The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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A Dispute between a Merchant of Bordeaux and some Bristol Men, 1517

Source: Transcribed by: Vanes, J. (ed.), Documents Illustrating the Overseas Trade of Bristol in the Sixteenth Century, (Bristol Record Society Publications, Vol. XXXI, Kendal, 1979), No. 69, pp. 79-81.
Manuscript: Various - see below
Web version by: Oliver Dunn (2005)

p. 79

27 November, 1517, John Boet of Bordeaux registered a charter-
­party whereby he was to load 92 tons of wine for Chepstow in the ship
Marie of Penmarc'h, returning to La Rochelle, Bordeaux or Pasajes in
Spain. Half of this wine belonged to two other Bordeaux merchants.
He had followed this trade for many years, carrying wine to Chepstow
and returning with corn and beans.

A.D.G. 3 E 9456, 27 November 1517

30 October, 1518, Boet complained that his ship had been attacked
by a number
of men from Bristol. In the previous March he had been at
Chepstow in the
Marie of Penmarc'h and had loaded 38 weys of corn
and 35 weys of beans and had obtained a licence for its export. The
Marie sailed from Chepstow to Charston's pool in the river Severn to
prepare for its voyage to La Rochelle or to Spain and the ship's master
decided to send a boat and crew to Bristol to obtain beer and other
victuals necessary for the voyage. The boat had been seized by a
of armed men and taken to Bristol where the crew were
imprisoned. It cost Boet a great deal of time and money to secure their
release and he lost his voyage. He asked the Admiral of Gascony to
order the arrest of two ships, the
Jesus and the Antony of Bristol,
belonging to John Drewes, which were at Blaye near Bordeaux, until
he had received compensation for his losses.

A.D.G. 3 E4467/193 (Bernard, II 625, 790)

p. 80

The case troubled the Court of Star Chamber for more than ten years.

The replication of John Bowett to the answere of John Drewes ...

Aboute the xvijth daye of Marche next before the seid xth yere, that
is to wete the ixth yere of the reigne of oure sovereign Lorde Kyng
Henry the viijth, at Kingrode in the pourte of the towne of Brystowe,
oon John Rede, Robert Avyntry and Thomas Downell, then owners of
the shyp called the Lytell Jehus of Brystowe, John Stephyns then
master of the same, with the maryners and cumpanye of the same
shyp, to the seid Bowett unknowen and oon John Hall, owner of the
ship of the seid towne called the Edwarde, John Groway, master of the
same ship and John Kynge, botswayn of the same, with all other the
cumpanye of the same ship to the seid Bowett also unknowen, and oon
Wyllyam Robonet, one of the fermors of the ship called the Lytell
and master of the same with his cumpanye and maryners of
the same ship and oon, John Davys then boteswayne of the ship called
the Greatt Jehus wherof the seid Drewes then was and yett is owner
with all the maryners and cumpanye of the same ship, the namys of
theym to the seid Bowett unknowen, and oon John Knocke, John
Dale, maryners and manye others aboute the nomber of a C ryotous
and evyll dysposed persons to the seid Bowett unknowen, in ryotous
and forceable maner arayde, that is to wete, with swerdes, buklers,
bowes, aroweis, gonnes and other waypons, ynvasyve and defensyve,
riotously assembled att Kyngrode in the porte of the towne of
Brystowe, by the commaundement of the seid John Drewes, then and
there arested a bote of the goodes of the seid Boweyttes and viij of his
maryners, then beyng in the same bote and the seid bote and maryners
from Kyngrode aforseid conveyde unto the towne of Brystowe, whiche
Kyngrode is dystantt from the same iij miles and more by water, and
there wrongffully imprysoned the seid maryners by the space of iij
dayes when they shulde have conveyede the ship of the seid
Boweyettes, then beyng full fregth and ladyn and redy to take her
vyage from the porte of the towne of Chapstowe yn South Wales
towardes the towne of Burdeaux yn Gaskeny in the parties of Fraunce
beyonde the see, and deteyned the seid bote of the seid Boweyttes there
att Brystowe aforseid by the space of xxj dayes and wolde yn no wyse
deliver the same bote owte of their handes unto the tyme the seid
Bowett had att his greatt expences and charges opteyned a
commaundement of the Kynges Hyghnes for the deliverie of the bote
to the then Mayre and Sherevys of the seid towne of Brystowe
dyrected, of the whiche Sherevys the seid Drewes was then oon. By
reason wherof the ship of the seid Boweyttes then beyng ladyn and full
freight att Chepstowe aforseid, there was fayne to be taryed by the
space of a xj wekes and more, so that the seid Bowett lost this maner
att that tyme his vyage to his lostes of CCC li. and above. For the
whiche cause the seid Bowett afterwardes, that is too wete yn October
the seid xth yere of oure seid sovereign Lordes reigne, the seid ij

p. 81

shyppes of the seid Drewes beyng att the porte of Bloye yn the parties
of Fraunce, whiche porte of Bloye is dystante from the seid towne and
porte of Burdeaux vij leges, oon John Polye, then factor of the seid
Drewes, wyth other marchauntes of the seid towne of Brystowe then
beyng in the seid ij shippes, remembryng the seid injureis and wronges
done to the seid Bowett at Brystowe aforseid by the seid persons by the
seid Drewes commaundementt, durst nott approche the seid towne
and porte of Burdeaux with the seid shyppes butt made labor to the
Mayre and Jurattes of the seid towne of Burdeaux to have save condett
to cum wyth the seid shippes to the same towne and porte of Burdeaux,
there quietly to dyscharge the seid ij shippes and take there ladyng
there for the same withoute eny arrest or molestacyon of the seid
Bowett to theym there to be had or made and coude noo suche lycens
ne save condett have ne opteyne of the seid Mayre and Jurattes of the
seid towne of Burdeaux, except the seid Polye, with the purser of the
seid shipp called the Great Jehus of Brystowe and the seid other
marchauntes of the same towne of Brystowe woll agree wyth the seid
Bowett for the seid injureis and wronges to hym don by the seid
Drewes and the seid other persons and mysdoers before named.
Wheruppon the seid John Polye wyth the seid purser, whiche seid
Polye had then auctorytie by letters of attornaye of the seid Drewes to
bynde the seid Drewes, his seid ij shippes and all his goodes, then there
bounde theym selffes by their oblygacion to the seid Bowett in the
some of ij c. li. to be payde to the seid Bowett, his executors or assigneis
att the feast of Pentecost then next folowyng for and yn recompens
and satysfacion of the seid wronges and injuries don to the seid Bowett
by the seid mysdoers att Brystowe aforeseid.

Star Chamber 2/5/149-50

Boet maintained that he had never received adequate compensation,
that he had been persecuted by Drewes and Hall through a long series
of law suits at Chepstow, at the Court of the Council of the Marches of
Wales, in King's Bench and Star Chamber. His trade was constantly
interrupted and his money all spent so that he was unable to return to
his family in Bordeaux. The Bristol men denied the charges but said
that Boet, trading at Chepstow, should still have paid customs dues at
Bristol and it was for this that his boat was arrested.

Star Chamber 2/26/213, 2/24/243, 200, 180, 2/4/228, 2/25/336.

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