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Comm. Thos. Mathews’ troubles at Cape of Good Hope—1 Nov 1721

Letters – Comm. Mathews at Cape of Good Hope—1 Nov 1721

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SP 42/17/110


Admiralty Office 1 Novemt. 1721

[to:] Rt honble Lord Viscount Townshend


My Lord

Having this Morning received a Letter from Captain Mathews, who commands his Maj:ts Ships, some time Since sent from hence to protect the Trade of the East India Company from Pirates, by which he gives an account of the uncivil and unnatural usage he hath received at the Cape of Good Hope, from the Dutch Governor and People there, We send your Lordship herewith an Extract of so much of the said Letter as relates thereunto, as also the Copy of a Letter to him from Captain Mayne, Captain of one of the Ships under his Command and desire your Lordship will please to communicate it to his Majesty, that such Notice may be taken thereof to the States General, as may prevent the like ill treatment to Officers commanding his Maj:ts Ships, which is not when they may touch hereafter at the said Cape, agreeable to the Treatys Subsisting between his Majesty and the States General, and Seems to be in this Case the more Extraordinary, Since his Maj:ts Ships were going in quest of, and to Seize or destroy those who are common Enemys to Mankind, We are

My Lord

Your Lordships most humble Servants.


J[ohn]. Jennings [1715—elected MP for Rochester————————————————>]

J[ohn] Norris [March 172: made member of Parliament for Portsmouth]

Char[les]. Wager [March 1718—appointed Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty]


















[to:] Thomas Matthews Esq.: &ca.


Copy    Shoreham at the Cape of Good Hope this 30th of May 1721.

Sr      Last Saturday I sent an hawser on board the next Dutch Ship to you for enabling me to get into a better Birth [Berth], and they detained the Boat some time before they would let it be made fast, the Company calling my People in the Boat Pirates. On Sunday the Yawl went on shoar for a Barecco of Water, and some Necessaries the former was refused, and as the Boat's Crew was bringing some Bottles and Cags over one of the Dutch Longboats they took them from them, and drank to one another out of each: Last Night at my coming off as the Boat was under one of their Water Cocks they turned it, and let the Water on my self, and Company with me in the Sern Sheets, I therefore think it my Duty to acquaint you thereof and am

Sr &c

C[ovill] Mayne





Extract of a Letter from Comadore Mathews to Mr. Burchett dated at the Cape of Good Hope the 13:th of June 1721


I think it my Duty to represent to your Lordships the ill treatment his Maj:ts Subjects have met with from the Governor and Council of this-Place, the Daily affronts we have met with (as will by Captain Mayne's Letter in some part appear) from the Ordinary People, I do not think it worth troubling your Lordships with, but do believe they are encouraged to it by their Superieurs. It being late when I arrived, and blowing very fresh, I did not send my Lieutenant on Shore to the Governor til next Morning, sending at the Same time a Letter to him, w:ch I had from Governor Harison [Maurits Pasques de Chavonnes (VOC governor there from 1714 to 1724)]. The Governor insisted that I should Salute him, and Send my Comission on Shore, before I should have the liberty of the Port, for Water or any other Refreshments; Mr. Caldecot my Second Lieutenant ask'd him if that was his Resolution, for he was going, he at last said I might have the liberty of the Port, I accordingly sent that afternoon on Shore. About four in the Evening came on board an Officer with a very impertinent Message, Vizt: to know the reason I did not Salute (alledging the Lenox and St. Albans did it in the year 1712) at the same time told me, I must, when I come on Shore, bring my Comission with me, I told the Officer, that, as he did not belong to the States, but a Governor Elected by a Company of Merchants, I expected he should pay the respect due to his Maj:ts Colours, instead of my Saluting him, and as for producing my Comission, I should not do it to him nor to any other Person whatsoever. My Officers offering to go on Shore next Morning, the Centinel would not permit them, saying he had Orders not to let any English Boat put on Shore upon which I immediately sent Captain Reddish [commander, HMS Lion] to the Governor, to know his reasons for refusing the King my Master's Subjects the liberty of watering, and of the Shore, and to know his final Answer, whether I should have the liberty of the Port, he made a Sort of an Excuse, alledging it was not his fault, for he was very sensible who We were, but he could do nothing without the Council, and after keeping Captain Reddish as Quarter of an hour, he came out from the Council, and told him We had the liberty to Water and of coming on Shore. I have not been able to learn the reason of their Calling Us Pirates, nor of their treating Us with Such ill manners, all that I can find out, is, that they are jealous We are not come in quest of the Pirates; but to act in Some manner or other contrary to their Interest in these Seas, but their cheif Jealousy is, that We are to molest them in the New Settlement they are making, somewhere on the Main in the Channel of Mozambique, but I cannot learn exactly whereabouts [recent Dutch settlement - Fort Lijdzaamheid (Fort Agility) at Delagoa Bay].

I gave your Lordships an account of my breaking my Main Yard in the Channel, to repair which I was obliged to cut up a Main topmast, and in my passage here have Sprung the other in three places; I deffer'd sending to the Governor til the last moment, in hopes of the Salisbury's arrival, by whom I expect one, the bad Weather breaking up I sent Captain Reddish to acquaint the Governor the distress I was in, and to desire he would Spare one a Stick that would make me a Maintopmast, offering to pay him his own Price either here or in England, he absolutely refused it, Notwithstanding their Mast Pond is full of such Sticks, alledging he had possitive Orders to the contrary. Captain Reddish told him, he hoped he would make Some difference between the King's Ships & Merch. Men, informing him at the same time, that there was now in the Bay some of their Ships, that had been Supply'd with Cables from his Maj:ts Stores at Deal in November last, he acknowledged it to be true, yet would not comply with my request, saying his Masters must bear the Blame. Indeed I believe they would be glad to See the King's Ships Sink, certain I am they would let us Starve, for it's with the utmost difficulty we got any Refreshments, for they will not let Us carry off one Single Sheep, all w:ch I have several timese represented to the Gov:t, but to no purpose. I take leave to assure your Lordships I have taken all the necessary precautions to prevent all manner of Disorders on Our Side, and take leave to Say, I have had but One Complaint Since my being here, Vizt: two of our Quarter Deck people fighting a Duel, which is contrary to their Laws.


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