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An Act for the corporation of Merchants adventurers for the discovering of new trades, made in the eight yeere of Queene Elizabeth. Anno 1566.

WHEREAS divers very good Subjects of this Realme of England in the latter ende of the reigne of the late right high and mightie prince our Soveraigne Lord king Edward the sixt, at the gracious encouragement, and right good liking of the said king, and by his Majesties liberall example, did at their adventure, and to their exceeding great charges, for the glory of God, the honor and increase of the revenues of the Crowne, and the common utilitie of the whole Realme of England, set forth three ships for the discovery by Sea, of Isles, lands, territories, dominions, and Seigniories unknowen, and by the Subjects of the sayd late king not commonly by seas frequented: and after that Almightie God had called to his mercie the said king, who died before the finishing and sealing of his most ample and gracious letters of priviledges promised to the said Subjects, as wel in consideration of the said enterprise, as for divers other respects it pleased our late sovereigne Q. Mary, at the humble suites of the same subjects, to graunt by her letters Patents under the great Seale of England, bearing date at Westminster the 26. day of February, in the second yeere of her raigne, for the considerations mentioned in the said letters Patents, to the saide subjects being specially named in the saide letters Patents, and to their successors, that they by the name of Merchants adventurers of England, for the discoverie of lands, territories, Isles, dominions, and Seigniories unknowen, and not before their late adventure or enterprise, by seas or Navigations commonly frequented, should be from thenceforth one body, and perpetual felowship and communaltie of themselves, both in deed and in name, and that the same felowship and communaltie from thenceforth should and might have one or two governours, foure Consuls, and 24. assistants, of the said felowship and comminaltie of Merchants adventurers, and that they by the name of the Governour, Consuls, assistants, felowship, and comminaltie of Merchants adventurers, for the discovery of lands, territories, Isles, dominions, and Seigniories unknowen, by the seas and Navigations, and not before their said late adventure or enterprise, by Seas frequented, should or might be able in the lawe to implead and to bee impleaded, to answere and to be answered, to defend and to be defended, before whatsoever Judge or Justice temporall or spiritual, or other persons whatsoever, in whatsoever court or courts, and in all actions, real, personal, and mixt, and in every of them, and in all plaints of Novel deseison, and also in all plaints, sutes, quarrels, affaires, businesse, and demaunds whatsoever they be, touching and concerning the said felowship and comminaltie, and the affaires and businesse of the same, only in as ample maner and forme, as any other corporation of this Realme might doe, giving also, and granting unto them by the said letters Patents, divers authorities, powers, jurisdictions, preheminences, franchises, liberties and priviledges, as by the same letters Patents more at large will appeare. And among other things mentioned in the said letters Patents, whereas one of the three ships, by the said fellowship before that time set foorth for the voyage of discovery aforesaid, named the Edward Bonaventure, had arrived within the Empire and dominion of the high and mightie Prince Lord John Vasiliwich, Emperour of all Russia , Volodimersky, great duke of Musky, &c. who received the Captaine and Merchants of the saide shippe very graciously, granting unto them freely to traffique with his subjects in all kinde of merchandizes, with divers other gracious priviledges and liberties: therefore the said late Queene by the same letters Patents, for her, her heires and successors, did graunt that all the maine lands, Isles, ports, havens, creeks and rivers of the said mighty Emperour of all Russia , and great duke of Mosco, &c. and all and singular other lands, dominions, territories, Isles, ports, havens, creeks, rivers, armes of the seas, of al and every other Emperour, king, prince, ruler, or governer whatsoever he or they be, before the said late adventure or enterprise not knowen, or by the aforesaid merchants and subjects of the said king and Queene, by the seas not commonly frequented, nor any part or parcell thereof, and lying Northwards, Northeastwards, or Northwestwards, as in the said letters patents is mentioned, should not be visited, frequented nor haunted by any the subjects of the said late. Queene, other then of the said company and fellowship, and their successors, without expresse licence, agreement, & consent of the Governer, Consuls, and Assistants of the said felowship, and communaltie, or the more part of them, in maner & forme, as is expressed in the saide letters patents, upon paine of forfeiture and losse aswell of the ship and ships, with the appurtenances, as also of the goods, merchandizes, and things whatsoever they be, of those the subjects of the said late Queene not being of the saide fellowship and communaltie, which should attempt or presume to saile to any of those places, which then were, or after should happen to be found and traffiqued unto, the one halfe of the same forfeiture to be to the use of the said late Queene, her heires & successors, and the other halfe to be to the use of the said felowship & communaltie, as by the same letters patents more plainly will appeare.

Since the making of which letters patens, the said fellowship have, to their exceeding great costes, losses and expences, not onely by their trading into the said dominions of the saide mightie prince of Russia , &c. found out convenient way to saile into the saide dominions : but also passing thorow the same, and over the Caspian sea, have discovered very commodious trades into Armenia , Media, Hyrcania, Persia, and other dominions in Asia minor, hoping by Gods grace to discover also the countrey of Cathaia, and other regions very convenient to be traded into by merchants of this realme, for the great benefite and commodities of the same.

And forasmuch as divers subjects of this realme, understanding the premises, and perceiving that now after the charge and travel aforesaid, divers wares and merchandizes are brought by the saide fellowship into this Realme, out of the dominions already discovered, which bee within this realme of good estimation, minding for their peculiar gaine, utterly to decay the trade of the sayde fellowship, have contrary to the tenor of the same letters patents, in great disorder traded into the dominions of the said mightie prince of Russia , &c. to the great detriment of this common wealth: And for that the name by which the saide felowship is incorporated by the letters patents aforesaid, is long, & consisteth of very many words: Therfore be it enacted by the Queenes most excellent Majestie, the Lords spiritual and temporal, & the commons in this present parliament assembled, and by authoritie of the same, that the said felowship, company, society & corporation made or created by the said letters patents, shal at al time & times from henceforth be incorporated, named and called onely by the name of the fellowship of English merchants, for discovery of new trades, and by the same name for ever shall and may continue a perpetuall body incorporate in deede and name, and onely by the same name from henceforth, shall implead, and be impleaded, answere and be answered, defend and be defended, sue and bee sued, in whatsoever courts and places, and shall and may by the same name bee inabled to purchase, have, holde, possesse, reteine, and enjoy whatsoever manors, landes, tenements, rents, reversions, services, & hereditaments not exceeding a hundred marks yeerely, not being holden of the Queenes majestie, her heires, or successors by knights service in Capite, and all goods, merchandizes, chattels, and other things whatsoever, and shall and may by the same name make and do all things as any other corporation may do, and also shall have and enjoy all and singular the liberties, priviledges, jurisdictions, franchises, preheminences, powers, authorities, and things, and may doe and execute all other matters and things in the sayd letters patents mentioned, or in any wise conteined. And that no part nor parcell of the maine lands, Isles, ports, havens, roades, creekes, rivers, armes of the seas of any Emperour, king, prince, ruler or governor whatsoever he or they be, before the said first enterprise made by the merchants of the saide corporation, not knowen by the merchants and subjects of this Realme, or by them not commonly by seas frequented, and lying from the City of London Northwards, Northwestwards, or Northeastwards, nor any part or parcel of the maine lands, dominions, isles, ports, roades, havens, creeks, armes of the Seas, that now be subject to the said high and mightie prince Lord John Vasiliwich, his heires or successours, or to the Emperour, chiefe governour or ruler of the said country of Russia for the time being, his heires or successors, nor the countries of Armenia major or minor, Media, Hyrcania, Persia, or the Caspian sea, nor any part of them shall be sailed or traffiqued unto, visited, frequented, or haunted by any person being or that shalbe a subject or denizen of this realme, by themselves, their factor or factors, or any other to their use or commoditie, by any wayes or meanes, directly or indirectly, other then by the order, agreement, consent, or ratification of the gover nour, Consuls and assistants of the saide fellowship and comminaltie, or the more part of them, and their successors for the time being: upon paine that every person and persons offending in this behalfe, shall forfeit and loose, Ipso facto, every such ship and ships, with the appurtenances, and all such goods, Merchandizes, and things whatsoever, as by any such person or perons shalbe by any wayes or meanes, directly or indirectly, provided, caried, conducted, brought or exchanged, in, at, to, through or from any of the places prohibited, as is aforesaide, contrary to the true intent of this statute: the one moietie of all which forfeitures to bee to our said sovereigne Lady the Queenes Majestie, her heires and successors, and the other moitie thereof to the sayde fellowship of English Merchants for discovery of newe trades, and their successors, to be seized and taken wheresoever they may be found, by any person or persons, to the use of our said Sovereigne Lady, her heires and successors, and of the said fellowship of English merchants for discovery of newe trades, and of their successors, or the same or the value thereof to bee demaunded or sued for by the Queenes highnesse, her heires and successors, or by the saide fellowship of English Merchants for discovery of newe trades, or their successors, or their atturney or atturneis, or by any person or persons being of the same fellowship of English Merchants for discovery of newe trades, or their successors in any court of Record, or in any other Court or courtes within this Realme, or els where, by Action of debt, action of detinue, bill, plaint, information, or otherwise: in which suite no essoine, protection, wager of lawe, or injunction shall be allowed, for, or on the behalfe of the partie or parties defendant.

Provided alwayes, that whereas divers Subjects of this Realme being not of the fellowship aforesaid, have heretofore made adventures to and from some of the places prohibited by the said letters patents, that the said subjects, their heires, executors, administrators and assignes, or any of them shall not be impeached, impleaded, troubled, sued, nor molested for the same in their goods or persons in any maner of wise, either by our saide sovereigne Lady, her heires or successors, or the said fellowship, or their successors.

Provided also, that it shall be lawfull for any subject of this Realme, having presently any shipping, goods, wares, or ready money, remayning at or in any place, of or within the dominion of the said mighty prince of Russia , or in any other of the places prohibited to be visited or traffiqued unto by this statute or the said letters Patents, to fetch, bring, and convey the same, or cause the same to be brought or conveyed from thence by sea or otherwise, before the feast of S. John Baptist, which shalbe in the yeere of our Lord God 1568. any thing conteined in this statute, or in the said letters Patents to the contrary notwithstanding.

Provided also, that it shall be lawfull for any of the subjects of this Realme, to saile to the port, towne, territorie, or castle of Wardhouse, or to any of the coastes, townes, havens, creekes, rivers, Islands, and land of Norway for trade of fishing, or any other trade there used by the subjects of this Realme, any thing in this statute to the contrary notwithstanding.

And for the better maintenance of the Navie and Mariners of this Realme, be it provided and inacted, that it shall not be lawfull to the saide fellowship and company, nor to any of them to cary and transport, or cause to be caried and transported any commodie of this Realme to their newe trade, but onely in English ships, and to be sailed for the most part with English Mariners, nor also to bring into this Realme nor into Flanders from their saide new trade, any merchandizes, or other commodities but in English ships, and sailed for the most part by the English Mariners, on paine to forfeit for every such offence two hundred pounds, whereof the one moitie shall be to the Queenes Majestie, her heires and successors, the other moitie to the head officers of any port towne, having any haven or harborough decayed, by what name soever they bee incorporate, to the reparation of such harborough, that will sue for the same in any Court of Record, by action, bill, plaint or information, wherein no essoine, protection, or wager of lawe for the defendant shall be admitted or allowed.

Provided also, and be it enacted, that no maner of person or persons shall from henceforth carrie or transport, or cause to bee carried or transported out of this Realme of England, any maner of clothes or karsies into any of the partes where the said fellowship and societie is priviledged to trade by this Act, before the same clothes and karsies shall be all dressed, and for the most part died within this Realme, upon paine of forfeiture for every such cloth and karsie, otherwise caried and transported, five pounds: the one halfe thereof to the Queenes Majestie, her heires and successors, the other halfe to the Master and Wardens of the Clothworkers in the Citie of London for the time being, by what name soever they be incorporate that wil sue for the same.

Provided also that whensoever the said societie or company shall willingly withdraw, and discontinue wholy by the space of three yeeres in time of peace, the discharging of their merchandizes at the road of S. Nicholas bay in Russia , and doe not discharge their said merchandizes at some other port or roade lying on that North coast of Russia , or other territorie nowe subject to the saide mightie prince of Russia , &c. hitherto by the subjects of this realme not commonly frequented, that then during the time of any such discontinuance and withdrawing, as is aforesaid, it shalbe lawful to all the subjects of this realme to trade to the Narve onely in English bottoms, any thing in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding.

Provided also, that every of the Queenes Majesties Subjects inhabiting within the Citie of Yorke, the townes of Newcastle upon Tine, Hull and of Boston , having continually traded the course of merchandize by the space of ten yeeres, and which before the 25. of December that shalbe in Anno D. 1567. shal contribute, joyne, and put in stocke, to, with, and amongst the said company, such summe & summes of money, as any of the said company, which hath throughly continued and contributed to the saide newe trade, from the yeere 1552. hath done, and before the saide 25. of December 1567. shall do for the furniture of one ordinary, full and intire portion, or share, and do in all things behave himselfe as others of the said societie be bound to doe, and hereafter shall bee bound to do by the priviledges, ordinances and statutes of the saide company, shall from the same 25. day of December 1567. be, and be accompted free, and as one of the said societie and company, and subject to the priviledges, ordinances and statutes of the saide company, reasonably made and to be made, any thing in this present Act to the contrary notwithstanding.

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