Willem van de Velde the Younger was the eldest son of the naval painter Willem van de Velde the Elder and his wife Judicgen Adriaensdr. van Leeuwen. He was christened on 18th December 1633 in the Hooglandse Kerk in Leiden. The art writer Arnold Houbraken reports that during his father's stay at the court of King Charles II of England, Willem was placed in the care of Simon de Vlieger, who also specialised in seascapes. When he moved from Amsterdam to Weesp, Willem presumably followed him, for on 23rd March 1652 he married Pieternelle Le Maire there. Soon afterwards the marriage was divorced again. The marriage with his second wife Magdaleentje Walravens on 23rd December 1656 in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam indicates a change of place, which is also confirmed by the baptism of his children in the same city. Around 1671/72 Van de Velde moved to London, where together with his father he painted for the king. In 1694 he travelled with the royal fleet to the Mediterranean. Houbraken tells of the great success of Van de Velde's works in England. The painter was buried in the cemetery at St. James's Church in London on 6th April 1707, where his father had also found his last rest. The eldest son, who, following the family tradition, bore the name Willem, also became a marine painter. Horace Walpole later reported that although he made good copies of his father's works, he was not very inventive himself.