Battle of Lowestoft

3rd June 1664/65
Part of : The Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665 - 1667)
Previous action : Action of 1665-04-13 13th April 1665
Next action : Battle of Vågen 3rd August 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
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Eendracht (72) 72 †Fleet Flagship Sunk
Amsterdam (54) 54 
Tijdverdrijf (52) 58Albert Claessen Graeff
Huis te Kruiningen (58) 58Jacob Corneliszoon Swart
Vrijheid (46) 50 
Landman (44) 44Hugo van Nieuwenhof
Vrede (40) 40Huijbert Huijgh
Stad Gouda (48) 48Otto van Treslong
Dom van Utrecht (48) 48Jacob Willemszoon Broeder
Harderwijk (46) 46Jacob Wiltschut
Haarlem (36) 46Adam van Brederode
Zeelandia (34) 34Balthazar van de Voorde
Gouden Ster (28) 36Herman Egbertsen Wolff
Brack (18) 18 
Maarseveen (78) 78Jacob de Reus Burnt
The 2nd Squadron, Johan Evertsen
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Hof van Zeeland (58) 58Johan EvertsenSquadron Flagship
Klein Hollandia (54) 54Quirijn van den Kerckhoff
The 3rd Maas Squadron, Egbert Meeuwssen Kortenaer
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Groot Hollandia (68) 68Laurens Davidszoon van ConvertSquadron Flagship
Oosterwijk (56) 68Dirck Schey
The 4th Friesland Squadron, Auke Stellinwerf
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Prinses Albertina (44) 44Hendrik Dirkszoon Bruynsveld
The 5th Amsterdam Squadron, Cornelis Maartenszoon Tromp
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
The 6th Zeeland Squadron, Cornelis Evertsen
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Oranje (76) 76Bastiaen Censen Sunk
Zwanenburg (30) 30Cornelis Kuiper Burnt
The 7th Squadron, Volckert Schram
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Huijs te Zwieten (70) 70Cartsen Crijnssen de Rechter
Delfland (70) 70 
Hilversum (62) 62Albert Mathijszoon Captured
Carolus Quintus (54) 54  Captured
Elf Steden (54) 54Albert Pieterszoon de Boer Captured
Beurs van Amsterdam (52) 52Cornelis Muts
Nagelboom (52) 52 Boon Captured
Mars (50) 50  Captured
Utrecht (48) 48  Burnt
Ter Goes (48) 48 
Geldersche Ruiter (46) 46Evert van Gelder
Vlissingen (46) 46 
Luijpaert (44) 48Commer Gerritszoon
Prins Maurits (44) 44Marinus de Clerq
Batavia (44) 44Jan Pieterszoon Onclaer
Eendracht (42) 44 
Zeelandia (42) 42Sijmon Blocq Captured
Sphaera Mundi (41) 41 
Groningen (40) 40 
Edam (38) 34Jacob Swart Captured
Delft (36) 36 † Captured
Delft (36) 36Jacob van Boshuisen
Zeeridder (34) 34Jan Willem Marinissen
Jonge Prins (28) 30Jan Halfhoorn Captured
Dieshouk (6) 6Jan Pietersen Tant
Zoutelande (4) 4Willem Hendriksen

Kingdom of England

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

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.


TRN2 The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present Vol IIWilliam Laid ClowesDigital Book

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