Page 27 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 appointment of new directors. When these matters came before the board the chamber's
shareholders were summoned to delegate principal shareholders to the proceedings.
In 1622 however a third authority had been granted them. A board of nine principal
shareholders was given the right to attend meetings of the Heren Zeventien. These nine,
four of them on behalf of Amsterdam shareholders, two from Zeeland and three from
the other chambers, had an advisory vote. They also sat on the various committees of the
Heren Zeventien and in the chambers they were permitted to inspect and control important
matters as well. Selecting the members of this board was done by the principal sharehol-
ders; those selected had to swear the same oath of allegiance as the directors - hence their
title of sworn principal shareholders.
The reforms of 1622 did not signify the onset of an obstructive or critical scrutiny of
management by the shareholders. As dividends began to flow more abundantly, criticism
died down. Besides, criticism was not to be expected from influential principal shareholders
belonging to the same circles as the directors and usually with their sights on a director's
post. But there were exceptions. The best known example of corrective intervention on
the part of the sworn principal shareholders concerns the China trade in 1754; as a result
of the proposals made by principal shareholders and in particular their spokesman Thomas
Hope, the VOC's China trade was not long after cast in a different mould.
Relations with the stadholder
The close ties between Company and authorities were also apparent in the relationship
with the stadholder. In 1672 William III was proclaimed stadholder and the stadholderly
party gained the upper hand. Soon after, in 1674, the Heren Zeventien decided to grant
the Prince an annual payment of one thirty-third part of all dividends. For this allowance,
not mentioned in the charter and liable to be seen by shareholders as encroaching on their
rights, the directors were given authorization by the States of Holland and Zeeland. Later,
in the eighteenth century, the stadholders again received this allowance. Furthermore
in 1680 William was granted in Zeeland the right of appointment of a new director from
the short-list of three candidates.
Even greater were the rights granted to William IV at the conclusion of the Second
Stadholderless Era (1702-1747). As 'Upper-director' in 1749 he was given great influence
on affairs within the V O C : he could act as chairman of meetings of the Heren
and of boards of directors of the chambers, he was given the right to appoint directors
and the most important officials in the Company, the latter from a short-list of again three
names drawn up by the directors. In his post of Upper-director the stadholder had himself
represented by a Representant, who had the eighteenth and casting vote in meetings of
the Heren Zeventien. William IV however died soon afterwards, in 1751, and the post
remained vacant until 1766, when William V on reaching the age of eighteen took on the
upper-directorship. The post then appeared to acquire substance in the appointment of
57 Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 296, editor's note. Confusion arises from the fact that principal
shareholders, also part of the electoral college, were sometimes called 'sworn principal sharehol-
ders' as well.
58 Jörg, Porcelain and the Dutch China trade, 31.
59 De Korte, De jaarlijkse financiële verantwoording, 6, 7.
60 Note from the resolutions of the States of Zeeland in coll. Radermacher no. 6.

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