Jacob Merrit

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Jacob Merrit
Person Jacob Merrit
First name Jacob
Middle name(s)
Last name Merrit
Spouse of
Widow of
Occupation Waterman
Secondary shorebased occupation
Mariner occupation
Associated with ship(s)
Training Not apprentice
Is apprentice of
Was apprentice of
Had apprentice(s)
Citizen Unknown
Literacy Marke
Has opening text Jacobus Merrit
Has signoff text M
Signoff image (Invalid transcription image)
Language skills English language, Dutch language
Has interpreter
Birth street
Birth parish
Birth town
Birth county
Birth province
Birth country
Res street Limehouse
Res parish Stepney
Res town
Res county Middlesex
Res province
Res country England
Birth year 1608
Marriage year
Death year
Probate date
First deposition age 42
Primary sources
Act book start page(s)
Personal answer start page(s)
Allegation start page(s)
Interrogatories page(s)
Deposition start page(s) HCA 13/63 f.21v Annotate
Chancery start page(s)
Letter start page(s)
Miscellaneous start page(s)
Act book date(s)
Personal answer date(s)
Allegation date(s)
Interrogatories date(s)
Deposition date(s) Apr 3 1650
How complete is this biography?
Has infobox completed Yes
Has synthesis completed No
Has HCA evidence completed No
Has source comment completed No
Ship classification
Type of ship River boat
Silver Ship litigation in 1650s
Role in Silver Ship litigation None

Biographical synthesis

Jacob Merrit (b. ca. 1608; d, ?). Waterman.

"Being a waterman belonging to the River of Thames for these 27 yeares last past".[1]

Resident in Limehouse in the parish of Stepney in 1650.

Evidence from High Court of Admiralty

Forty-two year old Jacob Merrit deposed on April 3rd 1650 in the High Court of Admiralty. He was examined on an allegation on behalf of Wilson in the case of "Hance Claeson against Wilson et al".

The case concerned the Flemish ship the Saint Jacob (Master: Hance Claeson) and a second ship the Phillip (Master: Richard Hussee).

Jacob Merrit stated that he was a waterman by profession, living in Limehouse "neare unto Dickshore". He went on to say that he "was with his wherry upon the River of Thames att such time as the ship the Saint Jacob arlate came ashore at Dickshore". Merrit claims that the damage that happened to the ship was due solely to "the unskillfullness or negligence of the Master and company" of the ship. He exonerated the master of the ship the Phillip and her company. Merrit referred both to the custome of the River Thames and an order of Trinity House whereby "noe master of a ship or marriner of what place soever nay or ought to bring up theire ships (laden) into the said River of Thames without sufficient and able pilott abord her and such a one as is approved on by the said house". Merrit claimed that he had known the custom and order "to bee observed by the space of theise 20 yeares and upwards dureing which tyme hee hath lived at Lymehouse.. and used frequently the said river".[2]

Merrit stated that at the time of the Saint Jacob coming ashore at Dickshore she neither had a pilot nor master abord her. He offered as proof of this statement that he and a fellow witness James Symmes "did about an hower and a halfe after she soe came ashore carry the skipper of the said ship the Saint Jacob from ahoare aboard the said shippe and thereby knoweth that and sawe that they had noe pilot at all then abord her at the tyme arlate."[3]

According to Merrit the Phillip was an empty ship, which was out of employment, having finished her voyage. She had been "laid up ashoare in a convenient and usuall place for and as an emptie shippe and as out of employment" and had been there for ten or eleven weeks. The ship the Saint Jacob had initially come to an anchor in the middle of the channel, in a place commonly used by ships of twice her burthen. But, according to Merrit, the Saint Jacob's crew then hauled her ashore near the Phillip on the northern shore of the Thames, although she could have stayed in the channel where she was safe. This they did when "it was twoe foote and a halfe att ebb". He was clear that "noe seaman or pilot whatsoever by the custome of the said River of Thames may or ought to bring any shipp laden (att an Ebbing water especially) upon the north side of the said river neare the place arlate". Merrit asserted his knowledge as one who lived near the palce where the misadventure occured and being "conversant by his trade upon the said river for theise 20 yeares last past." During these 20 years he "never sawe any shipps laden (as the Saint Jacob was) come or was hailed ashore at that place unlesse by extraordinary extremitye or stresse of weather."[4]

Referring again to the custom of the river, Merrit stated that no skillful or experienced seaman would haul his ship ahoare without first coming to an anchor in the channel and staying there for one tide and then at low water viewing the prospective birth or place where they intended to haul their ship. Merrit believed the crew of the Saint Jacob hauled their ship ashore "without any care or inspection of or into the place...and by meanes therof haled the said shippe into a hole which was made by lighter men who used toi take up ballast there". The Saint Jacob say with her head upon the ground and her stern upon the chain "quite a drie" and that "her midships laye in 6 foote water at the least". Merrit had come to help and "was one of the persons that felt and probed up and downe by the said ships side as shee soe laie to bee satisfied whether shee would overset or nott of which shee was in great danger". Merrit went on to claim that he and two other watermen, Robert Dennis and James Symmes, had feared that the Saint Jacob had been damaged by the anchor of the Phillip. They therefore "of theire owne accorde out of an intente to doe what good they could to the said Dutch shippe" did "search and feele for the said anchor and att lenghth found the same". Merrit was certain, however, that the Saint Jacob lay clear of the Phillips anchor.[5] Indeed, at the time of the accident, the anchor of the Phillip "was in close by the tryangle of the chaine".

Merrit was present when various masters and shipwrights came to inspect the damage and the anchor, and heard them deliver their opinions, which were read out to him again in court from a written schedule. Moreover, Merrit claimed that the Phillip's anchor had a buoy and a sufficient buoy rope and that he was witness to the buoy usually bearing up at half tide. At low tide, the Phillip's anchor lay "quite drie". His proof was that "hee this deponent passing to and fro by the same att severall tymes every working day in the weeke for all the tyme that the said ship the Phillip hath lien there". Merrit took Hance Claeson in his wherry to inspect the anchor, and found it to be clear of his ship. Merrit reports that Claeson then "called out in a broken language, (but soe as this deponent well understood him) and told his company abord that his said ship was as aforesaid cleare of the said anchor."[6]

In response to interrogatories, Merrit admitted that he had never seen the order of Trinity House to which he had earlier referred but "there is a generall report amongst all water men and seamen belowe bridge that there is such an one". Merrit's observations of the anchor had taken place on March 20th 1650 "about nine of the clocke in the fforenoone of the said day together with diverse other neighbors."[7]

Witnesses in the case of Hans Claeson and Company against Broadgate and Willson

  1. Jacobus Merrit de Lymehouse parochia de Stepney in comitatu Middlesex aquarius aetatis 42 annorum, April 3rd 1650[8]
  2. Jacobus Symmes de Lymehouse parochia de Stepney in comitatu Middlesex aquarius aetatis 39 annorum, April 3rd 1650[9]
  3. Robertus Dennis de Lymehouse parochia de Stepney aquarius aetais 33. annorum, April 3rd 1650[10]
  4. Willimus Chuter de Lymehouse parochia de Stepney in comitatu Middlesex aquarius aetatis 43 annorum, April 4th 1650[11]
  5. Johannes Ledman de Lymehouse parochia de Stepney in comitatu Middlesex joyner aetatis 54 annorum, April 4th 1650[12]
  6. William Hooke servus et apprenticius Richard Hussee partis producon in hac causa aetatis sua 19 annorum, April 4th 1650[13]
  7. Johannes Badge famulus et apprenticius Richard Hussee de Lymehouse infra parochiam de Stepney in comitatu Middlesex nauta aetatis sua 18. annorum, April 4th 1650[14]

  1. Johannes Barley de Wapping infra parochiam da Stepney in comitatu Middlesex waterman natus apud [?Owbound] in comitatu Bedford aetatis sua 22. annorum, June 26th 1650[15]
  2. Mathaeus Purdye de Wapping infra parochiam de Stepney et comitatu Middlesex waterman aetatis sua 22. annorum, June 26th 1650[16]
  3. Jacob Vanderlack parochia Sancta Catherina infra precinct turrim London gentleman aetatis sua 19 annorum, July 3rd 1650[17]
  4. Randolph Orton de Shadwell infra parochiam de Stepney in comitatu Middlesex naupegus aetatis 38. annorum, July 3rd 1650[18]

Comment on sources

  1. HCA 13/70 f.502r
  2. HCA 13/63 f.21v
  3. HCA 13/63 f.22r
  4. HCA 13/63 f.22r
  5. HCA 13/63 f.22v
  6. HCA 13/63 f.23r
  7. HCA 13/63 f.23v
  8. HCA 13/63 f.21v
  9. HCA 13/63 f.24r
  10. HCA 13/63 f.26r
  11. HCA 13/63 f.28r
  12. HCA 13/63 f.30r
  13. HCA 13/63 f.31r
  14. HCA 13/63 f.32r
  15. HCA 13/63 f.294r
  16. HCA 13/63 f.294r
  17. HCA 13/63 f.296v
  18. HCA 13/63 f.297v