In 1597, the Admiralty of the Dutch Republic set up its base in Dokkum. Its task was to equip and man seagoing vessels to defend the Dutch Republic. In 1607, Captain Theunis Wolterz was ordered to join the Dutch fleet as the commander of De Friesche Pinas, the flagship of the Dokkum Admiralty. Theunis and his crew sailed to Spain and took part in the naval Battle of Gibraltar.
The Dutch fleet secured a great victory. Theunis and his crew were very successful and returned with a Spanish ship as booty! Back in Dokkum, Captain Theunis was rewarded with a new commission and 50 Carolus guilders.
Several years later, in 1618, the Admiralty moved to new premises on Diepswal, now the home of the Dokkum museum and a Tourist Information Point. Although only a small part of the building is original, it continues to serve as a reminder of a prosperous period in the town’s history. The Admiralty brought employment, industry and acclaim.
But the triumph was short-lived. The town’s connection to the sea silted up. Dokkum lost its all-important access to the sea and in 1645 the Admiralty relocated to Harlingen. Naval officers such as Captain Theunis left with the Admiralty or found themselves unemployed. It was the start of a new era in which the town was referred to as ‘Poor Dokkum’.