Transactions - vol. 1: 1621

Pages 46-54

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

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169. [f.62. ? Early 1621] (fn. 1) Trinity House to the marquis of Buckingham, lord high admiral

He leased to them the office of ballastage [in the Thames] and presented Mr Lanyer and Mr 'Alfonso' [Ferabosco] to them as tenants. After many discourtesies, they asked to be rid of these tenants, but since Buckingham spoke for them, it was agreed to keep them. Lanyer persisting in wrongs to Trinity House, they acquitted themselves of him at Salisbury; but Buckingham spoke again for 'Alfonso', and it was agreed that he should come to them to receive his lease and pay his rent. To this day, albeit 5 months since, he has not come to them to receive his lease and is three-quarters of a year in arrears. They are unused to such dealings, and wish to be free of him and to choose their own tenants as heretofore.

170. 4 Feb. 1621. Trinity House to the same

Whereas by 8 Elizabeth [c. 13] Trinity House were empowered to provide all necessary beacons, buoys and seamarks, others have obtained the king's licence to provide certain seamarks contrary to the statute. On counsel's advice they have preferred a bill in parliament for redress and better to explain the statute. They seek his allowance and furtherance thereof.

171. 21 Feb. 1621. Trinity House to the same

They refer to 170 but are informed that he is incensed both against the bill and against them because they purpose to derogate part of the prerogative pertaining to his office. They hope that he will think better of them, and if the statute was intended to entrust the provision of all seamarks to the corporation, that they will have his allowances and favour therein.

172. [f.62v] 9 Apr. 1621. Instructions of Trinity House to Mr Geere and Mr Cooke

They are to go to Lowestoft, Caister and Winterton, inspect the keeping of the lights and buoys there, and reform all defects or abuses. If the number of candles in the lanterns is insufficient, one or 2 more may be added. The channels are to be sounded, and the siting of the buoys considered and changed if necessary. A gentleman living near the lighthouse is to be appointed to oversee the keeping of the lights. The channels at Stamport are to be sounded and a new buoy laid, if necessary, with the aid of 2 or 3 of the most sufficient seamen thereabouts. At Yarmouth Messrs Greenwood, Lucas and Lad are to be called to account for duties received, and new agreements made for future collections according to custom. Geere and Cooke are given full power to confirm or replace keepers of lights and buoys, and to increase charges for wages and candles, using the advice of others in the area, as necessary. They are given £20 to cover expenses, and if further money is needed Trinity House will honour their bills of consignment.

Thomas Best, John Wattes, Robert Bradsho, John Vassall, Rowland Coytmore, Richard Chester, Thomas Malbye, William Case.

173. 11 Apr. 1621. Certificate by Trinity House

As requested they certify that the following portage, outward and homeward, free of custom, is appropriate: (a) Ships bound for Majorca or eastwards thereof in the Straits: the master, £100 in goods; the officers, £10 in goods; the seamen, £5 in goods. (b) Ships bound for Spain, Portugal, the Islands, Barbary, Guinea, France, etc.: the master, one ton in every 100 tons; the officers, 20 nobles in goods; the seamen, 5 marks in goods. (c) Ships bound for Zeeland, Holland, all the East Country, Hamburg, Muscovy, Russia, etc., according to former custom. The mercy and goodness of the king to poor seamen would be cause of much encouragement.

Thomas Best, Rowland Coytmore, Robert Bradsho, John Vassall, Nicholas Diggins, Robert Salmon, Richard Chester, William Hare, Thomas Malbye, William Case, William Bower.

174. [f.63] 28 Apr. 1621. Certificate by Trinity House

On 17 Nov. last, the Long and Costly of Ipswich, Reuben Broad, master, on a voyage from Bordeaux, laden with wine, was overset by a gust of wind between Dover and the South Foreland. Four men and one boy were drowned and the ship was lost, to the undoing of Nicholas Paynter, fisherman of Woolverstone in Suffolk, the sole owner.

Thomas Best, John Vassall, Hugh Merit, William Ivey, Robert Bradsho, Nicholas Diggins, Richard Chester, William Bower, Henry Rawlyn.

175. 2 May 1621. Trinity House [to the house of commons]

They were required by many knights and burgesses of parliament to consider the complaint of those men and their wives who petitioned parliament against the East India company for wages during the time that the men were captives of the Hollanders, the company having lost both ships and goods. Both sides have been heard. With regard to the law, they submit to Sir Henry Marten, admiralty judge, who 'holding himself to the general maxims' concludes that where the owner loses his ship, and the merchant his goods, there the seaman loses his wages. But in conscience the case is different since the Hollanders offered the men wages to serve against the company, and when they refused, imprisoned them, kept them in irons and short of victuals, of which some died; 'more for their king they could not have done'. The consideration thereof has already moved the company to give the men one-third of their wages for the time in question, and to promise the other two-thirds when the company had received it from the Dutch. Meanwhile the men and women are in want and a little more would be 'as a fair sunshine day after a long and foul storm'.

Thomas Best, Ro. Salmon, Jo. Vassall, Richard Chester, Thomas Milton, Ro. Bradsho, William Ivey, Rowland Coytmore, William Case, Ro. Rickman.

176. [f.63v] Apr. 1621. Business done by Mr Geere and Mr Cooke at Winterton, Caister and Lowestoft

At Winterton the tower lighthouse and the lower house were repaired as appears in the account [not entered]. At Caister the houses were repaired, the annual salary advanced by £6 to £30 and 2 candles to burn in each. They have discussed with Mr Brightman, a principal gentleman of that place, his being overseer of the Caister light keeper, but no agreement was made and it is left to the company's pleasure. The channel at Caister was sounded and the buoys were found to lie well. The channel at Stamport was also sounded and a buoy was laid on the middle ground, but no agreement was made 'for the looking to it'. The houses there were also repaired.

[Signed] Robert Kitchen, T. Best, Ro. Salmon, Rowland Coytmor, Robert Bradsho, John Vassall, R.C. [? Richard Chester], N. Diggens.

177. 4 June 1621. Trinity House to Mr Cooke, collector of the duties for the lights and buoys of Caister and Stamport, in the port of Lynn

A letter of the privy council dated 1 Apr. 1613 authorised them to collect 1s per 100 tons and 4d per ship on every vessel trading on the north coast for the maintenance of lighthouses and buoys at Caister and Stamport. It is pretended that ships of Hull and Lynn trading to Newcastle, Norway, the Sound, and Hamburg, and from those ports, take no benefit from the lights and buoys. He is therefore no longer to demand money of those ships, but for all other ships, including those of fishermen, he is to receive it as formerly.

Thomas Best, master; John Vassall, Robert Bradsho, Thomas Malby, Robert Kitchen, assistants; Michael Geere, Rowland Coytmore, William Case, Walter Cooke, wardens.

[Note at end] On the same day a similar letter was sent to Mr Andrew Barker, collector at Hull, and another to Mr Leonard Carr, collector at Newcastle, subscribed by William Ivey, Robert Salmon and Robert Kitchen [sic], besides those above.

178. [f.64] 26 May 1621. Doctors' Commons. [Sir] Henry Marten [admiralty court judge] to Trinity House

By a clause in their charter, no seaman can be master or pilot of a ship entering or leaving the Thames, unless examined by Trinity House and having a sealed certificate listing the countries, coasts, and places for which he is qualified and also the approval of the lord admiral under the seal of the admiralty court upon pain of forfeiture of £20 for each offence. Nevertheless, he hears of many insufficient men but no man comes from Trinity House to perform the clause. Trinity House are to ensure that the provisions of the clause are observed and will otherwise be answerable.

179.[? Apr. × Sept. 1621] (fn. 2) Trinity House to the privy council

Whereas Trinity House were authorised to collect £1,000 a year in the Customs House according to rates mentioned in a letter of 7 July 1620 from the privy council to the Customs House towards the cost of the ships against the Turkish pirates, the rates have been paid willingly, except by Mr Ralph Freeman, a merchant of London, who has farmed the killing of whales in Greenland and on those northern coasts. He has set forth 8 ships and owes £8 or £9, saying that he will answer to the privy council. The privy council are asked to enforce payment, lest others follow his example.

180. 13 June 1621. [Trinity House] to Mr Leonard Carr at Newcastle

In reply to his letter of 4 June, exemption has been granted to ships of Hull and Lynn trading as stated in the enclosed letter [177]] and to all ports north of Winterton, since if no benefit is obtained, payment should not be enforced. The levy of 3s 4d stands because there is a special order for it. [Signed] Thomas Best, Rowland Coytmor, Michael Geere, William Case.

181. [f.64v. ? 18 × 24 Apr. 1621. Notes about Winterton Ness and Dungeness lighthouses] (fn. 3)

An act for explaining and enlarging the statute 8 Elizabeth [c. 13] concerning seamarks. The grant by patent to Mr [sic] Meldrum and others for the erection of a lighthouse at Winterton Ness, with power to put down a lighthouse formerly erected by Trinity House, with fees, condemned as a grievance. The grant by patent for a lighthouse at Dungeness, with fees, condemned as a grievance.

182. [Before 1 Aug. 1621] A note of the losses of John Linkes, mariner of Limehouse [See 183.]

(a) In 1593, coming from Newfoundland as purser of the Thomas and John, he was captured by French men-of-war and lost £175. (b) In the last year of Elizabeth's reign, having been master of the Guift on a voyage to Barbary, he sold the ship there and was coming home as passenger in the Unitie, Arthur Pitt master, when she was captured by Dunkirkers at the South Sand Head, losing thereby 557 Barbary ducats in cash besides other commodities, apparel and sea instruments, valued in all at £315. (c) In 1610 he was master and part-owner of the Mary Anne Blanch on a voyage to Barbary where having landed linen cloth worth £60, he was hired to serve Mulie Zedan, a king in Barbary, at £28 a month; he served for 4 months, but the king violently retained the cloth and refused to pay him his wages, whereby he lost £100. (d) In 1613 he was master and sole owner of the Felix bound for Barbary when, in a storm, he lost 2 of his men and had to throw overboard some of the lading, cables, anchors, tackle, boat and the capstan: the masts were broken and most of the sails lost; he had to put back to Plymouth and was forced to sell the bark, whereby he lost over £120. (e) In November last he was pilot of the Elizabeth bound for Malaga when he was taken by a French man-of-war about 30 leagues off the rock of Lisbon, losing over £85 in goods, apparel and sea instruments, which was all he had.

183. 1 Aug. 1621. Certificate by Trinity House

Commendation of Linkes [see 182]. Some of the losses are known to all, the rest to many of the writers. His losses are valued at £795. He has an aged wife.

Thomas Best, Michael Geere, Rowland Coytmore, William Case, Walter Cooke, John Vassall, William Hare, Nicholas Diggins, William Ivey, Ro. Salmon, Robert Bradsho, Thomas Malby, John Osborne.

184. [f.65] 8 Sept. 1621. Ratcliff. Report by Trinity House

At the request of Mr Bourne, they yesterday viewed his new but unfinished wharf at Wapping and found that he had exceeded the certificate [157] which they had given on his behalf to the lord admiral. The certificate was for only 14 or 15 ft, but he has carried it 25 or 26 ft further than his old wharf, so that it is some inconvenience to the river but in no way hurtful to the Bridge or the city.

Thomas Best, Robert Salmon, Rowland Coytmore, Walter Cooke, Walter Whyting, William Case, Michael Geere.

185. 12 Sept. 1621. Certificate by Trinity House

By request they certify that Robert Ewens, mariner of Limehouse, deceased, was honest and of good estate, but sustained losses at sea. (a) About 4 years ago, he was part-owner of the Thomas of London, Edward Robertes master; he loaded her with 1,000 pipe-staves* in Ireland for Spain, for his own adventure, but the ship was chased by Turkish pirates and to escape the master had to run her aground, whereby Ewens lost over £30. (b) About 3 years ago, he was master and three-quarters part-owner of the John of London; he freighted her himself in Ireland with pilchards and other goods for Cadiz but, within 50 leagues of the North Cape, he was forced by foul weather to turn back to England but could not reach there; the ship was badly damaged, some of the goods were thrown overboard, and the rest sold for very little, whereby he lost over £100. (c) About 2 years ago, having fitted out the ship again and being taken ill in Ireland, he appointed as master, James Carter, who loaded her with pilchards, pipe-staves, candles, tallow etc., but on a voyage to Cadiz and Malaga she was taken by Turks and Moors on 17 Sept. 1619 and carried to Arcila in Barbary where 2 of Ewens' servants are still in captivity; Ewens thereby lost over £250. These losses amounting to £380 and falling one after another nearly ruined him. He had £200 with him in Ireland when he died, which was the greatest part of what he had left. His brother, Roger Ewens, to whom the £200 was entrusted, died soon afterwards and the money was embezzled by strangers, leaving nothing for his widow, Grace, or his son, Thomas. Thomas Best, Michael Geere, Rowland Coytmore, Walter Cooke, John Vassall, Ro. Salmon, William Ivey, Walter Whyting.

186. [f.65v] 15 Sept. 1621. Certificate by Trinity House

At the request of Thomas Hammon, blacksmith, and William Hammon, tailor of Gravesend, Trinity House certify that their brother, Henry Hammon, mariner late of Gravesend, was on the Long Robert of London on a voyage to the Straits about 5 years ago when the ship was taken by Turkish pirates. He and others were carried to Tunis in Barbary where he is credibly reported to have been held ever since, in great misery. His ransom is set at £80 which the poor young man and his friends cannot raise.

Thomas Best, master; Michael Geere, Walter Cooke, Rowland Coytmore, William Case, John Vassall, Henry Rawlyn, Robert Rickman.

[Note] This certificate was granted upon the report of William Bigs, merchant of London, Peter Rowe of 'Milbrooke' [? Millbrook, Cornwall], and Thomas Griffen of Ratcliff that Henry Hammon was taken as stated and that he was known to be alive in captivity 3 months ago.

[Note] Mr Biges avowed before the company that about 3 months ago, he was credibly informed by Thomas Prator, who was taken with Hammon and who, when at Algiers, was released by Sir Robert Mansell [commander of the Algiers Expedition, 1620–1] that at the time of his release he was certainly informed that Hammon was alive and captive in Tunis. Peter Rowe and Thomas Griffen, who were recently captured by ships in which Hammon was forced to serve but lately ransomed, affirmed that he was alive at Tunis 4 or 5 months ago.

187. [f.66] 24 June 1619. The king to the privy council about illegal exports of ordnance

Summary of 464 (order no. 11) with a certificate attested by George Hooker.

188. June 1621. Propositions to the privy council concerning ordnance [Cf SP 14/121/139; CSPD 1619–23, 269.]

[Order no.] 13. Merchants who buy new ordnance for any new ship shall obtain a certificate from Trinity House to the lord admiral of the burden of the ship, the number of her decks, and the ordnance requisite for her defence. The approval of the lord admiral shall be conveyed to the master of the ordnance who will cause it to be registered at the ordnance office. Bonds are to be taken there from the merchant, owner and master of the ship that the ordnance is only for her defence. The ordnance is to be entered at the Customs House and at the end of each voyage, or once a year, testimony is to be brought that the ordnance remains in the ship. Bonds are to be changed when the merchant, owner or master changes.

189. [f.66v]16 Nov. 1621. Philpot Lane [London]. Navy commissioners to Trinity House

The king has ordered the repair of the chain at Upnor or the devising of some other means to prevent all passages by night up the Medway, for the safety of the navy. Mr Burrell, who was required to consider the matter, has prepared a plan for a barricado which has been viewed by the 'lords' and others of experience. It is a matter of great consequence. They should confer with Mr Burrell about the proportions of the moorings, the distances of the passages in the barricado, and any other proposals to support or strengthen it. A written report is requested for the commissioners to consider at their next meeting.

[Sir] Thomas Smithe, [Sir] John Wolstenholme, J. Osborne, J. Cooke, W. Burrell.

190. 21 Nov. 1621. Ratcliff. Trinity House [to the navy commissioners]

In reply to 189, after much debate with Mr Burrell they conclude that his proposals for a barricado to protect the navy royal at Chatham in the Medway cannot be bettered, provided that he can do what he says, namely 'to pile and borne up both ends of the same barricado from the ends of it to the firm land on both sides' so that not even a wherry can pass. The barricado must be so fastened at both ends that no current, extraordinary tide, frost, or ice will displace it. Some 90 or 100 ft is sufficient for the passage. The channel in the barricado should be capable of being enlarged in case of need for the speedy passage of the king's ships. The cables underwater from ship to ship should be 15 inches. Of the 2 cables on the barricado, the ebb cable should be 12 inches and the flood cable 14 inches. Four of the 16 mooring cables should be 14 inches, and the rest 12 inches. Four of the anchors should be 20 cwt., and the remainder 14 cwt. The 2 ships at the sides of the channels should be cut down to 2 decks and have no masts, heads, or galleries. A crew of 6 or 8, 2 of whom should be gunners, will be needed in each ship. They should be changed monthly, and each ship will need a small boat 'to attend the business'. All strangers should be prevented from entering the Medway, at least from Rochester, to guard against treachery. Strangers' knowledge of the river will be forgotten within 7 years. At present it is as well known to them 'as to us'.

Thomas Best, Michael Geere, Rowland Coytmore, William Case, Walter Cooke, John Vassall, Robert Salmon, Nicholas Diggens, William Ivye, Thomas Malbey, William Becke.

191. [f.67] 28 Nov. 1621. London. [Navy commissioners] to Trinity House

The lord admiral has informed them that John Dove of Leith in Scotland has recently built a ship called the Mayflower of Leith (300 tons). Dove has asked the king to buy the ship, affirming that she was built as a man-of-war and that her strength and goodness at sailing is inferior to no other ship in the kingdom. The king has ordered the writers to have her viewed and measured. Trinity House are asked to perform this task and to state in writing what ordnance she can carry, how much she is worth, and whether she should be bought for the king's service. The ship is now in the Thames, near Shadwell.

[Sir] Thomas Smithe, [Sir] John Wolstenholme, J. Osborne, Francis Goston, Richard Sutton, W. Burrell.

192. 28 Nov. 1621. Ratcliff. Trinity House [to the navy commissioners]

In reply to 191, they have been aboard and viewed the ship: length upon the orlop*, 91 ft; breadth upon the orlop from outside to outside, 25 ft; depth in hold, 9 ft 9 or 10 inches; her bow and quarter are not great and her side is flat. They conclude that she will be tendersided [heel too easily] and is insufficiently stiff or stout to be a man-of-war, much less a prince's ship. Her burden is some 220 tons. She is unfit for the king's service. Thomas Best, Robert Salmon, Michael Geere, Rowland Coytmore, Walter Cooke, William Case.

193. [f.67v] 13 Dec. 1621. Trinity House to the privy council[Cf APC 1621–3, 110.]

They report an abuse to the king, the state and navigation: within the last 3 or 4 months, 8 or 10 Dutch ships, each of about 200 tons [260 tons (in APC)], pretended to have been bought in Holland, have been brought into the Thames. The ships are fathered partly by free denizens, partly by natives, and are employed by them for Spain. Not one brings any ordnance, but as soon as a ship arrives a certificate is brought to Trinity House saying that the ship is in the Thames or some other port, and praying a certificate to the lord admiral for ordnance, some for 20 pieces, some for 16, more or less. Thus the ships are supplied with ordnance and are operated by strangers, directly or indirectly, whether by themselves or for others beyond the seas is unknown. Shipping is neglected and few mariners are employed because they require fewer men than English shipping. Ordnance is 'exposed to the pleasure of the stranger', whether denizen or not is unknown.

194. [c. Dec. 1621] Trinity House to the privy council [A repetition of 193 but with a request that Trinity House be instructed to issue no ordnance certificates for strangers' ships built abroad.]

195. [f.68] 29 Dec. 1621. Certificate by Trinity House

At the request of the bearer, Richard Knott, mariner of St Katherine's near the Tower of London, they certify from the knowledge of some of them and by testimony of some shipmasters and seamen of the Thames that he is a well qualified seaman who has done good service. (a) He was master's mate of the John and Fraunces of London, Edmond Bostocke master, when on 13 May 1616 on a voyage from Bilbao she foundered 20 leagues off the coast of Biscay; he, with the rest of the crew, saved only his life, and spent 3 days in a boat before reaching shore; his loss was over £60. (b) He was master of the Content of London coming home from San Sebastian when on 4 Apr. last she foundered about 22 leagues from Belle Ile; he and the crew were saved by a small bark of Fowey but he lost over £70 in clothes, instruments and his adventure. (c) He was master of the Faulcon of London bound for Ayamonte when on 22 Oct. last he was taken, off the coast of Portugal, by 2 Turkish pirates who took all the means he then had in the ship worth over £130, and unmercifully beat him to make him confess what was in the ship; the ship being robbed even of tackle, apparel, and furniture was forced ashore by a storm and, striking the Manacle rocks near the Lizard, sank, he losing thereby his whole estate amounting to over £260, besides the loss of his time. Being disabled by the cruelty of the infidel and unfit to pursue his profession, he, his wife and 2 small children are exposed to perpetual misery without charitable relief.

Thomas Best, Michael Geere, Rowland Coytmore, Robert Salmon, Walter Cooke, Richard Chester, Henry Rawlin, William Becke.


  • 1. Dated 7 Oct. 1621 in CD, vii.446, but perhaps mistakenly. Buckingham, by then lord high admiral, was at Salisbury with James I in July–Aug. 1620 (DNB; J. Nichols, The progresses of James I, iv.614; CSPD 1619–23, 168, 170).
  • 2. According to Purchas, Freeman despatched 7 ships in 1620, 8 in 1621, and 9 (but 8 according to Scott) in 1622 (one ship in 1621 and 1622 was for discovery). Whalers normally left in Apr. and returned in Aug. (S. Purchas, His pilgrimes (1905–7 ed.), xiii. 24–5; Scott, ii. 69).
  • 3. Parliament condemned both patents on 18 Apr. 1621 and a bill was delivered to the Commons on 24 Apr. (CD, iv. 233–5, 249).