William Buckels

William Buckels (aka Willem Bueckelszoon or William Buckelsson) was a 14th century Zealand Fisherman who discovered a fish preservation technique that led to the Dutch becoming a seafaring power.

About The Discovery of Salt Herring

Sometime between 1380 and 1386 William Buckels of "Beer Creek" (Biervlet) in Zeeland discovered that "salt fish will keep, and that fish that can be kept can be packed and can be exported".

This discovery created an export industry for salt herring that was monopolized by the Dutch. They began to build ships and eventually moved from trading in herring to colonizing and the Dutch Empire.

The process that William Buckels discovered is called gibbing in which the gills and part of the gullet are removed from the fish, eliminating any bitter taste. The liver and pancreas are left in the fish during the salt-curing process because they release enzymes essential for flavor. The fish is then cured in a barrel with one part salt to 20 herring. Today many variations and local preferences exist on this process.

The Emporer Charles V erected a statue to Buckels honouring him as the benefactor of his country, and Queen Mary of Hungary after finding his tomb sat upon it and ate a herring.

Herring is still very important to the Dutch who celebrate Vlaggetjesdag (Flag Day) each spring as a tradition that dates back to the 14th century when fishermen went out to sea in their small boats to capture the annual catch, and to preserve and export their catch abroad thanks to the discovery of Salt Herring by William Buckels.

About William Buckels Links

--Bill Buckels 16:55, 24 November 2007 (PST)