The letter of M. George Killingworth the companies first Agent in Moscovie, touching their interteinement in their second voyage. Anno 1555. the 27. of November in Mosco.RIGHT worshipfull, my duetie considered, &c. It may please your worship to understand, that at the making hereof we all be in good health, thanks be to God, save onely William our cooke as we came from Colmogro fell into the river out of the boate, and was drowned. And the 11. day of September wee came to Vologda, and there we laide all our wares up, and sold very litle: but one marchant would have given us 12. robles for a broad cloth, & he said he would have had them all, and 4. altines for a pound of sugar, but we did refuse it because he was the first, and the marchants were not come thither, nor would not come before Winter, trusting to have more: but I feare it will not be much better. Yet notwithstanding we did for the best. And the house that our wares lie in costs from that day until Easter ten robles. And the 28. day of September we did determine with our selves that it was good for M. Gray, Arthur Edwards, Thomas Hautory, Christopher Hudson, John Segewicke, Richard Johnson, and Richard Judde, to tarie at Vologda, and M. Chancelor, Henry Lane, Edward Prise, Robert Best and I should goe to Mosco. And we did lade the Emperours suger, with part of all sort of wares to have had to the Mosco with us, but the way was so deepe, that we were faine to turne back, and leave it stil at Vologda till the frost. And we went forth with poste horse, & the charge of every horse being stil ten in number, comes to 10.s. 7.d. halfe penie, besides the guides. And wee came to the Mosco the 4. day of October, and were lodged that night in a simple house: but the next day we were sent for to the Emperour his secretarie, and he bade us welcome with a cheerefull countenance and cheerefull wordes, and wee shewed him that we had a letter from our Queenes grace to the Emperour his grace, and then he desired to see them all, and that they might remain with him, to have them perfect, that the true meaning might be declared to the Emperour, and so we did: and then we were appointed to a better house: and the seventh day the secretary sent for us againe, & then he shewed us that we should have a better house, for it was the Emperour his will, that we should have all things that we did lacke, and did send us meade of two sorts, and two hens, our house free, and every two dayes to receive eight hens, seven altines, and two pence in money, and meade a certaine, and a poore fellow to make cleane our house, & to doe that wherunto we would set him. And wee had given many rewards before, which you shal perceive by other, and so we gave the messengers a reward with thanks: and the ninth day we were sent to make us readie to speak with the Emperour on the morow. And the letters were sent us, that wee might deliver them our selves, & we came before him the tenth day: and before we came to his presence we went thorow a great chamber, where stood many small tunnes, pailes, bowles and pots of silver, I meane, like washing bowles, all parsel gilt: and within that another chamber, wherein sate (I thinke) neere a hundred in cloth of gold, and then into the chamber where his grace sate, & there I thinke were more then in the other chamber also in cloth of gold, and we did our duety, & shewed his grace our Queenes graces letters, with a note of your present which was left in Vologda: and then his grace did aske how our Queenes grace did, calling her cousin, saying that hee was glad that wee were come in health into this Realme, and we went one by one unto him, and tooke him by the hand, and then his grace did bid us goe in health, and come to dinner againe, and we dined in his presence, and were set with our faces towards his grace, & none in the chamber sate with their backes towards him, being I thinke neere a hundred at dinner then, and all served with golde, as platters, chargers, pottes, cuppes, and all not slender but very massy, and yet a great number of platters of golde, standing still on the cupboord, not moved: and divers times in the dinner time his grace sent us meat and drinke from his owne table, and when we had dined we went up to his grace, and received a cuppe with drinke at his owne hand, and the same night his grace sent certaine gentlemen to us with divers sortes of wine and mede, to whome wee gave a rewarde. And afterwarde we were by divers Italians counselled to take heed whom we did trust to make the copie of the priviledges that we would desire to have, for feare it should not be written in the Russie tongue, as we did meane. So first a Russian did write for us a breviat to the Emperor, the tenour wherof was, that we did desire a stronger privilege: & when the Secretary saw it, he did deliver it to his grace, and when we came againe, his grace willed us to write our minds, and hee would see it, and so we did. And his grace is so troubled with preparations to warres, that as yet wee have no answere: but we have byn required of his Secretary, and of the under Chancelor, to know what wares we had brought into the Realme, and what wares we doe intend to have, that are, or may bee had in this Realme: and we shewed them, and they shewed the Emperor therof. And then they said his graces pleasure was, that his best marchants of the Mosco should be spoken to, to meet and talk with us. And so a day was appointed, and wee mette in the Secretarie his office, and there was the under Chancelor, who was not past two yeeres since the Emperors marchant, and not his Chancelour: and then the conclusion of our talke was, that the Chancelour willed us to bethinke us, where we would desire to have a house or houses, that wee might come to them as to our owne house, and for marchandize to be made preparation for us, and they would know our prises of our wares and frise: and we answered, that for our prices they must see the wares before we coulde make any price thereof, for the like in goodnesse hath not bene brought into the Realme, and we did looke for an example of all sorts of our wares to come from Vologda, with the first sledway, and then they should see them, and then we would shew them the prices of them: and likewise we could not tell them what we would give them justly, till we did knowe as well their just weights as their measures: for in all places where we did come, al weights and measures did vary. Then the Secretary (who had made promise unto us before) saide, that we should have all the just measures under seale, & he that was found faulty in the contrary, to buy or sel with any other measure then that, the law was, that he should be punished: he said moreover, that if it so happen that any of our marchants do promise by covenant at any time to deliver you any certain sum of wares in such a place, and of such like goodnesse, at such a day, for such a certaine price, that then because of variance, we should cause it to be written, according as the bargain is, before a justice or the next ruler to the place: if he did not keepe covenant & promise in all points, according to his covenant, that then looke what losse or hinderance we could justly prove that we have therby, he should make it good if he be worth so much: and in like case we must do to them: and to that we did agree, save onely if it were to come over the sea, then if any such fortune should bee (as God forbid) that the ship should mischance or be robbed, & the proofe to be made that such kind of wares were laden, the English marchants to beare no losse to the other marchant. Then ye Chancelor said, me thinks you shall do best to have your house at Colmogro, which is but 100. miles from the right discharge of the ships, and yet I trust the ships shal come neerer hereafter, because the ships may not tary long for their lading, which is 1000. miles from Vologda by water, and all our marchants shall bring all our marchandize to Colmogro to you, and so shall our marchants neither go empty nor come empty: for if they lacke lading homeward, there is salt, which is good ware here, that they may come loden againe. So we were very glad to heare that, and did agree to his saying: for we shal neverthelesse, if we lust, have a house at Vologda, & at the Mosco, yea, & at Novogrode, or where we wil in Rusland : But the three & twentieth of this present we were with the secretary, and then among other talke, we moved, that if we should tary at Colmogro with our wares, and should not come to Vologda, or further to seeke our market, but tary stil at Colmogro, and then the marchants of the Mosco and others should not come and bring their wares, and so the ships should come, and not have their lading ready, that then it were a great losse and hinderance for us: then saide hee againe to us, that the marchants had beene againe together with him, and had put the like doubt, that if they should come and bring their wares to Colmogro, and that they should not find wares there sufficient to serve them, that then they should be at great loss and hinderance, they leaving their other trades to fal to that: and to that we did answere, that after the time that we do appoint with them to bring their wares. to Colmogro, God willing, they should never come thither, but at the beginning of the yere, they should find that our marchants would have at the least for a thousand robles, although the ships were not come: so that he saide, that then wee must talke further with the marchants: so that as yet I know not, but that we shall have neede of one house at Colmogro, and another at Vologda, and if that they bring not their wares to Colmogro, then wee shalbe sure to buy some at Vologda, and to be out of bondage. And thus may we continue three or foure yeeres, and in this space we shall know the countrey and the marchants, and which way to save our selves best, and where to plant our houses, and where to seeke for wares: for the Mosco is not best for any kind of wares for us to buy, save onely waxe, which we cannot have under seven pence the Russe pound, and it lackes two ounces of our pound, neither will it be much better cheape, for I have bidden 6. pence for a pound. And I have bought more, five hundred weight of yarne, which stands mee in eight pence farthing the Russe pound one with another. And if wee had received any store of money, and were dispatched heere of that we tary for, as I doubt not but we shalbe shortly (you know what I meane) then as soone as we have made sale, I doe intend to goe to Novogrode, and to Plesco, whence all the great number of the best tow flaxe commeth, and such wares as are there I trust to buy part. And feare you not but we will do that may be done, if God send us health, desiring you to prepare fully for one ship to be ready in the beginning of April to depart off the coast of England. Concerning all those things which we have done in the wares, you shal receive a perfect note by the next bearer (God willing) for he that carieth these from us is a marchant of Terwill and he was caused to cary these by the commandement of the Emperour his secretarie, whose name is Ivan Mecallawich Weskawate, whom we take to be our very friend. And if it please you to send any letters to Dantiske to Robert Elson, or to William Watsons servant Dunstan Walton to be conveyed to us, it may please you to inclose ours in a letter sent from you to him, written in Polish, Dutch, Latine or Italian: so inclosed, comming to the Mosco to his hands, he wil convey our letters to us wheresoever we be. And I have written to Dantiske already to them for the conveyance of letters from thence. And to certifie you of the weather here, men say that these hundred yeres was never so warme weather in this countrey at this time of the yeere. But as yesternight wee received a letter from Christopher Hudson from a citie called Yeraslave, who is comming hither with certaine of our wares, but the winter did deceive him, so that he was faine to tarie by the way: and he wrote that the Emperours present was delivered to a gentleman at Vologda, and the sled did overthrow, and the butte of Hollocke was lost, which made us all very sory. I pray you be not offended with these my rude letters for lacke of time: but assoone as sales be made, I will finde the meanes to convey you a letter with speed: for the way is made so doubtful, that the right messenger is so much in doubt, that he would not have any letters of any effect sent by any man, if he might, for he knowes not of these: and to say the truth, the way is not for him to travell in. But I will make another shift beside, which I trust shall serve the turne till he come, if sales be made before he be readie, which is and shall be as pleaseth God: who ever preserve your worship, and send us good sales. Written in haste.
GEORGE KILLINGWORTH Draper.