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Two manuscript estate indentures relating to Hawkins's property at Chatham, established as a Royal Dockyard in 1567. Signed by Sir John Hawkins and Dame Margaret Hawkins respectively.
Chatham, Kent: 1582 & 1599 - 2 sheets vellum, folio (measuring 424 x 569 mm and 335 x 503 mm respectively). Manuscript in an English secretary hand. Both with wax seals on vellum tags, that of 1582 bearing Hawkins's "merchant's mark" and that of 1599 his arms (sable on a point wavy, a lion passant or, in chief three bezants, crest, a demi Moor in his proper colour, bound and captive, with annulets in his arms and ears). Prickings visible along left margin (made as a guide for ruling the sheets). Creased where folded, only light soiling, seal on document of 1599 partially cracked but whole, overall both indentures in excellent condition. A superb example of the signature of one of the great sailors of Elizabethan England, the first document showing him acquiring land at Chatham, established as a Royal Dockyard by Elizabeth I in 1567. Sir John Hawkins (1532-1595), merchant, privateer and naval commander, was cousin to Sir Francis Drake "but [Hawkins] arguably knew more about seamanship and did more for his country than Drake. During several voyages in the 1560s Hawkins demonstrated to his countrymen that good profits could be made trading in the Spanish ports of the West Indies. He also introduced his queen and his fellow merchants to the loathsome business of slave trading, where even greater profits could be made by men whose consciences were not of exceeding tenderness" (Harry Kelsey, Sir John Hawkins: Queen Elizabeth's Slave Trader, Yale 2003, p. xiii). Hawkins played a pivotal role in the slave trade, proving "the possibility of extending the long-established English triangular trade via Guinea to Brazil - in which his father had taken a pioneering role thirty years earlier - to a new, and readily available commodity, namely African slaves, and to a new Caribbean destination, where Spanish colonists welcomed slaves as an important constituent element in their internal economy - a valuable, harder-working, and longer-living antidote to the chronic wastage of the aboriginal population, and furnished more cheaply than their own compatriots managed via Seville" (ODNB). The earlier of the two indentures is dated 22 January 1582, signed "John Hawkyns", and bears his wax seal: with this document William Barnes of Chatham (a "chief master" - or captain - in Elizabeth's navy), conveys to Sir John Hawkins of London, then treasurer of the navy, a house, storehouse, two yards, an adjoining garden near Chatham Street, together with a section of land called "The Quay" and some marshlands both belonging to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, altogether procured for £100. The document further mentions a bond in £160 for quiet possession of the house by Peter Hills of Rotherhithe in Surrey, yeoman, to William Barnes (30 January 1577), and recites the lease made 15 October 1545 for The Quay and marsh by George Bowne, master of St. Batholomew's Hospital in Kent, to Walter Hayte of Rochester, tailor, for 99 years, which was by 1582 vested in William Barnes. The witnesses are listed as Walter Portryff, Thomas Maynerd and Miles Toogye. The attached red wax seal bears a fine impression of Hawkins' "merchant's mark" - the design appearing to incorporate a hawk's talon, presumably a play on his name - and a fine example of his signature. In the most famous portrait of Hawkins, at the National Maritime Museum, Hawkins is pictured holding a seal on a ring but close inspection shows that it is not the same as either of the two seals used on these documents. William Barnes would have been well known to Hawkins as he was one of two "chief masters" - the other being Thomas Gray - of the group appointed by Elizabeth to the special investigation commission that was looking into the state of the navy. ODNB records that "Hawkins bought a house in Deptford, and soon afterwards another in the city, in the parish of St Dunstan-in-the-East, which he retained for the remainder of his life" but would presumably also have had lodgings at Chatham while he oversaw the fitting-out of ships. Interestingly
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2017-10-24           Check availability:      IberLibro    


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