STAC 5/M21/5

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STAC 5/M1/31

The answer of John Gregory, Defendant, to the Bill of Complaint of the Fellowship of English Merchants for the Discovery of the New Trades, Complainants.

The said defendant saith that the said Bill of Complaint and the matters therein contained are very untrue, uncertain and insufficient in the law to be answered unto for divers and sundry causes therein apparent. And especially for that the said Bill as the defendant supposeth doth not contain any matter whereunto the defendant is or shall be compellable or inforced to give any answer for, as this defendant doth think, that although the supposed matters of the said Bill were true that is to say that this defendant did not upon a bare surmise that foreign goods were forfeited aid the said complainants or their factors to seize the same that therein he had not committed any fault or offence so as he supposeth without either due process made of a forfeiture or that he the defendant had known the same of his own knowledge he was not compellable so far to credit any suggestion nor he ought to have seized or that he this defendant had known to be the goods of any subject of this realm who had not offended his duty of allegiance or committed some notorious crime deserving apparently such punishment And, for that the said Bill in effect containeth no other matter, this defendant trusteth that this most honourable court will think that this defendant being then the Queen’s officer is not to be put in suit, for that he upon light information entered into the meddling with the goods of the dutiful subjects of this realm: and therefore this defendant humbly prayeth to be dismissed out of this honourable court with his costs and charges in this behalf wrongfully sustained. Nevertheless if it shall please this honourable court to think the same surmises worthy the answering then the advantage of exception to the uncertainty and insufficiency of the said Bill at all times to this defendant saved for an answer thereunto he saith that one calling himself Dockeredge, as the defendant remembereth, about the time mentioned in the said Bill, came to this defendant, being them Mayor of Hull, unto his house in Hull, and he or some other in his company, as this defendant now remembereth said that there was a letter written from London by one Mr Bar[?ut]s and others, as he remembereth, whereby it appeared that the intelligence was given that there was a ship arrived at Hull which had certain wares in it, which ship and goods were forfeited for that the same were brought and landed contrary to a statute which they or some of them said they had to show and prayed this defendant, as he doth remember, to help them to seize the same, to whom this defendant as he remembereth made answer to this effect, that he, this defendant was a man unlearned, and that his clerk was then forth of the town and that without counsel or advice this defendant would not meddle in the same for that he did not understand or know whether the same were forfeited or to be seized or not whereupon the said persons departed and after the said persons or some of them came unto this defendant the next day and the said Cocknedge again asked this Defendant if he would aid him about the seizing of the said goods whereunto the defendant answered to this effect as this defendant remembereth that if this defendant might incur no danger thereunto and that he might understand that he might do it lawfully that he would deal in it otherwise because he knew not whether the said goods were by law to be seized or not or whether by law he might meddle with it or not he could not meddle therein and for that this defendant could not at any time have either sufficient assurance to save him harmless or any knowledge or understanding sufficient that by the law he might have dealt herein having neither any warrant or precept authorising this defendant to inter meddle or deal therein in neither any action brought for the same before him in the court of the said town which be the ordinary ways and means whereby the mayor of the said town hath used to proceed this defendant would not meddle or deal with the said ship or goods and for these respects this defendant did not give any aid or assistancy in the same but refused to inter meddle with the same ship and goods as he supposeth he might lawfully do without that the said goods were bought and fetched at and from such places as in the said bill is alleged to this defendant’s knowledge or that the same ship and goods were forfeited as by the said bill is furnished to the knowledge of the defendant or that it did appertain to this defendant not knowing or being appertained [?apprised] of any forfeiture to meddle with the said goods or ship specially the same growing upon a cause so foreign as did not lie within this defendant’s understanding any way to know what the truth of the said allegation was; or that there was any sufficient offer of any sufficient surety for the saving harmless of this defendant or that the same is material or that this defendant answered I will not deal come what come will to this defendant’s remembrance And without that that any other thing or matter mentioned in the said bill material or effectual in the law to be answered unto and not herein sufficiently confessed and avoided denied or traversed is true All which matters this defendant is ready to aver and prove as the most honourable court shall award and prayeth to be dismissed fourth of the same with his costs and charges in this behalf wrongfully sustained

Walmyeley Reader