Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

These be the grieuances and offences, whereat the marchants of the Hans of Almaine, comming vnto, and residing in the Realme of England, doe finde themselues aggrieued, contrarie to the Articles and priuileges of the Charter graunted vnto them by the worthy Progenitors of the king of England that now is, and also by the saide soueraigne Lord the King, ratified, and confirmed.

Imprimis, whereas the foresaide marchants haue a priuilege graunted vnto them by Charter, that they may, in cities, boroughs, and in other towns and villages throughout the whole realme of England, exercise traffique in grosse, as wel with the natural inhabitants of the kingdome, as with strangers, and priuate persons: of late, those that are free denizens in the cities, boroughs, and villages within the foresaid kingdome, do hinder and restrain all others that be strangers, foreners, and aliens, that they neither can, nor dare buy and sel with the marchants of the Hans aforesaid, to their great hinderance and losse.

Item, the foresaid by vertue of their charter were wont to haue and to hold Innes and mansions, for the reposing of themselues and of their goods, wheresoeuer they pleased in any cities, boroughs, or villages, throughout the whole kingdome; howbeit of late the foresaide marchants are not suffered to take vp their mansions, contrary to the tenour of their charter.

Item, the foresaid marchants are priuileged not to vndergoe any other burthens or impositions, but onely to pay certaine customs, as it doeth by their charter manifestly appeare. Notwithstanding at the same time when Simon de Moreden was maior of London, the foresaid marchants were constrained, in the ward of Doue-gate at London, to pay fifteenths, tallages, and other subsidies contrary to the liberties of their charter. Whereupon the saide marchants prosecuted the matter before the Councel of our soueraign lord the king, insomuch that they were released from paying afterward any such tallages, fifteenths, and subsidies. Which marchants, a while after, of their owne accord and free will, gaue vnto the gild-hall of London an hundreth markes sterling, conditionally, that they of the citie aforesaid shoulde not at any time after exact or demaund of the said marchants, or of their successors, any tallages, fifteenths, or subsidies, contrary to the tenor of their charter, as by records in the foresaid gild-hall, it doth more plainly appeare. Howbeit of late the officers of our lord the king, in the foresaid ward of Doue-gate, constrained the marchants aforesaid to pay tallages, fifteenths, and other subsidies. And because the saide marchants murmured and refused to pay any such contributions, alleaging their priuileges, the foresaid officers arrested the goods of those said marchants (which are as yet detained vpon the arrest) notwithstanding that they were released before the councel of our soueraigne lord the king, and also that they gaue vnto the said gild-hall one hundreth marks to be released, as it is aforesaid. And also the foresaid marchants were constrained to pay 12. d. in the pound, and of late 6. d. and other subsidies, more then their ancient customes, to the great damage of those marchants.

The ancient customes of wools. Item, the foresaid marchants are priuileged as touching customs of wols by them bought within the realm of England, that they are not bound to pay, ouer and besides their ancient customs, but onely xl. d, more then the homeborn marchants of England were wont to pay. Pence for the towne of Cales. But now the foresaid marchants are compelled to pay for euery sack of wool (besides the ancient custom and the 40. d. aforesaid) a certain imposition called Pence for the town of Cales, namely for euery sack of wool 19. d more then the marchants of England doe pay, to their great losse, and against the liberty of their charter.

Item, the foresaid marchants are priuileged by their charter, that concerning the quantity of their merchandize brought into the realme of England (in regard whereof they are bound to pay 3. d. for the worth of euery pound of siluer) credit is to be giuen vnto them for the letters of their masters and of their companies, if they were able to shew them. And if so be they had no letters in this behalfe to shew, that then credite should bee giuen vnto themselues, and that their othe, or the othe of their atturney should be taken, without any other proof, as touching the value of their merchandize so brought in, and that thereupon they should be bound to pay customs, namely the customes of 3. d. iustly for that cause to be paid. But nowe the customers of our soueraigne lorde the king put their goods to an higher rate then they ought or were woont to be: and heereupon they compell them to pay custome for their goods, at their pleasure, scanning about their fraight and expenses particularly disbursed in regard of the said goods and marchandize, to the great hinderance of the said marchants, and against the tenor of their charter.

The great charter of marchants. Item, the foresaid merchants by way of pitiful complaint do alleage, that, whereas the worthy progenitors of our Lord the king that now is, by vertue of the saide great charter, graunted liberty vnto them to pay the customes of certain clothes, namely of skarlet, and cloth died in grayne, and of other clothes of assise, which were by them to be caried out of the realme of England, euen as by their foresaid Charter it doeth more plainly appeare: and whereas our soueraigne lord the king that now is (ratifying and confirming the saide charter, and being willing that they shoulde haue more especiall fauour shewed vnto them) granted vnto them by their Charter, that the said marchants should be exempted and freed from all custome and imposition of small clothes, as in pieces and in narrow clothes which were not of assise, and in such other clothes of like qualitie: A speciall charter. yet of late the Customers of our Lorde the King that nowe is, not allowing their saide speciall Charter so graunted vnto the marchants aforesaid, do compel them to pay for straight clothes and for pieces of clothes which are not of assise, (together with other demands particularly and seuerally made) as great custome as if the clothes were full out of assise. The customers of the pety custome. Moreouer also of late, the customers of the smal or pety custome and of the subsidie doe demand of them custome for kersey-clothes equal vnto the custome of those clothes, that be of ful assise, whereas the foresaid marchants were not wont to pay for those kerseys by vertue of their Charter, but onely according to the worth of ech pound of siluer, as namely for other goods which are of golde weight: to the great hinderance of the foresaid parties, and against the manifest graunt of our soueraigne Lord the king, as it appeareth in the said speciall Charter.

Item, the said merchants alleage, that they are priuiledged by their Charter, if they pay custome and subsidy for their goods in the behalfe of our lord the king, at any port of England where those goods haue arriued and afterward would transport the saide goods or any part of them vnto any other port within the realme aforesaid: that then they should be quite released from paying of any other custome for the same goods, if they bring a warrant that they haue paide the saide custome, as is aforesaide. 1405. Of late it fortuned, that a certaine man of their societie named Nicholas Crossebaire, being a marchant of the lande of Prussia, immediately after the concord was concluded betwene the English and the Prussians, brought vnto the towne of Sandwich a shippe laden with bowe-staues and other marchandize, and there well and truely paide the custome of our lord the king for all his ware: and selling there part of the same goods, he afterward transported parcel thereof in a small barke vnto London, there to be solde, and caried a warrant also with him, that he had at Sandwich paid the custome due vnto our lord the king: and yet (the said warrant notwithstanding) the customers of the pety custome and subsidy of London came and demanded custome of him at another time contrary to reason, and against the tenor of their charter: and the said Nicholas offred pledges vnto them, yea, euen ready money downe into their hands, vntil the question were discussed and determined, whether he should pay new custome or no: but this they would not doe. Then the said Nicholas brought a brief from our lord the king, to get himselfe discharged from paying the said custome: and for all that, the foresaid customers would not as yet haue regard vnto him, but kept the said goods within shipboord, vpon the riuer of Thames, for the space of 15. dayes, vntil he had paid another custome, to the great losse of the said Nicholas, for that which he sold first at Sandwich to be deliuered at London for seuen nobles, he could not afterward haue for it aboue foure nobles, and yet so was it solde, by reason of the harme which his wares had taken by lying so long vpon the water, contrary to the tenor of their Charter.

Item, the said marchants do alleage, that another of their company called Peter Hertson bought at Bristow certain clothes, and laded the same in a ship, to be transported for Prussia, for the which he truely paide at Bristowe, the customs and subsidies due vnto our soueraign lord the king: which ship with the foresaid goods arriuing at London: the customers of the pety-custome and of the subsidie there would not permit the said ship with the goods to passe vnto the parts aforesaid, vntil the said Peter had paid another custome for the same goods (the warrant, which he brought with him notwithstanding) to his great hindrance, and contrary to the tenour of their Charter.

Item, pitifully complaining the foresaid marchants alleage, that wheras euery marchant, bringing wares into the realm, was wont to haue a schedule wherein his name was written, for a specification and certificat of the quantity of his goods in the said schedule to be found at the arriual of the ship, without paying therfore ought at all, of late, the customers of the pety custome do compel them to pay for ech mans name written a peny, at the arriual of their goods out of euery ship wherin the said goods are found, what commodities and marchandize soeuer they be: whereas notwithstanding, if there be a chest or any other smal matter, there should not therfore be any custome due vnto our lord the king, nor any receiued vnto his Maiesties vse. The customers of the subsidie. In like maner do the customers of the subsidy deale. Whereas also the foresaid marchants were not wont to pay for a cocket for the conueyance and transportation of their goods out of the realme (albeit many names were written theirne) more then 4. d. of late the customers of the pety custom do compel them to pay for euery name contained in the same cocket 4. d. and in like sort do the customers of the saide subsidy deale. Which contribution in a yere extendeth it self vnto a great summe, to the vnknown preiudice of our lord the king, more then any man could suppose, (for the customers enioy their fees and commodities from his Maiestie that they may doe him faithfull seruice) and likewise to the great damage of the said marchants.

Item, pitifully complaining the said marchants do alleage that they are constrained to pay for subsidy, sometime 12. d. and somtime 6. d. in the pound, contrary to the tenor of their charter: and yet notwithstanding when their marchandize commeth to the wharf, the customers prolong and delay the time 3. or 4. weeks before they wil take custome for their goods, in the which space other marchants sel their goods, the customers not regarding whether the goods aforesaid take wet or no: to the great damage aswel of our lord the king, as of the said marchants: because, if they had quicke dispatch, they might pay custome vnto his Maiestie oftner then they doe.

Item, the said marchants doe farther alleage, that the customers of the petie custome, and of the subsidie in the port of London haue appointed among themselues certaine men to seale vp the goods of the saide marchants, so soon as they are arriued at the port of safetie, vntil the said goods be customed. By meanes of the which sealing, the foresaide parties doe compell the marchants aboue-named, (vpon an vse and custome whereof themselues haue bene the authors) to paye a certaine summe of money, to the great hinderance of the sayde marchants, and contrarie to iustice and to their charter. Moreouer, the saide customers haue ordained betweene themselues, that the saide marchants shall put or make vp no cloth into fardels, to transport out of the realme, vnlesse certaine men appointed by them for the same purpose bee there present, to see what maner of clothes they bee, vnder paine of the forfeiture of the saide goods. Also of late, when the sayde marchants would haue made up such fardels, the foresayde parties assigned to be ouerseers refused to come, vnlesse they might haue for their comming some certain summe of money, delaying and procrastinating from day to day, so long as themselues listed, to the great losse and vndoing of the foresaide marchants, and contrarie to their liberties: because the foresaide customers are bound by their office to doe this, without any contribution therefore to bee paide vnto them by the saide marchants: for that they doe enioy from our soueraigne Lord the King their fees and commodities, to the ende that they may serue him and euery marchant iustly and faithfully, without any contribution by them to be imposed anewe vpon the sayde marchants, of custome.

Item, the said marchants doe alleage, that the customers and balifs of the town of Southampton do compel them to pay for euery last of herrings, pitch, and sope ashes brought thither by them 2. s. more then the kings custome: and for ech hundreth of bowstaues and boords called Waghenscot, 2. d. for euery hundreth of boords called Richolt, 4. d. and for al other marchandize brought by the foresaid marchants vnto the same towne: which contributions they neuer paid at any time heretofore, being greatly to their hinderance, and contrary to the tenour of their Charter.

Item, the foresaid marchants do alleage, that one of their company; called Albert Redewish of Prussia, bringing diuers goods and marchandizes vnto Newcastle vpon Tine, and there laying the vsual custom of 3. d. in the pound for al his wares, the bailifs of the saide towne, against all reason, exacted 7. pound sterling at his hands more then the custome: whereupon the foresaide marchant got a briefe from the kings maiesty, for the recouery of the saide 7. li. according to equity and reason: howbeit, that at the comming of the said briefe the foresaid balifes would do nothing on his behalfe, but would haue slaine their foresaid associate, contrary to their charter and priuiledges.

William Esturmy knight, and Iohn Kington canon of Lincolne, being by the most mighty prince and lord, L. Henry by Gods grace K. of England and France and lord of Ireland, sufficiently deputed and appointed to parle, treate, and agree with the common society of the marchants of the Hans of Dutchland or Almain, concerning and about the redressing and reformation of vniust attempts happening between our said soueraign L. the king his liege people and subiects on the one part, and between the common society aforesaid, the cities, towns, And particular persons thereof on the other part: do (for the behalf of our said soueraign L. the King, with a mind and intention to haue al and singular the things vnderwritten to come to the knowledge of the said common society) intimate, declare, and make known vnto you (hono. sirs) Henr. Westhoff citizen and deputy of the city of Lubec, Henry Fredelaw, Ioh. van Berk citizen of Colen, Mainard Buxtehude citizen, and deputy of the city of Hamburgh, M. Simon Clawstern clerk, sir Iohn de Aa knight deputie of the citie of Rostok, Herman Meyer deputy of the citie of Wismar, being as the procurators, messengers, and commissioners of the foresaid cities, assembled together at the town of Hage in Holland, with the forenamed Will. and Iohn in regard of the foresaid redres and reformation: that, euen as our said soueraign L. the king his meaning is not to disturb or hinder such priuiledges as haue bin heretofore granted and vouchsafed vnto the common society of the marchants aforesaid, by the renoumed kings of England, and the worthy progenitors of our L. the K. that now is, and by himself also vnder a certain form confirmed: euen so he is determined (without the preiudice of forren lawes) vpon iust mature, and sober deliberation, by his royall authorise to withstand such priuiledges, as by reason of the abuse thereof, haue bene infinitely preiudiciall vnto himselfe and his subiects.

Inprimis the said ambassadours doe affirme as afore, that whereas all and euery the Marchants of the said company, as often as they would, were, both in the Realme of England, and in other territories and dominions subiect vnto our soueraigne lord the king, admitted and suffered (according to the tenor of the forenamed priuiledges granted vnto them) freely, friendly and securely to traffique and conuerse with any of his Maiesties liege people and subiects whatsoeuer, or with other people of whatsoeuer nation liuing in the realme of England, or in the dominions aforesaid: the said common society of marchants by their publike and deliberate common counsel did appoint and ordain, that no society in any cities, townes, or places, neither yet any particular man of any such society (there being no lawfull or reasonable cause why) shoulde in any wise admit any marchants of the realm of England resorting vnto their cities or other places for marchandise, to enioy intercourse of traffike: but that the saide English marchants should bee altogether excluded from all traffike and mutuall conuersation among them, by denouncing and inflicting grieuous penalties of money as well vpon cities as other places, and vpon particular marchants also of the foresaid societie practising the contrary.

Item, that immediately after, the foresaid parties enacting and ordaining published their sayde statute and ordinance, in all kingdomes, prouinces, partes, cities, and townes, wherin any marchants of the said societie were conuersant.

Item, that after that publication, the statute and ordinance aforesaid by euery of the marchants of the forenamed society were inuiolably obserued.

Item, that the said statute and ordinance hath bene so rigorously put in execution, that whereas immediately after certaine English marchants with their ships, mariners, and marchandize beeing in a certaine part of one of the principall cities of the foresaide societie, vtterly destitute of meate, drinke, and money, publikely offred to sell their wollen clothes of England, onely to prouide themselues of necessary victuals: yet the marchants of the saide citie, stoutely persisting in their statute and ordinance aforesaid, straightly prohibited the buying of such clothes, vnchristianly denying meate and drinke vnto the said English marchants.

Item, the foresaid society decreed and ordained, that no marchant of the saide Company should in any place or countrey whatsoeuer, buy any woollen clothes of the realme or dominion of England (albeit offered by others and not by English men) or hauing bought any, should, after the terme prefixed, sel them, imposing grieuous pecuniary mulcts, besides the forfeiture of the clothes so bought or sold, vpon them that would attempt the contrary.

Item, that after the said statute and ordinance, the foresaide societie decreed, that all marchants of the said companie, hauing among their wares and marchandise any woollen clothes made in England, should either sell the saide clothes, or within a short space then limited, should, vnder penaltie of forfeiting the said clothes, utterly renounce the vse and commoditie thereof: Notwithstanding a grieuous penaltie of money being imposed vpon the violators of the same statute.

The Hans societie determineth the ouerthrow of English merchants. Item, that the statutes and ordinances aforesaid might with more speed and celerity be put in execution, the said authors and publishers thereof imagining, according to their desire, that by this meanes an vtter extirpation and ouerthrow of English marchants might, yea and of necessity must ensue: upon their serious and long premeditated deliberation, straitely commanded and inioyned, vnder pain of losing the benefit of all priuileges, wheresoeuer, or by the princes of what lands, or the Magistrates of what Cities or townes soeuer vouchsafed vnto the said common societie, that not only the aldermen of that, society in al places throughout the realme of England, but also al other marchants of the said company, after the maner of marchants conuersing in the said Realme, should, without exception of persons, vtterly abstein from all intercourse of traffike with the marchants of the realme aforesaid: yea, and that they shoulde depart out of the said kingdome within a very short space limited. For the dispatching of al which premisses without delay, it was according to their commandement effectually prouided.

Statutes against the English marchants in Norway and Suedland. Item, that the society aforesaid hath approued diuers very vnreasonable statutes and ordinances, made and published by the marchants of the same society residing in the kingdoms of Norway and Swedland, to the great preiudice of the kingdome of England, and the marchants thereof: and as yet both couertly and expresly do approue the same, vniustly putting them in daily execution.

Item, wheras in the priuileges and indulgences granted by the renouned princes somtimes kings of England, the worthy progenitors of our souereign lord the king that now is, vnto the society aforesaid, it is prouided, that the said marchants shal not auow any man which is not of their company, nor shal not colour his goods and marchandize vnder their company; whereas also in the confirmation of the sayd priuiledges made up by our soueraigne lord that nowe is, it is manifestly prouided, that the marchants of the Hans towns, vnder the colour of their priuiledges in England, shall not vpon paine of the perpetuall frustration and reuocation of the foresayd priuiledges, receiue any stranger of any other towne in their liberties, by whom the kings custome may in any sort be withholden or diminished: and yet the contrary vnto al these prouisoes hath bin euery yere, for these 20. yeres or thereabout notoriously practised and committed, as well ioyntly by the generall counsell, and toleration of the foresayd society, as also seuerally by the aduise and permission of diuers particular cities of the foresayd Hans company to the great diminution of his maiesties custome, the estimation whereof the foresayd ambassadors are not able at this present fully to declare. How many and which be the Hans townes. But that all occasions of the last aboue mentioned diminution may bee preuented for the time to come, the sayd ambassadors doe demand to haue from the foresayd societie a declaration in writing, what and what maner of territories, cities, townes, villages or companies they be, for which the sayd society challengeth and pretendeth, that they ought to enioy the priuiledges granted vnto their marchants, as is aboue mentioned.

Moreouer, it is required by the foresaid ambassadors, if the societie aforesayd hath not decreed nor ordayned the things aboue written, that the names of the cities and places decreeing and ordaining such statutes and ordinances, may by the sayd common society either now or at some other times and places conuenient for the same purpose, be expressed and set downe in writing.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55