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  THE STORY OF SHOREHAM       PIRACY  
                     
demands of the King for ships caused much injury to trade and led to great discontent in all the coast towns of Sussex. It was therefore deemed advisable to summon masters of vessels to the Council at Westminster to enquire into the state of Navigation. To the first meeting of this kind, delegates were sent from all the principal ports of Sussex and subsequent councils were held in 1341, 1342, 1344, and 1347, and probably were found successful in persuading ship-owners to supply their ships for the wars.   Phillip Bagge and William Snellyng, of Shoreham, were appointed by the King to levy in their town and port a subsidy of 6d. in the pound on all merchandise imported or exported, from December, 1360, to the Michaelmas following. This was " for the expenses of mariners, armed men, and archers of a ship of war going to sea to safeguard the merchandise of his subjects and friends." Phillip Bagge failed to render an account for the time when he was receiver and was outlawed, but after surrendering to the Fleet Prison, was pardoned.
Shoreham ships played a considerable part in the wars of Edward III. against the French. In one fleet which sailed from England in 1342, numbering 347 vessels, 56 were supplied by the Sussex ports and of that number Shoreham contributed 21. Another fleet sailed the same year and in this were two ships belonging to our port, the masters and mariners of which, as well as many others, deserted at Brest, and returned home " leaving the King and his army in very great peril." The Shoreham ships were " la Laurence " and " la Nicholas " and their masters, 'Simon Balc and Thomas Robyn, with their crews, were arrested on their return to Shoreham and committed to prison.   As an illustration of some of the exports from Shoreham at this period we find reference to wheat and beans sent to Ireland in 1364 " for the sustenance of the King's lieges there." In the following year sixty gammons of bacon, eighteen dozen of cheese; and twenty quarters of wheat were shipped to be taken to the Abbey of Fdcamp for the use of the Abbot and monks.
  The port was again ordered to supply ships for the King's Navy in 1366. In 1368 " the keepers of the passage in the port of London " were directed to allow William Brykles, a merchant of that city, to put on board a small ship "certain victuals and armour for the furnishing of a ship new made at Shoreham, called La George, of London," and to take them with "other things useful for her gear " to Shoreham " and not elsewhere."
In 1346, in which year the inhabitants were ordered to make war on the French " by sea and land," King Edward collected a large armament for the Campaign of Crecy and the Siege of Calais. The Sussex ports furnished 60 ships and 1,257 men, and of this number Shoreham provided 26 ships and 329 men. This was a larger number of ships than supplied by London, Dover, Bristol, or Southampton, and can only lead to the conclusion that, at this period, the town was m a flourishing condition, had a considerable population, and the port was a leading one.  
  Throughout the reign of Edward III., we find numerous references to piracy, and ships were continually plundered of their cargoes by the mariners of the port. During the time of truce between France and England (at the beginning of the reign) a merchant of Amiens came with his " woad " and other goods to the value of £28 to Shoreham to trade there. Thomas Mourant, bailiff of the town, seized the goods but was ordered by the King to restore them to the merchant. In July, 1352, John de Ellerton, King's serjeant-at-arms, was required to make inquisition " on the oaths of good men of Shoreham, touching two ships of Spain which were taken by men of the port and brought in, contrary to truce between the King (of England) and men of Spain." In the following year a Flanders ship, laden with goods for England, to wit, 5 bales almonds, 48 dozen cordwaine worth 500 florins and other merchandise " to no small value," was taken by pirates who plundered her of her cargo, which they took into Shoreham and detained there. Measures were ordered to be taken for the restitution of the property to the rightful owners.
But King Edward's military achievements, brilliant as they were, against a gallant foe who seemed to have little power to resist the transport of his armies, resulted in a number of local invasions along the coast, which, for many years during the latter part of his reign, was continually harassed by the French. Possibly Shoreham suffered in this way more than once. Certain it is that the French visited the immediate neighbourhood and left traces of their invasion, for, in 1359, a commission was instituted to repair some sea-walls at Pende-described as situated " between Bramber, Shoreham and Lancing"-which had been damaged, not only by the inundation of the sea but also by the ravages of the French and Spanish.  
                     
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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002