The Letters of John Paige, London Merchant, 1648-58. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1984.
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66. to William Clerke
4 Jan. 1653
a. My last unto you was per Capt. Harwood [the Agreement] of 15 Nov., to which crave reference. Since, I have received yours of 22 Oct. per the Turned-out frigate. I have paid up Shorton £10 for account of Diego Benitez per your bill of exchange. I here send you the apothecary's bill by which you may see what those medicines amount unto, as also I send you the account of what Don Carlos' coach cost here first penny. You may charge him with freight, insurance and my commission. I hope it will be little inferior to the [Capt.] General's coach which cost £50 more. It hath cost me no small trouble to have all things exact according to order. I have bought you a large carpet which shall send over per first.
I should be very glad to hear that you had bought up a round quantity of wines as you writ me would do suddenly after Mr Straw's [the Turnedout's] dispatch, which, if you had given me advice thereof per Mr Webber [the Blessing], I would have adventured to charge you with some tonnage in this ship [the Golden Star, Capt. John Holman]. But not knowing your mind makes me forbear doing it. I have taken 80 ts in this ship to carry away a parcel of rye which I bought in Plymouth about 3 months since. Mr Rowland Wilson hath 70 ts and Mr Canham 40 ts. Now in case the ship carry any more than abovesaid tonnage, then my father-in-law hath privilege to load it. I have written him 2 words to that purpose that he spare you room for 20 or 30 pipes if possible he can, for I know this ship is 220 ts. Of this I thought good to give you a hint by reason there is now an opportunity to get money by wines which there may not be another year. I hope you have reserved some of the Duraxno wines to send home for your account.
66b. I have in my former letters given you an account of what insured for you in the Blessing. Though you had not written me of it, it should have been done. I am half resolved to insure £600 or £700 for your and Mr Paynter's account on your Azores ship [the Elizabeth and John] though have no order, of which shall advise you the certainty in my next.
I have had some discourse with some of Mr [William] Elam's [English merchant in Genoa] principals here who have monies lying in Genoa, so that shall endeavour to get a credit upon ditto Elam that so he furnish your order with £500 and draw it upon me here. The reason why I do not remit the money according to your order is because I hope you will better consider of it and desist the design, for I see you are not sensible of the great danger in those parts, all which is for want of advice. You may take notice that this 10 weeks all our merchant ships in the Straits above Alicante have been blocked up with 8 of our States' men-of-war by 30 sail of Holland men-of-war, insomuch that we durst not stir from one port to another. And there they must lie until our State send out a great fleet to relieve them, which 'tis thought will not be till May next. Here are above 20 sail of gallant ships now in the river laden for several ports in the Straits which durst not adventure thither but stay for convoy. And whereas you desire to have insurance made upon ditto design, I went yesterday to the office purposely and proposed the voyage from Tenerife to Genoa, or any port thereabouts, and back to Canaries. Many would not write at any rate; the rest asked no less than 60 per cent. You need not go so far afield for corn; if once our Channel were clear, it might be shipped from hence upon better terms. You may do therein as you think fit, but as a friend and well-wisher to your affairs, I may advise you forbear going upon many designs these dangerous times. Both here and in Holland there [are] scarce any ships fitting to go out as merchantmen but all for men-of-war. The Hollanders since the last encounter with our fleet [off Dungeness] have reigned masters of our seas and are at present very potent. Our fleet is retreated into Lee road whereby to gather greater strength to fight the enemy, which, I doubt, will not be this 6 weeks.
66c. How I shall get up Webber from Falmouth I know not. I doubt must make further insurance upon him from thence, which will cost 10 per cent, which you will admire at and well may. I shall resolve speedily to take some course about him, for the wines will take wrong in lying so long aboard; besides, monthly pay is chargeable. Pray God direct me for the best. Were you here yourself, could do no otherwise than I have. I have written you and my father-in-law at large jointly per this conveyance, to which refer you.
I am ashamed that you should write me so often about your account, which is much against my grain. I must now deal really with you. The first and second years which I did your business I lived in one Mr Robert Turner's house, who did enter my goods and received some monies and paid out for charges, assisting me in my business, for which I allowed him half commission. And to this day I cannot get an account from him. The man is able and I do intend to make him honest, if the law will do it. All what I want is some charges from him and some bills of exchange which he paid. The rest I have in my own books. It is just in the same manner with me and my father-in-law. I wish that I had given £500 that I had never seen him [Turner]. It makes you and others think I am very backwards in my accounts, which with much reason you may. But though I lost £100 by it, I will send over your account this summer. In the meantime, pray have patience and judge charitably, for none desires to be more punctual in those things than myself, however it pleases God to cross me in that thing which I desire to be most exact. …
67. to William Clerke
1 Feb. 1653
a. I have written you at large per this conveyance, to which crave reference. Have since received yours, 16 Dec., per Mr Thomas Warren, which cannot answer at present so fully as could wish, being straitened with time.
Your brother [George] and myself writ you and my father-in-law a few lines giving you notice how we have freighted the Mary frigate, burthen 120 ts, which ship is now ready to take in her lading of corn, only expecting our Parliament's fleet to go forth, which I doubt will not be this 20 days, so that you may not mistrust in case she tarry a little. For we are fully resolved, by God's assistance, that she shall proceed the voyage, therefore intreat you to provide her lading of the best liquors that Island affords. I do engage for 3/8 parts of her lading out and home, whereof I interest you 1/8 part, and the like my father-in-law and myself 1/8 part. The rest your brother and friends have. I hear of several ships now laden and lading of wheat upon the same design, which makes me doubt it will be a drug with you.
I shall not be able to send you the Blessing so soon as thought. Mr Webber writes me she must have much work by carpenters done unto her, which will require a long time. And for other ships, the times are such that no owners will let any per month, so that you may expect none from me until I hear further from you. I was yesterday in company with some friends where I saw £80 per month proffered for a ship of 80 ts, and it was not accepted of. All kinds of cordage, provisions and men's wages are at present 50 per cent dearer than formerly, besides great dangers; so that except you have very hopeful designs, the freight will devour the principal.
As for your Genoa design, I writ you at large in my last wishing you as my friend to desist from it. You must pay here 5s 4d for every piece of eight there, if I remit any money for you, which is near 20 per cent loss unto you by exchange.
67b. In my former gave you notice how was in suit of law with the owners of the Turned-out frigate; and since, we referred our differences unto two arbitrators, Mr Stephen Slaney being for me. They have ended the business and awarded me to pay £146 besides what you disbursed upon the vessel at Tenerife, the owners to receive the vessel at Bristol, which is not worth £50, so that they will never see the money she cost them. So that you need not send over the accounts in English; only pray fail not to send me an account of those things which appertain to the Swan's cargazon, for the insurers will not end till they see it.
Though I have no particular order from you touching insurance on the Elizabeth and John, yet I have adventured to insure £600 on her from the Azores to the Canaries at 6½ per cent, for your and Mr Paynter's account in equal halves. The thing which conduced me to do it was that I received a letter from Terceira how she was to load corn for your accounts, and hearing of those 2 Holland men-of-war about your Islands made me fearful of her. I hope you will approve of what I have herein done.
Pray answer Mr [Richard] King's objection, which I formerly writ you of, that I may have up my obligation to cancel it.
Whereas you desire some ozenbrigs to be sent you, may take notice that our Hamburg trade is blocked up since these wars with Holland, so that at present there's not 2,000 ells in this city. And as for your necessaries for house, I have the major part bought long ago. Per the first ship shall send them.
Here is great preparations making, both here and in Holland. I doubt this will prove a bloody summer, for I see no hope of any peace.
As yet Mr Webber [the Blessing] not come up. Mr Warren and the rest interested in the Morocco Merchant have unladen their wines, which prove pretty green, rising wines, some few agreeable. They have sold most part at £33 10s and £34 per pipe; and the next ship's will sell better if the wines prove answerable, which is price enough. But they have near 20 per cent leakage, which is merely through bad cask and not being well rabbeted. Webber's not coming up troubles me, and yet we cannot help ourselves. …
[P.S.] I have ordered Matthew Phillips to deliver you half a dozen barrels oysters, which pray call for.
68. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
1 March 1653
a. Since the arrival of the Morocco Merchant, have not received one from you. As yet no news of Mr Lawrence's arrival in the ship Recovery, which is much doubted. These are chiefly to acquaint you how I have discharged the ship Blessing the 28th past and have sold all [160 pipes of] your wines without any choice at £35 13s 4d per pipe, ⅓ money, 3 and 3 months' time [see 11b note]. Such a price was never given before. The vintners do exclaim against me sufficiently for getting the price, but I had rather they should do so than pity me. When I have delivered the wines, shall give you an account of the leakage, which I hope will come out very reasonably. At the delivery I shall take particular notice of the proofs of each man's wines; but in general I find them sound except 2 pipes, most part wise green, rising wines, pretty bodies, and about one-quarter part especially agreeable. Mr Clarke, which came from Guinea, is now unladen. That ship brought about 300 pipes which prove for the most part but mean wines, green and thin bodies and flashy. Though there be a great scarcity, yet the vintners will not look upon them, they being not fit for their draughts. Thus you may see the difference between good wines and ordinary, the one esteemed as gold, the other as dross.
Mr Chalk [the Mary] is at present in Faversham creek above half laden with wheat. I hope will be full laden within this 5 days. Here is at present great press for seamen, yet I make no question but we shall get him away with the first opportunity though others may be stopped. Therefore, I beseech you, provide his wines before his arrival and such as may be fit for this market. I thought to have returned you the Blessing with corn, but she cannot be made ready this 10 weeks. I doubt the owners and we shall not agree.
I have about 10 days past given the insurers upon the Swan a dinner at tavern, where I found them inclining to reason. Made me close with them: I am to abate them 13 per cent, and they are to resign up all hopes of goods saved unto me, which I think is the best agreement I have made this many days. After this agreement was made, it pleased God to take away one of the insurers who was in £200, Alderman [William] Berkeley by name, so that I doubt shall be kept out of that money this 12 months. We have a law here that all executors have 12 months' and a day's time to pay debts; besides, there's no will can be proved at present, being no judge in the Prerogative Court, which breeds confusion.
68b. I am now to give you notice how on 18 Feb. Generals Blake, Deane and Monk, with about 30 sail of our men-of-war, off Portland came up with Van Tromp who hath about 80 sail men-of-war and 200 merchantmen in his company which loaded salt and wines at Nantes, Rochelle and Bordeaux. Our men-of-war and theirs engaged most desperately all that day, and likewise the 19th began again and fought all day, and the 20th continued fighting. But Van Tromp began to run and our ships pursued him, not regarding the merchantmen. The Battle of Lepanto was not comparable to this, by all men's opinions. There was never the like battle fought upon the salt waters since the creation of the world. Our men fought like true Englishmen. The Hollander sank one of our men-of-war named the Sampson, 32 guns, and we have sunk 14 of their men-of-war, whereof one vice-admiral and another rear-admiral, and have taken 6 of their men-of-war, whereof one is vice-admiral of Zeeland and another rear-admiral, a ship of 1,200 tons. We have likewise taken 70 sail of their merchantmen, and our fleet remain masters of the seas. By this you may see the Lord hath been pleased to own us and crown our endeavours with a mighty victory. The Lord make us truly thankful. Had our enemies prevailed this time over us, we had been in a sad condition. I am informed there's above 3,000 men slain on both sides, whereof we have about 1,200, as 'tis said. I think Hans will scarce face our Channel this 6 months for this bout's sake. I am sorry there should be so much Christian blood spilt; hope this may be a means to bring peace in the end. Our States are hastening out another great fleet with expedition. I believe by the beginning of May we may have 140 sail men-of-war out. Here enclosed I send you Capt. Garvis Russell's letter, who relates something of the fight in brief, to which refer you. (fn. 1)
This goes via Dartmouth by a ship which goes consigned to Messrs. Stephens and Throckmorton. I had but short warning, therefore crave excuse. Cannot write you particularly at present, desiring you to buy up some good wines to come home in Chalk, which will come to a better market than the Blessing if good. …
69. to William Clerke
8 March 1653
May take notice have written you and my father-in-law jointly per this conveyance at large and delivered the letter to Mr Hardin, as my friend writes me from Dartmouth, wherein have writ the needful, giving you advice how have sold the Blessing's whole lading of wines at £35 13s 4d per pipe. Mr Chalk [the Mary] was yesterday full laden with wheat. May expect him within 3 days after this ship arrives.
These are chiefly to give you notice how on 28 Feb. our friend Mr Stephen Slaney was taken very ill of a fever, who is at present even at death's door, given over by all doctors for a dead man. I am doubtful shall never see him go abroad again. The Lord fit us all for him. He was a very likely man to live as any I knew. …
70. to William Clerke
12 March 1653
I have written you and Mr Paynter at large for what concerns your joint affairs, to which crave reference. These are chiefly to give you notice how with much trouble and difficulty I have got your 5 boxes of candles which were formerly seized on. The charge and composition comes to above half as much as they first cost. And now once more have adventured to ship them again in the Mary frigate, William Chalk commander. Have likewise sent you a hamper of ginger aboard. The particulars shall give you underneath. Have likewise laden aboard this ship the 1/8 part of her full lading of wheat for your proper account and have charged the like proportion of tonnage for your account homeward in ditto ship.
Our loving friend Mr Stephen Slaney departed this world the 10th instant. The Lord fit us for him. I daily expect to hear from you. The Susan [Capt. Giles Paynter] is arrived at Penzance in Mount's Bay, who reports that Capt. Harwood [the Agreement] came away 2 days before him. …
[P.S.] The mark and number of 5 boxes and one hamper aboard the Mary frigate, William Chalk, viz. 5 boxes of candles, one hamper containing 2 dripping pans, one pair cob-irons, one pair andirons, one Turkey carpet packed in a trunk of Mr Paynter's which you may demand.
71. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
12 March 1653
a. … [H]ave given you a full account of the last engagement between our fleet and Van Tromp, who with much difficulty got into Amsterdam with part of his fleet much torn and shattered. Nevertheless, they are now providing a new fleet to come forth, which may be ready about 1 May. Our fleet is at present scouring the Channel, consisting about 80 sail menof-war; and here is now another great fleet providing to come forth, about 50 sail more, which may be ready within a month. It's generally conceived we shall have a bloody summer of it. Both states do make it their whole work to carry on this war with a high hand. We have now 30 sail new frigates upon the stocks, which will carry from 50 to 60 guns, not to be paralleled in the whole world. I find our seamen are much encouraged with this great overthrow we have given the Dutch. Without any partiality, I am of the opinion we shall bang them soundly this summer. The King of Denmark just before last fight hath declared war against our nation and will assist the Hollander in this war. I doubt all the rest those northern nations will do the like very suddenly, as the Swede, Hamburger, etc., so that we shall be much straitened for want of hemp and tar and masts, etc. Here is such an extraordinary great pressing of men that it's a difficult thing to get out a ship. Mr Chalk [the Mary] hath made many hard shifts, fain to send his men down to Dover by land.
71b. The wines which came in the Blessing have delivered and taken particular notice of their proofs. Those of HP proved above 30s per pipe better than those of JP. The uppermost wines of this last mark proved very poor, thin bodied and green wines, which pulled down the price. By what I can learn they were those which came from Garachico, the most part. Those which lay in the second and lower tier, of ditto mark, proved fine rising liquors, which I suppose to be el marca de campo [i.e. el maestre de campo, Canarian military official] Lorenzo Pereyra's wines of the Duraxno. But Don Juan de Aponte's wines were above all, and Don Antonio de Lugo's; those of Don Benito and the embusteros [?tricksters] were pretty rising wines. But those of the steward of Don Luis Benitez were as bad as the Garachico wines. Thus I have given you an account particularly of their proofs to the best of mine and my cooper's judgement, without any partiality. There are 2 pipes in the parcel which are not sound, which I am to allow them £10 and am to give them a feast, which they say does cost them dearly. Had it pleased God that the ship had not been so stopped in the West Country, the wines had proved far smoother, but then I had not obtained the price I now sold for. The Morocco Merchant's coming up before the Blessing was £300 in your way. To give them their due, they were pretty kindly wines, free from the vidueño.
As yet Mr Webber [the Blessing] and I have not come to account, being newly discharged. Except the rest of the owners join with me, cannot put him out. The ship wants great repair; cannot make ready this 2 months. As for the money which you furnished him during his being abroad, may not expect any advance, it being my promise to furnish him with needful expenses for the ship's use. Touching the Newfoundland bills, he utterly denied all. He is very well rewarded per Mr Campion for taking his corn from Mr Clerke. The wines which he hath sent him are not worth £15 per pipe. Except Adam Wyles go in the ship, I am resolved to buy or sell, of which you shall hear more hereafter.
71c. Whereas you advise to have this ship returned back with wheat, or some other in her room, for 8 months certain and 20 months if occasion, I believe a man can scarce get a ship to go per month in these times. Both masters and seamen are much altered within this 6 months; having much encouragement in the State's service, care not for merchant voyages, finding much plunder and the like stories. Besides, weighing all things, I find much corn gone from England to the Islands, which makes me doubt it will lower much in price. So shall forbear until I hear a little further from you. Were not the master of this ship a very diligent man, we could never have got out the ship. Besides, it's a very dangerous thing to freight a ship and load her with corn as the times now govern, for on a sudden comes an embargo for a month or 2 and then it will be fit to throw to the hogs.
You may please to take notice that Mr George Clerke [William Clerke's brother], late of Lisbon, and myself have freighted this ship, the Mary, whereof William Chalk is master, in equal halves to go from hence to any of the Canary Islands, there to stay 35 days to unload and take into her all such goods as you shall load aboard her, and from thence to return directly for London, for which we are to give £4 10s per t and a gratuity of £5 to the master. We have ordered that Mr Goldsmith should load aboard her 600 quarters of the best wheat could get for money, which is 120 ts. The just costs thereof know not, having not received the account, invoice, nor bill of lading. I have interested you, Mr Gowen Paynter, 1/8 part, and Mr William Clerke, 1/8 part, and Mr Canham, partowner, 1/8, and myself, 1/8. The other 1/8 is for Mr George Clerke and friend's account. I should have interested you a quarter each, but could not obtain the grant, being part of the owners bear a share. I hope long before her arrival you have provided her lading of wines, and of the best, which will come to so good a market as at first of year. I conceive it needless for me to press you to lade good liquors, you being sensible of their esteem here. …
72. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
25 March 1653
… [T]he Mary frigate, William Chalk master, … went out of the Downs 14 instant; hope will be arrived long ere this comes to your hands. … I have received a bill of lading for 500 quarters wheat which shipped aboard the Mary frigate for the account aforementioned. I expected Mr Chalk would have taken in 100 quarters more for ditto accounts, knowing the ship would very well have carried it, but I doubt it goes upon some private adventures; wherefore my desire is that you take particular notice what corn the ship carries besides ours.
May please to take notice Capt. Harwood in the ship Agreement is safe arrived at Falmouth some 10 days past, and as yet no letters come up, which does much trouble me that I cannot answer them per this conveyance. Capt. Harwood had a hot dispute with a Holland man-ofwar the next day after he went out of Santa Cruz [de Tenerife], but, blessed be God, he foiled him. And coming near our Channel, ditto Harwood met with a Hollander of 120 ts, laden with Virginia tobacco and a good quantity of beaver skins, which he surprised. She is computed to be worth £5,000. The Recovery and Susan are arrived in Plymouth. How their wines prove, know not; but sure I am they come to a great occasion. And so will all those that come after, which may serve per advice.
West India goods are very low here at present: hides, 6½d per lb; ginger, £2 per cwt; logwood, £12 per t aboard ship, the buyer paying custom and other charges; Varinas tobacco, if good and new, 5s 6d per lb; cochineal mesteque, 20s per lb; campechena, 5s per lb; indigo Guatemala, 4s 6d per lb; Havana sugars white, £6 per cwt.
Pray send me per first, affidavit what quantity of corn and other goods you landed out of Mr Waight [the Elizabeth and John] for your joint accounts, and send me home a just account of the sale thereof because the insurers are to have the benefit of all goods so landed. (fn. 2) Of this, I pray, fail not to send me very punctual and authentic whereby there may be no obstacle in the business here. Otherwise the insurers will have a commission granted them to examine witnesses there and prolong the time.
The ship Golden Star [Capt. John Holman], which I freighted to go for Tenerife from Plymouth, is taken [by a Dutch man-of-war] and brought into Nantes. No remedy but patience. This is the fruit of our unhappy war. …
73. to William Clerke
1 April 1653
a. I have yours, 16 Jan. and 17 Feb. For what concerns your joint affairs I have written you and Mr Gowen Paynter the needful per this conveyance, to which crave reference. I perceive upon Don Cristobal de [Alvarado] Bracamonte's arrival wines did rise, being then in expectation of several ships from London. But upon mine, 11 Dec., the factors were much discouraged by reason of the defeat given us per the Hollanders, at which time both you and my father-in-law had a very good opportunity to buy up some wines. But I doubt you did not avail yourselves of the good occasion. I much question wherever you will have the like occasion as long as ever you live in the Island. What is past cannot be recalled.
My last unto you was of 12 March where I wrote you at large; but Mr Chalk [the Mary] being nimble and the wind came fair, left my letters behind, in which ship there goes 1/8 part of 500 quarters of wheat for your proper account. And the like you have in the ship's tonnage homewards, which I hope you will load in good liquors. When not, cannot want to let it out to freight for more money than you are to pay. Had your advice come per the Agreement 2 days sooner, we would have endeavoured to have persuaded the owners that Mr Chalk might have touched at Safi, but it came too late.
I formerly writ you at large per the ship Golden Star [Capt. John Holman] of Plymouth, of 4 Jan., the copy of which I sent you per Mr Steniquer who, I understand, is safe arrived at Oratava. I then sent you an invoice of Don Carlos' coach, as also of those syrups, which papers are miscarried in that the ship is taken per a Holland man-of-war and brought into Nantes. So now I return you the copies. You may add my commission, freight and insurance to the coach if you think fit. I likewise send you an invoice of goods on the Mary frigate. With much difficulty, trouble and charge, I have cleared the candles which were given over per all men for loss, there being so strict prohibition against the shipping of them out, as also butter, cheese, bacon, beef and all other victualling commodities.
73b. I take notice of your intention as to your coming home next year. I wish with my heart you may be serious in your resolution and make it your whole work, not thinking upon any other business. I am glad your mind is altered from proceeding on your Genoa design which was somewhat desperate considering the great danger now in the Straits whilst by Dutch men-of-war and some by French we have scarce a ship of late escapes them. When your contradicting order came to my hands, I had not remitted any money in regard was confident that you would not proceed on ditto design when you heard of the danger. Whereas you have given Mr Abraham Lee of San Lucar order to value himself on me here for £400 sterling for your account, whenever his bills come to hand, shall find punctual payment, of which you may rest confident.
Pray fail not send home an account of the sales of those goods Straw [Capt. of the Turned-out] left you for account of the interested in the ship Swan. In case you have not sold them, pray value them at an indifferent rate, for until that come I cannot adjust the business of that voyage nor pay Mr Jewell's legacies. Likewise, I pray, send me an answer to Mr Richard King's letter, for I cannot get in your agreement. Concerning your brother's [George Clerke's] 15 ts in Capt. Harwood [the Agreement], my confidence in your brother's promise made me neglect taking a paper under his hand. Had not you and my father-in-law done me justice therein, it might have prejudiced me above £150 as the year falls out; but I am glad you have ordered it as you did to prevent misunderstandings at home. I should have been glad to have received 2 lines touching the coach. Your silence therein makes me doubt that all things are not as they should be. If so, must impute it to ignorance, for really I did do all things according to the best of my knowledge, and moreover I took the approbation of several judicious men in the contriving of all things. If any man would lay me down £20, I would not undertake the like business.
73c. I take notice there's one West Indiaman arrived at Palma with 6,000 Caracas hides and 400 chests [of] tobacco and another at Santa Cruz [de Tenerife] from ditto place who, it seems, ask high rates for their goods. I shall not encourage you to buy any except can have them very reasonable and upon easy terms of payment. But I must tell you I account Caracas hides better worth 40Rs than Havana or Santo Domingo [at] 34Rs. At Cadiz there's arrived a frigate with 2,600 chests [of] Varinas tobacco, most part new and sold at 5s and 5s 6d per lb. The ordinary will not yield 3s, such is the difference in that commodity. Hides worth here 6½d per lb; ginger £2 per cwt; cochineal, 22s per lb; campechena, 5s per lb; sylvester, 2s per lb; indigo Guatemala, 4s 6d per lb; Havana sugars white, £6 per cwt; muscovado per rate. No commodity so staple and vendible as hides, which may serve per advice. Logwood, £18 per t; £13 per t aboard ship.
Pray let me hear from you per all vias, and give me timely advice what you will have done against next vintage, for as the times govern at present, all negotiations are difficult. Therefore it requires the larger warning, especially freighting of ships by reason of the great press for seamen to go in the States' men-of-war. And after that trouble's gone, then many times comes an embargo to stop all ships; as soon as that is over, the Hollander, he is out with a fleet and stops on the other side. Such are the hard tasks that poor merchants are put to in these times of trial. We have at present 80 men-of-war of our States' keeping the Channel, and there are now 50 sail more coming forth within 20 days. The Hollander is making great preparation to set out a great fleet which may come forth within a month. I believe this will prove a bloody summer.
As soon as I have made an end with the Guinea business [i.e. the Swan's voyage], I will draw out your account. … Capt. Harwood [the Agreement] is now at Gravesend. …
74. to William Clerke
11 April 1653.
… May please to take notice I have put aboard this ship, the Matthew, John Brampton master, a large Russia leather couch, matted up, which I should be glad may be to your liking. The just cost thereof I cannot advise you. In regard it's for so small a matter, I do not send you a bill of lading. The master I know will deliver it you at all demands.
Yesterday I writ Mr Andrews [English merchant at Terceira] a few lines directing my letters to Terceira. I admire you had not sent him per Capt. Harwood [the Agreement] a letter whereby I might have sent it him and given him order what he should do in your business. What I writ him was the ill news of the ship's [the Elizabeth and John's] being taken and how corn next harvest was like to be very cheap with you. I understand he owes several men monies in those Islands [the Azores], so that I doubt your estates must go to pay his debts.
Mr Carnaby, who was master of the Swan after Mr Pulman's decease, is here at present, who hath near £200 in gold of ours, as he acknowledges, of which I have witness, being the money made of our Negroes. But he brings me in for £90 for his wages, 18 months', and charges, diet, etc., which I will not allow but part, so that I purpose speedily to arrest him in £2,000 action, conceiving that he may not get bail for such a sum, so peradventure that way shall bring him to reason. But there's one obstacle in the business, which is that I have no letter of attorney from you, and the action must be entered in all the interesteds' names. So that if they question it we may chance to be nonsuited. Besides, if you chance to have a loss by way of insurance, I cannot sue any man without your letter of attorney. Therefore it's most absolute necessary you send one over, either to me or any other that you can repose trust unto.
Since the death of Mr [Stephen] Slaney, I have heard that he should have £3,000 in your hands. How that can be you best know; but I do not believe half the money, for I understand that you were interested onequarter part in all the wines which you have sent him these late years. Those which you have now laden in the Agreement prove but mean wines; a great many are mixed with vidueño, they being very foul, besides extraordinary bad cask. Such hath my father-in-law laden me that of 80 pipes I doubt will not make 55 pipes [because of leakage]. …
75. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
11 April 1653
… Speed me home a just account of what corn you unloaded out of Mr Waight [the Elizabeth and John] for your joint accounts, as also the charges and sales thereof; otherwise the insurers will have a commission granted them to examine the business there upon oath, which will be a means to prolong time, if you do not prevent them by sending the account beforehand. I have formerly writ you how had insured for your account £600 on ditto ship, but we must use the insurers Christian-like. I have spoken with Mr Waight who came home, passing in Capt. Harwood. I purpose, God permitting, to have him examined in the Admiralty Court next week to prove the loss. I do expect that you will allow me £20 to buy me a gelding for my extraordinary care in this insurance.
The French ambassador and our State are upon the matter agreed for a peace, so that consequently we shall have a free trade with France. Here is at present above 3,000 ts of French wines brought in as prize, taken from the Hollander, yet I do not find that it lowers the Spanish wines a farthing. The Spanish ambassador doth rage at those passages that Portugal and France should make a peace with us, being his mortal enemies. I doubt it will provoke him to quarrel with us.
Here is great talk of a hopeful vintage next year at the Canaries, as though the grapes were near ripe already. The noise of £36 and £37 per pipe makes all men to come in for Canary merchants. Some send goods for Spain, others for Bilbao, and so draw it thither [i.e. draw by bills of exchange on credits in peninsular Spain in order to buy Canary wines]. Others say they will send pieces of eight from hence. No trade so much cried up, so that I foresee you will not want ships next year to bring home your expected plentiful vintage, if the State do not hinder them. Of this I thought good to give you a hint. …
[P.S.] Pray let me hear from you per all vias, as Bilbao and Holland. Though we have wars yet the post comes every week from thence duly.
76. to William Clerke
26 July 1653
a. I have yours, 29 March, 24 April, 4 May and 12 June, which I cannot answer at full, having but 24 hours' warning of this vessel's departure, being far from hence and quickly ready. I come now to give you notice how have paid Mr Abraham Lee [of San Lucar] his order, £400 sterling, for your account. Touching Elias de Bulacia, you may be confident is not come for Holland, I having made inquiry for him. Mr Richard King hath delivered up my obligation. Mr Christopher Boone is here at present. I purpose now to demand the balance of your account of Mr Thomas Boone, he being one of those which General Cromwell turned out of the Parliament. I shall speedily make up your account with Mr Chalk [the Mary] about his freight, where shall see that you have no wrong done you. In yours of 12 June you advise sent me the costs and charges of 30 pipes of wines laden aboard the Turned-out frigate, but I find no such papers in your packet, neither the account of the sales of corn out of the Elizabeth and John nor the letter of attorney, all which papers want very much. Cannot finish the business without them.
Mr John Andrewes is newly come home from Terceira. I have demanded an account of him, though have [no] such power from you, who hath delivered it me. I find he hath left 340 milréis in the hands of Mr William Searchfield, which is all that you and Mr Paynter may expect as the proceeds of your corn sold. Of this I shall be more larger in my next. I shall endeavour what I can in the interim to make further inquiry after the business. I have written Messrs. Ackland and Davies of Bilbao that whensoever they draw the £400 on me for your account I shall honour their bills with punctual payment, on which you may rest confident. Mr Waight [Capt. of the Elizabeth and John] denies that he has received anything in account of his freight from you. Therefore, pray send the particulars. I shall order Mr Searchfield to send home your money or else to employ it in sugars.
76b. I cannot dispose of your part of the Blessing except should sell it under £20. She is now ready, bound for the Canaries. I have taken 60 ts in her. Mr Webber [formerly master of the Blessing] is in a Flemish ship of 300 ts now bound for Rochelle, so I have put in for present Mr Charles Bradick for commander, I think an honest man. But I believe when she comes home Webber will go in her again.
The generality of the wine which came in the 5 last ships proves very poor wines, being all unladen and not a pipe sold that I hear of. Wines are fallen above £6 per pipe. Here is very great preparation making for the vintage, many ships already freighted, great quantities of goods bought to go in them, and abundance of credits. And if the ships get out, of necessity will raise the price of wines higher than last year, and here must not expect the prices as formerly. Of this I thought good to give a hint, that if you intend to buy any wines, stay not till the ships arrive. I shall follow your order in not charging you with any tonnage.
In my last via Palma I wrote you of the dissolution of the old Parliament. I now give you notice how there is a new Parliament chosen by my lord General Cromwell and his Council, which sit now at Westminster.
On 2 June last our fleet met with Van Tromp and his fleet off Dunkirk, being equal in number, having about 110 sail each fleet. They fought 2 days and in the end the Hollanders run for it, insomuch that our whole fleet chased them most shamefully into Zeeland. In which fight we took 14 gallant men-of-war of theirs and sunk and burnt 8 sail more without the loss of one ship on our side, which will seem strange to you, but it's very true. Ever since our fleet have ridden upon their coast, Van Tromp is daily expected to come forth with a fleet of 140 men-of-war. I make no question but our fleet will be able to receive him. Here are 4 Holland ambassadors at present; cannot do nothing as to a peace, so will return home. …
77. to William Clerke
26 Aug. 1653
a. … [H]ave received yours, 24 June, per Mr Pitchers, with your letter of attorney, as also all such papers as concern the ship Elizabeth and John which I find to be very authentic, and without them I could not have done nothing. I am now speedily to give the insurers a dinner, when hope shall make a good end for you. At least I shall use my best endeavours and give you a speedy account thereof.
Likewise I have received an invoice of those wines laden on Turned-out frigate. After a great deal of trouble I thought now should have seen an end to that unhappy voyage. Some of the seamen of late have entered their actions against Capt. Pyle and owners [of the Swan]; and likewise those seamen's wives which died in the voyage have done the like and have yesterday obtained a sentence against the owners for their full wages, notwithstanding ship cast away, so that they are resolved to appeal to the Delegates, which is the Chancery of the Admiralty. And withal they told me this day that by the same rule I must pay them freight, desiring me to give in bail to their action, for their counsel tells them that they shall recover freight for 6 months. I have been with Dr Walker to know his approbation concerning the business, showing him the charterparty, who, I'll promise you, is very doubtful and is accounted as able a lawyer as any in England, which makes me beside myself. But I am resolved to oppose them, cost what it may, for, in my weak judgement, in justice, equity, or a good conscience, we ought to pay none, sufficient we lost our goods. Thus you may see how I am like to be plunged into a vexatious suit which will hinder me from my business. I believe if did give Pyle £100 in secret might do much, but I shall not do it. I think you will say the charter-party is as well made as ever you saw any. The words run thus: that I shall pay 6 months' freight at the expiration of 8 months. But my lawyer replies for objection that clause does not cut off the owners from receiving any freight in case the ship do not serve out full 8 months or should be lost within the time. I shall take the advice of one or 2 more, being resolved not to starve the cause. In the meantime I shall put some friends that have a power over Pyle to dissuade him from proceeding this way, if it be possible. I pray with the first let me have your advice. In the meantime, be sure shall lose nothing that may be advantageous unto us. I shall so order it that they shall not bring it to trial this 9 months. Capt. Pyle is the stickler because was forced to pay the wages. As yet there stands out owing £300 per insurance on our general policy. Alderman Berkeley, who died, owes £200, and his sons are in law who shall take out the administration, so know not whom to sue. There's £100 more owing by 2 or 3, which hope shall speedily get in. Likewise, Alderman Berkeley is in £100 loss upon the Elizabeth and John. The man left a good estate as I am credibly informed.
77b. Mr Jewell's father and I cannot agree. He endeavours to make his son's will null and void, pretending he was not in his true senses when made it, and so consequently will cut off all legacies. [See 63a.] For my own part, I value them not; only seeing it was his love, I am resolved will have it. But my resolution is to bestow it on Mr Pulman's 2 children who are left, poor souls, in a very sad condition. Had not Capt. Pyle troubled me, was resolved to have given Mrs Pulman £20 out of the joint stock, but now must not be too liberal, fearing the worst. I have near finished your account. Had I but settled this unhappy business, I should have sent it per the vintage ships; but in case I see no hopes of composure, then I will send you account of the rest and leave that to be perfected hereafter.
Mr Perryman from Palma, laden for account of Mr Bradick and Mr Spicer, was taken last week off our Land's End by a Flemish man-of-war and carried into Brest. Sugars and all sort of West India goods are low at present; only hides a good commodity, worth 7d per lb. I understand there lies a good parcel at Palma of Caracas hides unsold, which might be money gotten by them. They are worth 26 livres per hide now in Rouen, a great price, and like to rise both here and there for I know of none to come. Campeachy wood begins to rise now, worth at present £18 or £19 per t. If cheap, send a quantity. For all other India goods, meddle not with them.
Good wines will be in request this year, I mean Canaries, for there lies at Cadiz, Gibraltar and Malaga 20 sail of Holland men-of-war which intend to take up their abode there for this winter. So consequently, they will block up those ports that we shall scarce have any Jerez or Malaga wines, which will advance Canaries, which may serve per advice. Here are many ships providing for your vintage, only want men to carry them out.
77c. Here enclosed I send you a coranto which I received this week from Rouen, to which refer you. Mrs Mary Leigh entreated me to take for her 20 ts freight for the Canaries and so home, which I have done upon the Charles of London, burthen 160 ts, whereof Charles Saunders is master. You are to pay per charter-party £5 per t. For the disposal thereof I refer you to her advice, supposing it's upon account of what Mr Fernando Body and company owes her in her behalf. I pray do the part of a friend in getting in what you can for her, she being a gentlewoman, that her condition is somewhat to be pitied, having scarce a faithful friend that she can trust unto. I should be glad to have 2 lines from you how Thomas Leigh [Clerke's apprentice] behaves himself and how you like him.
I do now daily expect Messrs. Davies' and Ackland's bills for the £400 for your account, which shall be punctually paid when due, of which rest confident. I have not spoken with Mr John Andrews this month. There's money due upon your particular account besides the 340 milréis in Mr Searchfield's hands, which he should pay here. But of late he appears not. He is a very poor man. I doubt shall scarce get anything more of him. Rather than fail, I'll give him 12 months and a day for payment so can get security, though I have no such order from you. Here enclosed I send you a letter which he sent me days past, for I sent him word I would arrest him if did not come and give me satisfaction.
I do forbear to give you the particulars of the great fight between our fleet, consisting of 120, and the Hollanders, about 112 sail, on 2 Aug. [off the Texel], referring you to Mr Lambell and Capt. Russell. But, in brief, they fought most desperately on both sides, never the like fight since the creation, by all men's reports. We sunk, burnt and destroyed all the menof-war which we took of theirs in the fight, which were near 30 sail, took 1,200 men prisoners, killed Van Tromp, their general, and beat them into their ports. We lost 2 ships and about 1,000 men killed and more hurt, our ships very much tattered and torn, but now are made ready again, the most part. We have at present 120 sail which will be ready all within a week. The Hollander hath a great fleet making ready which will be speedily out; no hopes of any composure. Capt. Russell [of the Katherine] will give you an account what the State owes us besides £380 which he shared days past. …
[P.S.] Per Pedro Ribete shall send you your case of rich spirits, etc., who may be ready next week.
78. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
18 Nov. 1653
a. I shall now answer yours of 20 June. At Mr John Andrews' first arrival here [from Terceira], I demanded an account of him in your names by virtue of those procurations I have from you, who with much ado gave me one, the true copy thereof I here send you. The original thought fit to keep here, on which he owes you 104, 669 réis, reduced into sterling at 10s per milréis is £52 5s 5d, besides 23½ hannecks of wheat which Mr Waight [the Elizabeth and John] took, pretending to be his when it was yours, for which he allows £22 6s 6d. So that in all he owes you £74 11s 6d as appears per the account which I here send you. The day after we adjusted it he came to me and pretended that he was short of money and had not £10 to command in England, upon which I was so reasonable, considering the man's poverty, as to give him 12 months' time for payment thereof, provided he gave me his bond with good security, which he promised would do. But from this day to that I never saw him nor cannot hear of him, but I am credibly informed he is not worth a groat, so that you may put this debt on the backside of your day-book. The reason why he came short upon this account was that he paid some of his debts at the Azores with your monies. As I formerly writ you, he hath delivered me an obligation under Mr William Searchfield's hand for 334, 775 réis, which money I have ordered ditto Searchfield to invest in Brazil sugars and to send it me home per first ships.
I shall now give you an account of what passeth about your £600 which was insured on ditto ship from the Azores to the Canaries. Upon Mr Waight's arrival I caused him and one of his men [Thomas Grey] to be examined in the Admiralty [Court] whereby to prove the loss, and, having order to take out the depositions, perusing them with my counsel, Dr Exton, the policy being for your accounts. And Waight and the other man, whether ignorantly or wilfully, they have sworn positively the corn to be for my account, not so much as mentioning you, which is clear contrary to the assurance. So that I durst not go to a trial for their evidence will overthrow our cause. Thus you may see how knaves may ruin a man. Ever since that time I cannot see Waight; I am informed is gone for Barbados. What to do in this business I know not. The insurers will take advantage upon their depositions. Now in case they had sworn the truth, that the corn was yours, yet we could not have recovered the £600 because it was not a loss but an average, by reason some corn was landed. At first I could not believe any such thing, but since I have been better informed and am convinced it's so by the ablest merchants that walk the Exchange and my counsel. Besides, there's several precedents of the very same nature upon record in the Insurance Court, which undoubtedly they will judge this accordingly. So that all you can expect to recover from the insurers is, viz. first, the policy is valued at £1,200 sterling, and there's insured £600, so that now we must produce an account what the cost [was] of those goods which were aboard the ship at her departure from the Azores, and the one-half thereof must be paid by the insurers, and the other half you must bear yourselves by reason the valuation was £1,200. So that this insurance will come very short of what you or I expected at first. Had you landed no corn, there had been no dispute, but had recovered the whole, so that by your own diligence getting goods ashore you are prejudiced. Though it be law, I am sure it's not equity. I shall advise you hereafter what passeth in this business. In the meantime, if possible, I'll see where can bring the insurers to any agreement. I wish had 30 per cent of what is insured. You may imagine this is no small trouble to me, however be confident no diligence shall be wanting in me to promote your interest.
78b. There's £200 yet not recovered of that insurance made on the Swan which Alderman Berkeley's executors owe. Capt. Pyle and I am like to have a trial next term in the Admiralty Court about £900 freight which he demands for 6 months, a thing very unjust. The seamen's wives which died in the voyage, being 14, have recovered wages of him, else I believe he would not have minded to sue me. I sent you a copy of our charterparty. I think you will say it's as authentic a one as ever you saw. The advantage which they find in it is in these words following: 'provided that if the ship be well, and in the service of the said merchant at the expiration of 8 months, and not coming home, that then upon certificate or certain advice the said merchant shall pay 6 months' pay'. To which I answer that the ship was not well nor in my service at the 6 months' end ergo no freight due. Upon this I have been with 2 of the ablest lawyers in the Admiralty and given them large fees whereby to deal really with me, and they both conclude that Pyle will receive freight of me, first because they have condemned him to pay men's wages, though he proved in Court that he shipped them upon the same terms as he let the ship to freight, to have no wages due till 8 months were expired. But the judges are very favourable to the seamen nowadays by reason the State have occasion to make use of them in this juncture of time, having wars with Holland. My counsel gave for reason thus: that though it were certain I had freighted the ship for 8 months, yet the charter-party does not say positively that in case the ship be cast away within the expiration of that time that the owners shall have no freight; ergo it lies in the judge's breast, from which God deliver us. They say the same law which condemned Pyle to pay wages will me to pay freight, so that we are like to make a black voyage of it. If possible, I shall get the difference to be arbitrated rather than stand to a trial, though I have no such order from you. This Guinea voyage hath from the beginning been to me a vexatious business. God grant I may once see an end to it [so that] I may be able to perfect that account.
78c. We have had very stormy weather of late, NW winds which are bad for the coast of Holland. The Dutch have 14 sail of their men-of-war cast away which ride in the Texel, besides many others torn and some cut their masts by the board, which hath somewhat disabled them for coming out so suddenly as we expected. Upon which our States have disembargoed all ships; otherwise they had not gone hence till after Christmas, I mean the vintage ships which remained here.
We shall speedily have 100 sail men-of-war forth. The Hollanders have 4 ambassadors here at present; as yet have concluded upon nothing, nor do I think they will, so that consequently we are like to have a bloody summer and very dangerous. Here's news there lie 10 sail of Holland men-of-war at the Strait's mouth, which have taken several of our merchant ships and 'tis like[ly] will do further mischief. I doubt poor William Chalk [Capt. of the Mary] will hardly escape them, being bound for Malaga from thence [Tenerife].
Here are letters of 20 Oct. [from Malaga] where they writ have a very short vintage, not half so much wines as last year. Here is some newly arrived which proves some good and some bad, much inferior to last year's wines, as yet none sold. Canaries will not yield above £30 per pipe this year except they are very rare indeed. As yet no ship arrived from thence. West India goods do now begin to rise: hides worth 7d per lb; logwood, £19 per t, a great charge upon it; cochineal, 30s per lb; campechena, 6s per lb; indigo, if not hardbacked, worth 5s per lb; Varinas tobacco, if right, 6s per lb. …
79. to Gowen Paynter and William Clerke
10 Dec. 1653
I have written you at large per Mr Jenkins [the Sarah] and sent the copy per Capt. Wall, to which crave reference. These are chiefly to advise you how within this 20 days logwood is risen £10 per t, worth at present £28 per t and like to rise, a thing contrary to the expectations of all men. But of late here have come orders for the buying up of above 150 ts to send for Rouen where it's worth 30 livres per kt. Now I am informed per an Indian which came in the Biscayner how there's great quantities of Campeachy wood in Tenerife to be sold, which, if so, now is the time for you to make an engagement for a good quantity, 3,000 or 4,000 kts, by which there will be money enough gotten by it, and I suppose their order of payment will be accommodating. Besides, if you are not minded to adventure it home within a month's time, when the general advice of all men comes there, I am confident they will give you good profit there for it again in the Island. You need not fear of any to come here to lower this market for at San Lucar and Cadiz there's not 100 kts as per advice. Perhaps may get more money by it than if had laden 1,000 pipes wines for your accounts this year. You may do therein as you think fit. Were I there I would employ all that I have in the world in ditto commodity. If you buy any, I shall take it as a favour you will interest me a part with you. Advise me where shall send you a ship, per whom shall send you what effects you think needful. Campechena worth 6s 6d per lb; indigo, 5s per lb. If you do anything, you must be nimble. …
[P.S.] Hides worth 7½d [per lb]. In Rouen those of Caracas, 28 livres [per hide], ditto Havana or Santo Domingo, 22 livres. Campechena, 6 livres per lb.