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History of Rooswijk

According to the recent reports, the Rooswijk was built for the VOC "Chamber of Amsterdam" in 1737. On 9 January 1740, during its second journey to the east, it sank on the sand bank of Goodwin Sands, about 8 km from the British mainland. There were no known survivors. At the time, it was captained by Daniel Ronzieres. By examining archive documents, researchers have been able to identify 19 of the 237 crewmen on board, including: Gerrit Hendrick Huffelman, responsible for providing medical care; Thomas Huijdekoper; a 19-year-old on his first voyage; and Pieter Calmer, a sailor who had previously survived the Westerwijk shipwreck.

The Rooswijk was discovered on the Goodwin Sands by an amateur diver in 2004. It lies in about 24 metres (79 ft) of water at the northeast end of Kellett Gut.

In December 2005, it was made public that between May and September of that year a team led by Rex Cowan had recovered some of the ship and its contents. This was done in secrecy to avoid attracting looters. Artifacts recovered included approximately one thousand bars of silver, gold coins and a mustard jar. When the VOC was disbanded in 1798, its possessions fell to the Batavian Republic, the legal successor of which is the current Dutch State, which therefore is entitled to the objects from the Rooswijk. They were presented to Junior Minister of Finance Joop Wijn in Plymouth on 11 December 2005.

The type of coins recovered were several hundred Mexican silver cobs of the 1720s and early 1730s and transitional klippes of 1733-1734, as well as many more hundreds of "pillar dollars" and a smattering of cobs from other mints. However, archaeologists have determined that up to half of the money on board was intended for illegal trade, as they were not part of the sanctioned cargo. Many of the discovered coins were also made with small deliberate holes, which suggest that crewmen were sewing them into their clothes to smuggle to the Dutch East Indies. Crewmen were able to make a profit off of buying silver in the Netherlands and then selling it in the Dutch East Indies, where there were no silver mines. Despite being illegal, the VOC tolerated the smuggling because the profit benefited both the smugglers and the company.