Samuel Pepys Diary - Anglo-Dutch Wars

The Complete Diary


Why was England fighting the Dutch?

This is a brief summary of several detailed articles from Wikipedia plus links to some references to the Dutch Wars in The Diary.

There were four Anglo-Dutch wars.
The First Anglo-Dutch War was 1652-54.

They were caused by trade disputes.
The First Dutch war brought control of the seas around England to the English Navy and gave the English a monopoly on trade with England and its colonies.
The Second Anglo-Dutch War was fought from March 4th 1665 to July 31st 1667

In 1664 James, Duke of York, brother to Charles II sought personal gain from controlling trade routes and particularly by taking over the Dutch West India Company. Attacking Dutch colonies and trading posts in Africa and America the Dutch retaliated and Charles declared war on the Netherlands in 1665.

In 1667 the Dutch even invaded the River Medway. Read Pepys' preparations and his later report.

Van Soest, Attack on the River Medway June 1667

Wikipedia says:

In June, 1667, De Ruyter, with Cornelis de Witt supervising, launched the Dutch "Raid on the Medway" at the mouth of the River Thames.
After capturing the fort at Sheerness, the Dutch fleet went on to break through the massive chain protecting the entrance to the Medway and, on the 13th, attacked the laid up English fleet.
The daring raid remains England's greatest naval disaster ever.
Fifteen of the Navy's remaining ships were destroyed, either by the Dutch or by being scuttled by the English to block the river. Three of the eight remaining "big ships" were burnt: Royal Oak, the new Loyal London and Royal James. The largest, the English flagship HMS Royal Charles, was abandoned by its skeleton crew, captured without a shot being fired, and towed back to the Netherlands as a trophy.

The Third Anglo-Dutch War was fought from 1672 to 1674

England joined France when it invaded the Netherlands in 1672. Charles II hoped to win Amsterdam, the richest city in Europe. The Dutch government collapsed and William III of Orange came to the throne. "Ironically, the English thus waged war against their future king William III of England."

This included The Battle of Solebay in May 1672. Wikipedia report here.

Battle of Solebay by De Velde

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War took place in 1780-84 and is therefore beyond our time scale.

References to the Dutch Wars in The Diary

I met with Mr. Coventry, who himself is now full of talke of a Dutch warr; for it seems the Lords have concurred in the Commons' vote about it; and so the next week it will be presented to the King

met with Mr. Coventry, and he and I discoursed of the likeliness of a Dutch warr, which I think is very likely now, for the Dutch do prepare a fleet to oppose us at Guinny,
"We go now on with great vigour in preparing against the Dutch"

to St. James's, and there did our business with the Duke, who tells us more and more signs of a Dutch warr, and how we must presently set out a fleete for Guinny, for the Dutch are doing so, and there I believe the warr will begin

certain newes that the Dutch have taken some of our colliers to the North
my Lord Sandwich sailed thence with the fleete, that evening some Dutch men of warr were seen on the back side of the Goodwin
the fleete is all sailed from Solebay, having spied the Dutch fleete at sea
the Dutch fleete being abroad, eighty-five of them still

they were in sight of the Dutch fleete, and were fitting themselves to fight them
the Dutch had appeared upon our coast with their fleete

to have beat the Dutch; but of his 55 ships, not above 25 fought. He did give an account that it was a fight he was forced to...
the Dutch are known to be abroad with eighty sail of ships of war
"The Dutch fleet of 80 sail has anchored in the bay; they were expected to land ..."