To the Right Honorable THE COMMONS Assembled in PARLIAMENT: The humble Petition and Representation of divers well-affected Masters and Commanders of Ships;

Sheweth,

THat as in Judgment and Conscience (being thereunto induced by the solemn Declarations of this Honourable House) they at first did, and still do, contribute their Estates, and adventure their lives, for the preservation of the Parliaments honor, so they also expected the securing of the peoples just Rights and Liberties.

That, contrary to the said Declarations, and their own Expectations, they have found such practises promoted of late days, as hath not only wounded the Parliaments honor, and made them become odious in the eyes of many of the Nation, but also (instead of Freedom and Preservation, so solemnly promised to the People) slavery and oppression is entaild to them and their posterity, as the only price of that blood and treasure so freely lent and expended in the late War.

That as Seamen have not had the least share in contributing their Estates, and venturing their Lives, for to preserve your honor and their own Freedom, so none hath reaped less benefit, nor found more disrespect nor discouragement from the Parliament then they.

That though they have constantly paid Customs, which were ordained and granted for no other end but that the Seas might be guarded by a competent number of Ships for the advancing of Trade, and encouragement of those men which should venture their Estates in a Merchandizing way to support the several Manufactures of the Nation; as appears by many Statutes, especially that of the 1. of King James, Chap. 33. Yea though as an Additional Charge we have paid Excise also; yet we have found our selves wholly neglected and oppressed, and the Seas worse guarded then ever, no Convoy being allowed to secure our ships and goods in their passage to the Netherlands, or France, by reason whereof Your Peti­tioners are almost utterly ruined.

That for want of provision herein Merchants daily refuse to ship their goods with us, and choose rather to ship them in Dutch Bottoms, whom they say have a constant Convoy, and can set sail at a day, then with us, who they say must (to the loss of their markets) stay in the Downs till a Convoy be ready; for which cause several goods hath been several times taken from abord us, and shipt with Hollanders, so that hereby the Dutch have engrossed all the Trade from the English, to the great prejudice of this Nation, and to the im­poverishing of many hundred families, whose livelyhoods depend thereon.

That we find our real and constant adherence to the Parliament hath added in a great measure to our misery; for such is the Malignancy of many Merchants, that they refuse to employ us because we have been active in supporting your Interest in the Navy, especially in assisting the Earl of Warwick in the making up the present Fleet; for which we receive many reproaches, nay, assaults and affronts, not only to the detriment of our names, but hazard of our lives, by evil affected persons; so that unless this honorable House be pleased to take us into timely consideration, we are like not only to be exposed to want and misery, but also to be necessitated to fly to the prime Laws of Nature for refuge, and to abandon those (whose hands we have strengthened hitherto with hopes of p [...]eservation thereby) who had a power but not wills to relieve us, and become servants to other Nations, who will doubtless suffer us to reap some fruit of our labour, if we be instrumental in the increase and support of their glory.

We are sensible, though willing to forget the great oppressions we lie under by Monopolies and restraint of Trade; the illegal Liberty taken, and countenanced in Merchants shipping Goods in Forraign Bottoms, contrary to several Statutes, especially 2 Rich. 2. chap. 3. 14 Rich. 2. chap. 6. 1 Eliz. chap. 13. &c.

The rigorous exaction of Customs and Excise, even of the poorest Seamen, and vexatious proceedings of Committees thereupon, to the total disheartening of all Seamen; where­by our Trade at Sea, which was wont to be the glory of the Nation, is now totally lost, and many thousands which lived comfortably thereon, and were serviceable to the Common-wealth, are either forced to abandon England, and serve in other Countries, or else apply themselves to some other way of Living to maintain their Families.

If therefore there yet be any bowels of Compassion remaining in you toward a distressed, yea almost destroyed people, let some yernings of spirit be speedily manifested: and as an evidence thereof we desire.

That since the Hollander hath almost engrossed all the Trade at Sea, and now absolutely refuseth to grant Convoys to the English as heretofore; and forasmuch as thereby our Trade is wholy destroyed, some Merchants not daring, and others absolutely refusing to ship their Goods with us, for want hereof; and several quantities of fine goods being now in the Netherland, which cannot be brought home (being now, not only denyed a Convoy by the Dutch; but also express command given to their Convoyers that none of them shall take any English Ships into their protection) although some English Ships have waited there this three moneths for the same.

That therefore this House would be pleased to appoint four or five fitting ships to serve as constant Convoys to guard our shipping from Gravesend into the Ports in the Netherlands and France, and return back with others homeward bound: That being the constant order of the Hollander, by which means their Trade is increased, and they mightily enriched. That this House will prevent that necessity which must (if not removed) occasion an estrangement of our affections and assistance toward you. That as soon as may be all Monopolies and restraint of Trade be removed, and some way taken to prevent the shipping of Goods in Forraign Bottoms, to the end that Trade may again be restored, and the Glory of the Nation preserved.

And Your Petitioners shall pray, &c.

This Petition being presented by several Masters and Commanders of Ships, the honorable House of Commons after the reading thereof made two Orders to this effect: Die Lunae, 11 September 1648.

Ordered by the Commons assembled in Parliament, That it be referred to the Committee of Complaints to receive the particular grievances complained of by the Petitioners, and that they Report them to this House.

Ordered that a Reference be sent unto the Lord Admirall, to the end that a constant Convoy may be provided to Guard the Merchants Ships, for the advance of the Trade of the Nation.

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