jpg
The same year, the island is issued by a French landing troops.

As far as the Dutch were concerned, the war in the West Indies was over almost before it had begun. Admiral Rodney, the commander of the Leeward Islands station of the Royal Navy, attacked the Dutch colonies in that part of the Caribbean: St. Eustatius, Saba, and Saint Martin, as soon as he had received word of the declaration of war, in the process surprising a number of Dutch naval and merchant ships, which were still unaware of the start of hostilities. St. Eustatius (captured on 3 February 1781), that had played such a large role in the supply of the American rebels with arms, was completely devastated by him. He proved himself especially vengeful against the Jewish merchants on the island. [19] All goods on the island were confiscated and all merchants, Dutch, American, French, even British, deported. Part of the loot was auctioned off on the spot, but an appreciable amount was put on a convoy destined for Britain. However, much of the convoy was captured in the English Channel by a French squadron under Admiral Picquet de la Motte. The French did not return the goods to the Dutch, however. [20]

Though an attempt was made to likewise capture the Dutch Leeward Antilles, these remained in Dutch hands, as did Suriname, though neighboring Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo were rapidly taken by the British early in 1781. [21] These were retaken by the French captain Armand de Kersaint in 1782, and restored to the Dutch after the war.

European waters

Admiral Hartsinck at first proved himself highly reluctant to risk his fleet. However, political pressure to venture outside the safety of the Texel roadstead mounted and several cautious attempts were made to capture British convoys, or escort Dutch convoys. In one of those forays, an unusually strong squadron, under Admiral Johan Zoutman and his second-in-command, Rear Admiral Jan Hendrik van Kinsbergen, encountered in August 1781 a British squadron of about equal strength under Admiral Hyde Parker in the Battle of Dogger Bank, which ended in a tactical draw. [22]

Another promising venture seemed to be what has become known as the Brest Affair. In September 1782, after the Dutch politicians had hesitantly agreed to coordinate their actions with the French, acting "in concert", an opportunity seemed to exist to combine a Dutch squadron of 10 ships of the line with the French squadron at Brest, as the British fleet in the channel had suddenly sailed south. However, Hartsinck, as usual, made objections, based on intelligence that British ships lay in ambush. When this proved false, the stadtholder ordered him to send the squadron, under command of Vice Admiral Count Lodewijk van Bylandt to Brest. However, as had happened countless times before, Bylandt, after having inspected the ships, declared them "unready" to put out to sea. In this refusal, he was supported by the other flag officers. The incident caused a political storm that threatened to engulf the stadtholder himself, as he was responsible as commander-in-chief for both the state of readiness of the fleet and its strategic decisions (though the officers were tactically and operationally responsible, and could not decline responsibility for the alleged state of "unreadiness" themselves). The opponents of the stadtholder demanded an investigation that was, however, very long drawn out, and quietly terminated after the stadtholder was restored in his full powers after 1787, long after the end of the war. [23]

Though, except for the Dogger-Bank skirmish, no major battles were fought in European waters, and the British blockade encountered little opposition from the Dutch fleet, the blockade itself exacted its toll on the British seamen, who were at sea for long times at a stretch (which even exposed them to the danger of scurvy) and the ships that suffered from severe wear and tear. Also, because an appreciable number of ships had to be detached to maintain naval superiority in the North Sea, the already overstretched Royal Navy was even more strained after 1781. Ships that were needed to blockade the Dutch coast could not be used against the French, Americans, and Spaniards in other theatres of war. This may have contributed to a number of the naval defeats the British suffered after 1781. [24]

Asian waters

Glorious action of the French Admiral Suffren against the British Admiral Hughes in the seas of Ceylon. The intervention of the French navy attempted to rescue the Dutch colonies in Asia. Battaille Gondelour 1783 gravure hollandaise imaginaire 1783.jpg
Glorious action of the French Admiral Suffren against the British Admiral Hughes in the seas of Ceylon. The intervention of the French navy attempted to rescue the Dutch colonies in Asia.

The Dutch East India Company (VOC) had been responsible for defending its own colonies east of the Cape Colony, but for the first time, had to request assistance from the Dutch navy. However, ships were lacking at first and what naval forces were available were unable to prevent Britain from taking effective control of the Dutch colonies (in the Indian Subcontinent all of the Dutch colonies were taken). In early 1782 British Admiral Sir Edward Hughes captured Trincomalee on the eastern coast of Ceylon, considered to be the finest harbour in the Bay of Bengal. [25]

In March 1781, British Admiral George Johnstone was sent to capture the Cape Colony. France, which had already planned to send a fleet to India, received intelligence of this, and directed its commander, the Bailli de Suffren, to try to reach the Cape before Johnstone. After Johnstone and Suffren met in a happenstance battle in the Cape Verde Islands, Suffren was able to arrive before Johnstone, and the strength of French troops he left dissuaded Johnstone from attacking the colony. After capturing a number of VOC ships in the nearby Saldanha Bay, he returned to North Atlantic waters.

Suffren had continued on to Isle de France (now Mauritius) and then India. There, he arrived and fought a number of actions against Hughes. Suffren attempted to take the Dutch port of Negapatam (taken by the British in 1781), but was frustrated by Hughes. In August, the French recaptured Trincomalee, and Suffren fought Hughes to a standstill in a naval battle several days later. The two fleets withdrew and the British repaired in Bombay while the French refitted in the Dutch colony of Sumatra. Hughes and Suffren met again in 1783, but news of preliminary peace between France and Britain ended hostilities in India.

In August 1781, word of the war reached Sumatra, where both the Dutch and British companies had trading outposts. The directors of the British company at Fort Marlborough received instructions from Bombay to destroy all of the Dutch outposts on the west coast of Sumatra. Quite fortuitously, a fleet of five East Indiamen arrived not long after, and the directors seized the opportunity for action. Henry Botham, one of the directors, commandeered the fleet, and with 100 company soldiers sailed for Padang. [26] On 18 August, Jacob van Heemskerk, the VOC chief resident at Padang, surrendered all of the west coast outposts without a fight, unaware that Botham's force was relatively weak. The capture netted the British 500,000 florins in goods and money. [27] The fortress at Padang was destroyed before the town was returned to VOC control in 1784.

Ceasefire and Treaty of Paris

The republic did not form a formal military alliance with France and her allies before the end of the war. A treaty of amity and commerce was, however, concluded with the Americans in October 1782, after John Adams, who succeeded Henry Laurens, had managed to obtain diplomatic recognition of the American republic from the States General in April 1782. The republic was the second European power (after France, but before Spain) to recognize the United States. Adams also succeeded in raising a substantial loan for the Americans on the still-significant Dutch capital market.

The republic involved itself in the peace congress that the French foreign minister, Vergennes, organized, negotiating separately with the British commissioners. The Dutch demands were not supported by the French, and this put them into an untenable position when the French and their allies went ahead with the signing of the general peace. The Dutch, therefore, were forced to sign a preliminary peace just before that general treaty was signed. The republic joined the armistice between Britain and France in January 1783. The signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783-1784) made Negapatnam, in India, a British colony. Ceylon was restored to Dutch control. The British gained the right of free trade with part of the Dutch East Indies, which had been a major war aim for British merchants. The French also returned the other Dutch colonies they had recaptured from the British, including the ones in the West Indies (like St. Eustatius that had been taken by Admiral Rodney in February 1781, but was retaken by the French Admiral De Grasse on 27 November 1781). [28]


The war proved a disaster for the Netherlands, particularly economically. It also proved to be confirmation of the weakening of Dutch power in the 18th century. In the immediate aftermath of the war, the bad result was blamed on the stadholder's mismanagement (if not worse) by his opponents, who coalesced into the Patriot party. These managed for a while to roll back a number of the reforms of the revolution of 1747, strongly diminishing his powers. However, this Patriot revolt was suppressed in 1787 by Prussian and British intervention. The Patriots were driven abroad, but returned in 1795 with the help of the French revolutionary armies and established a Batavian Republic in place of the old Dutch Republic. The Low Countries remained central to British strategic thinking, and they sent expeditionary forces to the Netherlands in 1793, 1799, and 1809.

See also


  1. Edler 2001, p. 88
  2. Edler 2001, 181–189
  3. See Siege of Negapatam (500 Dutch troops surrendered), Capture of Trincomalee (450 Dutch troops surrendered), and Shirley's Gold Coast expedition (four forts surrendered with unknown number of troops and 92 guns).
  4. Clodfelter 2017, p. 133-134
  5. Dirks, J. J. B. (1871), De Nederlandsche Zeemagt in Hare verschillende Tijdperken Geschetst. Deel 3 (in Dutch), Rotterdam: H. Nijgh, p. 291
  6. Edler 2001 , p. 88
  7. Israel 1995 , pp. 985–998, 1067–1087, 1090–1097
  8. Edler 2001 , pp. 28–32
  9. Edler 2001 , pp. 42–62
  10. Edler 2001 , pp. 95–138
  11. Edler 2001 , pp. 163–166
  12. Edler 2001 , pp. 62–69
  13. Edler 2001 , pp. 88–91, 151–152, 164
  14. Dirks 1871 , p. 294
  15. Dirks 1871 , p. 292 in a different action, Captain Bylandt (a nephew of the admiral of the same name) surrendered his ship.
  16. Dirks 1871 , p. 291
  17. Edler 2001 , pp. 178–179, 193–198
  18. Edler 2001 , pp. 200–203
  19. Edler 2001 , p. 184
  20. Dirks 1871 , p. 293
  21. Edler 2001 , p. 185
  22. Dirks 1871 , pp. 306–309
  23. Dirks 1871 , pp. 330–353
  24. Syrett, passim
  25. Rodger 2006 , p. 356
  26. Boswell, p. 157
  27. Meinsma, p. 203
  28. Edler 2001 , pp. 181–189


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Jan Hendrik van Kinsbergen, or Count of Doggersbank, was a Dutch naval officer. Having had a good scientific education, Van Kinsbergen was a proponent of fleet modernization and wrote many books about naval organization, discipline and tactics.

Affair of Fielding and Bylandt

The affair of Fielding and Bylandt was a brief naval engagement off the Isle of Wight on 31 December 1779 between a Royal Navy squadron, commanded by Commodore Charles Fielding, and a naval squadron of the Dutch Republic, commanded by rear-admiral Lodewijk van Bylandt, escorting a Dutch convoy. The Dutch and British were not yet at war, but the British wished to inspect the Dutch merchantmen for what they considered contraband destined for France, then engaged in the American War of Independence. Bylandt attempted to avoid the engagement by offering the ships' manifests, but when Fielding insisted on a physical inspection, Bylandt put up a brief show of force, before striking his colours. The British then seized the Dutch merchantmen and conducted them as prizes to Portsmouth, followed by the Dutch squadron. The incident worsened the diplomatic relations between Great Britain and the Dutch Republic almost to breaking point. It also contributed to the formation of the First League of Armed Neutrality to which the Dutch acceded in December, 1780. To prevent their receiving assistance from other members of that League, Britain declared the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War shortly afterwards.

Lodewijk Count van Bylandt was a Dutch lieutenant-admiral. He gained a certain notoriety in the Affair of Fielding and Bylandt of 1779 and even more in consequence of the refusal of the Dutch navy to put out to sea to combine with the French fleet in Brest in 1783, during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, for which refusal many held him responsible. He was court-martialed and exonerated in the first case, and in the second case an inquiry into his conduct was long delayed and eventually quietly abandoned after stadtholder William V had prevailed against the Patriots in 1787. This made his promotion to lieutenant-admiral possible. He died in office as inspector-general and commander of the gunners corps of the navy of the Dutch Republic.

Pierre André de Suffren French admiral

Admiral comte Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez, bailli de Suffren, French admiral. He was most famous for his campaign in the Indian Ocean, in which he fought a series of intense and evenly matched battles for supremacy against the established British power there, led by Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes. Alfred T. Mahan praised Suffren as "a very great man" and evaluated him in terms he usually reserved for praising decisively victorious admirals.

The Dutch West Indies campaign was a series of minor conflicts in 1781 and 1782, in the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War and the Anglo-French War. Following Great Britain's declaration of war on the Dutch Republic in December 1780, British Admiral George Brydges Rodney, the commander of the Royal Navy in the West Indies, was notified by a fast-sailing packet of the declaration. He immediately acted to gain control over as many of the Dutch colonies as possible, seizing Sint Eustatius, a vital entrepot of French and Dutch trade with the Americans, in early February 1781. He also captured Saba and Sint Maarten, and orchestrated the seizure of the Dutch colonial outposts of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo in South America. A planned expedition by Samuel Hood against Curaçao was called off on rumors that a French fleet was approaching. French action later in 1781 and in 1782 recovered the territories taken by the British, although Sint Eustatius never recovered its importance as a trading point.

Battle of Ushant (1782)

The Third Battle of Ushant or the Action of 20–21 April 1782 was a naval battle fought during the American Revolutionary War, between a French naval fleet of three ships of the line protecting a convoy and two British Royal naval ships of the line off Ushant, a French island at the mouth of the English Channel off the north-westernmost point of France. This was the third battle that occurred in this region during the course of the war.

Capture of Demerara and Essequibo

The capture of Demerara and Essequibo was a French military expedition carried out in January 1782 as part of the Anglo-French War. In 1781, Admiral Lord Rodney sent two sloops from his fleet at Sint Eustatius to take possession of the Dutch colonies of Essequibo and Demerara. In 1782, the French successfully took possession of these settlements, compelling British Governor Robert Kinston to surrender. The Peace of Paris, which occurred in 1783, restored these territories to the Dutch.

Capture of Sint Eustatius

The Capture of Sint Eustatius took place in February 1781 during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War when British army and naval forces under General John Vaughan and Admiral George Rodney seized the Dutch-owned Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius. The capture was controversial in Britain, as it was alleged that Vaughan and Rodney had used the opportunity to enrich themselves and had neglected more important military duties. The island was subsequently taken by Dutch-allied French forces in late 1781, ending the British occupation.

HMS Prince William was a 64-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She had previously been the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, but was better known as Guipuzcoano, an armed merchantmen of the Spanish Basque Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas.

John May built Mars at the naval dockyard at Amsterdam in 1769 as a fifth rate for the Dutch Navy. The British Royal Navy captured her on 3 February 1781 at Saint Eustatia. The Navy took her into service as HMS Mars, but sold her on 25 March 1784. Richard Bush purchased Mars, retained her name, and had her fitted as an East Indiaman. Adams repaired her and took her measurements in 1786. She sailed to China in April 1786 and was wrecked in December 1787 shortly after her return to Britain.

Action of 4 February 1781

The Action of 4 February 1781 was a minor naval action that took place off the island of Sombero in the Caribbean during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War soon after the British Capture of Sint Eustatius by Admiral George Rodney a day earlier.

Brest Affair

The Brest Affair, also known as the (Failed) Expedition to Brest is the historiographical designation of a scandal during the Patriottentijd that was exploited by the Patriot faction to politically undermine the regime of stadtholder William V. It followed the refusal of the leadership of the navy of the Dutch Republic to obey a direct order to send a flotilla to the French naval base of Brest before 8 October 1787. The refusal caused a scandal that forced the States General to institute a formal inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the refusal, and this inquiry eventually led to a prosecution before a special admiralty court of the parties responsible, led by Pieter Paulus. However, the prosecution took so much time that meanwhile the Patriot faction was suppressed by Prussian military intervention, so that eventually the case was shelved without coming to a resolution.