The Letters of John Paige, London Merchant, 1648-58 London Record Society 21. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1984.
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11. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
16 Jan. 1650
a. Yours of 23 Aug. via Bilbao have received. Thereby perceive by yours you are intended to drive a trade in partnership, which in my opinion will be very well for you both. In regard of the dangerousness of these times, I hold it not good for one man to have a whole ship for his own account.
Yours, 18 Nov., per the Blessing have received. I discharged the ship from pay 14 Dec. I sold all the wines as soon as they were landed: 75 pipes at £20 per pipe and 64 pipes at £21 per pipe, a price which was never known in former years. The wines proved generally green; only 50 pipes in the ground tier proved gallant rich wines. The master told me 30 of them were from Orotava. Yet there are several men had far better wines, yet I must confess the puestos are good. Garachico wines prove in general this year small, hungry wines. Mr Cramp brought the best ship of Canaries that ever I saw in my life, laden by Mr [John] Turner, and likewise Mr Brooks laden by ditto. But Hussy's and Steward's proved but small, green. Likewise Mr Sheeres', laden by Mr Campion, proved excellent, whose were Alonso de Lugo's wines, as I am told. And Mr Smith's wines, laden by Mr [William] Clerke, proved rare wines, above 40s per pipe better than Barber's [on the Blessing], yet the others are as well sold as them. The Canary trade is so much cried up for this year that I am confident there will be above 20 new principals next year. So of necessity the Islands will be overlaid, and all men send the half of their effects for San Lucar and Seville. So that next year there will be so many credits [accumulated in peninsular Spain by Canary merchants] that you will scarce get any premium [for peninsular money in terms of Canarian money] except you make some agreement in time with someone or other.
Now you may please to take notice that I have freighted the ship Matthew of Dover, burthen 120 ts, whereof is master John Brampton, who may be ready within this 10 days at farthest. I have 300 hhds pilchards bought in Fowey and have given order for 50 or 100 hhds more, if to be got. The rest shall fill up with pipestaves, according to your order. God sending her well into the West, she will be laden in 3 days at most. Mr William Bulkley tells me hath 250 hhds in Plymouth, which says will send for Tenerife if could get a ship going thither, which I question; but I know yours will be there before his, God sending the ship in safety. I have them 15 per cent cheaper than his. I would have freighted Mr Murwill, but he asked me £150 per month which was £20 too much. Per advice French wines are still prohibited; 'tis much feared we shall have wars with them, though may be not suddenly. I shall go on buying this ship's lading with Newfoundland fish. As yet no price broken; I am in hopes will be reasonable. God sending the ship well and that she have a quick dispatch with her pilchards, it will be too soon to go directly from thence to Newfoundland because those that sell their fish will not oblige themselves to deliver it sooner than 15 or 20 Aug. So that if you can get 100 pipes of wines with some tonnage, you may send her here. So she come by 10 May, will be soon enough to go for Newfoundland. And, if need require to abbreviate the dispatch, she shall put them out in the Downs. If more, I am confident they will sell so far forth as they are good, and in my opinion it's the best course you can take. So that if you do anything about the wines, must be on receipt of this because I know there go several orders for buying of those wines which are left. Here are 2 or 3 ships to go from hence about a month or 5 weeks hence. Now in case you do not send this ship back again, then you may let her carry some wines for Newfoundland, and the proceeds of those wines may lie there for a ship's lading of fish the next year from thence.
11b. Now I shall give you my reason why the ship that I sent you doth not load New England fish. First, there are so many going thither that there will not be fish to load them. Secondly, I cannot get a man to take one pipe of wine in part payment. Thirdly, there is so much difference in the fish and cheating that some men sold last year in Bilbao at 80 Rs per kt and others had so much refuse that they sold for 40 Rs most part. And more, if a man buy 2 or 3,000 kts, if it be dearer there than it's sold here, then they will pretend they have had bad fishing year, when if another man come, shall buy it for 2 Rs a kt more. For you must conceive they sell their fish with this provision, that in case they catch so much. Now in Newfoundland, fish is more certain. If I agree with a man to deliver me a quantity, in case they do not catch it, then will endeavour to comply although they buy it of another. But our New England brethren will not do so. There came several ships last year from thence half laden although their full lading was bought here. So that if any of abovesaid reasons should prove true, as I doubt too many would, then the voyage is half overthrown.
Your bill [of exchange of] £175 in favour of Mr Barber [the Blessing] have paid. For the rest we have not yet made up account. You may take notice that I am to abate £8 upon 8 pipes of Barber's wines, 6 of them being ropey. The custom, freight, petty charge of Barber's wines, with the bill, hath cost me near £600, and as yet I have not received £1,100 of all. I must do as other men, that is, give three-crane law for payment, ⅓ money, 3 and 3 months. (fn. 1) Otherwise, I could not advance such prices. Only one parcel sold for half money. Now I leave you to judge what I shall be out of purse when your ship is dispatched with the pilchards and staves. I must deal truly with you: I was fain to take up £300 for 6 months, which cost me £12 per interest, only to comply with your orders and to do your business advantageously.
[P.S.] Pray let me hear from you per all vias. I sent my letters to go by Mr Sidrake Blake via Nantes, but came 3 days too late, so are gone via Bilbao. I have sent you a copy of this under covert Mr Kilvert per this ship, who hath promised me his son shall deliver it you safely.
12. to William Clerke
22 Jan. 1650
a. … Your letter, 15 Oct., came to my hands but 4 days before Mr Barber [the Blessing] arrived in the Downs, but as soon as I received it, I presently got the policy made and upon no terms could get nothing insured. I proffered 10 per cent, but they would not [insure], being the ship was small and just then we had notice of Prince Rupert's being about our Channel; insomuch that I protest I never was at rest day nor night, seeing I could by no means effect your desire. I never had any business that troubled me so much; but, thanks be to God, it fell out for the best at last and saved you £80. But if it had fell out otherwise, then— well, I could not have remedied it. If I had received your advice in time, might have done it as well as Mr Paynter's, who gives me a general order to insure for him in every ship which I think fitting. I have insured on Mr Chalke [the Mary] £600 for his account and mine in equal halves, which is within a very small matter to the full that was aboard him.
I perceive by yours you have bought a parcel Varinas tobacco, which, except you have it reasonable, will lose by it, in regard great quantities have been brought from San Lucar of late, worth at present 6s per lb if right. It pays 2s 6d per lb custom and excise, being risen of late by order of Parliament. (fn. 2) For your other West India goods, I perceive you have ordered Mr George Clerke to send you a ship for it, whom God send in safety whenever she goes. I have freighted a ship for Mr Paynter's and your accounts in equal halves. She is to depart from Gravesend 28 instant by charter-party. For other particulars I refer you to a joint letter written you per this conveyance. Only if there are any good wines left, you may send her back with some and will be soon enough to go for Newfoundland after, always provided she have a quick passage outward and that you conceive she may return here fine April or first May at furthest.
12b. I received your welcome lines, 13 Dec., per the Love which came to my hands yesterday by Mr Brampton. Shall give answer at full. In the interim I cannot omit to give you a thousand thanks for my red Canary which as yet is aboard. The wines you loaded in Smith proved rare. I could wish they had been for your own account. I am confident they will clear by them near 50 per cent, which is a thing never known before, neither do I think ever to see the like year for Canaries as long as I live. Jerez and Malaga wines prove base this year.
Per advice, the King of Spain hath sent in great haste for his ambassador from hence, who goes away next week. 'Tis very much feared we shall have wars with both Spain and France and likely the peace will be concluded betwixt France and Spain. I do counsel both you and my friend Mr Paynter both to so order your business as that when occasion offers that you may clear yourselves of the country. For I must tell you it is not safe to have your estates there as the times now govern; for when such a thing comes, it will be with[out] much warning. Of this I thought good to give you a hint, being a well-wisher to your affairs. I shall desire you to order me some monies per first [occasion], whereby I may have full effects for the codfish business, which intend to buy suddenly. …
13. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
6 Feb. 1650
a. My last unto you was of 16 Jan. per a Fleming which Mr Roger Kilvert sent from hence, to which refer you for what then proffered. And since, I have received yours of 10 Jan. per Sidrake Blake and Mr William Webber. I have written you a brief letter per this ship [the Matthew, Capt. Brampton] of 30 Jan. Therein gave you notice how have shipped aboard her 12,000 of pipestaves for your accounts as per bill of lading; likewise sent you a true copy of the charter-party, to which refer you. Now you may please to take notice that I have ordered Mr William Arundell to load aboard this ship at Fowey 300 hhds of pilchards for your accounts in equal halves, which fish he writes me is excellent good and well saved, cost 7s 6d per m. There will be some petty charges on it at the shipping which I cannot give you account of at present. Mr William Bulkley hath 200 hhds at Plymouth which he now intends to ship on John Young. They cost him 8s 6d per m first penny, being bought long since. God send this ship a fair wind to get out of the Downs. I hope she will be there 20 days before Mr. Young, being he cannot be ready to go hence this 10 days.
Per advice good Canaries at present are in request, worth £21 per pipe and like to continue so, which is a great price and a trade too good, I doubt, to continue long. Therefore you make use of the occasion. In case that the ship have a good passage over with her fish, it will be too soon to send her directly from thence to Newfoundland. She may very well return here again and go for Newfoundland, being the sacks from hence do commonly go out of the Downs 20 May. Now in case that you do not send the ship here as aforementioned, then you may send in her 100 or 150 pipes [of] wines for to land them in New England and so to come away for Newfoundland, which will not be much out of her way. And the proceeds of your wines, when sold, may be ordered to buy a ship's lading of New England fish for next year. I was days past in company with Sir David Kirke's brother [John] who is his correspondent here. I would have bought 2,000 kts of dry fish of him, to be delivered by Sir David [Governor of Newfoundland], provided that he would but take 40 or 50 pipes wines in account and the rest I would have paid him here per bill of exchange. But upon no terms I could not get him to take any wines, being the land is every year overlaid, and, as I am informed, there goes from Madeira 100 pipes this year. As yet here is no price broken for Newfoundland fish, being somewhat soon. But I shall very suddenly buy Mr Brampton's lading and order the business so that we may have the first fish whereby to have the benefit of good market. I shall write the master from hence per several ships and send him orders for receiving the fish, of which you may be confident that I shall use the utmost of my endeavours for the furtherance of the design. You may do well to give the master a charge that he have a care in the choosing of his fish. Now in case that Mr Brampton should be long windbound in the West Country, or have a tedious passage over, then I would not wish you to send him back to me, doubting that his Newfoundland design may be overthrown by coming too late, all which I leave your consideration.
13b. Now I take notice you have contracted with Mr [William] Webber for a parcel of Galicia pilchards, and I like the business very well and do believe will prove beneficial for both. For Mr Webber, I am confident he will make at least 80 per cent profit off all his goods from hence to Galicia, so that although he get nothing by his pilchards yet he will make a good voyage. I sent a small parcel of goods there not long since for my own account, therefore have some small experience in the trade. And truly it was my full intent to have had a bark of 50 ts this year to load pilchards from thence and so for Tenerife for my own account. But seeing you have gone through with this, I shall forbear and send some from England at the vintage. According to your order I shall supply Mr Webber with the £400 and see that the business be put in execution at the time you write of and shall aid and assist him what in me lies whereby to further the design, assuring yourselves that there shall be nothing wanting in me to see all things punctually performed, which is as much as I can say or you desire.
I have promised Mr Brampton that in case he should lose a cable or anchor, mast, or sail, or any other necessaries, that you shall furnish him with money to provide new, if occasion, provided that it do not exceed above a month's pay, for the term of the whole voyage. Therefore, I shall desire you to give order unto your friend at Bilbao, or any other place where you shall send him, that he may be supplied, hoping that he will prove an honest, careful man and give you content, of which I should be glad to hear of.
Campeachy wood is risen of late, worth at present £17 to £18 per t; hides, 6½d per lb, on which will be great loss; fine grana, 32s per lb; Varinas tobacco at 5s per lb; campechena and sylvester a very drug; ginger worth £4 per cwt. Wines is the only commodity now in England. Pray advise me who is your correspondent in Bilbao and pray advise him to give me notice whenever it pleases God to send Mr Brampton safe there. I shall write you per our friend Mr Leonard Clerke who may be ready to be gone hence within this 10 days at farthest in Mr James Blake [the Constant John]. …
14. to William Clerke
16 Feb. 1650
My last unto you was of 22 Jan. per a Fleming which Mr Roger Kilvert sent from hence, and now I have received yours per the Love [Capt. William Rouse] of 13 Dec. and 12 Jan. per Mr Thomas Hart. I do not strange at your not writing me the first of the vintage, being partly sensible of the multiplicity of your business.
I have written you in my former concerning the proof of wines this year. Those which you loaded for Mr George Clerke [William's cousin] in the Love proved the best of a small parcel that I have seen this year, insomuch that the vintners did quarrel who should have them. Mr Rawdon loaded a parcel of excellent wines in Sidrake Blake. Indeed you writ me that Orotava would prove the best wines this year, and so I do find it generally. From Garachico they prove hungry, green wines, and Rambla somewhat better but not comparable to Orotava. Yet in my opinion, one year with another I like Rambla the best. Wines at present are very scarce, not a good parcel unsold.
I perceive you intend this ship [the Matthew] from Newfoundland to Bilbao with her fish. If in case she have a quick passage over with her fish, you may do well to send her home with 100 or 150 pipes wines and some logwood, being risen of late 40s per t, worth at present £17 to £18 per t. But, however, if you do not send her and that she go directly from thence, her full lading of fish shall be bought according to your order. I shall supply Mr [William] Webber [who intends to carry pilchards from Galicia to Tenerife for Clerke and Paynter] with the £200 for your account and insured it per month, being not certain of his ports.
Mr Holle [at Nantes] writes me would fain have another design for the Canaries. I could wish that you had laden those wines in Smith for your account. I am confident that they will clear for the 300 pipes above £1,200, which is a hit that I never look to see the like again. Neither is it possible that the vintners can subsist to give such prices. I doubt many of them will go for Ram Alley this year. I am sorry Mr George Clerke doth not send you a ship with expedition according to your expectation. I must tell you he hath too much phlegm to be a Canary merchant. Although it doth not concern me, yet I cannot but give you a hint of it, being a well-wisher to your affairs. I have received your kind token [a pipe of red Canary wine] out of the ship Love and have given your cousin his part. For mine I am not able to express my thankfulness, not knowing how to make you requital, esteeming the favour as from the hands of so intimate a friend as I have found you. Having written you and Mr Paynter in my joint letters at large of all passages, whereunto desire reference, which maketh me the briefer now and especially because Mr Leonard Clerke stays for my letters.
[P.S.] I had almost forgotten to write you of this particular, which is that I conceive you writ me that you would send me home some West India commodities this summer whereby that I might have sufficient effects for your Newfoundland business. …
15. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
16 Feb. 1650
… Mr Brampton [the Matthew], … I hear, is yet in the Downs by contrary winds. I did think when I dispatched him from hence that he would have been [gone] long before these ships; but since it please God that falls out otherwise, there's no remedy but patience. It will be a means to hinder her return here, and likewise the pilchards will not come at first of Lent as I thought they would.
I am sorry to hear of your imprisonment, hoping you are cleared long ere this. It seems strange to me that the [Capt.] General [of the Canaries, Don Pedro Carrillo de Guzman] should lay a charge against you for bringing in contraband goods when that he takes money for quick dispatch and gives admittance, and now to contradict what formerly hath acted. (fn. 3) There have some acquainted our States with the wrongs that you suffer; but if you do not get out before they seek to clear you, for ought I know you may perish. They are informed by some busy masters of ships that you are all in general enemies to the present government, so that you are taken to be the greatest malignants that live beyond the seas. In these dangerous times it's good for men to be circumspect and cautious of what they say. We live in a sad [time], God help us. Prince Rupert is now in Lisbon with a fleet of 12 [war]ships and frigates. God grant he do not give the Islands a visit.
I propose to insure the major part of your interests in Mr Brampton although our coast here hath been very clear of rogues this 10 weeks. In case that you have occasion for any tonnage homewards, you may have it in Robert Newman [the Tenerife Merchant] who goes wholly to seek. He hath engaged himself to me that you shall have the first refusal of his ship in case that you have occasion for her. I would have freighted you a bigger ship than Brampton but could not have such a sailor in this river, which did invite me to take her. I would have had Newman, but he came home after I had freighted Brampton. Mr. [William] Webber hath a great desire to Barber's ship [the Blessing] for the Galicia design. If you will have any tonnage charged at vintage, pray give me timely advice, as likewise for what else you please to have done. I have disbursed £300 more for your accounts than at present I have received of Barber's wines but hope shortly to get in more monies. For the future, in case that you do send any business of consignance unto me, I shall desire you order so that I may always have large effects whereby to go through my business as well as other men, that I may not be constrained to undervalue my commodities to defray charges, which is a thing I hate of my heart. I would have bought Brampton's lading of fish in New England, but very few will sell except they have half money beforehand, which was never done but this year. There are so many ships going that I doubt half of them will not come with fish. Besides, it is a very uncertain trade because some years falls in great quantities and other years not 10,000 kts. …
16. to William Clerke
21 Feb. 1650
I have written you and Mr Paynter at large per Mr Brampton, your ship the Matthew, who I hope is at present taking in 300 hhds pilchards for your accounts. Likewise have written you at large per Mr Leonard Clerke, to which desire reference. These are only to give you notice that this day I had a little discourse with Mr George Clerke, who I find to be very backward in freighting your ship, insomuch that by what I can perceive will send none. And yesterday I received letters from Nantes wherein Mr Holle writes me that yours, 15 Jan., is come to his hands, wherein you write him will send a ship thither. He gives me advice that there are no hides to be got in all Nantes and that linens are very reasonable and for any embargoes there is no doubt. This is chiefly his advice unto me. Now because your design may not be frustrated, Mr Newman hath engaged himself unto me that you and Mr Paynter shall have the refusal of his ship [the Tenerife Merchant] before any men. So that in case you have a mind that way, I know may have him on reasonable terms, being he goes wholly to seek. He had last voyage £125 per month. Of this I thought good to give you notice.…
[P.S.] This goes by the Downs post aboard Mr Newman.
17. (fn. 4) to William Clerke
22 March 1650
… [H]ave received none from you, which makes me the briefer at present, having written you and Mr Paynter at large per several ships which have gone from hence.
Our principals here do lay load. I never knew such quantity of goods sent and now to go. I believe Mr [John] Turner hath £10,000 cargazon in this ship [the Island Merchant], Mr Steward, and Sidrake Blake will be ready to go 20 days hence, which ship will carry at least 400 packs of goods. Likewise Mr Fishman is making ready to carry a great cargazon to Mr [John] Webber and [Robert] Pearson. I was told yesterday for certain that Mr Garland and your cousin [George] Clerke hath freighted a ship of 150 ts which will be ready very suddenly. God send her well to you.
I hope by this time Mr Brampton [the Matthew] is with you, where I hope will find good vent for his pilchards, although they come somewhat late. The fault is not mine nor the master's. We had nothing but southwest winds here for 2 months together. I believe you will find the fish to be as good as any that hath gone there this many years for I gave Mr Arundell a very great charge about it.
All sorts of West India commodities very low at present: Palma sugar sorted [i.e. good whites] worth £7 5s per cwt; hides, 6½d [per lb] if very good; cochineal mesteque worth 30s to 32s per lb; campechena a drug; indigo at 4s per lb; Varinas tobacco worth 5s 6d to 6s [per lb] if right; logwood worth £17 per t (if no great quantities come home, a small parcel may sell). Good Canary wines worth £22 per pipe, at which rate I sold the major part of Mr Boulden's lading, the rest at £21 6s 8d per pipe without giving one pipe choice and to as able vintners as any in London, which is such price as 'tis impossible, in my opinion, that the vintners can hold to pay it. Yet I hope that I shall be paid to a farthing for all the wines I have sold this year, both for you and Mr Paynter, which is more than a great many can say.
Sir, I have a[t my house] with me a youth which is a kindred of mine and is newly [come out] of France where he learned h[is French, to read] and write it as well as his natural tongue. I have a great desire that he should be your apprentice, when not, that you will let him be with you for 2 years to learn his Spanish. The youth is about 17 years old and very fit for your turn or else I should not wish him to you. The former part of this letter is his writing, which is a good hand in my opinion. His parents have bestowed good breeding on him although can give no money with him, which I know you may have with another. But if you take him I shall esteem the courtesy so much the more. And for his truth, I come bound for it if so be that you desire it. Did I know the least vice or [im]perfection in the youth, I protest I would not so much as notion the business to you, but I am persuaded you will like him very well. Of this shall desire 2 words answer, referring you to my joint letter which I have writ you per this conveyance. …
18. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
22 March 1650
… [L]ittle or nothing offers, in regard I have not heard from you of late days. I hope Mr Brampton [the Matthew] is safe with you ere this time in regard we have had easterly winds here this 12 days. May please to take notice that I have insured on him for your accounts £700 at 3½ per cent, which is one per cent less than was given either upon James Blake or Crispe. By this you may see that the ship is taken notice of for some excellent sailor. I had not done so much but that I did consider it was reasonable. I conceive it will be too soon to send her from thence directly for Newfoundland. I should be glad to hear 2 words of her arrival and how you dispose of her. The price of Newfoundland fish here is broken at 24 and 23Rs per kt, so that now I am upon buying 2,500 kts, which, you may depend, shall effect, not doubting but per Mr Blake shall be able to give you a further account of the business.
I have disbursed £200 already to Mr [William] Webber for goods which I have bought for him. The rest will be ready very suddenly, only as yet hath got no ship, although hath been about several. Men do look upon him here, in regard he lost his ship and most what he had, as an undone man, so are mistrustful of his ability. But the design shall not be hindered for want of that. I told him that I would engage myself for the freight, which I shall do for your sakes. Mr Barber [the Blessing] and his owners are at difference, and Mr Webber hath a great mind to the ship. He doth much solicit me to take ¼ part for your accounts, and he and a friend will take ¼ more. The other ½ the old owners will hold with him. I have half promised him, yet I must confess it is not a usual thing of me to do or act any such thing without your order. Yet on the other side, I do look upon the business as a vessel very fit for your occasions, and the ¼ put to sea will not stand above £130 at most. I could wish you had the other ½ at ditto rate. I should willingly hold a part myself. I have a good opinion of Webber that he will prove honest and go through with the design. It behoves him, for I am confident he cannot find 2 such friends in England as you. He much depends on your favourable countenance. …
19. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
1 May 1650
a. … Here arrived a small Fleming which Mr Bonfoy loaded at Santa Cruz and likewise another at Amsterdam by which conveyance several men had letters. Your general letter of 6 March is come to hand by which I perceive Don Pedro Carrillo [de Guzman, Capt. General of the Canaries] does molest you and that you are prisoners only out upon bail. Some 20 days since we presented your general letter of grievances, with petition, unto our Council of State, who pretend they will do us all the right they can and assist so far as honour and justice will reach [See 15]. This was the Lord President Bradshaw's answer unto it, they referring the business unto the Committee of Admiralty and Judge Advocate. Whereupon Mr William Bulkley, Mr Edward [? Edmund] Cowes, Mr George Webber and myself were examined upon several interrogatories [in the Admiralty Court, 20–24 April], being acquainted with the use of the dispatches in those Islands, to which we did declare. So that now the Committee are perusing our examinations, and accordingly they are to give in their result unto the Council of State, upon which I hope they will take our parts so far as to write the King of Spain to take some course with that tyrant Don Pedro. If Mr Blake stay but 10 days in the Downs, I shall write you more at large concerning this particular. But I must tell you that our Parliament's agent [Anthony Ascham], which they sent from hence some 10 weeks since, was landed at San Lucar, and the Duke [of Medina Celi, Governor of Cadiz] hath detained him under pretence that he shall not go to Madrid until answer of his letters from the King, which I do not like. In case they do not admit him, you will be in a very sad condition at the Canaries. Besides, there is a new proclamation come out from Madrid which is that you are to dispose of what contraband goods you have by you within 2 months after publication, if not, to be confiscated. And if you bring in any contraband goods after the 2 months, you are not only to lose your goods, but [be] proceeded against as a traitor, which, if this be executed, there can be no trading.
I hope long ere this you have your pilchards out of Brampton [the Matthew]. I should be glad to hear how you dispose of him, whether home or directly for Newfoundland from thence. May please to take notice I have bought his lading of Newfoundland fish, to say 800 kts, at 21½ Rs per kt and 1,500 kts at the price a friend of mine hath bought, which I conceive will prove to be 22Rs per kt, but he that sells it says 22½ Rs. The next post we shall have advice about it, to resolve each other. I hope Brampton will have a quick dispatch in Newfoundland for I have to do with able men and the fish is bought on as reasonable terms as any man hath bought this year. I have already sent away orders for Newfoundland and written Brampton at large. So much for this design.
19b. Now I come to give you account about Mr [William] Webber's design. Mr Barber and his owners were at some difference about the ship [the Blessing], and I found Barber to be upon reasonable terms. Have bought of his ship 5/ 16 part, and Mr Webber and a friend 3/ 16, and the old owners hold the other ½ So that Mr Webber is now master. We have bestowed above £40 in carpenter's work and bought new cables and other necessaries, so that I conceive the ship will stand, put to sea, about £500. I can have profit for our parts if I would sell her again, but I, finding her so commodious a vessel for our trade, have interested you 1/8 part each and myself 1/16; part, not doubting but you will approve of what I have done, and have made the bills of sale in your names for each man's part. The rest of the owners would sell on reasonable terms if you would buy, they being men that do not understand themselves in shipping. I have bought all the goods up for Mr Webber, hoping that he shall be gone within this 6 days from hence and so for Rochelle to load salt and from thence to Pontevedra in Galicia, there to load his pilchards. He did propose to make 2 voyages to Rochelle, but I have barred him that he makes but one. If we had not light of this vessel, I know not where we should have furnished ourselves in all this river with the like, for Mr Webber of himself could never have freighted any. I hope he will prove honest. Hereafter I would not wish you to make any more contracts with him, not but this is very hopeful on your part and likewise on his. He makes at least 100 per cent profit of all the goods he carries with him from hence. I shall have a pretty interest with him for my own account. I hope he will be the very first ship with pilchards at Tenerife. I have taken as much pains about this business as though it did wholly concern myself. If he makes another voyage there after this, if you please, let it go in ¼ parts, yourselves and Webber and myself.
Per advice, Prince Rupert's fleet and our Parliament's fleet were both in Lisbon some 20 days since. It's now reported that the King of France hath sent some ships there to assist Prince Rupert, upon which our Parliament is now setting out another great fleet to engage with them if they take Rupert's part. What the event will be I know not, but all men of our nation remit away their estates out of France, doubting that we shall have an open war. All kind of Spanish wines will be a great commodity next year if the prohibition of French wines hold, as it is very probable. I conceive you will have 65 ts to load for yourselves in Mr Webber's ship. I doubt Bilbao will be overlaid this year with codfish, there being abundance of ships bound for that market as ever I knew of. …
20. to William Clerke
8 May 1650
… [H]ave received none from you, being of late days we have had no ship from the Canaries, which makes us doubt very much that your troubles with the [Capt.] General [of the Canaries] do increase. As yet no news of Capt. Pyle [the Swan] who tarries much. Your bill of exchange for £30 payable to Mr Barber [former master of the Blessing] I paid, which I had almost forgot to give you advice of it, and have put it to your particular account, which I shall draw out and send you at the vintage. I have interested you 1/8 part of the Blessing, whereof now William Webber goes master. I hope you will approve of what I have done, although I confess it is not a usual thing of me thus to act without the order of my friends. But finding her reasonable and very convenient for that trade, made me enlarge. I wish that you and Mr Paynter would give me order to buy out the other owners. I will hold for myself proportionable because that we might say that have a ship at our own disposal, to send her whither you please, which is advantageous many times. Of this, 2 words by the first, and accordingly shall govern myself.
I understand by Mr John Holle's letter, which I received this instant, that he expects a ship from Topsham hourly in which he is to load a parcel of linens for Tenerife consigned to yourself and Leonard Clerke. Were they but any way sensible of the late proclamation which the King of Spain hath put forth about French goods, I conceive they would have desisted. If it be prosecuted with that rigour as now in the Main of Spain, it will not be possible for you to receive her. I am now in expectation every day to receive some welcome lines from you. Till then shall have little subject to enlarge, referring you to my joint letter. For prices of West India goods, little or no difference since my last advice.
[P.S.] This very instant I saw a letter which came from San Lucar overland, dated a month since, wherein they writ that the Spaniards have seized upon 1,200 fardels of French [goods], some ashore and some aboard the galleons for the Indies, and no man durst own them. Which may serve per advice, wishing you as my real friend to be cautious in the[se] dangerous times. …
21. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
8 May 1650
… Per advice I received yesterday a letter from Rouen wherein have notice that all our English ships are embargoed there, which is no good sign. Upon which I have ordered that Mr Webber [the Blessing] shall not go for Rochelle at all, whereby our ship and goods may be lost, which makes him say it will be £150 out of his way. I told him plainly that he should not go there except did give me security to free both our parts of ship and goods, which hath altogether broke him of that design. I hope shall be cleared from Gravesend this week at the farthest so that now he will have sufficient time to get his pilchards ready in Galicia.
I doubt your codfish that goes in Brampton [the Matthew] for Bilbao will come but to a sorry market. It's now too late. My reason is that this year few or none goes for the Straits as formerly because the French take many of our ships, so that there were never so many designs for Bilbao as now. It had been a better way for you to have ordered me to have shipped pack-goods from hence for San Lucar for your accounts, which would prove to be a more certain way for you to value yourselves on than upon codfish, being an uncertain commodity. Which course you may take for the future if you find not the other beneficial. I have a friend in San Lucar that will do your business to content if you please to make use of him. He is now expected every day and goes over again in August next.
Here is advice that now our State's agent in Madrid is very honourably received and that the King of Spain desires union with England as formerly, which may be a means that your business in Madrid may be the better composed. As yet no news of Mr Breton's arrival. I have formerly advised you the needful, which makes me thus brief at present.
[P.S.] God blessing Webber well, I hope will be there the first ship at vintage with his pilchards. You may do well to secure in time your puestos for I am confident there will be a great fleet of ships at vintage, here being great preparation making. …
22. to William Clerke
3 Sept. 1650
a. My last unto you was of 19 July via Rotterdam, where I wrote you somewhat briefly. I have received several letters of late from you, namely per Capt. Pyle [the Swan] of 4 May and 11 ditto, likewise yours 23 May from Palma and 28 ditto per Mr Crispe, to which shall now answer at full.
I have received out of the ship Swan the 6 chests of indigo which want 91 lbs of the weight you write me. Likewise have received the chest of mesteque cochineal which I have sold at 34s per lb, ½ money and 3 months' time for the other ½. It weighed net 130 lb 12 ozs so that there wants likewise 6 lbs. I cannot challenge the master because the chests, I am confident, were never opened. Give its due, the cochineal was as good as hath come for England this 7 years. Likewise I have received out of the Constant John [Capt. James Blake] 12 chests of indigo and 4 of campechena which is, for what I have seen, indifferent good. The indigos in Pyle are good, but the last 12 chests are not right. The campechena I think shall dispose of very suddenly, having some about it at this present. But for the indigos, they are a very drug at present. Here have great quantities come lately from East India, about 300 skins quantity, 200 lbs each, which makes the market low at present, not worth above 4s 6d per lb, besides garbling which is above 2d per lb. Worse I hope it will not be for sales; rather I hope of better. I am resolved not to sell under 5s per lb, so that I must be fain to keep them a little time rather than to undervalue the commodity. Likewise I have received out of the aforesaid ship 460 kts of leña noel, so that it breaks 68 kts in weight. The bill of lading was signed with that caution. (fn. 5) The weight I know not so that I could not compel the master to make anything good. For his part I think there's nothing diminished. Neither could I find that he had so much wood for his account as Mr Leonard Clerke writ me, which makes me void of jealousy. It seems it came very green aboard, which must needs dry much. Mr Bulkley complains the like of his wood in Crispe. There is 800 kts more in a Fleming which is now at the Isle of Wight; it belongs to Pedro del Prind. So here is enough to serve England, France and Holland this 7 years. I have put it in a Cheap warehouse which cost me 5s per week, for I am doubtful I shall have it lie this many years. I wonder who did advise you to send such a quantity. I am sorry that it doth not come to that market which you expected, I mean for advance. I have written in Holland where they write me that 5 or 6 ts may chance to sell there at £10 per t, so that considering charges, little will remain of the principal. In France they spend little or none as they advise me. Those small quantities that the masters brought home for their accounts have much prejudiced us in the sale of ours. You may rest confident that in this or what else concerns you I will not let slip the least opportunity that may tend to your advantage. The 9 sugar loaves I have received, which shall make sale of.
22b. I am very sorry that your cousin George Clerke hath done you so much injury by frustrating your intended design. For what business you commit to my charge, I shall as near as God enables me endeavour to the utmost of my weak knowledge to give you content. Diligence there shall not be any wanting. The success must leave to God.
Seeing that you were pleased to give me a hint in your letter, 4 May, that I should carry an equal hand betwixt you and Mr Paynter, or to that purpose, I cannot but give you 2 lines answer thereunto, whereby you may rest satisfied. True it is I had rather that all your adventures were in company, and especially those which I send from hence; yet when it shall so fall out that it stands not with your convenience, for my part I shall not cleave to your right hand nor your left, leaving all partiality aside. And his advice that first comes shall be first served, having effects, which is as much as I can say or you to desire. Whatever India goods you send me for the future, pray let be such as is most in request here, whereby, if occasion offers, I may not be forced to undervalue my commodities, for I do not love to have the fame of a spoil-market. Yet my credit is not so low but that I can command £500 of friends when occasion offers. I perceive you intend to send your wines in company with Mr Paynter this year, for which I am glad, hoping that both he and you will strive to load rare liquors, to which purpose I have given Mr Paynter a hint in several of my letters. For what you write me concerning insurance, for the future I shall observe your order as near as the times will give me leave, it being a thing of more difficulty to perform than other businesses are.
I have given both Capt. Pyle [the Swan] and James Blake [the Constant John] the money for 2 pieces of plate, according to your order. Likewise I have paid your bill of exchange payable to Mr Bradick for £100 with £6 more which he paid Sr Antonio [Rodrigues] Vaiez, consi[gna]tus, premium of ditto £100; but in case that you do not allow of what is done, I have Mr Bradick's engagement to return me the money. (fn. 6) Whereas I formerly writ you the excise of Varinas tobacco was risen 12d per lb, may take notice that presently after the Parliament ordered that it should be taken off again. (fn. 7)
22c. Mr Leonard Clerke gave me advice from Palma of the arrival of Mr Presman [the Robert and John] and that you intended him for Lisbon with hides, which I hope otherwise in regard we have open wars with Portugal at present. To give you the full relation of the business, it would be too tedious. In case that the ship went for Newfoundland, it will be very late before she get there. I understand by Mr Robert Garland, who did not conceive that I was acquainted with you, that you are interested in Mr Presman 4/6 parts. Some thereby answered that the ship would make but a bad business of it, to which aforesaid R[obert] Garland answered that he did not care for that you would have the greatest loss. These sudden wars with Portugal will make a thinner exchange of merchants before 6 months pass, and I think Mr Garland hath but all there. As a friend I give you timely advice have a care what bills [of exchange] you draw for his account except you have goods of his to satisfy them in case they come protested. I do admire that your cousin [George Clerke] would recommend you to such a contentious, wrangling man. He far exceeds Mr George Frere. Amongst all I cannot but give you notice of another because you may know your friends from your foes.
Mr Richard Lant doth rail on you in that manner as I never heard the like. He speaks openly that the Canaries never bred such a knave as you have been to him. He began to say the like of Mr Bradick but since he [Bradick] is come home you will not believe how he flatters with him, pretending great matters of friendship. But by what I understand Mr Bradick will clear and have no more in company with him.
I for the future take notice what you advise about the pilchard business. But withal you must consider that when the fish is bought and the wind fall out cross that a ship is 5 weeks windbound in the Downs, as Brampton [the Matthew] was before he could get the west, it is not to be imputed to me his late coming there. Weigh all things in the balance of equity and you will find my words to be true.
22d. The wines which you loaded for Mr Richard Baker's account in Newman [the Tenerife Merchant] consigned to Mr Markham, proved pretty tasty liquors. Mr Markham did conclude to ask about £23 per pipe for them, but hearing that I sold my wines in Newman upon the lee for £25 10s per pipe, did advance him to 20s per pipe more than he was resolved to ask for them. So that I think I was £100 in Mr Baker's way. Those wines which Goncalo Rodrigues Vaiez bought for 39 Ds in the cellar were sold for £23 and £24 per pipe. Here have of late several vintners broke and more will daily if wines continue these prices, as I think they will be little under. Here is advice the vintage at Malaga is far less than last year, by what men of knowledge do quest.
I have written you and Mr Paynter in my joint letter at large concerning all business in company. I do now expect bills of exchange from Newfoundland. Although your goods be not disposed of, yet all things shall be satisfied punctually. It doth much trouble me that my letters in Steward should be thus kept from me; Sr John [Turner, factor in Tenerife for Wilson and Bradgate] will never leave his old tricks. The best is they did not much import; if they did, it were all one to them. Such doings will never thrive long; the event thereof will be evil. I received your letter of credit in favour Sr Antonio [Rodrigues] Vaiez and have complied with your desire in showing courtesies in the Spanish style, with which he was very well satisfied. Is now gone over in Mr Blake [the Constant John] for Palma.
Per advice, West India hides good worth 6½d per lb; ginger worth £3 12s per cwt; Campeachy wood worth £18 per t; cochineal mesteque, 33s per lb; campechena, 6s 6d per lb; indigo very good 4s 6d per lb. I have sent you in this ship, the Swan, Capt. Pyie, 2 or 3 small trifles for your house which pray be pleased to accept. …
23. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
3 Sept. 1650
a. I received yours, 28 May, per Mr Crispe, which advice came a little too late for me to send a ship for Danzig, being all men advised me that the Sound would be frozen up before she could come forth, which I was loath to put to hazard. Likewise I writ Mr John Holle and others in France who gave me advice that wheat was worth 140 livres per t, which makes out about 24 fanegas, so that by calculation it would come off at 24Rs per fanega, which is too dear. Likewise I writ into Holland, and there it was dearer than in France, besides I could not get any English ship that would go for Nantes because the French did then embargo all our ships.
Now seeing myself deprived of all those places, and your order extended so far as that I might send anywhere else I thought most fitting, upon consideration I presently freighted a ship of 140 ts called the Elizabeth whereof Christopher Shadforth is master, who went out of the Downs about a month since bound for Safi in Barbary or any other ports upon the coast (I am to give £4 15s per t), to go from thence with his lading of corn for Tenerife and from thence home with wines, which is reasonable in my opinion. For other particulars I refer you to the copy of the charter-party which I send you per ditto ship. I have shipped John Clarke to go pilot and have promised him £3 for a beaver hat. The cargazon I have consigned it unto Mr Richard Jewell, who I send upon the ship, a man very able to undergo the business. Here enclosed I send you a copy of my order given him and likewise a copy of the invoice of goods sent in ditto ship, which, for a small cargazon, is as well sorted as any that hath gone for those parts this 7 years, and I hope that with the advance there will be enough to load the ship with wheat. I have interested you 3/8 parts each man, which I charge to your accounts and 2/8 parts for my own account. I would have insured the full [cargo] outwards, but they ask me no less than 6 per cent, or 12 per cent for out and home, so that I am resolved to do nothing outwards on such rates, in regard she went out in company with 30 gallant ships, most bound for Malaga and the Straits, which will carry her out of all danger. I have done my endeavour here to accomplish your desires. The success we must leave to God; be it good or bad we must submit our wills to His.
Some 3 days since I received a letter from Mr Webber [the Blessing], dated at Pontevedra 16 Aug., who writ me that then had most part of his pilchards aboard and did hope to be gone by 20 ditto, according to his obligation. So that I trust in God is arrived with you by this time to a good occasion. By others which came from thence I understand he sold his goods for above 80 per cent profit, vellon, which is a good advance. Likewise his pilchards stood him but 1½Rs per m fresh, so that with curing, salt and all other charges, I believe they do not stand him in above 8Rs at most, vellon, so that he will make a good business of it and I hope you will do no less. But for the future I would not wish you to make any contract with him, but let the goods go from hence for your accounts, allowing him that does the business his commission, only let Mr Webber have a 1/8 part. Likewise I shall desire to have a share in the business for my account. Mr Webber writes me that if I had given him a credit for 11,000Rs vellon for Madrid according to your orders that then he had secured some pilchards for another voyage against Lent. To which I give answer that when Webber came home here it is well known that he was worth nothing, and I think we trust him with enough in delivering the goods with[out] any security for the performance. And besides that, we have the most part of the ship. Yet, if he had left his brother-in-law, as he told me he would, at Galicia, I would have remitted effects, but he advised me that he carried him with him for Tenerife. I pray give him a quick dispatch that he may be home one of the first, which will come to a good market if bring rare liquors, and pray think of some employment whereby to send him out again.
23b. Per advice I have received a letter from Mr Brampton [the Matthew] of his safe arrival at Newfoundland, dated 21 July, who writes me that had disposed of all his wine at £13, £14 and £15 per pipe to take fish at 23 and 24Rs per kt and that then had taken in about 600 kts of fish and that the fish which I had bought here would be punctually delivered according to contract, and withal writes me that was in great hopes to be dispatched out of the land one of the first. Mr Davies of Bilbao is here at present, who is now going there overland, who hath promised me that Brampton shall have a quick dispatch and likewise will endeavour much for speedy sale of the fish, for I have told him I conceive you will have occasion to value yourselves on them for the proceeds thereof suddenly. I doubt the market there and all other ports in Spain will be overlaid with codfish in Spain this year in regard all the ships that were to go for Lisbon, Oporto and other places in Portugal are now designed for Spain in regard we have now wars with King John.
I wonder I have received no letters from you by Mr Avery nor Mr Cruchman via Topsham. I hope ere this time you are satisfied that it was no neglect of mine in not writing you per Peter Steward, but rather a knavery of theirs [i.e. Wilson, Bradgate and Turner. Cf. 22d] to keep away my letters. Indeed I do not much admire at it in regard it is no novelty of Mr John Turner to do so.
I gave Mr Jewell order not to stay upon the Barbary Coast above a month although he came [to Tenerife] a small part empty, otherwise I should have sent a greater cargazon in the ship but that I was very doubtful that it might be a hindrance to the ship's sudden dispatch. Most of our grand traders here do admire that I have freighted so many ships for you and do not a little envy at me to see that I do outsell them in prices of wines, which hath made them rail at their factors [in Tenerife] to the purpose. I have now gotten the chiefest vintners in London to my customers, many of the old Rowland's [i.e. Rowland Wilson's] which if I have good wines, I know they will not buy a pipe of him. A good fame here is worth 20s in a pipe, which I have got this year. Therefore, I shall desire you to endeavour whereby I may keep it. The business only consists in good liquors. I need not mention this to neither of you, yet I cannot but give you a hint in regard it imports my credit and your profit. Repair not in 2 or 3Ds per pipe or in a little extraordinary payment. The market here will repay you with an advantage. For bad wines there will follow many inconveniences, first a torment to me and second I must be fain to sell them to such men as perhaps will never be able to pay half.
Now in case that you conceive the year to prove very bad, then better let out your tonnage or else forbear sending Brampton [the Matthew] home, all which I leave to your serious considerations. In the meantime I shall, according to your orders both now and hereafter, take notice of what you write concerning insurance for your accounts. Although I do not observe it in the Barbary man [i.e. the Elizabeth], blame me not, for I have given you my reasons, with which I hope you will rest satisfied however the business falls out. I shall now endeavour to insure your adventures homewards, which will cost somewhat dear, being our coast at present is very full of French men-of-war and likewise of Ostend menof-war. And further I must tell you that many insurers of late have broken so that now it is a difficult thing to get in good men, but I doubt not but I shall do as well as others. I had almost forgot to give you notice of my agreement with Mr Jewell [supercargo on the Elizabeth]: he is to have 3 per cent for sale of the goods at Barbary and 3 per cent for employing the stock in corn. If you like this design, let him come home in the ship and then we will treat further. …
[P.S.] After I had gone through with our ship for Barbary, then Mr Holle of Nantes wrote me that he would send a ship to you with corn and linens, the cargazon to be about £3,000, in which you should bear half. To which I gave answer I could not, being had engaged in the other design.
24. to William Clerke
10 Sept. 1650
… This instant here is arrived ships that lay off Lisbon which bring very sad tidings: all the English merchants are prisoners and their estates sequestrated and no hopes of composing the differences between us, so that here will be many merchants undone. I am very sorry for your brother Mr George Clerke who, I understand, was resident in Lisbon. Here are now this week 2 merchants broken, accounted formerly very sufficient men, but these unhappy differences with Portugal is the chief occasion of their absenting. Beware what bills you draw for R[obert] G[arland]'s account, for truly it is the opinion of most men that he cannot hold out, which you may please to keep to yourself, and the sooner you shake off, the better. I understand both he and Mr George Clerke [William Clerke's cousin] have charged you with a pretty quantity of tonnage in one Mr Henecker's ship, which I conceive is without your orders. …
25. to William Clerke
20 Sept. 1650
a. Yesterday by great chance I received yours, 15 Aug., per a Fleming which put the letters ashore at the Isle of Wight, and being brought upon the Exchange to deliver, it was not my fortune to be there, so that my letters were catched up by some well-wishers to you and me. Hereafter I shall be able to give a better account, being now am upon searching out the truth.
I perceive by yours of the scarce vintage you are like to have. How men will come off I know not. I am confident that you will say yourself that never [have] so many ships [come to Tenerife] as this year. I hope that you and Mr Paynter will comply with what tonnage I have charged on you in wines and West India goods. I have a policy made upon Brampton [the Matthew] from Tenerife home and have got this day underwritten £1,500 at 4 per cent, being for Mr Paynter's and your accounts in equal halves. Likewise with what formerly, I have £1,000 insured on Mr Webber [the Blessing] homewards for your accounts. I shall endeavour tomorrow to get £400 or£500 more done upon ditto ship and upon Mr Brampton near £ 1,000 more so that you will run no great adventures. As for the Barbary ship [the Elizabeth, Capt. Shadforth], I shall forbear to have any insurance done on her homewards before I hear what you load on her and for whose accounts. Pray forbear sending any leña noel for I know not when I shall sell that which came in Mr [James] Blake [the Constant John]. Logwood worth £18 per t, and if no quantity come in, will hold its price; hides, 6½d per lb; ginger, £3 15s per cwt; cochineal mesteque, 32s per lb; campechena worth 6s 8d per lb; indigo, a drug, worth but 4s 6d per lb. Pray endeavour to send what wines you possibly can for your account for India goods hath no good vent at present. The vintage at Jerez and Malaga both will be very scarce this year as per late advice from thence, so that of necessity wines must be far dearer here than last year if that they prove but sound and clean. I make no question but those which you load will be of the choicest puestos. What designs you intend to have put in agitation for next year, pray give me timely advice.
25b. I hope ere this time our ship [the Elizabeth] is laden with corn at Barbary, of which I should be glad to hear 2 lines and of the proceedings of the voyage, as also what market it comes to at Tenerife. I shall endeavour what I can to buy the rest of the Blessing when a good opportunity offers. However, we having but 9/16 parts, may send her where we please though the rest do not give their consents; the major part carries the votes. So that if you resolve to have her return back for the Islands after her arrival here, it shall be effected according to your orders. I am very glad you dispatched your Nantes linens in so good a time without any charges, which makes me admire that you durst adventure on so desperate a business. I hope your new [Capt.] General [Alonso Dávila y Guzmán who had arrived in June 1650] will be more accommodating than Don Pedro Carrillo [de Guzman].
I perceive by yours that then you were upon dispatching Mr Henry Hawley for Barbados upon a small vessel which you bought there and have laden her with wines for your account. God bless her well to the desired port. May please to take notice that the Barbadians have about 3 months since declared for King Charles II and will not be subordinate to any officer that our State shall send over. So that here is now 8 ships making ready, which our States set out, to ply about that island to keep all provisions from them, whereby to reduce them to obedience, which I conceive they will do in a very short time. So that until then there will be no safe trading for you to that island, they being now in a tumultuous way, everyone his own master. I am informed that your wines will come to a gallant market. I intend tomorrow to write Mr Hawley via Amsterdam whereby he may understand how business goes here. All those which declare for the Parliament in the island are banished and their estates sequestrated, which may serve per advice.
By yours I understand that you have procured a licence for 300 camels under the King of Spain's own hand, which in my opinion is a great privilege. (fn. 8) You must have a good ship to carry them. Mr Garvis Russell is now building a frigate [the Katherine] just of the same length and breadth that Sidrake Blake's is, which will be a fit vessel and man for such design. Mr Paynter and myself do hold a small part with him, being I know him to be an honest, diligent man. He is very desirous that you should be one of his owners but told me that would not be so bold as to write you, having no great acquaintance, so hath enjoined me to write you about it.
What letters Mr Hawley sends under my covert for you shall be sent forward with care per first opportunity. I shall do my part from hence in writing him the needful; and if he send me those blacks you write of, I shall send them over to you per first with the dispatch you desire. If Mr Hawley do want any monies, I shall supply him to the quantity you write me if need require, on which you may depend. Nothing shall be wanting in me for furthering your designs, neither money nor diligence.
You write me of some encloseds which you desire me to deliver with care, being they import you. I opening your letter find not a letter for any man, which makes me conceive that you left them out. You desire to be resolved concerning France and us. They give commissions to take English ships, and our States give the like to take theirs. And yet they make no embargoes of late upon the English merchants' estates which are there resident. How long it will hold so I know not, but in my opinion a man's estate is not safe there.
26. to William Clerke
15 Nov. 1650
a. I have received yours, 20 Sept., via Amsterdam per Mr Thomas Yardley; the contents perused. I have written you per this conveyance a joint letter at large, to which partly refer you. By great chance this morning I had notice of this conveyance via Falmouth. My time being short, cannot give answer in full to your letter according to your desire, the post going away this night, which I hope will be sufficient to excuse me. As yet I hear no news of Mr Hawley's arrival at Barbados. There is a ship now in Plymouth newly arrived from thence. I have written down about it to make inquiry.
I have sold 3 chests of your campechena at 7s 6d per lb, a price that none hath been sold at this 7 years. I have to abate discount for the money. The other chest is promised at ditto rate. The leña noel is all in cellar; neither do I know when shall sell at of it. None makes inquiry after it. Therefore, pray send no more. I am doubtful you will have a dead loss on this. Your indigos are all unsold save 4 chests which I sold last week at 5s 2d per lb garbled. They are a very drug, being great quantities in the City at present, especially the East India Company's. I shall do my utmost endeavour to dispose of the rest as soon as may be.
I must crave your pardon in not being so good as my word to send you your accounts, which I shall now go about very suddenly. I have of late been hindered somewhat of my business in regard of my removal to a house which I have taken. I am glad you have put your money business in so good a posture that you were to have it in with 20 days, which in my opinion, as the times now govern there, is a mighty business, insomuch that you may do what you will, having such a considerable sum.
It seems by Steward's report you were doubtful where the ship which he left upon the Barbary Coast were ours [the Elizabeth] or no. I am glad that you are now resolved of the doubt and that she comes to so good an occasion at both places. Indeed I made haste after I received your advice. Seeing I could not get it no other ways, I freighted the ship and bought up the cargazon and cleared her from Gravesend all in 10 days time. I hope the staying of our fleet will prove advantageous to you.
26b. I cannot give you a satisfactory answer concerning the orchil which you write of. I have writ into Holland about it but have no answer about it. I perceive by yours that the next spring there will be good quantities of West India goods with you, which goods both here and at Holland are sold at low rates at present. Per advice ginger worth £3 10s per cwt; hides at 6½d per lb; Campeachy wood at £18 per t (it is now a free commodity here provided you pay £3 10s per t custom); campechena, if any come from Spain, it will not be worth above 6s 8d to 7s per lb; indigo, no hopes of exceeding 4s 6d per lb; sylvester a worse drug; cochineal mesteque worth 32s per lb if very good; Varinas tobacco worth 5s 6d per lb if right.
I have written you in the joint letter how we stand affected with France. Spain and we are very good friends and like to continue in regard we plague the Portuguese which, you know, is a rebel as they account him.
Your letter to Mr George Clerke [William's cousin] and Mr [Stephen] Slaney I have delivered with the other for Exeter. I do admire I have no letters from Bilbao of Brampton's [the Matthew's] arrival there, yet I do not any way doubt of his well-being because I have advice that he went out of Newfoundland in company with 6 ships more. I have paid his bills for 1,800 kts of fish which he received there per my order.
I am very sorry to be the messenger of such ill tidings unto you, yet I cannot but acquaint you of it, whereby you may order your business accordingly. The ship Robert and John, Mr Presman, is taken by a Jersey man-of-war coming from Newfoundland to Bilbao with his lading of fish and is now brought into Jersey. This day came home one of his men which brought the news. Now for your comfort I went this afternoon to the insurance office and searched the register book where I found one policy upon ditto ship insured by George Clerke for his and your accounts £900; another which he made for £200 more which was for bomaria [bottomry] money; likewise another, a policy which Mr Garland put in, wherein he insured his full interest, so that I hope will be no great loss to you. This I thought good to acquaint you because peradventure you may keep her lading there in expectation of the ship's coming. I am now in expectation of the Blessing and Elizabeth. God send them well. …
27. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
15 Nov. 1650
a. I have received yours, 14 Oct., per Mr Steward, perceiving thereby that Mr Shadforth [the Elizabeth] and Mr Webber [the Blessing] were both arrived with you, for which I am hearty glad, giving the Lord praise for it. I do now expect them daily, God send them well to arrive. The times are very dangerous. Prince Rupert is come out of Lisbon with 24 sail and hath taken 2 or 3 ships from Malaga. He lies off the southern cape. God grant he send none about your Islands. Insurance is very high upon the news, but I had done most of mine before the tidings came. I have insured for your accounts on the Matthew from the Canaries to London £2,500 at 4 per cent, and on the Blessing I have insured £1,500 for your accounts in equal halves at 4 per cent. Likewise I have insured on the Elizabeth £2,150 in the proportion as I freighted her. When Mr Warren was upon the Barbary Coast and taken by the French, (fn. 9) he writ me of his mischance and the danger that Peter Steward [the Island Merchant] escaped, upon which I was very doubtful of Mr Shadforth. So that I presently caused £800 to be insured on him for our accounts from hence to Barbary and so to the Canaries, for which I gave 6 per cent and glad it was done so, which, as it falls out, is so much money cast away, but I hope our voyage will bear it. I am very glad that my project hath list [i.e. pleased] so well, hoping that our corn will sell very well.
Mr Steward's wines prove but reasonable, small, green wines. They have neither body nor richness, but they are clean and sound, which is a good property. The Malaga fleet is arrived here, which [wines] prove excellent, cost there 700Rs per butt put aboard, a price that was never known. The vintners have of late met at their hall and have combined not to exceed £20 or £21 per pipe or butt of wine this year, upon which Mr Wilson hath not sold a pipe of wine of Steward's lading. Malagas, there are a few sold at £24 per butt; Jerez prove very well this year but not the quarter part made as in former years. Likewise Malaga fails of above half the quantity as it gave other years. So that of necessity wines will be a good commodity if they prove excellent. But I must tell you the vintners must of needs break to give these prices, yet they draw Canary at 9d per pint. Here is now an act of Parliament come forth that whereas we formerly paid 33s 8d per pipe custom, we are now to pay 42s 8d per pipe, which will be no small matter out of our ways. (fn. 10) They pretend it is for keeping and maintaining of convoys for our ships, which they say we shall have hereafter to go out with our merchantmen to your ports. I hope you bought up all your wines before our grand fleet arrived there, by which you will save above £1,000 in the prices, considering the quantities you both are to load.
27b. The times are so dangerous at present and like to be worse daily, that for the future I would not wish you to adventure your estates in small ships because there will be no insurance done upon them at any rates. I admire that I have no news of Mr Brampton's [the Matthew's] arrival at Bilbao, which I impute to the master's neglect and Mr Davies [Paige's correspondent at Bilbao]. At present we have no trade with France, neither have we proclaimed wars with them; but I believe it will not hold long before we have. They take all English that ever they met withal, and we do the like by them, so that the poor merchant suffers on both sides.
I here send you 2 acts of Parliament. The one is that we have open wars with Portugal and the other is that the Barbadians are proclaimed rebels to our State for revolting and not being subordinate to the present government. (fn. 11) Here is now going a fleet of 10 ships to subdue them to obedience if they can. Here is at present above 20 sail of French prizes brought in, the major part of them laden with codfish. Likewise here is 6 Brazilmen brought in which have 4,500 chests of sugar, besides 2 more left at Cadiz which are sold there. So that we have now almost all nations to be our enemies, God in mercy look upon us and help us. The Prince of Orange is dead as per advice from Holland last post. What business you will have done by me for the future, pray give me timely advice per all conveyances because things cannot be done with that facility as in former times.
I have nothing more to enlarge at present until I hear from you. I shall be put hard to it to pay customs and freight of my wines this year. I must of necessity make use of the usurer's bags, the charges will be so much. I have put a friend to pump the owners of [the Blessing], Mr Webber, but they're now somewhat unwilling to sell. They say they will not pick a price till she come home, God sending her well. I shall use such a way as that I doubt not but to buy her reasonable; otherwise I shall vex them, being I have power to send the ship where I please whether they will or no, hav[ing] the major part.
I had last week letters from San Lucar wherein they write me that the King of Spain hath put out a proclamation that all pieces of eight of Peru stamp shall pass but for 5Rs per piece, in regard that sort of coin is found to be generally false. (fn. 12) Although you are seldom troubled with overmuch cash, yet I would advise you to clear yourself of that coin, for I am confident the proclamation will be suddenly with you, which may serve per advice. Mr [John] Turner's principal, Mr Martin Bradgate, is grown distracted of late. (fn. 13). …
28. to William Clerke
6 Dec. 1650
… I have written you at large in my joint letter, to which desire reference. These chiefly serve to give you notice 3 days since the enclosed came to my hands, which was welcome news to me to hear of his [Henry Hawley's] safe arrival [at Barbados]. He writ me very briefly, referring me to the next conveyance. So I can say little, only writ me that if possible he would send me those Negroes which you wrote me of, wherein I shall observe your order when they come. I perceive Mr Hawley intended speedily to dispatch from Barbados, being sensible of the dangers which may approach upon the islanders, in which he does very wisely in my opinion. Here is come an agent from the islanders [George Marten, emissary of Francis, Lord Willoughby] to treat with our State, which as yet hath no audience. But it is hoped by many that there will be an accommodation; God grant it. …
29. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
12 Dec. 1650
This very instant I received letters from the Isle of Wight, wherein have advice from Mr Webber [the Blessing] as also from Mr Shadforth [the Elizabeth] of their safe arrival; God be praised for it and make us thankful. Canary wines are sold at £24 per pipe, I mean those which prove good according to the year. I have received no letters from you per the ships as yet. Therefore have nothing to an[swer] until they come to hand, being writ you last post via Amsterdam per Mr. Yardley as also per one Mr Thomas Wright. This goes overland to Bilbao, which is a tedious, uncertain conveyance, yet I thought good to adventure these few lines. [P.S.] The dead tonnage this year and small returns will make many of our Canary merchants go to Ram Alley. A list of ships arrived: Mr Steward, Sydrakeson the Fleming, Mr Hoptkins, Mr Bradick, Mr Hayes, Mr Sheere, Mr Casby, Mr Young, Mr Rouse, Mr Bankes, Mr Newman, Mr Shadforth and Mr Webber.