The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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Complaints of the Customer and Controller at Bristol, 1580

Source: Vanes, J. (ed.), Documents Illustrating the Overseas Trade of Bristol in the Sixteenth Century, (Bristol Record Society Publications, Vol. XXXI, Kendal, 1979), No.29, pp. 47-8
Manuscript Ref.:
P.R.O. S.P. 12/136/25.Folio 182

Where it pleased your Honour in mysommer terme laste to passe unto me the Custumership of Bristoll outwarde, with greate charge of my good service therein, which I am altogether unhable to performe unlesse your Honors assistaunce be bent towardes me for redresse of theis abuses followinge:

1. Fyrste, we fynde by the orders which are for our service that the customer and comptroller and theire deputies shoulde, from tyme to tyme when it shalbe thoughte expedyent, survey all shippes and vesselles goinge outwarde and likwise every searcher and his deputies doinge outwarde for the better answeringe of the Quenes Majesties customes and forfeytures there uppon.

2. The searcher and his deputie shoulde give knowledge openly in the custom house to the customer and comptroller a daye or two before at what dey and tide everye shippe within their search goinge outwarde by waye of merchaundize or otherwise (by a certificat) proposeth to departe.

3. Item, we fynde in the custome house a booke wherein all seasures have ben openly entred for the better answeringe of her Majestie.

We have required this service of the searcher, who answereth as followeth:

1. To the firste, that the customer and comptroller hath not to deale in anythinge aborde the shippe, but in the custome house.

2. To the seconde, that he knoweth not when the shippinge is readye to departe.

3. To the thirde, that his credit is sufficient to enter the seasures into th'Excheker.

But where diverse seasures are made, we fynde there no entry. Yf the whole credytt of her highenes service in our porte shalbe in the searcher and his deputie, who for his parte comes not theare in viij wekes togeather and the deputie of no credyt, neyther sworne, your Honor shall fynde that in shorte tyme, the country shall receyve great dearth thereby.

We receyved a letter from your Honor that no come nor victuall should passe out of our charge but only for the realme of Ireland. We have taken paynes to make stay of shippinge which hathe teen laden with come and transported for Spayne, but they resisted us and put us in greate hasarde of our lyves and so passed out of our porte. Therefore, unlesse it may please your Honor to take suche order as wee, her knowen officers may come aborde their shippes to survey the entries which they shall from tyme to tyme make unto us without resistaunce of any in the shippes, which may be done if the owner and owners of everye shippe doe enter into bande to her Majestie when they doe enter their shipp that we may quietlie goe aborde them. The bandes so taken maye be redelivered xxti dayes after the shipp is passed out of our charge. And, unlesse we fynde redresse herein by your Honor, we shall not be hable to do her Majestie service, neyther discharge our consciences.

Where it pleased your Honor for aide herein to referr me to Master Fanshawe, whose answere is that I shall have processe from him to call the parties so offendinge into th' Excheker, that course will not only offence your Honor, but also be a longe trouble for us.

Your Honors to comaunde,

John Androwes Bartyllmey Cook.

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