Trinity House of Deptford Transactions, 1609-35 London Record Society 19. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1983.
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368. [f.40v. ? 18 Nov. 1629 × 29 Jan. 1630] (fn. 1) Trinity House to the king
The office of lastage* and ballastage in the Thames has been under the great seal of England time out of mind. Trinity House have held the office without molestation, paying £50 a year to Capt. Thomas Porter by order of the king. They have been at great charge perfecting the supply of ballast and the daily cleansing of the river which with engines, lighters and wharves is not less than £3,000 or £4,000. Lately John Gilbert and Abraham Johnson have each obtained a patent on pretence of having new engines for cleansing the river, but their aim is to deprive the petitioners of their right of ballast. If the grants pass the great seal, much trouble will be caused, and Porter's £50 would be 'decayed'. The king is asked to direct the lord keeper to stay the grants and to examine the case.
There is likely to be a controversy between the town of Newcastle and himself about the making of a ballast shore at South Shields. He trusts to his own judgement as to what may be done by law, but seeks their advice as to the convenience of the project. Newcastle objects that the ballast shore will hurt the town, endanger the river [Tyne], not help navigation, and make coal dearer. He has been informed otherwise. He will never desire anything for a profit which is injurious to another, much less to the public, and will not entertain anything hurtful to the town, trade, or private men. But if it is but a quarrel picked, and much more, if it will be good for the public and trade, as he is made to believe, he will not leave off. He will rely on their judgement.
In reply to 370, a ballast wharf at South Shields would be of great use to trade and shipping. The only harm to the town of Newcastle would be that ships discharging ballast and loading coals at South Shields would also buy there their provisions of beer and bread etc. which used to be obtained at Newcastle. The wharf would not endanger the river but would better it because daily experience shows that the 'inning* of void places and flats in rivers' causes the stream to run straighter, so scouring the channel and gaining more water. Navigation would benefit because the deeper the water, the safer the ships. Coal would be cheaper rather than dearer because if ballast is discharged and coal loaded at South Shields, ships may make at least one, if not 2, extra voyages a year [f.41v] and so more coal will be brought to London and places on the coast, and prices reduced. So much for the objections. The weightiest argument for the proposal concerns the great ships now trading for Newcastle of which special care should be taken because of their service to the king. They are needed even in the Newcastle trade because of the enemy. If trade is in small ships, as in times past, the greatest part will be carried off to the enemy's country. The ballast wharf would much lessen the danger to great ships, always provided that the town does not interrupt the unloading of ballast at, and the bringing of coal to, South Shields. To discharge ballast at the Shields and go to town for coal would be injurious to trade.
They have had letters and messengers from Capt. James Dupper and Mr Harrison saying that if they desired waftage* for the north coast, they could have it on their first request to the lords of the council. Dupper's first letter said that if they petitioned as the Lynn men had done, 2 of the king's ships would be lent, provided that they manned and victualled the ships; the cost of even that would be met by the woodmongers and coal buyers who would be drawn to give 12d a chaldron at London. They suppose that Dupper is motivated by his own ends rather than their safety, and that in the 'long run' the 12d a chaldron would come out of the owners' purses. Later Dupper or Harrison wrote to one of the chief magistrates of the town saying that waftage could be had at no charge to the owners if they petitioned. If that were so, they think that Trinity House would have heard of it or would have been consulted by the council, either at the same time as, or before, Dupper. If waftage can be had by petition, Trinity House are asked to frame and send a petition to them, and they will obtain as many hands to it as they can. They are loath to act without the counsel of Trinity House. The danger they now run of losing their ships will weaken their estates and strengthen the enemy. Richard Fisher, John Carnaby, William Hammand, Edmund Morgan, Richard Bowell, Edward Peach.
In reply to 372, Trinity House had heard nothing but sent for the master of the Woodmongers' company, the chief merchants and buyers of 'your' coal; he denied that there had been any speech with Dupper or treaty to pay 12d a chaldron for waftage* and said that a payment would not be agreed. As to the loan of 2 of the king's ships, Trinity House cannot give advice because it is a business of state. Evidently Dupper has good intelligence and is privy to the intent of the privy council. [f.42v] They agree that Dupper wants to manage the business for his own ends, because he has little to do here at home. As to the letter from Dupper or Harrison to one of the magistrates, it would be advisable to seek confirmation. If a grant is to be had, it should not be neglected but they will not draft a petition until more information is available.
At his own suit and that of many shipmasters and captains trading to Leghorn, Morgan Read, an Englishman resident there who is reputed honest, suitable, and in the favour of the duke of Florence [i.e. Tuscany] is appointed consul for ships and seamen at Leghorn for so long as he is a true English subject and helps English seamen in the port of Leghorn as necessary. He is empowered to collect such fees as were paid to his predecessors, Messrs Edmondes and Hunt and Capt. Thorneton. The duke is asked to accept Read as consul.
They hold from Trinity House the office of ballastage at Greenwich, Woolwich and Erith. Their lease for the wharf and land at Greenwich has expired and is in the possession of the earl of Arundel. They ask Trinity House to negotiate with the earl for a lease, and will honour any agreement made, provided that the rent does not exceed £50. They will take the lease from Trinity House, if the corporation sees fit.
Robert Barker, merchant of Plymouth, had commission to buy and ship to Italy 200 hogsheads of pilchards for John Barker, Andrew Charlton and Richard Longe, merchants of Bristol. He contracted on their behalf with William Rowe of 'Milbroke' [? Millbrook in Cornwall], owner of the Merchant Bonadventure of that port, to freight the pilchards from Plymouth to Villefranca [Villefranche-sur-mer] and Leghorn for £4 a ton. They were loaded in Nov. 1628, Barker not knowing that the ship, which was fully laden with merchants' goods, had any letters of reprisal. On the voyage to Villefranca, a Portuguese caravel, laden with sugar and other goods, which had 'spent her masts' and lay as a wreck, was taken near the North Cape and towed to Villefranca where she was sold for a great sum. The voyage to Leghorn which was the better port for the sale of pilchards was retarded by at least 20 days, and by the time of arrival it was almost mid Lent, and the market was lost. The sale of the pilchards yielded not one penny to the merchants, nor is it likely to do so. Nevertheless, the 'owners' [sic] sue for freight, and refuse the merchants any share in the prize or compensation for the loss of the market. Can owners by law or usage recover their freight and not be liable to satisfy the merchants' damages in loss of their market? Ought not the merchants by right have a share in the goods taken in the prize 'according to their tonnage'?
In reply to 377, the merchants are to pay the freight to the owners according to charter party, but are entitled by ancient custom of the sea to a full third of all reprisal goods, bearing one third of all charges arising thereupon.
|Pay of 6 ships at £70 per ship a month||420|
|Wages for 65 men per ship at 22s per man a month||429|
|Victuals at 22s per man a month||429|
|Cost per month||1,278|
|Cost for 6 months||7,668|
Captains and masters 'of our nation' coming here and finding no consul have, with the consent of the merchants, asked him to petition for a consul's patent, and have written the enclosed letter . If appointed, he promises to observe their commands and give all men content.
Trinity House are asked to establish a consul in this port of Leghorn. The post being void and leaving no one to speak for them, 'our' nation is much slighted by the ministers of the duke [of Tuscany], and 'much exacted upon' to the prejudice of shipping coming to the port. Morgan Read is willing to accept the place, being honest and able, of good repute with the duke, with sufficient means, and much respected by shipmasters and merchants. He has promised to write to Trinity House about the post .
By ancient custom 'our' merchants have had a consul at Leghorn for the affairs of shipping. Morgan Read, for long a merchant there, has been chosen consul and confirmed by Trinity House whom it concerns. The duke is desired to approve the election and to grant Read authority to exercise the office in shipping affairs and over 'our' pilots, officers and mariners.
Presuming on his promise, they entreat him to be their agent for the erection of a seamark (fn. 2) on the King's Downs for leading ships through the Channel of the Gulls, the proportion of which in length, breadth and height, and everything needed for the work, they leave to him and Bartholomew Lewrence, their master workman. He is asked to oversee the work and make provision of materials while the corn is on the ground so that it can start after harvest. They will pay his costs, and now deliver £10 to him to buy materials. The farmers of the Customs House will give him authority to obtain from Mr Pertivall, their collector, any more money needed for materials and workmen's wages.
385. [f.48. Before 6 Nov. 1630] (fn. 3) John Browne, founder of the king's iron ordnance, to lord Vere of Tilbury, master of the ordnance
The king has reserved all drakes* for his service. No harm will come if subjects have them, but rather the contrary, as Trinity House can testify. He is therefore asked to mediate with the king to remove the restraint for the following reasons. First, if drakes are of use in the king's ships, they are of much more use in subjects' ships for scouring the decks [with shot] against boarding, especially in small ships which are not strong enough in ordnance to entertain an enemy at a distance. Secondly, drakes are likely to be used seldom by the king's ships, but frequently by subjects'. The objection that drakes might fall into enemy hands and so be turned 'against us' may be made to any invention, and applies equally to any ordnance. Moreover for want of drakes many ships may be taken and the enemy furnished with both great ordnance and ships. Failure to use drakes for fear of being captured is unworthy of the English nation. Unless the restraint is removed, the art of making drakes will be lost.
387. [f.48v] 25 Nov. 1630. Trinity House [to lord Vere, master of the ordnance] (fn. 4)
In reply to 386, they recommend the use of drakes* on merchant ships for the following reasons: (a) They are fit for the upper decks, even the poop and the forecastle, when great ordnance cannot be used nor a port between the lower decks opened. (b) If the enemy comes near, drakes can beat men from their high decks, preventing boarding, which great ordnance lying low cannot do. (c) Loaded with case shot, they make good work of the upper works of an enemy ship. (d) If enemies board, drakes can scour the decks from the forecastle to the poop. (e) Formerly fowlers and murderers* were used to scour the decks of boarders; drakes are much better and, loaded with case shot or bullets, are of special service at a fair distance. (f) They dispute the objection that great ordnance may do what they pretend can be done by drakes. Merchant ships cannot carry weighty ordnance on their higher decks and if great merchant ships do so, it cannot do like service, for drakes fire 2 or 3 shots to one fired by a piece of great ordnance. (g) Great ordnance need 4 or 5 men a piece; drakes need only 2, which is important for merchant ships with few men. [f.49] (h) Drakes are fit for even the smallest merchant ships, and will preserve many of them from the enemy who will be discouraged when their men are killed in every corner by fire from the drakes. (i) The use of drakes by subjects will be no disservice to the king, rather the contrary if subjects, their goods and ships are preserved. They ask him to mediate with the king to permit subjects to have drakes.