Page 92 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 dominant position in the long run. During the first six decades Batavia, preceded by Bantam, was the only port with direct shipping links with the home country. There were a very few exceptions, for towards 1620 it became customary for a few ships to return to Europe without calling at Batavia; the same applied to the outward voyage. This happened from trading posts in Coromandel and Surat. But in 1636, after ample consultation between authorities at home and in Batavia, this practice was discontinued. All goods and ships were now concentrated in the metropolis of the Company's dominion before they could leave for Europe.
Yet because of changes in trading patterns and the conquest of Ceylon, the need for a second direct link became once again apparent. In 1664 the Heren Zeventien came to a decision in its favour (5536 and 5537). Not long afterwards a direct link between the Republic and South Asia was also established, as mentioned in the previous chapter. Ceylon became an important port of departure for return cargoes from the island itself, Bengal, Coromandel and Surat, in spite of the obstinate attempts of the Hoge Regering to maintain Batavia's exclusive central role. The Ceylonese consignment which had started with two ships annually, gradually grew to four, five and more ships.
Whereas from Batavia the return voyage could be started in any season, Ceylon, like Bengal, was subject to the fact that departure could only take place in winter during the northeast monsoon. A t first the Heren Zeventien had regretfully to put up with departures in January and February, and they kept urging advancement. Not until 1699 was this taken seriously and from then on most ships sailed in November and December. The regulation of 1742 which created two separate consignments from Batavia applied also to Ceylon and similarly led to December falling into disuse as month of departure (see table 14b).
Table 14b: Numbers of monthly departures from Ceylon
1650-74 1675-99 1700-24 1725-49 1750-74 1775-95
43 26 3 1
11 112
1 6 36 96 7 54 29 1
14 1 87 163
34 9
8 47
5 27 3
1 1 4 2 4
2 2 12
1650-1795 100 112 6 1
Ceylon did not remain the only place of departure next to Batavia. In the 1680s a few ships had already returned straight from Bengal, but this did not lead to a regular link. In 1733, due to complaints about late arrival of Bengal textiles and uncertainty about their quantities, the Heren Zeventien decided to start a direct shipping link between Chin- sura and the Republic. In view of this a close study was made of the journals of ships which in previous years had already made this journey, whether or not via Ceylon (5812, 5817, 5828, 5832, 5845 and 5859). A t first this direct consignment from Bengal consisted of two ships (the first: 6925 and 6926), laden with the most expensive linens, but in 1737 this was increased to four (7052-55), and in 1759 a fifth ship was allowed if cargo was

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