TOWER of London. Office of Ordnance. 108

TOWER of London. Office of Ordnance.

Anno 1587, About Michaelmas, the Earl of Warwick, Master of the Ordnance, sent a Gentleman of his, one Mr. Blincoe, with a Commandment to all the Gunfounders in Sussex, to repair up to the City on such a Day, there to understand his Pleasure concerning their further Continuance in that Trade. Whereupon appeared Henry Nevel, and the rest of that Occupation; meeting at the House of his Deputy, Mr. Hockenal. Who told them, that upon Complaint made to the Lords of the Council of the Abuse of the Transportation of Ordnance into Foreign Countries, their Honours had referred it to the Earl of Warwick, to take Order for Redress of it. Whereupon he thought good to call them together; and had authorized him, the said Hockenal, with Blincoe, to deal with them, and to take sufficient Security against the like Abuses for the Time to come. And because it was thought convenient, that some Quantity of Ordnance should Yearly be made for the necessary Provision of our own Navigation, they set down a general Rate yearly, which should serve the whole Realm. And out of that they allotted to every Founder a certain Quantity: But requiring at their Hands, that they should enter into Bonds, not to cast any greater Quantity than should be allotted them; nor to sell any but in the City; nor to any Merchant but such as my Lord or his Deputy should name; with certain other Conditions of taking a Stamp for all Pieces out of the Office; and some other small Points. But that Article of selling to none but such as should be appointed, caused some Disturbance; because they thought it tended rather to some private Benefit, than Publick.

The Master of the Ordnance his Orders to the Gunfounders.

About the Year 1593, Notice having been before taken of great Quantities of Iron Ordnance, cast by Founders, and transported abroad by Merchants, certain Persons (whereof one Dickenson was Chief) went about to obtain of the Queen a Patent for the Term of One and twenty Years, to have the only Nomination and Appointment of such Founders as were to be allowed, and the sole Government and Disposition of casting and selling of all Ordnance and Shot of Iron: On Condition to pay her Majesty 40s. for every Ton of Ordnance that should be cast and sold within this Realm; and to keep Fifty Tons of Ordnance in readiness ever to be sold to her Majesty upon any sudden Occasion; and to give an Account to the Lieutenant of the Ordnance every Six Months of all the several Guns that should be cast and sold: And to build new Furnaces without any Charge to her Majesty, when any extraordinary Pieces were to be cast, for the only Use of her Highness, upon any reasonable Warning given.

Great Quantity of Iron Ordnance cast and transported.

For the backing of which Suit, they shewed, That a Gunfounder had confessed, that of late he had known 2500 Ton of Iron Ordnance to be cast in this Realm, or upward, in some one Year. Which might prove a Thing both dangerous to the State, and hurtful unto the Subjects. And that for these Two Reasons:

Twenty five hundred Tons of Iron Ordnance cast Yearly.

First, For that the more Ordnance is cast, the greater is the Wast of Woods, Timber and Ewre; and the less good Iron made for the Use of the Commonwealth. And,

Secondly, For that there is ever such an exceeding Quantity of Ordnance ready made, and dispersed into many Places, as did allure bad Persons in the Night to convey the same by Stealth to the Waterside; and so into Foreign Countries: Where there was uttered three times so much Ordnance as was occupied here by the English Subjects: And that heretofore without Licence or Payment of Custom.

And these Disorders chiefly grew by the Wilfulness and overgrown Numbers of Founders: Who notwithstanding had often been expressly forbidden to cast any Guns by the Master of the Ordnance, and by the Lords of the Privy Council, in the Name of her Majesty. And for Observation thereof, have been enforced to enter into Bonds; and yet to this Day no Mean hath been found sufficient to rule or restrain them.

For which Cause, the late Master of the Ordnance, and the other Officers there, thought it best to abridge the Number of the Founders; and by License from her Majesty to establish some few of the meetest of that Company to continue those Services, under and by some necessary Orders and Penalties. By which means there should be no more Ordnance cast than were needful, nor any transported without Intelligence, for full License and Payment of Custom.

The Number of Founders restrained.

Here Sir George Carew, the present Lieutenant of the Ordnance, (Anno 1593,) interposed in behalf of himself, as to whom of Right this Matter chiefly belonged; and that as well the casting of Guns, as the Transportation of them (which the Queen had granted under the Great Seal to certain Farmers) was in time past ex Officio in the Power of the Master of the Ordnance, or of the Lieutenant; and that no longer sithence than when Sir Robert Constable lived. Whereby in some sort he held himself more interested in this Cause than a mere Stranger: And in that respect had good Hope the Queen would admit him to be her Farmer before any Man else. And the rather, for that herein she should advance her Benefit in a Thing which hitherto had been wholly unprofitable to her.

Carew, Lieutenant of the Ordnance, sues for the Farm of casting and transporting Great Guns.

Near about this Time, the Queen granted to John Powel, Esq; Surveyor of the Ordnance, a Patent by her Prerogative, to have Power and Authority to dig, open, and work for Saltpetre in or upon any the Ground or Grounds within the Realm of England and Ireland, where the said Saltpetre without Fraud or Covin, should be thought to be found: And the same to try out and make into Powder; as well within her own Grounds, Lands, and Possessions, as of any of her Subjects. So as the said Surveyor, or his Deputy, did reasonably agree, accord, and satisfy the Parties according to the Law; and with the Owner of any such Stuff, or Necessaries, as might fortune to be taken for the Use of the said Works.

A Patent to the Surveyor to dig any where for Saltpetre.

In the Year 1595, William Partherick, Esq; Surveyor of the Ordnance, was appointed to ride unto all the Forts, Castles, and Places of Defence within the Cinque Ports, and their Members; as well to view and survey what Want of Ordnance, Powder, Shot, and other Munition of War, was in every of them; and also to see the Decays of their several Platforms within every of the said Places of Defence: To the Intent further Order might be taken as well for the repairing and amending thereof, as for the necessary Supplies of such other Furniture there needful. He was also to take Order for the sending up from Dover to the Tower, those Pieces of Brass that were broken, and to deliver certain Powder remaining at Canterbury, left there since the Year 1588.]

The Surveyor appointed to review the Forts and Castles of the Cinque Ports.