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Documents relating to Ferryland: 1597 to 1726

20 April, 1708; Benjamin Marston
Instructions for Captain Robert Holmes

Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts, Essex County Court of Common Pleas, 3530.F.14.
MHA 16-D-3-035. Transcribed by P.E. Pope.

Subject: cod, fisheries, rooms, boats, servants.


Salem, New England
April 20th, 1708

Capt Robert Holmes,

You being appointed commander of my brigantine BEGINNING for this present voyage, my order is that you forthwith bring your vessel to sail and direct your course to Newfoundland. And, when it shall please God to send you there, go to Ferryland and make a fishing voyage there. I have 15 men and that is full enough to keep two three-man boats. And, if it should fall out so that you should [be] disappointed of a convenient room at Ferryland for your three boats, the which I hope you will not, then you have liberty to go to the Isles of Spear or any harbour or place in Newfoundland that you think will be for the best advantage. I have 2 Boats laid now at Newfoundland and if they should be lost you must buy or build 2 more and, if they be not lost, you must build one two-man boat, so that I have men enough to keep two whole boats and one two-man boat for the whole season of fishing. And you must keep on your fishing voyage till the last day of August next, and you must allow your men as to meat and drink according to the custom of Newfoundland, for that is my agreement with all my men. Pay my men as followeth in Newfoundland, in fish, as it passes from man to man (and you know it goes for more than it is sold for bill of exchange, by two or three [Spanish] reals per quintal): pay to Phillip Nickels £ 24 and if he carry more than 4 barrels [of dried cod fish on his own account] make him pay freight for it. Pay to Benjamin Cox £ 8 and to George Willis £ 15. To Thomas Jacobs £ 3 and Verne Parkman £ 4; to Benjamin Pickering £ 15; to Samuel Tapley £ 10; and be sure [to] pay what bills of exchange I have drawn on you. Captain Holmes, the agreement that I make with you is as follows: I am to give you £ 5 per month and you entered into pay the 20th day of March last and you are to dispose of all the goods I pounds I send you in my Brigantine, without any charge or charges, I allowing you your expenses, the time you are about selling of them, and reckoning of that fish or any other goods, and likewise for disposing of what fish my three boats shall get or catch. I am to allow no commission for what you do for me, this is what you and I did agree upon. Without I should come or send some other order, you must buy what nets, and hooks, and lines, [and] salt you shall have occasion for, and some meat and bread and what other small things you should have occasion for. Be sure, make no debts, but advise with George Willis, who be good pay master. The agreement I make with you for the whole term of the voyage fishing out and home is that I am to give you £ 8 and no more for Samuel Pell. You have liberty to let any ship careen by your vessel, provided they pay for it, according to the usual custom. What oil you shall make, don't make sale of it till the middle of September and, if you do not see or hear from me before that time, make sale of the oil to the best advantage. I have sent very good oil cask in the Brigantine. When you have made your fishing voyage, sell all your merchantable cod fish for good bills of exchange and what refuse fish you make bring home in your vessel. Be sure you see the bills you take be good. Send to Mr Keene to St. John's to know if the drawer be good, for if that fail, all will fail. When you have got your bill, send one of them in some or other good vessel and bring the rest home with you, Bring home what freight and passengers in the fall of the year you can. And, when your vessel lay still in Newfoundland, let your sails be well dried and put into some dry place and not be used about the tops of the piles of fish to rot them. I hope you will use all the industry possible you can, for without that there is nothing to be done about fishing in Newfoundland. And, when you have settled your fishing, then, if anybody wants your vessel, and will find men and put a man in your room, you may let her fetch what freight you will on good lay for so much a hogshead for salt and so much a quintal for the freight of fish. And, when you have finished all your fishing voyage and all the rest of your business, make the best of your way home to Salem in New England. I hope you will manage all things for the best advantage. I would have you man my boats as follows: Phillip Nickles, boat's master in one boat and Benjamin Cox, midshipman, and Joseph Jacobs, foreshipman, and Samuel Tapley, boat's master, John Baker, midshipman, and Richard Brandway, foreshipman. And, for my two-man boat, Benjamin Pickering, master, and Verne Parkman, midshipman. And, as to the shore men, let George Willis order as he pleases, being master of the voyage. Whereas I order you to pay the bills of exchange drawn on you, pay as follows to Mr John Peter, one hundred pounds to Mr Timothy Lindall, fifty pounds, to Mr Grove Hirst, fifty pounds, to Mr James Lindall above, fourteen pounds. I pray God send you a good voyage out and home, with a blessing

I am your friend
a true Copy Received of me }      Robert Holmes
of my above said orders
Copia vera attest [True copy wittnessed by] Stephen Sewall
Copia vera examined per Stephen Sewall

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