Extracts from an inventory of goods taken from the Neptune of Emden by Sir John Hawkins, 1590, Catalogue Ref: HCA 30/840/171 f.386-389.
Take a look at this list of goods, also known as an inventory. This inventory was used in the High Court of Admiralty as part of a collection of papers called the Prize Papers.
The Prize Papers are a collection of documents that were found on ships immediately after they were captured by an enemy during wartime. These include documents such as bills, inventories, and accounts. These would be used as evidence in the Admiralty Court to determine whether the ship and its goods were ‘lawful’ prize that could be kept by the people who captured it, or whether it had to be returned to its enemy.
Sir John Hawkins was a famous English trader and was son of the famous slave trader and explorer, who went by the same name. John Hawkins took many Spanish ships as Prize during England’s War with Spain (1585-1604). Many of these Spanish ships contained cargoes of goods which had been grown in Brazil. These goods were then taken back to England. This document concerns the Prize goods that were taken from the ship The Neptune by an English captain Sir John Hawkins.
|Sugar loaves:||Weight:||Currency: Reals (Portuguese)||Currency: lbs (English)|
This part of the document is mathematical working which converts Portuguese Reals to English pounds:
Total: 55 Chests of Sugar
Worth in total 899 Reals
A chest of marmalade is worth 12 pounds 13 shillings
A pound of Madera loaf sugar is worth 16 Stuivers (Dutch currency),
The 155 chests of sugar containing in weight 899 Reals make approximately in total:
2277 pounds 17 shillings and 3 pence.
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- What words can you understand in the real document?
- What goods did the English take from the ship?
- Why do you think the English need to convert the value of the goods from Portuguese Reals to English pounds?
- How much is a chest of marmalade worth?
- How many chests of sugar were taken in total?
- At the time this document was written, £1 was the equivalent of £172 in today’s money. Do you think this Prize capture was worth a lot of money?
- Use The National Archives currency converter to work out how much 77 pounds, 11 shillings, and 3 pence is worth in today’s money.
- How does this document differ from the written documents you have seen so far?