The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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Hopkins v. Taylor, More Irregularities in the Customs, 1594

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. 34, pp. 52-55.
Manuscript: BL. Lansdowne MS 76/52
Web version by: Joe Inwood (2005)

p. 52

A breviate of the depositions taken concerninge the Complainte
exhibited by Master John Hopkins againste Thomas Taylor unto the
Right Honorable the Lord Highe Treasurer.

John Williams deposeth that Thomas Taylor woulde not be satisfied
with poundage for her Majesties custome due for certeine indico taken
out of a carricke fyered and sunke nere the Ilandes and broughte from
thence to Bristoll in Master Hopkyns shippe, but would have fyve
poundes weight of every hundred weight of the same indico for
custome; whereuppon the same indico was delivered to the sayde
Thomas Taylor and William Benger, then the customers clerk, or to
one of them, as the sayde Taylor, Benger and Hopkyns have reported;
with which harde dealinges the master and company that tooke the
same indico fynde themselves greeved ...

William Benger, late Clerke to the Customer, deposeth that Thomas
Taylor and the customers deputie did after the entrie made of the sayde
indico offer unto the sayd John Hopkyns that he should value the
indico to be worthe ij s vj d the pound, and so to paye the Queenes
custome after that rate, which he refused to doe; whereuppon the
customers deputie with the consente of Thomas Taylor did take the
xx th parte of the indico, which was afterwardes sold by William
Hulbert, customer, (as the sayd William Benger thinketh) but for what
price he knoweth not, nor what was aunswered to her Majestie;
neyther knoweth he of any profite had or made by the sayde Thomas
Taylor for or in consideracion of the saide indico; and deposeth further
that Master Hopkyns sayde at the tyme of the entrie made, that he thought he
was to paye no custome for the saide indico.

William Cole and Thomas Parker depose that Thomas Taylor and
John Dowle the customer did demaunde iij s iiij d for the custome of
everie hundred weighte of Sainte Thomea sugers taken at sea by
Master Hopkyns Shipp, but Master Hopkyns would paye but xx d for
everie hundred for that the sugers were but panellios; whereunto
Thomas Taylor would not consente but required a bande of Master
Hopkyns to paye the custome demaunded by him as aforesayde, unles
he could bringe a dischardge from the Lord Treasurer for so much as

p. 53

was above xx d every hundred weighte. Whereuppon the masters that
tooke the same sugers, being then present did muche mislike and swore
great oathes that they would never bringe any prize to Bristoll but
carry the same els where ...

George White deposeth that Captayne George Wattes reported that
he caryed awaye certeine sugers from Bristoll to Bridgewater, because
that he and his companye were verye hardlie dealte withall in Bristoll
by Thomas Taylor and other officers there and sayde that yf he were
called before my Lord Treasurer he would tell a tale against the sayde

John Taylor deposeth that Captayne Wattes and Captaine Harper
reported in Bridgewater that they brought the sayde sugers from
Bristoll to Bridgewater for that they doubted that Thomas Taylor did
joyne with certeine Fleminges which come home with them from the
Canaries and so would have taken the sayde sugers from them,
whereby the sayde Captains for preventing thereof, were dryven to goe
with their shippe out of the porte of Bristoll to the Welshe rode and so
from thence to Bridgwater to sell the same there ...

John Awsten deposeth that about fower yeares paste he bargayned
with one Captaine Starkey for certeine Indies pepper at Pennarte in
Wales and acquainted Thomas Taylor with yt to whome the saide
Awsten offered to give v li to grant his good will to lande yt, standinge
in some feare that it was not lawfully come by, but Taylor refused the
money and would joyne with Awsten in the bargaine ...

...and deteyneth the profite thereof from the sayde Awsten with
some parte of the principall money and two and twentie poundes worth
of cotten wooll ...

... for all which the sayd Awsten hath sued the sayde Taylor in the
Mayor and Sheryves courtes in Bristoll ...

John Hedde deposeth that one Daniell Messenger did reporte in the
house of John Clarke, vintner, that Thomas Taylor did deale doubly in
a cause betweene one Master Birde of London and certeine Flemings,
touchinge a greate hulke which the Mynion brought home as a prize,
and that he tooke a fee on bothe sides and that Daniell sayde that he
woulde avouche yt to Taylors face.

James Peryman, master of a ship of John Hopkyns deposeth that
the sayd Daniell reported in the presence of John Hedde and one
Mathewe Byrde that Thomas Taylor dyd playe Ambodexter and
Jacke on bothe sides in the saide cause ...

Several depositions report that Taylor had been imprisoned for debt
some years previously, while others concern accusations of illegal
dealings in casks of raisins, sugar, wines and other prize goods
brought to the Back Hall in Bristol. Taylor was also accused of
supporting the claims of various Flemmings in disputes over the
ownership of various prizes brought into the port.

William Cole, marchant, deposeth that about one yeare past yt was
reported unto him by one Gasper Domingo, master of a prize taken at

p. 54

sea by the saide Cole and the pilate of the same prize cominge from St.
Thomea, that there was greate store of goulde in a flyeboate which was
brought to Bristoll from the Castle de Myna by certeine Fleminges,
and that parte of the goulde and the flyeboate did apperteyne to John
Baptista Revelaseo of Luxborne. And saythe further that he thinketh
that Thomas Taylor hath unlawfullie busied himself in the suite
betweene Master Birde and Middleton and Master Hopkyns, William
Cole and others of the companye of a prize called the Globe, Taylor
havinge no authority to medle therein to the knowledge of the sayde
William Cole; and that he hath heard divers maryners and seafaring
men fynde themselves greeved by the sayde Taylor for his hard
dealinge offered them, and thinketh that his brother Hopkyns hath not
preferred his petition of mallice to my Lord Treasurer, but for Taylors

George Woodlocke deposeth that John Skiddy and John Gromell of
Ireland told him at St. Jamestyde last that, about that tyme two yeare,
this deponent having a barke at Bristoll bound for Ireland wherein
Skyddy was purser, certeine officers of Bristoll came aboorde to
serche; but the marchants of the barke (loth to have their goods
romaged, being bounde awaye and the wynde faire) collected amongst
themselves, of some xij d , of other some ij s and of some v s and gave the
whole some (how muche he knoweth not) unto the officers, whom also
he knoweth not neyther to which of them the sayde some was geeven.

Other depositions concerned the ownership of a prize called the Sun .

Thomas Parry deposeth that he broughte and caused to be broughte
from Barry in Wales, anno 1590, xx tie tonnes of St. Thomea sugers
unto Bristoll by porte cockett but the sugers were stayed by Taylors
meanes under color that they belonged to certeine Fleminges, whereby
this deponent was dispossessed thereof, the sugers beinge putt into the
Back Hall of Bristoll (the keeper whereof then was Thomas Taylors
father in lawe) but this deponentes and other mens lockes were broken
up and the sugers taken awaye under cooler of fraighte; this deponent
susteyninge great losse thereby, neyther coulde he have any remedie
against Taylor, beinge a decayed man and indepted to many. And
further, in anno 1592, this deponent and Captaine Gyles bought a
newe serviceable flyboate of certeine Fleminges who had taken her
from the Spanishe Lantatho, her Majesties capitall enemie, to which
Lantatho the same flybote was before soulde by certeine Fleminges for
3000 and od ducketts, whereof proofe hathe beene made, but Taylor
caused the sayde shippe to be arrested in the name of Lawrence
Backes and others of Middleboroughe, by meanes whereof they were
constrayned (to avoyde suites in lawe) to yeelde up their righte in the
sayde flybote for 300 li to the sayde Fleminges of Middleborough, to
their great hinderance. And saythe further, that to speake of Taylor as
he knoweth, fyndeth and heareth, he is a dangerous, busie, shiftinge,
scoffinge felowe, and one that served neere an apprentishippe in the

p. 55

gaiole and one that is a comon dealer in brabblinge causes especiallle
with straingers againste his neighbours, by which meanes he hath
discouraged this deponent and divers others to deale in maryen causes,
and was told to his face by a gentleman of good worship that his
busines with straingers againste his neighbours and native contrymen
would cost him knockes yf he came out of Bristoll ...

John Davis sworne and examined uppon Thomas Taylors
interogatory deposeth that he knewe the shippe called the Sunne and
that first at the appointment of Thomas Holcombe of Bristoll and
afterwardes at the appointment of Abraham van Harricke of London,
marchante, he caused the sayde shippe to be arrested at the suite of the
sayde Abraham and one Lawrence Baye of Middleboroughe and that
he, by the appointment of the sayde van Harricke did prosecute a suite
againste the sayde shippe as maye appeare by the recordes of the
Admirall Courte of Bristoll. And that he verelie beleeveth that the
sayde shippe was arrested (as aforesayde) longe before that Thomas
Parry and Capteine Giles did buy her, for that he knoweth that one
Mathias de Grotta, a marchaunte strainger, did followe the same suite
in the behalf of the Easterlinges which brought the shippe home, and
hath heard one George Knite saye that he receaved fees for that suite
of Mathias de Grotta. 10

10 See also B.R.O. 00009, H.C.A. 24/59/29, E 159/423 Mich. 18r and v.

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