The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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Act of Parliament: The Merchant Venturers, 1571

Source: Transcribed and annotated by: J. Latimer, The History of the Society of Merchant Venturers of the City of Bristol (Bristol, 1903), pp. 55-7

p. 55

Where in the Parliament holden at Westminster in the eighth year of the Queen's Magesty raigne that now is one Acte was made entytuled An Acte for confirmation of letters patente graunted to the Merchaunt Adventurs of the Citie of Bristoll In whiche Acte it is

p. 56

recited That the late King of famous memory Edward the Syxt by his graces letters patents under his greate seale of England bearing date at Westminster theight daye of December in the sixt yeare of his graces raigne Did incorporate the fellowship of the said merchaunt adventurers by the name of Master, Wardens and comynaltie of the mystery or arte of merchaunt Adventurers of the citie of Bristoll And by the said letters patents graunted unto them not onely to impleade & to be impleaded by the said name but also dyvers other liberties Ordynances pryvyledgs and aucthorities as by the said letters pattentes more at larg appeared And by the said acte it was enacted and established that the said fellowship and Society of Merchaunt adventurers should be incorporate for, evermore in suche manner and wyse and by suche name as is declared and contayned in the above rehersed letters patentes of our said late soveraigne lord King Edward the syxte And that the said corporation myght evermore thereafter have & injoye all such liberties ordynaunces rules pryvyledgs and aucthorities as above men coned and specyfied in the said letters patents according to the words sentences true intente effecte & meaning of the said letters patents to all intents and purposes And wheare furthermore it was by the said Acte; of Parlyament further enacted and established that no manner of person or persons dwelling or where thereafter sholde dwell within the said citie of Bristoll or the suburbes or libertyes of the same shold after a certayn tyme in the same Acte mentioned use or exercise by hymself or by any other to recourse or trafficke of any merchaundize beyond the Seas unless the same person or persons weare then made or thereafter should be admitted to bee of the said Societie or corporation by the Master and Wardens of the said Corporation or elles that he or they had been or thereafter should be an apprentise and served in & to the said Arte or mystery of merchaunt adventurers within the same cyttie or lyberties of the same by the space of seaven yeres uppon payne of forfaiture of all the goods & merchaundize that he or they or any of them should at any tyme after a certen daye in the same Acte expressed so use carrye transporte or conveye to or fro beyond the Seas contrarye to the Tenour aforesaid Thone moitye of which forfeyture to the Queenes Majestie her heires & successors and thother moitie to be dyvyded betweene the said corporation and the Chamber of the said cittye of Bristoll aforesaid And that yf any person or persons that then was or weare or that thereafter shold be any of the said Corporation of Merchaunts shold at any tyme after a certayne tyme in the said acte mentyoned use or exercyse any other science mystery art or occupacon then only that of merchaunt adventurers That then it should be ley full to and for the said Master

p. 57

and Wardens of the said Corporation for the tyme beying to dysmysse expell remove and cutt of & out of the said socitye or corporation the same person or persons which so should use any other science mysterie or occupation then only of Merchauntes Adventurers as is aforesaid as in the said Act of P'lyament more at large appeareth Forasmuche as the like Corporation of generall exemption hath not any wheare ben founde to be suffered long to contynewe tho' in some place attempted and nevertheles uppon the experience thereof geven over agayne and for that also thexperience thereof hath tought that no manner of benefit or comodytie appeareth to growe by the said Arte [Act?] to the comon weale or otherwise to the unyversall state of the said citye of Bristoll according to the supposell of the said acte but contrarywyse well knowne and fownde oute that sithen the making of the said Acte the prices of all manner of merchaundize have ben and yet are much enhanced the quenes custome as is supposed decreased the weIth of the citie verie much consumed and the Navye thereof as is also suggested partly decayed for that a greate many of welthye inhabitantes and citizens of the said citie which before that tyme occupied greate stockes were thereby cut of from the trade of the Seas And thereof followith that the poore craftes men are not wrought as they might be to the greate ruyn and decaye of all the said Cittye and of thenhabitants of the same and to the greate damage of the countrye envyroning the same yf speedye remedye be not in that behalf provyded and the wonted libertye of the said citizens thereof to trafficke for merchaundize beyond the Seas fullye restored Bee it therefore enacted by the Queenes most excellent Matle the Lordes Spirituall & temporall and the comons in this present Parlyament assembled and by thaucthoritye of the same That the said acte be from henceforth wholy repealed and utterlye made frustrate voyde and of none effect to all Intents & purposes.

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