By Dan Spencer
This week commissions were granted to the masters of ships and for the muster of soldiers going to Ireland.
On 26 January 1415, a commission was given to John Melksop, master of the Cok John, (owned by Richard Cliderowe), as well as to Nicholas Dalton, master of the Trinity of London, and to Perin de Gargh, master of the Petre de Bayon (a small vessel known as a balinger), to take sailors for the king’s service. In this period the number of royal ships owned by the king was too small to provide enough vessels for overseas expeditions. Instead private ships were hired or (much more commonly) impressed into service to make up the great bulk of the fleet necessary to transport thousands of men and horses to France. Royal agents would be sent into ports with powers to arrest vessels and crews (as we will see over the course of the year). There was often hostility displayed towards these officials, with two sergeants-at-arms forced to take refuge in a barn in Wells in Norfolk in 1380. These demands by the king often placed a heavy burden on local communities, with the wages of sailors in royal service often in arrears and with ship owners running the risk of losing their valuable vessels in war. A small number of additional ships were provided by the federation of the Cinque Ports for fifteen days service.
Later this week, on 1 February, a commission was granted to Nicholas Calton and Richard Cliderowe, esquire, to take the muster of 150 men-at-arms, 300 archers and 360 mariners for the safeguard of the sea under the command of Gilbert, Lord Talbot (brother of the John Talbot serving in Ireland), in the port of London and elsewhere.
This information came from Calendar of the Patent Rolls 1413-1416, pp. 293-4; J. W. Sherborne, ‘The Hundred Years’ War. The English Navy: Shipping and Manpower’, Past & Present, 37 (1967), pp. 164-5
Image of a modern reproduction of a medieval cog, taken from Wikpedia under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5 Generic Licence, author VollwertBIT