10th May 1624

Proceedings in Parliament 1624: The House of Commons. Originally published by British History Online, 2015-18.

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In this section

MONDAY, 10 MAY 1624


[CJ 702; f. 34v]

Lunae, 100 Maii, 220 Jacobi

L. 1a. Act against transportation of iron ordnance. And to be read again tomorrow.

Motion made about the great want of powder within the kingdom. This by Mr. [John] Evelyn's fault.

This patent to be delivered in by Mr. Evelyn upon Friday next, peremptorily.

[Edward] Egerton's committee, tomorrow, 2 [o']clock, in the former place.

[f. 35] SIR W[ALTER] EARLE reports the bill against simony, with amendments and additions, which twice read. Recommitted in the Committee Chamber.

Mr. Speaker went out of his chair.

Mr. Speaker went into his chair again.

SIR EDWIN SANDYS reports the debate at the grand committee touching coloured cloths, viz. mingled cloths and dyed and dressed cloths.

Upon question, the opinion of this House is that other merchants besides the Merchant Adventurers may trade with dyed and dressed and all coloured cloths into Germany and the Low Countries.

[House adjourned]


[CJ 787; f. 196]

Lunae, 10 Maii 1624

L. 1. An act for restraint of the transportation of iron ordnance.

The consideration of the want of powder in this realm referred to the committee of grievances.

Mr. [John] Evelyn to bring in his patent on Friday next.

[Edward] Egerton's bill. Tomorrow afternoon.

SIR WALTER EARLE reports the bill to prevent simony in colleges and halls. Amendments twice read. Recommitted. Presently, Committee Chamber.

Speaker went out of his chair, and the House fell to a committee.

Speaker went in again.

SIR EDWIN SANDYS reports from the committee. They of opinion that other merchants of the kingdom should trade into the parts of Merchant Adventurers' privilege with dyed and dressed cloths and medley cloths.

Resolved, upon question, as the opinion of the House, that other merchants of the kingdom besides the Merchant Adventurers should trade into the parts of their privilege with dyed and dressed cloths and medley cloths.

[House adjourned]


[p. 286]


I was out of town.


[f. 199]

Monday, 100 Maii 1624

Speaker leaves the chair that the committee of trade should sit concerning the company of the Merchants [sic] Adventurers.

Sir H[enry] Mildmay says that if dyed and dressed cloths shall be transported by others than the Merchants [sic] Adventurers, first, trade will be thereby cast out of government and so being carried to all places and not kept to one mart town, will be vilified and not carry the price it now does.

2. When the bulk of trade of cloth is divided, then the towns beyond sea will not allow them the privileges which now they have.

3. It will be a means that with dyed and dressed cloths white cloths will be transported, for that their packing and bulks are alike.

Mr. [John] Bankes. That the patent of 28 Eliz. gave the Merchants [sic] Adventurers power to transport white cloths and dyed and dressed cloths and bays; but it was then no grievance to the kingdom nor the woolgrower for that then there was a liberty to transport wool; but in 12 Regis there was a proclamation that no wool should be transported and now that makes the sole trading in these cloths a grievance. That the Merchants [sic] Adventurers have an order that no merchant of their company shall transport above 200 cloths in a year for the first seven years, [f. 199v] and all that shall come into their company shall be forced to pay their impositions. That the patents of 280 Eliz. and 150 Regis are against the law and against the statutes of 39 E. 3 and 29 H. 7. He would have a bill here passed for the establishing of a government of trade and that it should not be left to be governed by a few private men who seek but their profit.

Chancellor of the Duchy fears if we destroy or discourage the Merchants [sic] Adventurers. But he fears if trade be thrown open and war come up, so that every man may send over a boat with cloth where he list, they will be catch [sic] up apace where the Merchants [sic] Adventurers are strong and will send over cloths in stronger ships. And also we shall hereby give advantage to the merchant stranger to out-trade us. He doubts not but we shall meet here again at Michaelmas and at the spring, for the King, Prince and all say they never knew a more prudent Parliament than this is. He would have us not to meddle too much with pruning of the Merchants [sic] Adventurers until another sessions [sic].

Mr. Comptroller. That the merchant stranger does now carry forth dyed and dressed cloths, and he sees [?now] no reason why an Englishman should not have the same liberty as strangers. That wool is fallen from [f. 200] 30s. to 22s. a weight, and cloth is fallen in the prices £30 of the hundred. That trade cannot be worse than now it is. There are but two fears: the one is the Merchant Adventurers' sullenness, and the war. For their sullenness, if they grow sullen he would have them questioned for a conspiracy; and if there be war, it will destroy the making of cloth beyond sea and occasion the wearing of cloth there more than now, and therefore he thinks trade will be the better for the war. He does deliver his opinion super totam materiam that he thinks it fit that all men, as well as the Merchants [sic] Adventurers, should trade in dyed and dressed cloths.

Mr. [William] Nyell says that the Merchants [sic] Adventurers have confessed that in the years 1612, 1613 and 1614 there were 80,000 cloths transported, but since their patent of 150 Regis they have vented much less, and in these last years they have not vented above 50,000 cloths a year.

Sir Francis Nethersole. That the wars of Germany have been the cause that no more cloths have been vented in those parts these 4 years. That it appears that the Merchants [sic] Adventurers would buy more cloths if they could vent beyond sea above 50,000 cloths. That the new merchants that shall come to transport [f. 200v] cloths, they shall neither have the privileges that the merchants there now have for the cloth they carry there nor for such merchandises as they shall bring thence. That Mr. [William] Noye told him that the trade of making cloth in this kingdom and the venting of cloth beyond sea was first done by this means: it was granted that those that transported a cloth should pay only 3s. 6d. impost on a cloth, and they that transported so much wool as would make such a cloth were forced to pay 40s. impost wanting but two pence. He thinks if we desire (as some do) to bring in the trading of dyed and dressed cloths that the pretermitted custom and the Merchants [sic] Adventurers' imposition which they have laid should be continued on white cloths only and that the dyed and dressed cloths only should go free, which motion he leaves to the wisdom of this House.

Mr. [William] Noye says that he is of opinion that dyed and dressed cloths should be free for all men. That he told Sir Francis Nethersole that in 14 E. 3, 40s. was set by statute on a sack of wool, and three cloths in those days were made of one sack of wool, and then there was but 14d. laid for imposition on one cloth; and this he conceives that the great imposition on wool and so little on cloth because the state would have that trade of clothing increase. That it [f. 201] may be true that not above 50,000 cloths can be vented in a year at Hamburg; but if those cloths may be transported to other towns, the like liberties will be granted by other towns and there will be more privileges granted by other towns because they will draw most merchants to them, for we all know that the mart towns give money besides the privileges to the Merchants [sic] Adventurers to come to them.

Sir Thomas Wentworth. That the cheapness of our cloth is that which must make our cloth vent and our wool rise in the price. That it is doubtful whether the taking off dyed and dressed cloths will prove well or no, and therefore he would not have us try an experience in a time of necessity, nor in a commodity out of which most men's rents are paid and by which infinite poor people are maintained, and would have us content ourselves with the taking off the impositions laid on cloth by the Merchants [sic] Adventurers, and hereafter to take away these dyed and dressed cloths from the sole trading of the said merchants.

Resolved, on the question, that it is fit in the opinion of this committee that there shall be an enlargement of trade for the dyed and dressed and mingled cloths, so as any other merchant (as well as the Merchant Adventurers) shall trade in dyed and dressed and mingled cloths into all parts of the Low Countries and Germany as well as into other parts beyond sea.

[f. 201v] Mr. Speaker in the chair.

Upon SIR E[DWIN] SANDYS'S report from the committee for trade concerning dyed and dressed and mingled cloths, the order therein made by the said committee is now by the House confirmed on the question.


[f. 84]

10 Maii, Monday

An act against exportation of ordnance.

It is ordered that Mr. [John] Evelyn shall bring in his patent this afternoon, for powder.

Engrossing. [SIR WALTER] EARLE reports the bill for avoiding simoniacal contracts for churches and benefices, and preventing [blank] in colleges and halls.


[f. 129]

May 10

[Committee for trade]

Sir Edwin Sandys in the chair.

Restraint of trade and burden of trade the cause of the decay of trade. And therefore [f. 129v] the liberty of trade the remedy. 'Tis not fit that a private company should make the price of wool to rise and fall at their pleasure, to open and shut the gates of the kingdom when they will. New draperies not under government. The commonwealth cannot be in worse case then it is. If they, Merchant Adventurers, be sullen and forbear to b[illegible] because of our reformation, let them be questioned for their combination and for their patent.

Sir Francis Nethersole. That the wars of Germany the cause that the merchants of Hamburg cannot vent so many cloths as they have done and that is the cause that the Merchant Adventurers buy less. The new merchant shall not have the privileges of the Merchant Adventurers. He shall pay the excise, which is a full third part, as if a man send £300, £100 goes to the state and other charges at Hamburg and Delft, etc. If the Emperor [illegible] the old edict whereby our cloth is forbidden in Germany yet at Hamburg and other Hanse towns they will buy. The way by which this state restrained the exportation of wool was to lay a greater imposition on [f. 130] wool by 40s. than on cloth.

Mr. Recorder. That the trade of cloth never is more flourishing estate than when that project set afoot for they uttered 80,000 cloths per annum; after but 36,000, but now have brought it to 60,000. They desire beyond sea to dissolve this company. It [?would] be most profitable for them to have trade under no government. That we shall do the Spanish ambassador a great service. Write upon this pillar [?illegible].

[Mr. William] Noye. 14 E. 3, 40s. set upon sack of wool. [Illegible] 21. In 17 [blank]. Three cloths made of a sack of wool and no more as I conceived. There be 2,000 of the company, but 200 trade and these offer but 46,000 cloths, which is the reason because Hamburg, Delft, can receive no more. Many Merchant Adventurers buy upon credit and cannot stay for their money, must sell presently. If there were more places of trade, there would be more privileges. I do think, as it is feared, that there will be some hindrance at first by the practice of the company of Adventurers, [f. 130v] yet time and patience will wear it out. Medley cloth is dyed in the wool, dyed and dressed cloth dyed in cloth.

[Sir Thomas] Wentworth. 'Tis a rule that cheapness of cloth must vent the cloth. The high price of our cloth has made the German to drape his own wool. We must undersell them. To effect which, we must take off the impositions. In these needy times at home and dangerous times abroad, would not make this great change.

[Mr. William] Spencer. 'Tis not all one for 1,000 to buy and for 40 to buy, for 40 may more easily conspire together than 1,000, and may sell dear though they buy cheap.

Resolved, that there shall be an enlargement of trade upon dyed and dressed cloths and coloured cloths for other merchants, upon question.

This enlargement of trade not to be by admitting the other merchants into the Company of Merchant Adventurers upon a reasonable fine, but to trade where they please. Resolved, upon question.


[f. 35v]

10 Maii

After the reading of some private bills, a petition was presented on the behalf of the Merchant Adventurers to this effect. That they stood in fear of attachment of their goods for the company's [debts] in foreign parts and therefore desired a proportional allowance until their debts might be paid. And they offered to receive any merchants into their company upon such fine as the House should think fit, with a desire to be admitted into other companies at the same rate.

The House for the debate and settling the questions touching this company was turned into a committee, and Sir Edwin Sandys in the chair.

To the first point of the petition was made these answers. The £50,000 lent the King is already made; the rest, £25,000, was in gifts, and it is no reason to allow interest for bribes. The persons that received it to be called upon to pay it back to the merchants. But all agreed to allow some reasonable proportion for the annual expenses of the company, which were alleged to be £2,000 per annum.

To the second: that the privileges are in respect of the white cloths and so will continue still, by means whereof they will be able to undersell other merchants that shall have no part of their privileges and so their trading there can be no prejudice to them more than now the liberty of merchant strangers.

To the main point, for the continuance of Merchant Adventurers in the sole trade of dyed and dressed cloths, were given these reasons. That white and coloured cloths are packed up both alike and so may fraudulently be conveyed. That if men transport singly they will in this time of war be subject to reprisal; and if there be no government, strangers will eat us up. The [blank] who gave these reasons said that he would give his voice against his [f. 36] judgement, for he saw that the House had beaten upon restraint of trade above 20 years and that nothing would satisfy them but experience, not doubting but we should meet again shortly to set things right where the success had discovered our error.

Mr. Solicitor. If so great a frame be out of time, it will not be reduced in good temper easily. Trade cannot enlarge without government. The merchant must not venture where he will; the adventure is not his own but the stock of the kingdom. The Spanish merchants who are not under government lose 20 per 100 outward, which, though, they hope to recover by their return. This may save themselves, but the kingdom is hurt.

Sir John Savile. That the present want of vent is not by default of the Merchant Adventurer. He had heard this question debated 4 times:

  • 1. It was first brought into this House in the 23 Eliz. Hamburg was then the mart town. The interlopers took away the trade of the inlands who were restrained by the Emperor's mandate, and thereupon a great damp until it was resolved there should be a new patent, which was done in 28; and Germany and the Low Countries put into the grant, which caused trade to quicken again.
  • 2. About 30 Eliz. the Earl of Leicester desired the merchants to furnish him with money, which they did but not sufficient. When he came home, he complained against them. A declaration was made that trade should be free and then grew a second damp, and being restored, trade flourished more than ever it did.
  • 3. By the occasion of the project of dyeing and dressing two years, the company was suppressed and it cannot yet be reduced to the pass that it was before.
  • 4. This present. And divers reasons are to be given why so much cloth cannot now be vented as heretofore:
  •             [1.] The increase of the prices both of cloth and wool.
  •             2. The burdens that are laid upon cloth.
  •             3. The increase of the quantity of wool.

More numbers of sheep are kept, divers fields being turned into pastures, and pasture sheep yields more wool, but 4 or 5 go to a tod whereas heretofore [f. 36v] there were 14 or 15. Much cloth is made beyond sea in Silesia, where wont to be 30,000 cloths a year vented where they now supply themselves and send into Poland 50,000 more. So that all our wool was heretofore turned into cloth, which we are now fain to employ upon other manufactures.

To this purpose was remembered by another the increase of sheep upon the borders of Scotland, in the frontiers of France and in Ireland.

Sir Francis Nethersole. This course cannot enlarge trade. The want of vent grows not from the paucity of merchants but from the war in Germany. There are 1,800 freemen of that company that do not trade at all, and it is unlikely that new merchants will understand better how to vent than those that have been brought up in the course and understand the markets and returns. That which is offered will be of more advantage to the new men than that which we desire, for the privileges which they shall enjoy at Hamburg and in Holland will be of more value than the fine of £50 demanded. For if they be free of the company, besides the abatement in customs which has been mentioned, they shall be free from the excise which will be a third part of their expense. There is no utterance in Germany but at Hamburg, the Emperor's decree being still in force, which was procured by the Hamburgers upon the remove to Stade. The reason only Delf[t] gives such privileges is because the great toll belongs to the town, so that in other places the same will not be obtained. Upon the last project, there was an edict that no man should buy a coloured cloth, which is like to be renewed if they be carried over in any great number. There needs no enlargement of trade, for it is to[o] great already. The excess of importation is the cause of the decay of the kingdom.

10. Within this 20 year[s] there has been 10 millions more imported than in 20 years in Queen Elizabeth's time.

[f. 37] Sir Thomas Wentworth. Not to make an experiment now in a commodity in which all our rents are paid and so many subjects maintained in these needy and dangerous times. If we can so raise the charges that by underselling we may discourage them to make cloth, we shall have vent enough.

On the other part were also divers reasons alleged. This company causes a diminution of trade 3 ways:

  • 1. That men are limited to certain number by the year.
  • 2. In that they are bound to certain times of transportation.
  • 3. The imposition. This is against the law, for 27 books of assizes.

The combination of merchants is enquirable and punishable by common law.

Mr. Comptroller. There is a million lost every year by this patent of the stock of the kingdom. We cannot be in worse case than we are; we shall take nothing from them but enable them [blank] with store, which will breed an emulation who shall ship most and best. There are 2 fears:

  • 1. Of their [blank], we shall remedy that by questioning them for their combination.
  • 2. Of the war, but that is like to be a means to consume cloths.

Mr. [William] Nyell. The Spanish merchants vented a great part of the manufactures when they were out of government. There can be no time fitter for the enlargement than this. In 1614 there were 80,000 white cloths transported, now there are but 50,000; and when we meet next we may then take order for the government.

Mr. [William] Noye. To lay a good tax upon the white cloths and to rate the dyed and dressed. The imposition upon the material of dyeing are causes why we cannot send them over to gain. Alum is here at £24 per ton, beyond sea for [£]15 or £16. The wisdom whereby our predecessors did advance the manufacture of clothing was by laying 40s. upon a sack of wool and but 14d. [f. 37v] upon a sorting cloth and but 3 sorting cloths were made of a sack. The reason why but 50,000 cloths are vented is because Hamburg and Delft can receive no more. Hamburg was desirous of their return and upon their last project lent £25,000 for recovery of their patent, but it was love of themselves. If there be more places and more company, there will be more privilege and the towns will contend who shall show them best welcome.

After this debate these two points were returned, by question:

  • 1. That it was now a fit time to enlarge trade of coloured, dyed and dressed cloths.
  • 2. That the merchants of the outports trading in coloured, dyed and dressed cloths should not be tied, to be free of the Adventurers' company.

But these were reported to the House by SIR EDWIN SANDYS and likewise passed, by question, in the House, SIR FRANCIS NETHERSOLE reclaiming that herein we did the Spanish ambassador the greatest pleasure we could devise.

Hoc Parliamentum prorogatum fuit die Martis, secundo Novembris, Anno Domini 1624, XXII Jacobi I, usque decimum sextum Februarii proxime sequentem. Et ab isto die usque 15 Martii proxime sequentem. Et ab isto die usque 20 Aprilis proxime sequentem. Ante quem diem dietus Rex Jacobus I obiit, scilicet 27 die Martii, unde dictum Parliamentum dissolutum fuit.


[f. 114]

May 100, Monday

A committee of the whole House in the House with a very large debate about the Merchant Adventure[r]s. In conclusion, it was resolved, by question:

  • 1. That the trade of dyed and dressed and mingled cloths should be enlarged and set free.
  • 2. That it should be lawful for all other [f. 114v] merchants as well as themselves to trade in and transport them, though they be not of their company. Vide March 30 et Maii 50.

[Mr. John] Bankes. If the Merchant Adventurer upon this should grow sullen, there be statutes both to examine and punish any combination of merchants against the common good, for trade and freedom of trade is agreeable both to statute law and common law and it is every subject's birthright and no subject can deprive him of it.

Ed. 3, 14, clothing began in this realm because divers undertook and went about to buy up the wools at their own prices. So do the Adventurers now for cloth.