William Rainsborough (1587-1642) and his Associates of the Trinity House

By W. R. Chaplin, published November 1945


It is assumed that William Rainsborough’s early life was served in his father’s ships, mainly in the Levant trade, and this experience led to him becoming an Elder Brother of the Trinity House sometime before 1627. He was soon regarded as one of the most capable and experienced seamen of the time and consulted by the Lords of Admiralty on martime matters. For many years North African pirates had preyed on not only merchant shipping but also along the English coasts. Trinity House responses had been ineffective; the Lords of the Admiralty took up Rainsborough’s proposal, in 1637, appointing him Admiral commanding a small fleet, to besiege the pirates by sea. The article details this expedition and the resulting peace agreement. Rainsborough lived through the strife leading up to the Civil War and, had he survived, there is little doubt he would have supported the Parliament and could have rivalled Blake and Deane in the leadership of the Commonwealth Navy.

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Filed under: Other (Early Modern) | Mediterranean
Subjects include: Biography | Pirates, Corsairs & Privateers

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