For the text of this petition and of the answer of the Merchant Adventurers
of England, see Anderson's History of Commerce^ vol. ii. pp. 466-469.
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the Merchant Adventurers of England, and so gave rise to important
A petition to Parliament was presented by "manie orphans,
widowes, and others," creditors of the Merchant Adventurers of Eng-
land, for money lent at interest upon bonds under their common seal
to the amount of Â£80,000, and a bill was brought in on behalf of the
creditors to make the individual members of the Ooftipany liable to be
sued for the debt. At the same time, another bill was presented on
behalf of the Company at London for charging a new duty upon all
merchandise imported for and towards the satisfaction of the claims of
the creditors and for relief from the debt.
The Newcastle Merchants had "just cause to apprehend their ruine
should they be made liable in whole or in part to the payment of so
vast a debt ;" and they made strenuous efforts to obtain their exemp-
tion from the proposed enactments. They had engaged as their
adviser in London that eminent Northumbrian, Mr. John Rushworth,
of Lincoln's Inn, who acted in conjunction with their London legal
agent, Mr. Hartlib. They sent to London, or retained the services
there, of their leading members and witnesses, Mr. Robert Ellison,
Mr. George Cocke, Mr. William Blackett, Mr. Henry Brabant, and
Mr. Humphrey Pibus. They wrote to Sir Francis Anderson and Sir
John Marlay, the members of Parliament for the town, enlisting their
services in the House of Commons, and they also wrote to the Earle of
Northumberland and to the Duke of Albemarle (formerly General
Monk) requesting their intervention at the Council Board.
They also presented another petition to the House of Commons,
who ordered it to be referred to the same committee to which the two
bills touching the Merchant Adventurers of England and their creditors
had already been committed. In support of this petition, or of their
prior petition to the Council, they filed affidavits by Mr. William
Johnson, Mr. George Dawson, Mr. Humphrey Pibus and Mr. Henry
Brabant, detailing, from the personal knowledge of those members,
the events and controversies which had taken place abroad since the
Council's former order in 1638.
The Committee of the House of Commons met on the 28th of
April, 1664, and the Newcastle Merchants had for their counsel before
the Committee Sir William Scroggs (afterwai:ds Chief Justice of the
King's Bench), Mr. Turner and Mr. Oftley. The extracted records
1662, May 14. Proclamation permitting all woollen manufactures to be
exported to any place beyond seas, except Dort and Hamburgh, from May 20 to
December 25, on account of the great decay of trade, but not thereby lightly
esteeming or lessening the Merchant Adventurers' Patent. Calendar State
Papers, Domestic, 1661-2, p. 371.
1663, April 8. Proclamation revoking permission of May 14, 1662, because it
had not produced the desired effect, and restoring to the Merchant Adventurers
the sole licence to export vp^oollen goods to Germany, the United Provinces,
Calais, etc., but ordering admission to the Company to be free to all merchants
in London on payment of Â£13 6s. 8d. and in the out ports of Â£6 13s. 4d., and
enforcing prosecution of all who transgress the liberties of the Company.
Calendar State Papers, Domestic, 1663-4, p. 103.
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contain a detailed and interesting acconnt of the proceedings before
the Committee, including the argument of the counsel and the finding
bj Mr. Turner, in turning over the old books of the Loudon Com-
pany, of confirmatory evidence in support of the case for Newcastle
Finally, the Committee decided in their favour, and resolved, that
the Merchants of the City of York, the towns of Newcastle, Hull,
and Leeds, the City of Exeter, and the County of Devon, ought not
to be charged with the payment of the debt, but ought to be excepted
out of both bills. The Committee also expressed their intention to
report particularly to the House the reasons that induced them to free
Newcastle, and this report was to be drawn up by Sir John Bramston,
the chairman of the committee, and the son of Chief Justice Bramston,
who had reported to the Privy Council in their favour in 1637 and
1638. This report of Sir John Bramston, in 1663, was apparently
made, and the Newcastle Merchants wrote to Mr. Rushworth and
Mr. Hartlib for a copy of it [p. 129], but the copy, if sent, is not
now amongst their records.
Whilst these proceedings were pending the Merchant Adventurers
of England made a new move against the Newcastle Company of
Merchant .Adventurers. They sent in November, 1663, a deputation
to Mr. William Rutter, a draper of Newcastle, authorising him and
others to confer the freedom of the Company abroad on all persons
in Newcastle who applied, on their paying a fine or admittance
fee of 20 marks, "although they were not bread merchants as is
required by his Majestie's late proclamation" [pp. 100-103]. They
also obtained a warrant from the Lord High Treasurer of England to
place James Jenkinson, a draper of Newcastle in the Custom House
there, to restrain the shipping of all cloth beyond the seas to any
place save their mart towns only, and the warrant directed that the
customs ofl&cials were not to pass any cocquet unless signed by the
officer so appointed by the Merchant Adventurers of England.
The Newcastle Merchant Adventurers thereupon made an order
that if the customs officers refused to pass any goods of any member
without Jenkinson's signature, and such goods should, nevertheless,
be shipped and should be seized at the mart towns, they would
indemnify the member from all consequences, and they imposed a
penalty of Â£100 on any member who should desire Jenkinson to sign
any entries [p. 105].
The deputation of Newcastle members, who were in London for
the hearing before the House of Commons, were advised by the
Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General, and Mr. Of tley, to bring a
writ of quo warranto against the Newcastle officials of this " New
Hance," on the ground that their actions were derogatory to the
Newcastle Charters. This was done, and the defendants having no
1^1 defence against the exclusive rights in Newcastle of its local
Company filed only dilatory pleas and judgment was apparently
entered against them [p. 136].
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In the meantime the Merchants of Bristol and Exeter had been
attacking the privileges of the Merchant Adventurers of England
before the King in Council. In December, 1669, they invited the
Newcastle Merchants, through Mr. Rush worth, to make common
cause with them. The Newcastle Merchants replied that although
the Merchant Adventurers of England had dealt very unkindly with,
them, yet in this case they held it more conducing to the common
good of trade and the maintaining of their general privileges to join
with the Merchants of London " rather than with these interlopers "
[p. 187]. The interlopers, however, succeeded in their contentions.
It was held that any merchant might enjoy the privileges of the
Merchant Adventurers of England upon payment of a nominal
entrance fee to their body,* and the peculiar rights for which the
Newcastle Company had so long been contending thereupon ceased
to have any real value.
If the result of the protracted struggle from 1625 to 1670 had
only been to free the Newcastle Merchant Adventurers during that
period from all impositions beyond the composition of Â£8 per annum,
and from the difference between 6s. 8d. and 48s., on the admission of
each member to the Company abroad, the result had not been worth
the infinite trouble, expense, and inconvenience to which they had
been put through so many years ; but if their action had also
operated to free them from their share of the debt of Â£80,000
contracted by the Merchant Adventurers of England, then perhaps
their labours had not been in vain.
Neither of the two before-mentioned bills relating to the debts
of the Merchant Adventurers of England passed into law, but it
appears from the extracted records that the creditors followed up
the proceedings in the House of Commons by suing the London
Company in Chancery, that their bill was dismissed, that the House
* No further order can be found than that of 8th April, 1663, set out in the
note on p. xvi., but Anderson, under the date of 1661, states that "after this time
we hear no more of this Company's (the Merchant Adventurers of England)
complaint against separate traders, nor on the other hand of any uneasiness of
merchants not free of it, the terms being quite easy, if they incline so to be.
Anderson's History of Commerce^ vol. ii. p. 469. The following extracts also
throw some light upon the point : â€” 1697. A petition of divers merchants,
clothiers, and others in the town of Leeds, in the County of York, and places
adjacent, was presented to the House and read ; setting forth that the Company
of Merchant Adventurers of England having published in the Gazette that all
his Majesty's subjects may be admitted into the freedom of the Company for
40s. fine, with liberty to export woollen manufactures into all the limits of the
Company except the rivers Elbe, Weser, and Eyder; That tlie petitioners
conceive that unless the said Company be supported in their trade to the said
rivers the same will irrevocably fall into the hands of foreigners, who will in a
little time have it in their power to limit the prices of woollen manufaccures
and cause them to be debased at their pleasure ; Praying that the said Company
may be supported in their trade to the said rivers. House of Commons Journals^
xii. p. 120. 14th March, 10 William ill. A bill supporting the Merchant
Adventurers of England in their trade with Germany was, according to order,
read the first time. House of Commons Journals^ xii. p. 157,
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of Lords made an order reversing that dismissal, which order
contained a clause relieving the Newcastle Company from any con-
templated proceedings against them in respect of the debt. The
creditors upon obtaining the Order of the House of Lords proceeded
with their suit in Chancery against the London Company, and the
Court ordered that process might issue against the defendants
[pp. 138 and 139]. The Journals of the Houses of Parliament for
the closing years of the seventeenth century contain notices of
petitions and bills on the part of the London Company of Merchants'
Adventurers of England to relieve them from that debt,* but what
ultimately became of it, and whether all or any part of it was ever
paid, the present editor does not know. The debt no longer affected
the Merchant Adventurers of Newcastle, and the inquiry, if worth
pursuing, must be left to others.
The manuscript book relating to the Eastland Company only
extends from 1662 to 1690. The entries in it evidence the fact that
a large proportion of the Newcastle Merchant Adventurers were
members also of the Eastland Company.
This corporation received its first charter in 1679, being therein
described as *'The Fellowship of Eastland Merchanls." By this
document they were privileged to enjoy the sole trade through the
Sound into Norway, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania (excepting Narva,
which was reserved to the Russian Company), Prussia, and Pomerania
(within certain limits), Copenhagen, Elsinore, Finland, Gothland,
Bomholme, and Oeland.t
In a petition, addressed by the Eastland Company in 1659, to the ^
great Council of State of the Commonwealth, for the re-establishment
of the government of their company, they stated that they were
incorporated 21 Elizabeth, in order that they might vindicate
the trade from usurpation by strangers, keep it in the hand of
skilful natives, and protect it from foreign injuries ; that they had
successfully done this, for they had exported yearly 14,000 broad
cloths, besides kersies, etc., not lowering the prices, but having
magazines beyond seas to store their goods when the market was
t<x) full ; that they had returns in timbers, tallow, potashes, linen,
canvas, metals, etc.; that they had employed 200 large ships
yearly, and thus became a nursery for seamen, and that they
had obtained immunities abroad and freedom from taxes, protected
the English abroad, mitigated customs, and removed obstructions in
the trade to the Sound. They further urged that their Company was
no more a monopoly than the incorporation of any city or town in
England, since any qualified for trading might come in on payment of
Â£20, and no port town was excluded from the trade, as it was not
â€¢ 1676. Mebghant a dvbntubebs.â€” Petition of Benjamin Dennis and
others, creditors of the said Company, referred to a Committee. No report.
House of Commons Journals, ix. p. 405. 1671. Petition of the creditors refened
to a Committee. No report. Ibid. ix. pp. 489, 492, 508.
t Cawston and Keane's Early Chartered Companies^ p. 61.
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confined, like most others, to London only.* On the 5th December,
1660, a report by the Navy Commissioners stated that Â£14,849 10s.
was due to the Eastland Company for hemp and Â£350 7s. 6d. for
deal8Â» and a warrant was granted to the Treasurer of the Navy to pay
the above sums to the Eastland Merchants.!
The Eastland Company at London lost many of their records by
the great fire, and at their request the branch of the Company at
Newcastle sent up " such antient authentique remaines " as they had
[pp. 149-155], and this is no doubt the reason why the books of the
Eastland Company for Newcastle prior to 1662 are not now extant.
The Newcastle Eastland Company's book opens with a very
friendly correspondence, in which tne London Company style them-
selves **Your very loving brethren and friends, the (Governor,
Assistants, and fellowship of Eastland Merchants," and the Newcastle
branch subscribe themselves "Your very affectionate brethren and
friends, the deputy and fellowship of Eastland Merchants here
residing" [pp. 142, 143].
Upon the nomination of the Newcastle branch, Mr. Robert
Huntley, one of the members, was appointed to stop unfreemen's
goods at Newcastle-upon-Tyne [p. 147], and a warrant was obtained
from the King appointing John Scarth to seize goods there and at
Whitby, Stockton, and other dependent members and creeks of the
port of Newcastle. Steps were also taken to employ officers at
Sunderland, Hartlepool, and Stockton, to receive impositions due to
the Company [pp. 150, 151].
In 1672, the Newcastle members pressed the London Company to
enforce their impositions at the outports in the North, but the London
Company replied that the time was unseasonable to apply a remedy,
and in the same year an Act of Parliament was passed enacting " for
the encouragement of the Eastland trade," that all persons might
from the 1st May, 1773, have free liberty to trade into and from
Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, and that any persons subjects of the
realm might be admitted into the fellowship of Merchants of Eastland
upon payment of 40s. and no more.
The privilege of trading to Prussia, Pomerania, and Lithuania,
was still left to the Eastland Company, but as anyone might share in
that privilege on payment of 40s., it was not worth much, and, after
the Scandinavian trade had been thrown open by the above enact-
ment, the correspondence between the Eastland Company at London
and the branch of that Company at Newcastle, languished until it
finally died out in 1691.
We hear of the Newcastle Eastland Merchants again, however,
in 1 696, for in that year they presented a petition to the House of
Commons praying that they might pursue the trade to the Narve,
" which they had first discovered," or else might be admitted to the
* Calendar State Papers, Domestic, 1659-1660, p. 283.
t Calendar State Paprrs Domestic, 1660-1661, pp. 403-4.
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freedom of the Rassia Company, for the same fine for which the
members of the Eussia Company and all merchants might be admitted
into the Hamburgh and Eastland Company.* Their agitation was
saccessfnl, for in 1699 it was enacted that every subject desiring
admission to the Russia Company, should pay no more than Â£5 for
Froni that time forward the three great English trading companies
to the northern portions of the Continent of Europe, namely, the
Merchant Adventurers of England, the Eastland^Company, and the
Eussia Company, had no exclusive privileges. THey had fulfilled their
mission, and the fostering care and protection which they had exercised
over English commerce were no longer required. The Merchant
Adventurers of England still flourished for a time at Hamburgh.
There are references to their Company there in the Home Office papers
so late as 1762, J but so far as the development of English industry
is concerned their work was done, and their existence was only that of
a lingjering old age which comes to some before their final rest.
The early accounts of the fellowship of Newcastle Merchants are
principally remarkable for their uncouth spelling, of which payments
for "dyghting of the stares," and "to the biddell for his wags this
yere," and "to William Daltone for serving thre suppenayes at
Hartilpoole," are good examples.
The receipts and payments to be found in the accounts illustrate
the life of the fellowship as ib is detailed in the introduction to vol. i.,
and contain not only the references to the "hostmen's money" therein
mentioned, but also a reference to the "company of hostmen" in
1517, thus indicating the existence of that body as a company long
prior to their incorporation by the great charter of Elizabeth in
The increase of the annual receipts from Â£11 2s. 9d. in 1615 to
Â£69 28. in 1549, is evidence of the rapid growth of the. Company
under the Tudor sovereigns.
The Merchant Adventurers abroad are called "the English
house" in 1549 and '*the English nation beyond the sea" in 1554.
The payment of the annual composition of Â£8, due from the New-
castle Merchants to the Company abroad, which was the subject of
the long contentions hereinbefore detailed is constantly recorded in
the accounts of the Newcastle Company.
There are also entries in the accounts of payments for the play of
" Hoggmaygowk," which cost Â£i IDs. in 1554, and for the same play
called Hogmagoge, in 1558, when it cost only 14s. 2d. This was one
of five plays for which the Company paid Â£31 Is. lid. in 1552.
The town was to repay them for the hostmen's play, and the other
four were probably enacted by the mercers, drapers, boothmen, and
â€¢ House of Commons Journals^ vol. xi. p. 700.
t Cawston and Keane's Early Chartered Companies, p. 66.
X Calendar State Papers, Home Office, 1760-1765, p. 192.
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spicers ; but which of them played Hogmagog is not recorded. It
is the only play of the Newcastle gilds and crafts which has an
apparently pagan name, and it was possibly of an earlier date than
the scriptural plays, such as the " Offering of Isaac by Abraham,"
played by the company of the slaters of Newcastle, or " Noah's Ark,"
played by the shipwrights of that town. Of a similar character to the
above payments are the charges for the procession on Corpus Christi
day, which cost the company 30s. 5d. in 1564, and Â£3 Os. 12d. in
A trace of the contests between the merchants and the craftsmen
referred to in the introduction to vol. i. is to be found in 1553, when
20d. was paid for " sewing of the crafts to the lawe," an enviably
cheap lawyer's bill; 21d. was paid in 1666 for the bearing of 20
torches at the funeral of Christopher :Baxter, a member, and, notwith-
standing the Act of Henry vii. enabling members to appeal to the
King's Court [vol. i. p. xxvii.], Edward Shafto was fined 6s. 8d. in
1663 for " sewinge his brother," which probably means not his brother
in blood, but some fellow member. In the same year unseemly words
which Thomas Liddell spoke of George Selby cost him a fine of 2s.,
and in 1661, Mr. Robert Ellison, Mr. Musgrave, and Mr. George
Heley were each fined the same amount for speaking evil words before
Mr. Governor in the house.
The last and greatest part in bulk of this volume, contains particu-
lars of the apprentices enrolled, and the freemen admitted to the
franchise of the company. To some readers this portion of the book
will seem a dry, uninteresting list of names and dates ; but to many
who have north-country connections, it will reveal items of interest ;
whilst to genealogists and students of the history of the North of
England it will afford a rich field for research and comparison with
other records, for it embodies references to nearly every family of note
in the northern counties for the past three hundred years.
The entries commence in the e^rly part of the sixteenth century.
At that time the long bloodshed of the civil wars had ended. The
military households of the nobles had been broken up. The church
had become a subservient member of the Government. The peasantry
had been, or were being, ruined by enclosures. The increase of pasture
lands had left less room for farming occupations in the country
districts. The progress of discovery and the increase of international
trade were offering new opportunities for wealth to the mercantile
class, and the sons of the English gentry were impelled or drawn
towards those favoured sea-ports which had chartered or statutory
trading facilities. There they became apprentices, as their only avail-
able means of entering, the trading community, whose status they
raised by their rank and whose influence they increased by their
At that time the right of trading in every borough was exclusively
reserved for the existing burgesses, and for those who became free of
the borough by patrimony or apprenticeship.
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Ag early as 1405, it had been enacted that "none that cannot
dispend 20s. by year in land or rent shall put their children to be
apprentices in any city or borough." In 1562, it was enacted that,
while in many common handicrafts boys could be apprenticed, even
if their fathers had no freeholds, yet it should not be lawful for any
merchant trafficking beyond seas nor for any mercer, draper . . .
or clothier to take any apprentice unless the parent of such apprentice
should have freehold land to the clearly yearly value of 40s. This
statute probably only confirmed the existing practice of taking the
sons of freeholders as apprentices to merchants. The freeholders in
the counties were of a higher class than the customary tenants. There
were but a few of them in every township. It was from their ranks
that the merchant class was recruited. From them, and from the
craftsmen of the towns, grew up that wide middle class ** whose
appearance by the side of, and, in a sense, between the lords of the soil
and the tillers of the soil led to the transformation of feudal society
into the society of modern times.*
Among those who enrolled themselves as Merchant Adventurers of
Newcastle, the number of familiar names is so great that it is difficult
to select a few of the most prominent. From Northumberland came
Bertrams, Bewicks, Carrs, Oollingwoods, Crasters, Erringtons,
^enwicks, Forsters, Greys, Hazleriggs, Herons, liisles, Mitfords,
Mnschamps, Ogles, Ridleys, Roddams, Shaftos, "Selbys, Swinburnes,
and Widdringtons ; from Durham came Boweses, Brabants, Blakistons,
Burdens, Conyerses, Edens, Hedworths, Hodgsons, Maddisons,
Marleys, Salvins, and Tempests ; from Yorkshire came Blacketts,
Barneses, Calverleys, and Jenisons; from Cumberland came Bonners,
Broughams, Curwens, Lowthers, and Musgraves ; and from Westmor-
land, Gilpins, Hechstetters, Manns, and Phillipsons.
Some of these offshoots took no root in the town of their adoption ;
many died out in a few generations ; others, enriched by trading,
went back to the country districts, to found families which have,
in some instances, become ennobled, and many still possess lineal
descendants amongst the citizens of Newcastle.
North-country surnames are, in many instances, so widely spread
and possess so much of the nature of clan-names, that it is difficult
to disentangle the different families into which they have branched.
Such is the case with the Andersons, Fen wicks, and Forsters. The
records of the homes of the fathers of the apprentices will afford
aasistance to genealogists in their efforts to unravel such pedigrees.
There are, for example, entries of the Fenwicks of the houses of