Please adopt a witness

The MarineLives Summer Programme is underway. With the first week of transcription coming to a close, we  have fifty transcriptions under our belt, together with metadata for over three hundred manuscript pages.

Take a look at the following list of English Admiralty Court witnesses. They are described by name, occupation, residence, and in most cases their age, and are from folios 400r to 531r in the book of Court depositions covering the years 1659-1661 (HCA 13/73).


If you click on the links you will go to our HCA 13/73 wiki, where you will find an image of the original manuscript page on which the witness appears.

In most cases you will find a space, waiting for our team to transcribe the image. For witnesses marked in blue you will see both an image and a transcription.

Then contact us, and tell us if there is a particular witness about whom you would like to learn more, and if you know something already about that witness, please share it.



[WWW]Robert fframpton of Limehouse Shipwright late Carpenter of the ”Brazil ffrigot” (Thomas Heath Master) aged 35 yeares
[WWW]Phillip Manning of London Merchant aged 35 yeeres
[WWW]Daniel Boone of London merchant aged 23 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Davies servant and Aprentice to Edward Thompson of Shadwell Dealemerchant aged 19 yeeres
[WWW]John Shawe of Tower wharfe Sailemaker aged 20 yeeres
[WWW]George Settle of Shadwell Cooper aged 25 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Shute of Shadwell Brewer aged 20 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Etheridge of Limehouse Ropemaker aged 38 yeeres
[WWW]Nicholas Pyburne Living in Schoolehouse Lane in Ratcliffe Ropemaker aged 22 yeeres
[WWW]Robert Hooker of Ratcliffe Ropemaker aged 38 yeeres
[WWW]Richard Hartshorne of Tower Wharfe sailemaker, aged Eighteene yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Severne of Lymehouse Mariner Masters Mate of the ship the ”John and Catherine” whereof John Miller was Master Aged 60 yeeres



[WWW]Robert Scotting of Wapping Mariner aged 32 yeers
[WWW]Captaine William Jopp of Redriffe Mariner aged 45 yeeres
[WWW]Edmund Yorke of Redriffe aged 40 yeeres
[WWW]John Gibbs of Bermonsey in the County of Surry Marchant aged 50 yeeres
[WWW]William Bugbey of Lymehouse Mariner aged 49 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Rastel of London Merchant aged 30 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas ffeild of harwich in Essex Shipwright aged 53 yeeres
[WWW]John Godfrey of Dover Court neere (XXX) Mariner aged 32 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Cole of Acton neere Ispwich Mariner, Gunner of the ship the ”Mary Rose”
[WWW]John Turner of Ipswich shipwright Carpenter of the ship the ”Mary Rose”, aged 41 yeeres


[WWW]John Brand of Acton aged 44 yeeres
[WWW]Robert Marten of Acton neere Ipswich Mariner aged 51 yeeres
[WWW]William Howe of the parish of ffanchurch London mariner aged twenty fower yeeres
[WWW]George Whales of the parish of Saint Mary Magdalen Bermondsey Shipwright aged thirty yeeres
[WWW]Andrew Stone of the parish of Saint Olave in Southwarke mariner but borne at Stockholme in Sweden Carpenters mate of the ”Redd Rose” aged thirty fower yeares

CAPTURE_DETAIL_Marke_Oliver_Langdon_HCA1371_f455r_030113 ff.430r-439v

[WWW]John Johnson of the parish of Allhallowes Barking London Mariner aged twenty eight yeares
[WWW]John Triggs of the parish of Saint Mary Magdalen Bermondsey aged forty five yeares
[WWW]Phillip White of the parish of Saint Olave in Southwarke Mariner aged thirty three yeares
[WWW]Francis Hampton of Ratcliff. Shipwright aged about forty yeeres
[WWW]Richard Pigg of Cheeke (?Lane) near West Smithfeild (?Cooper) aged 29 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Hulman Lieutenant of the ”ffairfax frigot”’ (Captaine Robert Story commander) aged 43 yeeres


[WWW]Captaine Robert Storey Commander of the ”ffairfax frigat” in the immediate service of this Commonwealth
[WWW]Captaine Willoughby Hanham commander of the ”kentish frigot” in the immediate service of this Commonwealth



[WWW]Captaine John Stokes Admirall of the Squadron of shipps of this Commonwealth in the Mediterranean sea, aged 49 yeeres
[WWW]John van lynen master of the said shipp ”Saint XXXX” aged thirtie eight yeares
[WWW]John Moller of Amsterdam Merchant aged 28 yeares
[WWW]Ide Symonson Burch of Amsterdam Mariner master of the shipp the Marcus Aurelius of Amsterdam, aged 48 yeeres
[WWW]Jurian Houltho(?use) of Amsterdam Merchant, aged (?40) yeeres
[WWW]Abraham van(?ventur) of Amsterdam Merchant, aged 28 yeeres


[WWW]Rocus van der maes of (?Sizicksea) by birth but living in the hague in holland Merchant aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]John Wilkinson of Ipswich in the County of Essex Mariner, aged 44 yeeres
[WWW]William Hitchcock of Wapping in the County of Middlesex aged 60 yeares
[WWW]Henry Hare of Shadwell waterman aged 41 yeeres
[WWW]Ide Symonson Burch of Amsterdam mariner Master of the said shipp aged 48 yeeres
[WWW]Abraham van Dentur of Amsterdam Marchant, aged 28 yeeres
[WWW]Rocus Maes of Ziricksea but dwelling in the hague in holland Merchant, aged 37 yeeres


[WWW]Francis Holt of Portsmouth gentleman aged 43 yeares
[WWW]John Thistlethwaite of Portsmouth gentleman aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Garret of Redriffe Shipwright late Carpenter of the Ship ”Anne”, (John Adkins late Master) aged 20 yeeres
[WWW]John Mente of Saint Catherines neere the Tower of London Chirurgion aged 23 yeeres
[WWW]Gerbrand Sas Doctor of Lawes
[WWW]Francisco de Moralis of Saint Lucars de Baramuda in Andalusia Captaine of the shipp the ”Pea henn” belonging to Saint Lucars aforesaud, aged 30 yeeres


[WWW]Andries Verhoogh in Zeeland Mariner, aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]Diego de Guevara of Sivile in Andalusia Master or Sopracargo of the said shipp the ”Peahen”, aged 34 yeeres
[WWW]Lewis Francis of Calice in ffrance Merchant, aged 49 yeeres
[WWW]Pedro Michel of Marseilla in ffrance Mariner, aged 32 yeares
[WWW]James Ru(?p)eleau ofM(?orenar) in (XXXX) in the Realme of ffrance Mariner, aged 41 yeeres
[WWW]John Erable of Mornar neere Rochell in the Realme of ffrance Mariner, aged 35 yeeres
[WWW]John Burnelau of Mornau in the Realme of ffrance Sailor, aged 28 yeeres
[WWW]John (?S)ooker of the Parish of Saint (?Buttolphs) Bishopsgate London Mariner Master of the ship ”Richard and Martyn”, aged 52 yeeres
[WWW]Phillip Widdoson of the parish of Saint Olaves in Southwarke yeoman aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]John (?Porolim) of Shadwell in the parish of Stepney in the County of Middlesex Mariner aged 29 yeeres
[WWW]John Frost of New England mariner but belonging at present to the ship the ”Exchange” of London (John Peirce master) aged 22 yeeres


[WWW]John Clarke of New England Mariner but at Present belonging to the ship the ”Exchange” of London (John Peirce Master) aged 19 yeeres
[WWW]Richard Taylor of Saint Katherines Mariner, aged 20 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas More of Horsey downe in the County of Surry Shipwright, aged 25 yeeres
[WWW]Abraham Ripley Chirurgeon resident at present in the parish of Saint Michaell Woodstreete London, and borne in or neere the same parish, aged 33 yeeres
[WWW]John Duce of Wapping in the County of Middlesex Mariner aged 36 yeeres
[WWW]John Hunter native of Eddenborough Scotland but residing at Present at the signe of the Ball in Saint Lawrence Pountneys Lane London Merchant aged 48 yeeres
[WWW]John Taylor of Limehouse Marriner late Boatswaine of the ship the ”hopewell” Arthur Perkins Master aged about 35 yeeres


[WWW]Godfrey Hembling of Waborne in (?Clay) in Norfolke aged 40 yeeres
[WWW]Morris Briggs of Saint Katherines waterman aged 58 yeeres
[WWW]Abraham Barnaby Citizen and (?Grocer) of London Living at the Tower Liberty aged 32 yeers
[WWW]The Answer of the foresaid Godfrey Hembling to the Interrogatories
[WWW]The answer of the said Morris Briggs To the Interrogatories
[WWW]Captaine Thomas Sprittiman Native of Peterhead in the County of (?BoughXX) in Scotland Mariner, late Master of the ship the ”Golden Starre”, aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]Cornelius De Gelder of London Merchant aged 38 yeeres
[WWW]Henry hart of ffalkirke neere Glascoe in Scotland Mariner aged 30 yeeres
[WWW]Henry hart of ffalkirke (?neere ?Glascoe) in Scotland Mariner aged 30 yeeres
[WWW]Captaine Nathaniel Cobham of dunkirke Commander of a foote Company there, aged 40 yeeres
[WWW]Richard Shament Living in Grubstreete London Chirurgion aged 23 yeeres


[WWW]Alexander Kerr native of Greenock in Scotland but living at Ayre in Scotland Mariner aged about thirty yeeres
[WWW]Alexander Keir of Borrowstonesse neere (?Aenborow) in Scotland Mariner aged about 19 yeeres
[WWW]Alexander Keir of Burroghston neere Edenborowe in Scotland Mariner aged about 19 yeeres
[WWW]James Ker of Glascoe in Scotland Merchant aged 22 yeeres
[WWW]Robert Cuming of Glascoe in Scotland Merchant aged 34 yeeres and upwards
[WWW]Edward Paine of Saint Ives in Cornwall gentleman aged 31 yeeres
[WWW]Collaert Budaert of Calice in ffrance mariner late Master of the ship the ”Saint Lewis” aged 50 yeeres
[WWW]Phillip Mansell of Swanzey Merchant aged 30 yeeres


[WWW]Christianus Tepffer Native of (?GXXX) but lodging at Present in New Gravell Lane in Wapping Mariner aged 32 yeeres
[WWW]Laurence Tyrer of Liverpool in Lancashire Mariner aged 25 yeeres
[WWW]Captaine Owen Sallevanne of Munster in Ireland, Gentleman aged 26 yeeres
[WWW]Colonel Edward Freeman Governour of Tinby Castle in the County of Pembro(?ke) in Southwales aged about 49 yeeres
[WWW]Garret Johnson Conneke of (XXXX) in north Holland mariner aged 35 yeares
[WWW]Jacob van Wallendal dwelling at Rochell Marchant aged 35 yeeres
[WWW]Daniel van Liebergen of Rochell but borne at Amsterdam aged 26 yeeres
[WWW]William Jackson servant to Thomas Burton of London Merchant, aged (XX) yeeres
[WWW]John Bell of Lower Shadwell in the parish of Stepney and County of Middlesex Smith aged 36 yeeres


[WWW]James Do(?w)glas of Allhallowes Barking London Skinner aged 30 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Greeneleafe of BeereLane London wine Cooper aged 22 yeeres



Communicating MarineLives

The MarineLives project uses a variety of digital and social media to communicate with its volunteers, and to reach a wider and developing public. 

Today’s Shipping News article examines our approach to communication and reviews our use of three specific vehicles – Facebook, Twitter, and the Shipping News blog – and explains our thinking behind their use.

Our early strategy

Our early communication efforts were centred on our website,, and on a wiki-based project manual we developed for our team of transcribers. 

We advertised for volunteer transcribers and team facilitators in a number of online media, ranging from the IHR website to genealogy fora. We also encouraged our early volunteer recruits to recommend the project on to friends and colleagues.

The role of our website was to provide a first port of call for potential volunteers seeking quick information about the project, but our focus was on eliciting email expressions of interest in volunteering.

The conversion rate from an emailed expression of interest to a signed up volunteer was remarkably high at about three to one, and the drop out rate after starting was relatively low.  This we attribute to our explict statement to all volunteers as to our expectations from them in terms of time, and our commitment to train and support volunteers who were grouped into virtual teams of three to five volunteers, with each team supported by a volunteer team facilitator. 

The most productive of our recruitment initiatives was to publish a short article in History Today about the project. 

This single article was the prompt for more than one third of the eventual thirty volunteers who worked on the MarineLives project between September and December 2012.

Our evolving social media strategy

We opened Facebook and Twitter accounts just a couple of weeks after launching our website, in July 2012.  Whereas we had some prior experience of Facebook, Twitter was a completely blank page.

In the early days of the project, we attempted to use Facebook and Twitter to drive viewers to our website, with the hope this would lead to volunteering. We had limited content to share, and the strategy was not a big success.  This was reflected in relatively low views per posting on Facebook.

Our Twitter followership grew more rapidly, with a decent level of response measured in interactions and mentions. We encouraged our volunteers to open their own Twitter accounts and to retweet and comment on our own postings.

Analysis of the followership shows a large number of academics from the fields of history and English literature, at all stages in their careers, together with a significant number of PhD candidates. The third well represented field of followers is drawn from digital humanists, digitally oriented librarians, and web oriented computer scientists. In total, they are drawn mainly from the United Kingdom and North America, but include Italians, Germans, Russians and Japanese.

Our breakthrough in terms of communication with our academic and wider audience came when we established the Shipping News blog in September 2012. This blog has become our vehicle to communicate synthesised content from the English Admiralty Court archives. After an early flurry of articles, we have settled down to a publishing rate of two or three new articles each month.

As our blog has grown in importance, it has replaced our website as our primary vehicle to publish synthesised material.  And as our corpus of full text transcriptions has grown to over 1.5 million words, the citations supporting our blog articles increasingly point through hyper links to a range of wikis containing the full text transcriptions, such as Annotate HCA 13/72 (the Admiralty Court deposition book for the years 1657-58).

Tempting as it has sometimes been to get content “out there”, our most read articles have been those into which we have put most work, in terms of text, images, and interactive maps. Good examples of highly viewed articles are: Fishing for whales, part one (January 22, 2013), The Admiralty Court and the Spanish West Indies (October 7th, 2013), and Language and Identity (November 8th, 2013).

The final piece in the strategy has been to use Colin Greenstreet’s personal account as a repository for published project documents. This is probably not the long term solution, but has the short term merit of being easy to use, with decent analytics of document views, and easy integration with other social media.

The top documents viewed via this repository are our Digital humanities and technical partnership discussion document (July 23, 2013) and our Case study of London whaling ship, the Owners Adventure, in 1656 (September 12, 2013).


Launched: July 20, 2012
Stats: 66 posts, 54 likes, average views per post = 35, highest view post = 270, lowest view post = 16
Use: Steer traffic to Shipping News blog and MarineLives Twitter account


Facebook – MarineLives Masthead, 24/11/13

Recent postings offering strong content and new functionality have achieved significantly higher viewership per posting

Facebook postings, Sep 2012 – Nov 2013

Facebook provides useful tools to monitor organic reach, post clicks, likes, comments and shares

Facebook – MarineLives: All posts, Aug 26 to Nov 23, 2013


Launched: July 11th, 2012
Stats: 364 tweets, 422 followers, average monthly tweets = 21
Use: Publicise new Shipping News blog entries, generate and maintain interest in MarineLives project, create a project voice, and support recruitment of project volunteers


@Marinelivesorg: Profile page

Twitter useful for (1) Recruitment of volunteers (transcription; PhD Forum) (2) Promoting blog and blog postings (3) Establishing academic connections leading to partnership, e.g. Bath Spa University, Universities of Mannheim and Ancona.

The Shipping News blog launch – Twitter response 60 minutes post announcement

PhD Forum – Twitter response 60 minutes post announcement








Launched: September 22, 2012
Stats: 32 postings (avg 2 per month), 20,000 blog visits since launch (vs. 2300 + Facebook visits since launch)
Use: Communicate synthesised, strongly visual content; encourage trial of other MarineLives resources –,,


Shipping News blog views are reported as running at over 2000 per month since the middle of 2013. These data strip out spam and spiders, but still probably contain some automated and other attempts to access or post to the blog.

Close inspection of the individual IP addresses, combined with country of origin, and the specific pages the viewers enter on and dwell on, suggests that the true viewership of the blog is running at 1000 + views per month.

Shipping News: Monthly blog postings, visits and page views, Sep 2012 – Nov 2013

The effect of social media promotion of new blog postings is quick, as can be seen for our posting on the Admiralty Court and the Spanish West Indies in the figure below

Shipping News: Twitter and Blog response to Spanish West Indies blog posting

 The interactive Google Map displayed in the blog posting above has been accessed 240 times since its publication on October 7th 2013.  An earlier map of Admiralty Court depositions by French witnesses in HCA 13/71 (1656-57) was published on December 16th, 2012, and has been viewed a remarkable 2,758 times.


In the figure below, the first peak in blog views was generated by the first two of three Tweets, and the second peak was generated by the one Facebook posting.  First day responses to Tweets and Facebook postings are almost instantaneous, with the great bulk occuring within sixty minutes of the postings.

Shipping News: Twitter and Blog response to Google the Court blog posting

An ideal Twitter response combines straight Retweets of a message with a repackaging and commenting on a message by opinion leaders, as in the example below

@MarineLivesOrg: Twitter interactions to Google the Court posting



Undoubtedly our use of social media will continue to evolve as we gain in experience, and as our project needs change.

We would be delighted to hear your own experiences of using social media as part of your communication strategy with volunteers and audiences of different types.

Please feel free to post your comments to the Shipping News blog, or alternatively to contact us directly.

Language and identity

The mid-C17th commercial world was one of many co-existing and interacting languages, without a dominant cross-regional trade language. 

Mid-C17th admiralty testimony regarding language, especially spoken languages, sometimes confounds modern expectations. Such testimony can reveals complex relationships connecting language and identity (both personal and group).

HCA 13/73 ff.14v-15r

HCA 13/73 ff.14v-15r

The MarineLives project team is looking for insights into commercial and linguistic relations within geographical areas such as the Mediterranean and the East Country. 

We are doing so by examining the languages used by mariners and merchants in their verbal (and written) communications as recorded in English High Court of Admiralty depositions in the 1650s,

Our team can now draw on a corpus of 1300 full text searchable Admiralty Court depositions from the 1650s and metadata for a further 1500 depositions made in the same court and period.

Case study: Italian speaking English boatswain and Italian speaking Greeks and Frenchmen

When the ship the Ryall was surprised and taken by the Tyger, on the immediate service of the Commonwealth, the boatswain of the Tyger was dispatched in the ship’s yawle to board the Ryall and to enquire where the ship came from and to learn the source of its lading of rice. 

The boatswain was a forty-four year old mariner named John Snarney from Blackwall in the parish of Stepney.  The man who replied was a Greek (“a Grecian”), who spoke to him in Italian, and at least part of the ensuing conversation took place in Italian, the English boatswain understanding the Italian tongue.

Detail, Carte du bassin méditerranéen, de l’Asie mineure etc., le Brun, 1714

Hee was in the first place answered by a Grecian (who spoke the Italian tongue which this deponent understandeth, and who was of the said ship that the said rice was taken …by the Italian men of warre from the Turks and that the same upon the Coast of Morea within the Archipelagos was … laden on board the Ryall by the Captaine of the said ship who was a Frenchman and who had bought the said rice of the said Italian man of warre,

The said Grecian allsoe then affirmeinge and telling this deponent that after such tyme as the said ffrench Captaine had soe bought the same the company of the Ryall by theire said Captaines order did make such speed to unlade and relate the same on board the Ryall that they never measured the said rice but least any obstruction by any other men of warre should interveene the same withall hast was put on bord the Ryall out of the Italian man of warre unmeasured, and that the said Rice was … first prize as being taken from the Turkes and now againe prize in the second place as being taken by the Tyger (1)

John Snarney continued his evidence, offering confirmation of his earlier statement:

Soe much hee this deponent saith was affirmed and told to the deponent ymediatly after both by a West Frenchman who spoke the Italian tongue and was gunners mate of the said ship and allsoe by one Charles an Englishman who was carpenter thereof (2)

How did the English boatswain come to understand Italian, and how good and active was his knowledge?  An answer by the same boatswain to a cross-interrogatory provides insight into the nature and source of his knowledge of Italian:

Hee saith and deposeth hee cannot speake the French tongue but saith hee can both speake and understand a great part of the comon or vulgar Italian tongue which hee learnt by his trading and travelling for many yeares together to Genoa, Leghorne, Naples. Civita Vechia, Messina, Palermo, Trapane, Venice, Zant, and other parts and places thereabouts (3)

The boatswain’s skills in comprehending and speaking Italian as a trade language were significant, though he says nothing about an ability to read or write in Italian.They had been acquired “on the job”, and were considerably stronger than the language skills of his contest, Francis Douglas. Douglas was a twenty-nine year old mariner and foremast man on the Triumph. Like Snarney he was from the London area, giving his residence as the parish of Saint Olave within the Burroughe of Southwarke. He boarded the Ryall the following morning, and stated that:

Hee can speake a little both of the Spanishe and Italian tongues and can in some measure understand them And saith that hee learnt the said languages by his often being at Cadiz, Saint Lucar, Genoa, Leghorne, and other places thereabout (4)

Case study: Armenian merchants, their language and multiple identities

Hojar Sefer was described in a series of HCA depositions he made in 1651 as a merchant of Spahan (sometimes written as Spaham or Spaheim), known now as Isfahan.  He described himself in one of his depositions as “a Persian borne in the dominion of the kinge of Persia and there dwelleth” (5), but it is clear that he regarded himself as Armenian as well as Persian, and signed all his depositions in Armenian script. (6)

Testimony of Hojah Peter, Armenian merchant, HCA 13/65 f.52r, Sept. 10th 1651

Certainly, he recognised his fellow merchants, the producents of several related causes, with whom he had been travelling in the French crewed ship the Saint Martin, as “Armenians”.  He states, for example, in one deposition that “the said producents were and are Armenians and Inhabitants of Smirna, and subiects of the Grand Seignor or Turkish Emperour” (7)

In this statement he defines the producents in terms of what we would now call “ethnicity” (which we impregnate with loose ideas of physical appearance, culture and religion), together with residence and subjectdom.

The Admiralty Court also recognised the status of most of the producents in the related causes as Armenians. The cause mentioned above is titled by the Court as “The claime of Cogia Jacomo and Cogia Kaniar Armenian marchants for their goods in the shipp the Saint Martin whereof Michael Audric was captaine”. (8)  Interestingly, their status as Armenians is used by the Admiralty court to define them, rather than the more usual reference in such case titles to individuals being of a certain town and country.

The status of Persian birth and/or residence appears to have been strong. In the cause of just one merchant from Persia (who was undoubtedly Armenian), the closely related cause is titled:

The Clayme of Coyia Petro of Spaham in Persia for his goods taken in the ship the Saint Martyn whereof Michael Audric was comader (9)

In another of the closely related causes, the title of the cause distinguishes between the two producents:

The claime of Ugala Armono a Persian and Agi Ma[XXX] an Armenian for their goods in the Saint Martin (10)

Hojah Sefer knew both these producents and states in his deposition relating to this cause that the goods for the first “the said Ugula A[?rumeno]” were laded by his factors at Smyrna, since Ugula himself was then at Ligorno) and the goods of the said Marco were laden by himselfe”.  He does not pick up on the distinction made in the title of the cause between the two producents, stating that “the said producents were and are Armenians and inhabitants of Smirna, and subiects of the Grand Seignor or Turkish Emperour.”

Another merchant “of the citie of Spaham in Persia”, Hojah Peter, introduced the concept of “descent” in his deposition to describe the three producents described in the title of the cause as “Merchants of Armenia”:

The said Cogia Jacomo, Cogia Sarankan, and Cogia Safer were and are marchants descended from Armenia, and doe use to trade betwixt Persia and Smyrna and alsoe from parts and places of the dominions of the Turkish Emperour to Smyrna aforesaid and from Smyrna to Ligorne, and doe use to trade and traffique in those quarters with the English and others and hold faire correspondence and commerce with them there which heee knoweth, because hee alsoe tradeth in like maner in those places and thereby hath observed the traffique of the said producents as aforesaid (11)

Signature of Hojah Peter, Armenian merchant, HCA 13/65 f.53v, Sept. 10th 1651

Hojah Peter goes on to make clear that “hee this deponent was and is a Persian a native of the foresaid citie of Spahan” and expands on the status of the producents:

The said Cogia Jacomo dwells in or neere the citie of Rivan in Persia and was borne there, and the said Cogia Safer was borne and liveth in Spaheim aforesaid, and the said Cogia Sarankan was borne in Constantinople aforesaid, and further saith that none of them are ffrench nor belonge to any ffranch factorie in Constantinople, Smyrna, or elsewhere nor have any relation to the ffranch nor pay any tribute or owe any obedience to the ffranch kinge, but are free marchants for themselves, living in Persia and Constantinople as aforesaid (12)

In this light, the Armenian descent of the merchants was an important unifying characteristic, given that they were born in three different towns or cities, of which two were in Persia and one in the dominions of the Turkish Emperor, and live in different towns or cities.

Unmentioned, but implicit, is that they shared the Armenian language as their primary written language.  This has to be inferred (though without certainty) from the signatures of the deponents who describe them.  These deponents, some of whom describe themselves as Armenian, all sign their depositions in distinctive Armenian script. (13)


(1) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image P1180053
(2) HCA 13/65 nfoliated, ML image P1180054
(3) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image P1180055
(4) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image P1180056
(5) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXXX
(6) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXXX
(7) HCA 13/65 f.59r, ML image P1170492
(8) HCA 13/65 f.53v, ML image P1170481
(9) HCA 13/65 f.85r, ML image P1170544
(10) HCA 13/65 f.59r, ML image P1170492
(11) HCA 13/65 f.52r, ML image P1170478
(12) HCA 13/65 f.52v, ML image P1170479
(13) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXX, HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXXX, HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXXX

Pilot’s right of sole command

After the previous project blog entry on the cosmopolitanism of speaking in foreign tongues in London, this entry features a simple confusion in the English language between port and starboard.  It involves the grounding and wreck of a ship, the Exchange, on its way from the Port of London to the Downs.

The confusion was in English, and took place between two English men, the hired pilot and the ship’s captain.  But the crew itself was cosmopolitan, with an explicit reference made in the deposition of John Humphrey, a thirty-two year old mariner from Southwarke, to a significant Dutch component in the crew of the English ship heading for Virginia, probably via the Ginney coast. Crews hired from several ports and countries are a common feature of the crew lists which survive in schedules of wage disputes in the Admiralty records.

Disagreement between Pilot and Captain, leading to grounding on Thames estuary mud flats

The case of William Wilkinson against James Warren dealt with the right of a Pilot to sole command of his ship. James Warren had been hired as Pilot of the ship the Exchange to conduct the ship from the Port of London to the Downes.

The ship was bound for Virginia, and should, for its burden and intended voyage, have had a crew of thirty, or at least twenty-eight men, but started out with fewer than twenty-two men and boys. Some crew (Dutchmen) were still at Gravesend when the ship departed from its mooring there. From the Hope in the Thames estuary onwards there were a number of disagreements between William Wilkinson the ship’s captain, and James Warren, the hired pilot.

John Humphreys, a thirty-two year old Southwarke mariner stated the custom and law as he understood the right of a Pilot to sole command of a ship:

“1. To the third Article hee saith, That it is and ever hath been usuall, since
2. this deponent first knew what belonged to Navigation, That a Pilott undertakeing the
3. pilotting of a ship from place, should have the sole ordereing direction, and
4. Command of the said shipp and Companie, and that although the Master
5. of such shipp bee himselfe aboard. yet hee ought not in any manner to
6. contradict or apprise the said Pilotts Command in any thing concerning the
7. sayleing of the said shipp. And so much hee beleeveth to be conforme to the
8. Sea lawes and Customes in that Case provided and generally received, to
9. which hee referreth himselfe, And further, cannot depose./”1

John Humphreys then provided a chronology of events, leading to the ship’s grounding. Unmooring the ship after clearance on a Saturday at Gravesend, the ship set off on a Sunday in a high wind under the command of the Pilot, the captain still ashore. It reached the Hope in the Thames estuary that same day, where the captain boarded the ship.

The pilot wished to anchor at the north shore port of Lee, a frequent stopping point in the estuary, but Wilkinson insisted that they proceed to the Redd Sands. On the Tuesday the set off in high wind across the flats to part of the estuary called the Narrow.

Humphreys testified that he heard contradictory commands ring out from Pilot and Captain, one calling for “to putt the helme a port and the other on starboard.” But in the “great confusion” Humphreys was uncertain who issued which instruction

“10. To the 4th Article hee saith, That at or about the time predeposed, the
11. arlate James Warren did conduct and pilott the said shipp the Exchange
12. from this Port to Gravesend where shee and her ladeing arrived in safety
13. upon and being there cleared upon a Saturday, the next morning the
14. said Wilkinson being himselfe ashore at Gravesend sent to the said Warren
15. then aboard to sett sayle with the said shipp towards the Downes, the wynd
16. being then somewhat too high in this judgement conveniently to unmoore the
17. said shipp which was done with very great difficultie and trouble, and so
18. shee came in safety to an anchor in the Hope, and the next morning
19. being the munday morning ensueing, the said Wilkinson comeing aboard
20. his said shipp commanded the said Warren to sett saile from thense, to
21. which hee this deponent knoweth not what the said Warren replyed, but saith
22. hee well knoweth, that severall of the said Dutchmen were then ashoare
23. at Gravesend and not aboard the said shipp, soe that there was not a
24. convenient number of men then aboard to mannage her, shee requiring
25. according to her burthen and intended Marchants Voiage for Virginia
26. 30. or at the least 28. men as aforesaid sufficiently to man her. The
27. premisses hee declareth upon the grounds predeposed. And further cannot
28. depose
29. To the 5:th Article hee saith, That upon the said Mr Wilkinsons coming
30. aboard the said shipp at the Hope, the said James Warren upon his
31. importunitie sett saile with the same to Lee, shee having then, as this
32. deponent remembereth (the Dutchmen being returned aboard) her former number
33. of about 22. men and one boy, And saith the wynd was then very
34. high at the North-west or neere that point, and the said Warren
35. was very earnest to have come to an anchor at Lee aforesaid, and to that
36. purpose had caused to be taken in her foretop saile of the said shipp, but the
37. said Wilkinson absolutely refused soe to doe or permitt to be done, whereupon
38. the said Warren was enforeced contrary to his good will and likeing to sayle
39. to the redd sands. The premisses this deponent well knoweth, for that hee was
40. Boatswaine of and aboard the said shipp, and saw and observed all the
41. passages by him predeposed. And further cannot depose:-/:-
42. To the 6:th hee saith, That upon the Tuesday morning next ensueing the
43. shipp sett sayle to goe over the flatts, and in her passeing over the
44. same to a place in the Sea called the Narrow, but saith, that hee this
45. deponent did not nor could not then particularly observe, what Course the said
46. Warren steared, hee this deponent being then intent upon other buisinesse
47. in the said shipps fore Castle, neither did this deponent observe at how
48. many fathoms water shee then was; hee further saith, That during the
49. said storme of wynd in the said shipps passage over the fflatts aforesayd
50. hee this deponent heard two contrary commands given, the one commanding to
51. putt the helme a port and the other on starboard, but which of them
52. gave either of the said commands particularly, this deponent saith, That
53. by reason of the great confusion then aboard, hee this deponent could not
54. distinguish”2

The result was inevitable, the wreck of the Exchange upon the sands, and a law suit before the High Court of Admiralty between the Captain and the Pilot disputing responsibility for the wreck.


(1) HCA 13/71 f.47v Case: William Wilkinson against James Warren; Deposition: 1. John Humphrey of the parish of Saint Mary Magdalens in Southwarke in the Countie of Surrey Mariner aged 32; Date: 02/04/1656. Transcribed by Colin Greenstreet.
(2) HCA 13/71 f.47v


Speaking in foreign tongues

Mid-seventeenth century London was a remarkably cosmopolitan and multilingual city.  The ability of the city and its surrounding urban areas to attract short and long term residents and transients from continental Europe, the near East, and the Americas was striking, even to modern ears and eyes, used to the linguistic and ethnic mix of London three hundred and fifty years later.

A different perspective on language and the city is offered through the medium of the Admiralty Court records.  These reveal transient communities, amongst factors and foreign mariners, whose visibility is poor in church and municipal records.  

Inspection of HCA 13/71 suggests that the size and character of of transient Spanish and Portuguese commercial communities in London may have been underestimated, Catholic as well as Sephardic.  Analysis is made harder by the challenge of distinguishing Catholic and Jewish merchants, and the complexity of linguistic, national and religious identity amongst merchants.

Forty-five year old Madrid born Simon da Casseres had a complex history and identity

The complexity of nationality, residence and trading relations is revealed in the testimony of the forty-five year old Madrid born Jewish merchant Simon da (alt. de) Casseres, who had lived in Hamburg, and briefly in Barbados, before moving to London.1

He was testifying to his good knowledge of Manuel Derrickson, who was resident in Hamburgh, but whom da Casseres described as Portuguese by birth.

“12. Simon da Casseres of London Merchant, aged
13. 45 yeares or thereabouts sworne and exámined
14. To the sixth article of the said allegation hee saith and deposeth that hee
15. well knoweth the producent Manuel Derrickson, and hath soe donne for
16. these twenty yeares last past and upwards this deponent having for
17. the most part of that space lived in hamborough, where hee saith the
18. said Manuel hath for all the said time dwelt, and kept house there, being
19. there married, and was and is a merchant of good accompt, and
20. an inhabitant and subiect of the free state of hamborough, and for such
21. commonly accompted, which hee knoweth being well and familiarly acquainted
22. with him and having bin there very often in his house and had dealing
23. with him in the way of Merchandize. And otherwise hee cannot depose.
24. Upon the rest hee is not examined by direction of the producent.
26. To the Interrogatories
27. To the first hee saith that hee this deponent was borne at Madrid in Spaine
28. and hath for the last seven yeares dwelt in hamberough, till lately that
29. hee came to London, and saving a little space of that time that he was at
30. the Barbada’s, and otherwise negatively.
31. To the second hee saith the said Manuel derickson as hee taketh it is a
32. Portuguese by birth, and otherwise hee referreth himselfe to his foregoeing”2

Da Casseres sought to establish credibility with the Commonwealth, and therewith to gain commercially.  In 1655 his knowledge of the West Indies had been put to good use in a note on the fortification of Jamaica.3 In the same year a “humble proposition of Simon de Casseres” suggested  a naval expedition to the coast of Chile to establish a fort and seize Spanish gold.4

English and Dutch owned or purchased vessels used by Spanish merchants resident in London to import wine from the Canaries

Vessels of complex origin could be used to obscure the origins of freighters of goods to and from Catholic countries. This has already been seen in the case of the Jewish merchants, Andrew and Christofer Munez (alias Meyenberg), living in Amsterdam and shipping goods from France to Cadiz, Spain. They freighted their goods in the hare-in-the-fields, whose ownership and freighters had an ambiguous English, French and Dutch character.

Antonio ffernandez de Caravajall, was also a proponent of using Dutch shipping and Dutch purchased ships for his trade with the Canaries. Declaring himself to be fifty-six years of age in a deposition concerning the White fflower de lune, he was a Fundão (Portugal), or possibly Canaries, born Jew. This self-declared age is inconsistent with the historiography, which typically suggests that he was born ca. 1590.

His servant and relative, Alonso de ffonseca Meza, worked at the London counting house of Caravajall The servant deposed on behalf of “Mr ffernandez” in the matter of the purchase of the “Lyz-blanc” or “White fflower”. The ship had been purchased in the United Provinces in the name of Joseph Perrera in Amsterdam, “because Mr ffernandez intended to send her for

35. Alonzo de ffonseca Meza of London Merchant aged 22
36. yeeres or thereabouts sworne as aforesaid saith as followeth
37. That his precontest Antonio ffernandes Caravajall in or about the
38. moneth of October last past wrote over to Amsterdam to Joseph
39. Perera, giving him order thereto buy for his the said ffernandes proper
40. account a dutch shipp or vessell, but to buy her in the name of
41. him the said Perera, because Mr ffernandez intended to send her for
42. Spaine. And that in or about November last the said Perera by lettres of
43. advise the said Mr ffernandez then had the said Perera had there bought
44. a shipp named the Lyz blanc, (in English the White fflower
45. da Luna) for the said ffernandez his accompt, of the burthen of one
46. hundred tonnes or thereabouts, And saith that not longe after the said
47. Perera drew bills of exchange for the same upon the said ˹Mr˺ ffernandez
48. to the valew of ˹two˺ hundred and fiftie pounds sterling ˹or thereabouts˺, which Mr
49. ffernandez accepted and paid.”6

Spanish speaking skills at a premium amongst Dutch and English mariners

Fernandez de Caravajall  sought out Spanish speaking mariners as skippers, believing they would benefit his trade with the Canaries.

John Rombout, a Dutch skipper from Middleburgh, testified that he had been asked by ffopp Wessell to visit Caravajall at his house in London, where “Mr Fernandez” was “very glad of this deponents comming, and soe much the rather because this deponent spake Spanish, whereby hee might further his matters at the Canaries.”

Wessell had just returned from the Canaries on the Seaflower, of which he had gone supracargo in the employment of Carvajall. The Canaries correspondent of Caravajall was Christopher da Alvara da Baramonte, who was presumably Catholic.

Ironically, given the Spanish language skills of Rombout, he was unable to depose on the details of Caravajall’s charter party, since it was in English and he did not read English.7

“6. To the second, third and fourth árticles of the said allegation hee saith and deposeth
7. that in or about the beginning of ffebruary last past hee this deponent
8. being at Middleborowe and there spoken to by the said ffopp wessell
9. (who lately before was come from the Canarie Islands to London with
10. the said shipp in the imployment of the said Mr Antonio ffernandez Carravashell
11. and was to retourne thither againe in the said servise as hee told this deponent.)
12. and by him ˹the said fop˺ this deponent was asked if hee would goe with ˹him˺ to London and
13. thense to the Canaries in the said shipp and servise, to which this deponent
14. condiscended, and came over with him hither to this citie in the said
15. moneth and went with him to the said Mr ffernandez his house, who
16. was very glad of this deponents comming, and soe much the rather because
17. this deponent spake Spanish, whereby hee might further his matters at
18. the Canaries, and acknowledged that hee had freighted the said shipp of
19. the said ffopp wessell for the said voyage to the Canaries to carry goods
20. thither hense, and being back such goods thense as his factor should there
21. lade, and saith hee this exáminate hath seene a schedule in writing which
22. was said to be the Charter partie made for the said voyage, but being
23. (this is his remembrance) in English, this deponent could not read it nor
24. knoweth the contents thereof.”8


(1) HCA 13/71 f.56v Case: The claime of Manuell Derrickson of Hamburgh for his goods in the Hare in the ffeilds (John Kei?n Master) (“The claime of the said Manuel Derrickson in the Hare in the ffeilds”; Deposition: 2. Simon da Casseres of London Merchant, aged 45 (Signature of “Simon de Casseres” at end of deposition); Date: 12/02/1655(56). Transcribed by Karen Gunnell.
(2) HCA 13/71 f.56v
(3) ‘A note of what things are wanting in Jamaica by Simon de Casseres,’ p. 299, Thomas Birch (ed.), ‘State Papers, 1655: September (4 of 4)’, A collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, volume 4: Sept 1655 – May 1656 (London, 1742), pp. 47-63, viewed 14/12/12
(4) ‘The humble proposition of Simon de Casseres,’, Thomas Birch (ed.), ‘State Papers, 1655: September (4 of 4)’, A collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, volume 4: Sept 1655 – May 1656 (London, 1742), pp. 47-63, viewed 14/12/12
(5) HCA 13/71 f.58v, HCA 13/71 f.59r Case: On behalfe of Mr ffernandez touching the White fflower de Lun; Deposition: Alonzo de Fonseca Meza of London Merchant aged 22 (Signature of “Alonso de ffonseca Meza” at end of deposition); Date: 22/02/1655(56). Transcribed by Colin Greenstreet.
(6) HCA 13/71 f.58v
(7) HCA 13/71 f.439r Case: De haze and others against Mr ffernandez and Mr Kilvert; Deposition: 2. John Rumbout of Middleborowe Skipper aged 46 yeeres; Date: 03/12/1656. Transcribed by Colin Greenstreet.
(8) HCA 13/71 f.439r