SKINNER, John, Sir. A true relation of the vniust, cruell, and barbarous proceedings against the English at Amboyna in the East-Indies, by the Neatherlandish gouernour and councel there.

London : Printed by H. Lownes for Nathanael Newberry, 1624.

FIRST EDITION. Two parts in one. pp. [xii], 30, [ii], 31-38, [ii], 20, [ii], 34. [without first blank] Roman and Italic letter. First title in red and black, second with small woodcut device, full page woodcut of a man being tortured as frontispiece, woodcut arms of the East India company on verso of t-p, large ornamental woodcut on A1v, and with Royal arms on B1v, floriated woodcut initials, “The second part, of which no separate published version is known to survive, was translated by John Wing (STC). Title page in red and black. Leaf A2 is a cancel; A2v line 3 has “onely offering to the Manes”. [as here] Variant: A2 is the cancellandum, with A2v line 3″only sacrificing to the Manes”. Leaf E3 is cancelled by a bifolium in all known copies. The first leaf has a list of the Portuguese and Japanese men executed; the second leaf has an illustration of six men and is occasionally bound as a frontispiece (as here). ‘A true declaration of the news that came out of the East-Indies, with the pinace called the Hare, which arriued in Texel, in Iune, 1624’ and ‘The ansvver vnto the Dutch pamphlet, made in defence of the vniust and barbarous proceedings against the English at Amboyna in the East-Indies, by the Hollanders there” each have separate dated title page and pagination; register is continuous.” ESTC. Autograph “Henry White, Close Lichfield July 22 1803”  on front fly, “preface to the first tract by John Hall, Grays Inn, – Wood ath. Oxon” ms. below, early shelf mark on blank recto of first leaf, illegible early autograph on outer margin of t-p. 

[Bound with]

[EAST INDIA COMPANY] A remonstrance of the directors of the Netherlands East India Company, presented to the Lords States Generall of the vnited Provinces, in defence of the said Companie, touching the bloudy proceedings against the English merchants, executed at Amboyna. Together, with the acts of the processe, against the sayd English. And the reply

London, By John Dawson, for the East India Company, 1632.

FIRST EDITION, Second issue. 4to. Three parts in one. pp. [viii], 29, [iii]; 38; 47, [i]. A-E⁴ ²A-E⁴ ³B-G⁴. [Without woodcut plate.]. Roman letter with some Italic, woodcut arms of the East India company within oval on first t-p, second title with large woodcut ornament, floriated initials, woodcut and typographical ornaments, “An authentick copy of the acts of the processe against the English at Amboyna” has separate dated title page (printed as ¹E4), with pagination and register re-commencing on ²A2. “A reply to the remonstrance of the bewinthebbers or directors of the Netherlands East Indi Company, …” (caption title) has separate pagination and register beginning on ³B1. ¹E4 replaces the sub title page on ²A1 found in most copies of STC 7450 [the first issue]. In this edition, ¹B1r has catchword “rectors”; ³B1r last line has “discovery”. Quire ¹A and part 2 are in the same setting as STC 7450.” ESTC. 

[Bound with]

[EAST INDIA COMPANY] A catalogue of the damages for which the English demand reparation from the United-Netherlands. As also a list of the damages, actions, and pretenses for which those of the United-Netherlands demand reparation and satisfaction from the English. Together with the answer o the English, subjoyn’d to the several and respective points of their demands.

London, printed for Henry Brome, at the Gun in Ivy-lane, 1664.

FIRST EDITON. 4to. pp. [viii], 75, [i]. Roman letter some Italic. Woodcut initials, typographical ornaments.

[Bound with]

DOWNING, George, Sir. A reply of Sir George Downing Knight and Baronet, Envoy Extraordinary from His Majesty of Great-Britain, &c. to the remarks of the deputies of the Estates-General, upon his memorial of December 20. 1664.

London, [s.n.], printed anno Dom. 1665.


FIRST EDITION 4to. pp. [ii], 104. Roman and Italic letter. T-p trimmed at blank inner margin, mounted on a stubb, t-p a little dusty

Light age yellowing, some browning in places, first four leaves a little frayed at fore-edge, early repair to fore-edge of first title and lower outer corner of woodcut plate, first few leaves a little dusty, some water-staining at beginning of third work, mostly marginal marks and spots in places. Good copies in eighteenth century calf, covers bordered with a single gilt rule, spine with raised bands, gilt in compartments, alternate red and green morocco labels gilt lettered, edges gilt, marbled end papers.

Exceptionally rare and important first edition of this account of the torture and execution by the Dutch in Amboyna of British, Portuguese and Japanese men in the employment of the East India Company, of tremendous importance in the struggle between the Dutch and British East India companies over the highly lucrative spice trade in the East Indies. Bound with three further important works that demonstrate the importance of the event throughout the seventeenth century.

“In 1622 two pamphlets appeared in London, one a translation from the Dutch and the other an English answer to it, pertaining to Dutch-English hostilities in Banda. Two years later the first group of pamphlets treating the troubles of the two nations in Ambonia – the ‘Amboyna Massacre’ of February 1622 – were published. In each case the VOC published a justification of its action which was translated into English and published with and English East India Company refutation of the Dutch position. The controversy continued throughout the remainder of the century. Purchas included the 1622 pamphlet and a condensation of the 1624 pamphlets in his collection. Another Dutch apologia appeared in English in 1628 which was reprinted with refutations in 1632. More English pamphlets describing the massacre came out in 1651, 1653, and 1665. Sermons were preached on it. John Dryden wrote a play about it in 1673 that was republished in 1691, and Elkanah Settle, another playwright, was still passionately condemning the Dutch for the massacre in 1688.”  Lach ‘Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume III.’.

The Amboyna massacre was the 1622 torture and execution on Ambon Island (present-day Maluku, Indonesia) of twenty men, ten of whom were in the service of the English East India Company, by agents of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), on accusations of treason. It was the result of the intense rivalry between the East India companies of England and the United Provinces in the spice trade and remained a source of tension between the two nations until late in the 17th century. James I and the Netherlands States General concluded a Treaty of Defence in London in 1619 creating cooperation in the East Indies between the British East India Company and the Dutch. The market in spices was divided between them in a fixed proportion of two to one, both companies having legal monopolies in their home markets. Despite the treaty, relations between the two companies remained tense. The Dutch at Amboyna became suspicious of the English traders that shared the trading post with them. Subsequently the English personnel in Amboina and adjacent islands were arrested and questioned. In most, but not all, cases torture was used during the questioning, (mostly what is now known as waterboarding) and those that had confessed were sentenced to death. However, four of the English and two of the Japanese condemned were subsequently pardoned.  Consequently, ten Englishmen, nine Japanese and one Portuguese (the latter being employees of the VOC), were executed. On 9 March 1623 they were beheaded, and the head of the English captain, Gabriel Towerson, was impaled on a pole for all to see. The first trial of the Dutch ended unsatisfactorily for the East India Company and in 1632 its directors published an exhaustive brochure (bound in here), comprising all the relevant papers, with extensive comments and rebuttals of the Dutch position. This brochure contained the gruesome details of the tortures, as related in its original “Relation”. These details may not all have been true, but they were calculated to excite much anger at the Dutch. The consequences of this massacre were much greater than the event ever merited as it was used as propaganda to both sides during the subsequent three Anglo-Dutch wars over the next 50 years. A most interesting sammelband of texts concerning Amboyna, including the very rare first edition of the ‘true relation’ and its woodcut of the torture scene.

1) ESTC S100220. STC 7451. Lowndes. I 34. Goldsmiths’, 543.
2) ESTC S105424. STC 7450a
3) ESTC R10634. Wing C1371 Goldsmiths1743.
4) ESTC R8654. Wing D2109


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