T. Grigges to Sir John Paston, 2nd February 1489

15/16th Century
Location of Original:
British Library

To the Right Honorable Sir John Paston, Knyght, be this delyverid.

Right reverent and honorable, after the ordre of all diew recommendacion had, I recomaunde me un to your maistership. Sir, it is so that John Talyour of Brytcham, debite [_deputy_] in your office of Th’admirallite, was with me this mornyng to have myn advyce in this mater folowyng, the whiche is this.

There was taken ageyns Thornham, in the Kynges streeme, leyng ij. fadam and an halff depe upon the see, a whalle fyssh, by Thornham men labouryng all nyght on Sunday nyght last was, and so have slayn it, and brought to lande; upon the whiche your said debite hath ben ther as yister day, and seysed my lordes part therof; wherof the puple was glad it shuld so be. Than John a Lowe was there, and he seyd to your debite that he wold have the Kynges part in this wise, that the Kyng and my lord shuld part the halff. Sir, the lawe cyvylle seyth thus, ‘If any fyssh ryall be founde on the se, that is to say, _whalle, bales, sturgion, porpeys, or gra[m]peys_, that my Lord Admyrall shall have the halvendele,’ &c.

I thynke my lord[116-1] hath the Kynges prerogatyff upon the see, the whiche I remytte to your discrecion, &c.

Sir, by lyklyhode, without ye take hede and send thedir som of youres, my lordes part shall be litill. It is a greet fissh and a ryall; your debite sheweth me it is xj. fadam and more of length, and ij. fadam of bygnes and depnes in the mydde fyssh.

Sir, remembre what ye have to do; there came not suche a casualte in your tyme of your office, &c. Wherfore this, by th’enfourmacion of your sayd debite, cause me to wryte un to you this sympill bille, praying you to pardone me of the writyng, for it was don in hast; and this bille I sent to Willyam Brykkes your servant, to Matelask, by masse tyme, to brynke it to you. And this day they purpose to breke it. Do hereyn now as it please you, and Allmighti God have you and all youres in Hese kepyng; besechyng you that this symple bille may recomaunde my pouer wiff un to your maistershipp.

Wretyn on Candilmas Day, in hast, at Welles.



As the letter explains, a whale was a valuable prize, providing both food and oil. The King, through his local representatives would be entitled to benefit from such a catch or stranding. In this case John Paston was the King's representative for most of the Norfolk coastline.

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