Robert Gybbes [Mayor of Plymouth, Devon], et al.; 1650
Petiton to the Council of State from Robert Gybbes, et al., dealing with planters, cod, fisheries, taxes, wine, and brandyPublished in Winthrop Papers vol. 3, Massachusetts Historical Society Collections 5th series, vol. 1 (Boston: 1871) 499-501. Revised by P.E. Pope.
To the right honourable the Council of State for the Commonwealth of England.
The humble petition of the merchants adventurers of the Town of Plymouth towards the Newfoundland, in the behalf of themselves and diverse other trading into those parts,
Most humbly sheweth:
That as the furtherance and preservation of the Newfoundland fishing trade is of great weight and importance to the public weal of this nation, so your petitioners cannot but with all humility and duty return Your Honours their most hearty and due acknowledgments for your extraordinary encouragement and protection of the said trade, in convoying the Newfoundland fleet the last year, whereby your petitioners by the goodness of God have received their proportionable parts of a comfortable return. That notwithstanding your unvaried counsels and determinations for the increase of commerce in foreign parts, the said trade is very much obstructed and impaired by the arbitrary power and practices of Sir David Kirke, Knight, a known malignant [unrepentant Royalist], and an inveterate enemy to this present state and government, who usurps to himself the supreme power and command of that country, not only by his pulling down of the fishing stages, monopolizing and enhancinge all commodities, and seizing upon men's goods and boats, but especially by his continual support of rude, profane, and athiestical [non-Puritan] planters, whom he not only licenceth to keep taverns at several yearly rents in most of the choicest fishing ports and harbours, but furnisheth them with wines, at his own rates and prices, to the debauching of the seamen, who are thereby taken off from their labours in the principalest times of fishing, as by the examinations of several masters of ships hereunto annexed appears. That the said Sir David Kirke not only grants several estates and leases to the inhabitants there, of their houses and lands, for several considerable fines and yearly rents, by reason whereof they take liberty to choose, take up, and prepossess the most choicest fishing harbours for themselves, but hath of latter years given license and liberty to the French and others to fish there, to the great detriment of the English, who, upon their arrival are altogether disappointed of convenient place to fish in. That, considering the said Sir David Kirke is a man of corrupt and scandalous life, in respect of his known drunkenness, swearing, and profaness, and altogether disaffected to the present government, however he seeks to veil it with plausible pretenses, your petitioners hope Your Wisdoms will not deem such a scandalous person fit or worthy of so great a trust as the command or government of a country so serviceable and beneficial for its known worth and value to the Commonwealth, and do therefore humbly beseech Your Honours not only for the continuance of your favours and protection of the Newfoundland fleet, by convoys, their succeeding voyages, but that the said Sir David Kirke may, by the justice of this honourable council, be suddenly recalled and brought home from his pretended government, and such severe course taken for the regulating or removal of the said planters, as that the said trade may be thereby upheld and advanced, and no way impaired. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever bless the Almighty for these seasons of comfort and happiness which they continually enjoy by your protection; and ever pray.
Robert Gybbes, Mayor
Robert Gibbs, Jr.