The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


Valid XHTML 1.0!

Petition from the Waiters in the Port of Bristol, c.1590

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.
B.L. Lansdowne MS.110/26.

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.[1]

[1] A marginal note from the officials, Cave and Blande, admits the justice of the Waiters' complaint.

Home  |  Reading |  SourcesDepartment