Letter of Reprisal
About Arming the William of London 1650
This is a Letter of Reprisal against France for the loss of the Mercury. This document authorizes the owners to arm a private warship and capture goods and ships of France in retaliation for the actions of the French on the high seas. And to bring the captured ships and booty to the closest Admiralty port in order for the King to receive His share.
Below is the text of Arming the William of London 1650.
Letter of Reprisal
The keepers of the libertie of England by authority of Parliment,
To all whom these presents shall come. Greetings &c.
Know ye, therefore, that we have licensed and authorized, and by these presents do license and authorize the said (1. Captain William Gerraway and William Williams, and
John Harris, owners to set forth to sea the said shippe called the
William of London.
And therewith by force of arms to set upon, apprehend, and take any shippe or shippes, merchandises, or goodes of the French King, or any of his subjects, upon the seas. Provided that such apprehension, seizure, or taking be not made upon or within any ports, heavens, or roads belonging to this Commonwealth, and in their possession, or to the said French King, except the ship, merchandises, and goods of the offenders, which shall be there found.
And the said shippe or shippes, merchandises, and goods, being so apprehended, seized, and taken, and brought into some port of this land, and thereof an inventory taken, appraisement made, and judgement given in the said high Court of Admiraltie for the approbation of the same to be lawfull prize in manner and form as aforesaid, to have and keep the same in his possession, or in the possession of his assigne or assignes, as true proprierters thereof; and the same to sell and dispose of at his pleasure, according to the tenor and effect of the said judgment, and true intent and meaning thereof, without any trouble or molestation whatsoever, saving to such parties finding themselves aggrieved thereby their right of appeal.
And it shall be lawful for any person of this Commonwealth whatsoever, or any other, either in his own person to serve or otherwise bear charge or adventure, or in any sort further or set forward the said enterprise by virtue of these reprisals.
And also that is shall be lawful for all persons whatsoever, as well as of this Commonwealth as any other person, to contract, bargain for, or buy the said shippe or shippes, merchandises, or goods so apprehended, seized, and taken, adjudged for lawful prize and ordered to be sold as perishable or for any other cause seeming fit to the said judges of the Admiraltie, without any danger of molestation whatsoever.
Witnessed this XXVII day of January in the year of our Lord sixteen hundred and fifty.