A True Description of His Majesties Royall Ship, Built this Yeare 1637. at Wooll-witch in KENT. To the great glory of our English Nation, and not paraleld in the whole Christian World.

Quæ freat jam Circum Cingunt regalia Regna
Deberi Sceptris
Carole seifto tuis,
Auspieijs macte ergo bonis invicte Monarcha
Parcere subiectis, perge, Domare feros.

Published by Authoritie.


Printed for Iohn Okes, for Iohn Aston, and are to bee sold at his shop in Cat-eaten-streete at the signe of the Buls-head. Anno 1637.

A True Description of His Majesties Royall Ship built this Yeare 1637, at Wolwitch in KENT, &c.

Navigation is as ancient, as the first great Deluge, and the Arke, which God Almighty commanded to be made, the first Vessell that was ever lifted upon the Waters. For as before the Earth was unplowed, so were the Seas unfurrowed. One Ship at once contained all the living people of the World, but now what a multitude of Ships doth the World containe? The first, had neyther Mast, Saile, nor Oare, for what need was of these, or any of them; when He who made the Seas and the Winds, was both Pilot and Steares-man? Noah, the first Navigator entered the Arke, in the yeare from the Creation, 1656. In the second month, and the seventeenth day thereof, when he himselfe was six hundred yeares in age. His voyage was a full solary yeare, which containeth twelve Lunary Moneths, to which are added ten dayes, called Epactae. For so long he floated upon the Waters, ere he set footing upon the Earth. The Arke, after the Flood was somewhat abated (according to the testimony of Muses), first rested upon the Mountaines of Ararat, which the best Cosmographes held to be Montes Gordaei the Gordaean Mountaines, which have their scituation in Armenia.

Before I come to give you a true and exact dimension of her Bulke, burden, &c. it is necessary that I make some satisfaction to the world concerning those Decorements which beautifie and adorne her, and to render a faire account of mine owne invention and fancy concerning the carving worke, the figures, and Mottoes upon then, which some perhaps have too liberally taxed: Thus therefore to any who have formerly either doubted of their property, or are at this present desirous to understa d their imagined obscurity, I thus freely deliver my selfe.

Upon the Beak-head sitteth royall King Edgar on horse-back, trampling upon seven Kings: now what hee was, and who they were, I shall briefly relate unto you, rendering withall a full satisfactory reason to any unpartiall reader, why they are there, and in that manner placed.

This Edgar was the second sonne of King Edmund, who having reigned two yeeres over the Mercians and Northumbers, in the dayes of Edwin his elder Brother, at sixteene yeeres of age, was by an unanimos consent elected to secceed in all his Dominions: being indeed the first that could truely write himselfe an absolute Monarch of this Island; for there were divers Reguli in those times, who were small Kings, and had absolute Dominion over divers Provinces.

I shall not need to tell you how, or into what parts this Land was divided, let it suffice to know so much onely: That hee by his valour made himselfe sole Soveraigne, and all the rest were his Liegemen and Tribuaries. The entire Monarchy, and all the royall Titles of the Kingdome, falling under his Scepter.

Hee was the Thirteenth King from Brute, and though a great Souldier, as may appeare by his many battailes and victories, yet the Chronologers of those times gave him the victories, yet the Chronologers of those times gave him the Characters of Just, and Peaceable; for that is the true end of Warre, to prepare and confirme a constant and setled peace.

He was first crowned at Kingstone upon Thames, by Otho Arch-bishop of Canterbury, in the yeere of our Redemption, according to Fabian, and others, 940. in the fifth yeere of Lotharius King of France, and yet not admitted for absolute King till twelve yeeres after, when he was againe crowned, and annointed in the City of Bath by Dunstane, Arch-bishop of Canterbury, and Oswald, Arch-bishop of Yorke. The cause why his annointing was so long delay'd, (as the most write) was by reason the King grew much inamored of a beauteous Virgin call'd Wilfryd, who to avoyd his many temptations, put on her selfe the habite of a Nunne, who notwithstanding was at length brought to the Kings Bed, for which act he was by Bishop Dunstane enjoyned seven yeeres pennance, &c.

Concerning those Kings whom you may perceive to lye prostate under his Horses hoofes, they were Kynadus King of the Scots; Malcolme, King of Cumberland; and of the petty Kings of Wales, Dufnall, Grifith, Huval, Jacob, Judithil. He moreover surprised by Sea a Prince of the Romans, whose name was Maxentius, who had done many out-rages upon the Ocean, and was the greatest Arch-pirate that those times afforded. He also compelled Ludwallus, prime Prince and King of Cambria, which is Wales, (because he would have all the ravenous and damageous beasts to be destroyed through his Land) to pay unto him yearely by way of tribute, three hundred Wolves skinnes: by reason whereof within the space of foure yeares after, in England, or Wales, both which (but especially Wales) who before were miserably infested with that kind of beast, there was scarcely to be found one Woolfe alive: and so much for the Princes over which he had sole dominion.

King Edgars Navy

His Navy Royall consisted of three thousand and six hundred Ships, (such as they ysed in those dayes) yet not any of them but serviceable either for Fight, or bearing victuall, and munition, to furnish the Navy, which hee divided into three parts, appointing to every of them a severall Squadron: and this hee did to secure Navigators, from Enemies and Sea-Rovers, as also from all other neighbour Princes who might challende any interest in these our foure Seas. And therefore every Spring and Summer, he in person sayled with those in the East-parts, to them that lay hovering in the West. And sending them backe againe with their charge, would with the West quadrant, saile into the North, and after with the Northerne fleeth compasse into the East, by which the Maine Ocean rounding those Islands, of which he was sole Prince and Monarch, being at his only charge, both quited and secured, he did (as justly he might) write himselfe Lord of the Foure Seas. And therefore his sacred Majesty, claiming this unquestionable Title from Him, and being his true and undoubted Successour, and this claime being this thousand and odd yeares not any way controversied. I do not see but this Motto, Ab Edgaro quatuor Maria vindico, may genuinly to Him be approbriated, and to Him alone. But if any man shal either maliciously or peevishly make the least scruple of this His Majesties just and undoubted challenge? Let them but read Polidore Virgill, Guido, Ranulphus Hidgim in his Polycronicon, Gulielmus Malmsbury, Florentius, Landulphus, Marianus, Hovedaine, harding, Mathew Paris, Mathew of Westminster, Froysart, Fabian, Holinshed, Speed, &c. (all of them Authentick and approved Chronologers,) and hee shall fine that they al agree and consent in this Musicall Harmonie.

And as they comply in the premisses, whosoever shall truely examine them shall finde also also that they differ not at all in the subsequence, which (as in the former) I study brevity, namely, That being at Chester, he provided him selfe of a most Princely Barge, which was to be rowed with Oares, which were silvered all over, with which hee entered into the River Dee, and sitting at the Sterne, tooke the charge of the Helme, and caused eight of the before-named Contributary Kings to rowe him up and downe the River, unto the Church of Saint Johns, from, and unto his Palace distant three miles, to let the World know that Hee was Lord and King of so many provinces.

His Religion

For his religion; he favoured Churchmen above all the Princes before him, and gave to them great immunities and priviledges; building and reparing no lesse than threescore decayed Churches, and Monasteries, within the compasse of sixteene yeeres; (for hee reigned no longer)

His Justice

For his Justice; he used such rigor, yet intermixed with mercy, that never before his dayes was used lesse oppression and robbery.

His Temperance

For his Temperance; hee was of such contiuency, that when the Danes, who were then frequent in the Land, had brought in drunken healths, to the evill example and hurt of his Commons and Subjects, he made a Law, and ordayned certaine Cups of severall sizes, with pinnes and nayles driven into them, and whosoever drank past that marke or pin, was to forfeit a certaine peece of money, whereof one halfe fell to the Accuser, and the other halfe to the Bayliffe, or governour of that Burrough, to distribute to the use of the poore, but nothing to his owne private use or benefit.

His Valour

Concerning his particular valour, it is further thus reported of him: One of those subjected Kings, whom the History calleth Kinadus, a very personable and proper Gentleman, and of a strong and able constitution, rowing upon the River, when King Edgar himselfe, (being but of a low stature, and as wee phrase it a middle-siz'd man) steered the Barge, whispered to him who sate next him, and sayd, Observe you not the insolence and pride of this Dwarfe, whom Fortune, not Valour hath raised to his Eminence? I vow, if I had him singly, and alone in the field, I would cut him into peeces, and eate him after. This being told the King, he seemed to take no further notice thereof, than to say, That losers had liberty to speake freely; and no question but hee was able to performe as much as he had boasted: neither did hee once change his countenance upon him who had thus threatned him, but calling one of his owne servants unto him whom he most trusted, commanded him to provide two swords of equall size and fashion, suitable to his strength, and such as hee was well able to weild: which done, he layd them aside, and the next day he invited Kinadus to a Feast, and gave him more than ordinary welcome. Much familiar discourse past betweixt tehm, and more than custome. Dinner being ended, the King desired him to walke abroad, and take the ayre; to which the other willingly assented, neither of them having more than one servant to attend tehm; All the way they enterchanged pleasant discourse, till at length comming to a Grove, King Edgar commanded those who then waited upon them, to retire, and leave them.

When entring the Thicket, and finding a convenient place fit for a single Duell, Edgar drew from under his garment those two Swords, and desired Kinadus to take the choice of them, saying unto gim, Wee are now single, and alone; now proove thy courage with mine, and let us try which of us is most worthy to be subject to the other: It becommenth not any generous spirit to boast that in private, which hee will not make good in the Field: Here I am according to thy wishes, first cut me into peeces if thou canst, and then I will give thee leave to eate me at thy pleasure. Which having spoken, hee distanc'd himselfe from him, and bravely stood upon his guard; which the other perceiving, and knowing that hee was guilty of that language, withall, seeing the very fire of Anger sparkling in his eyes, he also out of an enterchangable brave humour began to meditate, and consider with himselfe, both how unadvisedly he had spoke, and how contrary to the condition of so great and heroick a spirit: therefore casting his sword away, he desired to imbrace him, and sayd, Now I perceive O Royall King Edgar, it is thy true valour, and not thy fortune hath made us thy Tributaries, and thou art not onely worthy to Empire over us onely, but all the Kings of the Earth. I will alwayes weare a Sword to draw on thy party; but against thee, or those who love thee, never. Which unexpected Answer King Edgar so accepted, that betweene them two there was an indissoluble League of Love confirmed after.

My purpose is not to enter into a large discourse of his noble Acts and Atcheivements; what I have done, is onely to give the World a true and authentick expression, that whatsoever his sacred Majesty challengeth concerning his absolute Title claimeth from this King Edgar, being his true and lawfull hereditary Successor: but if any be desirous to be more fully informed concerning his Majesties Title, I referre him to learned Mr. Sheldon, in that exquisite and absolute worke of his called Mare Clausum, I have met with an Epitaph writ upon this King Edgars Tombe, By one Henricus Historiographus in old Englihs, which I thus deliver unto you.

Ayder of the poore, and punisher of trespasse;
The giver of worship, King Edgar is now gone
To the kingdom of Heaven, which like to praise was
As Salomon, that for wisdom above all shone:
A father of peace, a Lyon to his Fone.
Founder of Temples, and of Monks strong Patron;
Oppressor of all wrong, and of Justice Guardon.

I began at the Beak-head, where I desire you to take notice, that upon the stemme-head there is Cupid, or a Child resebling him, bestriding, and bridling a Lyon, which importeth, that sufferance may curbe Insolence, and Innocence restraine violence; which alludeth to the great mercey of the King, whose Type is a proper Embleme of that great Majesty, whose Mercy is above all his Workes.

On the Bulk-head right forward, stand six severall Statues in sundry postures, their Figures representing Consilium, that is, Counsell: Cura, that is, Care: Conamen, that is, Industry, and unanimous indeavour in one compartment: Counsell holding in her hand a closed or folded Scrole; Care a Sea-compasse; Conamen, or Industry, a Lint-stock fired. Upon the other, to correspond with the former, Vis, which implyth force, or strength; handing a Sword. Virtus, or Vertue, a sphearicall Globe; and Victoria, or Victory, a wreath of Lawrell. The Morall is, that in all high Enterprizes there ought to be first Counsell, to undertake; the Care, to manage; and Industry, to performe: and in the next place, where there is ability and strength to oppose, and Vertue to direct, Victory consequently is alwayes at hand ready to crowne the undertaking.

Upon the Hances of the waste are foure Figures with their severall properties: Jupiter riding upon his Eagle, with his Trisulk (from which hee darteth Thunder) in his hand: Mars with his Sword and Target, a Foxe being his Embleme: Neptune with his Sea-horse, Dolphin, and Trident: and lastly Aeolus upon a Camelion (a beast that liveth onely by the Ayre) with the foure Windes, his Ministers or Agents, the East, call'd Eurus, Subsolanus, and Apeliotes: the North-winde, Septemtrio, Aquilo, or Boreas: the West, Zephyrus, Favonius, Lybsm and Africus: the South, Auster, or Notus.

I come now to the Sterne, where you shall perceive upon the upright of the upper Counter, standeth Victory in the middle of a Frontispiece, with this generall Motto, Validis incumbite remis: It is so plaine, that I shall not need to give it any English interpretation: Her wings are equally disply'd; on one Arme she weareth a Crowne, on the other a Laurell, which imply Riches and Honour: in her two hands she holdeth two Mottoes; her right hand, which pointeth to Jasonm beares this Inscription, Nava, (which word howsoever by some, and those not the least opinionated of themselves, mistaken) was absolutely extermin'd, and excommunicated from all Grammaticall Construction, any, Jurisdiction; for they would not allow it to be Verbe, or Adverbe, Substantive, nor Adjective: and for this I have not onely behind my back bin challenged, but even Viva voce taxed, as one that had writ at randum, and that which I understood not. But to give the world a plenary satisfaction, and that it was rather their Criticisme, than my ifnorance, I intreate thee Reader, but to examine Riders last Edition of his Dictionary, corrected, and greatly augmented by Mr. Francis Holy-oke, and he shall there read Navo, navas, (and therefore consequently nava in the Imperative Mood) ex navus, [Greek] that is, to imploy with all ones power, to act, to ayde, to helpe, to indeavour with all diligence and industry; and therefore not unproperly may Victory point to Lason, being figured with his Oare in his hand, as being the prime Argonaut, and say Nava, or more plainely, Operam nava; for in those Emblematicall Mottoes quod subintelligitur, non deest. Shee pointeth to Hercules on the sinister side, with his club in his hand, with this Mottto, Clava; as if she should say, O Hercules, be thou as valiant with thy Club upon the Land, as Jason is industrious with his Oare upon the Water. hercules againe pointing to Aeolus, the god of Windes, saith Flato; who answereth him againe, Flo: Jason pointing to Neptune, the god of the Seas, (riding upon a Sea-horse) saith Faveto; to whom Neptune answereth, No: These words Flo, and No, were also much excepted at, as if there had beene no such Latine words, till some better examining their Grammar Rules found out Flo, flas, flavi, proper to Aeolus, and No, nas, navi, to Neptune, &c.

In the lower Counter of the Sterne, on either side of the Helme is this Inscription,

Qui mare, qui fluctus, ventos, naves[que] gubernat,
Sospitet hanc Arcam
Carole magne tuam.

Thus Englisht:

He who Seas, Windes, and Navies doth protect,
Great Charles, thy great Ship in her course direct.

There are other things in this Vessell worthy remarke, at least, if not admiration; namely, that one Tree, or Oake made foure of the principall beames of this great Ship, which was Forty foure foote of strong and serviceable Timber in length, three foote Diameter at the top, and Ten foot Diameter at the stubbe or bottome.

Another, (as worthy of especiall Observation is) that one peece of Timber which made the Kel-son, was so great, and weighty, that 28. Oxen, and 4. Horses with much difficulty drew it from the place where it grew, and from whence it was cut downe, unto the water-side.

There is one thing above all these, for the World to take especiall notice of, that shee is, besides her Tunnage, just so many Tuns in burden, as their have beene Yeeres since our Blessed Saviours Incarnation, namely, 1637. and not one under, or over: A most happy Omen, which though it was not at the first projected, or intended, is now by true computation found so to happen.

It would bee too tedious to insist upon every Ornament belonging to this incomparable Vessel, yet thus much concerning Her outward appearance, She hath two Galleries of a side, and all of most curious carved Worke, and all the sides of the ship are carved also with Tropies of Artillery and Types of honour, as well belonging to Land as Sea, with Symboles, Emblemes, and Impresses appertaining to the Art of Navigation: as also their two sacred Majesties Badges of Honour, Armes, Eschutchions, &c. with severall Angels holding their Letters in Compartments: all which workes are gilded quite over, and no other but gold and blacke to bee seene about her, and thus much in a succinct way. I have delivered unto you concerning her inward and outward Decorements. I came now to Discribe her in her exact Dimension.

Her Length by the Keele, is 128 foot or there about, within some few inches. Her mayne breadth or widenesse from side to side 48. foote. Her utmost length from the fore-end of the Beake-head, unto the after end of the Sterne, a prora ad puppim 232. foote, she is in height from the bottome of her Keele to the top of her Lanthorne seaventy sixe foote, she beareth five Lanthornes, the biggest of which will hold ten persons to stand upright, and without shouldring or pressing one the other.

She hath three flush Deckes, and a Fore-Castle, an halfe Decke, a quarter Decke, and a round-house. Her lower Tyre hath thirty ports, which are to be furnished with Demy-Cannon and whole Cannon through out, (being able to beare them. Her middle Tyre hath also thirty ports for Demi-Culverin, and whole Culverin: Her third Tyre hath Twentie sixe Ports for other Ordnance, her fore-Castle hath twelve ports, and her halfe Decke hath fourteene ports; She hath thirteene or foureteen ports more within Board for murdering peeces, besides a great many Loope holes out of the Cabins for Musket shot. She carrieth moreover ten peeces of chase Ornance in her, right forward; and ten right aff, that is according to Land-service in the front and the reare. She carrieth eleaven Anchors, one of them weighing foure thousand foure hundred, &c. and according to these are her Cables, Mastes, Sayles, Cordage; which considered together, seeing his Majesty is at this infinite charge, both for the honour of this Nation, and the security of his Kinfdome, it should bee a great spur and incouragement to all his faithful and loving Subjects to bee liberall and willing Contributaries towards the Ship-money.

I come now to give you a particular denomination of the prime Worke-men imployed in this inimitable Fabricke; as first Captayne Phines Pett, Over-seer of the Worke, and one of the principal Officers of his Majesties Navy; whose Ancestors, as Father, Grand-father, and Great-Grand-father, for the space of two hundred yeares and upwards, have continued in the same Name, Officers and Architectures in the Royall Navy; ofwhose knowledge, experience, and judgement, I can not render a merited Character.

The Maister Builded is young M. Peter Pett, the most ingenious sonne of so much improoved a Father, who before he was full five and twenty yeares of age, made the Model, and since hath perfected the Worke. It hath won not onely the approbation but admiration of all men, of whom I may truely say, as Horace did of Argus, that famous Ship-Master, (Who built the great Argo in which the Grecian Princesse Rowed through the Heelspont, to fetch the golden Fleece from Colchos.

Ad Charum Tritonia Devolat Argum,
Moliri hanc puppim iubet

that is, Pallas her selfe flew into his bosome, and not onely injoyn'd to the undertaking, but inspired him in the managing of so exquisite and absolute an Architecture.

Let me not here forget a prime Officer Master Francis Shelton, Clerke of the Checke, whose industry and care, in looking to the Workmen imployed in this Architecture, hath beene a great furtherance to expedite the businesse.

The Master Carvers, are John and Mathias Christmas, and Sonnes of that excellent Workeman Master Gerard Christmas, some two yeeres since deceased, who, as they succeed him in his place, so they have striv'd to exceed him in his Art: the Worke better commending them than my Pen is any way able, which putteth me in minde of Martiall, looking upon a Cup most curiously Carved.

Quis labor in phiala? Docti Mios? anne Mironis?
Mentoris an manus est? an Polyclete tua?

What Labour's in this curious Bowle?
Was't thine ˘ Myus tell?
Myrons? Mentors? or Polyclets?
He that can carve so well.

And I make no question, but all true Artists can by the view of the Worke, give a present nomination of the Workmen.

The Master-Painters, Master Joyner, Master Calker, Master Smith, &c. all of them on their severall faculties being knowne to bee the orime Workmen of the Kingdome, selectedly imployd in this Service.

Navis vade, undae fremitum posuere minaces,
Et Freta Tindaridae spondent secura gemelli,
Dessuetam iubent pelago decurre
Auster et optatas afflabit molliter auras.

Thomas Heywood: A True Description of His Majesties Royall Ship, Built this Yeare 1637. at Wooll-witch in Kent. To the great glory of our English Nation, and not paraleld in the whole Christian World.
Printed by Iohn Okes for Iohn Aston, London, 1637.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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Copyright © 1997 Lars Bruzelius.