English Letter of Marque Against Scotland and France,
Henry VIII, 1543

The King's most royal Majesty being credibly informed that divers and many of his most loving faithful and obedient subjects inhabiting upon the sea coasts, using trafic by sea, and divers others, be very desirous to prepare and equip sundry ships and vessels at their own costs and charges to the sea for the annoyance of his Majesty's enemies, the Frenchmen and the Scots, so as they might obtain his most gracious licence in that behalf, Hath, of his clemency, tender love, and zeal, which he beareth to his subjects, by the advice of his most honorable counsel resolved and determined as hereafter followeth:

First his Majesty is pleased, and by the authority hereof giveth full power and licence to all and singular, his subjects of all sorts, degrees, and conditions, that they and every of them, may, at their liberties, without incuring any loss, danger, forfeiture, or penalty, and without putting in of any bonds or recognizance before the Counsel, or in the Court of the Admiralty, and without suing forth of any other licence, vidimus, or other writing, from any counsel, court, or place, within this realm, or any other his Majesty's realms and dominions, prepare and equip to the seas such and so many ships and vessels furnished for the war, to be used and employed against his Grace's said enemies, the Scots and Frenchmen, as they shall be able to think convenient for their advantage and the annoyance of his Majesty's said enemies. And his Majesty is further pleased, and by this presents granteth to every of his said subjects that they, and every of them, shall enjoy to his and their own proper use, profit, and commodity, all and singular such ships, vessels, munition, merchandise, wares, victuals, and goods of what nature and quality soever it be, which they shall take of any of his Majesty's said enemies, without making account in any court or place of this realm or any other of the King's realms or dominions for the same, and without paying any part or share to the Lord Admiral of England, the Lord Warden of the Five Ports, or any other officer or minister of the King's Majesty, any use, custom, prescription, or order to the contrary hereof used heretofore in any wise notwithstanding. And his Majesty is further pleased that all and every his said subjects which upon the publication of this proclamation will sue for a duplicate of the same under the great seal of England, shall have the same, paying only the petty fees to the officers for writing the same.

And, seeing now that it hath pleased the King's Majesty, of his most gracious goodness, to grant unto all his subjects this great liberty, his Highness desireth all mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, aldermen, and all other his Grace's faithful officers, ministers, and subjects of this realm, and other his Highness' realms and dominions, and especially those which do inhabit in the port towns and other places near the seaside, to shew themselves worthy of such liberty, and one to bear with an other, and to help an other, in such sort as their doing hereupon may be substantial, and bring forth that effect that shall redound to his Majesty's honor, their own suerties, and the annoyance of the enemies.

Provided always that no man which shall go to the sea by virtue hereof presume to take any thing from any his Majesty's subjects, or from any man having his Grace's safeconduct, upon the pains by his Majesty's laws provided for the same. And his Grace is further pleased that no manner of officer, or other person, shall take any mariners, munition, or tackle from any man thus equipping himself to the sea, but by his own consent, unless his Majesty, for the furniture of his own ships, do send for any of them by special commissions, and where need shall require. His Majesty will also grant commission to such as will sue for the same for their better furnitures in this behalf.

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