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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80. to William Clerke
22 Jan. 1654
I have written you per several ships this vintage at large, to which crave reference. But as yet have not had the happiness to receive a line from you, at which I do not much admire in regard I hear you were at Gran Canaria. Here are several passengers come from Dartmouth by land from the Peter, Capt. Pedro Ribete, who is safe arrived there about 25 days since and as yet not come into the river but hourly expected. I am told Pedro Ribete hath letters for me but told the passengers would deliver them by his own hand. I have a great desire to have a few lines from you. I hope you are not angry with me, though I confess I have not been so good as my word with you about your account.
This small vessel [the Agreement, Capt. John Mourton] I bought between me and Mr Thomas Warren in halves; and having a few pilchards in the West, by great chance, I have ordered them to be sent in this vessel, seeming could get no other in all the West Country for to carry the fish away, being about 120 hhds, which were all that I could get for love or money.
The wines in general from Orotava and Rambla prove this year very miserable stuff, such trash as I never saw the like. Only those from Garachico being made before the rain fell prove pretty wines, especially those which came in Hedgethorn's and Bean's [ships] laden by Mr [Henry] Negus and Mr George Webber and company. I had a few from my father-in-law in Capt. Garvis Russell [the Katherine] which proved very ordinary, but I took my first chapman and have sold them at £33 5s per pipe and most men's wines unsold. Within this 20 days wines are fallen above £4 per pipe. I leave you to judge what a market Steward and the rest will come to. I am glad you were so judicious as to foresee the palpable loss which most men are like to sustain this year. I account myself a happy man that I have sold my wines. Were they to sell now, really they would not yield the money by £500 in the parcel.
There is a small vessel now in Plymouth which is to touch in Santa Cruz [de Tenerife] by whom shall write you more at large. In the interim I hope shall receive my letters per Pedro Ribete. West India goods bear great prices: hides, 7¼ per lb; logwood, £27 per t; indigo, 5s 6d; cochineal, 27s per lb; campechena, 6s 6d per lb; Varinas tobacco, if good, 6s per lb; Caracas hides in Rouen worth 27 livres, ditto Santo Domingo or Havana, 21 livres per hide; Campeachy wood, 26 livres per kt; campechena, 6 livres per lb as per advice from thence [Rouen] at last post, which may serve per advice.
Little hopes of any peace with Holland. Here is great preparation making for a summer fleet to consist of 200 sail of men-of-war and to lie and block up Amsterdam and Flushing as last summer. The Hollander durst not encounter our fleet. I look upon them as in a sadder condition than we by far.
81. to William Clerke
10 Feb. 1654
a. I have written you at large of 22 Jan. per Mr Mourton [the Agreement] via St Sebastian, a small vessel which took in 100 hhds of pilchards which I sent my father-in-law. And since, I have received yours of 2 and 4 Dec. per Pedro Ribete who was a month in the West Country and did not send up his letter, being in hopes every day to get up and deliver them himself, as he pretends.
Considering how the year proves, you have done very prudently in not buying a pipe. Those gentlemen which have their wines now coming home will be sufficiently soaped, else I am very much mistaken in my judgement. Wines are fallen £5 per pipe of what they were worth 2 months since. Mr Christopher Boone sold 50 pipes of Don Luis Benitez' wines yesterday at £24 per pipe, which once was proffered £30 for them. Indeed they were trash. Antonio Fernandez [Carvajal] hath sold this day 40 pipes of wines out of a cellar of 70 pipes at £28 per pipe. The refuse which they leave will not make £10 per pipe. I will not excuse Don Balthazar [de Vergara Grimón] and that gang for 10,000 Ds loss this year upon their wines, of what they cost them put here with all charges. Such may be their success henceforward. I shall not give you more particulars, but by this you may judge a little more or less what the trade of Canary wines will be for this year. Indeed there are some few men which had indifferent good wines from Garachico, as Mr Bonfoy and others, which have sold at good prices. Amongst all I have not sold at the worst price, £33 5s per pipe.
81b. I have written you and Mr Paynter at large concerning your insurance on Mr Waight's ship [the Elizabeth and John] and in what a condition it lies that I durst not meddle further as yet. Here is a ship arrived from Terceira, but not a penny return for your account [due from John Andrews], nor so much as a letter from Mr William Searchfield, at which I admire. The world is grown to that pass that it is a rare thing to find an honest man. I shall write Mr Searchfield per next conveyance; and if do not answer that, must send a procuration over to some for its recovery. Since my last, no news of Mr John Andrews, your debtor, nor the master [of the Elizabeth and John, Thomas Waight]. And as for Daniel Coult, he was taken by the Turks going over in the Blessing. So much for that unfortunate business.
I shall now come to give you an account of our Guinea business. As yet cannot get a penny of Alderman William Berkeley, [i.e.] his executors, for the £200 he is in by assurance. Since my last joint letter writ you and Mr Paynter, I have endeavoured by several means and ways to bring Capt. Pyle [partowner of the Swan] to a right understanding of our difference, sometimes by friends' persuasion and other times by threatenings. And at last, I thank God, have brought my designs to take effect. To tell you the particulars, it would be too tedious, but such was my condition with vexation that I could scarce rest at night, that after we had lost almost all should pay freight, and such a considerable sum, which could not have been avoided had he put it to a trial. It cost me above £5 in counsel about the charter-party, and all the lawyers that ever saw it told me that I must pay it. It would make you laugh if you knew which way I got off, which I am enjoined to be private though you be most concerned in it, neither do I think you will be so curious as to know when you hear the end. In fine I have got in my charter-party and cancelled it. I shall be very cautious how I bruise wax another time. And it cost me but £40 which I paid Capt. Pyle, which, had he stood upon terms, really I would have given him £200 rather than gone to trial. But there are times and seasons for all things. I got him in the mood and did business, and since, I am sure, he hath repented, and his owner [William] Bulkley is very much vexed with him. And thus in brief I have given you an account of our Guinea business.
81c. Be pleased to take notice I have paid Mr Ackland's and Davies' [of Bilbao] order, £400, for your account. They put 12 per cent premium to your account, but that do not concern me. Only, as you are my friend whose interest I do esteem as my own, give me leave to acquaint you that therein they do you wrong, except you have absolutely agreed so with them, for at present, and anytime this 12 months, the exchange hath gone plata for sterling at 4s per piece of eight. As for example, a piece of eight, being 8Rs, it's brought here, and, if [of] Mexico or Seville [stamp], it's worth 4s 4d; then, deducting out freight charges and insurance, etc., it makes not out above 3s 10d per piece of eight. As for the money I received of Mr [Christopher] Boone and [Richard] King, I make you good the same value in sterling. I wonder you do not order me to send goods for Seville whereby to have effects there and to make advance outwards upon your goods. It would be far more advantageous to you than drawing the money [on London via Bilbao]. You may do therein as you think fit.
I am glad to see you go recovering in your debts. There's some hopes of your personal appearance here shortly. I could wish my father-in-law would take the same course, but instead of that, I doubt he makes more [i.e. sales on credit] daily. You shall not be many months without your account. I should be sorry I should occasion your stay there upon that score.
I perceive you were about buying a large parcel of West India goods. If you went through with the bargain, blame me for giving such encouragement if you suffer thereby. India goods have not been so high in England and France since I have resided here: hides worth 7½d per lb; logwood, £26 per t; cochineal mesteque, 26s per lb; campechena, 6s per lb; indigo, 5s 4d per lb; Varinas tobacco, if good, 6s per lb; Caracas hides worth in Rouen 27 livres [per hide]; ditto Havana or Santo Domingo, 22 livres; logwood, 26 livres per kt. Mr James Cowes is newly arrived at Falmouth with most of aforesaid commodities, which come to a very great occasion. Though there come 6,000 hides, it cannot fall the market.
81d. I perceive you and my father-in-law have had some discourse about a design, viz. to have me send you a ship against Lent with about 300 hhds of pilchards, which had your advice come sooner, I could not have effected it because no pilchards to be had this 3 months, and those which I sent at the first of the year in the Blessing cost 9s per m. These which I sent in Mr Mourton [the Agreement] were taken since Christmas unexpected, and for my life I could not get a hhd more than she carries. This ship carries 50 hhds or thereabouts which my cousin [John] Paige of Plymouth hath been 2 months laying up for his own account. Now to freight you a pretty vessel per month, I think really I shall not be able to get one from hence. The times are so difficult owners care not to let their ships. Mr Chalk [the Mary] is now arrived from Malaga, of which ship I own part. She is about 100 ts. The owners will not let her a farthing under £120 per month which I will never give. I proffered £100 and they make slight of it. Neither will they oblige to carry the ship into the Downs by such a day, nor that she shall go full-manned by reason of the great difficulty of getting men in these times of trial to men's patience, so that I am resolved to desist to do anything till next ships come from the Canaries, per whom hope shall hear from you. …
[P.S.] Mr Boone and your brother [George] have promised to me that we may discourse and end your differences very speedily. You may please to take notice that I paid [Capt.] James Blake £12 9s for your account towards the setting out of your 1/16 part of the Constant John, Mr [Richard] Lant refusing to pay it and hath delivered up your bill of sale unto your brother. Be pleased to order therein as you think fit.
82. to William Clerke
10 March 1654
I have written you at large per the Agreement, Mr Mourton, and likewise per the Golden Cock, but the former per accident came too late so both went per the Golden Cock. I have now received yours of 28 Jan. per Mr Smyth, by which perceive you have bought a considerable parcel of West India goods in Santa Cruz [de Tenerife], hides, logwood and most part campechena and sylvester. The last is not a commodity to send here, being not worth anything. The 3 first sort commodities as hides worth 8d per lb; logwood, £25 per t; campechena, 6s per lb; indigo, 5s per lb; Varinas tobacco, 6s per lb if good; ginger a very drug, not worth 30s per cwt and at Lisbon not worth 4 milréis per kt of 132 lbs, as per advice, there being 150 ts arrived there. Genoa is the best market you can send that commodity to.
If you draw the £600 on me, I shall see your bills honoured and paid. You desire to have a ship of 120 ts freighted between you and my fatherin-law per month, which I cannot procure a pretty vessel except give an extraordinary rate never known. Now I am informed there's a ship arrived [at Tenerife] from Spain of 160 ts which comes to seek a freight, so I know not where you may furnish yourself there or no. Besides, I have sent my father-in-law a small vessel of 75 ts [the Agreement], so that in one or other I conceive you may send home some goods. So that I shall desist freighting a ship till I hear further from you. But if any ship go from hence per t to return home, as I suppose there will within a month, then I shall take 50 ts freight in her and charge upon you, upon which you may depend. If the Havana man arrive, you may do well to buy up her hides especially, for they are a staple commodity here at all times.
83. to William Clerke
1 April 1654
a. My last unto you was of 11 Feb. via Plymouth, to which crave reference for what then proffered. Since which have received yours of 27 and 29 Jan. The last came to my hands but lately. You there desire me to freight a ship of 120 ts for your account and my father-in-law's per month, which I cannot get, as the times now govern, none upon those terms except I would take some ordinary or old vessel which I know will not be fit for your turn. And those ask unreasonable prices, no less than 20s per month for every t, a rate which I shall not give. I would fain have had Mr Chalk [the Mary] or Brampton [the Matthew], but neither would go except per t, and now both are freighted. Now seeing I sent out a small vessel [the Agreement] to my father-in-law about 7 weeks since with a few pilchards, I suppose he will load home his West India goods upon ditto, so that I shall not adventure to charge him with any tonnage till hear of her arrival and how disposes of her. I perceive you have bought a large parcel of West India goods in Santa Cruz [de Tenerife] and, seeing you depend upon my sending a ship to fetch it away, I have this day freighted a pretty new frigate [the Peter and Anne, Capt. William Chamlett] of 80 ts, 10 guns, to go from hence to Tenerife and so home at £5 per t, and with much entreaty. In which vessel I shall charge you with 40 ts for your account; the rest Antonio Fernandez Carvajal takes. Which vessel, I conceive, will be ready within 15 days, but it will be a very difficult thing to get her out in these vexatious times. Never was the like pressing as at present. Here are 3 Holland ambassadors now treating with the Lord Protector, but I doubt whether they will agree. The vessel's sudden departure will, I doubt, prevent me sending goods for your account, yet I shall endeavour to send you something, though you never sent me a memory, nor my father-inlaw, until Mr Lambell came home, which is not 15 days since.
83b. What money you draw upon me I shall see your bill [of exchange] punctually paid. It had been better you had ordered me to send goods for Spain and to have advanced upon your goods and not to have drawn sterling money at 12 per cent loss as Mr [John] Wheake of Bilbao puts to your account, which is very disadvantageous to you.
I am credibly informed Mr Henry Lee of San Lucar, your correspondent, is going for Barbados, being much engaged in the country and likewise here, so that he is looked upon as an insolvent man, which I thought fit to give you a hint of. In case you want an able man to do your business in Cadiz, make use of Mr Richard Ducke, of whom I have had sufficient experience. I believe in discourse of time you will give me thanks for recommending you to him.
Pray per first advise me where you will comply with this tonnage and what shall insure for your account homewards. Hides worth 7½d per lb, the only staple commodity of all West India goods; Campeachy wood worth £24 per t; campechena, if good, 6s per lb; cochineal, 28s per lb; sylvester, a very drug, not worth 20d per lb; ginger, 30s per cwt; new Varinas tobacco, 6s per lb. You cannot send too many hides for they are a great commodity in Rouen. I would have charged you with 10 or 20 ts more in this pretty frigate [the Peter and Anne], but could not get it.
Canary wines prove very bad in general. Only Steward's wines prove good, and another small vessel which Mr [John] Turner laded; most part sold for £35 per pipe. I am confident there will be above £10,000 loss upon wines this year from the Canaries. Some men cannot get £18 for their parcel round, Mr John Bewley for one, Mr Richard King for another. Don Balthazar [de Vergara Grimón] will lose above £3,000 this year by his wines, besides several others which will be too tedious to particularise. I understand you have had much rain this year. If so, I hope a plentiful vintage will ensue. In case you intend to have any tonnage at vintage charged on you, it will be necessary that you give timely advice, else it will be impossible to get a ship out in these difficult times. Seamen's wages are at 50s per month. …
84. to William Clerke
25 April 1654
a. … I have received yours of 28 and 29 Jan., 15 and 17 March. Thereby perceive you have bought a very considerable parcel of West India goods and that you desire a ship per month. But before your advice came to my hand, I had sent my father-in-law a small vessel [the Agreement] with some pilchards, which I conceive would bring away his goods, upon which consideration I did forbear. Besides, at that time I could not get a complete frigate as I know you expected, the times being dangerous and men not to be got for money. Now whereas you desire to hear from me what market will be most proper and beneficial for your West India goods, indeed I know none like England at present, and next to that Rouen. As for Lisbon, it's very bad, hides not worth above 2,700 réis; ginger, 4,000 réis per kt. Now you must note that [Portuguese] money is as bad as vellon in Spain, so that considering all things, you had as good have a ship freighted per t to come for London as to have one per month and not to have your goods lie there till the markets lower, which, in all probability, they may hereafter.
Now you may please to take notice how I have taken 40 ts freight or the one-half of this frigate called the Peter and Anne, whereof William Chamlett is master, at £5 per t, to return for London. She is to go to any of the Islands. The other half is freighted by Señor Antonio Fernandez Carvajal who loads his part in wines. Now in case the ship's days be out before she reaches Santa Cruz [de Tenerife] then in such case they are to pay half demurrage. For by particular agreement between the freighters, you are to have the ship as many days in Santa Cruz, etc., as they [Fernandez Carvajal's factors] in Orotava or Garachico. But I hope there will no occasion be of these things, conceiving you will dispatch her away long before the days are expired, being summer season.
84b. You writ me your parcel consists of hides, wood, campechena and sylvester, the most part of the 2 last commodities. You may do well to load home your hides in this ship and what wants to fill up with wood and campechena and some sylvester, assorted, but most hides, which are now worth 8d per lb; Campeachy wood, £23 per t; campechena, 6s per lb and sylvester, 2s 8d per lb to 3s if very good. Here enclosed I send you a coranto which I received from Rouen where those goods bear good prices but not altogether so much as the bill specifies. You may please to give my father-in-law a view thereof. If any hides chance to come in from Havana or Caracas, you may do well to buy a parcel. No India commodity so staple as that. Here is come and expect a great quantity of Campeachy wood, which I doubt will somewhat lower the price, though not much. I am sorry you are so plagued with a rigorous Judge [of the Indies]. I doubt he will undo the [West] Indians and cause them to forsake the Islands, which will be a great hindrance unto that trade.
I cannot do anything as to the insurances made on Mr Waight's ship [the Elizabeth and John]. In my former gave you notice how had made an end with Capt. Pyle about the Swan's charter-party. Alderman Berkeley, which owes us £200 by insurance upon ditto voyage and £100 upon Waight, he being dead, is now found to be a beggar, so that I do despair ever seeing a penny of that money. It is not I alone that am thus injured. He owes for losses above £8,000.
By yours, 15 March, I perceive you do not take it well that had none of mine by the Agreement. It was unhappily left behind. Had your letter per Capt. Pedro Ribete's ship been sent me up immediately upon the ship's arrival in the West Country, assuredly I had interested you in the Agreement's pilchards, for there was never anything that you desired in that way since our first correspondency that ever I scrupled or denied you an interest in where you desired it. Likewise your letter per Capt. Wall was not delivered me in above a month after the ship arrived in Plymouth and Falmouth, and when a man taxes them for their neglect, their excuse is that your grand charge is that they deliver them by their own hands. Therefore, for future, pray order them to send up their letters per post in case they stop in the West Country, which is a very sure conveyance.
84c. In my last via Plymouth I gave you an account of the state of your business with Mr John Andrews, who is gone God knows where. I will not give you a groat for all your debts, only that which remains in the hands of Mr William Searchfield. I shall now once more give order to have it come home in Mr Brampton [the Matthew] who is bound that way. You writ though Waight has made a bad affidavit that things may be put to rights by those papers as invoice, account, etc. To which I answer that it's not worth a rush in law except oath be made. Were the insurers honest men, it's possible your papers might be credited, but they are wrangling knaves. [See 78a.]
The peace with Holland is now concluded and tomorrow it's proclaimed. Seeing I send you no ship per month, I conceive it needless to write my correspondents' names. However, seeing you desire it, I shall not omit it: at Lisbon, Mr Edward Chappell; at Rouen, Mr Humphrey Wilkings; at Amsterdam, John Schanternell; at Nantes, Mr [Lewis] Ackland, as Mr Holle [who is leaving Nantes for London] hath advised you. I am now sorry I had not taken this whole vessel [the Peter and Anne] to have brought away all your goods. If you can get tonnage, may do well to send it home, for without question now will be the best market. Your bill [of exchange] of £400 payable to Mr John Turner's order is come to hand and likewise the other of £250 payable to Mr William Cary, both which have accepted and shall be duly paid when grow due. I have likewise sent you a small parcel of goods in this ship for your account, as per invoice and bill of lading appears, which goes in another letter written you per this conveyance, to which refer you. I would have sent you a few ozenbrigs but could not get you a vara for money at present. In case you will have any tonnage taken against vintage, pray give your orders in time, for good ships will be taken up by 1 July at furthest. As yet no news of the Agreement, God send her well home. I am now making insurance on her.
I have put above £1,000 worth of goods aboard this ship for the account of my father-in-law and myself, which hath been bought most part this 4 months. It goes upon your tonnage out, seeing the ship would have gone empty. I hope you will be so favourable as to take no freight, when not, I leave it to you to do therein as you think convenient. I shall be ready to do you the civility at any time.
I have received yours by Mr Fernando Body and, according to your commands, I have tendered him my service in a real way and what else he wants and shall be very ready to do him any civil office that my mean capacity reaches unto, for he is a person that I ever have esteemed deserving. I received a letter from cousin Mr David Stephens [Body's partner] to the same effect, which I cannot answer at present, but you may please to certify him my readiness as to that particular. …
85. to William Clerke
27 May 1654
My last unto you was of 25 April per the Peter and Anne, since which I have not heard from you, which makes me brief at present. We are now in expectation of Mr Mucco, Mr Mourton [the Agreement] and Capt. Knowles who do now begin to tarry. I do much fear your new Judge [of the Indies] hath mounted some mischievous demur to their dispatches. I wish my jealousies do not prove true in the end.
Since my last here are now strange designs in agitation. As 'tis generally conceived, we have at least 40 sail of men-of-war now sheeted and may be ready within a month to proceed their design. It's affirmed they are to go against the Spaniard, to lie off Cadiz in July to meet the galeones and from thence for the West Indies. Now the thing which does the more confirm these jealousies is that last week there came down an order from the Council at Whitehall to the Commissioners of the Prize Office to make sale of all such goods as they had under seizure of the Spaniards, as well that which was freed by decree in [the High Court of] Admiralty, as also that which was not condemned at all, a thing not to be parallized [i.e. paralleled] in England this many years. But since the peace with Holland, most men cry up war with Spain, saying the fleet and army must be kept in employment and no place worth their attempting like unto the West Indies. And the Spanish ambassador is now in little esteem and seems to be very melancholy at these actings. A short time will produce the reality of these kind of affairs.
I am now sorry I did not charge you with more tonnage in Hyatt, I say Chamlett [the Peter and Anne]. I hope he is new laden by this time. The goods will come to a pretty good occasion in my opinion: hides worth 8d per lb; Campeachy wood, £21 per t; cochineal, 24s per lb; campechena, 6s per lb; sylvester now begins to be in request, worth 3s per lb at least; Varinas tobacco, if right, 6s per lb; but no commodity like hides at all times; indigo, 5s per lb.
Here enclosed I remit you the articles of peace printed here between us and the Hollander, which pray be pleased to give my father-in-law a view thereof. The last week there was a letter of marque granted against the Spaniard in satisfaction of some injuries done above 15 years since, which is an ill omen. You may please to make use of this advice as you think fit, but pray impart it to no man. …
86. to [William Clerke]
1 June 1654
…[I]f you intend to have any tonnage at vintage, give me your advice in time. Except I find much danger, I shall not insure anything for you from the Canaries upon Mr Chamlett [the Peter and Anne]. Here is news of Mr [Thomas] Hiway's arrival at Barbados from river Gambia with 20 Negroes. He brought out 60 but they rose against the seamen who killed 40 of them, so they are like to lose half the principal. …
87. to William Clerke
11 July 1654
My last unto you was of 27 May per Mr Hyatt, the copy thereof sent via Palma, to which crave reference. Since which have not received any from you, so have little subject to insist on at present. This day is come certain news from Galicia how on 27 April Capt. Knowles with another small vessel in his company, supposed to be Mr Mucco, were taken near our Land's End by 3 Holland men-of-war and carried into Vigo, so they are prize, being taken within the limited time of the articles of peace which was 4 May. As yet no news of my small vessel [the Agreement], Mr Mourton, so now I do conclude she is miscarried likewise. Before this news came, I supposed the Judge of the Indies had detained them [at the Canaries]. I do now begin to look out for Mr Chamlett [the Peter and Anne], God send him safe. I do not apprehend at present any danger of men-of-war, therefore as yet have not insured anything for your accounts upon her. Neither shall I except she stay a month longer.
Your India goods will come to a very good occasion, else my judgement fails me. Hides worth 8½d per lb; logwood, £21 per t; campechena, 6s per lb; sylvester, 3s 4d per lb, if good; indigo, 5s per lb; cochineal, 23s per lb; Varinas tobacco, if good, 6s per lb (none good arrived in Spain, so it's like to rise); ginger, 35s per cwt. No such vendible commodity as hides; it will prove far better return than any other goods you can send.
Here are at least 20 ships freighted for the Canaries to load home with wines at vintage. I shall not take you a t except I receive your further order. Except wines prove very rare next year, they will be a very drug next year, for here are above 2,000 pipes this day unsold, which will not yield £15 the one with the other, I may justly say less, by which there will be above £20,000 loss, whosoever's share it falls to.
Our fleet of men-of-war bound to the southward are now near ready. Their preparations and provision do daily discover more and more that they are bound for the West Indies, in that they have bought up all the eager wines for beverage, with 300 ts cider, great quantities of strong waters and French brandies, all which are unproper provisions for the Straits or anywhere else. Their design is kept very private; not any commander knows of certain where they shall go.
The Portuguese ambassador [Penaguião] hath concluded a peace with the Lord Protector and yesterday signed the articles of peace, which very day his brother [Dom Pantaleon Sa] was beheaded upon Tower Hill for murdering a man some 6 months since. His brother the ambassador solicited a pardon very much but could not obtain it, upon which he is gone very much discontented but his business finished. The French ambassador is very earnest in his treaty, and it's supposed will conclude a peace very suddenly. …
88. to William Clerke
17 July 1654
My last unto you was of the 11th current under covert Mr Fernando Body. Since which time I have certain news my ship Agreement [Capt. Mourton] is taken, being one of those carried into Galicia, which was formerly conceived to be Mr Mucco, of whom there's no news as yet. Both your letters and my father-in-law's are all lost, so I am much straitened for want of advice. I do now hourly expect Mr Chamlett [the Peter and Anne], on whom I have insured for your account £700 at 4 per cent. You writ me to charge you with 25 ts per Lawrence Browning and to make you no insurance; but, seeing I charged you with 40 ts, I thought good to secure something and the rather because last post I received a letter from Falmouth where they writ me there came in 9 Flemings which ran away in their boat and left their ship within 20 leagues of Scilly where they met with 4 Turks, men-of-war. Besides, the Brest rogues have taken several ships of late. So I hope you will approve of what I have done herein. If your goods arrive safe, the market will bear higher insurance.
The miscarriage of the Canary men makes logwood to rise, worth at present £23 per t. I shall not charge you with any tonnage at vintage except receive your further orders hereafter. By Mr Mourton I understand you have the half of 60 bags of ginger, which was more than you intimated unto me, so that you will be a sufferer as well as my father-inlaw and self. No remedy but patience. The Lord restore it us some other way if it be His good will and pleasure. …
89. to William Clerke
18 Aug. 1654
a. I have yours, 3 July, per the Peter and Anne, William Chamlett. Have received out of her all according to bill of lading excepting 4 hides which the master pretends were washed overboard, being stowed upon deck. I have opened the 10 skins of sylvester and find them to prove very good, and have likewise bared every chest of the campechena, which for the most part proves not very good. The news of the galeones' arrival in Spain makes the salters hang off buying any at present, being they expect great quantities will come home in Capt. Pyle's [ship], who is now at Cadiz. If they do not buy it, I am resolved to send 6 chests next ship for Rouen, and if find that to turn to account, shall send the rest in small parcels (it will be better for sales). Besides, our peace with France is somewhat dubious; we take all their ships at sea that we meet with, and they many times procure orders from Paris to embargo Englishmen's goods for satisfaction, which makes me somewhat timorous at present. And though men do trade upon these kinds of disadvantageous terms, yet there does not want them that will adventure.
Your hides I have rather chosen to dispose of them here than send them for Rouen for the aforegoing reasons. I have sold them all at 10d per lb, a price not known in England this many years. There came home at the same time a small vessel to Mr Spicer and Bulkley which brought 900 hides; they sold theirs at 8¾d and 9d per lb. Your hides weighed in all 9,300 lbs, which was far less than I expected by above 5 lbs in a hide. I could wish you had 1,000 more to supply this good market, but I doubt it will not hold very long at these rates. Yet I believe when lowest they will yield 8d or more all this winter, which is a very good price. There's great quantities of indigo come in the galeones, which falls here to 4s per lb; logwood worth at present £24 per t, but that is a commodity that will hold long at a certain price if there come above 120 ts, of which you may take notice. Cochineal worth 25s per lb, which commodity being so cheap is a means to pull down the price of campechena, but for all, I hope I shall be able to give you a good sale of yours, though not so suddenly as I expected for it's a commodity little spent in winter. Here enclosed I send you one of John Day's bills of prices, to which refer you for other commodities.
89b. Mr Richard Lant refused to pay the master [Chamlett of the Peter and Anne] freight for the 30 ts you let Mr Leonard Clerke. He pretends to have 20 cwt English weight per t, whereas for the 12 ts which came upon the Spanish tonnage he hath paid that at 20 Island [Canarian] kts and £5 per t. It seems it was expressed in a bill of lading, but yours is obscure, as he pretends. Now the masters and owners will come upon me as being obliged per charter-party to pay according to custom, which indeed is 20 Island kts per t. Seeing Mr Lant and you are at variance, you should have been so much the more cautious to have prevented such pretences. A short time will either produce a conclusion or else a suit at law. I have incurred anger about this business for he and I have had very hot discourse about it. I am very confident both your intent in letting and Mr [Leonard] Clerke's intent taking the tonnage was at 20 kts to the t, as he gave the Spaniard. Besides, you lose 20s per t and they have the full freight as it was let out here.
I have paid Mr Holle [formerly Paige's correspondent at Nantes] £120 and am to adjust with him within 3 days. You require 35 per cent for the exchange at that time, which he makes you good but 25 per cent in account. Besides, you quote his own letter for it, to which he answers if have any such advice it's an error. But waiving all that, I have been with several of our best exchangers and seen their books how the exchange run that very week he passed the money upon me. And in reality I find it went but at 25 per cent. However, I shall not allow him the 10 per cent without your further order, of which 2 lines in your next. I find the man to be very fair and honest, but I believe no great matter of estate.
I perceive for future you desire to have nothing acted here in your business but what [I] have your order for, which I shall duly observe to the best of my mean capacity. But sure I am you will soon be weary of [this] and be of another mind in a short time, for alas such are the difficulties of times that many things happen out here you know not of there. But to prevent misinterpretations for future, pray give in your orders in full and ample advice that I not be at a stand, for so long as I am limited I shall not act beyond your order. Since I have done your business, I can make appear I have got you £500 by what I have done without your order, but to the best of my remembrance, I never lost you £50 by anything I did without your advice. I am very glad you have taken up this resolve. To me it will be a great deal of ease and quietness of mind.
89c. When I freighted Mr Chamlett [the Peter and Anne], it was upon good grounds. First you writ to charge you 25 ts upon any ship, so that I exceeded 15 ts, which was upon this very ground that you writ me, [that you] had a very considerable parcel of India goods upon your hands; and here being a rumour we should quarrel with the Spaniards, I think was a sufficient conducement to make me do what I did, if you really consider all circumstances. Besides, if these goods had remained there to come home at vintage, you had lost your market for hides and perhaps something in the other goods. And seeing Mr Chamlett stayed so long and he had a tedious passage northwards, above 5 weeks, I began to doubt him. All which I communicated unto Mr Body, your friend, whom I told you would have above £1,500 in him [Chamlett's ship, the Peter and Anne], who concluded with me it was very requisite that some insurance were made in regard at that time there were Turkish men-of-war off Asilah which took some Flemings and likewise Brest men-of-war which took several Englishmen at that time. Upon which I insured £700 for your account on her at 4 per cent, which I hope you will approve thereof, for therein I did for you as if it had been for [my] own self.
I perceive by yours you desire to have me buy a ship of about 160 ts and to put in her 14 guns, sheeted and completely victualled for 12 months. Though there have been many prizes taken of late, that trade [of buying prize ships] is now over, and at this present most ships are taken up for vintage and other voyages. So it's the worst time of year to buy that can be. Besides, a ship of those dimensions as you writ of, etc., will cost at least £1,400 set to sea. I doubt I shall not be able to get one to my mind till the vintage ships return. I have been all the Thames over and set friends to give me notice, but cannot find any. I would wish you to consider that in my opinion it's better to freight [rather than buy] a ship and ditto money [equal to the purchase price] employed in goods will turn you far better to account. I have freighted part of [the Matthew] John Crampe [recte Brampton; cf. 93a, 96a] for Malaga, who is now at Gravesend, I suppose may be home 1 Dec. He tells me will build a new frigate at his return and dispose of the Matthew which is a pretty-conditioned vessel but now begins to be old, yet will not be set to sea under £1,000 sheeted and victualled as you desire. And a hired ship per month will be as much at your command as one of your own, being well tied in charter-party. Besides, to have the whole ship and her cargo, it will be a great interest in one bottom. But you best know your own business.
89d. I shall go on investing the money of your hides in linens, which are 40 per cent dearer than they were when you had Barber [the Blessing] from Nantes [in July, 1649]. The reason is this 3 years they have scarce gathered any flax in France by reason of great drought and, secondly, their civil wars. I have not as yet had much discourse with Mr Standish about your business, he having been in the country and I somewhat busy. But I purpose, God willing, shortly to have some further conference with him. The linens you writ for will cost a great deal [of] time to lay them up. They must all be brought here, for whereas you desire to have the ship go for Nantes and fill up with pipestaves, you may take notice there's a prohibition. None shall be shipped off from thence. Besides, they are worth 200 livres per m, insomuch there have been several ships consigned there with their lading of pipestaves from the East country. Now by this you may find how times do alter trade. You limit me to send a ship for Nantes, prefixing upon that place and no other for staves. It's true, formerly they were to be laden, but now they are not. If my time were short, what could I do in such case but stay for your further order? In the meantime your design might be overthrown.
Now whereas you desire to have my correspondents' name in Barbados, Ireland and Bristol, I shall in due time give you them. But ere you proceed further, take your friends' counsel. Should you send that ship laden with Santa Cruz [de Tenerife] wines, which you write me for, to any of aforesaid places, I am sure you would lose above half your principal, especially at Bristol and Ireland, for those parts are not able to vend above 100 pipes each. And for Barbados, they are drugs there; besides, there's Mr Mucco gone there. Capt. Feeney, the Morocco Merchant, a ship that Mr Lambell hath, now gone out, and at Plymouth there's one that is to touch [at] Santa Cruz [de Tenerife] and take in 120 pipes which Mr Spicer hath sold at £10 10s per pipe, to be paid here upon exchange. Had you writ me of any such thing, I could have sold them for you before Mr Spicer, or else you should have ordered me to freight 2 small vessels, one for Barbados and the other for Ireland at first of year. But now it's too late. You may [do] well to put off your wines in truck of West India goods if possible, but to go the other way the remedy will be worse than the disease. You had better dispose of them in the country [in Tenerife] at low rates and know your loss at first.
89e. I read your joint letter to Mr Chamlett about the freighting of his vessel [the Peter and Anne] for 14 months, who answered that you had some kind of discourse about it, but coming to acquaint his owners, they by no means will not [sic] let her per month if you would give £85 per month. So what you treated with the master is even come to nothing. Neither do I send any in his room, having no order from Mr Paynter. I have only charged you with 25 ts in this ship Mary, whereof William Chalk is master, which pray see complied withal in rare wines, else you had better let out the tonnage and load none. And although good, yet we must expect no high prices this year, per advice. Pray on your part give him a quick dispatch and load good cask, well rabbeted. Here are above 1,500 pipes of ordinary green Canaries this day unsold, which I am confident will never yield the money they cost at the Canaries besides leakage, freight, custom, petty charges and racking, which is above £10 in every pipe, an unsufferable loss. Such is the fruits of hedge wines.
I shall inform myself about the permission you writ about. I doubt it will hardly be obtained except from Seville where have been several granted to bring linens for Cadiz or San Lucar. I have received 3 chests of sugar from Mr William Searchfield [at Terceira], in part your debt and Mr Paynter's; but does not so much as give me a reason why did not send the full. I shall not be wanting to write him per every via. I have paid Mr Chamlett per your order £30 and have accepted your bill [of exchange] of £100 payable to Mr John Webber or order, which shall be punctually paid when grows due. I am very sorry to hear how discourteously Mr Abraham Lee of San Lucar hath dealt with you. If he chances to come this way, I shall observe your commands, but I doubt will not travel this way because owes a great deal of money to several men here. According to your desire, I went and acquainted Mr Goldsmith, as soon as I received your letter, how if he had any goods to remit you, might freely send them aboard [the Industry], Capt. Sidrake Blake, which was a gallant ship where I have taken 130 ts. He gave me thanks but never made use of my proffer. I have received of Mr James Blake £25 for the dividend of your 1/16 part of the Constant John, his Straits voyage, for which I have given your account credit. By a letter I understand you were pleased to favour me with a token of sweetmeats from Palma per the Agreement, as Mr Lang advises me, for which I render you many thanks. I have sent you a small token per Capt. Blake's ship, which pray accept thereof as a remembrance of my best respects to your good self. It is a keg of sturgeon and a box with a dozen of neats' tongues, both marked W[illiam] C[lerke], which you may demand of one John Heamens, quartermaster of ditto ship, unto whose custody I committed them with some other things for my father-in-law. I have ordered Mr Arundell likewise to put aboard this ship [the Mary], Mr Chalk, 2 dozen barrels of oysters for you, which pray demand of the master upon his arrival.
We are now in expectation of Capt. Pyle's arrival from Cadiz every day, who will bring near 350 ts of West India goods. Till know what sorts they are, can scarce give you ample advice as to the market prices of West India goods here. In the interim, if any good parcel offer, I would wish you to secure it, especially hides, which commodity I had rather have than wines at vintage. But you must not expect such a market as had for those in Mr Chamlett [the Peter and Anne], for right I know as long as ere I live.
89f. This very instant is come an extraordinary post from the King of France to his ambassador here, how his armies have routed the Spanish forces which lay at the siege of Arras. They have killed 5,000 Spaniards and taken 3,000 more prisoners, besides all their train of artillery, and dispersed their army. Such an overthrow the Spaniards have not had this 7 years. Upon this the French will go near to overrun most part of Flanders. I look upon the Spaniards as a lost nation in those northern parts. The Prince of Conde and his army was joined with the Spaniard in this battle.
Our fleet designed for the West Indies is now ready but is detained till the new Parliament sits, which will be 5 Sept. next. Here is daily expected an extraordinary ambassador from Madrid. I could wish he were here at present. If it should so fall out that he conclude a peace, without question we shall have very honourable articles on our [part as] ever nation had. Therefore, it would be necessary that you with some friends would draw up a particular of such laws or customs in that country as do prejudice you in your negotiation, whereby they may be rectified, as assizes upon all victuals, paying custom from island to island, and that all men's estates be liable to pay their debts without any pretence of dowry made over to their wives, which generally is used to cheat their creditors. Several of abuses there are which I know you have them fresher in memory than I can have.
Your account shall be sent per Mr Standish without further delays. …
[P.S.] Since the writing of abovesaid, Mr Richard Lant and Mr Chamlett [the Peter and Anne] are agreed upon the tonnage of the logwood, abating [Mr Lant] 1⅓ t in the whole, at 20 kts per t.
90. to William Clerke
1 Sept. 1654
I have written you at large per the Mary frigate whereof William Chalk is master, to which crave reference. A copy thereof intended per Capt. [Sidrake] Blake but unfortunately came a little too late; my correspondent at Dover writes me will send it per first.
As yet I have not sold any of your grain, the salters being all combined together, but I hope in the end I shall come off with credit. To edge them on I have now sent 4 chests of the worst campechena for Rouen for your account, which will not produce so good a price there as I could wish, as per the enclosed coranto you may see, which I received this instant. You may rest assured there shall be no diligence wanting in me to advance your interest. Here enclosed I remit you a letter which came this day to my hands per which you may see the prices of linens there and pipestaves.
Per Mr Chamlett [the Peter and Anne] I shall enlarge, who most discourteously hath gone and let his ship unto Mr Robert Sweeting for Tenerife and Palma at £5 10s per t, denying that ever he made any agreement with you and Mr Paynter before Mr Standish, and avouches that he never asked you under £80 per month, under which rate he would not go, and to be paid his freight at every port of discharge. In fine he finds this freight of Mr Sweeting to turn him best to account, which he embraces. Such is the word of most seamen.
Indigo is much fallen here, worth but 4d per lb. …
[P.S.] Here is hourly expected Capt. Pyle from Cadiz who brings 800 chests of Varinas tobacco which cost but 6Rs plata per lb. I have some in him at ditto rate. I doubt it will fall much here.
91. to William Clerke
20 Sept. 1654
a. My last unto you was per Mr Chalke [the Mary] of 18 Aug. Its copy was intended to go per Mr Sidrake Blake [the Industry] but unfortunately left behind; he went through the Downs without anchoring. Since which I have 3 days past received yours of 22 July via Palma per the Giant, who is now at the Isle of Wight. In my former I gave you notice how had sold your hides in a nick of time, they being now fallen to 8d per lb. Capt. Pyle is now arrived from Cadiz very rich—brings as per advice £50,000 in silver; 1,200 chests of tobacco, cost 6 Rs plata per lb; 2,600 Caracas hides, cost 40 Rs aboard; 100 bags of cochineal, cost 80 Rs per arroba; 250 chests Honduras indigo, cost at 6 Rs per lb; 1,500 kts Campeachy wood, cost clear aboard 22 Rs per kt. I cannot understand of any quantity of campechena nor sylvester that he brings. Within a few days shall know the certainty. Here is more cochineal in town than will be spent this half 7 years. It's not worth above 20s per lb, which commodity being so low consequently pulls down the price of campechena and sylvester, for one lb of cochineal will strike a better colour and go further than 4 lbs of campechena. As yet I have not sold one chest; have sent 4 chests for your account via Dieppe to Mr Humphrey Wilkings of Rouen. When they arrive there, will fall the price above 15 per cent. Besides, you must take notice there's 13 per cent loss in weight, which is material. I shall use my best endeavour to dispose of your grain as speedily as I may, whereby to invest the proceeds in linens according to your desire as near I can.
I have now accepted your bill [of exchange] of £70 payable to Mr Throckmorton's order, which with the other bill payable to Mr [John] Webber and the money paid Mr Chamlett [the Peter and Anne], with the freight and custom of your goods in ditto comes to as much as the money of your hides, all which will lessen your cargazon. Your account shall be sent per ditto ship and its full balance, which is as much as you can desire, and of that you shall not fail of.
Now days past I received in company with Mr Body a letter from a merchant of Bilbao who writes a large narration about a permission [to import French linens, see 89e] which you should desire him to procure, but before he does anything must remit him to the value of £300 to procure it, which I shall not do, for I know he is a very unfit man to act any such thing, and I wonder you make choice of him for such a business. I have written to Seville about it, but at last I believe a gift of 4,000 Rs [to an official] in the Islands will do better than all, being they ask 10 per cent in regard the quantity is small. Mr Body informs me hath not paid above 2 per cent. I have given order to give 8 per cent for 10,500 Rs permission. I cannot find by Mr Standish that he intends to put in any such sum as you wrote me, so your cargazon will not be so great as you expect.
91b. I perceive you have notice how Capt. Knowles and Mr Mourton [the Agreement] were taken and carried into Galicia. You desire to know where made insurance on your and Mr Paynter's ginger. To which I answer that I knew not of a real's value that you had in the goods aboard [the Agreement] before Mr Sweeting and the master told me of it upon the Exchange. Besides, had I known it, without your precise order, should not have done a penny upon that commodity for the market here would not bear it. Had it come safe you had never seen 15s per cwt clear of freight, custom and petty charge and garbling with breakage. Not worth at present above 28s per cwt. Besides, had I done anything that way, you might have expected that I had given you advice thereof per Mr Chamlett, Hyatt or Cowse, as I did my father-in-law for what I insured for your accounts equally, which advice he can produce, if you desire, for your better satisfaction.
I perceive the West Indiaman from Cartagena is at last admitted and how you have thought to make an agreement with them [for West India goods] and to put off your 200 pipes wines [in exchange]. I wish you continue in that resolution, for if you send them to Barbados, Bristol or Ireland, remember these lines of mine: you shall never see half your principal. Mr Chamlett's son bought 2 chests of tobacco out of that West Indiaman and brought them home, which proved pretty good, and sold them for 6s per lb, far better than that which came from Spain. If you deal in that commodity, you must have a mighty care, for they come false packed of late, which causes great loss when they come home. There's no commodity so vendible and staple as hides. I believe between this and Christmas they will be a good commodity. I do expect to hear from you per the first vintage ships when I suppose you will alter your resolution as to buy any ship. You may see per my former part how West India goods are bought above 20 per cent cheaper at Cadiz and San Lucar than at your Islands. I have not else to enlarge at present. The fleet intended for the West Indies is now ready, only waits the new Parliament's resolutions, which is conceived will be suddenly. …
92. to William Clerke
8 Nov. 1654
I have written you at large per our vintage ships. Since have not heard from you, makes me brief at present, and more especially in that I did not hear of this conveyance an hour since. I am now to give you notice how I have sold 12 chests of your campechena grain at 6s 10d per lb, to be paid at Christmas, which, if get it 2 months after, will be well. I have sent 4 chests for Rouen which as yet is not sold. I have likewise sent 6 skins of sylvester grain there which lies unsold. That market is far worse at present than this. I shall use my best endeavour to put off the rest of both sorts that lies unsold in my hands. When done, I shall immediately invest their proceeds according to your orders. In all things you may be confident I shall do my utmost endeavour.
Here enclosed I remit you a bill of rates which I received from Rouen last post. Hides do still bear a good price both there and here, 9d per lb; good Varinas tobacco, 5s 6d per lb; logwood, £20 per t; indigo, 5s per lb; campechena against the spring will be in request; cochineal, 24s per lb; sylvester, 3s 4d per lb. No commodity so vendible as hides at all times. If there come 10,000 the market will not be cloyed, which may serve per advice.
Here is news come this instant of 20 Malaga men arrived in one fleet in the Downs laden with fruit and wines. By the fruit there will be above 35 per cent loss. The wines prove very good; cost 1,700 Rs per butt vellon. If Canaries prove right, I hope we shall sell them at £28 per pipe, I mean rare parcels.
93. to William Clerke
14 Dec. 1654
a. I have yours, 1 and 22 Nov., which I find too large for me to answer in full at present in that I have been ill this 14 days, never out of my chamber. But, blessed be God, I am at present pretty well recovered and hope within 2 or 3 days to go abroad about my business whereby to comply with your commands as near as the times will give me leave.
Since my last unto you by Mr Bulkley's vessel, I have sold no more of your grain, nor do I hear of any sold at Rouen, so I hope there's no linens bought for your account, my order being as soon as he [Humphrey Wilkings at Rouen] sold to invest it in the sort of roans you writ for. I think you have saved £500 by giving over your first proposed design. I was almost confident that you would contradict it, which made me the slower in the prosecution thereof. I find now you desire to have a ship of 120 ts freighted per month, particularizing Mr Brampton [the Matthew] above all others, who is at Malaga and not expected home this month (I have 30 ts in him), so I doubt will come too late to serve your occasions. So I purpose, God willing, to look for another and, please God, to dispatch her hence by the fine of Jan. with the pipestaves and goods you writ for, whereby she may return home in due time to go for Newfoundland, which, if be performed by all June, will be barely enough. Therefore, pray make preparation for her sudden dispatch. Were she to go directly from the Canaries to Newfoundland, I would not send her out till 1 May, for there's never no price broken here for codfish till after Easter Day, so she cannot carry any orders for her lading if she go away so soon.
Mr Standish, I understand, is in the country at his brother's. Tomorrow I purpose, God willing, to send for your cousin [Charles] Goldsmith to speak with him about your business. I am informed he is bound for Smyrna, but I doubt not but shall use such means as may persuade him to comply with your desires in some measure, though I believe he may not be overlarge. You may rest assured I shall leave no stone unturned to promote your interest herein, for I perceive it highly concerns your affairs, being very sensible of the prejudice it hath done you in disappointing you thereof.
93b. I have this day bought you 20,000 pipestaves at £11 per m first penny. I think in all London there's not so many unsold, so that those which come after, I believe, will be disappointed. Wheat cannot be shipped off at your limited price by 3 Rs per fanega, so may expect none. I have paid all your bills [of exchange] and now accepted another payable to Mr Samuel Wilson for £150, though you writ me it's £200. To this day I have not received a farthing [from sales] of your grain neither do I expect it this 2 months at least. I would not [get] for £50 [per m] the pipestaves were now to buy again. If I go through for any ship while this ship is windbound in the Downs, you may expect to hear from me. Be assured I shall lose no time whereby to comply with your earnest desire, but I doubt shall have a hard task to get a complete ship and master, for most owners care not to let their ships upon monthly voyages, especially in regard mariners are at such exorbitant rates, 40s per month a common man.
Here at present 14 sail of Canarymen now in the river unloading all at once such miserable trash as never came the like from the Canaries, by what my cooper informs me. Capt. [Sidrake] Blake [the Industry] arrived in the river as soon as Chalk [the Mary], who are now both unloading. Orotava wines prove miserable, not one good [pipe] in 10. I doubt the vintners will this year crush us. Garachico wines pretty well, especially Newman's lading. A short time will discover what our doom will be; I fear a fatal year. I hope I shall fare no worse than my neighbours. Excuse brevity. Per next shall be more larger.
Hides are worth 9½d per lb; logwood, £20 per t; indigo, 5s per lb; Varinas tobacco, 5s per lb, if right; cochineal, 23s per lb; campechena at spring I hope will yield 6s 10d per lb; sylvester, 3s 4d per lb; sugars very low.
Mr Lambell's Santa Cruz wines proved pretty wines, but I cannot give you any encouragement to send any; no hopes now selling [for] you any [of your vidueño] wines to be paid here [for export to Barbados, see 91b], there being orders given to several for above 2,000 pipes, but I conceive few will take effect. …
[P.S.] Your brother Mr George Clerke is newly married to a gentlewoman of good quality. I writ your cousin Goldsmith a note about your business, who sends me word will send your goods by the ship I send, without fail.
94. to William Clerke
25 Dec. 1654
a. I have written you at large per this conveyance already, to which refer you. Understanding this vessel is windbound in the Downs makes me adventure these few lines per post, hoping they may come in season.
Since my going abroad I have spoken with your cousin Goldsmith touching the business you recommended to my care. And, after a great deal of discourse, he promised me to send you the full of what hath in his hands of yours and to invest it in all such goods as you advise in your memory to him except ozenbrigs and Hampshire kersies, which indeed are not to be gotten for money at present. He says will make them all ready by 5 Jan. to be shipped, at farthest, which I hope he will comply withal. In the interim he shall not want all the solicitation that may be from me in your behalf. And for these goods you writ me for, shall have according to memory except the corn and Hampshire kersies.
I have been all the Thames over and for my life cannot get a vessel to my mind for you. Those ships which are new and pretty, commonly their owners give them employment. I have proffered £100 per month for Chalk [the Mary], but my partners will not let him as they say. If I find one of £100, it's too little and then perhaps hath 4 or 6 guns and one drake; and if chance to meet with one of 12 or 14 guns, then she is too big, perhaps 160 or 180 ts. So I know not what to do. I have freighted many ships since I came home but was never put to such a nonplus as at present, for I find it very difficult in that owners are loath to let ships per month, men's wages being so unreasonable. But one or other, I purpose, God willing, to go through with all the next week at farthest.
94b. I am now to give you notice how on 12 instant, Gen. Penn's rearadmiral [George Dakins] with a squadron of 12 frigates went out of Portsmouth to touch at Barbados, there to get in readiness 4,000 planters against Gen. Penn's arrival there with his whole fleet, which consists of 40 sail and carries 6,000 soldiers from hence. And this day it's written from Portsmouth how Gen. Penn is gone with the rest of his fleet, so that now we know for certain they are bound for the West Indies against the Spaniards and carry such provisions of war as never did any fleet out of England before. Gen. Blake with his fleet lies at Gibraltar, supposing to wait till the galleons come home, as it's said.
I am sorry these, my lines, should be the messenger of such unhappy tidings unto you, but in such cases it's good to be free with one's friend. I would wish you on sight hereof to prepare yourself for a storm, for surely it's near at hand. Some of our great ones give out that this fleet had gone out in June last but was delayed merely that the merchants might get home their vintage ships and estates, which indeed I am of opinion it's really so. Gen. Penn carrieth most of the ablest commanders for the West Indies coast that could get in England. Of all the merchants that reside in the King of Spain's dominions, I pity you at the Canaries, as knowing you are in that saddest condition of all men when an embargo comes, for ¾ part of your estates there is in debts and drugs, which are visible things to be all lost. Now whether the King of Spain may suspend seizing of Englishmen's estates until hears of an absolute break on our side, it's not known; but his ambassador from hence cannot but give him notice of all passages, and I am of opinion he will lose no opportunity as to a sudden embargo. Such is the sad condition of poor merchants. The Lord endow us with patience to endure such afflictions in these times of trial. I shall desire you will be private as to this particular, supposing it concerns you to be so. Were it not your positive order, I should not send you a pack of goods, but I shall no ways presume to contradict it. When it arrives there, if you have no need of it, you may keep it aboard and return it (it's but insuring it back, which may be done for a small matter) or send part for Madeira.
I have not further to trouble you at present. I should be glad you had gone through for the West India goods whereby you may dispatch home the ship I send you that so you may get some things off before this news be too public abroad. For wines, I know you can have none good, and for bad, here are too many already, to all our grief. …