The Swedish East India Company SOIC
Trading to China 1731-1812

All Ships and their Expeditions 1731-1813

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1. Friedericus Rex Sueciae
2. Drottning Ulrica Eleonora
3. Tre Cronor
4. Suecia
5. Götheborg
6. Stockholm
7. Riddarhuset
8. Calmar
9. Drottningen af Swerige
10. Cronprinsessan Lovisa Ulrica
11. Freden
12. Cronprinsen Adolph Friederic
13. Prins Gustaf
14. Götha Leijon
15. Hoppet
16. Enigheten
17. Prins Carl
18. Prins Friedric Adolph
19. Prinsessan Sophia Albertina
20. Stockholms Slott
21. Riksens Ständer
22. Finland
23. Adolph Friedric
24. Lovisa Ulrica
25. Cron Prins Gustaf
26. Drottning Sophia Magdalena
27. Terra Nova
28. Gustav III
29. Gustaf Adolph
30. Götheborg (II)
31. Drottningen
32. Maria Carolina
33. östergöthland
34. Wästergöthland
35. Fredrica
36. Prinsessan
37. Wasa
38. Hoppet

All in all a total of 37 ships were used during the time the Swedish East India Company was active 1731-1813. During this period, 132 voyages were undertaken. Only a few of these ships were purchased as second-hand tonnage. The majority of the ships were built as East Indiamen. These ships differed from warships in that they had a fuller hull and were constructed as light as possible to be able to bring a large cargo home and was also very large. In some contemporary litterary sources they were jokingly called "round bellied".

This difference sometimes posed difficulties in repurposing the ships for other purposes. The size of the ships, although suitable for their intended trade, made them less practical for other commercial shipping. Therefore, when the ships were no longer serviceable, they were often dismantled to end up as floating warehouses, or similar structures.

Most of the Swedish ships were built in Stockholm at the shipyards there. Among them was the Terra Nova Shipyard, also known as Grill's Shipyard, as it was owned by the Grill family. The shipyard was established in 1715 at the current Strandvägen, and due to the extensive land reclamation work that had taken place it came to be known as Terra Nova, meaning The New Land, something we picked up when building our own shipyard at the former place of the Gothenburg Eriksbergs Shipyard.

One of the easiest available sources regarding the Swedish East India Company (1731-1813) is Sven T. Kjellberg, Svenska Ostindiska Companierna 1731-1813, Malmö 1974, in the texts referred to as STK.

Sven T. Kjellberg got his information from the Directors of the Swedish East India Company first application for passports (direktionens första ansökan till K. Maj:t om pass) for each ship why the "time of departure" was the one the company planned for and might not have been the actual. Sames goes for time of arrival in China and date of return in Gothenburg.

My interest has been to try to calculate the actual length of each expedition, and what influence the date of departure had on the success of the voyages.

What we know is that the Gotheborg was held up around Java and did not make it to Canton in time for its proper season, to stock up and return with the following monsoon, but needed to wait one more year before they could return with all stress on ship and crew this meant. My question was, did the Company sent out the Gotheborg unusually late already from Sweden and would the company actually had known that this ship might not make it back in time for the next season, but sent it out anyway towards an uncertain destiny, knowing well there would be an extra heavy death toll on-board due to the long trip and maybe - it would not make it back at all?

When possibly I have thus looked for dates in all available sources, such as diaries and contemporary newspapers, and have done my best to indicate the most likely. But, use the dates with caution and if there is a specific date you really want to know I suggest that you take my data as a starting point and then search in the sources yourself. All texts is for the time being still in Swedish.

When comparing with contemporary newspaper it appears as STK would have taken the dated from official documents and that the reality was different due to all kinds of difficulties.

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Copyright © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Göteborg, 1982-1999, 2010.