Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jan Van Husum - sailing man

It is not entirely clear what Jan Franz Van Husum did in the city of Husum before leaving for Amsterdam. One would suspect that he was a sailor for Husum was a seaport. And those who lived along the North Sea often earned their living catching herring along the Dogger Bank near the English coast and whaling in the frigid waters off Spitzbergen.

We do know that Jan arrived in Amsterdam sometime after 1634 when a great flood devastated the city of Husum and the nearby island of Nordstrand where his wife to be, Volkje Juriaens lived. Both Jan and Volkje were living on Tuinstraat in Amsterdam in 1639, when they applied for a marriage license. On the marriage certificate, available online from, Jan lists his occupation as "varensgezel," or seafaring man.

Detail Marriage Certificate Jan and Volkje Van Husum

In the 17th century, most sailing on Dutch ships was done on a Dutch flyboat or fluyt. This was a sturdy, round-sided ship with great carrying capacity that operated with fewer crew than other boats. While sizes varied, a ship of 150 to 200 tons, might use a crew of seven or eight, whereas the English and French used a crew of ten or twelve. And again, while sizes might vary greatly, the ship might measure no more than 60 feet from stem to stern, and 13 feet in width.

The Fluyt, by Charlotte Wilcoxen, from Selected Papers of Rennselaerswijck Seminar.

Dutch Flyboat from KingsAcademy


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