The Letters of John Paige, London Merchant, 1648-58. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1984.
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average: apportionment of loss caused by intentional damage to a ship (e.g. cutting away of masts or boats, or sacrifice of cargo) to secure the general safety of the ship and cargo. In which case contribution is made by the owners (or insurers) of the ship, cargo, and freight in proportion to the value of their respective interests.
cochineal: red dyestuff composed of dried carcasses of insects gathered from the topal in Mexico. Also called grana or grain. Cochineal (or grana) mesteque was the finest grade and was cultivated for export, especially from Veracruz. Less valuable were the uncultivated campechena and Sylvester, also known as 'wild cochineal'.
flota: Spanish merchant fleet. In theory, if not always in practice, two Spanish fleets were to be sent to America each year. The flota, or Nueva España fleet, left Cadiz in May or June bound for Veracruz and also included ships bound for the West Indies. The galeones (galleons) left Spain in August bound for Cartagena and Portobello and also included ships destined for Venezuela. After wintering in the Indies, the two fleets were to assemble at Havana for the return voyage, but again this was not always the practice.
pipe: wooden cask for wine and other goods. According to most sources, the pipe held 126 gallons, but testimony from the mid-seventeenth century suggests that the pipe used in the Canary trade was smaller, holding perhaps 112 to 120 gallons. For calculations of freight and taxes, two hogsheads of wine equalled one pipe, and two pipes equalled one ton.
real, Portuguese: pl. réis Portuguese monetary unit of the seventeenth century. A milréis (1,000 reis) was worth c. 9s 5d in terms of silver equivalencies from 1643–63 and was rated at 10s in an account Paige received in 1654.
real, Spanish (R): pl. reales, Spanish monetary unity equal to 34 maravedís. Silver coins in denominations of more than one real were known as plata doble, for example, pieces of eight reales or ducats (ducados) of 11 reales. Cuartos worth 4 maravedís were vellon, i.e. copper-based coins. Canarian money was a mixture of Castilian and Portuguese coins. Because of this, Canarian reales were not accounted as equivalent to Castilian reales, and it was necessary to pay a premium at times from 8 to 16 per cent, in terms of Canarian reales for a given value in Castilian reales.
ton (t): as a measure of weight, from 2,000 to 2,240 lbs depending on the commodity. A veteran shipmaster of the Canary trade testified in 1650 that in freight calculations a ton was accounted as equivalent to 42–3 hides, 2 pipes of wine, 13–14 kts of ginger, 3 chests of sugar, 20 kts of logwood, or 8 chests of tobacco.