The Navigator

The Log of John Anderson, VOC Pilot-Major, 1640-1643


Captain John Anderson served in the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as ‘Pilot-Major’ in a fleet of ships that set sail from Europe in December 1640, and returned with his ships in July 1643. This was Anderson’s fourth voyage to the East Indies.
His journey took three years during which time he safely brought a VOC fleet to Java and home again through tempests and full-scale battles with the Portuguese at sea.
In this, the first-ever edition of Anderson’s Journal, the editors have complemented his own words with chapters discussing the author’s contributions to the History of Warfare in Asia, Maritime Navigation and Early Modern Travel Writing.
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Biographical Note

Victor Enthoven is Associate Professor at the Netherlands Defence Academy and senior researcher at the Free University of Amsterdam. His research interest include maritime, naval and military history and European expansion history, both west and east. His major publications include, co-edited with Johannes Postma, Riches from Atlantic Commerce: Dutch Transatlantic Trade and Shipping, 1585-1817 (Brill, 2003).

Steve Murdoch is Professor in History at the University of St Andrews. His research interests include migration from the British Isles in the seventeenth century and the history of maritime warfare. His major publications include Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, 2006) and The Terror of the Seas: Scottish Maritime Warfare, 1513-1713 (Brill, 2010).

Eila Williamson, Ph.D. (1998) in Scottish History, University of Glasgow, is currently a freelance researcher. She is Editor of The Innes Review, the journal of the Scottish Catholic Historical Association and co-editor of Saints' Cults in the Celtic World (Boydell, 2009).

Review Quotes

"Once again the publishing house of Brill has produced a splendid book [...]."
- Jaap R. Bruijn (Leiden University, The Netherlands), International Journal of Maritime History, 2011, Vol. XXIII, No. 2, pp. 378 - 379

"...source publications like these are necessary to show that the endeavours of East India Companies should never be considered simply as national projects, but seen more as European undertakings. Certainly the books offers us an opportunity to marvel at how different sailing the world must have been almost four centuries ago and offers us an intriguing insight into the world of the East India Companies."
- Chris Nierstrasz (University of Warwick), The Innes Review, 2014, Vol. 65, No. 2, pp. 180-182
DOI: 10.3366/inr.2014.0081

Table of contents

General Editor’s Preface
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Notes on Measures, Currencies, and Mileage


1. A Many-headed Hydra: An Introduction to the Dutch East India Company
2. Introduction to the Log-book of Captain John Anderson
3. The Log as a Reflection of the Practice of Navigation
4. War in the Log of John Anderson
5. Scots and the East Indies: A Background to the Voyage of John Anderson


Editorial Practice
The Log-book of Captain John Anderson

Appendice A. Foreigners in the VOC, 1602-1660
Appendice B. Scots in East India Service, 1600-1660
Appendice C. Two letters of Drummer-Major James Spens, VOC Soldier, 1631-1632



All those interested in Travel History, Navigation, the History of Europeans in Asia, South and South East Asian History, Dutch VOC History and the History of Scotland.


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