[Feltmakers.] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT.239


of Thomas Caunton, Thomas Bradford and others, who had subscribed their Names in their own behalf, and in the behalf of more than 3000 of her Majesties Subjects in the City of London, Bermondse-street and St. Katharines and elsewhere, to authorize one of her Majesties Subjects or his Assigns, for Indifferency sake, to Search, Sort and Cleanse the said Wools, Flocks and other Stuff.

They likewise petitioned the Lord Treasurer to the same Purport. And in their Address to him, they shewed that in their Wool, it was so bad, that they commonly lost one half or a third Part; and in the best of it brought into the Realm, they usually lost a fourth part. And that the making of Felts, then much encreasing in England, and thereby great Numbers of the Queen's poor Subjects set on Work, they were constrained to buy great Quantities of the said evil and deceiful Wools, because they could get none other; the same being brought into the Realm, most by English Merchants, Aldermen and the best Commoners of London, and other Cities and Towns in the West parts. Which foreign Wools, till within this few Years, were brought in only by Strangers. And then the same was washed, and void of May-Wool, and other rotten and ill Wool, Dross, Dust, Sand, &c. And if any were found contrary, the Buyer did usually return it to the Merchant, or else had Allowance for the same. And then the Merchant by Certificate made return thereof into the foreign Countries, and to the Persons by whom it had been bought, and had like Allowance for the same.

The loss to the Feltmakers by bad Wool, laid before the Lord Treasurer.

The said Feltmakers drew up their Desire in several Articles, presented to the Queen. The Chief whereof was, that she would grant them one of her Servants, and his Assigns, to search, sort and cleanse these Wools and Stuffs: And a good Fee to be allowed him. And tho' it were a large Fee, yet it would be well deserved: for that two Men could hardly discharge and dispatch a hundred Weight in a Day, to do it well. Adding, that the Merchants would not lose hereby, but only would hereafter take care to import better and cleaner Wools: for which they might have a better Price.

Their Request.

To these Petitions and Desires of the Feltmakers, the Merchants, in February following, gave their Answer, first in some Heat and Anger, accusing the chief Agitators in this Business, viz. Caunton and Bradford, as if they were of slender Credit, and of the worst sort of Felters, and Haunters of Taverns: Where they entred into Devices not to do any good to the Commonwealth, but to maintain their idle Lives with other Men's Goods. That many, whose Hands were set to the Petition, did disallow the Matters contained in it. They added, that the Merchants brought those Wools from Spain, without any falsifying, corrupting or mingling by the way; And therefore were not to be punished with new Charges of needless Officers. Which Charges must not be raised upon the poor Workmen and Buyers. That it was true, the Wools of England were washed and picked; but the Usage of Spain was not so. That touching the Tare of gross and weighty Bags of Spanish Wool, whereof the Feltmakers said they had no Allowance, they abused the Lords of the Council: For those Wools were not brought in gross and weighty Bags, but commonly such as were carried two Sacks upon an Horse, and seldom exceeding one hundred and half, or an hundred and three quarters. And yet how small so ever they were, the Felters were allowed eight Pound for the Tare of every Bag. That where they spake of May-Wool, they spake ignorantly, or, on purpose, untruly. For those Spanish Wools for Felters were not Fleece Wools wherein May-Wool could be, but altogether Lamb-Wool, or such as could have no May-Wool, unless it were by great hap; very rarely a Lock of an old Lamb, or such like long Wool. That it was reason, that Wools in England, serving for Cloth, should be washed and cleansed and wound, or else they would not serve the Clothiers: but contrariwise, the Spanish Wools for felting could not be wound, but lye loose in Locks, because it is Lamb-Wool, or very short. Neither ought they to be washed or cleansed; for they must be kept in their Fatness, as they come from the Sheep, or else they would not Felt, or meet together, and serve for the use of Felting. And so those new Offers should do more hurt than good. Besides, that the sorting was a vain Work: for no Feltmaker could discern the Wool good for Felters, however it were sorted, till they had tryed it. And therefore the best Workmen of them did use to take Samples for Tryal, afore they bargained for it. That where they said, Spanish Wools, by the Merchants Deceitfulness and Corruption, have often been returned by Certificate, it was wholly untrue. Their Honours were desired also to consider, that the means which her Majesties Subjects had to bring Oyls and those Wools, being the natural Commodities of those Countries, made that People favourable to the English. And that if the said Device of the Feltmakers should take effect, it might not only be a great Hindrance to the Merchants, but also to the Navy of the Realm, daily employed in bringing home those Wools; and a great hindrance to her Majesties Customs. To this three Aldermen subscribed their Hand, viz. Thomas Pullison (afterwards Maior) Francis Bowyer, and George Bond, and several other Merchants, as Hewyt, Haidon, Whitmore, Folkys, and thirteen more.

The Merchants Answer concerning a Garbler of the Wools.

By Bradfords and Caunton's stirring so much in this Business, it was seen, that they endeavoured to get themselves in, to be Garblers of the Spanish Wools.

These Contests made the Lord Treasurer enquire into the Quantities of Wool imported. And Smith the Queen's Customer sent in this Account from March 1578, to March 1579. Spanish Wool brought into the Port of London, by George Bond, William Bond, William Hewyt and others, to the Quantity of 729 Bags: which did contain an hundred, or an hundred and a quarter a Bag. The Estridge Wools, that is the Wools imported from the East Countries, a coarser sort, amounted not to two hundred Weight.

Quantities of Spanish Wools imported.

But to prevent this Office of garbling Wools, the Haberdashers interposed; alledging this as an Infringment of an Agreement formerly made between the Company and the Feltmakers. Whereof Woodroff, Maior, and Master of the said Company, wrote an account to the Lord Treasurer to put a Stop to it, if he could. "That whereas Suit was made by some light Persons, for an Office of Garblership of Foreign Wools to be erected, with several great Allowances for the garbling of every Bag of Wool, to the great Charge and Trouble of the Owners, and to the enhauncing of the Prices of Wool; by the Ordinances, lately confirmed to the Company of Haberdashers of London, (according to a Decree set down by him, the Lord Treasurer and others of the Privy Counsel for the Government of the Feltmakers) there was Authority expresly given to the Master and Wardens of the said Company, with five, four, three, or two of the Feltmakers, to Search all Foreign Wools put to Sale by any Persons within this City, or three Miles Compass of the same; and to punish by Fines any Person that should offend in utterance of corrupt Stuff, with sundry other "

The Haberdashers claim the Search of Wools.