gahetNA in the National Archives

Background information

This database contains information concerning sea-voyagers upon ships between 1700 and 1795 who sailed to the Orient. There are four categories of sea-voyagers:

  1. The essential crewmen necessary to sail the ship. Following arrival in Asia some of them are enlisted for inter-Asian trade routes.
  2. Craftsmen for the settlements in Asia.
  3. Soldiers.
  4. The rest, for example junior merchants, preachers, surgeons etc.

From random samples it appears that just under half of all sea-voyagers came from the Dutch Republic. The soldiers descended mainly from Germany. During the course of the 18th century constantly more people were being contracted from areas farther from the coast.

the number of sea-voyagers and their origin
Graph 1, the number of sea-voyagers and their origin

The search for sea-voyagers can be made via a search screen on this website.
The search screen leads to the following information: #todo (zoekfunctie is anders)

  1. The names, place of origin and occupation of the sea-voyagers.
  2. The end of the tenure (time, place and manner).
  3. Possession of a month certificate (such a month certificate contained an obligation for the VOC to pay a maximum of three months salary per year from the seafarer's balance to his family) and the seafarer's debenture (transferable debt certificate).
  4. Names of crew who came onboard at the Cape of Good Hope.

The database also contains the names of ships. These originate from the database of Dutch Asiatic Shipping (DAS). Between 1595 and 1795 more than 4700 ships departed from the Netherlands to Asia under the command of the Dutch East India Company and it's earlier constituent companies. The return journey in this same period was undertaken by some 3400 ships. These sea-expeditions are recorded in Dutch Asiatic Shipping, a project of the Institute of Netherlands History.

Biographical history of the archive creator: 

The ship's pay-ledgers form the basis of the personnel-administration of the 'VOC' or Dutch East India Company. For each departing ship all employees sailing with her were registered, amounting to some 655.000 persons over the period 1700-1794.

Within these ledgers mutations in salary-calculations were also maintained. Naturally this data ends when the employee dies or leaves the VOC. The begin date and end date entered therefore indicate the length of service of an employee.

calculation scheme ship's pay-leder
Photo 1, calculation scheme ship's pay-ledger

Personnel were formally in service at one of the six VOC chambers situated in Amsterdam, Zeeland, Delft, Rotterdam, Hoorn and Enkhuisen. The entry of data from the ship's pay-ledgers of the chambers of Delft, Hoorn, Rotterdam, and Zeeland has been completed, while that of Amsterdam has been in progress since September 2006.

Only information concerning personnel who sailed on a VOC ship to the Cape or Asia can be found in the ship's pay-ledgers. Senior functionaries who sailed as passengers, wives who were sometimes also on board and other passengers are not mentioned. Neither are VOC personnel who worked in the Netherlands.

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