The Letters of John Paige, London Merchant, 1648-58 London Record Society 21. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1984.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by London Record Society. All rights reserved.
51. (fn. 1) to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
8 Jan. 1652
a. My last unto you was via France of 15 Dec. under covert [Mr] Roger Kilvert, where I writ you at large. And since, have sent a co[py] ditto ship under covert of Sr Antonio Fernandez Carvajal who [promised] that it shall be faithfully delivered, God sending the ship to arr[ive]. I am informed she is a Fleming and goes laden with wheat.
[In my last I] advised you how Mr [William] Bulkley's wines in Newman proved, [and now] all are sold at £27 per pipe. Likewise Mr Lant's … sold at £29 per pipe. And since, here are arrived 11 or 12 sail. … Likewise those wines which Mr Marmaduke Rawdon loaded … [prove] very good, being sold at £30 per pipe. … Several others are [proved] not so good as those aforementioned, but I know no man's prove [so bad as] mine, insomuch that no man will taste them. … The most [that has] been bid was £18 per pipe and leave some unsound. By this [you will know] what it is to be plagued with bad wines … when as other men shall sell at £11 or £12 per pipe more than I. …
As yet here is no [news of the] arrival of Crispe, Broad, Jenkins, Rounton, and Neale. All the rest arrived. Mr Forster and Mr [Thomas] Bonfoy's Fleming are in the Downs [but are] not permitted to come here to unload their wines by reason [of the] act of Parliament [i.e. the Navigation Act]. Here are at present 3 ambassadors from H[olland] … over which as yet have acted little. Both they and our States are [firm in] their demands; it's much feared they will not agree. Besides, [our State] has granted several letters of marque against the Hollander. … Several ships are now gone out and have brought in Flemish prizes, which is no good sign. It's reported that there are 6 sail of war going out of Flushing to take English. …
[We have] had many easterly winds, by which means no news from [Portugal]. The last letters say that the King had upon the matter consent[ed to lift] the embargo upon Englishmen's estates, monies excepted. [If] we could have an absolute confirmation thereof, then a man [could] trade with some security.
51b. By the next ship I shall send all those [papers Mr] Clerke desires about the Swan's dispatch, as also, question not, … a letter from the Spanish ambassador to the [Capt.] General [of the Canaries]. I would have sent [the papers per this] via, but it is somewhat uncertain and of great bulk to send out, [and as] yet I cannot learn of any ship bound for your place from hence.
[We] have been with your papers at the Committee of Trade. … We set forth in our petition to them to have a prohibition of Canary wines for … after the last of Feb., provided they bring not above their fifths [i.e. the principal English factors in the Canaries export no more than their shares of a predetermined number of pipes] and … other necessary things for a regulation of trade, which I cannot advise at present.
[In] my former [have] given you the prices of West India goods. Campechena is [fallen] to 6s per lb and likewise sylvester to 3s 4d per lb, and cochineal to 26s per lb; [logwoo]d not worth £11 [per t] aboard ship. Of all the commodities have some good quantities [come] last vintage ships, and more expected. Hides at 7d per lb. Sugars a good commodity.
Pray send me a memory of what goods is most proper to be brought [from Genoa, see 53b] to the [Canary] Islands because I am entreated by some Straits merchants to [go in] with them for a ship from thence, which I conceive will turn well [to account in] regard oils are worth … vellon per rove in Seville. …
[P.S. Have he]ard that Diego Benitez' and several [other] puestos are unsold in the Island. Pray, [if you] send [wines] home in the Swan, let them [be] all good, or else send none. Good wines [are worth] from £28 to £30 per pipe any time of [yea]r, which may serve per advice.
52. to William Clerke
15 Feb. 1652
a. I have received yours of 15 and 26 Nov., 17 Dec. and 21 Jan., part of which I have answered in some joint letters written you and Mr Paynter. I shall not need to write you any more about the Susan's wines, being you have received my advice thereof, both what quantities and the quality of them, which is inferior to every man's wines. I know no man hath such a parcel of balderdash. Surely you could not but know it before they were shipped. I admire you should so little regard your own interest. You know I did all last year write you the inconveniency of bad wines, but it seems my advice is little regarded, so I shall hereafter not trouble you so often with my lines except they be to more purpose. I am confident it troubles me more to see your wines lie than it does you that own them. Good wines are a precious commodity at present and will be all this summer, worth £30, but bad wines as great a drug. I cannot get one able vintner to bid me anything for them, and to sell them to those that will never pay me, I had better keep them in my cellar. You are not fully sensible what it is to be plagued with that commodity. If do not sell them within this month, I must be fain to rack them and keep them till Michaelmas.
As for the average on the Susan, I doubt I must be forced to sue the insurers before they will come off, which I shall put in execution. Next, as for your Campeachy wood, I have not sold a stick nor know not when I shall. Had you advised me that there were quantities of that commodity to come home in several ships, as there did to 600 ts, I would have taken £12 per t aboard ship at first arrival, which now shall not get £10. You thought to have saved dead freight by sending it and now will come to lose double freight. Except you follow advice hereafter, you had better forbear trade. You know in my letters at vintage I excepted against that commodity, desiring you to send none. And as for the barrel of cochineal, I have sold it at 27s 6d per lb. It holds out full weight and more, which is a novelty to me. I pray, hereafter what India commodities you buy let them be opened and shifted, though you be at cost to new pack them. I mean cochineal, campechena and sylvester, and indigo, etc., for there's deceit in those commodities and come many false packed. If you buy any indigo and find it hard-backed, meddle not with it.
I wonder you kept the Susan so long for a few wines, especially being upon monthly pay. Mr Rodden hath received all those wines you loaded him in Mr Neale, which prove well considering the year, and hath sold them already at £28 10s per pipe to able men. I understand part of them were Diego Benitez', all which does but add grief to me to see that you should prefer strangers before yourself. Not that I envy at their happiness, but methinks common reason tells a man to prefer himself in first place. But this is not the first you have ever done it since I did your business. What reason you have for it I cannot imagine. Mr Rounton is now come in the river. How his wines prove cannot tell. Mr [Stephen] Slaney tells me they are Don Melchior's of Garachico, so I do conclude they are far better than those you sent me.
52b. I cannot get a farthing taken off per the insurers upon no terms. This ship I understand goes for the Isle of May to load salt and touch at Santa Cruz [de Tenerife] to take in 40 pipes of wine, which I never knew of before she was at Gravesend, otherwise should have sent you over a servant in her, which shall go per next, which may be 6 weeks hence. We are almost resolved to set Mr Russell [the Katherine] that way if can get but 120 ts certain. He accepts of your proffer so that you have 1/16 part of his ship with the profit of last voyage, as you writ me. I here send you a letter from your brother George Clerke who tells me is not absolutely resolved whether shall return for Lisbon or no. What he writes about it I know not.
I take notice of the proclamation about the linens, which you do well to dispose of in time that you may not trust to the mercy of those cruel, unjust people [Cf. 19a], for I know their malice is great against the [English] nation in general by reason you have left their wines upon their hands, which is the most commendable act that you did since you were men. It's not rendered so by me alone but by all the merchants upon the Exchange that know what trade is.
As for the provisions for your house, I shall buy them with expedition and such as you shall not dislike when God sends them safe to your hands. Your watch I have received, which shall be done according to your desire and sent you in next ship without fail.
Mr Warren and Mr Lee, owners of the Susan, do think they are wronged because you do not send home the account you writ of. In the meantime I have stopped £20 [of the freight payment]. Pray hasten it over per first. They likewise demand a pipe of wine which was due per charterparty, of which I am ignorant of, so desire your order about it. We have lost half our principal per said vessel. I have sold my part to Mr Warren.
If so be that the galeones and Nueva España fleet be detained from coming to Spain this year, there will be many men broken by it, which will cause very bad times for trade. Mr [John] Shaw's ship [the Civil Society] is brought into a port about 30 leagues from Nantes [by 5 French men-ofwar], as Mr Holle advises me, she being very richly laden, worth £30,000.
By yours in Nov. and Dec. last I perceive that God sending Mr Jewell [supercargo on the Swan] well to arrive from Guinea is like to prove a very hopeful design, which indeed you ever writ since the first putting it in execution. Only in your last unto me of 21 Jan. you do seem to be much discouraged in the business. Besides, you have in all your letters this vintage written me that you expect good quantities of West India goods and in yours by Mr Rounton advise that you have not a real's worth to load upon Webber [the Blessing], a great alteration in so short a time, which makes me beside myself, having taken so much pains in that design. Besides, I should not had a real's interest in it but merely upon your encouraging advice. Methinks it's strange that so many West Indiamen should arrive and you buy nothing, having one ship in port and another expected and both per-month pay, a devouring moth, as I may best term it. I am sure no man hath had better advice than you. Whenever it please God to send Mr Jewell well to arrive, if the ship do stay for West Indiamen's arrival, the monthly pay will eat out stock and block. It was ever my earnest desire unto you to get in readiness a good part of the ship's lading before her arrival, for I had rather you should stay for the ship than she to stay for you. By yours I understand that there's another ship bound with Negroes for Tenerife besides ours, which I have inquired after and find to be true. She went to the Bight [of Benin], so that if Mr Jewell dispatch his business at the river Gambia, of necessity must get the start, which if do, I hope you will lose no time in disposing of the commodities.
52c. As concerning the bill of exchange which you remitted me upon Mr Richard King and Mr Christopher Boone, I have according to your direction presented it, who denied acceptance thereunto. So I have made a protest in forma. They pretend a £100 error in the account, which as yet I have not seen. For the rest, they proffer to pay, but I have refused it. I demanded the joint letter from Mr George Clerke, written you from Mr King and Boone from Seville, who hath delivered it me. The account, [Clerke] tells me hath it not, nor the copy, it being delivered Mr Richard King, as he tells me. They have promised to show me their objections in your account next week. Until then I cannot write you my opinion. However I conceive you had better lose somewhat of your right than contest or go to law. For such or any other differences which may hereafter concern you, it's necessary that you send me a general letter of attorney, otherwise what I act in your behalf is not valuable to your adversaries.
I have written you and Mr Paynter what concerns your joint affairs, which makes me the briefer in this particular letter and especially because I have so short warning, the ship being gone from Gravesend, as I am informed. By any means procure what goods possible you can for the Swan against her coming there and think not of sending her anywhere but directly home. If you can get 100 or 120 pipes of rare choice wines, there may very well a £1,000 be gotten by them surely I know. If need, you may pick out so many in the whole Island. Repair not in order of payment; for price you cannot exceed the agreement [among the English merchants]. Here is great want of good wines as ever was known, and I think as many bad as hath been this 20 years, insomuch that vintners do not draw a quarter part of what they have done. … Pray let me hear from you per all vias, which is the life of trade. …
53. (fn. 2) to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
16 Feb. 1652
a. … As concerning the wines which I received this year for your accounts, I have written you of their proof. As yet I have not sold one pipe nor God knows when I shall. I wish with all my heart that I had not had a pipe so I were £200 indebted upon that score. [You] are not sensible of the vexation. I writ in the former copy that Diego Benitez' wines were unsold, but since, I understand by one Mr Edward Rodden that he had them loaded by Mr [William] Clerke in one Mr Neale's [ship], which wines were sold at £28 10s per pipe, his parcel being 120 pipes. He told me of it in way of a jeer that he should have better wines than I, which he might well do if all things be weighed rightly.
I wonder that you do keep Webber [the Blessing] all this time and yet not settle where to send him. Such is the inconveniency of ships [hired] by month; many times make men go on upon desperate designs whereas otherwise they would not. It had been better you had sent home the ship empty as soon as she came from Newfoundland. You will find it hereafter to your costs.
I received your general agreement [i.e. among the English merchants in the Canaries to limit their purchases of wine] [per] Brampton [the Matthew], which was much desired by all the traders, being came home a week before Mr Wilson's [copy]. I must deal really with you; it is the best act that ever you did since you were men, and you are highly commended for it by all the merchants that walk the Exchange. It's very well resented by all men that are concerned in the trade, for had you given the Spaniard's price and laden your full tonnage, of necessity it would have ruined most of the principals' estates, for the wines would not have yielded £10 per pipe, they being so green that men do not drink one quarter part of what did formerly, Malagas proving very bad and Jerez worse, so that here is great quantities of bad wines in the city unsold, more than will vent this many [years]. We do follow the business about your contract whereby to have a confirmation of what therein contains, as also to have a [regulation] in the trade. The first thing is that we here may choose 2 of you every year as commissioners to break the price of wines after 20 Dec., and that no man may buy until that time nor above the price of what the 2 commissioners shall break at, and several other good rules which I make no question but the Parliament will grant.
53b. By Jenkins I sent you the [Navigation] Act of Parliament which prohibits Hollanders to bring in any kind of Spanish or other foreign commodity, which I doubt never came to your hands because you give no receipt of [it] in your letters, so that I here send you another, it being a necessary thing to every merchant to have one.
Here are at present 3 ambassadors from the States of Holland which come to treat with our States, both being upon very high terms and great difference. The ambassadors demand of our States 3 several articles, viz. that they may go on in their treaty where our ambassador, Lord St John, ended when was in Holland days past; secondly, that we call in all our letters of marque given against them for £50,000 damages done our nation; thirdly, and chiefly, they desire that our State would repeal the [Navigation] Act, which here send you. Our States' answers to abovesaid propositions is to the first, whereas the Lord St John left the treaty in Holland, it was not their pleasure to condescend to them propositions of his, so that now they will begin on new articles. Second, whereas [the Hollanders desire] those letters of marque recalled, their answer is that before they granted them they had sufficient proof made by oath that the people of this nation had sustained great losses and that they could not have justice nor [satis]faction in Holland, so that they can do no less but protect their own nation and put them in some way to get satisfaction. So they will not recall their letters of marque. Thirdly, for the repealing of the Act, it's so much against the grain of true Englishmen that I am confident it will stand in force, they being denied that likewise. So that you see all is contradicted, so there's little probability of any agreement.
I received letters yesterday from Amsterdam and Middelburg where they write me that Sir George Ayscue, who is General of our States' fleet for Barbados, hath taken 24 sail of Hollanders that were there trading with islanders contrary to the Parliament's act. So that these things makes our breach the more. If we have wars with the Hollanders, as 'tis generally thought, must give over our trade. Of this I shall per every conveyance give you notice what passeth. Likewise our States have granted letters of marque against the Spaniard for £20,000 to one Mr Maurice Thomson for losses sustained by them, (fn. 3) which I do not well like of, doubting the Spaniards will embargo [the goods of English merchants] ashore. This commission is granted a month since, of which I am very certain.
53c. Here are 2 ships now arrived from Lisbon which bring very good news: the King of Portugal hath lifted the embargo which was upon all Englishmen's estates and hath delivered each man his goods, only some monies excepted, which is conceived will be speedily delivered, and hath chosen the Conde [Camar]eiro to come as ambassador to our States, who is daily expected. (fn. 4) So that I am confident we shall a peace conclude. Here are several ships going away for Lisbon upon this news. Indeed the King of Portugal cannot subsist except have peace with us. In case you have not disposed of [Mr] Webber [the Blessing] before this come to hand, may do well to send him to aforesaid place with hides and to load salt and come home, or else to return where you please.
Were the Swan lesser, would be a good design for her, but her lading would cloy that place with hides for many years, so that I would not think of sending her upon any design but directly home with her proportion of wines which will be 100 pipes or more, which, if you will take some care and pains to pick here and there so many pipes of choice liquors, though you give ready money, may very well get £1,000 by abovesaid quantity, for here is at present great want of good wines as ever there was since I came to England, worth £28 to £30 per pipe. Though wines were generally green, yet I am confident you may procure abovesaid parcel good in the Island. And for West India goods, seeing there arrived 3 ships from Havana, I wonder you did not buy some of it as well as other men, seeing that you expected so great a ship as the Swan. Hides are the only commodity in request, worth 7d per lb; Palma sugar a good commodity, worth £8 per cwt; ginger, £3 15s per cwt; Varinas tobacco, if right, 6s 6d per lb a small quantity; cochineal, 27s per lb; campechena a drug, worth 5s per lb; sylvester, 2s 10d per lb; indigo Guatemala, 4s 6d per lb. Send no Campeachy wood.
There's nothing gives me so much care as the ship Swan and the [Turned-out] frigate. When I consider what a vast charge we are at, it makes me tremble [to] think of it. There's nothing will make a rich man poor sooner than ships [hired] per month. It's a continual moth, as I may term it. God send me clear of this, I shall be cautious how I come in for my [part]. However, since we are in, now must endeavour to wade on [as well as] we can. I have done my utmost to promote that design. Do yours when God sends well the ship to arrive with you, and the success we must leave to God's providence. I shall desire that you write me per all vias. …
54. (fn. 5) to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
20 Feb. 1652
I have written you both severally and jointly per this conveyance at large, to which desire reference. These chiefly serve [per covert] to the enclosed [Navigation] Act of Parliament which I formerly sent [per] Anthony Jenkins, and you do not as much as give [me receipt] of, which makes me jealous it never came to your hands. So I thought too good to send you another [copy, being] very necessary for a merchant to have one of them by [him]. …
About 20 days h[ence] here will be a ship ready which stops at Tenerife to take in [wines] for Barbados, per whom shall write you. … [On the] Swan you may please to take notice that I gave Mr Jewell … order let no man except the master bring a black, which he pro[mised] none should. And Mr Jewell for his part carried not £5 particular adventure, so that what the ship brings must be for the general account. Here is arrived Mr Bean. …
55. to William Clerke
5 March 1652
a. … As yet cannot dispose of one pipe of your wines, nor of Mr Paynter's, nor my own. Had I but 50 pipes of good wines, it would be a means to carry off the rest, which I hope you will perform in the Swan, which if you should not, I doubt will lie long on my hands. If I could get £19 per pipe round for the parcel without any choice, I would take it, though you accounted me hereafter a spoil-market.
The last night I met with the insurers about the average in the Susan, when, after a great deal of dispute, have made an agreement with the major part of them, hoping that the rest will subscribe to it, which if do shall advise you. I was fain to put them in suit in the [Insurance] Court before could bring them to any reason. Our agreement is thus: they are to allow me 10 per cent upon the whole policy of £1,200, which is £120 so much more than I should have received if had gone to trial. I know not how you will approve of my actions herein, but this much I must tell you, that if it had been my own business, I protest, I could not have advanced more than I did.
I have likewise sold your Campeachy wood at £11 10s per ton, one-half money and [the balance in] 4 months, they to pay customs. I am only to pay lighterage and porters and crane, which is a small matter. Which bargain was very much against my grain, but, weighing all things in the balance of equity, I found there was 700 ts of ditto commodity in town, which is more than will vent this 3 years though not a stick come in. And sure I am that those which sell hereafter will come lower for several have offered their wood since I sold, at my price, but the salters refuse their proffers, which makes me think that I am happy to be rid of such a drug. I pray for future be cautious how you meddle with such commodities as you have no advice for. Mr [Stephen] Slaney hath sold his wood that came in Mr Taylor in truck of fustians, at what price I know not. Here is come 2 parcels of lignum rhodium in Sidrake Blake and Bean that I doubt now where shall sell yours at £5 per ton. I protest I know not what to do with it. No man will bid a penny for it, and I am at great charge per warehouse room which will eat out all. In Holland nor France it's worth nothing. Such commodities with logwood and bad wines as I have had will make a man have gray hairs before his time. This year's business hath proved cross. I hope next will be better, otherwise I had rather sit still.
55b. As concerning those papers touching the Swan's dispatch [i.e. to facilitate the entry of the Negroes at Tenerife], which you desired me to send, they are not so soon procured as you conceived when writ for them. If you really consider, it's of dangerous consequence, which for my part I would not be seen in the business if might have £500 for doing it. However, so far I did to comply with your requests, though I did not act personally, yet I put them which did. Though with much difficulty, all things were performed at last: the bill of health and the [Spanish] ambassador's letter and the commission, which was sent you in the ship Peter and John, Abraham Filitter master, by his gunner, Thomas Harris, who I make no question but will safely deliver it you with his own hands. It hath cost me £12 and yet not all satisfied. I pray God give a blessing to that design; it hath cost me more money than ever I brought to account, besides no small trouble. When the letter was demanded of the ambassador [Cardenas], he presently fell into the account and said that was merely to colour contraband goods, or Negroes, but, being to a special friend of his, did not much repair. I was fain to give his secretary £5 besides some other small fees. In my opinion, all things go very authentic, which I am confident will be a mainstead to the ship's admittance without any demur. …
56. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
6 March 1652
a. … I hope ere this come to hand that the Swan will be arrived with you, which, if so happen, pray endeavour to load as many wines as possible will serve upon her and likewise some good sorts of West India goods. And if so be you cannot load the ship, then what [tonnage] remains, pray let it out as soon as she arrives because here is one Mr [John] Price, a ship of 160 ts, bound for Tenerife and goes to seek a freight. I have endeavoured what I can to discourage them whereby not to proceed, being doubtful the Spaniards will freight him, but to no purpose as it falls out.
Hides are the most staple and vendiblest commodity of all West India goods, worth 7d per lb; Havana sugars, white at £7 per cwt, ditto muscovados at £4 5s per cwt; Palma sugar sorted [i.e., good whites] at £8 per cwt; cochineal, if good, 27s per lb; ginger worth £3 15s per cwt; Varinas tobacco, a small quantity if right, 7s per lb; campechena, 5s per lb; sylvester, 2s 10d per lb; logwood, £10 per t aboard ship. Send none of the 3 last commodities for they are very drugs; the city is overlaid. Good Guatemala indigo, that is not hard-backed, worth 4s 6d per lb.
I do wonder that you keep Webber [the Blessing] there upon monthly pay, especially she being leaky and withal a very bad sailor, as I am informed. The ship did go very well before he had her; I believe [Webber] could never find out the right trim. If you have not disposed of her before this come to hand, send her for Lisbon with hides and 10 ts of logwood and let her come home from thence. You need not fear of embargo [in Portugal]; we have now free trade there. If you do not like that design, then may send her to Nantes with hides, which are worth 11 livres per piece, and Campeachy wood is worth 10 livres per kt. There will vent 50 ts. This advice I received yesterday from Mr Holle. There's free trade for English ships at present, there being now several, to my knowledge [gone to France]. If you doubt, may let the ship stop at Plymouth to take my advice.
56b. Webber, when was in the Calms, sent home certificate and several bills of exchange upon me to pay his wife, seamen's wives, and owners, all which I have not accepted, nor will not before hear from you, being I conceive [you] would pay him his freight there. However, Webber shows himself to be a froward blade, indeed a fool, to draw bills of exchange upon me when was in the Calms, and so be pleased to acquaint him of it.
I pray advise me in time what your resolutions are against next vintage. The vintners' cellars were never worse furnished with good wines than now. Therefore, if they prove right next year, be assured here will be great sales; but if, on the contrary, prove bad, then meddle not with any, better let the tonnage come home empty. For I have sad experience of this year's fruits to my knowledge. I never took more pains than last year, first in the disposing of your wines and to see that they were good paymasters, and secondly in disposing of their proceeds according to your orders in every particular, as the Guinea voyage and others. And whereas I thought to reap great content and some benefit by my endeavours, truly I am plagued into vexatious troublesome business, part of which I do impute unto the bad times, but somewhat may be laid upon the little regard you had of your own interests. For my part, I must deal ingenuously with you, I take no comfort in doing men's business when I see such apparent losses as this year produces. I am in hopes the next will be better or otherwise you had better leave trading, for I do more esteem my friends' benefit that way than all the commissions you can imagine of.
I received letters yesterday from Amsterdam and Middelburg where they write me that the States of Holland have embargoed their own and our shipping over all the land till 1 April next, all which are symptoms of a war in my apprehension and several others'. As yet the ambassadors have done nothing with our States, they being afar off in their demands from each other. Great preparations are making for the setting out a fleet of ships both by us here and likewise per them in Holland, yet our States have called in all letters of marque against the Flemings 20 days since. I have nothing else to enlarge at present, but I would wish you to send home all your shipping abroad and not to keep them out in such dangerous times. …
57. to [William Clerke]
13 March 1652
… Pray let me hear from you per all vias, especially if you send home the Swan because I may make further insurance if occasion offers. This ship, Mr Shaw, which is arrived from Caracas, hath brought 30,000 lbs weight of tobacco, which, I conceive, will lower the price. But as for hides, they will hold up still, as formerly written you. As yet not sold a pipe of wine. …
58. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
13 March 1652
a. … Only by mere accident I understood of this ship's departure for Tenerife, which nowadays men do all their business so private as that it's a hard matter to know where a ship is bound because they enter them for wrong ports. I understand this ship goes consigned to Mr John Campion, which carries the most part French linens, at which I admire [because of the recent Spanish proclamations against French goods], but I am sure it's so because I have a copy of the entries at Custom House upon her. Whither she is bound from thence I know not, but I conceive for Lisbon because they are Portugal merchants that freight her.
We daily expect an ambassador for King John [of Portugal]. In the interim he hath cleared all Englishmen's estates and admits as free trade as formerly hath done. This very instant here is one come out of Mr John [Shaw's] ship who is arrived in the Downs from Caracas or thereabouts. She brings about £30,000 cargo [sic, see 57], most part is tobacco and 4,000 hides, which is nothing to lower the price a farthing of what have formerly written you concerning that commodity.
Likewise here is news that Barbados is yielded up unto Sir George Ayscue, commander-in-chief of the Parliament's fleet against it, and our ships have taken 26 sail of Hollanders at ditto island trading, which is against the Parliament's [Navigation] Act I sent you, so they will be condemned as prize. It's said that they are worth £100,000 ships and goods, most of them being fully laden, all which does increase the Hollanders' rage against us. Here is the greatest preparation making for a fleet to set to sea that ever was known, above 120 sail of men-of-war. The great ship Royal Sovereign, alias Commonweal of England, is fitting to go out in May. I am verily persuaded that we shall jar with the Hollanders, which if do must of necessity [give] over trade, for not one ship in 10 can escape them. Likewise [there are] great preparations making in Holland for a fleet.
I have now received a letter, 25 Feb., from San Lucar where they write me that the galeones are expected about April. They complain there very much not a piece of eight to be seen since the rise of cuartos, which undoes all trade in those parts. (fn. 6)
58b. Here is Mr Davis, a ship of 220 ts, which is freighted for the Canaries to return home with wines, which will be ready in 15 days to be gone. It is not known who are the principals here, the business being carried so private, only put in a broken fellow's name, one Horsnell, and friend of Mr Forster's; but the ship goes consigned to Mr John Campion. Therefore you may do well to look after her when she arrives. Here is likewise another ship, one Mr [John] Price, of 160 ts, which goes to look freight, and another small vessel bound out of Topsham, all which ships arriving, I doubt will raise the prices of wines and likewise of West India goods.
Pray hasten home the Swan as soon as she arrives. It's not good to keep her out these uncertain and dangerous times. In case that you will not send her directly home from thence, I desire that from the time she arrives from Guinea there you will take my part and discharge me from the monthly pay, and then you must needs send me home £1,000 or £1,200 to pay the ship's freight for 6 months and [the Turned-out] frigate's, I mean in good pieces of eight. Otherwise I cannot pay it. But I hope you will not any way see me suffer that way but consider my engagements. This I thought good to give you a hint in case the ship come not home. If you take my counsel, I would order Webber [the Blessing] to come home though empty. Here no man will scarce adventure till they see the event of the Hollander's treaty with our States. For prices of West India goods I refer you to my former. As yet not sold a pipe of wine. I expect daily to hear from you by the Bristol ship. …
59. to William Clerke
27 March 1652
a. I have received yours of 3 present with the bill of exchange of Duarte Enríquez [Alvarez] for £150 upon Antonio Fernandez [Carvajal] which I presented yesterday, being as soon as it came to my hands. Antonio Fernandez will not accept it, pretending that Duarte Enríquez gave him order to pay unto his correspondent in Amsterdam all what he had in his hands, so he hath written to aforesaid correspondent in Holland where shall pay it or protest it, whose answer we expect in 14 days. But I am of the opinion it will go protested.
I have met Mr [Richard] King and Mr [Christopher] Boone and proffered to abate them £20 upon the whole, but would not be accepted. You writ them as though you had given me a very large order, and when I come to peruse your letters, I find my hands bound. But if you were not my good friend, I would not meddle in the business without your ample order or letter of attorney. You have been out of your money this 4 years, and for ought I know it will be 4 more except you allow them somewhat. For you to sue for it by law, may spend as much as the debt come to, for ought I know, and at last refer it to merchants [i.e. to arbitration], which is daily done here. Therefore, pray let me know your resolution per first with a letter of attorney. Indeed I cannot well be without one in regard I act your business and especially things of this nature.
You writ me will have a care to dispatch the Swan completely from thence at her arrival. I should be glad it may fall out so, but by your former I find that not a real worth of goods bought in readiness, and how you can comply with what you writ me I know not. I wonder you could not as well buy the Havana man's goods as Mr [John] Turner or Mr [John] Webber in regard you expect such a ship daily. When you writ me first to go upon the design, I thought you would have made better preparation than you now have. If the ship come to stay for West Indiamen, we shall be eaten out by freight. The business gives me a great deal of care. At the expiration of 8 months I must pay £1,000 and upwards. Except you send me home some monies, I cannot do it.
59b. Here is certain advice from San Lucar that they expect the galeones in all April, which does not agree with what you writ me about them. Good Varinas tobacco is in esteem at present, worth 7s per lb; ginger garbled, £4 per cwt; hides, 7d per lb; cochineal, 27s per lb; sugars begin to fall. Buy no Campeachy wood nor campechena grain nor sylvester, being drugs. Indigo that is not hard-backed worth 4s 6d per lb; it's now bought in San Lucar at 6Rs plata per lb, as per advice from thence. There are gone and will go many ships for Tenerife this year which will make West India goods excessive dear. Therefore you must not pause long upon it, but if do anything let it be at first.
Yesterday I received a letter from Mr [William] Webber [the Blessing] from Falmouth of 22 present, where he writes me could not fetch his port Nantes by reason of contrary winds, and seeing his ship was like to sink in seas, was forced to put in for Falmouth where he is in a sad condition. He writes will make ready to be gone with expedition, but I am half-minded to alter your design and even send to order him to come for London, for it's a mere madness for you to adventure your estates in such a dangerous hull which is every month like to sink in sea with one leak or other. Such ships and such designs, with your tedious dispatch there, will soon make a rich man poor. I do not love to flatter my friends when I see so apparent losses. I have written Mr Paynter to the very same purpose about this ship and likewise about the Swan.
If you can but procure 100 pipes wine between you and my father-inlaw to send home in the Swan, if that they be good, will yield £28 per pipe. Though they be but abocado [mild], as you term it there, they will sell well here. Never was such a scarcity of good wines in London as now, which may serve per advice. …
60. to William Clerke
10 May 1652
a. … I have received yours, 26 March, per Mr Peter Steward. As for the bill of exchange for £150 upon Antonio Fernandez Carvajal, he did afterwards accept and hath now paid it me, so that I expect Mr Abraham Lee's order how to dispose of it, as also of the £150 which you have passed on me payable to him. I could wish that you had forborne till that I had recovered the monies which are due to me, being I am at present somewhat short of cash. However, since you have drawn it, shall be punctually paid. But for the future pray be sparing, for with bills of exchange there's no delaying; if a man pay them not at the day, you know his credit is clouded.
Since my last unto you I have with much ado sold your wines which came in the Susan, all except 4 pipes which are not worth £5 per pipe. The others I have sold at £22 10s per pipe to pay ⅓ money, the rest at 3 and 3 months [see 11b note]. Those men which bought them were my old customers, and they merely bought them out of respect they bore to me and not for want of them. After they were bought I protest they offered me 10s per pipe out of their purses to clear them of the bargain. I am glad that I am rid of that plague. I hope shall never be troubled with the like again. Likewise I have sold your leña noel in truck of strong waters at £9 6s 8d per t; the parcel makes out 23 ts, odd cwt. I have put off the strong waters at 12d per case loss and made money off my truck. I saw that warehouse room would have eaten up the principal made me sell it, and since, that which came in Bean's [ship] is sold for £8 per t. That which came in Sidrake Blake is yet unsold. I believe here is enough of that commodity to serve all Christendom this 7 years.
60b. After several meetings and many hot disputes, I have made an end with Mr Richard King and Christopher Boone in your behalf. Mr [Stephen] Slaney and your brother [George] were partly eyewitnesses to what passed between us, who did counsel me by any means to conclude though upon worse terms than I concluded. How you will approve of it I know not, but therein I have done for you as though it were for my own self. But if you ever put me upon any such business hereafter, I desire to have your letter of attorney, or at least a larger commission than I now had about this business. Otherwise you must excuse me for I shall not meddle in it, for I acknowledge I have gone beyond the bounds of your order, which is not merchant-like and a thing that I hate as much as any man living. In my opinion you were much overseen [i.e. mistaken] in the advice you gave to Mr King and Mr Boone, for you writ them as though you had given me as large [an] order about the ending that business as then could write, saying that whatsoever I did so therein you would gladly approve of as to the ending of that controversy between you. When they showed me your letter, I admired at it, looking to my own letter; there you tied my hands, not to abate a farthing, which advice not concurring with each other. Mr King etc. came to me desiring to meet them to end the business. I answered according to the tenor of yours to me, [i.e.] with paying the money as per bill of exchange, the business was ended without any further meeting. They answered, 'If Mr Clerke did not intend to have our business argued and settled rightly, to what purpose did he put in his letter that what you did with us he would approve of?' By that very expression there was some differences in dispute.
60c. In fine, to be brief, we met several times and at last concluded it viz. They came to owe you 17,245Rs which I would willingly have them paid it here, but they would not, so have given me bills of exchange for Seville to be paid in Seville and Mexico coin, which money I shall draw from hence when here the bills are accepted. The 933Rs which Mr Thomas Boone owes you they will not allow because Mr Thomas Boone will not allow it his kinsman [Christopher Boone] in account. So to speak justly, I see no reason for that particular on your side. I shall shortly speak with aforesaid Thomas Boone about it. Likewise they abate you 330Rs per tobacco you took, as they showed me, under your own hand, and I can see nothing made good in your account for it. Likewise you charge 313½Rs paid Mr Redwood per average, which he will make oath never received a penny. However, if you make appear that you paid it and allowed the tobacco, then they are obliged unto me to return the money again. There's likewise an error per commission in the account, as you may see, made good. Here enclosed I send you an abstract of the adjusted [account] and likewise a copy of their obligation to me. And likewise I have given them an obligation of 4,415Rs which you charge them in their account as paid to Lazaro Rivera on account of tobacco which you received of him for their accounts by order of Don Antonio de Castillo, which they say are not satisfied in that particular, being they paid the full of the tobacco unto Don Antonio de Castillo. So that rather than they should stop so much money of yours in their hands, I thought fit to give them my obligation. So according to its tenor, be sure you send home an affidavit how you have paid it that so they may be satisfied. Otherwise I must repay the money here again. And withal I desire your approbation of the business that I may not bring myself into a praemunire for my good will and pains but, I hope, better things. However you may take it, truly I conceive I have done you a piece of very good service in ending the business, for men are mortal and Mr [Christopher] Boone is now going for Seville; and whereas you conceive to have gotten satisfaction by law, really you and them might have spent £300 and not brought it to a trial. Both Mr King and Mr Boone, after we had agreed, told me that it was £1,000 out of their way that this unhappy business broke out between you, but they desired me to write you that friendly correspondence might be renewed as formerly and that you would forget and forgive, which I engaged you should do and be ready to do them any friendly office that lay in your power.
60d. As concerning the Susan [Capt. Giles Paynter], from 1 July to the time she was discharged there's 5½ months' freight due, which I charge to your account. I cleared her out of your pay 19 Dec. last. I have made you good the balance of Giles Paynter's account, but he complains and says does not owe you so much. But I shall not take cognizance of what he says in that particular. As for the 235Rs which Mr Christopher Boone is your debtor upon his particular account, pray take notice that is not included in the former as I told him when I received it. I asked him the money; he told me that he and you would order that between you.
I am sorry that I must advise that which I never did any man before. I sold one Mr Cornelius Burras 3 chests of your indigo and have received all the money to £40, which is like to prove a bad debt, he being broke. It's the first that ever I met withal. I pray God it may be the last. The times are so dangerous that let a man be never so wary he may be caught.
For matter of your joint affairs, I refer you to my letter written you and my father-in-law. Yesterday I writ you a few hasty lines per Mr Thomas Bowridge, where I sent you a letter from Mr Boone which I opened merely to see what he writ you about the business which we ended. But I found he writ the truth so I hope you will excuse my boldness. I likewise sent you a letter from your brother Mr George Clerke who is my very good friend and now acquaintance through your good self. We have now sent Mr Chalk's new frigate [the Mary] for Lisbon and Faro with goods to the value of £3,000, whereof your brother [George Clerke] and cousin George Clerke have one-half, myself and a friend the other half. God send good success; it's a hopeful voyage. I am now upon agreement with the coachman [who is building a coach for a Canarian, Don Carlos], which cannot go over till the first vintage ship. Had he [Don Carlos] left some things to my ordering, I should have contrived it better than he hath in his order.
I have sent you in this ship [the Judeth, Capt. John Price] your watch; was all unscrewed and cleaned; is in a box directed to my father-in-law. Likewise I have shipped aboard this ship one quartercask and one runlet, containing 24 gallons or thereabouts, being filled with the best beef that ever I bought in my life, marked as per margin. It was at first in 2 quartercasks, but when I came to pickle it found some pieces faulty, so left them out and got a smaller cask for it. Likewise I had shipped aboard your 500 lbs candles and upwards aboard ditto ship, but those and 12 or 15 boxes more were all seized upon aboard the ship and are brought ashore again, being a commodity that cannot be shipped out, which business hath not a little troubled me. I shall endeavour the clearing of them, but it will cost above half as much as they are worth, clearing. The master can inform you, to avoid suspicions I entered them as Russia candles and paid custom, but there are rogues that swear that are English. The bad success of this made [me] forbear shipping your butter for fear the like misfortune should befall that, but I could not get any in pots. Of this you shall hear more per next.
As concerning your servant, I have now agreed for one [Thomas Leigh]. He plies his writing and shall go over in Mr William Bradick's ship, which may be ready within 10 days. Then shall enlarge concerning that particular. …
61. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
12 May 1652
a. I have received yours of 2 and 26 March, the one via Nantes and the other per Peter Steward. In my last I gave you notice how that Mr Webber in the Blessing was forced into Falmouth having a very leaky ship, as he wrote me. I did then write you that I would stop his voyage for Nantes; but weighing all things rightly, I did conceive you might account it a great piece of presumption in me to contradict your designs; upon which I altered my opinion, and the ship is now safe at Morbihan, there taking in her lading of wheat, etc., as Mr Holle writes me. I verily believe she is now dispatched. Ditto Mr Holle hath drawn upon me a bill of exchange for £150 according to your credit and says that the next post might draw £150 more upon me for your accounts, being with what he disburses for the master to fit his ship and what upon the cargo, he shall be out far more money in disbursal for you, which I verily believe he will. Yet you have given me no more order than for £150. However, I must not protest his bills. Wheat is excessive dear there, worth 170 livres per t, which will amount in her lading, and you send but a very poor cargazon upon her, in my opinion. Methinks you might have sent £1,000 pieces [of eight] more in Peru money, seeing you have them so cheap at the Islands, I am told 6Rs per piece indifferent good money. [See 30b.]
I wonder that you have not sent me home what money you have disbursed upon the Blessing whereby I might have discounted it upon the first freight. Webber hath made such a confusion about that. I cannot be quiet for the owners, they demand money. I have paid the men's wages and monies to his wife but shall pay no more until have account from him.
I formerly writ you that if hides were to be bought to send the ship for Lisbon, but now I would wish you to forbear because most of Steward's hides [brought from Tenerife to London] are shipped that way, about 2,000 of them. I bought 500 of them at 7d per lb. I wonder that Mr John Webber [in Tenerife] should surpass all men there as he does. He hath laden home his full proportion of good wines according to the year, and above £1,200 in pieces of eight, and £5,000 in the best sorts of West India goods. All this he hath done this vintage and in Steward [the Island Merchant].
61b. I wonder that you should stand and look on as you have when other men do these things. If that it were not for the ship Swan from Guinea, for my part I cared not whether you bought a real's worth of goods or no, but you, knowing of such a great ship's coming unto you, and not to buy anything in readiness, it seems strange to me. When I went upon the design at first, I thought there would have been better preparations against the ship's coming than I now find to be, but I do foresee that we shall make a lame reckoning of it. The very freight will eat out our cargazon. God sending the ship well to arrive, I pray think not of sending her anywhere but home though she come empty. I care not, seeing falls out so cross, only I desire you that you will but send home so many pieces of eight as will pay the ship's and pinnace's [Turned-out's] freight, which you must do if do not send goods, for I have no monies to pay it of yours. And if in case that you do not send home the ship before vintage, then you must send me home some goods, pieces of eight or bills of exchange to pay the first 8 months of the ship and pinnace.
I received a letter from Mr [Robert] Lang under covert Mr John Turner via Bordeaux where the great Fleming is arrived with her leña noel. If Mr Holle [at Nantes] have not sold yours, will hinder the sale much of it. By ditto letter I understand Mr Abraham Filitter [the Peter and John] was arrived at Santa Cruz [de Tenerife], in which ship I remitted Mr William Clerke all those papers concerning the Swan's dispatch, which I hope are safely delivered. There went the commission, a letter to the [Capt.] General [of the Canaries] and bill of health, all very authentic, and I am confident will save us £1,200 in the dispatch. They cost me money and great deal of care and fain to make good friends. If this Negro voyage prove not right, I shall be laughed at by many upon the Exchange, for there's much notice taken of it and the more because of Pyle's lawsuit with me. The freight gives me the greatest care, which I hope you will consider my engagement here.
God sending Mr Webber to arrive safe with you, and if corn be a good commodity, may send him to Nantes again with logwood which is worth 11 livres per cwt. If not, then for Galicia for pilchards, or else you may send him home.
61c. In your particular letters I have given you advice of the sale of your wines, I mean all those that were good as sound. Though I sold them all at one price, yet I would not have you to think that I have done any of you wrong. They were put in several cellars, and I protest I know not 12d difference in them. I never knew so many bad wines in London as now, of sherries, Malagas and Canaries. I believe there's above 4,000 pipes and butts this day unsold, and God knows when they will be disposed of. Some men have their wines of this 2 years unsold, as Mr [Roger] Kilvert and Mr Bonfoy, which will prove unsufferable losses to them. By Mr Lang's letter I see there's no hopes of having home any wines in the Swan, there being none fit to be laden, besides they ask above your contract. [See 53a.] Good Canaries are now worth above £30 per pipe, but it's said by some Parliament men that they will put a price that the vintners shall not sell for above 7d per pint; so after that rate they cannot give us above £18 per pipe. Of this shall be more larger in my next.
The Hollanders' ambassador and our States are yet upon treating. I hope they will agree. Our States have this day 100 men-of-war at sea and the Hollander have not half so many. Besides, here is now abuilding above 20 frigates from 30 to 60 guns. Never had England such a navy as now. The Hollander does begin to stoop; they proffer £700,000 to the State in satisfaction to the injuries they did us 30 years since at Amboina in East India besides several of things. You may be assured the [Navigation] Act I sent you will not be revoked but still stand in force. If once this treaty were concluded, then our States would begin to treat with the Spanish ambassador upon new articles which will be more advantageous to us than the former, by far, I hope, beyond the Hollander's articles. To this purpose Mr Roger Kilvert is now drawing up a canto of all our wrongs and abuses to present before they come to treat.
61d. I am very sorry to hear that no rain hath fallen with you. I doubt you will have scarcer vintage than last year, yet here men do not take notice of it but run on headlong. As you may see, this ship [the Judeth], Mr Price, goes full of goods. Besides, men have great estates there already, by reason of last year's small return [of wines], they will charge home with tonnage this vintage, though you and others write never so much against it. Necessity will compel a great many to do it, for I'll assure you here are some certain men which are very low, and their whole dependence is upon a good return next vintage, which, if that should fail, I doubt some will be fain [to] go to Ram Alley for their habitation. Good wines will be a great commodity next year. Therefore be sure to secure your wines in time, for you will find very much looking after them as ever there was since you knew the Island, which may serve per advice.
The Straits memory which you sent me came 2 months too late. There is no oil about Genoa nor Majorca to be bought for money, it being most part shipped for this place where it's a great commodity at present, sold for £48 per t whereas formerly usually sold for £32 per t. I shall keep it by me peradventure it may be put in execution within this 12 months. Whenever it be, you shall reap the benefit of its disposal there, of which you may be confident.
I formerly writ you that the traders desired some kind of regulation in the Canary trade, but they meant not to limit any man for matter of quantity, only in price they would, so that you may clear yourselves of those doubts.
Mr Holle advises me this instant of a great Fleming's arrival from Tenerife at Nantes laden with hides, sugars and a great parcel of leña noel, and intended to load wheat back again for Tenerife. But he writes me the people will not suffer more corn to be shipped out by reason they have had very much drought of late, and we here have had the like.
Here is ships arrived from Barbados since it was surrendered to Sir George Ayscue. Mr Body's and Stephen's ship, which they sent there with wines, is arrived to a great market. Have sold all his wines at 16 cwt sugar per pipe. Of this I saw a letter from Barbados.
61e. I shall now give you a brief account of the prices of West India goods: West India hides at 7d per lb; Havana sugar white, £6 10s per cwt; ditto muscovado, £4 5s per cwt; ginger garbled, £3 15s per cwt; good cochineal, 27s per lb; campechena, 5s per lb; sylvester, 2s 10d per lb if good; indigo Guatemala, not hard-backed, 4s 6d per lb; good Varinas tobacco, 6s 6d per lb; Palma sugars, £8 per cwt; logwood, £10 per t aboard ship. But none of these commodities are comparable to good Canaries. Though you give high prices for them next vintage, yet if good the market here will make you a means for all.
If the Swan come home [from Tenerife to London] with any considerable cargo for our accounts, it would be necessary that you give me advice per all vias whereby I may make a further insurance, which will be now done very reasonable. I have formerly writ you how there's £1,000 done upon the general account per month in trade.
I hope, God sending the Swan well, that we shall have above £1,500 in other goods besides Negroes, especially if she went for the Bight [of Benin], for then half our iron and the copper bars will buy 300 Negroes. I desired Mr Jewell to invest the overplus in elephants' teeth, which is a very good commodity here, and beeswax, which is very plentiful at Gambia, which is a current commodity with you. I pray see that there come no private adventures, for I told Mr Jewell I should except against that. I wonder that you did not look better after that of our Barbary voyage but to let others bring 1/5 part of our ship's lading free of freight. These things will soon make a rich factor and poor principals. I do not write this in any way to deprive Richard Jewell of his right, but I would have Caesar to have his due. Since we run great risks and pay great freights and the like, it may be worth looking after such things. …
[P.S.] If any ship should arrive at the Islands from Caracas, I would wish you to buy those hides before Havana or Santo Domingo though you give 4 or 6Rs per hide more. They turn better to account than others by reason we sell them by weight here. Capt. Garvis Russell is now in the States' service with his frigate [the Katherine]; hath 26 guns, 85 men. We [as shareholders] have £280 per month, which is a good rate. I here send you a book which Mr Kilvert hath set forth of late [see 61c]. You are all beholding to that man.
62. to William Clerke
25 May 1652
… The bearer hereof is one Thomas Leigh, now your apprentice, having sealed his indenture this day to serve you 7 years, to which purpose I have his mother's bond for £1,000 per his truth. He carries over with him a true copy of his indenture in parchment which you are to seal to him and send it home unto one Mr Thomas Leigh here.
I have endeavoured what in me lies to procure you a pretty youth, which I hope this will prove so. He is a very good scholar and writes a pretty school hand, both Italian and Spanish hands, which he will improve daily by his practice, you having a little patience for 6 months. His father [Richard] was a very eminent merchant, … in London, and his mother lives in very good rank and quality. … [The] young man hath £200 per annum in as good land as any in England, besides, I believe, some money left him. His land comes into his hands when he is 21 years of age. I have not any way undervalued you, in that I have advanced your interest as much as though it were my own case. You are to have £220 with him, to say £120 in a month and the other £100 at 12 months hence. As yet I have not given Mrs Leigh a grant that I will stay so long for the £100. Per next you shall know what is done in it.
This office which you have put me upon in taking a servant is a very unthankful office, as it proves many times. For if you like not the man or the man you, I shall be sure to hear of it, but I hope otherwise. Of this I make no question, if he behave himself civilly, but you will use him accordingly. Though I am not engaged by writing, yet I have passed my word for your performance in his good usage, which question not but will be beyond his friends' expectations. The sum which they give, you cannot deny but is more than you would have asked. Therefore they expect that you will have a special care over him and see that he be well clothed. I have recommended him unto Mr James Cowes of Palma to send him over unto you in the first boat, and what charge he is out to draw its value upon you, which pray see discharged. I shall desire you to advise me 2 lines how you like the youth.
63. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
5 Nov. 1652
a. I have received yours of 18 and 21 June, since which time have had no fit opportunity to answer them until now. I have been this 2 months absent from hence in the western parts [Devon, see 64c], which hath been the chief cause of my silence.
About 2 months since here arrived a ship from Barbados, in which ship came home one of our ship Swan's company, who came passenger from Guinea in Capt. Powell's ship and declares that on 3 March the ship Swan was cast away coming out of Rio del Rey, alias Calabar, in the Bight [of Biafra], having then aboard her above 200 Negroes, some elephants' teeth, wax, skins, and some gold, and above £500 of the goods she carried out of England. Mr Jewell died suddenly after the ship went from river Gambia so that Mr Pulman and Thomas Dixon managed the business and bought all the Negroes. And about a month before the ship was cast away, they both died so that the whole charge of ship and goods was left to one Carnaby who was chief mate to Mr Pulman, who, as I am informed, did presumptuously cast away the ship. Most of the Negroes were saved and sold by ditto Carnaby to other English ships that were there trading, for a trifle. Only 30 Negroes were put aboard the pinnace [the Turnedout], who did intend to carry them for the Canaries and says that a few of the goods were saved, which Carnaby carried for Barbados and is there arrived, as I am informed. But I cannot hear a word of his proceedings so I do conclude that what was saved we shall be cheated of all.
I do now intend to renounce my interest to the insurers speedily, there being £1,000 insured, the policy being valued at £2,000, so that the insurers must pay their losses. And what goods is saved, if we can get anything, the one-half is ours and the other the insurers', which must be cast into an average. Likewise the insurers will have the one-half of the pinnace's Negroes, being taken out of the Swan's cargo, but I am doubtful she is miscarried in regard have no news of her all the time. I am doubtful shall have a suit of law with the owners. The seamen will recover their wages without question, but I am resolved to try the title with the owners rather than pay a farthing freight.
Thus, in brief, I have given you an account of our Negro voyage. I have had sufficient trouble about it, you well know, and yet I doubt the worst is to come. The seamen's wives do protest they will bring their children and lie at my doors by reason they cannot receive their husbands' wages, which does not concern me to pay a farthing; but those kind of people will not understand reason. God grant I may be so happy as to see an end of this unfortunate business. I hope for future shall be more cautious how I undertake any such business. Your advice about making a full insurance upon the Swan came to my hand after the news of her being cast away. The insurers have had great losses of late so doubt must stay some time for their monies. My diligence shall not be wanting to further your interest in that or anything else which you commit to my charge. Richard Jewell made a will and left me his overseer and withal left me 1/5 part of his estate, the rest to other of his friends and kindred, which I doubt will come to a small dividend in the end.
63b. I have received a letter, 5 Sept., Lisbon, from Mr Ralph Standish [supercargo on the Blessing, Capt. William Webber] who was then newly arrived there to a bad market with your hides. I wrote you per Mr Price [the Judeth] to forbear sending any that way, which advice came time enough to have hindered your design. I believe it had been better you had sent them here and sold at 7d per lb. I wish you may have some good returns [in cargo from Lisbon to Tenerife] to make amends, otherwise I doubt you will make a bad voyage. I shall not enlarge upon this, supposing the ship will arrive with you long ere this comes to hand. Whereas you desired to have £1,500 insured on her for your accounts, I conceive you are not ignorant of the dangers nowadays. I could not have done [insurance] to all of those places you write of under 40 per cent. I thought the voyage would not bear it made me forbear, so that you have run a greater adventure than you thought of. God send her well to arrive with you, I hope you will load her with good malvasías which is at present and will be all this year the very best commodity that can be sent for England. Had I but certain notice of her coming home, I would endeavour to get some insurance for your accounts, though at excessive high rates (cannot be done under 15 per cent), but the commodity will bear it if prove good. I conceive I need not hint unto you the inconveniency of bad wines, you having had sufficient experience last year to your cost and my sorrow.
Mr Holle's letter for Nantes I did not send forward for reasons formerly writ you. If ever you send any ship that way, it will be necessary you send a man upon her. Per advice from Mr Holle, wheat is worth 200 livres per t, rye 120.
Our States' ships have lately taken 8 men-of-war and 5 fire ships of the King of France coming to relieve Dunkirk, by which means it was surrendered up immediately to the Spaniard; so that the King of France hath made an embargo in all his ports upon English ships and goods.
What ginger you have in Palma may dispose of it there again, though at loss; for here is above 500 ts of ditto commodity come from Barbados, besides the Islands', which is more than will be spent this 7 years. Worth at present 30s per cwt; such a fall never the like was known.
63c. The Portuguese ambassador [Penaguiaõ] is here at present treating for peace, which it's thought will be suddenly concluded, at which the Spanish ambassador seems to be much distasted. Besides, our ships have brought in 6 or 7 Hollanders laden with wools for the asentistas' [the Spanish king's creditors'] accounts of Madrid, which goods have been detained here this 3 months and for ought I see are like to stay 3 more. It's worth above £200,000. And the last week Gen. Blake surprised a great Hamburger of 36 guns, which ship hath aboard her above £200,000 in bars of silver and pieces of eight, all pretended to be the King of Spain's money and asentistas' of Madrid. The ship came from Calais. All which is a very high aggravation to the Spaniard, insomuch that if there be not a speedy restoration the ambassador gives out that his master the King will embargo Englishmen's goods in his dominions for satisfaction, which, if should do, you at the Canaries will be in the saddest condition of all men because all your estates is in goods and debts; will not be able to save the tenth part. Of this I thought good to give you timely advice whereby you may be the better prepared if such things should come to pass and that you may see the danger we nowadays live in. In my opinion it's no wisdom to remain with a great estate there.
You see our States care not to quarrel with any king or prince in the world upon a sudden, as Portugal, Holland; and now the King of Denmark hath embargoed all our ships in the Sound and merchants' goods ashore, taking the Hollander's part. And we look daily when the Swede, Hamburger and Lubecker will declare against us upon the same score, so that we are like to have wars with all these northern nations. God in mercy look upon us and send us his peace within. The Hollanders' fleet and Gen. Blake have met twice within this 10 weeks, about 60 or 70 sail at a time. But the Hollander never stands to it; always run away. We at both times have sunk and taken some of their ships and not one of ours lost. Besides, have taken above 200 sail of their merchantmen since these wars, which are computed to be worth above £1,000,000. Very few escape through our Channel. If it so continue, the Hollander will be ruined in a few years. They have taken very few of our merchantmen, only some colliers from Newcastle.
63d. Thus I have given you a brief narration of the passages here at home. I shall now come to our business, which is that on sight hereof you buy up a good large parcel of wines, always provided they be sound and agreeable, otherwise he that hath fewest will be best to pass. Of foreign commodities none so much in request as good Canary wines. I verily believe a man might sell a ship's lading at £30 per pipe, which is price enough. Malaga wines prove but ordinary this year, there being some arrived at Plymouth. Sherries scarce and bad, as they write from San Lucar.
Mr George Clerke [William Clerke's brother] and myself have found out a way to ship out some English wheat, being under the statute, which few men, I conceive, pry into yet. Abovesaid Mr Clerke is now in Kent shipping some aboard this ship Agreement, whereof Nicholas Harwood is commander. The quantity certain I cannot inform you, referring you to his advice and bill of lading. The 2/3 part is for his account and company, and the ⅓ part for mine and company. We have agreed to buy up 200 ts. The rest shall go in the next ships, which may be ready a month hence. We durst not adventure too much in one bottom these dangerous times. When other men come to know that we have shipped this corn, I doubt they will spoil our market by sending great quantities. If you send home Webber [the Blessing], peradventure may return him you back with corn. I only want money when this corn comes to your hands. Pray dispose of it speedily at the price current, for without question great quantities will come after, which may serve per advice.
I have taken 10 ts in this ship homewards upon account of this wheat, which pray see laden in good wines. We must pay but £4 per t though all other ships have let for £5 per t. Were I certain wines would prove right, I would charge you with 100 ts, but I durst not adventure till I hear from you.
Pray God send Webber well home. The ship proves but [a] leaky trow. Pray send home an account of what have paid ditto master that I may make an end, otherwise I shall be vexed with his multiplicity of words.
[P.S.] May please to take notice that I have got £1,000 to be insured on the Blessing from the Canaries to London at 12 per cent for your accounts in equal halves, at which price I purpose to get above £500 more underwritten speedily. This ship is to stop 4 days at Santa Cruz in Barbary [Agadir]. Pray dispose of the corn she carries speedily after it's ashore for our design is discovered per some who will send quantities.
64. to William Clerke
15 Nov. 1652
a. I have yours of 1 May, 15 June, 15 and 30 July. I have presented Mr Richard King the affidavit you sent me, who objects in it that it specifies for charges of 24 chests [of tobacco], and there does not concern them but 20 chests, as by your account. Which nicety pray clear per first, until which be done will not yield up my obligation. He says hath written you about it. I shall take occasion to speak with Mr Thomas Boone, the Parliament man, about the 933Rs he owes you, but I doubt will be to little purpose per what I could understand per Mr Christopher Boone. He pretends you overcharged him in the hides you sent him. It would be necessary you writ him 2 lines yourself about it.
As touching the Swan business, it proves unfortunate. I have written you at large in my joint letter, to which refer you. By your several proffers I could very well have freed myself of my interest, but to take a burthen off my own shoulders and put it upon yours, I scorn it, though I protest had no intelligence of any loss when your first proffer came to hand, only of Richard Jewell's death. Though I did in several write you to make provision against the ship's arrival there [in Tenerife] and about the freight, yet my intent was not to clear myself of the voyage, in which you did very much misconstrue my meaning. Had she come well I believe we should have made a good voyage, but I have observed that generally these Negro designs seldom prosper. Pyle writes home to Mr Bulkley that will force me to pay freight for the time the ship served us, so that I do daily look when they will begin with me. I hope you will bear me out in the business. I am resolved to oppose him.
I am shortly to meet the insurers about our loss. Our custom is to abate 10 per cent. If they stand upon more, must go to law with them, so that I shall not want trouble ere I clear this unfortunate business. I deal really with you, I would not undertake the like in every respect if would give me £500.
64b. West India goods are low at present: hides, 6½d per lb; ginger, £2 per cwt; logwood, £12 per t, clear aboard ship; Varinas tobacco, if right, worth 6s per lb; cochineal, 25s per lb; campechena, 5s per lb; sylvester, 2s 4d per lb; indigo Guatemala of the best, 4s 8d per lb; Havana sugars white, £6 per cwt; ditto muscovado, £3 10s per cwt; Palma sugars sorted [good whites] £7 per cwt.
Upon Mr Taylor's arrival here there came several passengers on him from Tenerife who brought letters and reported that James Cowse had embargoed your goods at Palma which went upon Webber [the Blessing, to Lisbon], which was very frequently reported upon the Exchange in an undervaluing way as though you had not been able to pay your debts. Which scandal did much redound to your disparagement but that I quashed the business by daring any man to avouch it, so that I hope you will vindicate yourself upon Mr Cowse who hath been the occasion of this aspersion cast upon you. I could not but give you a hint of it though you never gave me notice of your difference.
I pray you give me notice how your business stands with Mr Richard Lant [William Clerke's former master], who threatens that he will attach your estate next vintage, whereby I may be prepared to defend his malice, for I verily believe it's nothing else. In anything that concerns your reputation or interest, I shall stand by you to the utmost of my poor ability.
I have received £100 of Mrs Leigh and hath promised me the rest shortly. [See 62.] I should be glad to hear your youth [Thomas Leigh] proves to your content. I shall pay Mr Shorton the money which you drew [by bill of exchange] in favour of Capt. Diego Benitez at all demands. So much you may certify him.
64c. I have been this 10 weeks in Devonshire from whence I writ my father-in-law a few hasty lines per a small Fowey man. Had but 2 hours' warning, otherwise had writ you. Wherefore I pray excuse me. My servant Peter Browne gives me an account hath shipped aboard the Agreement the coach for Don Carlos before I came home, which, I hope, will give you and him content. I could with less trouble have bought up a cargazon of £2,000 than done that. I cannot as yet give you an exact account of the costs, but I have very much exceeded the commission, being about £100 as I guess. And whereas you desire those drugs for curing your breasts, I went to Mr Mullines, whose advice I took in choosing them, which cost 6 times more than you write of, at which I did admire, but the mistake is in yourself. I shall send you the apothecary's bill which Mr Mullines and others approve of to be reasonable. I have endeavoured to buy you a Turkey carpet of the length and breadth you write of, but cannot find any such in London. Your couch shall get made with expedition. And for the rest of your encomiendas, shall get ready speedily, which will take up much time providing. The candles have cleared that were formerly seized on in Price [the Judeth], which cost dearly.
I know not of certain what quantity of wheat is laden aboard Mr Harwood [the Agreement], your brother being at present in the Downs putting it aboard, to whose advice refer you. The remainder which we have shall go in James Blake [the Constant John] and another ship.
God send Webber well home. I hope to dispose of your wines at good rates if prove right. I shall speedily return him to you with wheat, being worth under £10 per t at present, which is very cheap. Had I effects of yours and order, now is the time to get more, but I doubt too many will follow the design; hereafter will be worth nothing. Of this 2 lines.
All kind of woollen goods are 20 per cent cheaper than formerly. I am doubtful your Azores ship [the Elizabeth and John, Capt. Thomas Waight] will not be admitted to load corn, though it's very plenty there, per reason of the fianza. (fn. 7) I pray let me hear from you per all vias.
The Hollander at present hath few men-of-war out. Our frigates do make them keep in. If they do not make their peace speedily, we shall ruin their trade, being few of their merchantmen do escape through our Channel. …
65. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
23 Nov. 1652
I have received yours of 22 Oct. per the Turned-out frigate who is safe arrived at Tenby in Wales 8 instant, where the master [Capt. Nicholas Straw] writes me is in a sad condition, the vessel proving very leaky and wines there are a drug and at Bristol, and the owners will sue the penalty of charter-party against me if do not bring her here. What I shall do in this condition as yet know not.
Pray send me home per first an account of what goods Mr Straw left with you of the Swan's cargo because I must give the insurers an account of it, having renounced unto them. Besides, Mr Jewell's father hath preferred a bill in Chancery against me, wherein sets forth how I have a great estate of his son's deceased of the proceeds of the voyage. Indeed I am much money in disburse but as yet not received a groat nor God knows when shall. I thought my trouble of this unhappy voyage had been over, but I doubt the worst is to come. Pray speed home abovesaid account very authentic, for until that come they will not pay a farthing. Likewise send me home the frigate's expenses at Tenerife, in English.
Per next shall be larger. The frigate's putting into Tenby is £100 out of our way in the sale of those few wines, besides the charge we are at, men's wages, victuals and freight. The voyage hath proved unfortunate from the first, and I doubt it will so end. Carnaby, the master's mate of the Swan, is at Barbados. Several ships have come from thence but not a line from him.
Wines that prove good will be in extraordinary esteem here. I have insured on the Blessing for your accounts in equal halves £1,000 from Lisbon to the Canaries and from thence to London £1,350, the first at 6 per cent and the other at 12 per cent. If you can get freight, may do well to send home wines. …
[P.S.] I cannot answer yours per the Turned-out frigate at present, but per James Blake [the Constant John] shall write you at large, who is now at Gravesend with 8 ships more all bound for the Canaries to load wines. In which ship we shall ship more wheat. You need not send your ships anywhere else for ditto commodity. Here is free liberty and very cheap, which may serve per advice. The peace with the Portuguese ambassador is upon the matter concluded, and I am really of the opinion we shall quarrel with the Spaniard. Few days will produce strange alterations; therefore, I beseech you, slight not my advice.