Previous Toc Next

                  PRIVATEERING  
                         
              1626, the goods in the "Peter of Dunkirk" were valued at £60 5s. 6d. A few days later in the month Capt. Gyffard, :sending his servant to Nicholas for a commission for the " Peter," says " the ship will be ready before Midsummer," and he hopes she will bring them " some spending money," but in July he informed Nicholas that " the shipwrights have found that all the floor-timbers of the Peter are rotten."
    CHAPTER NI.    
             
PRIVATEERING-PRIZE SHIPS-LOYAL PRIVATGEERS-SMUGGLING CUSTOM HOUSES.  
              Captain Gyffard, in the spring of 1627, was confined to his house at West Blatchington through illness, and in a letter to Nicholas he laments that he cannot follow the Duke of Buckingham in his expedition for the relief of Rochelle, which was then fitting out at Stokes Bay, and in which were two ;Shoreham ships.
THE licensed form of Piracy, known as Privateering, was very general during the wars of the seventeenth century, and thero are records of the owners and captains of Shoreham ships obtaining from the Government of the day, letters of marque or commissions " to set forth to take pirates " and plunder the ships of the enemy.  
  In July of the same year a Dutch ship was brought into Shoreham, and the captain, informing Nicholas of the fact, refers to his continued ill-health and states that their ship " went to sea on the 5th with instructions to go into the bay towards Nantes ; " he hopes that she will yet do something that will return Edward Nicholas his money, and adds that he " would rather lose all his own than Nicholas should lose a penny."
Several such licences were granted from 1625 to 1627 to Capt. Richard Gyffard for the " Peter," and in 1628 to Capt. William Freeland for the " St. Peter," from 1627 to 1629 to Capt. William Scras, Tuppyn Scras and others for the " Dolphin," and in 1628 and 1629 to Tuppyn Scras for the " Fortune," and to Leonard Cross for a vessel of the same name in 1632.  
Frequent letters passed between Capt. Gyffard and Edward Nicholas (Secretary to the Admiralty) as to the adventures of the " Peter."   The hope that the ship might do more " business " seems to .have been realised later in the year, when a bark of St. halo or Grenville, the " Sea Horse," was driven to the mouth of the harbour and brought in by the captain's men. She was laden with linen, cloth, wines, and other commodities, and Gyffard claimed her as a prize, begging for a warrant "whereby there may be judgment given and every man have his due."   He stated that the proceeds " will be about £500, of which the savers claim half."
             
Apparently the vessel was a prize ship, as she is referred to as the " Peter of Dunkirk " in a deed of covenant, by which she was conveyed to Capt. Gyffard by order of the Duke of Buckingham. She was then (October, 1625) in Portsmouth Harbour and it was agreed " for the setting forth of the ship on a voyage, with commission of reprisal," that Edward Nicholas should receive for the Duke's use (over and above the usual tenths) a third part of all goods that should be taken, one third to go to Capt. Gyffard for victuailing the ship and the remaining third to the captain and crew, "according to the custom of commissions of this nature."  
  In November, 1629, Sir Henry Mervyn, Admiral of the Narrow ,Seas, from his ship the " Lion," then in the Downs, reported that he had " stayed th6 Peter." She was laden with barley, and her master, Richard Graseden, " had no papers and gave contradictory accounts of himself."   Sir Henry prayed for immediate instructions, as the corn " began to heat." These were given and the vessel was ordered to London, from which port, ten days later, he informed the Admiralty that " the master -of the bark has brought certain papers from Shoreham " which he (Sir Henry) encloses, and he thinks they are not counterfeit, "' whatever was the cause of the master's double tales."
In the following February, Thomas Paynter took workmen from Shoreham to Portsmouth to receive the ship and prepare her for sea. Later she was brought to Shoreham and a warrant issued to the officers of the port to permit Capt. Gyffard to put eight pieces ordnance aboard his ship, the " Peter," her captain being Henry Parrant.  
  Apparently the vessel met with some success, for, in June,     In March, 1628, Captain William Scras, in his ship the
                         
      136             137    

Previous Toc Next

Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002