Letter from Sir Charles Cornwallis, 1605

Pages 117-118

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

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iii. Letter from Sir Charles Cornwallis, 1605

(B.M. Harl. 1875 ff. 217–19)

727. Sir Charles Cornwallis, in Valladolid, to Mr. Thomas Wilford, president of the Spanish Company. (fn. 1)

Sir, my purpose in staying Owsley here grew never out of any desire I had to serve myself of him for any business concerning my own employment, having brought with me one very able and sufficient for that purpose. But finding that his majesty's subjects that trade hither, had and were likely to find here at the first settling of the intercourse many difficulties and questions, and Owsley well experienced in the country and not ignorant of the course of traffic, I was willing for my better enabling to do them a service in such businesses as should occur to procure his stay here and to charge myself with him and a man to attend him, only to follow their occasions.

728. I have accordingly employed him in many of those general negotiations that have touched the traffic here; I have at my charge sent him divers times to the court when it has been many miles distant from this town, and there continued him for divers days whereby I obtained what was desired in sundry things very beneficial and an answer to the rest.

729. I expected a more liberal performance towards him for his travails because in your letters to me you promised it, I looked for a more kind acceptance of my own industries for you because it was more than I owed you, for in so long a time as I have been here until now very lately, neither was I required nor instructed nor so much as saluted by any of you; what I have done for you and what I have endeavoured appears in such papers as in September last I addressed to the lords of the council and yourself by letters from Owsley have also had understanding of them.

730. In your late letter to him you wrote that you marvel I would take upon me to bestow the office of consulship by naming and appointing whereof were granted by his majesty to you of the company. If you would name anyone to whom I had made grant of any such office without exception of your allowance when you should be made a company, you might build your marvel upon some foundation; if in the meantime I gave allowance to one of Lisbon who had exercised the place before and was recommended to me by at least twenty of the best traders then residing in that city, by your favour it is not so much to be wondered at, as that you, having so long time past obtained his majesty's grant, have not until now very lately made it known to me, or any other here to my knowledge, that your company was established, neither sent hither any writings conducing to the obtaining of the king here the confirmation of your privileges nor given any order to any of your traders or factors to hold correspondence with one for any advertisements, as I know by some of the lords of the council you were directed, neither yet taken or sent any order hither for making of consuls or any officers that might here set orders or give directions to the traders. (fn. 2)

731. My charge and my duty it is when I came hither to protect you as subjects to the king I serve, and mine own desire is to do any service within my power to you all, in regard you are my countrymen, and men of worth who understand what appertains to wise and civil courses.

732. But I must, as well in regard of my place as of your own good, desire you will hereafter show more care of what concerns you than hitherto I have been made acquainted with, and so with my very hearty commendations to yourself and the rest of the company I leave you.


  • 1. The letter was read out at the court of assistants on 5 Dec. 1605 (see above, 501).
  • 2. For the case of Rowland Mailart, see above, p. xxxviii and 295.