Page 28 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 Thomas Hope as Representant. He resigned however in 1771 and William V never appoin- ted a successor.61
The Heren Zeventien
The second clause of the charter vested the central management of the Company in a board of seventeen members, made up of directors of the six chambers. The Amsterdam chamber was allowed to return eight directors to this board, the so-called Heren Zeventien, Zeeland four and the smaller chambers one each. The seventeenth member was appointed alternately by Zeeland and the smaller chambers. The location of the meetings was also laid down, after a tug of war between Zeeland and Amsterdam: for a period of six conse- cutive years at Amsterdam, followed by two consecutive years at Middelburg. When meetings were held in Amsterdam this chamber was in the chair, when in Zeeland this privilege fell to the Zeeland chamber. In the latter case Zeeland also appointed the seven- teenth person, whereas during the six years of meeting in Amsterdam this place was filled by the four smaller chambers in turn.6 2
As a rule the Heren Zeventien met two or three times a year. The duration of these meetings depended on the workload and could vary between one and four weeks. For each meeting delegates were appointed by the directors of the chambers, with the result that the composition of the board changed with every meeting. The Heren 17 had no administrative organisation of their own, but made use of officials of the Amsterdam and Zeeland chambers.63
The VOC advocaat
A special position in the official hierarchy of the V O C was held by the advocaat (counsel). Up to 1614 the function of secretary to the Heren Zeventien had been taken care of by the accountant of the Amsterdam chamber, but then the directors appointed a lawyer who began to act as secretary to the board. The advocaat had to read incoming letters, at first including those from Asia, to extract the most important points and present the directors with draft replies. H e also drew up the Heren Zeventien's book of resolutions, was a member of their various committees and part of their negotiating teams. A t the same time he worked for the Amsterdam chamber, attending where possible its directors' meetings.64
When by 1621 it became clear that this function was too extensive for one person, the Heren Zeventien appointed a second advocaat. The advocaten, who were party to all matters of policy and received and processed all relevant information, could exert great influence on Company management. This was most certainly true of Pieter van Dam, who in 1652 was appointed first advocaat and remained in Company service for half a century. During the last eight years of his tenure he worked on his Beschryvinge van de Oostindische Compagnie (Description of the East India Company), which the directors had commissioned him to write in 1693. This commission was a consequence of the efforts
61 Klerk de Reus, Geschichtlicher Ueberblick, 59-67; Steur, Herstel of ondergang, 48, 68.
62 Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 244-267 gives a comprehensive survey of composition and tasks
of the Zeventien's meetings.
63 Meilink-Roelofsz, 'Hoe rationed was de organisatie van de Nederlandse Oost-Indische Compag-
nie?', 176.
64 Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 270-284.

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