19-25 January 1415: Gerard Sprong and Ships at Hull

Hull 1611 John Speed in The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain

By Dan Spencer

This week saw a petition made by the king’s esquire, Gerard Sprong, and the arresting of ships at Hull.

On 20 January 1415, Roger Salvayn was appointed to take two or three ships for the king’s service in the port of Kingston-upon-Hull and other places. Hull was the main port in the north of England and served as the ‘outport’ for Beverley and York. Ships from Hull traded widely across Western Europe from Iceland in the north to Portugal in the south. One of the major markets was the Low Countries, with its cloth making towns in Flanders, Brabant and Artois, which relied upon imports of English wool. Hull therefore had a large number of ships which Henry V was to draw upon for the expedition to France during the same year.

Three days later Gerard Sprong, in response to his petition to the king, was discharged of responsibility for ordnance which had been damaged or expended in his care. Sprong appears to have been of German or Dutch origin and was appointed by Henry IV by writ of the privy seal on 23 December 1400 to receive guns and other equipment from the Keeper of the Privy Wardrobe, John Norbury. He played an important role in the construction and organisation of the royal artillery, including service in Wales during the rebellion of Owen Glendower as well as in the north of England during the rebellion of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. The petition makes explicit reference to a number of pieces of artillery. This includes one large gun of bronze called Messenger weighing 4,800lbs which broke at the siege of Aberystwyth Castle, and a large gun of iron called King’s Daughter which broke at the siege of Harlech Castle. For further information on Gerard Sprong’s account click here.

This information came from The National Archives, E364/49 Rot. C; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1413-1416, p. 293; Harris Nicolas, Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England: Volume II. (London: Record Commission, 1834), pp. 339-340, available from https://archive.org/stream/proceedingsando02coungoog#page/n419/mode/2up; ‘Medieval Hull’, in A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 1, the City of Kingston Upon Hull, ed. K J Allison (London, 1969), pp. 11-85 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/east/vol1/pp11-85 [accessed 10 December 2014].

Image of Hull in 1611, taken from Wikipedia and is in the Public Domain