Proclamation of King James II, March 14, 1688

For over a century there had been a significant number of English and Scots in the Dutch military service. By 1688 they numbered some six regiments. Although the States General did not recognise that King James II officially had any authority over these troops, the king was permitted to nominate their commander.

In July 1686 James nominated a Catholic (Francis Taafe, Earl of Carlingford) to this post. This was not the first time that a Catholic had been nominated; Charles II had (unsuccessfully) nominated the Earl of Dumbarton in 1680. The Prince of Orange objected to the nomination on religious grounds and refused it. James wanted to recall the regiments to England. While there had been discussions some ten years previously about the right of the king to do this, no agreement had ever been finalised with the States General.

In the meantime King Louis XIV of France was desirous of reducing the Dutch military threat. He agreed with James to pay the salaries of 2000 English and Scots soldiers if they were withdrawn from the Netherlands. In January 1688 James formally demanded from the States General that the regiments be recalled to England. The States General refused, and James thereupon issued the following proclamation requiring that all his subjects quit the Dutch military service within two months.

While many men did return home, others who were devoted to the Prince of Orange remained in the Netherlands. This controversy was the final break between James and the States General, and encouraged the States General to support the Prince of Orange's invasion of England in the following Decmember.

A printed version of the text can be found in issue 2330 of The London Gazette, March 15 - 19, 1687/8.

James R.

Whereas we think it for our service to call home all our natural born subjects who are now in the service of the States General of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, being either mariners and seafaring men or officers and soldiers serving at land, we do therefore by this our royal proclamation, by and with the advice or our Privy Council, straightly charge, require and command all and singular masters of ships, pilots, mariners, seamen, shipwrights, and other seafaring men whatsoever and wheresoever, and also all commanders, officers and soldiers serving at land, being our natural born subjects, who have betaken themselves unto and now are in the pay or service of the States General of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, or in the pay or service of any of their subjects, that upon their known and bounden duty and allegiance, they and every of them do quit the said respective services by sea or land, and return home to their native countries, within the times hereby prescribed, that is to say, that all officers and commanders at land whatsoever who are now in the service of the said States General in any place or part of the Netherlands or Low Countries do quit the said service and return home within the space of two calendar months from the date hereof, and all other persons herein before mentioned wherever they are or shall be hereafter in as short a time and with as much speed as they shall be able wherein we do and will expect all due obedience and conformity.

And we do hereby also further declare that all and every the offenders to the contrary shall not only incur our high displeasure but be rigorously proceeded against for such their offence by all ways and means according to the utmost severities of law.

And we do hereby also authorize and command all and every our captains, masters, and other officers serving and employed in any of our ships or vessels at sea or elsewhere to seize, take and bring away all such officers, mariners and soldiers and other persons aforesaid as shall be found to be employed or to continue in the service aforesaid, in contempt of and contrary to the true intent and meaning of this our proclamation.

Given at our court at Whitehall the fourteenth day of March, 1687, in the fourth year of our reign.

This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran ( and was last updated April 14, 2004.
© Noel S. McFerran 2000-2004.