Thomas Tobias

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Thomas Tobias (Tobiaszoon) (born 1630s? - d. 1681[1]) in Ireland, was an Irish Roman Catholic sea captain of the mid-17th century who served as an officer in both the English Navy and Dutch Confederate Navy before and during the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars.

Tobias is first mentioned as being an officer under Admiral Edward Spragge in the West Indies.[2][3]

Tobias is later mentioned prominently during the Four Days' Battle of 1666 as leading the action against the 60-gun English "greatship" HMS Swiftsure (1621), taking her as a prize and given subsequent command of her and the prize crew responsible for repairing her and conveying her back to Amsterdam where she was upgraded to 70 guns and renamed the Oudshoorn.[4]

Tobias was the "flag captain" of the 80-gun Dutch flagship Hollandia under Willem Joseph van Ghent from 1666-1667.

Tobias is noted for his valour during the Dutch Attack up the Thames River estuary Raid on the Medway in June 1667. During the battle he was aboard Lieutenant-Admiral Baron Willem Joseph van Ghent's frigate Agatha and charged with the reduction of the intentionally sunken English warships as an obstacle preventing the Dutch from continuing upriver.[2]

Subsequently, he was ordered to lead the attack on the 80-gun English flagship Royal Charles. After the ship was taken as a prize, Tobias was charged to take command of the ship and prize crew in order to prepare it for the sea passage to the Netherlands. Tobias was required to further reduce the obstacles of sunken ships to allow the deep draft English capital ship to proceed out of the estuary. He then sailed the ship to Amsterdam where it became a great spectacle.[2]

During the Third Anglo-Dutch War, Tobias was captain of the 50-gun Dutch man-o-war Beschermer (launched 1665). He also served as Admiral Cornelis Tromp's "flag captain" in several actions. His son Jan Thomas Tobiaszoon was also registered as an able seaman aboard Tromp's flagship. (3)

Tobias is last mentioned in 1673/4 as the captain of the 58-gun Dutch frigate Geloof during Admiral DeRuyter's second punitive expedition to the Caribbean and his attack on French Martinique.(2) The Geloof was noted to have taken several prizes during the expedition.

The Dutch historian Dr. Japp R. Bruijn also mentions that Thomas Tobias and Michel DeRuyter were close neighbors and friends. Early in DeRuyter's career he had been a merchant captain often trading in Ireland and was noted to be fluent in Irish. Bruijn estimates that eight percent of seamen serving in the Dutch Navy during the 17th century Anglo-Dutch wars were from the British Isles with a majority of those from Ireland.[2]


  1. ^ Bruijn, J. R. (1966). De Oorlogvoering ter zee in 1673 in Journalen en andere Stukken. Groningen. p. 235.
  2. ^ a b c d Brand, Hanno (2005). "Trade, Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange: Continuity and change in the North Sea area and the Baltic c. 1350-1750". Uitgeverij Verloren. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  3. ^ Japp R. Bruijn, Ronald Prud'homme van Reine and Rolof van Hovell tot Westerflier, ed. (2011). DeRuyter: Dutch Admiral. Karwansaray Publishers.
  4. ^ Bender, James (2014). Dutch Warships in the Age of Sail, 1600-1714: Design, Construction, Careers, and Fates. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1848321571.

3. The Dutch Navy of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries by Jaap R. Bruijn

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