The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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Bristol Merchants Evading Customs at Chepstow, 8 August 1561

Source: Transcribed by Evan Jones (2006)
Manuscript: TNA SP12/19 fo. 20

Letter from Winchester, the Lord Treasurer to Cecil Burghley, Secretary of State

After my right harty commendacion. Sins the new impost
apon wyne & cloth [1] all merchauntes haunting Bristow
for their trade mak ther charter parties & ther cokettes [2]
to Chepstow and such oder places wher the quenes
majestie hath no custom nor have hadd of long tyme till
now of late I have forced them by the law to pay the
quenes majestie for tonnage & pondage for the which
profit I have an Officer for the quenes grace
in every such port And by them & oder I have this
knolege not knoing how to helpe it for thos portes
be in thandes of my Lord of Pembrok and of my Lord
of Wursistour /. [3] And as long as those portes shall
have this liberty the quenes majeste shall have no
custom of any thing ther And all thinges restryned
by statute or proclamacion wilbe carried to the said
portes wher it shall not be staied which is and wilbe
a gret losse to the quenes grace / praying you
to consider the matter & devise some order that may
be for the remedy of it ./ One tyme the matter was
moved to my Lord of Pembrok and his aunser whas
he wold be aggrehable to all reasonable order and so
I think my Lord of Wursitor wilbe Wishing the
matter wer moved & then it will take some ende.

[1] In 1558 the tax on on French wine was raised from 3s. per tun to of 53s.
per tun. The tax on cloth was raised by impost from 14d. per cloth to 6s. 8d. per cloth.
[2] A charterparty is a contract between a shipper and the merchants freighting
the ship for a particular voyage.
[3] The Earl of Penbroke, William Herbert, had authority over most of the ports in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, including Newport, Cardiff and Neath. The Earl of Worcester, controlled Chepstow and Magor in Monmouthshire and the coast of the Gower, including Swansea, Mumbles, Oxwich and Porteynon. Between them they thus controlled most of the ports of South Wales: W. R. B. Robinson, 'The Establishment of Royal Customs in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire under Elizabeth I', Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, XXIII, Part IV (1970), 349-50.

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