Articles of trade, 1604

Pages 114-116

The Spanish Company. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1973.

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i. Articles of trade, 1604(B.M. Harl. 295 ff. 216–20)

705. A note of all such matters as the English merchants trading Spain and Portugal do most humbly offer to the consideration of the lords and others of the king's majesty's most honourable privy council, to be considered of in the treaty of amity between our king's most excellent majesty and the king of Spain. (fn. 1)

706. Firstly that all former grants and privileges granted by the predecessors of the king of Spain to the English merchants may be ratified and confirmed.

707. That none of his majesty's subjects or their ships, goods or merchandise shall be molested, arrested, detained or compelled to answer at law by the king of Spain or his subjects for any offences committed in the late queen's day or before the signing of the treaty.

708. That the king's subjects may be free to enter and trade in any port or haven in the dominions of the king of Spain, and not restrained to any kingdom, dominion, place or port, but able to trade where they find themselves best treated and most commodious for the sale of their merchandise.

709. That no subject of any nation shall be allowed to take legal action against Englishmen in Spanish courts, nor sequester their persons, ships or goods, for any ships, goods or treasure formerly seized, on land or water, but to be brought to justice in England.

710. That all restraints by proclamation or pragmatic against the import of any particular types of goods into Spain shall be abolished; thereafter English merchants shall be free to import goods and merchandise wrought, made and dyed in England, as well as all types of goods made in any other country whatsoever, as amply and freely as they did before 1584. They should pay the import and export duties levied in that year, no more.

711. That English merchants who freight their ships to carry goods to any of the dominions of the king of Spain, may reload them back again without molestation or interruption, or any composition made with the officers or subjects of the king of Spain for the same.

712. All Englishmen committed to the galleys or other prisons, for any cause except debt, to be released.

713. That the king's subjects may regain the house and land belonging to it at San Lucar de Barrameda, and enjoy it in as ample a manner as they did before the late restraint, and that fugitives, who are Englishmen and enemies to his majesty, and all others may be removed. (fn. 2)

714. That English merchants may be free to keep their houses and warehouses to themselves, as Spanish merchants are at liberty to do in England, and that they shall not be compelled to keep their books of account in Spanish. No alcaide de sacas or any other officer may enter their houses or studies, or take away any books, papers or accounts. (fn. 3)

715. If any subjects of the king of England should die in the dominions of the king of Spain, then the local English consul with three or four of the assistants, (or in their absence three or four English merchants of good credit) should administer the estate of the deceased, taking an inventory of his goods, wares, books and other things, and certifying its accuracy. The Inquisition and any other Spanish official or subject shall not meddle with the matter, under any custom, law or pretence whatsoever.

716. That English merchants shall not be molested in their persons, ships or goods, or in any other way, for any trade or traffic to Barbary or Turkey. They should be free to trade there without any interference or restraint. (fn. 4)

717. That English merchants shall not be molested by the Inquisition before they land their goods, but shall be free to land them in any port within the dominions of the king of Spain without interference. The Inquisition shall not search or examine Englishmen for any books or about any services they have held at sea, nor whether they be Christians according to the romish religion. The possession of any such books, or participation in such services at sea, shall not be prejudicial to any Englishman.

718. That Englishmen shall not be forced to land their goods against their own wishes, and that they shall pay no dues except for goods landed and sold.

719. That it may be lawful for English merchants to nominate from time to time one or more consuls and such other officers as they shall think fit, being natural-born subjects of the king of England; those so elected shall have power to assemble themselves and to make laws to govern such of his majesty's subjects as shall be resident in the dominions of the king of Spain. No Spanish officials shall meddle in these matters. (fn. 5) If any disputes should arise between England and Spain, English subjects should have at least six months warning, for the disposal and transporting of their goods and persons out of the country without impeachment or interruption.

720. If any English merchant shall ship prohibited commodities out of Spain, then only the guilty party shall incur penalties and then only on the prohibited goods. The ship and the goods loaded on it by other merchants shall not be molested or forfeited.

721. All English goods confiscated since the king's majesty was proclaimed king of England, by virtue of any edict put out by the king of Spain and the archduke or either of them, shall be restored or satisfaction given for the same. Any customs duties or deposits paid since the king was proclaimed, that are over and above the ancient and usual customs and duties, shall likewise be restored and all bonds taken for the same delivered and discharged.

722. If any Englishman shall marry a subject of the king of Spain, then it may be lawful for them, their children or any of them separately, to come into England and to bring their goods, wares and other things belonging to them, without any let or interruption.


  • 1. There is a similar document in S.P. 94/10 ff. 191–3. They may safely be identified with the articles drawn up by Wilford and read out at the general court on 24 May 1604 (see above, 31). Both are followed by further documents amplifying the general requests made here concerning the powers of the Inquisition.
  • 2. See above, pp. xxx-xxxi and below, 738.
  • 3. The alcaides de sacas were customs officials whose particular task was to prevent the export of gold and silver from the realm (R. B. Merriman, The Rise of the Spanish Empire in the Old World and the New, vol. ii The Catholic Kings (New York, 1936), 42). They seized merchants' accounts in order to ascertain the sum realised by their imports, and then forced them to export Spanish goods of equivalent value, rather than return their profit in specie.
  • 4. See above, p. ix and below, 744. The Spaniards objected to English trade with Turkey on the grounds that trading with the enemies of Spain was universally forbidden (S.P. 94/18 f. 174).
  • 5. Another hand has added, 'As was granted by Henry VIII and Charles V'.