1608, Daniel Brames or Breames asks to be treated as a freeborn Englishman

Daniell Brames. SP 14/35 f. 45 (1608)

To the right honourable the Erle of Salisbury Lord High Treasurer of England.

Humbly shewing unto your lordship that albeit the petitioner is a free Englishman borne: and a freeman of London as by certificate, and a copie of his freedome may appeare yet the Earle of Montgomerys deputies, who is farmar of the baies will not permitt him transport such commodities without paying his lordship dueties, which strangers are onely bound to pay wherefore his majesties farmers who knew him to be a free Englishman borne were desyrous that he should fetch direction from your lordship that he might transport all commodities for English custome, as by the lawes of the realme he may lawfully doe.

Wherefore he most humbly beseecheth your good lordship to signifie to the said farmers, that you are pleased he shall transport all commodities for English men custome according to his freedome. And he will as duty byndeth him ever pray for your lordship

[Paratext:] Because this petitioner is a freeman of London as as well as the sonne of a denizen, and borne within this kingdome himselfe his case is not ordinary, and therefore I doe require you to suffer him to passe his commodities for English custome, not meaning otherwise to give any such precedent xi May 1608, Salisburye

To permitt Daniell Brames to passe his goods as an English man.

Report by Barbara Prynn

Daniel Breames became a Freeman of the City of London in 1607, as a member of the Clothworkers’ Company.(1) He was a merchant adventurer. As early as the 1200s, the merchants who bought and sold woollen cloth began to join forces. Together they formed what came to be known as the Company of Merchant Adventurers. They were trading capitalists who rose to prominence by buying and then exporting woollen cloth from England to foreign markets, mainly in Europe. Their membership was dominated by merchants from London.(2)

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, KG, PC (1563–1612) was an English statesman noted for his direction of the government during the Union of the Crowns, as Tudor England gave way to Stuart rule (1603). Salisbury served as the Secretary of State of England (1596–1612) and Lord High Treasurer (1608–1612), succeeding his father as Queen Elizabeth I’s Lord Privy Seal, and remaining in power during the first nine years of King James I’s reign until his death.The principal discoverer of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, Robert Cecil remains a controversial historical figure, as it is still debated at what point he first learned of the plot and to what extent he acted as an agent provocateur.(3)

Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke and 1st Earl of Montgomery, KG, KB (10th October, 1584 –23rd January, 1650) was an English courtier, nobleman and politician, active during the reigns of James I and Charles I. Philip and his older brother William were the ‘incomparable pair of brethren’ to whom the First Folio of Shakespeare’s collected works was dedicated, in 1623.(4)

In the Cecil Papers for 25th November, 1606, it says that Daniel Breames ‘complains that he has transported English kerseys to Lisbon for sale on many occasions, and that £500 (£50,000 to-day) worth of them has been seized by the officials of the King of Spain on the grounds that they were originally the product of Holland, despite evidence from the Customs House in London that the goods had been shipped there and customs duties paid for them.'(5) Kerseys are a coarse, lightweight woollen cloth, usually ribbed, with a cotton warp named after Kersey, a village in Suffolk.(6)

On 17th March, 1620, Daniel Breames, in the records of the House of Commons in a chapter entitled ‘Concerning Wools,’ about the trade by English Merchants with Holland and Flanders, is mentioned along with another six so-called ‘interlopers’ as having been committed by the Lords of the Council for refusing to accept a Bond to cease such trade, along with other merchants, all of whom were ‘sued in the Exchequer for trading’.(7)

Before 15 December 1639 a ship called Suzanna had left London for Virginia carrying eighty passengers and ‘commodities.’ Daniel Brames sent a petition to Sir Henry Martin (or Marten) at the High Court of Admiralty, asking for ‘letters of marque’ against the captain of a States of Zeeland warship who had damaged the Suzanna and her captain. The Zeeland captain had been fined £750 (£750,000 today) for this, and Daniel Brames had stood bail for him. His petition asked for an ‘opinion’ from Sir Henry Martin.(8) (A letter of marque was a commission authorising privately owned ships known as privateers to capture enemy merchant ships. A letter of marque was issued by the High Court of Admiralty. Any captured vessels were then brought before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale. Privateers were viewed as heroic and noble as opposed to pirates, who had no letters of marque, and were universally condemned as thieves and vagabonds.)(9)

Sir Henry Marten (1562-1641) was a Judge of the Admiralty Court, amongst a large number of other illustrious appointments. He appears to have been the younger son of a wealthy London baker, John Marten, and his wife, Rose. He was born in the parish of St. Michael Bassishaw, London, probably in 1562, and was educated at Winchester School and New College, Oxford, where he matriculated on 24 November 1581, aged 19, and was elected to a fellowship in 1582. He had a little property in London which had been left to him by his father, and which was worth £40 a year (£4,000 to-day). He applied himself to the study of the civil and canon law and adopted the practice of holding weekly disputations on moot points raised by cases pending in the high commission court. In August 1605 he took part in the disputations held before the king at Oxford. Marten early acquired an extensive practice in the admiralty, prerogative, and high commission courts, and was appointed official of the archdeaconry of Berkshire.(10)

Daniel Brames (or Breames) seems to have been a very colourful and disputatious man, with a presumably lucrative career in trade both in Europe and the American colonies. It appears that this petition was granted.


1. LondonRoll, 1607, https://www.londonroll.org/event/?company=clw&event_id=CLLL6082

  1. https://www.tuckershall.org.uk/hall/history/clothtrade/29-merchant-adventurers
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cecil,_1st_Earl_of_Salisbury
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Herbert,_4th_Earl_of_Pembroke
  4. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol24/pp92-94

6. The Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons in 1620 and 1621, Volume 1, p. 189

  1. Ancestry.co.uk
  2. https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/explore/letters-marque
  3. http://www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/hmarten.html
  4. https://www.tuckershall.org.uk/hall/history/processes/20-types-of-cloth


This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, 1600-1625’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.