The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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A Petition from the Waiters in the Port of Bristol, c.1584

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. 32, p. 51.
Manuscript: British Library, Lansdowne MS. 110/26.
Web version by: Louise Casson (2005)

To the Right Honorable the Lord Burghley, Lord Highe Treasaurer
of England,

In all humblenes sheweth and complayneth unto your honour your
poore Suppliants, the sworne and appointed waiters of the Queenes
Majesties custom house at and for the port of the citty of Bristoll, that
whereas all bills of discharge of goods inward are kept from them by
the corrupt and covetous meanes of certaine Deputies which have
fermed the imposition of wynes. By restraint of which bills according
to th' accustomed manner of service heretofore had, your Lordships
said Suppliants cannot serve her Highnes and performe their dueties as
by their othes they are charged, because yf any merchaundize be
landed and the custome not paid or otherwise agreed for by
composicion with the officers, they and such offendors through want
that your Suppliants have not the said bills of discharge, yf your
Suppliants make stay, affirme the custome is paid or agreed for, so that
they with the Customer (who is also one of the fermors) may secretly
and unlawfully compounde for forfeitures of wynes or any other
goodes, or els conceale the same wholy, whereby your poore
Suppliants doe loose the mony due to them for the bills execucion,
being both the greatest part of their charge and also their cheifest
living. And the marchantes regard not your suppliants office, which
may be to the great prejudice of her Majesties benefitt, to the
incoragement of such offenders and th' increase of concealement of
her Highnes subsedie daily practized. It would therefore please your
good Lordship to take some order for present redress of the said
abuses and to give commaundement that your said Suppliants (the
waiters) may have the said bills of discharge delivered unto them, and
the fees thereunto belonging to be paid in that behalf as it hath byn
alwaies formerly used. And your said Suppliants shall both duetifully
performe their bounden service, and daily pray for the happy
preservacion of your honorable estate.

Endorsed: The humble petition of the sworne waiters etc.*

*A note from the officials, Cave and Bande, admits the justice of the Waiters'

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