A legal complaint made by Sir Richard Strode about ‘ship money’, August 1639
(Catalogue ref: SP 16/427/32)
This is part of a letter written by Sir Richard Strode. He claimed that ship money (a kind of tax) and other taxes which Charles I raised in the 1630s were illegal.
The letter is one of several documents in the State Papers that complain about ship money. Richard Strode was certainly not alone in his complaint. About 30% of the ship money charged was unpaid by the people.
Charles I ruled from 1629-40 without calling Parliament. This period was known as the Personal Rule. Kings could not normally go this long without talking to Parliament. They usually ran short of money and new taxes had to be approved by Parliament. However, Charles hated working with MPs. He tried to get the money he needed by collecting taxes like ship money and tallage (a tax on landowners).
Ship money was supposed to be paid by counties near the coast. It was supposed to be paid in times of emergency to raise money for the navy to protect the country. However, from 1635 Charles I started collecting ship money every year. He also started collecting it from all counties, not just coastal counties.
There was a lot of opposition to ship money and other taxes. Richard Strode was a long-term opponent of the tax. He appears in government records in 1631, 1635, 1637 and 1639 complaining about ship money.
Opponents of Charles’s taxes had three main complaints: