- 1st letter – October 2, 1761
- 2nd letter – January 1, 1762
- 3rd letter – May 1, 1762
- 4th letter – May 2, 1762
- 5th letter – July 6, 1762
- 6th letter – August 5, 1762
- 7th letter – August 27, 1762
- 8th letter – November 24, 1762
- 9th letter – February 18, 1763
- 10th letter – February 25, 1763
- 11th letter – March 8, 1763
Letters from captain Jan Menkenveld, commander of the snow ship The Unity of the Middelburgse Commercie Company on its voyage to West India in 1761-1762, to the directors in Middelburg.
On the snow ship The Unity, captained by Jan Menkenveld, of the Commercie Compagnie, berthed at a buoy at sea the 2nd of October 1761
Received October 3
Most honorable Sirs
Directors of the
Commercie Compagnie of
Middelburg in Zeeland
On the Commercie Compagnieship The Unity
October 2, 1761
Most honorable Sirs, directors of the Commercie Compagnie,
I hope this letter will find you and your highly distinguished families in such excellent health as I, in God’s goodness, find myself to be. This letter serves to inform you first of all that I have raised the anchor around six thirty yesterday morning and set sail. We passed the city of Flushing around eight o’clock, after which we came to a halt around eleven o’clock at the gallows. When there was wind, it came from SE, SW and also from NW. This morning I set sail at 9.30, together with captain Gerret Boos [according to the chief mate’s logbook, his name was G. Boef and commanded the ship Essequebo’s Prosperity, which arrived from Flushing].
I hope and pray that the Almighty will bless our voyage so that we may begin it as we hope to complete it: in His name and to His honor and glory. I also wish you and your distinguished family all health and blessings from God above and pray that this year and the many that will follow may be years of joy – hoping that in this the Almighty may hear.
When the pilot left our ship [according to the chief mate’s logbook, this happened at half past 1 after the last buoy was passed], I had nothing of importance to relay to your honorable sirs.
Sailor Anthonij Battram is not present on board of our ship. All the members of the crew find themselves in good health, thanks be to God.
With which I remain, after gracious greetings to you and your honorable family and recommending them to God’s holy protection, and with all esteem and reverence,
Your honorable gentlemen and directors,
Your attentive and obedient servant,
On the snow ship The Unity of the Commercie Compagnie
January 1, 1762
At the roadstead of Groot Baza
Most honorable Sirs, directors of the Commercie Compagnie,
This letter serves to convey my best wishes to you and your distinguished family regarding the new year. May the Almighty crown you and your family with physical and spiritual blessings and may this year be followed by many more so we can live together to the honor of our creator. This until we may finally pass on to eternal bliss – all flowing from the grace of the blood of the crucified Savior in whose care I recommend your honor and family as well as myself.
I have not had the honor of writing you for quite some time now, due to a lack of necessary material. I wish this had not been the case, but unfortunately one cannot change the times. After putting out to sea with a SSE wind on the 2nd of October (I passed the Channel on the 8th), we encountered a heavy storm at North Latitude 48°50’, Longitude 8°39’ which lasted until October 19th when we found ourselves at North Latitude 44°31’ (a total of eleven days). For five consecutive days we only sailed with the storm jib or with completely reefed sails; the remaining six days we sailed with a reefed mainsail.
The heavy rains and high seas broke the windows and shutters of the cabin, which caused much water to enter into the captain’s cabin and constable’s room. We had to pump hard to keep the pomp dry. We also lost our starboard lower capstan.
On October 23 we passed Cape Ortogaal, after which the storm started to calm down. Since then we have had good weather and sometimes even a calm – the reason for our long outward journey. On December 7 we put down our anchor at Cape Monte. On the coast we met captain Adriaan Sap of Vlissingen; he was in good health. He was in command of the ship The Anthonie Eeuwehout that left for Angola on December 14. Furthermore, on the 22nd of December Captain Meijer of Amsterdam arrived here in Rio Jonktie, sailing the frigate The Guinean Friends, also a slave ship. I have not seen any of my colleagues but am expecting them at any moment.
So far I only have eleven slaves on board, worth seven hundred seventy one guilders and five shillings in total. This is a very low number of slaves; when I was at this place on other journeys I usually collected between 25 and 30 slaves. I should leave the Windward Coast but my Windward Coast goods are detaining me. I think I will still need to spend two more months here to trade all of them. After that I will sail to the Gold Coast, and should that not go well, continue further down to Capo.
Since there are several English ships here, consisting of frigates, snows, barques and boats, trading at all the places where I go, I am forced to pay 14 to 15 guilders more per slave than the other captains and than I did on my previous journey
The price of my little powder kegs, needed here for usage, and of the blue salempouris have risen with a considerable amount in my opinion. In 1758, when the gunpowder was expensive, 6 lb. of powder kegs did not cost more than 2 ½ guilder. Currently, 100 lb. of gunpowder costs 50 guilder. This would mean that 6 lb. gunpowder would not cost more than 3 guilders, which, together with 10 shillings for the empty keg, amounts to 3 ½ guilders. However I have been charged 4 guilders and 18 shillings. This is too much of a difference, even compared to the price of the 36 lb. powder kegs (also rather expensive).
Concerning the blue salempouris: in 1754 the linen cloths were expensive but the salempouris did not cost more than 17 guilders. However, I was charged 28,25 guilders when on previous journeys this was not more than 13 to 14,5 guilders. I know that when I was still in the homeland it was not sold for more 13 to 14 guilders by the compagnie and ordinary merchants. I therefore do not doubt that these are both great mistakes which resulted in the blue salempouris cargo being more than 600 guilders too much. Your honor therefore need not be amazed at the size of this cargo. I do wish I would have known of this error, or expense, when advancing the money, because I now do not know whether it caused a mistake for me. However, since this situation has increased the prices of the slaves I will have to regulate the purchase of slaves accordingly.
This is also the case since the salempouris are a part of my Windward Coast cargo; even if I could sell it for slaves at the Gold Coast I would be unable to charge more than 10 English to the agents, since there a guilder of the homeland is not counted as one English anymore.
I therefore do not doubt these are great mistakes so that only my blue salempouris cargo will be over the 600 guilders. There is therefore no need for your honor to wonder about the size of my cargo, although I would have wished to have been aware of these errors and expenses before advancing the money, since I do not know whether this is will cause errors or not. However, I need to control the acquisition of slaves
Concerning my other return cargo, it is quite pricy. Also on other ships the salempouris does not cost more than 13 to 13,5 guilders.
Furthermore I do not have anything else to tell you honorable gentlemen, except that since I left the homeland until here I have carried a corpse of one of my crewmembers on board. It is Roeloff Sieverts, born in Breeswijk in Norway. He has been ill the whole outward journey died on the 24th of December 1761 in Kleen Basa.
The other officers, sailors and me are, thank the Lord, still as healthy as I hope you honorable gentlemen and your families may also be. I will inform your honorable gentlemen at the next possible occasion of the circumstances of my journey.
With which it remains for me to greet you, honorable gentlemen and your families, and recommend you to God’s holy protection, I am,
Your humble servant,
On the snowship The Unity, captained by Jan Menkenveld, of the Commercie Compagnie, berthed at the roadstead of d’Elmina the 1st of May 1762
Received September 6th
On the snowship The Unity of the Commercie Compagnie
This 1st of May 1762 at the roadstead of d’Elmina
Honorable Sirs and directors of the Commercie Compagnie
My last letter to your honorable was dated the first of January 1762, written according to the attached copy at the roadstead of Groot Baza, with eleven slaves onboard. We left on the third of the month to trade down the coast. On the 9th of February we anchored at Cape Lahoe with one hundred slaves. There we found the ship The Jacoba Maria, captained by David Soloni of Vlissingen, who left south on January 11th. On the 20th of January the frigate The Guinean Friends, commanded by Captain A. Meijer, dropped anchor next to us. We left him on the 22nd in good well-being and departed for Axim. On the 5th of March we arrived at the roadstead with 277 slaves. We left on March 21st with 288 slaves to negotiate along the trading offices and arrived on April 12th at the roadstead of d’Elmina with 305 slaves. Here we found the frigate The Publicola anchored, commanded by captain Jacob van Bel of Rotterdam, here for slaves. We then saw captain David Soloni moor at Caap Cors, at the English roadstead. Both ships will leave for Suriname after this, and are ready to sail.
Tidings also arrived of captain Den Hollander, Casteleijn and captain Hermans, that they were on the Windward Coast. We have left this ship on January 22nd in good fortune when we left for Axim, where we arrived on March 5th with 277 slaves. On March 21st we left from Axim with 288 slaves, traded by the offices and arrived on April 12th with 305 slaves on the roadstead of d’Elmina.
We will take in water and fire wood here and store the remainder of the water barrels. We have also bought some mielies. Here we received tidings of captain Den Hollander, Casteleijn en Hermans, who were on the the Windward Coast. The slaves here are sold for a price of 10 to 11 and the goods are sold in gold and for less than in the homeland: the merchants here even sell the bajutapauts, negatepauts, chellous, blue Guineas and cotton to the negroes for 12 ½ guilders. The anchors of liquor fare no better today; this is due to the English, who bring a lot of panewerk and liquor. The gun powder also fares ill; even money from the homeland was sold nearby. The gun sold best of all here.
After the all-wise and wonderful provision of the Almighty and while praying for and in expectation of His blessings, we departed for America on May 2nd with a total of 319 slaves, to wit living slaves, and 7 dead slaves. In total we traded for 326 heads, 3.611 lb of elephant tusks and 322 lb. scrivellors, with some unsold cargo goods leftover. I will send your honorable the transactional account as well as give notice of the circumstances of our journey, though this has been impossible lately because of my departure.
Since departing the homeland a total of three of my crew members have died: Roelof Sievart, born in Breeswijk in Norway, died on December 24th 1761 at the roadstead of Kleen Basa; boatswain’s mate Hans Cramer of Copenhague, who fell overboard and drowned on the night of January 1st 1762; and on February 22nd of 1762 sailor Maarten Cappel from Vlissingen, who was in the boat which was out trading, drowned.
Regarding the rest I have nothing else of importance to report to you other than that I and my officers and crew are in good health, as I hope I may find your honor and your family, which would be a pleasure.
With which, after greeting you and your honorable family and recommending them to God’s holy protection, I respectfully sign,
Your honorable servant,
On the snowship The Unity of the Commercie Compagnie this 2nd of May at the roadstead of d’Elmina
Honorable directors of the Commercie Compagnie,
My last letter to your honorable was dated the first of January 1762, written according to the attached copy at the roadstead of Groot Baza, with eleven slaves onboard. We left on the third of the month to trade down the coast. On the 9th of February we anchored at Cape Lahoe with one hundred slaves. There we found the ship The Jacoba Maria, captained by David Soloni of Vlissingen, who left south on January 11th. On the 20th of January the frigate The Guinean Friends, commanded by Captain A. Meijer, dropped anchor next to us. We departed on the 22nd with 272 slaves, leaving Captain Meijer in good well-being. On 5th of March we anchored at the roadstead of Axim, from which we left on the 21st with 288 slaves, having traded down the trading offices. We dropped anchor at the roadstead of d’Elmina on the 12th of April with 305 slaves, where we took in some water and firewood and assembled barrels. We also found the frigate The Publicola here, commanded by the captain Jacob van Bel of Rotterdam, here for slaves. The snowship The Jacoba Maria, captained by David Soloni of Vlissingen came here too. Both of them were ready to sail. Tidings also arrived of captain Den Hollander, Casteleijn and captain Hermans, that they were on the Windward Coast. We have left this ship on January 22nd in good fortune when we left for Axim, where we arrived on March 5th with 277 slaves. On March 21st we left from Axim with 288 slaves, traded by the offices and arrived on April 12th with 305 slaves on the roadstead of d’Elmina.
After the all-wise and wonderful provision of the Almighty and while praying for and in expectation of His blessings, we departed today for the coast of America with 319 heads of living slaves and 7 dead slaves. There was therefore a total of 326 traded slaves; the traded tusks amount to 3.611 lb. and 322 lb. scrivellors, together 3.933 lb. We also have some cargo goods leftover since trade here is extremely difficult due to all the English goods, and also due to the constant war conducted by the negroes among each other. Little gold, therefore, came from deep inland.
I hope to be able to inform you of the further circumstances of my journey at my arrival (granted by God) in the West-Indies, together with a transactional account of the cargo. However, at this moment I do not know where I will arrive. I have nothing further to report to your honor since my departure from the homeland except that three of my crew members have died: Roelof Sievart, born in Breeswijk in Norway, died on December 24th 1761 at the roadstead of Groot Basa; the boatswain’s mate Hans Cramer of Copenhague, who fell overboard and drowned on January 1st 1762; and on February 22nd of 1762 we received tidings from the boat, which had been out trading, that the sailor Maarten Cappel, born in Vlissingen, had drowned.
Regarding the rest, thanks be to God that I and my officers and crew remain in good health, such as I would wish to see in you and your family.
With which, after greeting you and your honorable family and recommending them to God’s holy protection, I respectfully sign,
Your honorable, obedient servant,
Berbice, July 6 1762
Captain Jan Menkenveld on the ship The Unity
Received 12 September 1762
Honorable Sirs, Directors of the Commercie Compagnie,
My last letter to your honors was dated the 2nd of May, according to the attached copy, on the coast of Africa. From here we left on the 8th of May with 319 heads of live slaves, so that we spent six days longer there than I had thought. This is because my boat, while full of water, was stuck on the stakes of the jetty of d’Elmina. We were unable to procure water canoes due to an incident at the roadstead there: a negro jumped out of the water canoe into the water where he was snatched away by one or several sharks. Statements of this have been given by my officers and crew in addition as well as an oath declared, both in hands of the director-general, so that I could get the remainder of my water with the boat.
Since my departure from the coast of Africa nothing of importance happened with the exception of two more deaths: the head carpenter, Paulus Christiaan Kempe, born in Hamborg, died on May 10th 1762, and Jacobus Duijnkerke, born in Aardenburgh, died on May 26th 1762. I was planning on sailing to Curacao with my slaves, but my water and my supply for the slaves have not allowed for this. We have therefore chosen the first harbor as our best choice, so that the crossing took 8 weeks and 3 days. We would have arrived in the river of Suriname, but after I found out that there would be slave ships who had left the coast of Africa before and with us, also destined for Suriname (as they said), I thought that the slaves would be sold there for low prices. Therefore, as soon as I arrived here at the river I wrote secretary Sir Spoor at Essequebo by express to request information from him regarding the demand and prices of slaves over there. Should slaves be priced higher there than here, I will leave with the remainder of slaves for Essequebo.
I will also add a copy of my previous letter, together with the transactional accounts of the coast of Africa and a declaration of the ammunition stored there. I have arrived here with 299 heads of live slaves; a total of 27 slaves have died.
I will inform your honors at the next possible opportunity of the further circumstances of my journey, as well as send you a transactional account, an auction list and the bills of exchange. A public auction will be held here within 8 to 10 days.
Other than that I nothing of importance to write except that I and my officers and sailors enjoy still a perfect health due to the Lord’s precious blessing, as I hope and wish for you and your honorable family, which will always be a pleasure to learn of.
With which it remains for me to greet your honorable and recommend you to God’s holy protection, so witness with all respect,
Your willing servant,
Berbice, this July 6 1762
P.S. Honorable sirs,
At my arrival in the river there was a ship which today left for the homeland, nothing further has changed
The snowship The Unity of the Commercie Compagnie, captained by Jan Menkenveld, August 5 1762, sailing to Essequebo
Received 7th November 1762
To the honorable Sirs,
Directors of the Commercie Compagnie in Middelburg in Zeeland
Via the ship The Willem Zeelandus, captained by Claas Matthijssen
Honorable directors of the Commercie Compagnie
[margin]: 150 slaves in Berbice for ƒ 37.736
So far ƒ 36.437:12:-
[door een ruijm?] 243 [?]
My last letter to your honors was sent via Captain Rolwagen in the river Rio Berbice: I have unfortunately been unable to include this previous letter with the current one.
Here in Rio Berbice I have sold 151 slaves both at auction and in private sales, amounting to a sum of thirty-seven thousand seven hundred thirty-six guilders. The expenses incurred are twelve hundred and forty-eight guilders and eight nickels, leaving a total amount of thirty-six thousand four hundred and eighty-seven guilders and twelve nickels. Since the prices for slaves were low here (I have kept the best slaves, numbering 144 heads), I decided to sail to Essequebo today. In receiving these better tidings I have judged it my duty to inform your honorable of this via the ship named Willem Zeelandus, whom I met outside the bank of Essequebo and which was leaving for the homeland. I will write your honors at the next possible moment and send you the auction list and the necessary paperwork.
I have authorized sir Abraham Wijs, auction master in Berbice, to act in my name and power and claim the bills of exchange for your honors, and also to send them to you with the first ship leaving from here, according to his honorable signature.
Regarding the rest, thanks be to God that I and my officers and crew are still all healthy, as I hope to find you and your honorable family.
With which it remains for me to greet you and your honorable family and recommend them to God’s holy protection, so witness,
Your willing servant,
In your honor’s ship The Unity this August 5th anno 1762
Rio Essequebo, 27 August 1762
Received 15 November 1762
Honorable Sirs, directors of the Commercie Compagnie,
I consider it my duty to inform you of my safe arrival here in Essequebo on the 5th of August. After being on the river for 14 days, I held a public auction of 121 heads of slaves. These add up, according to the list, to the sum of fifty-four thousand two hundred and seventy guilders, or ƒ 54.270 of current Dutch money.
In addition to this I have privately sold 22 heads for the total sum of seven thousand nine hundred and seventy-five guilders, that being ƒ 7.975. The total sum of slaves sold at auction and privately here in Essequebo amounts to sixty-two thousand two hundred and forty-five guilders, that being ƒ 62.245.
In Rio Berbice I have sold 142 at a public auction, amounting to thirty-five thousand two hundred and sixty-five guilders. I also privately sold 8 heads there for the sum of two thousand four hundred and seventy-one guilders, that being ƒ 2.471. The total from both auction and private sales is then
add to that from Rio Essequebo
this being for a total of 293 heads
Please find attached the following documents your honor has received:
1. The conditions of the sold slaves in Rio Essequebo;
2. A copy of the letter from Essequebo;
3. Transactional accounts to your honors of the coast;
4. List of the paid bills of exchange checks, these being 15 bills which amount to ƒ 6548:17:14;
5. Copy of the bond from Abraham Wijs, auction master at Rio Berbice;
6. Copy of the letter from Rio Berbice;
7. Copy of 6 borrowed swivel guns to the honorable sir Wolfert Simon of Hogenheim, governor-general of the monopolized colony Berbice etc. etc.[?]
I hope your honors will receive everything.
I will have the honor of sending the general transactional accounts with the first ship leaving from here. I will do my utmost best to load the ship as quickly as possible in order to be ready to sail from here. I would be able to take in my entire cargo, but the exorbitant costs do not allow for this. In addition to this, I have unfortunately lost my head carpenter and have six more ill crew members in their bunks, among them the assistant carpenter. Since the bowsprit has snapped and the caps have rotted away I now have so much work that needs to be done that I am forced to find some negroes who can caulk the ship and repair the aforementioned.
I hope that the Lord will help me return as soon as possible.
I have nothing further to report that would merit your honor’s attention. Having therefore the honor to recommend myself to your honorable’ s protection, I am, with sincere respect,
Your humble and loyal servant,
Rio Essequebo, 27th August 1762
directors of the Commercie Compagnie,
Because the frigate The Hope, lying at the roadstead and commanded by captain Jan Blaak, is among the first to return to the homeland, I consider it my duty to inform your honors of your own ship, now under my command. We left Rio Essequebo for Rio Demmerarij on October 28th with 82 hogsheads of sugar and 9 sacks of coffee beans, arriving there on November 1st to take in the rest of our cargo. I am using all effort to my return; in the expectation of our Lord’s precious blessing I hope to leave for the homeland in the middle of next month.
Please find attached also:
1. A copy of the letter from Rio Essequebo dated on August 27th 1762
2. A copy of the conditions of the sold slaves in Rio Essequebo
3. List of the paid bills of exchange checks, these being 15 bills which together (according to the accompanying list) amount to 6548 guilders, 17 nickels and 14 pennies.
So far it has proved impossible for me to send your honors the manifest and the transactional accounts. The reason for this is that Mr. Spoors has been too busy to settle the bill and also that I do not have all the sugar yet. The cargo now consists of 153 hogsheads of sugar, five barrels and 31 sacks of coffee beans.
I hope that you and your families are enjoying as good a health as that in which I, as well as my officers and crew, find ourselves.
I have nothing else of importance to report, except that the ship Spreeuwenburg, captained by Jan le Chair from Flushing, has arrived at this river with, according to my estimate, about 320 slaves. I think he has made between six and seven thousand guilders from them. The ship Het Hoff Ramsburgh, captained by Makkens, has also safely arrived here.
Closing, I have the honor of greeting you and your honorable family and recommending them to the protection of the Almighty
I sign with all respect,
Your humble and loyal servant,
Rio Essequebo, the 24th of November, anno 1762.
On the snowship The Unity of the Commercie Compagnie, berthed at Pleijmouth, the 18th February 1763
Received the 28th of the same.
To the most honorable Sirs, Directors of the Commercie Compagnie of the city of
Middelburg in Zeeland
Addressed to [***] Herman and John Berens, London, 22nd of February 1763
My last letter to your honors was sent on 24 November 1762 from Rio Essequebo via captain Jan Blaak. I hope your honors did receive it. This letter serves to announce the arrival of captain R. Robberts and captain C. Different, both of whom sailed from Middelburg to here and safely arrived in Essequebo eight to ten days before my departure to Rio Demerary.
We have put out to sea on the 18th of December 1762 and passed the island Barbados on December 26th. On December 31st we had reached a North latitude of 17°3 and a North longitude of 316°42, when we encountered the snow ship The Princess Carolina, sailing under the command of captain Claas Carsten Kuijper. This ship was coming from Bourdeaux and going to St. Eustatius.
On January the 30th at a North latitude of 43°38 and a North longitude of 349°8 we were suffering from a heavy storm. It began in the morning at the breaking of dawn, coming from the SSE to E by N, and gradually became more severe, so that we secured our shutters. We had been lying to the main staysail with rough seas for some time. During the dog watch one of our three pounder canons was knocked out of the gun carriage by the violence of the sea and fell overboard.
Furthermore, a lot of water reached the hold where the pumps are situated, so that we had to pump with two pumps the entire night. We decided to scud before the wind, but we could not get the ship in that position: however hard we tried, it was in vain. We then let down our main staysail and continued with completely reefed sails, floating with the heavy NNW by NW storm on God’s mercy. In the morning the wind was calming down, even though there were still occasional heavy rain- hail- and snow showers and lightning.
Since we passed the island of Barbados, we have not had any calm weather but continuous heavy winds. We therefore mostly sailed with set sails and double reefed topsails, until, thanks to God’s blessing, we finally reached the Canal on the 13th of February.
This letter therefore further serves to announce our safe arrival in the harbor of Plymouth. The reason for entering this harbor is that in the night of the 14th and 15th of February, after having tacked without sails several times, we drifted towards lee shore, unable to push away from shore on either side. Due to a forward hauling wind and heavy storm we drifted strongly towards shore. At dawn we found ourselves between Plymouth and the lighthouse of the Eddystone. Together with my officers I concluded that it was necessary to enter the first harbor we would encounter; from the sky we could already see that a heavy storm was on its way. Seven other ships entered the harbor with us. We fired four shots to call for a pilot, who brought me here in the Oostcoffer. Here, we also encountered the frigate The Spy, captained by J. Jonker, which came from St. Eustatius and is destined for Rotterdam. We also met captain Coenraad de Wolff. I have heard that this man is very unhappy with his sick crew; he has had a very long journey back home until he arrived here.
I hope, with the help of God’s blessing, to be able to continue our journey within 8 to 10 days so I can be home with the full moon.
I hope that you and your honorable family find yourselves in the same outstanding condition, as the one in which my officers and I find ourselves, which I would be pleased to learn.
I finish, with the honor of greeting you and your honorable family and recommending them to God’s holy protection.
Your humble and obeying servant
Plijmouth, This February 18th , 1762 [read 1763]
Ps. Dear Sirs, many English ships arrive daily with the tidings that two English ships have already sunk. This morning two other ships have entered, among them a snow ship from Middelburg, which lost their main masts.
Jan Menckenveld, berthed at Pleymouth, the 25th of February 1763
Received 7 March
Honorable gentlemen, directors of the Commercie Compagnie in the city of Middelburg, Zeeland
I hope this letter will find you and your distinguished families in such excellent health as I and my officers are in.
This letter serves to announce that I drew a bill of exchange for your honors’ account on Sir Barents in London of 48 pounds sterling or 548 guilders. This is the sum which needs to be paid here for fire, anchorage and harbor duties, as your honors will find on my arrival in the private transactional accounts.
I still cannot determine the exact date of my departure; the sooner I can return, the better. However, the occasion has not yet presented itself due to daily S and SE winds. Sometimes there is a W wind, but this lasts no longer than half a day. In addition, we suffer daily from seasonal harsh weather circumstances.
A few other Dutch ships are berthed here, waiting to return. However, I will not wait for them, but put out to sea to continue my journey as soon as there is a steady W, or even NW wind. This also because my crew are now somewhat refreshed compared to my arrival here. Although they were not sick, they were worn out by the cold and turmoil and had little clothing on their bodies. They have now been provided with some and could even endure a small crusade, though I hope for good fortunes.
I do not doubt that your honors received my letter dated 18 February, of which I was unable to attach a copy because the post here does not receive letters under [covert].
I have nothing else to rapport except for my warmest greetings to you and your family. Having had the honor to recommend myself into your honors’ protection, I am, with great respect,
Your humble and obeying servant,
This 25 February
The ship The Unity, captain Jan Menkenveld, berthed at Pleymouth the 8th of March, 1763
Received 21st today
To the honorable gentlemen and directors of the Commercie Compagnie in the city of Middelburg, Zeeland
With this letter I would like to communicate that I put out to sea on the 5th of March, as well as the ship The Spy, captained by J. Jonker, and a few English ships. We had an SE, also SW and ONO wind. Unfortunately, I was unable to continue my journey since I could not moor above the corner of Goudstart due to a calm and an adverse wind. Thus, all of us who sailed out in the morning returned again in the evening. My ship is currently situated in the Westcoffer.
You honors may rest assured that as soon as the occasion presents itself I will do my utmost best to swiftly continue my journey and return as soon as possible. I wish the Almighty to be present before and behind us, and bring us to the harbor of our desire.
I hope that my letter from the 25th of February, in which I reported the well-being of my crew and ship, found your honors in good health. In such well-being I, with my officers and ship’s crew, still find myself by the undeserved grace and goodness of God.
I do not have anything other to say that deserves your attention than the fact that I paid a bill of exchange of ten golden guineas on your accounts to Sir Barents in London, with which I bought new bull ropes and some other necessary trifles for the ship. It had become impossible to move the topmasts either up or down with the old ropes.
With which I put myself in the protection of your honorable gentlemen as well as greeting your honorable family and recommending them to God’s holy care. Thus do I respectfully sign,
Your humble and obedient servant,
Ship The Unity, captain Jan Menkenveld,
In Pleymouth 8 March 1763
Zeeland Archives, Archives of the MCC inv.no. 376
Transcription made by Paleografie in Zeeland (PaiZ)
Translation made by students of University College Roosevelt