A letter of Thomas Alcocke to the worshipfull Richard Gray, and Henrie Lane Agents in Moscouia from Tirwill in Polonia, written in Tirwill the 26. of Aprill 1558.
My duety premised vnto your worships, with commendations &c. It may please you to be aduertised, that my last I sent from Smolensco, which I trust you haue receiued with other letters to diuers of our Englishmen, wherein I certified you of my long retayning there, as also of my departure from thence, and howe that I had hired a Totar to bring mee to Danske. We came to a certaine village on Satterday the sixe and twentieth of Februarie, and there remained that night and Sunday to refresh our horses, intending to haue gone away on Munday earely. But on Saterday at night one of his neighbours departed to Tirwill, and there declared to the Captaine howe that at such a place there was a Dutch man that was come from the Mosco, and woulde ride to Danske, saying, for the one, I cannot tell what he is. The Captaine incontinent ridde to the King to shewe him thereof, so that without any delay there was sent out for mee one of the Gentlemen of the Kings house, and one of the Mesnickes of the Towne with sixe Officers to take mee. They came thither in the night about midnight, and there apprehended mee and tooke all that I had from me: they left me nothing but my clothes to put on my backe, and so brought mee to Tirwill to the Captaines house, where before I dyned, I had a payre of fetters clapped on my legges, wherewithall I sate vntill it was Munday in the Easter-weeke. On which day, after long and earnest calling to the Captaine as he ridde by the windowe, he commaunded the Marshall that mine yrons shoulde be taken off, but no worde I could heare when I should be deliuered out of captiuitie till it was Saint George his day: on which day I was had before the Marshall, who declared vnto me that the Kings Maiestie had shewed his mercie and goodnesse towardes mee: for his pleasure was that I should be deliuered out of prison to depart into England, but no way else. So after I had giuen thankes for the Kings Maiesties goodnesse shewed vnto me, I desired him that he woulde be a meane that I might haue the remaynder of such thinges as were taken from me restored vnto me againe. Hee made me answere, that I might thanke God that I escaped with my head, and that if euer there came any more of vs through the land, they should not so doe. The weeke before Easter they deliuered mee my Corobia againe with all thinges that were therein. They tooke from mee in money nine Hungers gylderns in golde, fiue shillings foure pence in Lettoes money, fourtie Altines in Russe money, whereof twentie and more were for tokens, halfe an angell and a quarter of Master Doctour Standishes, with his golde ring. Doctor Standish the Emperours Phisition. Your two pieces of money (Master Gray) that you sent to your wife and daughter, with my two pieces of Boghary money. Of all this I had eight Hungers gilderns deliuered mee the thirde weeke of mine imprisonment to paye for my charges, which stoode mee in a Doller a weeke. So that at the day of my deliuerie I had but three gyldernes left me. For the rest I made a supplication to the Captaine and had the like answere giuen mee as the Marshall gaue me. So that all the rest of the thinges before written are lost, and no recouerie to bee had, which grieueth me more for the tokens sake then doeth mine eight weeks imprisonment. They haue also my sword, my bootes, my bowe and arrowes that I bought at Smolensco, which cost me foure marks, my sled, my felt, the comhold, a booke of the Flowres of godly prayers, and my booke wherein my charges were written. Of all these I can get nothing againe, not so much as my two bookes.
After I had remayned there fiue and thirtie dayes, I was had before the Captaine vp into a great chamber to bee examined for letters and of the cause of my comming through the Countrey. In the Captaines companie was one of the Lordes of Danske. They demaunded of mee where my letters were, I declared vnto them that I had none: your Officers (sayd I) tooke me when I was in my bedde, they searched mee and tooke all that I had from mee, if there be any they shall finde them among my stuffe which they haue. They asked mee then, for what cause I went home ouer lande? I declared vnto them, that the Winter beeing a warme season, and hauing intelligence that the frozen Sea was not much frozen, and supposing this Sommer it would be nauigable, I was onely sent to prouide a Shippe to be sent to passe the sayde Seas to discouer Cataia: which if God graunted wee might doe, it woulde not onely bee a commoditie to the Realme of Englande, but vnto all Christian landes, by the riches that might be brought from thence, if the histories bee true that are written thereof. Much other communication I had with them concerning the same voyage. Then he demaunded of mee what wares wee brought into Russia, and what we carried from thence. I declared the same vnto them. Then they burdened mee, that wee brought thither thousandes of ordinance, as also of harneis, swordes, with other munitions of warre, artificers, copper, with many other things; I made them answere, that wee had brought thither about one hundred shirtes of mayle, such olde thinges newe scowred as no man in Englande woulde weare. Other talke they had with mee concerning the trade of Moscouia too long to commit to writing.
An attempt to hinder our trade to Mosvouia by the Hans townes and Easterlings. At my comming hither heere were Ambassadours from the townes of Danske, Lubeck, and Hamburgh, as also out of Liefland to desire this King to bee their Captaine and head their intended voyage, which was to stoppe all such shippes as shoulde goe out of England for Mocouia. Whereunto the King graunted, and immediately they departed to prepare their shippes. So that I am afraide that either these our enemies, or the great warres that we haue with France and Scotland will be an occasion that you shall haue no shippes at Colmogro this yeere.
To conclude, although I haue no tokens to deliuer them, that the tokens taken from me were sent vnto, yet I will declare vnto them that I had tokens for them, with the mischance. And thus I commit you to Almightie God with the rest of the companie who keepe you in health to his holy will and pleasure.
By yours to commaund
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