Charterer's Instructions to the Master of a Newfoundland Sack Ship, 1634
Reproduced from Ralph Davis, The Rise of the English Shipping Industry in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Devon: David and Charles Ltd., 1962) 235-238. Original document found in the Public Record Office. High Court of Admiralty, Instance Papers (HCA 15-5).

In 1634 John de la Barre chartered the ship Faith and sent Thomas Breadcake as shipmaster and supercargo on a voyage to Newfoundland to purchase fish. He was then to proceed to Cartenga in Spain where he would sell de la Barre's 4000 quintals of dried and salted cod. Below is a letter of instruction from de la Barre to Breadcake on how he was to proceed. This letter has been transcribed into more readable English and separated into two columns with the original document appearing on the left and the transcribed version appearing on the right side of the page. A few comments will help further clarify the meaning of the instructions.

It is important to make a distinction between those occasions when de la Barre was referring to freighting his own goods and when he was referring to the goods of others. When Breadcake arrived in Spain he was to reload the Faith with commodities purchased for de la Barre by the local factor. Ideally, from the profit of freighting and selling the fish obtained in Newfoundland, the factor was to purchase certain goods for de la Barre, goods that had been previously agreed upon but had not been mentioned in this letter. If the factor was unable to fulfil his responsibility, the master was to take payment in cash and then attempt to freight the goods of others back to England. Also notice that if the second alternative was necessary, de la Barre suggested that Breadcake find a broker to go from merchant house to merchant house in order to obtain the necessary freight. It was the normal responsibility of any shipmaster to seek out a cargo for his ship and much of his time ashore was taken up with this duty. In this case, it is apparent the shipmaster could not speak the local language well enough, and if needed, a broker was to be hired to perform the task.

A Memorandum for Master Thomas Breadcake, master of the Ship called the Faith of London of about 240 tonnes whome God preserve.A Memorandum for Master Thomas Breadcake, master of the Ship called the Faith of London of about 240 tons whom God preserve.
1. You are to make all haste possible you cann to be att the Newfoundland att or before the five and twentieth day of Julie next, according to Charter Partie the copie whereof I give you; pray have a spetiall care that you lose no tyme for it cloth much concerne me to be first at markett, in the saille of my fishe.1. You are to make all possible haste to be at Newfoundland on or before July 25 next, according to the Charter Party, a copy of which I gave you; please be especially careful that you lose no time for it concerns me to be the first at market (in Spain) to sell my fish.
2. Att your arrival att Newfoundland you are to receive there of the Ship called the Eagle of Dartmouth of about 300 Tonns John Talier Master, the quantity of two thousand quintalls of good merchantable drie Newfoundland fishe of 112 lbs. weight to the quintall, which I bought of Master Richard Lane at 11/-per quintall to paie in London at 47 daies sight, for the which you are to give him bills of exchange upon me.2. At your arrival at Newfoundland you are to receive from the Ship called the Eagle of Dartmouth of about 300 tons, John Talier, master, 2000 quintals of good merchantable dry Newfoundland fish of 112 lbs. to the quintal, which I bought from Master Richard Lane at 11 shillings per quintal, by means of a sight draft to be paid in London in 47 days, for the which you are to give him [Talier] bills of exchange drawn upon me.
3. More you are to receive att the Newfoundland of the Ship called the Ollive of Dartmouth of about 120 tonnes, Nicholas Webber Master, the quantitie of one thousand quintalls of good merchantable drie Newfoundland fishe of 112 lbs. to the quintall, which I bought of Master Richard Lane at 11/-per quintall, to paie in London at 47 daies sight, for the which you are to give him bills of exchange upon me.3. You are also to receive at Newfoundland from the Ship called the Olive of Dartmouth of about 120 tons, Nicholas Webber, master, the quantity of 1000 quintals of good merchantable dry Newfoundland fish of 112 lbs. to the quintal, which I bought from Master Richard Lane at 11 shillings per quintal by means of a sight draft to be paid in London in 47 days, for the which you are to give him [Webber] bills of exchange upon me.
4. You are to receave also att the Newfoundland of the Ship called the Desire of Dartmouth of 250 tonnes John Haley Master the quantitie of one thousand quintalls of good merchantable drie fishe of 112 lbs. to the quintall, which I also bought of Master Richard Lane at 11/-per quintall to paie in London att 47 daies sight, for the which you are to give him bills of exchange upon me, The copies of the said three Covenants have given you for your better instructions.
     Alsoe I have given you three letters of Master Richard Lane to the said Masters, for the delivery of the said fishe; if you should want any fishe Master Lane hath written to the Masters to furnish you of such quantities as you should want, as you may see in the letters I have given you.
4. You are to receive also at Newfoundland from the Ship called the Desire of Dartmouth of 250 tons, John Haley, master, the quantity of 1000 quintals of good merchantable dry fish of 112 lbs. to the quintal, which I also bought from Master Richard Lane at 11 shillings per quintal by means of a sight draft to be paid in London in 47 days, for the which you are to give him [Haley] bills of exchange upon me. I have given you copies of these three agreements (I made with Lane) so that you will better understand my instructions.
      Also, I have given you three letters from Master Richard Lane addressed to the said shipmasters, for the delivery of the said fish. If you should want any other fish, Master Lane has written to the shipmasters to furnish you with such quantities as you should want, as you can see in the letters I have given you.
5. If you doe not receave content, in the receit of your fishe, or otherwise, from the said Masters, then be sure that you cause a Protest to be made in good forme; and be sure that you lie the fishe close.5. If you do not receive satisfaction in receiving your fish, or in any other matter, from the said masters, then be sure that you correctly make out a protest. Be sure to store the fish closely in the ship's hold.
6. Haveing receaved your full loading of the fishe, then pray loose no time, but saile directly, and to be there one of the first, to Cartagena, there to deliver my letter to the Procurator of John & Irigo Romenos, of whome you shall take directions if you shall unload there parse, or all your fishe, or if you shall proceed for Alicant, Tarragona and Barcelona, to unload the rest of your fishe; if you unload any of your fishe at Cartagena, then within 10 daies after your arrival my factor is to give you an answer, if he will have your Ship to reload for London; if he will have her, then you must load such goods as he shall appointe you at Majorca and Allicant, and to receave no outward freight for the fishe only primage and average; you must tell them that in all the portes you are to staie for you unloadinge of your fishe but twenty daies, and if they reload you that then you are to staie thirty daies more, in both portes for your reloading.6. Having received your full loading of fish, do not lose any time, but sail directly, and be one of the first to arrive in Cartagena [in Spain]. There deliver my letter to the Procurator of John & Irigo Romenos, of whom you shall take directions whether you shall unload part, or all of your fish there, or if you shall proceed to Alicant, Tarragona and Barcelona to unload the rest of your fish. If you unload any of your fish at Cartagena, then within 10 days after your arrival my factor is to give you an answer whether he will have your ship reloaded for London. If he will, then you must load such goods as he shall arrange for you at Majorca and Alicant. Accept no freight charges for shipping the fish [from Newfoundland, while unloading], only primage and average [from the shippers]. You must tell those in all the ports in which you will unload your fish that you will stay but twenty days, and if they reload you then you are to stay thirty days more in both ports for your reloading.
7. If within 20 daies after your arrival my factor saieth that he will not reload you, then you must receave of him your outward freight for your fishe, the sum of four thousand pieces of eight which is thirty two thousand single reals, as I have advised him. By noe means lett not my factor know that I have your ship absolutely out and home, and if they reload you, then you must tell them that I am to pay you at your retorne £5 l0s. a tonn for 240 tonnes. To this purpose I give you alsoe an open letter to my factor, that in case he should refuse to pay you the outward freight, that then you may by virtue of my said letter, recova there your outward freight, if they give you not under there hands that they will reload you. If you take in 4000 quintalls of fishe, then your outward freight is just eight single reals for each quintall; howsoever if you take in less fishe they must pay you inall for your outward freight eight [sic] thousand pieces of eight.7. If within 20 days after your arrival my factor says that he will not reload you, then you must receive from him the sum of 4000 pieces of eight which is thirty two thousand single rials for your outward freight charges for shipping the fish from Newfoundland, as I have advised him. By no means let my factor know that I have fully chartered your ship out and home, and if they reload you, then you must tell them that I am to pay you at your return £5 10 shillings/ton for 240 tons. To this purpose I give you also an open letter to my factor, that in case he should refuse to pay you the charges for you freighting the fish from Newfoundland, you may by virtue of my said letter recover from him these costs; that is, if they do not agree to reload you. If you take in 4000 quintals of fish in Newfoundland, then your outward freight charges are just eight single rials for each quintal; however, if you take in less fish they must pay you in all for your outward freight charges eight [sic] thousand pieces of eight.
8. If my factor reload you not then I would have you bring me home the eight thousand pieces of eight and to goe first for Allicant, there to take in such goods for the Downes and London as you can gets, and to agree for the freight the best you cann for my advantage, not but that you will get above three pounds a tonne freight. And if you should want of your full loading att Allicant, then you may touche at Malaga, there to take in the rest of your full loading and to gett as much freight as you cane, being at Allicant you must appoint some brooker to go from house to house. If at Allicant you shall want but 40/50 or 60 tonnes of goods then you may buy Allamatta salt, for my account as you will loade your ship, because you should lose no time, to staie or touche at Malaga. Desiring you have a spetiall care that I runn in no daies of demurrage, and to be a good steward to me for your paines I shall not be ungrateful to you.8. If my factor does not obtain goods for you then bring home to me the eight thousand pieces of eight. Go to Alicant to obtain what freight you can for the Downs and London, and obtain the best rates you can for my advantage. However, it is not likely you will get above £3 a ton. And if you are unable to obtain a full load at Alicant, then you may touch at Malaga to take in the rest of your full loading and to get as much freight as you can. While at Alicant you must appoint some broker to go from merchant house to merchant house [to obtain freight]. If at Alicant you shall want but 40/50 or 60 tonnes of goods then, to avoid having to touch at Malaga, you may buy Allamatta salt on my account while you load your ship. I want you to be especially careful that I do not run into any days of demurrage. Be a good steward to me. For your pains I shall not be ungrateful to you.
9. I desire that noe man should know that I have any interest in the fishe onlie my factor.9. I desire that no man should know that I have any interest in the fish except my factor.
10. And lastly pray lett me continually hear from you from time to time and from all parses and at your retorne to the Downes send me and express if you be reloading for me, that I may accordingly give order if there you shall unload any part of my goodes, and to send my letters. Master Pieter Maes of Sandwich is my factor there, and he will send me an express with my letters, thus wishing you a good voiage and safe return.10. And lastly, pray let me continually hear from you from time to time from all parts, and at your return to the Downs send me an express letter if you will be reloading for me, that I may accordingly give directions whether you shall unload any part of my goods there, and to send my letters. Master Pieter Maes of Sandwich is my factor there, and he will send me an express with my letters. I wish you a good voyage and safe return.
Your loveing friend
John della Barre
Your loving friend
John de la Barre

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