Extract from Valentine’s Letterbook, EN/968
Valentine Enys letter dated 24th January 1705/6 to Mr Patrick Walsh relating to the problems he was having in selling wines
… I have been these 3 or 4 days fretting myself to vinegar and really hindered off my natural rest. Here are 2 small French privateers in the mouth of our harbour every morning and night, which hinders the barges from coming about from Gweek with the fish loaden there ever since Sunday night, which I did load that very night through Sunday night, for which I am exclaimed at, and now the people say I am justly punished for the breach of the Sabbath. Here are a parcel of Dutch privateers, dogs and I cannot persuade them to go out and take or chase away these 2 French ships which they might do in 2 hours being so close the shore that our castle fires at them. Now they are in the offing I have sent your ‘Lark’ to Gweek to receive the pilchards out of the barges and proceed her voyage if these devilish privateers give leave. However I am comforted in one respect, that if we had been ready to sail Sunday with a Dutch privateer and another ship bound for Lisbon she had been certainly taken, as was a ship that went out with them bound for Mount’s Bay the same afternoon they went out and under the Dutch privateer’s stern, who would not fire a gun at a small snow of six guns that took her. Such inhumane creatures they are – had your’s, Mr Taylor’s and my life been at stake more could not have been done so we must have patience and submit to providence. I have sold one pipe* this morning at £40 and shall another tomorrow now the price is broke. The wines shall be appraised tomorrow morning and the appraisement of the ship on oath ready for Saturday’s post. If Captain Richards returns to this harbour from Gweek you shall have the value of what plundered on oath, he has indeed slaved night and day these several days and had no time, but any one may value the particulars he has sworn to in case he should have no time to do it. I have given him a public sailing and ransoming orders to show and hide yours which run not to exceed £100 ransom with sham bills of loading, invoice etc but yours will be the standing one. Here’s a letter presented from Mr William Dobrie dated in London 17th current with an enclosed from Dinan from Robert Hawkey. The ransom for your ‘Lark’, Dobrie writes you tell him won’t pay the ransom because the ship is lost and so much it seems he wrote Mr Maget his correspondent in whose favour the ransom bill is transpassed to Dobrie. I have had a fearful noise here but you writing me the ransom was sent and the man should be taken care of. I have satisfied his master and friends, a word of them in your next.
(These last remarks referred to the negotiations for paying the ransom for the ‘Lark’).
* Pipe = contained 126 gallons