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Help and advice for Gloucestershire: Tobacco growing in the Cotswolds

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Tobacco Growing in the Vale of Evesham,
Winchcombe and District,
and John Stratford.
By Gerald H. Stratford.

CHAPTER 7.

This Chapter deals with a Case concerning John Stratford and his Debts heard at Whitehall in London.

At Whitehall the 30th of October 1622/3.

where as we have been informed by The Humble Petition, of John Stratford, Citizen, and Salter of London, that, having formerly Contracted in Flax, bought out of the East Countries, by dressing whereby many poor people, both in London, and in the Country, were set to work, and got their living thereof, which Trade, being over thrown by the bringing in if Flax, ready dressed, he lay out his Stock, to the value of five thousand pounds, in planting of tobacco, and disbursed one thousand four hundred pounds, to many poor people, in setting them to work, and which commodity being restrained, by Royal Proclamation, he hath been hindered in the sale thereof, at home, and, yet Rents of the Grounds, which he took for that purpose, at a very high Rate, are now exacted at his hands; for as much as he hath, to the value of six thousand pounds, in that commodity of tobacco lying upon his hands, having not had time to export it to foreign parts, and that he desireth only Liberty, of twelve months to vent it, to call in his Debts, and to make sale of his Lands, for the payment of his Debts, but, only to have some respite, as is before expressed. We be of the opinion, that this Case deserveth consideration thereof, unto you, praying and requiring you to call his Creditors before you, and to mediate with them, by the best means that you can, on behalf of the Petitioner, to take the same, such coarse of action of toleration and forbearance, as he may be able to pay them, in some reasonable time, without pressing him, to present payment, whereby, the Petitioner may be able to recover himself, in some measure, whereas otherwise, if they take courses of extremity against him, it may lend to his utter undoing, and no profit to themselves, And, so recommending the Care hereof, unto you, and requiring you to Certify unto what you have done herein. We bid, etc etc.

Acts of the Privy Council.

12th of November 1623.

This day, John Stratford, of London, Gentleman, and Salter, being formerly sent for by the Order of the Board, tendered his appearance, for which his Indemnity is here Ordered and Entered in the Register of Council Causes; never the less he is injoyned to attend their Lordships, until he shall be dismissed by Order of the Board. At Whitehall, the 12th of November 1623.

Present were, The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, The Lord President, The Lord Privy Seal, The Lord Carew, The Lord Chichester, Mr. Treasurer, Mr Secretary Calvert, and The Master of the Rolls.

John Hopkins, Citizen of London, having his Humble Petitioned, Complained to the Board, that, whereas he stood Bound for one John Stratford, Citizen of London, Gentleman and Salter, for about six thousand pounds, and that the said John Stratford, had for the Petitioner's Security, conveyed unto him certain Lands and Leases, to the end of the same, should be sold for the Payment of Debt, and disengaging of the Petition, that, never the less the said John Stratford, having since obtained a Protection under the Great Seal, which proceeded from an Order of this Board, doth he the coullor (sic) of the same keep possession of part of the said Lands and hinders the sale of the rest, contrary to his own Agreement and Conveyance, by Deed, in writing under his Hand and Seal; for as much as the said John Stratford, was this day called before the Board, where Hopkins was present, and were both heard at large, by their Learned Council, and the said Agreement and Conveyances, then offered, to be shown to their Lordships, considering the Promises and did declare that the meaning and extent of their Order of Protection, on behalf of the said John Stratford, was not to be used to impeach or frustrate the execution and performance of former Agreements and Conveyances made, but, only to protect the person of him, the said John Stratford, and his Sureties, and their Goods, and do therefore leave the said John Hopkins to take his remedy in the ordinary course of the Law, upon his said Assurances of the Lands and Lease, the Protection Order not with standing.

19th of December, 1623.

In the Case between John Hopkins, and John Stratford, Gentlemen, of London, a Salter, their Lordships, did this day explain their Order of the 12th of November last, that, their meaning is not with standing the Protection Order given to the said John Stratford, it shall be Lawful, for the said John Hopkins, to the Goods of the said John Stratford, or otherwise, proceed against him, to cause him to appear to an Action, brought for the Recovery of the Arreragon (sic) of Rent due, to the said John Hopkins, or cause him to appear to an Action of Ejections Firma, for the Recovery of the Possessions of the Lands Assured, to the said John Hopkins, but for no other cause whatsoever.

At Whitehall on the 23rd of January 1623/4.

Present were, The Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. The Lord Treasure, The Lord President, The Lord Steward, The Earl Marshal, The Lord Chamberlain, The Earl of Carlisle, The Lord Viscount Grandison, The Lord Carew, The Lord Chichester, Mr. Treasurer, Mr. Secretary Conway, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Upon the information given, this day by Sir Robert Heath, His Majestie's Solicitor General, being the Council to John Hopkins, of London, a Salter, who was also present, that whereas, the said John Hopkins, had used all ordinary and Lawful means to intimate to John Stratford, Esquire, likewise of London, and a Salter, an Order of the Board, of the 19th of December last, in a cause depending between them, and the said John Stratford Esquire, he did keep out of the way in such sort, that he could neither be spoken with, nor seen, as if he purposes to elude the said Order, and so to Defraud the said John Hopkins of his Right. Their Lordships, being here, were justly offended, and did expressly Order, that, if before the end of the present Hilary Term, the afor said John Stratford Esquire, does not appear to an Accion (sic) of Ejectuone Firma, and in case of such default he shall no longer enjoy the Benefit of the Protection Order, which he hath hereto before obtained.

At Whitehall on the 8th of April 1623/4.

This appears to be more or less a repetition of John Stratford's Plea of the 30th of December 1622/3.

Whereas, there was this clay, read at the Board, a Petition presented by John Stratford, Gentleman, which he showeth that he hath formerly traded in Flax, brought out of the Eastern Countries, by dressing whereof many poor people, both in the City of London, and in the Country did five, which, by being over thrown by the Netherlanders, bringing in of Flax already dressed, he layed out his stock, in planting one hundred acres of ground, with tobacco, and renting Grounds for that purpose, at seven and eight pounds per acre, which drew upon his Charge of about six thousand pounds, whereof, one thousand four hundred pounds were disbursed in keeping many poor men in work. But, this course, having proved a great loss unto him, by reason of the Restraints of planting tobacco by His Majesty's Proclamation, and the owners of the afor said grounds, seeking never the less to have their great Rents continued, although he hath sought relief against them in His Majesty's Courts, to his great Charge and Hindrance, when, as in the meanwhile, he wanted time both to vent the tobacco, now lying on his hands, to the value of six thousand pounds, by exporting the same into Foreign Parts, as also to call in his Debts, and Sell his Lands, which cost him seven thousand pounds, all of which he is desirous to do, etc, and thereby, to pay his Creditors without any Abatement, neither can he likewise, being in this distress.

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Data transcribed by Colin Hinson from:
A document written by
Gerald H. Stratford in 1988.
Reproduced here by permission
© Gerald H. Stratford.