Extracts from

Some Evidence of Trade between Exeter and Newfoundland up to 1600

by Professor W.J. Harte, M.A. (read at Paignton, 22nd June 1932)

Provided by Jean Harris

This talk given to the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art was subsequently published in their Vol 24 (1932). His research and the tabulated list he compiled (pps 475-484) were from the Exchequer Miscellaneous Customs and Port Books held in the Record Office.

For clarity I have quoted parts of his talk as published in Vol 24:

"The results of my search are tabulated below, but we must not draw the conclusion that the 65 ships enumerated are the only ones that traded between Newfoundland and the port of Exeter. There were certainly many others that brought back fish, and not train oil, and they would not appear in the Customs or Port Books after 1563, because by 5 Eliz. cap. 5, fish paid no duties on entering English ports."

"The Port books begin with the year 1565 and contain entries made by customers and controllers of all goods carried to and from the port of Exeter and Dartmouth. This port included Ilfracombe, Barnstaple and Teignmouth, but I have dealt only with the port of Exeter itself, i.e the ports in the estuary of the Exe."

"The original spelling of the ship, the port, the master and the owners of the cargo has been retained."

"Tonnage at this time was estimated by the number of casks of Bordeaux wine that could be carried in the ship's hold. A tun contained 252 gallons, and as a cubic foot contained 6¼ gallons this works out at 40.32 cubic feet per tun, but allowing for the shell of the barrel, 42 cubic feet. Roughly speaking we must mutiply by 3 to obtain the equvalent for the tonnage of a modern merchant ship."


Rochelle- city in Western France & a sea port of Brittany
Bordeaux- port city in southwest France
Lusborne- Lisbon, Portugal
Obsam, Ophsham    - Topsham, Devon
train oil- oil extracted from blubber of a whale
Devon kerseys
- "Kerseys were English Woollens, mostly shipped dyed
    and finished because they were made of cheaper cloth.
    Devon Kerseys were shipped from Exeter and Bristol
    to French and Iberian ports."
    Medieval Clothing & Textiles Vol 3 (page 109)
    - Robin Netherton

Tabulated List of ships of the Port of Exeter trading with Newfoundland from 1563 to 1600.
All these ships except 5 and 6 came from Newfoundland.

       of CARGO 
       & RESIDENCE 
11563Oct.22Trenitede Opsam Will. Clear with Newfoundland fish
21563Oct.28Harte  Thos. Martyn do
31563Oct.30Lyon  John do
41563Oct.30Trynite  Pers Delei (?) do
51571Mar.9GenettExmouth40John AbbottJohn PeriamSailed for Rochelle &
       of ExeterNewfoundland with
61571Mar.12B'tholomewExmouth50John PokmyThos. MartenRedinge and Devon
      of ExmouthExeterKerseys for Rochelle
        and Newfoundland
71573Oct.26TrynytieKenton30John KnollyngJohn Waleron 
81581Sept.30  Trinte (sic)  Kenton30Will Baker"he and his 
101582Oct.5GregorieKenton25Will. BakerJohn White 
      of KentonOpsum (sic) & 
       George Drake, 
111583Aug.29MarieExmouth30Will. WychehallsWill. Wynton 
   Thomas  of DawlishExmouth 
121583Sept.3MatheweDawlsih25Edward Kenwood"the master"On 5 Oct., 1582, she
   Wynekeley  of Dawlish had cleared for Roch-
        elle under Edward
        Bennett with cargo
        belonging to Phyllip
        Yearde of Exeter
131583Sept.3Whitt BeareExmouth40Andreas Rule"the master"On 1 Oct. 1582, she
      of Lympston cleared for St Lucas (sic)
        under the same master
        with a cargo belonging to
        John Morris, Thos. Spicer
        & John Sampforde of
141583Sept.4SaviorExmouth40Thomas Bolter"the master"On 26 Oct. 1582, she
      of Exmouth cleared for Rochelle
        under John Style of
        Kenton with goods of
        Thomas Gibbons of
        Taunton and Richard
        Knight of Silverton.
151583Sept.11ElizabethTeignmouth  20Thomas Porke"the master" 
161583Sept.11JohnTeignmouth20Elizens Zevye"the master" 
       but his name 
       spelt this time 
171584Oct.5LionExmouth30Richard CrosseGeorge RawleighOn the previous 17 April
      of Exmouth the Lion under Richard
        Crosse had cleared for
        Lusborne (sic)
181584Oct.7MatheweDawlyche25John BlaxstoneThos. Spiver 
   Wynckley  of KentonExeter 
191584Oct.21JonasExon60Thomas BabbeJohn Sampforde 
201585Sept.17GregorieOpsham25William BakerThos. White 
211586Aug.25Penticose (sic)Topsam24Peter Langford The entries this year
        are in English, except
        the tonnage and date
        and after each item
        there follow the words
        not to any port pro-
        hibited'. But the in-
        formation is otherwise
        more meagre.
22  1586Aug.26PrimroseExmouth25Thomas Porke  
231586Aug.26B'tholmeweExmouth90Robert Langford  
241586Aug.30AngellTopsame32Will. Braddon  
251588Sept.26GodspedeTopsham36John Brandon  
261588Sept.26PrimeroseExmouth25Thos. Porke  
271588Sept.26PenticoasteTopsham24Peter Langeford  
281588Oct.2GoodKenton40George GerringeJohn Tuckett 
291589Aug.18Mary Grace*Teignmouth40Mighell RoweWill. RoweThe MaryGrace under
        Robert Bilford had
        cleared for Rochelle
        10 Feb. last.
301589Aug.26Gifte*Exmouthe50William WitchellsThe master and 
311589Aug.28GoodKenton40John LackingtonWill. Savory*These ships all appear
   Tidings*    also in another book
        as Having within them
        wines and prohibited
        It looks as if fishing
        was bad this year.
321589Aug.28John*Tingmouthe30the master and  
331589Aug.28Lyon*Exmouthe40Richard CrosseGeorge Rawleyeon 13 Dec., 1588, the
        Lyon, under Robert
        Vinton, had cleared
        for Rochelle.
341589Aug.28Pentecost*Topsam25George HevyeGilbert Peppitton 10 Oct., 1588, the
        Pentecost under
        Peeter Perrye had
        cleared for Bordeaux.
351589Aug.29Swifte-Topsam40Peeter LangfordWilliam Ffordeon 8 Jan. 1589, the
   shewer*    Swiftsuer, under Jesse
        Vasu had cleared for
361589Sept.1Pleasure*Topsham26Richard Elsdon The Pleasure under
        Richard Elsdon had
        cleared for Jersey 25 Feb.
371589Sept.5Godspeede*Topsam36Robert LangfordNicholas Tanner (?)  The Godspeed under
        John Brandon had
        cleared for Rochelle
        2 Oct., 1588
381589Sept.11Seabright*Exon30Bennett JacobThomas Spicer 
391589Sept.12Primrose*Exmouth30John DreweHenry WadeA Primrose of Exmouth
        of 40 tons, under John
        Sweete had cleared for
        Bordeaux on 29 Oct. 1588
401590Sept.15SeabrightTopsham28Mic. Moule (?)Thos. Elsdon 
       of Topsham 
411592Oct. 6Raigne BoweExmouth50John BanefildeHenricus Wade 
      of ExmouthExmouth 
421592Oct. 6RevengeExmouth80John Underhill  
431592Oct.17Joane DrakeTopshame28Richard with train oil for
      Woodcocke Phillip Drake of Topsham
      of Topsham  
441592Oct.21GoodtidingsExmouth40Roberte Langforde  John Tusse (?) 
      of Exmouthof Exeter 
451593Aug.24Dieu GraceExmouth26George Peron  
      of Exmouth  
461593Aug.30JesusTeignmouth30William Wichalls  
      of Teignmouth  
471593Aug.31William &Exmouth30John Drake  
   John  of Exmouth  
481593Sept.12SwiftsureTopsham40Peter PerryPeter Perry & 
      of Topshamcompany 
       with train oil 
491593Sept.12MayflowerExmouth50John WhitborneJohn Whitborne & 
      of Exmouthcompany with 
       train oil. 
501593Sept.14PaulTeignmouth45Thomas ffoxeThomas ffoxe & 
       company with 
       train oil. 
511594Aug.24Dieu GraceExmouth26George PeronGeorge Pearon & 
521594Aug.30JohnTeignmouth30Mighell RoweMighell Rowe & 
531594Aug.30JesusTeignmouth30William MichallsJohn Gye & 
541594Aug.31William &Exmouth30John Drake  
551594Sept.12SwifteTopsham40Peter Perry  
561594Sept.12MayflowerExmouth50John Whitborne  
571594Sept.17PauleTeignmouth45Thomas ffoxThomas ffox & 
581595Oct.6GraceExmouthe25John Drew with train oil
591599Oct.7EndeavourTopsham100Robert LangfordGeorge Geake & 
       Edward Osborne 
       of Clist St George 
601600Sept.10Heart's Desire  Exmouth30George Pearonmaster & companytrain oil
611600Sept.17CharitySidmouth35Edward Cannonmaster 
621600Sept.17MayflowerExmouth50William Underhillthe said master & 
631600Sept.19SwiftshewerExmouth40Thomas Russell  
641600Sept.19Deiu (sic)Exmouth30Christopherthe said master & 
   Grace  Langfordcompany 
651600Sept.26JohnTingmouth30William Braddonsaid master &train oil