Transactions - vol. 1: 1610

Pages 1-7

Trinity House of Deptford Transactions, 1609-35. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1983.

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2. [f.1] 9 Feb. 1610. Proposals made by London and Bristol merchants to the privy council, referred to Trinity House

The petitioners, having used the fishing trade of Newfoundland, are confident that the country is habitable in winter because it is in latitude 47°, which is further south than any part of England and is the same as Bordeaux. It is full of woodland and fair rivers stocked with fish, and there are fowls and edible animals such as stags. The voyage from England and Ireland takes only 3 weeks, with reasonable winds, and the island is as near to England as it is to Spain. They seek to establish a plantation with a few men to make trial thereof, especially since they would not be molested because savages have not been seen there. The following reasons may be considered: (a) 200 ships with about 6,000 mariners go there each year 'whereby great benefit accrueth not only to many private persons, but also to the whole commonwealth by the increase of navigation and trade in merchandise which ships going thither to fish and in manner empty are fit to carry all matters for plantation'. (b) If a foreign prince or state took possession of the land and erected fortifications, thereby debarring the use of harbours and fishing, the consequences would be very serious. Indeed, the French tried to winter there in about 1580, (fn. 1) but by lack of foresight they all perished 'for want of necessaries for plantation'. (c) If the plantation succeed, fishing would be secure forever, and the commodity greater because of the probable increase in the number of ships engaged in the trade, since planters could fish in boats in places otherwise unusable for lack of harbours. (d) The settlers could provide supplies to the fishermen, care for the sick, and look after the boats. (e) The ground may be fit for tillage and pasturing cattle, and the woodland put to use. (f) The settlers will learn whaling for great profit, as the Biscayans already do on nearby coasts. [] (g) It is hoped that the country will afford furs, 'heath', pitch, turpentine, boards made from pine trees, masts and yards for small ships, soap-ashes [wood ash used in making soap], stags, skins, hawks of all kinds, seal skins, train oil and either copper or iron mines which in view of the woods and rivers might easily be very profitable. (h) The land lies on the direct route to Virginia and a plantation or fortification there would make it a serviceable rendezvous. Letters patent are sought for a small settlement in an area not previously occupied by christians, together with rights in respect of fishing and the use of the land.

3. 24 Feb. 1610. Trinity House to the privy council

Mr John Slanye of London, Mr John Guye of Bristol, and other merchants brought the above proposal [2]. The corporation considered the plan at their meeting at Ratcliff today and concluded that people could live there and that a plantation would be valuable in view of the fishing trade and for other reasons, provided that there was no interference with the freedom of fishing now enjoyed.

Hugh Merritt, master; William Jones, William Bygate, Robert Rickman, William Jordan, William Hare, William Sims, Nicholas Diggens, John Goodlad, William Goodlad, Robert Kitchen.

4. [f.2–2v] 4 Aug. 1610. Bonds [partly in Latin]

Thomas Silvester and others [listed in 5], and Humphrey Basse and others, enter bonds to accept the arbitration of Trinity House to settle their dispute. Witnesses: William Allexander and Francis Pensax, servants to Thomas Hill, scrivener.

5. [f.3] 25 Aug. 1610. Award by Trinity House

Humphrey Basse, girdler of London, Luke Barefoote and Tobias Johnson, mariners of London, on the one hand, and Thomas Silvester, Thomas Wilkenson, mariners of Ipswich, Samuel Cutler, merchant, Edward Man, vintner, Elizabeth Man, spinster, and John Sturgen, brewer of Ipswich, on the other, entered bonds [4] of £200 on 4 Aug. 1610 to accept the award of at least 6 members of Trinity House in respect of their dispute, provided that the award be made before 4 Sept. 1610. The award is as follows: (a) Silvester and his associates are to pay £47 to Basse and his associates. £21 is to be deposited at the house of Richard Nottingham in Ratcliff on 29 Sept., and the balance on 2 Nov. 1610. (b) Wilkenson is to pay £30 towards the cost of weighing the Providence of London in the Thames, of which Johnson was master. (c) The liability to pay the £47 [f.3v] and the cost of weighing the Providence over and above the £30 which Wilkenson himself has to pay is to be shared between Silvester and his associates in proportion to their shares in the ownership of the Sea Adventure of Ipswich at the time of the weighing of the Providence. (d) On or before 10 Sept., both parties are to relinquish all claims on each other in respect of all disputes up to 4 Aug. 1610. Documents to this effect are to be deposited at the house of Nottingham by 12 Sept. 1610. (e) Both parties are to pay a fee of [blank] to Nottingham, clerk of Trinity House, for drawing up this award.

Hugh Merret, Robert Salmon, William Jurden, William Jones, Robert Kytchen, Robert Ryckman, Thomas Milton, Nicholas Dygens, Matthew Woodcot, William Byam, John Osborne, John Skinner.

6. [f.4] 11 Sep. 1610. Award by Trinity House

Edmund Wynn, merchant of London, has withheld the wages of sundry mariners who served in the Ellen and John of London arrived from Virginia and sought to lay the burden of the insurance of his adventure in the ship on the crew. The mariners contradict. Both parties agreed to arbitration. The award is that since the ship reached the Thames safely as soon as her consort, and since the insurance seems to have been given out of fear, and not for any just cause, the crew have no liability. Since, however, a boat was lost through negligence, £7 is to be deducted from the wages and 'entertainment' of the master and the wages of the crew, divided up in proportion to earnings. The master must also pay £2 from his 'entertainment' as compensation to the owners because, after landing the passengers at Dartmouth, he went ashore, and commanded the crew to do likewise, whereby 'the owner received a day's hinderance in wages and victuals for their stay there'. No allowance is to be made for insurance, as is demanded.

Hugh Merryt, Robert Salmon, William Wye, William Jurden, Robert Kytchen, William Bygat, Thomas Milton, Nicholas Dygons, Matthew Woodcott, Robert Ryckman, Richard Chester, Thomas Norreys.

7. [f.4v] 9 Oct. 1610. Sir Thomas Smith, governor of the East India company, to Trinity House

The company seek an opinion on the wages due, according to the right or custom of the sea, to mariners of the Hector and Ascention. On 3 Oct. 1608, 19 mariners of the Hector were captured by Portuguese frigates on a voyage from Surat with goods of great value. They admit not fighting, for which some blame the captain, but most say the fault was the gunner's for want of shot expended previously in 'creating a new captain' [? a gun salute]. Some of the 19 died before the return home of the Hector; some have come home; some are prisoners 'in the country' or at Lisbon; others are in the pay of the Portuguese or the grand mogul. The company wish to know whether any wages are due and, if so, whether payment should be made up to the date of their capture, their return to England, or the ship's return to England. The Ascention was cast away near Cambay. Elmer was put off her in a pinnace with 6 or 8 men and sailed to within 5 leagues of Surat. He then left the pinnace and travelled to Surat overland. He admits that he might have sold the pinnace for 300 rials, but alleges that he acted on the instructions of one of the factors at Surat. This is untrue because the company has no factor there. By these means the pinnace was lost 'as also the ship out of which he was shipped' because it is said that he could not be awakened when he should have borne up sail. Consequently he lost contact with the Ascention.

8. [f.5] 9 Oct. 1610. Trinity House [to Sir Thomas Smith]

Their opinion was sought [7] on the wages due to the mariners of the Hector, who were captured in the East Indies, and those of the Ascention, who were left alive when she perished, 'whether they come home before or after the return of the Union'. In the case of the Hector, the mariners who were taken prisoner should be paid up to the date of the return of the ship, whether they came home before or after her return, because, had they not been sent out of her for the benefit of the merchant, they might have come home in her if they had lived. Those who are still prisoners deserve consideration, but that is for the company to decide. Those who are now serving another nation voluntarily should be paid only up to the date of their capture. As for the crew of the Ascention, Trinity House have never known wages to be payable if a ship and her cargo are lost, because the money for wages is derived from freight. But it is understood that the mariners were engaged for the voyage of both vessels and not for one particular ship. If that is the case, and the Union returns, the crew of the Ascention should be paid up to the date of the Union's return, because both ships were engaged on the discovery of a trade which may prove profitable to the company, and the men died because they were strangers to the area. But 'if the lading in both ships were so divided, as that the company of one ship should nor ought to have been ready at the general's dispose to have brought home the other ship if occasion had been offered', no wages are due in view of the loss of the Ascention. Those in the pinnace of the Ascention, which lost contact with the ship for want of sails and victuals (a fact known to the ship's master), did their utmost in the service of the company and deserve consideration.

Hugh Mearett, master; Robert Salmon, William Wye, William Bygatt, William Jones, Peter Hills, Robert Rickman, Nicholas Diggins, John Vassall, Matthew Woodcott, Thomas Norris, Robert Kytchen.

9. [f.5v] 6 March 1609. Algiers. Certificate by Richard Allen, consul [for the English at Algiers]

The bearer, Thomas Nicols, gunner of the Sara Jone, Robert Rippon, master, was captured with the rest of the crew by the Bizerte galleys in the 'Gulf of Venice' [see 13] on 31 Aug. 1608 and all were enslaved. The merchants, master and company of the Dorcas of London out of charity ransomed him when they called at Tunis and brought him hither. According to the testimony of those named below, Nichols has not engaged in piracy, but has asked merchants and shipmasters to secure his passage to his native country.

Endorsements (a) by Nicholas Keale and Hewet Staper that the above was written in Allen's hand; (b) of the truth of the above by Ralph Shotboulte, Walter Whiting, master, John Mootham, Richard Perston, William Harris and John Daye, all of the Dorcas; (c) by Jo. King, master of the Mathue of London, that he brought the bearer to England.

10. 7 Aug. 1610. Trinity House to the king

The bearer, Thomas Nichols, gunner, has asked for a certificate of his misfortunes. They know that the attached statement [9] is true. He was dispossessed of all he had, maimed in fighting the Turks, and was enslaved in their galleys. His ransom cost £50, for which his friends stand bond because he has nothing.

Hugh Merret, William Jones, William Jurden, Thomas Milton, Robert Ryckman, Robert Kytchen, Richard Chester, Nicholas Digens, Matthew Woodcott, John Kinge.

11. [f.6] 4 Nov. 1610. Trinity House to lord Ellesmere, lord chancellor At the request of John Fryer, the petitioner, they certify that he went to sea as master gunner of the Gift of God of London, about a year ago. Shortly afterwards, she sank in a storm on the Irish coast. All her cargo was lost and the crew barely escaped with their lives. Not long afterwards, the ship was recovered and was freighted again, but on 2 Feb. last was captured off Spain by Captain Parker, a pirate. Fryer and others, numbering 12 in all, were held prisoner for 4 months. Parker then took away 7, and turned Fryer and the others away, ransacked. On their way homewards, they were captured on about 2 July by another pirate, Captain Easton, who robbed them of the remainder of their estates, and maltreated them. All these misfortunes occurred within 11 months. Fryer has lost his entire estate of £300 and friends stand surety for part of his adventure.

Hugh Mearit, William Bygatt, Robert Salmon, William Hare, Robert Rickman, Thomas Best, Robert Kytchen, Thomas Norreis.

12. [f.6v] 8 Dec. 1610. Trinity House to the same

William Androwes, the petitioner, and his neighbours of Ipswich have asked them to certify his misfortunes. Last March, the Content, of which he was master and part-owner, set out but owing to foul weather was wrecked at night on a rock off the Norwegian coast and sank in 10 fathoms. Eight of the crew were drowned, but 4 escaped miraculously by sitting in the maintop, which remained above water, until they were rescued by a fishing boat. He lost £300, which is more than his estate is worth, and he owes another £100 as part of his adventure, which he is unable to pay.

Hugh Meret, master; Robert Salmon, William Jurden, John Osborne, William Wye, wardens; William Joanes, Thomas Milton, Matthew Woodcott, William Hare, Nicholas Dygens, Robert Rickman, William Byam, Richard Chester, Thomas Beast, Robert Kytchen.

[Marginal note] By testimony of a letter from Ipswich under the hands of John Carnabye, John Chaplin, John Martin, Edmund Morgane, Richard Wade, Richard Birlingham, Robert Castone, John Hawkes.

13. [f.7] 16 July 1610. Tripoli. Samuel Harres to his father

On the 15th day, 2 galleys of Tripoli and a frigate approached his ship off 'Cape Spartemint' [? Spartimento, now Palinuro, or Spartivento]. The master consulted the crew, but although most wanted to fight, others would not for fear of being enslaved. So the sails were struck, and Harres and all but 6 of his companions were taken aboard the galleys, while the ship was sent to Tripoli. The galleys made for the Gulf, (fn. 2) intending to sail to Valona, but since the wind was northwest, they had to go north of 'Sufelane' [? now Sazan], and there joined 5 galleys of Bizerte. When they put out to sea, the wind was southerly, so they sailed for Valona, but off 'Cape Lugo' [? now Kep-i-Lagit], they encountered 5 Venetian galleys which gave chase and captured the last of the Turkish galleys which was their consort and which had 6 of 'our' men aboard. Harres' galley escaped, and that night she took a ship of Ragusa, which had been laden at Corfu and was bound for Venice. The Turks took the men but released the ship. Harres arrived at Tripoli and found his ship and companions there. He was afraid of being enslaved because he had been made to row naked and had been beaten aboard the galley. He caught such a cold that he suffered from the 'blody flix' [dysentery] and is still unwell. His captors say that he and his companions will only have to serve for one or 2 voyages, and that then they will be released but he does not believe them. He beseeches his father to secure his release and to write if he is 'at Lant'. If his portion is due, it should be paid to his mother or used on his behalf. He asks his father to mediate for him if it is dangerous for him to come home for he 'must go perforce, and about 2 months hence'. He believes that his ship, which is the best, is going in a group of 4 to the west. He commends himself to his 'brother' William and Richard, his sisters, William Bull, and his friends. Randal Jesson commends himself to Harres' father and brother, William, and to 'fillup' [Philip].

14. [f.7v] 13 Dec. 1610. Westminster. Order in chancery to Hugh Merricke, master of Trinity House, Thomas Beast and William Bigott of Trinity House, Ralph Freeman, Humphrey Basse and Robert Bell, commissioners for assurance policies

In a dispute in chancery between Robert Howe, Thomas Dennys, William French and others [John Falkner and Hugh French], pls., and William Jones, William Wye the elder, and John Barbor, defs., concerning the freight of a ship hired by the pls. from the defs. it appeared that 45 members of the crew had been unjustly deprived of their wages. Four or 5 of the addressees are to enquire and arbitrate by whose default the wages are unpaid and the amounts due. Upon certifying chancery, the mariners are to be paid forthwith. Or if agreement is not reached the suit is to return to chancery by [f.8] 20 Jan.

Brace [? Lord Bruce, master of the rolls].

15.20 Dec. 1610. Return to chancery. See 14.]

The voyage lasted for 15 months and a day, and the freight was £146 10s a month. The pls. have not proved that the defs. broke the charter party. The voyage appears to have been completed properly and the freight, from which the mariners are paid, is therefore due. According to the custom of merchants and shipowners, half should have been paid within 4 or 5 days of the discharge of the ship at London so that the crew of 45 could receive their wages, which amount to £732 13s. The failure of the pls. to pay the freight (apart from £120 already received) is the reason why the crew are unpaid. The pls. should pay £732 13s to William Jones and William Wye the elder, 2 of the defs., or their assignees, on 10 Jan. at the Telling House on the west side of the Royal Exchange, which is the usual place for making such payments. The crew can then be paid. The pls. may yet be able to establish a stronger case, so the remainder of the freight should not be paid until witnesses have been examined. [f.8v] The writers can then either negotiate a settlement or certify their opinions. Hugh Mericke, Humphrey Basse, Thomas Beast, William Bygatt, Ralph Freeman, Robert Bell.

[Marginal note] Registered in the office of assurance on 13 Dec. 1610 and compared with the original, which is lodged in chancery, by Simon Cowell, servant to Richard Candeler, deputy register.


  • 1. French expeditions of 1578 and 1584 failed to reach Newfoundland (H.P. Biggar, The early trading companies of New France (1901), 38–9; DCB, 421).
  • 2. ? Of Taranto. But the Adriatic was sometimes described as the Gulf of Venice (see, e.g., D. Howse and M. Sanderson, Sea charts (1973), plate 11).