TNA: SP 16/66/67

ff [1–1v] (11 June)


I thought it became ye respect I stand ingaged vnto, to acquaint your selfe; & by yow my gratious Master with ye kings reception here att Portsmouth, whether he came this daye to view the nauie, being mett with out the Towne by ye Maior & att ye Gate by ye Gouernor Lieutenant Sir Iohn Iepson attended by ye soldiers of ye Garrison. His Maiestie was brought round about ye Towne vpon ye bullworks by my lord Steward, where his Maiestie sawe himselfe what was amisse & hath promist (to ye great content of ye inhabitants) to repayre <..> the ruinous fortifications of his only garrison towne in England. Vpon his putting of from shoare in his barge, he was saluted after ye militarie & vsuall manner of townes of garrison by ye ordenance from euery bullwork. ffrom thence he went into ye hauen on boord ye Victorie, hauing in his barge with him Monsieur Soubize, lord of rutland, lord Steward, lord Chamberlain lord Carlill lord Denbigh & afterwards to Stokes Baye where he first boorded ye Rainbow, yt laye in his waye & from her went on boord ye Admirall betwixt 10 & 11 where he dynd & stayd vntill two of ye clock. He was no sooner come on boord but luckely there was discouerd vnto him 19 sale of ships which the King assures himselfe & wee all beleiue to be Captaine Pennington with ye remander of ye fleet. Before dinner his Maiestie demanded a list of ye ships; which I shewd him & finding some ships with out Captaines, as ye Esperanca by name, he askt of me ye reason & I gaue him ye same answer yow gaue me where with he was satisfyed At dinner his whole discourse was of his ships in generall, & in particular of ye Triumph, inquiring of Sir Iohn Watts, (amongst many other pertinent questions) of her trimme, & (to vse his owne phrase) whether shee cund yae or noe. Saying with all, yat my lord of buckingham tould him, shee was an excellent saylor but yat shee was a litle to hard in her Helme; to which captaine Watts answerd, yat they had mended yat fault for shee was | was now trimmd more after on, & her rudder was new lynd, so yat shee sett her Helme well enough. Towards ye end of dinner ye King sent a health by Sir Iohn Watts to Monsieur Soubize & ye rest of ye lords to ye good successe of ye voyage <..> att which tyme, with as much mirth as Sir Robert Deall the foole Arche, & my lords Musitians could make him. After dinner he went on boorde the rest of his ships in order as they laye, videlicet. The Wast spight, where Captaine Porter, ye Repulse where my lord Haruie & ye Vauntgard where Colonel Burgh were reddie to receiue him ffrom Sir Iohn Burghs ship he went directly to shoare, where his Coach attended to carrie him to Browne Downe to view the troope of Horse, being as well pleased as might be expected in my lords absence: which I could wish might not be long, for although Sir Daniel Nortons howse be as pleasant a seate as most are in these parts, yet I vnderstand by some of ‸⸢my⸣ lords friends yat it growes tedious to ye King thorow my lords absence. The ships yat brought the armes about are come about & ye armes deliuered. The deputacion for Martiall lawe Sir Iohn Burgh hath & my man by his directions is writing of Copies to be distributed to those yat are named in ye deputacion He sayes there are not officers enow ioyned in Comission by virtew of ye deputacion, for he would haue all the Officers in ye armie namd in it, from ye Colonel to ye auncient which I tell him if his mind had beene knowne might haue beene, & may yet easily be done by transcribing of ye deputacion upon my lords Coming downe & thus with my Cosen Masons & my hearty remembrance of our loue vnto yow I cease to be farther troublsome vnto yow & rest in hast

Your assured loving friend
& servant (signed) R Mason
  • Marginalia
    • Portsmouth 11 June 1627

      [Footnote: 1627: underlined in MS]

  • Footnotes
  • Glossed Terms
    • cund v pr conduct, steer; here used intransitively to refer to a ship's capacity to be steered rightly [OEDO cond | cund v]
    • lynd adj lined, used here to indicate that a rudder is equipped with new lines(?)
  • Endnote

    'Captaine Porter' is Thomas Porter (William Liard Clowes, The Royal Navy: a History from the Earliest Times to the Present. Vol II (London, Sampson Low, Marston, and Co., 1898), 65), brother of Endymion Porter (Dorothea Townsend, Life and Letters of Mr. Endymion Porter (London: T.F. Unwin, 1897), 10, 124).

  • Document Description

    Record title: Letter of Robert Mason to Edward Nicholas
    Repository: TNA
    Shelfmark: SP 16/66/67
    Repository location: Kew

    In June 1627 England was making preparations to send a sizeable fleet under the command of the duke of Buckingham to La Rochelle on the French coast, to relieve the Huguenots besieged there by French forces directed by Cardinal Richelieu. On 11 June, the date of this letter, Buckingham was still in London, although King Charles had left for Portsmouth a week earlier to inspect the fleet. Captain Robert Mason, one of the duke's secretaries, thus wrote this letter describing the king's activities at Portsmouth to another of Buckingham's secretaries, Edward Nicholas. The king was accompanied at Portsmouth by a considerable group of nobles, many of whom would be joining Buckingham on the expedition to La Rochelle. Among them was the count of Soubise, one of the leaders of the Huguenot rebellion, who had come to England to plead for the king's aid against Richelieu and Louis XIII. Also in the party were Buckingham's father-in-law, the earl of Rutland; his brother-in-law, the earl of Denbigh; the lord steward, the earl of Pembroke; the lord chamberlain, the earl of Montgomery; and the earl of Carlisle (Roger Lockyer, Buckingham: The Life and Political Career of George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham 1592–1628 (London and New York, 1981), 370–5). The king stayed at Southwick House, Sir Daniel Norton's residence a mile north of Portsmouth, but the entertainment provided by Archie the fool and Buckingham's musicians appears to have taken place during a meal on board one of the ships. The fool, Archibald Armstrong, had also accompanied Charles to Portsmouth four years earlier when then Prince Charles embarked for Spain to try to negotiate a Spanish match for himself.

    1627; English; paper; bifolium; 306mm x 210mm; originally unnumbered; no decoration, remains of red seal on f [2v]; fair condition, right side of both folios repaired but very minor loss of letters; originally folded twice and addressed on f [2v]: 'To my very worthye friend Mr | Edward Nicolas Esquire secretarie | to ye Duke of Buckinghams | his Grace at Buckingham | howse these,' now mounted on a binding strip, stamped 86 and bound in a volume, in a grey board binding, blue leather corners and spine, with other miscellaneous state papers domestic for Charles I, title on red leather label on spine: '[rule] | DOMESTIC | CHARLES.I | [rule] 1627 | JUNE 1–13 | [rule].'

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