By Manish Kumar
The flute-ship Anna Maria was built in Amsterdam in the year 1693 on the orders of a group of shipowners based at Stockholm.† The ship sailed from Amsterdam to Setubal in 1694, and on its return journey destined for Stockholm, it passed through the Sound for the first time on 18 June 1695.
The toll at the Sound (Danish: Øresund), the strait between Denmark and Sweden, was first introduced by Danish king Erik VII in 1429, and it was finally abolished in 1857. Ships passing through the Sound had to pay a toll (some nationalities were exempted at different points in time), and it was documented in registers; hence the name Sound Toll Registers (STR). A part of the STR has been digitized, called Sound Toll Registers Online (STRO), which features records for the period 1600-1857 along with scans of the original registers.
The table presented below gives the exact dates on which the Anna Maria passed through the Sound Toll from 1695 to 1708. The ships sailing under the Swedish flag were exempted from paying toll from 1645 until 1710. All the voyages of the Anna Maria fall under this time period, and therefore, no toll was paid. The ship sunk at Dalarö (near Stockholm) in 1708 while it was en route from Stockholm to Lisbon.
|18-06-1695||Jørgen Cornelissen||Setubal – Stockholm|
|08-11-1695||Jurgen Cornelissen||Stockholm – Setubal|
|10-10-1696||Jurgen Cornelissen||La Matta* – Stockholm|
|04-08-1697||Jurgen Cornelissen**||Stockholm – Cadiz|
|09-10-1698||Jan de Haes||La Matta* – Stockholm|
|19-07-1702||Lenard Ricks||Stockholm – Amsterdam|
|14-04-1703||Leenard Reich||Setubal – Stockholm|
|28-09-1703||Leenert Ryck||Stockholm – Amsterdam|
|24-05-1704||Leenert Ryck||Setubal – Stockholm|
|01-10-1704||Leenert Ryck||Stockholm – London|
|16-09-1705||Leenert Ryck||Setubal – Stockholm|
|06-05-1706||Leenard Reichs||Stockholm – Lisbon|
|23-09-1706||Leendert Reecks||Lisbon – Stockholm|
|02-10-1707||Leenert Ryck||Stockholm – Lisbon|
|01-06-1708||Lenhard Reicks||Setubal – Stockholm|
* These are the spellings given in the original Swedish documents. The complete name is Torre de la Matta, and it lies in Spain. It has been spelled as ‘La Matte’ in STRO (see below for more).
** Died in Cadiz.
This case study proved to be an interesting exercise at least for the following two reasons.
The first relates to the spellings in the STR. The name ‘Leonard Reichs’ (as given in Swedish Board of Trade and Commerce documents) has not been spelt in the same way even once. These variations in spellings are not only true for names of the shipmasters, but also for various ports and the cargo. Therefore, ‘Lisbon’ was spelt like Liesabon or Lysaabon or Lasabon, and so on. The online version of the STR, that is, STRO, has made an improvement for research purposes, and the spellings of the ports have been standardized. As a result, if one needs to search for any journey either starting from or terminating at Lisbon, you only need to search for ‘Lisbon’. However, the spellings of commodities and names of the shipmasters have not been standardized as yet.
The second important matter relates to the location of ports. Whenever the names of the ports are similar, there is the possibility of an error in STRO. In our case, ‘La Matta’ is in Spain, but the STRO shows it to be in France. Why? Because ‘La Matte’ lies in France (note the last ‘e’). Therefore, one has to watch out for such minor errors in the STRO.
Before closing, one crucial remark regarding the use of STR is in order. It must be kept in mind that the STR gives us information only about ‘direct exports’ from the Baltic ports, or ‘direct imports’ into the Baltic ports. Let us suppose, for example, one wants to search for all the goods imported by Lisbon from Stockholm in the year 1700. In this case, the STR will show only the goods which were ‘directly’ exported from Stockholm. If Amsterdam imported certain goods from Stockholm, and then exported them further to Lisbon, then this is not covered in the STR. Therefore, STR do not give us any information about the ‘re-exports’ of goods.
It would suffice to say that the STR are full of historical information, and their meticulous use, in combination with other documentary evidence, can enrich our understanding of the international trade between the Baltic region and rest of the world during the early modern period.
Manish Kumar is a pre-doctoral researcher in the Department of History, University of Groningen.
† Most of the information used in writing this article is available in Christian Ahlström, Looking for Leads: Shipwrecks of the past revealed by contemporary documents and the archaeological record, Helsinki, 1997, pp. 87-110. I have just tried to locate the details provided by Ahlström in the STR.