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 'not necessarily to be depended upon.'1 9
Within the Company there was discontent about this situation. The Batavia authorities
had for years complained 'about the diversity and differentiation in the rates... which in length as well as in width were much exceeded'. 'Those of the Indies' thought 'that it would be much to the Company's service, if no more than some few rates were to be devised and punctually followed, this because of the convenience and usefulness which were thus to be derived and enjoyed.' Eventually the Heren Zeventien responded to these and other complaints. That was in 1697. A n emphatic request had been made that 'only three kinds of ship would be allowed to be constructed, being of 160, 140 and 130 feet, apart from some few catbarks or hookers.' The master shipwrights of the six chambers were brought together for extensive consultations and after 'strenuous deliberations' it was decided on April 4th, 1697, that in future three rates were to be built, namely East Indiamen (pinnaces) of 160 χ 40 χ 17 ft, 145 χ 36 ft 83/4 in. χ 15 ft 7% in., and 130 χ 33 ft 672 in. χ 14 ft 4V2in. A system of controls on the observance of these measurements was also established. This decision did indeed contribute much to the desired uniformity in the Company's fleet. Room was left for a small ship for service in Asia, as well as for the possibility of the 130 ft rate to be built as hekboot or fluyt.20
The problem of the seventeenth century tonnages
Greater uniformity in types of ship resulted automatically in advantages in the equipping of ships and the stocking of parts. But it was also important to know how much cargo the ships could hold. From the beginning this was of great interest to the Heren Zeventien. For each year the mutual ratio in the building and equipping of ships had to be adjusted between the six chambers, the so-called 'equalization'. This was based on cargo-carrying capacity, not on the number of ships. In 1609 it was agreed that for the assessment of lasts the measurements of length, width and depth were to be used.21 It appears from the variations in statements of last capacity that this did not lead to definitive results. The ships WAPEN V AN AMSTERDAM (0135) and CEYLON (0137) for instance were in 1609 assessed at 430 and 180 last, two years later at 400 and 170 last, making it far from easy for the twentieth century researcher to ascertain the exact tonnage, the more so since for the first decades reliable data on measurements are frequently lacking. A last is equi­ valent to two tons, weighing 2000 kilograms.
In 1637 the equalization and assessment of lasts was greatly simplified and prescribed. The ship's length was linked to a corresponding cargo carrying capacity, so there was no question of the size of the ship itself being calculated. A survey is given in Table 1. Ships acquired by purchase like fluyts were included in the calculation in the same way: a fluyt of 150 last was assessed at 100 last for the equalization. But the 1637 regulation was not the end of it. In 1667 the lasts were lowered proportionally and probably assessed anew in 1697.
This measure of lasts had nothing to do with the ships' actual carrying capacity. It was used for the equalization only. How little connection there was with the actual size of ships was formulated by Van Dam: 'that it is a matter of indifference to the chambers
19 Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 239 and 473, the lists on 480-492. A more complete record of ships including hired and purchased ones in A R A , Coll. Hudde, 21.
20 Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 474-477 and 493-504. 21 A R A , V O C 100, res. Heren 17 of 13.3 and 1.9. 1609.

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