1692, Thomas Gallentine, a merchant of Danzig, pleads that the Queen restore his ship, which has been claimed as a prize by an English privateer

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1690s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online, Thomas Gallentine, merchant burgher, inhabitant of Gdansk and subject of the king of Poland. PC 1/1 f. 21 (1692).

To the Queenes most excellent majesty and the right honourable the lords of the privy councill

The humble peticion of Thomas Gallentine merchant burgher and inhabitant of Dantsick and subject of the King of Poland


That the shipp called the Pellican of Dantsick whereof Christian Otto was master and goods in the same of which your petitioner was owner was lately taken by an English privateer and brought into Dover and condemned by the Court of Admiralty for prize for that your petitioners property did not fully apear to the judge in the said shipp and goods

That your petitioner did apeale to the right honourable the lords commissioners of apeales in order to have made a more clear proofe of his property and their lordshipps were pleased not to admitt him to make his property better to appear being of opinion that if he did yet the treaty of convencion between their majesties of England and the states of Holland would make the shipp lyable to confiscation for either comeing from or going to any port in France and upon the said treaty or convencion their lordshipps did condemne the said shipp and goods

Your petitioner therefore most humbly prayes that your majesty would be gratiously pleased to graunt him a commicion of reveiw under the great seale of England being a subject of the King of Poland one of your majesties allyes humbly hopeing to make it appear that the said shipp is not liable to confiscation by the said treaty or convencion and being prepared to make his property in the said shipp and goods to appear in order to obtain restitucion thereof

And your petitioner shall daily pray etc

Report by Lesley Scott-Stapleton

In his petition, Thomas Gallentine, a merchant of Danzig, recounted how his ship, the Pelican of Danzig, had been seized by an English privateer off the coast of Dover.  The Court of Admiralty condemned the ship as a prize (that is, ruling its cargo could be sold at auction), because it was unaware the cargo belonged to Gallentine. He had appealed but this had been rejected by the Lords Commissioners of Appeals, on the grounds that the treaty between England and the United Provinces made the ship liable for confiscation for coming from or going to any French port.

Gallentine claimed his ship was not liable to the terms of the treaty. As a subject of Poland, which was an ally of the Queen, he asked for a further review so that he might secure restitution.

Thomas Gallentine appears to have been a member of the Eastland Company’s ‘residence’ in Elblag that was created in 1585.[1] At an earlier date, the Merchant Adventurers of York had established a Trading centre at Elbing, [the Prussian rendering of Elblag] and therefore when the Eastland Company was founded in England by royal charter in 1579, the Adventurers claimed membership of the new company.[2] Migrants from the British Isles, trading as merchants, are recorded in Elblag from the 1570’s, the settlement of an estimated 170 families stayed until the outbreak of the Vistula Estuary War between Poland and Sweden in 1626. England being perceived as supporting Sweden, the Eastland’s privileges were removed in 1628, following which the majority of the migrants returned.[3]

Among those who had married locally and therefore stayed was Karol (Charles) Ramsay, born in Dundee 1576, the son of councillor Charles and Janet née Duncan. After fourteen years in Gdańsk, where he studied trading with Jakub Gallentin, [father or an uncle of Thomas?] in 1611 he came to Elbląg, where he traded on his own account. In 1614, he married Katarzyna, daughter of Gdańsk merchant Andrzej Kayny [Andrew Cheyne], with whom he had eleven children. During the war with the Swedes (1626-1629) he relocated to Königsberg, then in 1630 to Gdańsk. In 1645, after the death of his wife, Karol moved to his grandchildren of daughter Katarzyna in Elblag, dying in 1650.[4]


[1] Information provided by Dr. Joanna Szkolnicka, Museum of Archaeology and History in Elblągu.

[2] ‘Records of the Eastland Company, York Residence’, The University of York, https://www.york.ac.uk/media/borthwick/documents/

[3] P. P. Bajer, Scots in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 16th to 18th Centuries: The Formation and Disappearance of an Ethnic Group (2012), p. 249, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=kzJf9HTGK2kC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Scots+in+the+Polish+Lithuanian+Commonwealth&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj428HqgoztAhXLYMAKHQpYDWQQ6AEwAHoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=Scots%20in%20the%20Polish%20Lithuanian%20Commonwealth&f=false.

[4] ‘Eastland Company’, History of Elblag, https://www.historia-wyzynaelblaska.pl/angielska-kompania-wschodnia–eastland-comany-.html.

This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of James II, William III and Mary II, 1685-1699’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.