Dutch Prize Papers

About the Dutch Prize Papers

About Dutch Prize Papers

The Prize Papers are documents seized by British navy and privateers from enemy ships in the period 1652-1815. Approximately a quarter of the Prize Papers originates from Dutch ships. Apart from ship’s journals, lists of cargo, accounts, plantation lists and interrogations of crew members, this collection also contains approximately 38,000 business and private letters. The letters originate from all social strata of society and most of them never reached their intended destination. A description of the project is on Huygens Institute website.

A substantial subsidy by Metamorfoze, the national programme for the preservation of paper heritage, made it possible to preserve and digitise a small selection of especially Dutch documents.

In order to make all digitised material accessible, Huygens Institute is developing a Virtual Research Environment (VRE), that has been financed by Samenwerkende Maritieme Fondsen (SMF).

Organisation of the archive

The Prize Papers are kept in the Archive of the High Court of Admiralty (HCA) in The National Archives in Kew, London. Two series have been selected:

Photo: Erik van der Doe / Metamorfoze

Scans & Partners

Acknowledgement: Images have been reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England. The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided. Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, see: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/imagelibrary/.

The original Huygens Institute scans are kept at Nationaal Archief repositories, including Prize Papers scans that are not a part of the Huygens Institute project. They are accessible via inventory 2.22.24 at www.nationaalarchief.nl.

The aim of the German Prize Papers project, based at the University of Oldenburg, is the complete digitisation of the Prize Papers collection. For more information, visit www.prizepapers.de.


DPP project is work in progress. The first step to disclosure all selected documents are so-called metadata.

These key terms include ship name(s), ship master(s), capture date and are based on descriptions made by The National Archives.

We will endeavour to complete the data.


This VRE is aimed at allowing the user to browse through a selection from the Prize Papers collection. However, in the current release the functionalities of the VRE (its search options and overall scope) are still limited, and search results are suboptimal. Future releases, which will be announced on this page, will improve the VRE’s functionalities and search options. Annotation and transcription tools are not available in the current release.