Canon Diggens Archive

Foreign trespassers.

A generation before The Spanish Armada (1588) it was the habitual practice of foreign fishermen to trespass in our waters. Five hundred Dutch boats fished in the North Sea off our shores together with a hundred French poaching craft.

Three hundred Spanish boats bore away the fish from Irish waters, and the South Coast of Cornwall was beset by Frenchmen who carried off hake, pilchards and pollack.

In The Record Office, July 17, 1591, is Elizabeth's Mandate "That no more Fumadoes (Cornish for fair maids) be prepared so that the Queen's ennemeys might not be supplied with provisions, and be able to remain on the coast." At that date Pilchards yielded £16.0,0. per ton in the Straits to the merchants.
Jour. Roy. Inst. Vol 13. page 14.

1629. Calendar State Papers. Charles I.

Petition of Sir William Irving to the King on September 27 last in the parish of St. Keverne near Falmouth.

A French Man of War was cast away and forsaken by her crew. Four men at the hazard of their lives took possession of her in the King's name but were expelled by a company of disordered people, who spoiled the ship and embezzled her ordnance and appurtenances, and so petition to Sir John Killigrew and Hichard Erisey to seize all articles which belonged to her. The King granted the petitioner, his humble servant.

Whitehall 1627. Feb. 10.
1636. Parochial History of Cornwall.   Thurston Peter.

July.   The Justices of Cornwall reported to the King a complaint from East and West Looe that about two months since three barks of their town while fishing on the coast had been taken by the Turks (i.e. Algerine pirates) and twenty seven persons were taken into captivity, The seamen could not follow their pursuit, and sixty vessels and 200 seamen were without employment. They add, that these Turks show themselves daily at St. Keverne, Mount's Bay and other places,

A letter of 30 Dec. 1657 from Ed. Fortescue and another to the King suggests that local smugglers were in league with the pirates.

Cal. State Papers. Domestic. Charles I.
June 20th 1656. His Majesty's Fort. Nr. Plymouth.

Examination of Richard Plummer, Master of barge of Plymouth called the Mercury.

On Wednesday night last he sailed in said barge out of Plymouth with 5 others to St. Keverne, Cornwall, and arrived there on Thursday morning where he heard it credibily reported with sorrowful complaint and lamentable tears of women and children that on the 15th inst. 5 fisher boats belonging to St. Keverne and 5 others from Helston, 1 more from Mollans and about 50 men in them being on coast fishing near Blackhead between Falmouth and Lizard, not 5 leagues from shore were taken by The Turks who carried both men and boats away. During time aboard at St. Keverne from Thursday to Sabbath day following no news heard of men or boats, so goes for absolute truth thereabouts they were surprised by Turks and carried away.

Gen. Sessions. Place. Bodmin.

Turks daily show themselves at St. Keverne, Mount's Bay. Poor fishermen are fearful not only to go to sea but likewise lest these Turks should come on shore and take them out of their houses.