Battle of Lowestoft

3rd June 1665
Part of : The Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665 - 1667)
Previous action : Action of 1665-04-13 13.4.1665
Next action : Battle of Vågen 3.8.1665

At mid-day on June 1st, it was reported to the Duke of York in Southwold Bay that the enemy was about six miles to the E.S.E.; whereupon the commander-in-chief weighed and put to sea. There is much contradictory evidence as to the direction of the wind at the time. It is probable, however, that it was favourable to the Dutch, and that Obdam's only reason for not attacking at once was that his ships were scattered, and that he desired to enable the whole of his force to come up. He consequently kept away to seaward during the afternoon and night. On the morning of June 2nd, he was visible about five miles to the S.E., and at 8 A.M. Lowestoft was eight miles to the N.W., and the enemy had closed to a distance of three miles or less. But that day there was no farther approach until towards evening. The wind then shifted from E. to S., later veering to S.W. by W with the result that, at about 2.30 A.M. on June 3rd, the fleets were some fourteen miles N.N.E. of Lowestoft, and the English had the weather-gauge.


Dutch Republic

The 1st Amsterdam Squadron, Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam (1610-1665)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Eendracht (58)  †Fleet Flagship Sunk
Amsterdam (54)  
Tijdverdrijf (58) Albert Claessen Graeff
Huis te Kruiningen (58) Jacob Corneliszoon Swart
Vrijheid (50)  
Landman (44) Hugo van Nieuwenhof
Vrede (40) Laurens van Heemskerck, Huijbert Huijgh
Stad Gouda (48) Otto van Treslong
Dom van Utrecht (48) Jacob Willemszoon Broeder (d.1692)
Harderwijk (46) Jacob Wiltschut
Haarlem (40) Adam van Brederode
Zeelandia (34) Balthazar van de Voorde
Gouden Ster (30) Herman Egbertsen Wolff
Brack (18)  
Maarseveen (78) Jacob de Reus (d.1665) Burnt
The 2nd Squadron, Johan Evertsen (1600-1666)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Hof van Zeeland (58) Johan Evertsen (1600-1666)Squadron Flagship
Klein Hollandia (54) Quirijn van den Kerckhoff
The 3rd Maas Squadron, Egbert Meeuwssen Kortenaer
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Groot Hollandia (58) Laurens Davidszoon van ConvertSquadron Flagship
Oosterwijk (68) Dirck Schey (d.1679)
The 4th Friesland Squadron, Auke Stellinwerf (1635-1665)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Prinses Albertina (44) Hendrik Dirkszoon Bruynsveld
The 5th Amsterdam Squadron, Cornelis Maartenszoon Tromp (1629-1691)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
The 6th Zeeland Squadron, Cornelis Evertsen (1610-1666)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Oranje (76) Bastiaen Censen (d.1665) Sunk
Zwanenburg (30) Cornelis Kuiper Burnt
The 7th Squadron, Volckert Schram (1620-1673)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Huijs te Zwieten (70) Cartsen Crijnssen de Rechter
Delfland (70)  
Hilversum (62) Cartsen Crijnssen de Rechter, Albert Mathijszoon Captured
Carolus Quintus (54)   Captured
Elf Steden (54) Albert Pieterszoon de Boer Captured
Beurs van Amsterdam (52) Cornelis Muts
Nagelboom (52) Boon Captured
Mars (50)   Captured
Utrecht (48)   Burnt
Ter Goes (48)  
Geldersche Ruiter (46) Evert van Gelder
Vlissingen (46)  
Luijpaert (60) Commer Gerritszoon
Prins Maurits (44) Marinus de Clerq (d.1665)
Batavia (44) Jan Pieterszoon Onclaer
Eendracht (44)  
Zeelandia (42) Sijmon Blocq (d.1666) Captured
Sphaera Mundi (41)  
Groningen (40)  
Edam (34) Jacob Swart Captured
Delft (36)  † Captured
Delft (36) Jacob van Boshuisen
Zeeridder (34) Jan Willem Marinissen
Jonge Prins (30) Jan Halfhoorn Captured
Dieshouk (6) Jan Pietersen Tant
Zoutelande (4) Willem Hendriksen

Kingdom of England

The White Squadron, HRH Prince Rupert Palatine (Prince Rupert of the Rhine) (1619-1682)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
The Vanguard - White Squadron, Christopher Myngs (1625-1666)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Happy Return (40) John Hubbard (d.1668)
John and Abigail (40) Joseph Sanders (d.1666)
Katherine (36) Thomas Elliott Hired Merchantman
John and Katherine (32) John Whately
Colchester (24) Daniel Helling (d.1672)
Triumph (60) Christopher Myngs (1625-1666)Squadron Flagship
Monck (52) Thomas Penrose (d.1667)
Newcastle (44) Thomas Page (d.1674)
Lion (52) Edward Spragg (d.1673)
Ruby (42) William Jennens
Expedition (30) Tobias Sackler (d.1666)
Happy Return (44) James Lambert (d.1665), John Hubbard (d.1668), Thomas Harwood
The Main Body - White Squadron, HRH Prince Rupert Palatine (Prince Rupert of the Rhine) (1619-1682)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Exchange (36) Samuel Wentworth
Reserve (44) John Tyrwhitt
Rainbow (64) Roger Strickland (1640-1717), Willoughby Hannam (c.1621-1672)
Revenge (52) Robert Holmes (1622-1692)
Royal James (70) John Kempthorne (1620-1679)Squadron Flagship
Garland (22) Charles Talbot
Assurance (32) John Jefferies (d.1666)
Mary Rose (40) William Reeves (d.1673)
Henrietta (52) Walter Wood (d.1666)
Bendish (42) Robert Taylor
Portland (40) John Aylett (d.1668)
The Rearguard - White Squadron, Robert Sansom (d.1665)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Cheriton (22) John Lightfoot (d.1667)
East India Merchant (44) John Wilgress (d.1671)
Saint Andrew (52) Valentine Pyend
Advice (42)  
Bear (42) John Waterworth (d.1672)
Constant Katherine (40) Francis Sanders
Kent (40) Thomas Ewens
Anne (52) Arnold Browne
Resolution (50) Sir William Kempthorne, Robert Sansom (d.1665) CO Killed
Milford (22) Thomas Seale (d.1665)
Ships not in the Line - White Squadron
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Martin (14) Richard White (d.1673)
Drake (14) Richard Poole
Dolphin (4)  
Fame (30) John Gethings (d.1666) Expended
Hind (8)  
Bramble (14) William Younger, Napthali Ball (d.1672/73) Fireship (Expended 1665/06/04)
The Red Squadron
Ship NameCommanderNotes
The Vanguard - Red Squadron, Sir John Lawson (1610-1665)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Bristol (50) John Hart
Gloucester (52) Robert Clarke (d.1669)
Royal Exchange (46) Giles Shelley
Diamond (42) John King
Royal Oak (76) Sir John Lawson (1610-1665)Squadron Flagship
Norwich (22) John Wetwang (d.1684)
Guinea (34) James Ableson (d.1665)
Saint George (52) Joseph Jordan (1603-1685)
Coast Frigate (34) Thomas Lawson (d.1665)
Dover Geoffrey Pearce (d.1672)
King Fernando (36) Francis Johnson
The Main Body - Red Squadron
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Plymouth (52) Thomas Allin (1612-1685)
Fountain (34) Sir Jean Baptiste Du Tiel
Blackamore (38) Richard Neale (d.1665)
Mary (54) Jeremy Smith (d.1675)
Royal Charles (80) John Harman (d.1673)Fleet Flagship
Mermaid (24) Jasper Grant
Antelope (40) John Chicheley (1641-1690/91)
Old James (48) James Ley (1618-1665) CO Killed
Loyal George (42) John Earle
Yarmouth (50) Thomas Ayliffe
Vanguard (56) Jonas Poole
Convertine (44) John Pearce (d.1670)
The Rearguard - Red Squadron, Sir William Berkeley (1639-1666)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Eagle (44) William Godfrey, Thomas Hendra (d.1665)
Amity (36) John Parker (d.1666)
Satisfaction (46) William Godfrey, Richard May
Fairfax (52) Robert Salmon (d.1665)
Swiftsure (64) Sir William Berkeley (1639-1666)
Portsmouth (34) Robert Mohun (d.1667)
George (40) Robert Hatubb (d.1665)
Leopard (44) Richard Beach (d.1692)
Sapphire (38) Henry Hide (d.1665)
Loyal Merchant (50) Robert Sanders (d.1666/67)
Ships not in the Line - Red Squadron
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Roe (8) James Lock
Eaglet (8) Stephen Sartaine
The Blue Squadron, Lord Edward Montagu (1st Earl of Sandwich) (d.1672)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
The Vanguard - Blue Squadron, Thomas Teddeman (1620-1668)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Society (36) Ralph Lassells (d.1677)
Forrester (22) Edward Cotterell
Royal Katherine (84) Thomas Teddeman (1620-1668)Squadron Flagship
Essex (56) Richard Utber (d.1669)
Princess (44) George Swanley (d.1665)
Golden Phoenix (36) Samuel Dickinson
Adventure (32) Benjamin Young (d.1670)
Dreadnought (52) Henry Terne (d.1666)
Prudent Mary (36) Thomas Haward (d.1665)
The Main Body - Blue Squadron, Lord Edward Montagu (1st Earl of Sandwich) (d.1672)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Dragon (38) Valentine Pyend, John Lloyd (d.1672)
Centurion (50) Robert Moulton, Edmund Seaman (d.1666)
Lyme (52) Henry Fenn (d.1666)
Prince Royal (92) Roger Cuttance (d.1665/66)Squadron Flagship
Pembroke (22) Thomas Darcy, Richard Goodlad
Dunkirk (50) John Hayward (d.1673)
Bredah (40) Sir Robert Kirby (d.1665)
John and Thomas (44) Henry Dawes (d.1667)
Swallow (40) Richard Hodges (d.1666)
Madras (42) John Norbrooke
The Rearguard - Blue Squadron, Sir George Ayscue (d.1672)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Jersey (40) Hugh Hide (d.1665/66)
Hamburg Merchant (36) James Cadman (d.1665)
Hampshire (38) George Batts
Castle Frigate (36) Philip Evatt
Assistance (40)  
Unicorn (46) Henry Teddeman
Providence (30) Richard James (d.1679/80)
York (52) John Swanley
Henry (64) Sir George Ayscue (d.1672), Sir George Ayscue (d.1672)
Ships not in the Line - Blue Squadron
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Bryar (12) Richard Cotton (d.1691/92)
Nonsuch (8) Robert Crosman (d.1667)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Charity (46) Robert Wilkinson (d.1666) Captured
Paul (6) Peter Foote (d.1666)
Coventry (28) William Hill
Success (24) Edward Grove (d.1665)
Guernsey (22) John Utber (d.1665)
Hector (22) John Cuttle (d.1665)
Oxford (22) Philemon Bacon (d.1666)
Dolphin (20) William Gregory
Lizard (16) John Andrews (d.1665)
Mary Prize (14) Abraham Blackleach (d.1665/66)
Paradox (14) Leonard Guy (d.1668)

Notes on Action

Description of the actionTRN2

Prince Rupert led the van, the Duke the centre, and Sandwich the rear. At 3.30 A.M. the action began, and it would appear that the two fleets, each in line ahead, passed one another on opposite tacks in the set manner of the time, though some accounts declare that they passed through one another. Having passed, each turned sixteen points and renewed the encounter. The Dutch seem to have altered course in succession, their van remaining their van, their centre their centre, and their rear their rear; but the English altered course simultaneously, so that, at the second passage, their rear became their van. The Dutch in vain strove to gain the weather-gauge; and it was probably owing to these efforts that at about 1 P.M., in the course of the second or a subsequent passage, Sandwich's squadron found itself mixed up with the Dutch centre, and, either by accident or by design, broke through it, so cutting the enemy's fleet into two parts. It is likely that it was by accident, for the English accounts admit that by that time, owing to the smoke, there was great confusion, and that friendly vessels narrowly escaped firing into one another. Indeed, there is no doubt that, after a certain time had elapsed, order on both sides almost ceased to exist, and the action degenerated into a gigantic melee.

In the course of the struggle, Obdam, in the Eendracht, 76, [This was her nominal force, though English writers call her an 80 and even an 84. Her real force was only three 36-pounders, twenty-two 24-pounders, fourteen 18-pounders, twelve 12-pounders, and twenty-two 6-pounders: total, seventy-three guns. List in Rijks Archief.] found himself close to the Duke of York in the Royal Charles, 80; and the two commanders-in-chief promptly and hotly engaged one another. The Eendracht attempted to board the Royal Charles, but without success. She nevertheless plied her broadside so well and continuously that the Duke was in the greatest danger of being sunk or of having to surrender. Charles Berkeley, first Earl of Falmouth, Mr. Boyle, second son of the Earl of Burlington, and Lord Muskerry, with others, were killed at the Duke's side by a single chain-shot, and his Royal Highness was covered with their blood, and even, according to one account, slightly wounded in the hand by a splinter from Mr. Boyle's skull. But, at the height of the fight, the Eendracht suddenly blew up, only five souls out of four hundred and nine who had gone into action in her escaping with their lives. It is probable that the accident was occasioned by the ignition of some loose cartridges and the extension of the flames to the powder-room, but popular tradition in Holland ascribes the catastrophe to another cause, and declares that a negro servant of Obdam fired the magazine from motives of revenge.

The explosion, and the loss of their commander-in-chief, increased the confusion of the Dutch, many of whom began to give way and to put before the wind. Yet some of the squadrons, and numerous individual ships, still gallantly held their ground. Jan Evertsen assumed the chief command, but the news of his having done so did not reach Cornelis Tromp, who, knowing of the death of Obdam, and presently learning also that Cortenaer a had succumbed to a wound in the thigh, and that Stellingwerf had been killed by a ball through the body, imagined himself to be the senior surviving officer, and took command of so much of the fleet as remained near him. As late as two days afterwards Tromp wrote to the States-General that he did not know what had become of Evertsen. There can surely be no better proof of the disorganisation of the Dutch.

Yet, with certain disgraceful exceptions, Nagelboom and Hilversum were shamefully surrendered. The Carolus Quintus was betrayed by her mutinous crew. In consequence of misbehaviour, three captains were subsequently sentenced to be shot; three were publicly degraded; two more were dismissed the service; and the master of Cortenaer's ship was made to stand on a scaffold with a halter round his neck, and was afterwards banished. Captain Laurens Heemskerk, of the Vrede, who was condemned in contumacy, later indicated the sentence of his judges by assisting Sir Robert Holmes in August, 1666, and by serving against his country on board the French flagship at Solebay in 1672.] they fought magnificently. Captain Bastiaen Gen ten, in the East India Company's ship Oranje, 76, pressed the Montagu, 52, very hard, and, according to Dutch reports, even had possession of her for a time, until she was retaken by the Royal James, which lost her captain, Earl of Marlborough, and Charles Weston, third Earl of Portland, a volunteer on board, during the fight. The gallant Oranje subsequently caught fire, and her brave commander, who was saved from her ere she blew up, ultimately died of his wounds. Captain Jan den Haen, in the Stad en Lande, 56, actually took the Charity, 46, and eventually carried her into port as a prize. It is but fair to say, however, that the Charity had first been sadly mauled in succession by the Liefde, 70, Elf Steden, 54, and Cruijningen, 58, and that, before she was boarded, about ninety of her people escaped from her and later reached the shore.

But the day was lost; and such minor incidents as the blowing up of the poop of the Saint George, or the fatal wounding of Vice-Admiral Sir John Lawson, who had been detached after some Dutch ships which were making off, failed to revive the spirits of the enemy, even for a moment. By 7 o'clock, P.M., the Dutch were in full flight. Jan Evertsen, and the vessels with him, made for the mouth of the Maas. Tromp and his ships, in somewhat better order, made for the Texel. It was when each man, conscious of defeat, was thinking mainly of himself, that two serious disasters occurred. On one part of the scene of action, the Maarseveen, 78, Ter Goes, 30, and Swanenburg, all belonging to different squadrons. ran on board one another, and were set on fire, and destroyed. On another part, four ships, the Prins Maurits, 53, Coeverden, 56. Utrecht, 48, and one more, 'similarly fouled one another, and being caught, while still interlocked and unmanageable, by an English fireship, were all burnt.

According to Sir William Coventry's report to the Lord High Admiral, the prizes taken and already brought into British ports, were as follows:

Carolus Quintus54230
Yacht, De Ruijter1880
Jonge Prins36160
Wappen van Zeeland44180


But to these should be added the Huis te Swieten, 70 guns, 300 men, the Geldersche Ruiter, 48 guns, 180 men, the Westfriesland, 50 guns, 260 men, and probably one more, making fourteen in all, besides four which were abandoned after capture, in consequence of their unseaworthy condition. About fourteen in addition seem to have been destroyed. If this estimate be correct, the total loss of the Dutch was about thirty-two sail. Their loss in officers and men was about 4000 killed and 2000 taken.

The English loss was, in comparison, very slight. That the Charity was taken is admitted by all. The Dutch claim to have also taken the John and Mary, but nothing else. Of killed, there were only about 250, of wounded, about 340; and the Dutch cannot have carried off more than about a couple of hundred prisoners at most. But the victory cost the lives of two English flag-officers and three captains, Vice-Admiral Sir John Lawson, Rear-Admiral Robert Sansom, Captain James Ley, Earl of Marlborough, of the Royal James, Captain Robert Kirby, of the Bredah, and Captain James Abelson, of the Guinea.

But for the pertinacity of Tromp, who covered the retreat, the Dutch would have suffered still more severely. Two other causes contributed to save them from utter destruction. One was that, after the action, it blew hard towards the dangerous Dutch coasts, and that the victors, according to Colliber, had expended all their fireships. The other was the failure of the English to press the pursuit.

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