A Letter of the Moscouie companie to their Agents in Russia, Master Henrie Lane, Christopher Hudson, and Thomas Glouer sent in their seuenth voyage to Saint Nicholas with three ships, the Swallowe, the Philip and Marie, and the Iesus the fifth of May, 1560.
After our heartie commendations to you. The twelfth day of the last moneth here arriued in safety, thanks be to God, our two ships, and by them we receiued your letters and inuoices very well perceiuing what you haue laden in them. The tallowe came euill conditioned and broken, by reason it came in Corrobias, wee lose and spoyle more then the Caske will cost, and much of this tallowe is verie euill, blacke, soft and putrified. Touching the Waxe, as yet wee knowe not howe the weight will rise, by reason that some of it was lost in the barkes. The weight of the last yeeres waxe did not rise so well as the other yeeres before it did. There had neede good heede bee taken in the weighing. Also much of this Waxe had a great foote, and is not so faire waxe as in times past wee baue had. You must cause the foote to bee taken off before you doe weigh it, or else you must seeke to haue a good allowance for it. The traine Oyles which you laded this yeere came well conditioned, and the caske was good and of a good sise. But if they were made a little bigger, it were the better, for they be not hogsheads. You haue written to vs to send you caske which is not heere to be had, neither doe wee thinke it so best if it were heere, considering it must goe either shaken and bounde vp, or else emptie, which will bee pesterable, and likewise will shrinke and drie, and not be fitte to lade oyles in. Therefore our minde is, you shall cause so much caske to bee made there of the sise of hogsheads as will serue both for; your oyles and tallowe, and let them be well trimmed with pitch on the heads and seames, and stand full of water three or foure dayes before you put Oyles in them; Your Cowper may bee ouerseer to them that make them, that they be well hooped and cleere tymber without knottes, the woorst caske you may put the tallowe in. Hee that seeth the filling of the oyles had neede to looke well to it, for there was much water in this that, came nowe. Wee perceiue you haue bought and haue in a readinesse one hundred and fourtie tunnes of oyles, and that if neede bee you may haue more store. Wherefore we doe minde to send, you shipping for three hundred tunnes and vpwards, because we would haue this next Summer as great a returne as you can of the commodities of that Countrey, as also such of our wares as you haue that are not vendible, or will not be solde or bartered, because we would haue a ful knowledge and state of our accounts. The Sables which you sent this yeere be very base, among them all we could not make one principall timber: wee haue alwayes written vnto you to send them that bee good or else none. The Woluerings were indifferent, and some of the wolues, the rest verie base, the Lusernes but meane, the Lettes not so large skinnes as we hane had: the best is, they were of a new death. As for the Ermines, they cost more there with you, then we can sell them for here. Therefore buy no more of them, nor of Squirels, for wee lost the one halfe in the other. The wares that we would haue you prouide against the comming of the shippes are, Waxe, Tallowe, trayne Oyles, Flaxe, Cables and Ropes, and Furres, such as we haue written to you for in our last letters by the shippes: and from hencefoorth not to make any great prouision of any rich Furres except principall Sables and Lettes: for now there is a Proclamation made that no furres shall be worne here, but such as the like is growing here within this our Realme. Also we perceiue that there might be a great deale of tallowe more prouided in a yeere than you send. Therefore our minde is, you should enlarge somewhat more in the price, and to send vs if you can three thousand podes a yeere: for we doe most good in it. And likewise the Russes, if you would giue them a reasonable price for their wares, woulde be the willinger to buy and sell with you, and not to carie so much to Nouogrode as they doe, but woulde rather bring it to Vologda to you, both Waxe, Tallowe, Flaxe, Hempe, and all kinde of other wares fitte for our Countrey. Our minde is you should prouide for the next ships fiue hundred Losh hides, of them that be large and faire, and thickest in hand, and to be circumspect in the choosing, that you buy them that bee killed in season and well dryed and whole. If they be good we may sell them here for sixteene shillings and better the piece, wee would haue the whole skinnes that is, the necke and legges withal, for these that you sent now lacke their neckes and legges. Neuerthelesse for this time you must sende them as you may get them: if you coulde finde the meanes that the haire might bee clipped off them, they woulde not take so much roome in the shippes as they doe. We perceiue by your letters that the prices of Waxe doe rise there with you, by reason that the Poles and Lifelanders doe trade into Russia by licence: which, if there shoulde bee peace betweene them, would be an occasion that all other commodities in Russia woulde rise to a bigger price, and not be sufficient to serue them and vs too, and likewise woulde bring downe there the price of our commodities. Therefore we thinke it good you shoulde make a supplication to the Emperour in the name of The Companie to returne the trade from Rye and Reuel to vs, especially for such wares as wee doe buy: promising that wee will bee bounde to take them at a reasonable price, as wee haue bought them in times past: and likewise that wee will bring to them such wares of ours, as are thought fitte for the Countrey, and so sell them at such reasonable prices as wee haue done. If this shoulde not come to passe, wee might be out of hope of doing any good by the trade there: but that we haue a further hope of some good trade to be found out by Master Antonie Ienkinson: by reason we doe perceiue by your letters, that raw silke is as plentifull in Persia, as flaxe is in Russia: beside other commodities that may come from thence. Wee vnderstand by your letters that you be at a point with the Russe for the Waxe, Tallow, and traine oyles that he shipped the last yere for 311 robles 20 altines, which is well: although much be not gotten by it, but because they should not vnderstand our reckonings. We much maruel what you mean to buy Seale skins and tanne them. All that you haue sent in times past lie here vnsold, and will yeelde no money. If you send 100 of them tawed with the haire on, they will bee solde, or else not. In our shippe we will send you such things as you write to haue for the ropers: and wee would they should make more store of small cables and ropes, as cables of 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. inches. For these great cables be not for euery man; and the greatest cables bee not best laded: and likewise small ropes for shroudes, sholes, and other small tackeling: and that you looke better to the spinning of their yarne that it be euen and well tarred. The sables that you doe mind to send vs let them be principall and fayre, and not past foure or fine timbars. For they will not be so commonly worne here as they haue bin with noble men: and likewise of Luserns send fewe and principal good. We mind to send you in our shippes 100 tunnes of salte. And because we perceiue that balast is hardly to be had at our lading place there with you, we would you shoulde haue in a readinesse 100 tunnes of the white stones whereof you sent vs home an example two yeres past. And likewise to haue in a readinesse mastes of all sortes for our shippes: for we know not what neede wee shall haue of them. The bringer hereof is Thomas Alcock, he could not be suffered the last yeare to passe through Poland. And as we, wrote vnto you in our shippes, hee is our seruant for yeares: And for that we know him to be honest, true and painefull, our mind is he shalbe placed where he may do best seruice. He doth know the commodities and discommodities of all kinde of wares which you doe send vs. Therefore we would you should credite his sayings both in quantitie of wares and goodnes, as also wherin is most our profit. We see by your letters that your opinion is that the rope-makers should remaine there two yeres more; and that you haue prouided great plentie of hempe, which we are content withall. But as yet we haue solde none of our cables or halsers, neither is the proofe of them knowen; because the first you sent vs were made of flaxe, which are worth no money: for after they be once wet they will rotte and moulder away like mosse. And those which you sent vs now last, by misfortune there with you at the lading were wette and fretted in many places, and haue lost their colour: by meanes whereof they be not so vendible as if they had come well conditioned. Of an hard beginning we trust God will send vs a good ending. We hope in your next letters to heare good newes of the proceedings of Master Antonie Ienkinson. We perceiue by his letters that Astracan is not so good a Mart towne as the fame hath gone of it: and maruell much that round pewter should be so good, and good chepe there, and from whence it should come. And whereas you write that you wil come for England in our next shippes, we would gladly haue you to remaine there vntill the next yere following, for the better instruction of our seruants there; who have not had so long time of continuance for the language and knowledge of the people, countrey, and wares as you haue had. Christopher Hodson and Thomas Glouer appointed Agents 1560. Neuerthelesse if you will needs come away, we haue no doubt, but that you will leaue good order with our seruants there, namely with Christopher Hodson and Thomas Glouer, whom we appoint to remaine there as Agents in your roome, till further order bee taken: not doubting but that they will vse themselues so discreetely and wisely in all their doings, as shall be to the worship and benefite of this company. And as we haue a good hope in them that they will be carefull, diligent and true in all their doings: so haue we no lesse hope, in all the rest of our seruants there, that they will bee not onely obedient to them (considering what roome they be in) but also will be carefull, diligent and true euery one in his roome and place for the benefite and profite of the company: That hereafter in the absence of others they may be called and placed in the like roome there or elsewhere. And if you find any to be disobedient and stobborne, and will not be ruled; wee will you shall send him home in our shippes: who shall find such small fauour and friendship during the time that he hath to serue, as by his disobedience and euill seruice hee hath deserued. And whereas Christopher Hodson hath written to come home, as partly he hath good cause, considering the death of his father and mother: yet in regard that Sir George Barne and the Ladie his wife were his special friends in his absence, we doubt not but that he wil remain in the roome, which we haue appointed him, if you doe not tarie and remaine there, till farther order be taken: and for his seruice and paines hee shall be considered, as reason is, as friendly as if his friends were liuing. Thus we trust you will take such order the one to remaine at the Mosco, and the other at Colmogro, or elsewhere, as most neede is. Thomas Alcocke is desirous to be in the Mosco: neuerthelesse you shall find him reasonable to serue where he may doe most good. The 62 robles which you receiued of Iohn Boucher we haue payed him here, and also the 8 robles, which you receiued the yere before of Christopher Rose, and the money which you receiued more of George Burton, for the which we haue you our debtors. Thus we rest, referring that which is here omitted to the report of the bringer: and so God haue you in his keeping. Also we would that you should send vs in our shippes 200 horse-clothes more. The things before written wee would that you should let our seruants see and reade, to the intent they may perceiue our mindes.
This letter before written is the copie of one sent you by Thomas Alcock, trusting that hee was with you long since. Stockholme. The 26 day of the last moneth we receiued a letter from him, dated in Stockholme in Sweden the 14 day of Ianuary, and we perceiue by his letter that hee had talked with a Dutch man that came lately from the Mosco, who informed him that our friend Master Antony Ienkinson was returned to the Mosco in September last past, but how farre he had beene, or what he had done, he could not tell. Iohn Luck taken prisoner in Lieflande. Also he wrote that one Iohn Lucke a Ioyner was taken by the Liefelanders, and put in prison. As yet wee haue not heard from the sayd Iohn Lucke, nor know not whether he be released out of prison or not. We suppose that by him you wrote some letter which as yet is not come to our hands: so that we thinke hee is yet in prison, or otherwise dispatched out of the way. The fifteenth day of December wee receiued a letter from Christopher Hodson, dated in the Mosco the 29 of Iuly, by the way of Danske: which is in effect a copie of such another receiued from him in our shippes. The Swallow. You shal vnderstand that we haue laden in three good shippes of ours these kind of wares following: to wit, in the Swallowe of London, Master vnder God Steuen Burrow, 34 fardels N’o 136 broad short clothes, and foure fardels N’o 58 Hampshire Kersies: and 23 pipes of bastards and seckes, and 263 pieces of raisins and 4 hogsheds N’o 154 pieces of round pewter, and ten hogsheds and poncheons of prunes, and one dryfatte with Almonds. The Philip and Marie. And in the Philip and Marie, Master vnder God Thomas Wade, 25 fardels N’o 100 broad clothes, and three fardels N’o 42 Hampshire Kersies and thirtie pipes of seckes and bastards, and 100 pieces of raisins. The Iesus. And in the Iesus of London, Master vnder God Arthur Pette, 10 fardels N’o 40 broade shorte clothes, and twenty seuen pipes of bastards and seckes, as by the Inuoices herewith inclosed may appeare: Also you shall receiue such necessaries as you did write to bee sent for the rope makers: trusting that you shall haue better successe with them which you shall send vs in these ships, then with the rest which you haue sent vs yet: for we as yet haue sold none of them. And whereas we wrote vnto you in our former letter, that we would send you a hundred tunnes of salte, by reason it is so deare here we doe send you but nine tunnes and a halfe, for it cost here tenpence the bushell the first penie: namely in the Swallow 6 tunnes and a halfe, in the Philip and Marie one tunne and a halfe, and in the Iesus one tunne and a halfe: The 4 hogsheads of round pewter goe in the Swallow and in the Philip and Marie N’o 154 pieces, as is aforesaid. We send you three ships, trusting that you haue prouided according to our former writing good store of lading for them. If yee haue more wares then will lade the ships, let it be Traine oyles that you leaue behinde: the price is not here so good as it was; it is worth here 9 pound the tunne. We thinke it good you should let the smaller ship bring as much of the traine as she can cary: And that the masters of the ships do looke wel to the romaging, for they might bring away a great deale more than they doe, if they would take paine in the romaging: and bestowe the traine by it selfe, and the waxe and tallowe by it selfe: for the leakage of the traine doth fowle the other wares much. As for Allard the skinner, if you thinke good he may come home in these shippes. We haue no doubt but that you Henrie Lane, if you minde to come home now in these ships as you requested, will leaue such good order there with our seruants as shall bee for our most profite and their preferment, if they doe their dueties diligently and truely. If our friend Master Antonie Ienkinson bee returned, and meane to come away in these ships to declare his mind and opinion of his trauaile, if need require and he be so minded he may returne thither by land and be there by the fine of Ianuarie or before. But as we be vncertaine whether he be returned or not: so we know not what he hath done, nor what benefite may arise hereafter of his trauaile. Therefore in this wee remit it to his and your good discretions. Wee send you Thomas Hawtrey which is our seruant for yeeres: our minde is he should be placed, where he may doe best seruice.
Also we send you Nicholas Chancelour to remaine there, who is our apprentice for yeeres: our minde is hee should be set about such businesse as he is most fit for: he hath been kept at writing schoole along: he hath his Algorisme, and hath vnderstanding of keeping of bookes of reckonings. We send you now but 100 Kersies: but against the next yeere, if occasion serue, wee will send you a greater quantitie, according as you shall aduise vs: One of the pipes of seckes that is in the Swallow, which hath 2 round compasses upon the bung, is to be presented to the Emperour: for it is special good. The nete waight of the 10 puncheons of prunes is 4300. 2 thirds 1 pound. It is written particularly vpon the head of euery puncheon: and the nete weight of the fatte of almonds is 500 li. two quarters. The raisins, prunes, and almonds you were best to dispatch away at a reasonable price, and principally the raisins, for in keeping of them will be great losse in the waight, and the fruit will decay. We thinke it good that you prouide against the next yeere for the comming of our shippes 20 or 30 bullockes killed and salted, for beefe is very deare here. Therefore you were best to saue some of this salt that we doe send you in these ships for the purpose. The salt of Russia is not so good as Baye salt. The salte of that countrey is not so good. In this you may take the opinion of the masters of the shippes. Foxe skinnes white, blacke and russet vendible in England. Foxe skins, white, blacke, and russet will be vendible here. The last yere you sent none: but there were mariners that bought many. If any of the mariners doe buy any trifling furres or other commodities, we will they shall be registred in our pursers bookes, to the intent we may know what they be. We desire to know how the Emperour tooke the letter which we sent in our ships, as an answere to the letter that came in his name and vnder his seale for the sixe thousand dallers. May 5. 1560. Thus wee rest, committing you to God, from London the fift day of May 1560.
For lacke of time the gouernours haue not firmed this letter: which is the copie of the other two letters firmed by them.
Yours, William Mericke. Yours, Blase Sanders.
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