Letter of Reprisal
About Elizabeth of Plymouth 1585
Letter of Reprisal to capture the ships and goods of the subjects of the King of Spain to redress a grievance by the owners that was done to them in Spain. The booty is to be taken to an Admiralty port and appraised by “six honest men” and then be divided giving the King his “tenth”.
Below is the text of Elizabeth of Plymouth 1585.
Letter of Reprisal
John Hawkyns Lord Admiral
The condition of this recognizance as such that where William Hawkyns, Humphry Fones and company of Plymouth, are by virtue of a commission of reprisal obtained from the Lord Admirall authorized to set forth to the seas one shippe called the Elizabeth of Plymouth, of the burthen of fourscore tons, or thereabouts, and a pinnace of xxiii tons, whereof
Thomas Peeres goethe for master, with men ordinance, and victual sufficient for the same service, for the apprehending and taking whatsoever the shipps, goodes, and merchandises belonging to the subjects of the King of Spaine, towards the satisfying and recompencing of certain of their goodes, moneys, and merchandises, with losses and damages by the said arrestee of their said goodes made in Spaine.
If therefore, the said master with his shippe, pinnace, and company, do bring such shippe, goodes, and merchandises, as they so take and apprehend, to some port of this her Majestie’s realm of England as shall be most convienent for them, and do not break bulk before the Vice Admirall of the same port, or his deputy, and other public officers of the same port, be aquainted therewith, and also, upon their said arrival, do cause a just and perfected inventory to be taken of the said goods so taken, and a true appraisement thereof to be made by some six honest men, inhabitants of the same port, and do return the said inventory and appraisement into the said high court of the Admiraltye within six weeks then after ensuing.
And also do answer and pay, or cause to be answered and payed in the said court of the Admitaltye, to the use of the said Lord Admirall, the full tenth part of all such shippes, goodes, and merchandises, as the said master, with his shippe, pinnace, and company shall take and apprehend at the seas by the virtue of the said commission, at the time of exhibiting of the said inventory and appraisement as aforesaid.
And likewise do not attempt anything against any of her Majestie’s loving subjects, or the subjects of any other Princes or states being in good liege and amity with her Majestie, but only against subjects of the said King of Spaine, that then this recognizance to be void and of no force, or else to remain in full power and force.
Witness the great seal on August viii in the year of our Lord 1585.