1636, a group creditors led by William Hanson seek repayment for victualling the navy

William Hanson and others. SP 16/536 f. 250 (1636)

To the right honourable the lordes and others of his majesties most honourable privie counsell.

The humble peticion of William Hanson, Henry Austen, James Symonds Thomas Holt, and divers others creditours of Sir Sampson Darrell knight deceased, late surveyour of his majesties marime victualls.

Humblie shewinge.

That upon their humble peticions to this honourable boord, your lordships were pleased to referre the examinacion of the truth of their demaundes therein to Sir William Becker and Sir Edward Wardour knightes and Edward Nicholas esquier who thereupon have called your petitioners before them, and in the presence of the Ladie Darell widdow and executrix to Sir Sampson her late husband, who was assisted by Sir John Parsons (a man cheifely trusted by her said husband and her selfe) and by Master Alcock and Master Dannet agentes for him in his life tyme, have heard and received your petitioners accomptes upon their severall oaths, whereby their demaunds of the severall summes mencioned in their certificate annexed, appeare to bee justly due to your peticioners.

And in regard Sir Sampson Darell received paymente from his majestie for the provisions and materialls delivered by your petitioners into his majesties ships set to sea anno 1635 and died suddenly leaving your peticioners unsatisfied for the same, as by the said certifi= =cate annexed fully appeareth.

They doe therefore most humbly beseech your lordships to order the said Ladie Darell executrix to her said late husband forthwith to pay unto your petitioners their just debtes, otherwise they (being poore men) their wives and children are like to bee undone, they having heretofore been able to pay their shares towardes his majesties fleetes setting to sea. And they shall ever pray etc.

Report by Sheila Douglas

These petitioners were seeking payment due to them by the late Sir Sampson Darrell for provisions and materials supplied. The Council had heard their claim and taken evidence from Sir Sampson’s widow and others. The petitioners asked that any outstanding monies due to them at the time of his death be paid from Sir Sampson’s estate.

Background to the Petition

Sampson Darrell was born in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire.[1] His father, Sir Marmaduke, was cofferer of the royal household, joint victualler of the Navy and a farmer of the export duty on sea coals. In 1604 Sir Marmaduke secured a reversion of the post of joint victualler to Sampson, when Sampson was only 10 years old. In 1623 he surrendered the post to Sampson who had been knighted in 1613.

Drury and Darrell

At some point during the 1620s Darrell became a victim to William Drury, a swindler.  Drury had mortgaged two Buckinghamshire manors to him for £2,500, refusing to either redeem the mortgage or surrender possession of the properties. Drury further duped Darrell into lending him ‘greater sums of money’. Darrell was owed £5,362 in debts and damages, about £600,000 today. In 1629 the Chancery ruled in favour of Darrell, however Drury did not grant possession of his estate to Darrell until October 1630. It was then that Darrell took up his naval duties. Faced with these difficulties and a contractual obligation to ‘victual the Navy’s vessels on demand and at a fixed price’ Darrell swiftly headed into a financial crisis. In the second half of 1630 he had spent twice as much as he received, and his position worsened following a disastrous harvest the same year which significantly increased food prices. By March 1631 he calculated he had spent 20 percent more than he had received, not including the interest accrued on monies he had borrowed. The quality of service he provided suffered greatly and he was reprimanded by lord treasurer Portland (Sir Richard Weston). In July 1632, after stating ‘he was unable to resupply the warships in the Channel because his account had not been settled’, things started to improve.  However, complaints about the quality of service he provided continued, and in 1633 his removal was strongly considered by the Admiralty.

Darrell’s father Marmaduke had died in 1632, and he became liable for his debts (still outstanding in 1637). Under Sir Marmaduke’s will he was required to provide his mother an allowance of £600 yearly, which he honoured.

Sampson Darrell’s Death and Legacy

Darrell died suddenly three years after his father, aged only 41. His estate was valued at £18,000 (over £2m today) falling into the wardship of his eldest son aged 14. The terms of his will drafted on 23 February 1632 left £1000 to each of his nine children and requested his friend Sir John Parsons (he left him £100) to administer his 20% share of a coal farm in trust for his widow.

He did not make any provision to settle any outstanding debts he had contracted as a victualler. The Court of Wards ordered the sale of some of his lands, but two members of his family refused to sign the required assurances to the purchasers.

Lady Darrell initially resisted the Exchequer’s demands for repayment of the surplus on her husband’s accounts, stating that Darrell actually spent ‘about £2000, above His Majesty’s allowance’, eventually she was forced to employ the assistance of her friends to gratify the debt. Lady Darrell died in 1638.

In 1642 there were still 26 creditors claiming to be owed a total of £3,576. Were some of these our petitioners?


[1] This and the following information is drawn from:  ‘DARRELL, Sir Sampson (1594-1635), of Hunterscombe, Bucks.; later of Fulmer, Bucks. and East Smithfield, London’, in Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris (eds.), The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1604-1629, (2010). https://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1604-1629/member/darrell-sir-sampson-1594-1635; ‘Sampson Darrell’, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampson_Darrell.


This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reign of Charles I and the Civil Wars’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.