A Surviving Charter-Party of 1323

By Robin Ward, published November 1995


During the High Middle Ages wine merchants trading between Bordeaux and the British Isles entered into a formal contract called a charter-party with ship masters or owners. This was an agreement normally covering the cargo, freight charges, destination, time limit and payment of dues and other charges. Following delivery of the cargo, the charter-party was endorsed as a receipt. Occasionally such documents contained additional details about particular voyages. This article transcribes, translates and describes Manuscript AML/M/1 at the National Maritime Museum. This is believed to be the earliest English charter-party known to survive. It concerns a voyage from Bordeaux by the cog Saint Marie (master William Giffard), carrying a cargo of wine and, unusually, flour at the King Edward II’s command. The ship, its cargo and crew, freight costs and the mystery of some missing tuns are all discussed.

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Filed under: Atlantic | English Channel | High Middle Ages
Subjects include: Manpower & Life at Sea | Merchant Marines

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