The Charter of the Marchants of Russia, graunted vpon the discouerie of the saide Countrey by King Philip and Queene Marie.
Philip and Marie, by the grace of God King and Queene, &c. To all manner of officers, true Iurie men, ministers and subiects, and to all other people as well within this our Realme or elsewhere vnder our obeysance, iurisdiction, and rule, or otherwise vnto whome these our letters shall bee shewed, seene, or read, greeting.
Whereas wee be credibly informed that our right trusttie, right faithfull, and welbeloued Counsailors, William Marques of Winchester Lord high Treasurer of this our Realme of England, Henrie Earle of Arundel Lord Steward of our housholde, Iohn Earle of Bedford Lord keeper of our priuie Seale, William Earle of Pembroke, William Lorde Howard of Effingham Lorde high Admirall of our saide Realme of England, &c. Haue at their own aduenture, costs and charges, prouided, rigged, and tackled certaine ships, pinnesses, and other meete vessels, and the same furnished with all things necessary haue aduanced and set forward, for to discouer, descrie, and finde Isles, landes, territories, Dominions, and Seigniories vnknowen, and by our subiects before this not commonly by sea frequented, which by the sufferance and grace of Almightie God, it shall chaunce them sailing Northwards, Northeastwards, and Northwestwards, or any partes thereof, in that race or course which other Christian Monarches (being with vs in league and amitie) haue not heeretofore by Seas traffiqued, haunted, or frequented, to finde and attaine by their said aduenture, as well for the glorie of God, as for the illustrating of our honour and dignitie royall, in the increase of the reuenues of our Crowne, and generall wealth of this and other our Realmes and Dominions, and of our subiects of the same: And to this intent our subiects aboue specified and named, haue most humbly beseeched vs, that our abundant grace, fauour and clemencie may be gratiously extended vnto them in this behalfe: whereupon wee inclined to the petition of the foresaide our Counsailours, subiects and marchants, and willing to animate, aduance, further and nourish them in their said godlie, honest, and good purpose, and, as we hope, profitable aduenture, and that they may the more willingly, and readily atchieue the same. Of our especiall grace, certaine knowledge and meere motion, haue graunted, and by these presents doe graunt, for vs, our heires and successours, vnto our said right trustie, and right faithfull, and right wel beloued Counsailours, and the other before named persons, that they by the name of marchants aduenturers of England, for the discouery of lands, territories, Iles, Dominions, and Seigniories vnknowen, and not before that late aduenture or enterprise by sea or Nauigation, commonly frequented as aforesaid, shalbe from henceforth one bodie and perpetuall fellowship and communaltie of themselues, both in deede and in name, and them, by the names of Marchants aduenturers for the discouerie of lands, territories, Iles and seigniories vnknowen, and not by the seas, and Nauigations, before their saide late aduenture or enterprise by sea or Nauigation commonly frequented, We doe imcorporate, name, and declare by these presents, and that the same fellowship or communalty from henceforth shalbe, and may haue one Gouernour of the saide fellowship, and communaltie of Marchants aduenturers.
And in consideration that one Sebastian Cabota hath bin the chiefest setter forth of this iourney or voyage, therefore we make, ordeine, and constitute him the said Sebastian to be the first and present gouernour of the same fellowship and communaltie, by these presents. To haue and enioy the said office of Gouernour, to him the said Sebastian Cabota during his naturall life, without amouing or dismissing from the same roome.
And furthermore, we graunt vnto the same fellowship and communaltie and their successors, that they the saide fellowship and communaltie, and their successors after the decease of the saide Sebastian Cabota, shall, and may freely and lawfully in places conuenient and honest, assemble themselues together, or so many of them as will or can assemble together, as well within our citie of London, or elsewhere, as it shall please them, in such sort and maner, as other worshipfull corporations of our saide citie haue vsed to assemble, and there yeerely name, elect and choose one Gouernour or two of themselues, and their liberties, and also as well yeerely during the natural life of the said Sebastian Cabota now Gouernour, as also at the election of such saide Gouernour or gouernours before his decease, to choose, name, and appoint eight and twentie of the most sad, discreete, and honest persons of the saide fellowship, and communaltie of Marchant aduenturers, as is aboue specified, and 4. of the most expert and skilfull persons of the same 28. to be named and called Consuls, and 24. of the residue, to be named and called Assistants to the saide Gouernour or gouernours, and Consuls for the time being, which shal remaine and stand in their authorities for one whole yeere then next following. And if it shall fortune the saide Gouernour, Consuls, and assistants, or any of them so to be elected, and chosen as is aforesaid, to die within the yeere after his or their election, that then and so often, it shall and may be lawfull to and for the said fellowship, and communalty, to elect and choose of themselues other Gouernour or gouernours, Consuls and assistants, in the place and steade of such as so shall happen to die, to serue out the same yeere.
And further we do make, ordeine, and constitute George Barnes knight and Alderman of our Citie of London, William Garret Alderman of our saide Citie, Anthonie Husie, and Iohn Suthcot, to be the first and present 4. Consuls of the said fellowship and communalty by these presents, to haue and enioy the said offices of Consuls to them the said George Barnes, William Garret, Anthony Husie, and Iohn Suthcot, for terme of one whole yere next after the date of these our letters patents: And we doe likewise make, ordeine and constitute Sir Iohn Gresham knight, Sir Andrew Iudde knight, Sir Thomas White knight, Sir Iohn Yorke knight, Thomas Offley the elder, Thomas Lodge, Henry Herdson, Iohn Hopkins, William Watson, Will. Clifton, Richard Pointer, Richard Chamberlaine, William Mallorie, Thomas Pallie the elder, William Allen, Henry Becher, Geffrey Walkenden, Richard Fowles, Rowland Heyward, George Eaton, Iohn Ellot, Iohn Sparke, Blase Sanders, and Miles Mording, to be the first and present 24. Assistants to the saide Gouernour or governours, and Consuls, and to the said fellowship and communaltie by these presents, to haue and enioy the said offices of assistants to them for terme of one whole yere, next after the date of these our letters-patents. And further, we for vs, our heires and successors, as much as in vs is, wil and graunt by these presents vnto the saide Gouernour, Consuls, assistants, fellowship and company of Marchants aduenturers aforesaid, and to their successors, that the said gouernour or gouernours, 4. Consuls, and 24. assistants, that now by these patents are nominated and appointed, or that hereafter by the saide fellowship and communaltie of marchants aduenturers, or the more part of them, which shalbe then present, so from time to time to be chosen, so that there be 15. at the least wholy agreed therof, the said Gouernour or gouernours, or one of them, and 2. of the said Consuls shalbe there, and 12. of the residue of the said number of 15. shall be of the saide assistants, and in the absence of such Gouernour, that then 3. of the said Consuls, and 12. of the saide assistants at the least for the time being shal and may haue, vse and exercise ful power and authority to rule and gouerne all and singuler the Marchants of the said fellowship and communaltie, and to execute and doe full and speedie iustice to them, and euery of them, in all their causes, differences, variances, controuersies, quarrels, and complaints, within any our realmes, dominions and iurisdictions onely moued, and to be moued touching their merchandise, traffikes, and occupiers aforesaid, or the good order or rule of them or any of them.
Also wee for vs, our heires and successours, so much as in vs is, doe likewise by these presents graunt, that the said Gouernour, Consuls, assistants, fellowship and communaltie, and their successors shall and may haue perpetuall succession, and a common Seale which shall perpetually serue for the affaires and businesse of the saide fellowship and communaltie. And that they and their successours, shall and may bee for euer able persons, and capax in the lawe, for to purchase and possesse in fee and perpetuitie, and for term of life or liues, or for terme of yeeres or otherwise, lands, tenements, rents, reuersions, and other possessions, and hereditaments whatsoeuer they bee, by the name of the Gouernour, Consuls, assistants, fellowship and communaltie of the Marchants aduenturers by Seas and Nauigations for the discouerie of landes, territories, Iles, Dominions, and Seigniories vnknowen, and before the saide last aduenture or enterprise by seas not frequented, as before is specified, and by the same names shall and may lawfully alien, graunt, let and set the same or any part thereof to any person or persons able in the lawe to take and receiue the same. So that they doe not graunt nor alien the same, or any part thereof into mortmaine, without speciall licence of vs, our heires or successours, first had and obtained.
Also wee for vs, our heires and successours haue graunted, and by these presents doe graunt vnto the saide Gouernours, Consuls, assistants, fellowship and communaltie of the saide Marchants and to their successours, that they and their successours, shall and may lawfully purchase vnto them and their successors for euer, landes, tenements and hereditaments whatsoeuer, of the cleare yeerely value of threescore sixe pounds, thirteen shillings and foure pence of lawful money of England and not aboue, as well of such lands, tenements and hereditaments, as be holden or shall be holden of vs, our heires or successours, as of any other person or persons, the statutes prouided against alienations into mortmaine, or any of them, or any article or clause in them or any of them contained, or any other lawe, custome, statute or prouision to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding. And that they by the name of the Gouernour, Consuls, assistants, fellowship and communaltie of Marchants aduenturers, for the discouerie of lands, territories, Isles, dominions and Seigniories vnknowen by the Seas and Nauigations, and not before the said late aduenture or enterprise by seas frequented as aforesaid, shall and may be able in the law to implead, and be impleaded, to answere, and to be answered, to defende, and to be defended before whatsoeuer Iudge or Iustice, temporall or spirituall, or other persons whatsoeuer, in whatsoeuer court, or courts, and in all actions personall, reall, and mixt, and in euery of them, and in all plaints of nouel disseison, and also in all plaints, suites, quarels, affaires, businesses and demaunds whatsoeuer they bee, touching and concerning the saide fellowship and communaltie, and the affaires and businesse of the same onely, in as ample manner and forme, as any other corporation of this our Realme may doe.
Moreouer, wee for vs, our heires and successours, haue giuen and graunted, and by these presents doe giue and graunt vnto the said Gouernour, Consuls, assistants, fellowshippe, and communaltie of Marchants aduenturers aforesaide, and to their successours, that the saide Gouernour, or Gouernours, Consuls and assistants, and their successors, in maner, forme, and number afore rehearsed, shall haue full power and authoritie from time to time hereafter, to make, ordein, establish and erect all such statutes, actes and ordinaunces, for the gouernement, good condition, and laudable rule of the saide fellowship and communaltie of Marchants aduenturers aforesaid, as to them shall bee thought good, meete, conuenient and necessarie, and also to admit vnto the saide Corporation and fellowship to be free of the same, such and as many persons, as to them shal bee thought good, meete, conuenient and necessarie. And that euery such person or persons, as shall fortune heereafter to bee admitted into the saide fellowshippe, communaltie and corporation, shal from the time of his or their admittance, be free of the same. And also wee will, and by these presents, graunt for vs, our heires and successours, vnto the saide Gouernours, Consuls, assistants, fellowship, communaltie of Marchants aduenturers aforesaid, and to their successours, that the Gouernour, or gouernors, Consuls and assistants of the same, in maner, forme, and number afore rehearsed, and their successours for the time being, shall, and may haue full power and authoritie by these presents from time to time, as to them shal seeme good, to limite, set, ordeine and make, mulcts, and penalties by fines, forfeitures, and imprisonments, or any of them vpon any offender of the saide fellowship and communaltie, for any offence touching the same fellowhip and communaltie, and also that all acts and ordinances by them or their successours to bee made, which time shall thinke not necessarie or preiudiciall to the saide fellowship or communaltie, at al times to reuoke, breake, frustrate, annihilate, repeale and dissolue at their pleasure and liberty. And further, wee will, that if any of the saide fellowship and communaltie shalbe found contrarious, rebellious, or disobedient to the saide Gouernour or gouernours, Consuls, and the said assistants for the time being, or to any statutes, acts or ordinances by them made or to be made, that then the saide Gouernour or gouernours, Consuls, and the saide assistants, in maner, forme, and number aboue specified, for the time being, shall and may by vertue of these presents, mulct, and punish euery such offender or offenders, as the quality of the offence requireth, according to their good discretions.
And further, we will that none of the saide offender or offenders shall decline from the power of the saide Gouernour, or gouernours, Consuls and assistants, in maner, forme, and number abouesaide for the time being: so alwayes, that the saide actes, statutes and ordinances, doe onely touch and concerne the saide Gouernour or gouernours, Consuls, assistants, and the saide fellowship and communaltie of our before named Marchants aduenturers, or the men of the same fellowship and communaltie, and none other; And so alwayes, that such their acts, statutes and ordinances bee not against our prerogatiue, lawes, statutes, and customes of our realmes and Dominions, nor contrary to the seuerall duetie of any our subiects towards vs, our heires and successours, nor contrarie to any compacts, treaties, or leagues, by vs or any our progenitours heretofore had or made, or hereafter by vs, our heires and successours to bee made, to or with any forreine Prince or potentate, nor also to the preiudice of the corporation of the Maior, communalties and Citizens of our Citie of London, nor to the preiudice of any person or persons, bodie politique, or corporate or incorporate, iustly pretending, clayming, or hauing any liberties, franchises, priuiledges, rightes or preheminences, by vertue or pretext of anie graunt, gift, or Letters patents, by vs, or anie our Progenitours, heeretofore giuen, graunted, or made.
Moreouer, we for vs, our heires, and successours, will, and by these presents, doe graunt vnto the said Gouernors, Consuls, assistants, fellowship and communaltie of our Marchants aforesaid, that their said Gouernour or gouernours, Consuls and assistants, and their successors for the time being, in maner, forme and number aboue rehearsed, shal haue full power and authoritie to assigne, constitute and ordaine one officer, or diuers officers as well within our aforesaide Citie of London, as also in any other place or places of this our Realme of England, or else where within our dominions, which officer or officers, wee will to be named and called by the name of Sergeant or Serjeants to the fellowship or communalty of the said marchants, and that the said sergeant or sergeants, shall and may haue full power and authoritie by these presents, to take, leuie and gather all maner fines, forfeitures, penalties and mulcts of euery person and persons, of the saide fellowship and communaltie conuict, and that shalbe conuicted, vpon or for breaking of any statutes, acts, ordinances, to bee made by the saide Gouernour or gouernours, Consuls and assistants for the time being.
And further, we will and also graunt for vs, our heires, and successours, that the saide officer or officers shall haue further power and authoritie for the default of payment, or for disobedience in this behalfe (if neede be) to set hands and arrest aswell the bodie and bodies, as the goods and chattels of such offender, and offenders, and transgressers, in euery place and places not franchised. And if it shall fortune any such offender or offenders, their goods and chattels or any part thereof, to be in any citie, borough, towne incorporate, or other place franchised or priuiledged, where the said officer or officers may not lawfully intromit or intermeddle, that then the Maior, shirifes, baylifes, and other head officers, or ministers, within euery such citie, borough, towne incorparate or place or places franchised, vpon a precept to them, or any of them, to be directed from the gouernour or gouernours, Consuls and assistants of the said fellowship, in number and forme aforesaid, vnder the common seale of the sayd fellowship and communaltie for the time being, shall and may attach and arrest the body or bodies of such offender or offenders, as also take, and seise the goods and chattels of all and euery such offender or offenders, being within any such place or places franchised, and the same body and bodies, goods and chattels of all and euery such offender and offenders, being within any such place or places franchised, and every part therof so attached and seazed, shall according to the tenor and purport of the sayd precept, returne, and deliuer vnto the sayd officer or officers of the aforesaid fellowship, and communaltie.
And further, we will and grant for vs, our heires and successours by these presents, that all, and euery such Maior, shirife, baylife, or other head officers or ministers of any citie, borough, towne incorporate, or other places franchised, shall not be impeached, molested, vexed or sued in any our court or courts, for executing or putting in execution of any of the said precept or precepts.
K. Philip and Queene Mary hereby do disannul Pope Alexanders diuision.177 . And furthermore, we of our ample and abundant grace, meere motion, and certaine knowledge, for vs, our heires, and successors, as much as in vs is, haue giuen and granted, and by these presents doe giue and grant vnto the sayd gouernour, Consuls, assistants, fellowship, and conimunaltie of Marchants aduenturers, and to their successors, and to the Factor and Factors, assigne and assignes of euery of them, ful and free authoritie, libertie, facultie and licence, and power to saile to all portes, regions, dominions, territories, landes, Isles, Islands, and coastes of the sea, wheresoeuer before their late aduenture or enterprise vnknowen, or by our Marchants and subiects by the seas not heretofore commonly frequented, vnder our banner, standerd, flags and ensignes, with their shippe, ships, barke, pinnesses, and all other vessels of whatsoeuer portage, bulke, quantitie, or qualitie they may be, and with any Mariners, and men as they will leade with them in such shippe or shippes, or other vessels at their owne and proper costs and expences, for to traffique, descrie, discouer and finde, whatsoeuer Isle, Islands, countreis, regions, prouinces, creekes, armes of the sea, riuers and streames, as wel of Gentiles, as of any other Emperor, king, prince, gouernor or Lord whatsoeuer he or they shalbe, and in whatsoeuer part of the world they be situated, being before the sayd late aduenture or enterprise vnknowen, and by our Marchants and subiects not commonly frequented, and to enter and land in the same, without any maner of denying, paine, penaltie or forfeiture to be had or taken by anie our lawes, customes or statutes to our vse, or to the vse of our heires or successors for the same.
And we haue also granted, and by these presents, for vs, our heires and successors, doe graunt vnto the sayd Gouernours, Consuls, assistants, fellowship and communalty, and to their successours, and to their Factors and assignes, and to euery of them, licence for to reare, plant, erect, and fasten our banners, standards, flags, and Ensignes, in whatsoeuer citie, towne, village, castle, Isle, or maine lande, which shall be by them newly found, without any the penalties, forfeitures, or dangers aforesayde, and that the sayd fellowship and communalty, and their successors, Factors and assignes and euery of them shall and may subdue, possesse, and occupie, all maner cities, townes, Isles, and maine lands of infidelitie, which is or shal be by them, or any of them newly founde or descried, as our vassals and subiects, and for to acquire and get the Dominion, title, and iurisdiction of the same Cities, Townes, Castles, Villages, Isles, and maine landes, which shall bee by them, or any of them newly discouered or found vnto vs, our heires and successours for euer.
And furthermore, whereas by the voyage of our subiects in this last yeere178 attempted by Nauigation, towards the discouerie and disclosure of vnknowen places, Realmes, Islandes, and Dominions by the seas not frequented, it hath pleased Almighty God to cause one of the three shippes by them set foorth for the voyage, and purpose aboue mentioned, named the Edward Bonaventure, to arriue, abide, and winter within the Empire and dominions of the high and mightie Prince our cousin and brother, Lord Iohn Basiliuich Emperour of all Russia, Volodomer, great duke of Moscouie, &c. Who, of his clemencie, for our loue and zeale, did not onely admitte the Captaine, and marchants our subiects into his protection, and Princely presence, but also receiued and interteined them very graciously, and honourably, granting vnto them by his letters addressed vnto vs, franke accesse into all his Seigniories and dominions, with license freely to traffique in and out with all his Subiects in all kinde of Marchandise, with diuers other gracious priuiledges, liberties and immunities specified in his sayde letters vnder his Signet: Know yee therefore that wee of our further royall fauour and munificence, of our meere motion, certaine knowledge, and speciall grace, for vs our heires and successours, haue giuen and graunted, and by these presents doe giue and graunt vnto the same Gouernours, Consuls, assistants, fellowship, and comunalty aboue named, and to their successours, as much as in vs is, that all the mayne landes, Isles, Portes, hauens, creekes, and riuers of the said mighty Emperour of all Russia, and great Duke of Mosco, &c. The largenes of the priuiledge of the Moscouite companie. And all and singuler other lands, dominions territories, Isles, Portes, hauens, creekes, riuers, armes of the sea, of al and euery other Emperor, king, prince, ruler, and gouernour, whatsoeuer he or they before the said late aduenture or enterprise not knowen, or by our foresayd marchants and subiects by the seas not commonly frequented, nor by any part nor parcell thereof lying Northwards, Northeastwards, or Northwestwards, as is aforesayd, by sea shall not be visited, frequented nor hanted by any our subiects, other then of the sayd company and felowship, and their successours without expresse licence, agreement and consent of the Gouernour, Consuls, and Assistants of the said felowship and communaltie aboue named, or the more part of them, in manner and number aforesayd, for the time being, vpon paine of forfeiture and losse, as well of the shippe and shippes, with the appurtenances, as also of all the goods, marchandises, and things whatsoeuer they be, of those our subiects, not being of the sayd felowship and communalty, which shall attempt and presume to saile to any of those places, which bee, or hereafter shall happen to bee found, and traffiked vnto: the one hafe of the same forfeiture to be to the vse of vs, our heires and successors, and the other halfe to be to the vse of the sayd fellowship and communaltie. And if it shall fortune, anie stranger or strangers, for to attempt to hurt, hinder, or endamage the same marchants, their factors, deputies, or assignes, or any of them in sailing, going or returning at any time in the sayd aduenture, or for to saile or trade to or from any those places, landes or coastes, which by the sayd marchants, their factors, deputies and assignes haue bene, or shall bee descried, discouered and found, or frequented, aswell within the coastes and limites of gentility, as within the dominions and Seigniories of the sayd mighty Emperour and Duke, and of all and euery other Emperour, King, Prince, Ruler and gouernour whatsoeuer he or they be, before the sayd late aduenture or enterprise not knowen by any our said marchants and subiects, by the seas not commonly frequented, and lying Northwards, Northwestwards or Northeastwards as aforesaid, then wee will and grant, and by these presents doe licence, and authorise for vs, our heires and successors, the said marchants, their factors, deputies, and assignes, and euery of them to doe their best in their defence, to resist the same their enterprises and attempts. Willing therefore, and straightly commanding and charging al and singular our Officers, Maiors, Sherifes, Escheators, Constables, Bailifes, and all and singuler other our ministers and liege men, and subiects whatsoeuer, to bee aiding, fauouring, helping and assisting vnto the sayd gouernour or gouernours, Consuls, assistants, fellowship and communalty, and to their successors and deputies, factors, seruants, and assignes, and to the deputies, factors and assignes of euery of them, in executing and enioying the premisses, as well on land as in the sea, from time to time, and at all times when you or any of you shall be thereunto required. In witnesse whereof, &c.
Apud Westmonasterium, 6 die Feb. Annis Regnorum nostrorum, primo et secundo.179
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