An Act for the corporation of Merchants aduenturers for the discouering of new trades, made in the eight yere of Queene Elizabeth. Anno 1566.
Whereas diuers very good Subiects of this Realme of England in the latter end of the reigne of the late right high and mightie prince our Soueraigne Lord king Edward the sixt, at the gracious incouragement, and right good liking of the said king, and by his Maiesties liberall example, did at their aduenture, and to their exceeding great charges, for the glory of God, the honor and increase of the reuenues of the Crowne, and the common vtilitie of the whole Realme of England, set forth three ships for the discouery by Sea, of Isles, lands, territories, dominions, and Seigniories vnknowen, and by the Subiects of the sayd late king not commonly by seas frequented: and after that Almightie God had called to his mercie the said king, who died before the finishing and sealing of his most ample and gracious letters of priuiledges promised to the said Subiects, as wel in consideration of the said enterprise, as for diuers other respects it pleased our late soueraigne Q. Mary, at the humble suites of the same subiects, to graunt by her letters Patents vnder the great Seale of England, bearing date at Westminster the 26. day of February, in the second yeere of her raigne, for the considerations mentioned in the said letters Patents, to the saide subiects being specially named in the saide letters Patents, and to their successors, that they by the name of Merchants aduenturers of England, for the discouerie of lands, territories, Isles, dominions, and Seigniores vnknowen, and not before their late aduenture or enterprise, by seas or Nauigations commonly frequented, should be from thenceforth one body, and perpetual felowship and communalitie of themselues, both in deed and in name, and that same felowship and communaltie from thenceforth should and might haue one or two gouernours, foure Consuls, and 24. assistants, of the said fellowship and comminaltie of Merchants aduenturers, and that they by the name of the Gouernour, Consuls, assistants, felowship, and comminaltie of Merchants aduenturers, for the discouery of lands, territories, Isles, dominions, and Seigniories vnknowen by the seas and Nauigations, and not before their said late aduenture or enterprise, by Seas frequented, should or might be able in the lawe to implead and to be impleaded, to answere and to be answered, to defend, and to be defended, before whatsoeuer Iudge or Iustice temporall or spiritual, or other persons whatsoeuer, in whatsoeuer court or courts, and in all actions, real, personal, and mixt, and in euery of them, and in all plaints of Nouel descision, and also in all plaints, suites, quarrels, affaires, businesse, and demaunds whatsoeuer they be, touching and concerning the said felowship and comminaltie, and the affaires and businesse of the same only in as ample maner and forme, as any other corporation of this Realme might doe, giuing also, and granting vnto them by the said letters Patents, diners authorities, powers, iurisdictions, prehemmences, franchises, liberties and priuiledges, as by the same letters Patents more at large will appeare. And among other things mentioned in the said letters Patents, whereas one of the three ships, by the said fellowship before that time set foorth for the voyage of discouery aforesaid, named the Edward Bonauenture, had arriued within the Empire and dominion of the high and mightie Prince Lord Iohn Vasiliwich, Emperour of all Russia, Vlodimersky, great duke of Musky, &c. who receiued the Captaine and Merchants of the saide shippe very graciously, granting vnto them freely to traffique with his subiects in all kinde of Merchandizes, with diuers other gracious priuiledges and liberties: therefore the said late Queene by the same letters Patents, for her, her heires and successors, did graunt that all the maine lands, Isles, ports, hauens, creeks, and riuers of the said mighty Emperour of all Russia, and great duke of Mosco, &c. and all and singular other lands, dominions, territories, Isles, ports, hauens, creeks, riuers, armes of the seas, of al and euery other Emperour, king, prince, ruler, or gouernour whatsoeuer he or they be, before the said late aduenture or enterprise not knowen, or by the aforesaid merchants and subiects of the said king and Queene, by, the seas not commonly frequented, nor any part or parcel thereof, and lying Northwards, Northeastwards, or Northwestwards, as in the said letters patents is mentioned, should not be visited, frequented nor haunted by any the subiects of the said late Queene, other then of the said company and fellowship, and their successors, without expresse licence, agreement, and consent of the Gouerner, Consuls, and Assistants of the said felowship, and communaltie or the more part of them, in maner and forme, as is expressed in the saide letters patents, vpon paine of forfeiture and losse aswell of the ship and ships, with the appurtenances, as also of the goods, merchandizes, and things whatsoeuer they be, of those the subiects of the said late Queene not being of the saide fellowship and communaltie, which should attempt or presume to saile to any of those places, which then were, or after should happen to be found and traffiqued vnto, the one halfe of the same forfeiture to be to the vse of the said late Queene, her heires and successors, and the other halfe to be to the vse of the said felowship and communaltie, as by the same letters patents more plainly will appeare.
Since the making of which letters patents, the said fellowship haue, to their exceeding great costes, losses and expences, not onely by their trading into the said dominions of the saide mightie prince of Russia, &c. found out conuenient way to saile into the saide dominions: but also passing thorow the same, and ouer the Caspian sea, haue discouered very commodious trades into Armenia, Media, Hyrcania, Persia, and other dominions in Asia minor, hoping by Gods grace to discouer also the countrey of Cathaia, and other regions very conuenient to be traded into by merchants of this realme, for the great benefite and commodities of the same.
This is meant for Alderman Bond the elder. And forasmuch as diuers subiects of this realme, vnderstanding the premises, and perceiuing that now after the charge and trauel aforesaid, diuers wares and merchandizes are brought by the saide fellowship into this Realme, out of the dominions already discouered, which bee within this realme of good estimation, minding for their peculiar gaine, vtterly to decay the trade of the sayde fellowship, haue contrary to the tenor of the same letters patents, in great disorder traded into the dominions of the said mightie prince of Russia, &c. to the great detriment of this common wealth: And for that the name by which the saide felowship is incorporated by the letters patents aforesaid, is long, and consisteth of very many words: English Merchants for discouery of new trades. Therfore be it enacted by the Queenes most excellent Maiestie, the Lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in this present parliament assembled, and by authoritie of the same, that the said felowship, company, society and corporation made or created by the said letters patents, shal at al time and times from henceforth be incorporated, named and called only by the name of the fellowship of English merchants, for disouery of new trades, and by the same name for euer shall and may continue a perpetuall body incorporate in deede and name, and onely by the same name from henceforth, shall implead, and be impleaded, answere and be answered, defend and be defended, sue and bee sued, in whatsoeuer courts and places, and shall and may by the same name bee inabled to purchase, haue, holde, possesse, reteine, and enioy whatsoeuer manors, landes, tenements, rents, reuersions, seruices, and hereditaments not exceeding a hundred marks yeerly, not being holden of the Queenes matestie, her heires, or successors by knights seruice in Capite, and all goods, merchandizes, chattels, and other things whatsoeuer, and shall and may by the same name make and do all things as any other corporation may do, and also shall haue and enioy all and singular the liberties, priuiledges, iurisdictions, franchises, preheminences, powers, authorities, and things, and may doe and execute all other matters and things in the sayd letters patents mentioned, or in any wise conteined. And that no part nor parcell of the maine lands, Isles, ports, hauens, roades, creekes, riuers, armes of the seas of any Emperour, king, prince, ruler or gouernor whatsoeuer he or they be, before the said first enterprise made by the merchants, of the saide corporation, not knowen by the merchants and subiects of this Realme, or by them not commonly by seas frequented, and lying from the City of London Northwards, Northwestwards, or Northeastwards, nor any part or parcel of the maine lands, dominions, isles, ports, roades, hauens, creeks, armes of the Seas, that now be subiect to the said high and mightie prince Lord Iohn Vasiliwich, his heires, or successours, or to the Emperour, chiefe gouernour or ruler of the said country of Russia for the time being, his heires or successors, nor the countries of Armenia maior or minor, Media, Hyrcania, Persia, or the Caspian sea, nor any part of them shall be sailed or traffiqued vnto, visited, frequented, or haunted by any person being or that shalbe a subiect or denizen of this realme, by themselues, their factor or factors, or any other to their vse or commoditie, by any wayes or meanes, directly or indirectly, other then by the order, agreement, consent, or ratification of the gouernour, Consuls and assistants of the saide fellowship and comminaltie, or the more part of them, and their successors for the time being: vpon paine that euery person and persons offending in this behalfe, shall forfeit and loose, Ipso facto, euery such ship and ships, with the appurtenances, and all such goods, Merchandizes, and things whatsoeuer, as by any such person or persons shalbe by any wayes or meanes, directly or indirectly, prouided, caried, conducted, brought, or exchanged, in, at, to, through or from any of the places prohibited, as is aforesiade, contrary to the true intent of this statute: the one moietie of all which forfeitures to bee to our said souereigne Lady the Queenes Maiestie, her heires and successors, and the other moietie thereof to the sayde fellowship of English Merchants for discouery of newe trades, and their successors, to be seized and taken wheresoeuer they may be found, by any person or persons, to the vse of our said Souereigne Lady, her heires and successors, and of the said fellowship of English Merchants for discouery of newe trades, and of their successors, or the same or the value thereof to bee demaunded or sued for by the Queenes highnesse, her heires and successors, or by the saide fellowship of English Merchants for the discouery of newe trades, or their successors, or their atturney or atturneis, or by any person or persons being of the same fellowship of English Merchants for discouery of newe trades, or their successors in any court of Record, or in any other Court or courtes within this Realme, or els where, by Action of debt, action of detinue, bill, plaint, information, or otherwise: in which suite no essoine, protection, wager of lawe, or iniunction shal be allowed, for, or on the behalfe of the partie or parties defendant.
Prouided alwayes, that whereas diuers Subiects of this Realme being not of the fellowship aforesaid, haue heretofore made aduentures to and from some of the places prohibited by the said letters patents, that the said subiects, their heires, executors, administrators and assignees, or any of them shall not be impeached, impleaded, troubled, sued, nor molested for the same in their goods or persons in any maner of wise, either by our saide souereigne Lady, her heires or successors, or the said fellowship, or their successors.
Prouided also, that it shall be lawfull for any subiect of this Realme, hauing presently any shipping, goods, wares, or ready money, remayning at or in any place, of or within the dominion of the said mighty prince of Russia, or in any other of the places prohibited to be visited or traffiqued vnto by this statute or the said letters Patent, to fetch, brings and conuey the same, or cause the same to be brought or conueyed from thence by sea or otherwise, before the feast of S. Iohn Baptist, which shalbe in the yeere of our Lord God 1568. any thing, conteined in this statute, or in the said letters Patents to the contrary notwithstanding.
Prouided also, that it shall be lawfull for any of the subiects of this Realme, to saile to the port, towne, territorie, or castle of Wardhouse, or to any of the coastes, townes, hauens, creekes, riuers, Islands, and land of Norway for trade of fishing or any other trade there vsed by the subiects of this Realme, any thing in this statute to the contrary notwithstanding.
And for the better maintenance of the Nauie and Mariners of this Realme, be it prouided and inacted that it shall not be lawfull to the saide fellowship and company, nor to any of them to cary and transport, or cause to be caried any commodie of this Realme to their newe trade, but only in English ships, and to be sailed for the most part with English Mariners, nor also to bring into this Realme nor into Flanders from their saide new trade, any merchandizes, or other commodities but in English ships, and sailed for the most part by the English Mariners, on paine to forfeit for euery such offence two hundred pounds, whereof the one moietie shall be to the Queenes Maiestie, her heires and successors, the other moietie to the head officers of any port towne, hauing any hauen or harborough decayed, by what name soeuer they bee incorporate, to the reparation of such harborough, that will sue for the same in any Court of Record, by action, bill, plaint or information, wherein no essoine, protection, wager of lawe for the defendant shall be admitted or allowed.
Prouided also, and be it enacted, that no maner of person or persons shall from henceforth carrie or transport, or cause to be carried or transported out of this Realme of England, any maner of clothes or karsies into any of the partes where the said fellowship and societie is priuiledged to trade by this Act, before the same clothes and karsies shall be all dressed, and for the most part died within this Realme vpon paine of forfeiture for euery such cloth and karsie, otherwise caried and transported, fiue pounds: the one halfe thereof to the Queenes Maiestie, her heires and successors, the other halfe to the Master and Wardens of the Cloth-workers in the Citie of London for the time being, by what name soeuer they be incorporate that will sue for the same.
Prouided also that whensoeuer the said societie of company shall willingly withdraw, and discontinue wholy by the space of three yeeres in time of peace, the discharging of their merchandizes at the road of S. Nicholas bay in Russia, and doe not discharge their said merchandizes at some other port or roade lying on that North coast of Russia, or other territofie nowe subiect to the saide mightie prince of Russia, &c. hitherto by the subiects of this realme not commonly frequented, that then during the time of any such discontinuance and withdrawing, as is aforesaid, it shalbe lawful to all the subiects of this realme to trade to the Narue onely in English bottoms, any thing in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding.
Prouided also, that euery of the Queenes Maiesties Subiects inhabiting within the Citie of Yorke, the townes of Newcastle vpon Tine, Hull and of Boston, hauing continually traded the course of merchandize by the space of ten yeeres, and which before 25. of December that shalbe in Anno D. 1567. shal contribute, ioyne, and put in stocke, to, with, and amongst the said company, such summe and summes of money, as any of the said company, which hath throughly continued and contributed to the saide newe trade, from the yeere 1552. hath done, and before the saide 25. of December 1567. shall do for the furniture of one ordinary, full and intire portion, or share, and do in all things behaue himselfe as others of the said societie be bound to doe, and hereafter shall bee bound to do by the priuiledges, ordinances and statutes of the saide company, shall from the same 25. day of December 1567. be, and be accompted free, and as one of the said societie and company, and subiect to the priuiledges, ordinances and statutes of the saide company, reasonably made and to be made, any thing in this present Act to the contrary notwithstanding.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55