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Little John the mariner (record texts)

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-03-08. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-04-21.

That the records listed below all refer to one and the same Little John is quite clear from the following table of facts and associations:

Year
Ship's
master
Piracy
Arrest/
prison
Associated with
1312 Richard atte Wose
1313 William le Fisshere
1315-07-22 Richard atte Wase; William le Fisshere; John Mot; Thomas Springot
1315-10-08 (✓)[1] Richard de la Woses; William le Fissher; John Mot; Richard Golde
1316-07-21 Richard Golde, Roger Catur
1316-09-24 Richard Golde; Thomas Sprynget; Roger Catour
1317 (?)[2]
1323 (✓)[3] Roger Catour; Cokkus atte Wose
1324
1325-05-27 Richard atte Wose; Roger le Catour
1325-12-31 (✓)[1] Catour, mariner; Cok' atte Wose, mariner


Six of the records refer to Little John as master of one of the king's ships; two refer to him as a mariner. On the two occasions when he allegedly participates in acts of piracy or privateering, he acts in association with fellow ship's masters and sailors of the royal fleet. The home port of the royal vessels is Westminster according to the records of 1312, 1313, 1316 (both), 1317 and 1324. In the record dated 22 July 1315, our intrepid mariner is referred to as "John Petit of Westminster".

Records relating to Little John the mariner

The following 11 records concern John Little, master of the king's ship:

1312 - Safe conduct to John Petit, master of king's ship

[6 Sep. 1312:]
  Safe conduct, until Christmas, for John Petit, master of the king's ship la James of Westminster, going to divers parts on the king's business.
By K.
  The like for the under-mentioned mariners: Robert Gold, master of the king's ship la l'etre of Westminster; Richard atte Wose, master of the king's ship la Weliwonne.[4]

1313 - Safe conduct to John Petit, master of king's ship

[26 Jul. 1313:]
  Safe-conduct, until Christmas, for Andrew Rosekyn, king's mariner, master of the king's ship called la Godeiere of Westminster, whom the king is sending to Calais on his business.

  The like for the undermentioned mariners, viz.:—
   William le Fisshere, master of the king's ship called la Welifare of Westminster.
   John Petit, master of the king's ship called the James of Westminster.[5]

1315 - John Petit among disobedient mariners

[8 Oct. 1315:]
  Writ de intendendo, under pain of forfeiture, directed to John Mot and his fellow mariners, for Humphrey de Littlebury and John Sturmy, captains and admirals of the king's fleet. The writ was issued in consequence of John Mot and his fellow mariners contemning the commands of the said Humphrey de Littlebury and John Sturmy as captains of the fleet, at which the king was much incensed.
By K. & C.
  The like directed to the under-mentioned mariners, viz.:—
William le Fissher, Luke de London, John Petit, Richard Golde, Richard de la Woses, and their fellow mariners.[6]

1315 - John Petit plunders cargo of Flemish ship

[22 Jul. 1315:]
The like [i.e. a commission of oyer and terminer] to John de Fresingfeld, Richard de Walsingham and Richer de Reefham, on complaint by Ralph Frapaile, John Hungeri (Hungrie), Gervase Waretes' and John Compaile, merchants of Dynaunt in Almain, that, when a ship which they had laden at le Swyn in Flanders with divers wares to take to England was driven ashore near Bromholm, co. Norfolk, and they had taken the goods ashore, John Petit of Westminster, Thomas Springot and Alice his wife, John Springot, John Faireman and Joan his wife, Robert Lenys, John Seitesele, Bartholomew Merke, John Mot, William le Fisshere, John le Fisshere, Richard Eliot, Richard atte Wase, Robert Peverel, Ralph Bruneman, Martin son of Amice, William Ethe and Margery his wife, William Proudefot and Amice his wife, Stephen de Marisco, John Grygge of Houpp, John Belle, Thomas de Hull, Walter 'on Thenesse,' William le Mazoun, Richard Bat, Sweteman Flemyng, Adam Cadeford, John Stane, Richard Oseborn, William Werke and Joan his wife, Letitia Springot and others of the counties of Norfolk and Kent carried away a great part of the said goods.
By K.[7]

1316 - Safe conduct to Little John, master of king's ship

[24 Sep. 1316:]
  Safe-conduct, until Easter, for Richard Golde, master of a ship called 'la Petre' of Westminster, whom the king is sending to Aquitaine for wines to be brought to him to England.
By K.
  The like for the under-mentioned masters, viz.:—
   Thomas Sprynget, master of a ship called 'la Margarete' of Westminster.
   Little John (Parvus Johannes), master of a ship called 'la Michel' of Westminster.
   Roger Catour, master of a ship called 'la Blithe' of Westminster.[8]

1316 - Writ of aid to John le Petit, master of king's ship

[21 Jul. 1316:]
  Writ of aid until the Nativity of St. Mary in impressing mariners to man his ship for Roger Catur, master of a ship of the king called 'la Blie' of Westminster, whom the king is sending with other ships of his to take victuals to the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed for the strengthening thereof.
By K. [p. 520:]
  The like for the under-mentioned masters, viz.:—
   John le Petit, master of the ship called la Michel of Westminster.
   Richard Golde, master of the ship called the ship of St. Peter of Westminster.
   The master of the ship called la Margarete of Westminster.[9]

1317 - John Petit's ship driven ashore and looted

[7 Jan. 1317:]
  Commission of oyer and terminer to Robert Burgilon and John de Fitton touching the persons who forcibly boarded the ship La Michele of Westminster, which the king had laden at London with corn and other victuals and armour, and had sent under John Petit, as master, to the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed for the sustenance of his lieges staying in garrison there, and which on the return voyage had been driven ashore at Stivekeye [co. Norfolk], broke her up when so cast away, broke the chests in her, and carried away the chests, timbers and entire gear, and also the beds, armour, jewels and other goods which were on board her.
By p.s.[10]

1323 - John le Little confiscates ship at Newcastle-on-Tyne

[1323. July 27:]
To the mayor and bailiffs of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Whereas at the complaint of John Vanele and Claisus Hourel of Brugge, merchants of Flanders, that, after the truce lately made between the king's subjects and the men of the count of Flanders until Michaelmas next and proclaimed at Easter last, they and certain of their fellows loaded a ship in Flanders with wine, cloth, wax, and other wares, to the value of 900l., in order to bring the same to Newcastle-on-Tyne, John le Little, Roger Catour, Cokkus atte Wose, and certain others with them entered the ship by force on her voyage thither in the water of Tyne between Tynemuth and Newcastle, on Wednesday before St. George last, and assaulted the men and mariners of the ship, and arrested certain of them with the ship and goods, and delivered them and the ship and a great part of the goods to the aforesaid mayor and bailiffs to be detained under arrest, taking away with them nevertheless a great part of the goods, the king ordered the mayor and bailiffs, if they found the premises to be true, to release the said men and the ship and goods, and the king caused the ship and goods in the possession of the mayor and bailiffs to be delivered to the aforesaid merchants; and the king now understands that the aforesaid Roger and Cokkus have returned to Newcastle; he therefore orders the mayor and bailiffs to arrest the said Roger and Cokkus, and to cause them to be kept under safe custody until the aforesaid merchants have been satisfied for all their goods that came into the possession of Roger and Cokkus.

By K. on the information of Master R. de Baldok.[11]

1324 - John Petit, master of king's ship

[21 Aug. 1324:]

  Safe-conduct for one year, for William Lucas, master of the king's ship called la Cogge Nostre Dame of Westministre, going to divers parts of the realm on the king's business, and power to him to select mariners required for the keeping and governance thereof, but not men other than mariners.

By p.K.

The like for one year for John Petit, master of the king's ship called la Valence of Westminster.

By p.K.[12]

1325 - John le Luttle to be arrested

[27 May 1325:]
Appointment of Simon de Redyng, serjeant at arms, to arrest Richard atte Wose, John le Luttle and Roger le Catour and bring them to Neugate gaol to be delivered to the sheriffs there by indenture.
By K.[13]

1325 - Mariner John Petit released from the Tower

[1325. Dec. 31:]
To the treasurer and barons of the exchequer. Order to cause John Petit, mariner, Catour, mariner, and Cok' atte Wose, mariner, who are imprisoned in the Tower of London, to be released, upon their finding mainpernors that they will not eloign themselves and that they will be always ready at the king's pleasure when summoned in this behalf, so that by this mainprise they may go at large and sue to recover their debts for their discharge. The king has ordered the constable to bring them before the treasurer and barons, and to release them from prison at the order of the treasurer and barons.
By p.s. [7277.]

Mandate in pursuance to the constable. By p.s.[14]

Also see

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Little John described as mariner.
  2. Little John's ship driven ashore and looted. In view of his record, can we rule out entirely the possibility that this was no accident?
  3. Little John mentioned, but only arrest of R. atte Wose and R. le Catour ordered.
  4. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1307-1313 (London, 1894), p. 491.
  5. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Fowler, R.C., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317 (London, 1898), p. 5.
  6. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Fowler, R.C., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317 (London, 1898), p. 356.
  7. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Fowler, R.C., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317 (London, 1898),p. 409.
  8. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Fowler, R.C., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317 (London, 1898), p. 547.
  9. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Fowler, R.C., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317 (London, 1898), pp. 519-20.
  10. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Fowler, R.C., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317 (London, 1898), p. 678.
  11. [Stevenson, W.H., ed.; Woodruff, C.H., index.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Close Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1323–1327 (London, 1898), p. 10.
  12. [Black, J.G., compil.; Isaacson, Robert F., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1324-1327 (London, 1904), p. 14.
  13. [Black, J.G., compil.; Isaacson, Robert F., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1324-1327 (London, 1904), p. 123.
  14. [Stevenson, W.H., ed.; Woodruff, C.H., index.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Close Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1323–1327 (London, 1898), p. 437.