Letter from King Narai (r. 1656-1688) in Ayutthaya to the Supreme Government in Batavia, (received) 2 March 1674, and the answer from Batavia, 27 april 1674


The King has understood regarding an English ship, called the Philip and Anna, that the Dutch took that ship when it had departed from Siam. In it they found two chests and a Japanese comptoir [1]. It was said that the King of Siam had sent these goods to the leaders in England. Hence out of respect for the King of Siam the Dutch did not open them, but first held them in safekeeping. I therefore now request that these may be sent to me, with a letter from the Governor-General. And if the Governor-General agrees, this will be very wise and also serve to uphold the long friendship between the King of Siam and the King of Holland, for it is certain that I had sent all the above-mentioned to the English captain who lives in Surat [2].

I have also heard that the Dutch have been at war with the kings of France and England. [3] I then had Captain Johannes [4] called and have questioned him about it, and he confirmed it. I am much dismayed about this, all the more as I have always known that the King of Holland is honest in all things and his contracts are unbreakable. Therefore I pray to God that He should give him the victory, as at this moment I cannot help the Dutch.


Answer from the Supreme Government in Batavia to King Narai (r. 1656-1688), 27 April 1674.


The Governor-General, Joan Maetsuycker, and members of the Council of State of the United Netherlands in the East who reside in Batavia, out of a sincere and pure heart are writing this letter to the great King who has dominion over the kingdom and the lands of Siam, and who is greatly praised by the whole world for his wisdom and piety in ruling his subjects well, and maintaining peaceful and friendly relations with all kings and countries, to whom heaven will give a long life with health in all prosperity and victory over his enemies, in as far as a mortal man is permitted to desire that.

The letter which the great King of Siam lately wrote to the Governor-General we have received in good order, with the honour and respect that is due to such a great King. And also the 20 bahar of tin which was handed over to our representative in Siam, for which we are grateful. The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies have had the letter translated, and from it they have read the good, sincere and especial affection which the King bears them and the Dutch state, in order to maintain forever the peace and friendship with them and their subjects in these lands, and the good alliance. The affection of us and all the Dutch toward the King of Siam and his subjects will also last for always. The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies will on all occasions make it evident that they serve and help the great King of Siam, as far as lies within their power, so that the peace and friendship between Siam and Batavia may continue to exist, as long as the sun and moon are in the sky.

Further, seeing that His Majesty writes that it is certain that the two chests and a little Japanese cabinet which were found in the English ship were being sent by Your Majesty to the English captain at Surat, at Your Majesty’s request these are being despatched back to Your Majesty unopened and closed with this letter.

Regarding the war in our country against the French and English kings, we daily expect further news. But our captain (in the lodge in Siam) will be able to inform Your Majesty concerning our victory at sea [5] and the hope of peace.

Moreover Your Majesty’s letter says something about lead. We have instructed our captain to request Your Majesty to send us 2 to 3 pikul of lead and the same of saltpetre (at market prices) as samples. We hope that Your Majesty will be kind enough to permit this. The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies will be grateful for this, just as they thank Your Majesty to the utmost degree for the help to our captain.

Once again, regarding the Dutch workmen we shall try to fulfil Your Majesty’s desire as far as we possibly can. The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies have at the present time nothing more to send as gifts to the great King of Siam than the following:

  • 1 piece of incarnaat [6] Dutch velvet
  • 1 piece of black aurora [7] moira [8] (tabby, watered silk)
  • 1 piece of golden incarnaat tabby
  • 1 piece of gold and green tabby
  • 1 piece of scarlet
  • 1 piece of crimson red worsted
  • 1 piece of parrot-green worsted
  • 1 large case of bottled rose-water

all of which we respectfully request Your Majesty kindly to receive and accept in good favour.

In Batavia Castle, 27 April in the year 1674. The Governor-General of the Netherlands Indies, Joan Maetsuycker. [9]



[1] Cabinet.

[2] The EIC head at Surat in 1674 was Gerald Aungier.

[3] The Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-1674).

[4] Johannes van der Spijck, 1668-1669 (acting), 1672-1676.

[5] The victory at sea referred to here may be either Admiral De Ruyter’s victory over a Franco-English fleet at Schooneveld (June 1673) or the Battle of Kijkduin (August 1673).

[6] Or ‘incornaat’ (Lat. incarnatio), specific pink red color.

[7] Aurora (Lat.) is the Roman goddess of the dawn. Perhaps here in the meaning of dawn red colour.

[8] Moira of moiré (Fr.) is a fabric which structure has a wave like effect as a result of pressing technique. Also known as ‘moor’, ‘tabijn’ or  ‘gewaterde zijde’. 

[9] In office 1653-1678.