VOC - sea-voyagers

Background information

Unique administration

While each VOC Chamber had its own personnel administration, they did adhere to centrally determined regulations. The basis of the salary administration is the ship's pay-register, in which was recorded the personalia and salary data from all the paid crew of every VOC ship.

The data is noted per employee and the salary account opens on the ship's date of departure. The account closes upon termination of tenure and with the company's final payment of the crewman's or rightful claimants credit.

Photo 1, Account of Johan Oller, Popkensburg 1779

Almost all ship’s pay-registers from the 18th century have been preserved: 2797 from 2950 away voyages, nearly 95 percent. Those missing concern a number of ships hired by the VOC with probably a hired crew. There are also more voyages mentioned in a number of pay-registers concerning packet ships. However a few pay-registers do occur twice in the administration and there are a few missing voyages from Dutch Asiatic Shipping.

The assistant on board was mostly responsible for the ship's pay-register. As soon as all the crew were on board they were registered upon the muster roll. All expenses made on board and thus to be deducted from the account were first noted in the journal. Only at the end of the voyage was all the information written in the ship's pay-register.

Despite the century of time covered and the vast distances between places travelled to, we have at our disposal, thanks to the well run administration of the VOC, a series of ship's pay-registers that are recorded in an almost uniform manner and furthermore containing few if any errors.