William Towerson’s Rutter for the Margate – Emden Navigation, 1564

By James Alsop, published May 1996


The author sheds some light on the little known life of 16th century merchant mariner William Towerson and his important role in England’s commercial expansion. Towerson’s Rutter for the Margate to Emden sea route provides navigational information at a critical time of England’s cloth trade. The usual route for English woollen merchants was from London to Antwerp. However, an embargo placed on them threatened the entire woollen trade. As one of the merchants, Towerson circumvented this embargo by navigating a route to Emden, the most viable alternative to Antwerp. The Rutter, reproduced here in full, was used only for a year as the Emden route was abandoned with the removal of the embargo.

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Filed under: Tudors | North Sea
Subjects include: Harbours & Dockyards | Merchant Marines | Ship Handling & Seamanship

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