What the 17th Century Shipping Lists Can Tell Us.

 

By David Shapton

 

Table 3 shows that the records are very incomplete after 1664 until 1694. It is quite striking that the entries for 1694 are so few compared with 1695 - 1700. Whether this was due to the "Seven Year Famine" towards the end of the century or to other causes such as silting up of the harbour, I do not know.

Table 3 ENTRIES FOR 1671 - 1700

Table 3 Entries for 1671-1700

Year

J

F>

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Total

1671

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

1

4

1

 

1672

0

0

0

4

0

3

0

2

0

0

0

0

9

1673

1

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

1

n/a

n/a

n/a

 

1674

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

 

1675

n/a

n/a

n/a

3+?

4

1

1

0

1?

n/a

n/a

n/a

 

1676

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

5+?

0

0

0

2

0

 

1677

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

1

2

2

0

0

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1694

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

4

6

0

2

0

2

2

1

 

1695

1

0

1

8

16

22

22

18

11

14

10

7

130

1696

6

1

9

6

16

14

19

14

16

10

8

4

123

1697

7

6

6

9

10

12

20

18

16

13

9

10

136

1698

4

0

6

7

14

16

23

18

8

14

18

5

133

1699

4

4

9

8

8

19

17

15

13

11

2

9

119

1700

9

4

5

7

15

18

16

14

8

5

2

n/a

103+

 

Figures for the 1670s and 1680s are not available to complete Table 4 which shows totals and monthly figures at approximately decade intervals. This brings out the ability of vessels to trade during winter months although trade peaks in the summer. The Table also shows the remarkable increase in the number of vessels recorded in the year 1696 being maintained until 1700.

Year

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Total

1616

2

0

4

5

8

5

11

10

8

5

6

1

65

1626

0

4

2

3

6

7

7

6

7

4

1

0

47

1636

4

0

1

4

15

10

20

3

1

9

2

4

73

1646

3

1

1

1

3

5

5

5

4

4

1

2

35

1656

n/a

2

3

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6+?

1664

4

0

2

1

0

0

9

6

6

5

0

0

33

1696

6

1

9

6

16

14

19

14

16

10

8

4

123

 

Entries in 1651 and 1654

The entries in 1651 and 1654 are of interest because of the taking of the city by General Monk on 1st September 1651. Records from earlier in the year seem fairly normal although when they have been transcribed there may be things of interest. The record prior to 7th August is for 23rd April, when David Abercrombie master of the William of Leith came from Norway with 4000 dealls, 1000 timber and 5 fathoms of burnwood. This is a normal entry although one might guess that during troubled times cargoes in small boats, which came into the city, went unrecorded, possibly in substantial amounts. This would be in line with the 100 vessels that were said to be in the port on 1st September.

The last entry before 1st September - that fateful day - is for 7th August 1651. It is quite unlike other entries, as the following transcript shows: -

Which day compeired Glelen Harris and offerit the cumodities under wretine (written below) at the renttes (prices) efter spert (specified hereafter)to the magrat (magistrates) of the burgh of dundie by one hundreth and sex rowis (106 rolls) of twbako (tobacco) at thertie (30) pounds and fiv (5) lib [£30:5s:0d (£30.25) per pound], the hundreth and TTT V barl (135 barrels) of succar (sugar) at 20 shillings the pound they paying the custome (customs fee or dues) and him at the deliverie of the goods.

Since this offer came at a time after General Monk had "sat down before Dundee at the end of July" it seems that this offer - cash in hand - was taken up by the burgh authorities. Presumably they had food and munitions in plenty and the tobacco and sugar were comforts for themselves and the troops.

There is a gap of almost three years before the next entry on 21 February 1654 and the transcript reads: -

Upon the 21 February 1654 Years

Which day compeired John Zyibet merchand and entered the ship calit (called) the Sn Sana com from Queinsbridg (Queensbridge in the Baltic) ladin with lint hemps tarr taikell (tackle or ropes) and yron (iron) whereof Jacob Winshmkco is master under god.

The following entry on 21 August 1654 is by Alex Piersone Senior who entered the bark William of Dundee come from Norway with a cargo of dealls and "commerce" (general cargo). The Master is William Adams and the "goods" belonged to "the owners". The entries can then be seen to be getting back to more or less the previous pattern.

When the talk was given, I thought that this might indicate that the port had been damaged and was being rebuilt. Upon further reflection and as Bill Dow commented, it would seem that Monk, like any good general before or since, would need supplies and troop reinforcements and so would want to get the port into good working order as quickly as possible. Iain Flett suggested looking at some Dundee Court Martial records. These are included in the Publications of the Scottish Historical Society Second Series Volume XIX Miscellany (Third Volume) published in 1919. The following extracts indicate that order was restored quickly: -

September 19, 1651 Francis Mencour of Capt. Fitche's company in regiment informed against by Capt. Dawborne who met him with 3 seamen carrying the sail of a ship. Seamen's names Geo. Maners, Jo. Mason and Wm Hamonds belonging to Capt. Wheeler sayes that they fetched it out of an house where nobody dwelt. Soldier sayes it was his Landlady's house (and) that he knew not that the plunder of the town was done (finished). Dismissed with a sharp reproof.

[Comment - the sail, which took four men to carry, was expected to have a ready market.]

October 8, 1651 On a charge of fornication, Thomas Peacock and Marian Sudon with Agnes Askin being present. All three were found guilty. The first two were to be whipped and all three were to be "ducked at the Key" and the women boated over to Fife.

[Comment - the Quay would be expected to have a crane which would be used for the duckings and small boats at least were crossing the Tay from the harbour.]

A record for December 23 1651 shows that meat was being sold in the shambles and there was a reference for December 27 1651 to a "tumult in the Fish Market". So, in light of this evidence, it seems likely that, when General Monk took the Burgh, the harbour was quickly got back into some sort of working order under military control. It would be given back to Civil Authorities about three years later - probably by January or, at latest, February 1654 - with a return to the Wedderburn system of our Shipping Lists.

Registration of Vessels

Turning now to the question of whether the vessels using the harbour were local or not, we can use data from 1616 and 1696 as examples of "early" and "end" of the 17th Century.

In Table 5, if the barks and ships attributed to Dundee, Broughty Ferry and Tayport are added together as "local" vessels, such vessels represented 90% of the 1616 total but only 56% of the 1696 total. Another interesting point is that the barks and ships registered in Fife ports represented 27% of the total. This would seem to be a reflection of the demand for coal being met by Fife vessels. However, it is as well to remember that "registration" at this time was not as tightly controlled as it became later and it is not unknown for a vessel to be described as both a bark and a ship - on occasions even in the same entry. Evidently, the main concern of the record was with what was landed and also as a check on whether the proper monies had been paid.

The checking system is illustrated by an entry for 10th June 1697 which may be transcribed as follows: -

For as much (as) upon the 3rd day of May 1697 James Anderson master of the good bark called the Isobell of the North Ferrie (Broughty Ferry) of burden 15 tuns made one voyage to Clackmannan and loaded her with coalls and made no entry thereof in the clerks chamber and seeing he hath not made any entry and payment for the foresaid voyage but also for this present voyage which is a loading of coalls come from Clackmannan. In testemoney whereof he hath submitted the same day month and year of God forsaid.

(signed)