Jacob Quack and Maritime Intelligence
From 1650 onwards, writes Elka Schrijver, a Postmaster in Rotterdam organized Dutch seafaring mail.
Jacob Quack’s background is, in more than one respect, comparable to that of Pepys on the other side of the Channel. Quack, born at Brielle about 1620, where his ancestors were mentioned in documents as early as 1313, was the son of a well-connected and reasonably prosperous burgher - burgomaster and treasurer of the local orphanage.
Young Quack, who was registered as a Rotterdam citizen in 1648, became even better connected through his marriage with a wealthy Rotterdam orphan, acquiring Johan de Witt, who became Pensionary of State in 1653, as one of his ‘cousins-in-law’.
For a time he was an officer in the Rotterdam Yeomanry and he was twice appointed one of the city’s sheriffs.
Of greater importance to his career as a merchant, upon which he launched in 1639 at Rouen and which included running a whaling company with a base in Greenland, were his outstanding gifts for negotiation and organization.