WILLIAM SHIRLEY’S COMMISSION as VICE-ADMIRAL OF THE PROVINCE OF THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY
21 August, 1741
George the second by the Grace of God of Great Britain France & Ireland king, Defender of the Faith &c. To Our beloved William Shirley Esqr Our Captain General & Governour in Chief of Our Province of the Massachusetts Bay in America, Greeting;
We confiding very much in your Fidelity, Care & Circumspection in this behalf, do by these Presents which are to continue during Our Pleasure only, ordain constitute & depute you the said William Shirley Esqr Our Captain General & Governour in Chief aforesaid, Our Vice Admiral, Commissary & Deputy in the Office of Vice Admiralty in Our Province of Massachusetts Bay aforesd and Territories thereon depending & in the Maritime Parts of the same, and thereto adjoining, whatsoever, with Power of taking & receiving all & every the ffees, Profits, Advantages, Emoluments, Commodities & Appurtenances whatsoever, to & belonging to the said Office of Vice, Admiral, Commissary & Deputy in Our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories dependent thereon, & maritime Parts of the same, and adjoining to them whatsoever, according to the Ordinances & Statutes of Our High Court of Admiralty of England, and we do hereby commit & grant unto you the aforesaid William Shirley Esqr Our Power & Authority in & throughout Our Province of Massachusetts Bay aforementioned & Territories thereof & maritime parts whatsoever adjacent thereto, & also throughout all & every the Sea Shores, publick Streams, Ports, fresh Waters, Rivers, Creeks & Arms, as well of the Sea, as of the Rivers, & Coasts whatsoever, of our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories dependent thereon, & maritime Parts whatsoever, of the same & thereto adjacent, as well within Liberties, & Franchises, as without, to take Cognizance of, & proceed in all Causes, Civil & Maritime, & in Complaints, Contracts, Offences or suspected Offences, Crimes, Pleas, Debts, Exchanges, Accompts, Charter Parties, Agreements, Suits, Trespasses, Injuries, Extortions & Demands & Businesses Civil & Maritime whatsoever, commenced or to be commenced between Merchants or between Owners & Proprietors of Ships & other Vessels, & Merchants or others whomsoever, with such Owners & Proprietors of Ships & all other Vessels whatsoever employed, or used within the Maritime Jurisdiction of Our Vice Admiralty of Our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories depending on the same, or between any other Persons whomsoever, had, made, began or contracted for any matter Thing, Cause or Business whatsoever done or to be done within Our Maritime Jurisdiction aforesaid, Together with all & singular their Incidents, Emergencies, Dependancies annexed & connexed Causes whatsoever, wheresoever or howsoeuer, & such Causes, Complaints Contracts & other the Premisses abovesaid, or any of them, which may happen to arise, be contracted, had or done, to hear & determine, according to the Rights, Statutes, Laws, Ordinances & Customs anciently observed, & moreover in all & singular Complaints, Contracts, Agreements, Causes & Businesses Civil & Maritime, to be performed beyond the Sea, or contracted there, howsoever arising or happening, & also in all & singular other Causes & Matters, which in any Manner whatsoever touch or any ways concern, or anciently have & do or ought to belong unto the Maritime Jurisdiction of Our aforesaid Vice-Admiralty in Our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories thereon depending, & maritime Parts thereof & to the same adjoining whatsoever, & generally in all & singular other Causes, Suits, Crimes, Offences, Excessees, Injuries, Complaints, Misdemeanors or suspected Misdemeanors, Trespasses, Begratings, Forestallings & maritime Businesses whatsoever throughout the Places aforesaid, within the Maritime Jurisdiction of Our Vice-Admiralty of Our Province of Massachusetts Bay aforesaid & Territories thereon depending, by Sea or water, on the Banks or Shores of the Same, howsoever done, committed, perpetrated or happening, And also to inquire by the Oath of honest & lawful Men of Our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories dependent thereon, & maritime Parts of the Same & adjoining to them, whatsoever; dwelling both within Liberties and Franchises & without, as well of all & singular such Matters & Things which of right & by the Statutes, Laws, Ordinances & Customs anciently observed, were wont & ought to be inquired after, as of Wreck of the Sea, & of all & singular the Goods & Chattels of whatsoever Traitors, Pyrates, Man Slayers & Felons howsoever, offending within the Maritime Jurisdiction of Our Vice-Admiralty of Our Province of Massachusetts Bay aforementioned & Territories thereunto belonging & of the Goods, Chattels & Debts of all & singular their Maintainors, Accessories, Councellors, Abettors or Assistants whomsoever, & also of the Goods, Debts & Chattels of whatsoever Person or Persons, Felons of themselves, by what means or howsoever coming to their Death within Our aforesaid Maritime Jurisdiction, wheresoever any such Goods, Debts & Chattles or any Parcel thereof by Sea, Water or Land in our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories thereon dependent, & maritime Parts of the same & thereto adjacent, whatsoever, as well within Liberties & Franchises as without, have been or shall be found forfeited, or to be forfeited, or in being, & Moreover as well of the Goods, Debts & Chattels of whatsoever other Traitors, Felons & Manslayers wheresoever offending, & of the Goods, Debts & Chattels of their Maintainors, Accessories, Councellors, Abettors or Assistants, as of the Goods, Debts & Chattels of all Fugitives, Persons convicted, attainted, condemned, Outlawed or howsoever put or to be put in exigent for Treason, Felony, Manslaughter or Murder, or any other Offence or Crime whatsoever, & also Concerning Goods waving, Flotson, Jetson, Lagon, Shares & Treasure found, or to be found deodands & of the Goods of all others whatsoever taken or to be taken, as derelict or by chance found, or to be found, or howsoever due or to be due, & of all other Casualties as well in, upon or by the Sea, & Shores, Creeks or Coasts of the Sea, or Maritime Parts, as in, upon or by all fresh Waters, Ports, publick Streams, Rivers or Creeks or Places overflown whatsoever, within the Ebbing & Flowing of the Sea, or high Water, or upon the Shores or Banks of any of the same within Our Maritime Jurisdiction aforesaid howsoever, whensoever, or by what Means soever arising, happening or proceeding, or wheresoever such Goods, Debts & Chattels or other the Premisses or any Parcel thereof, may or shall happen to be met with, or found within Our Maritime Jurisdiction aforesaid, And also Concerning Anchorage, Lastage & Ballast of Ships & of Fishes Royal, namely, Sturgeons, Whales, Porpoises, Dolphins, Riggs & Grampuses, & generally of all other Fishes whatsoever which are of a great or very large Bulk, or Fatness, anciently by right or Custom, or any way appertaining or belonging to Us, & to Ask, require, levy, take, collect, receive & obtain, & to the Use of Us & the Office of Our High Admiral of Great Britain aforesaid for the Time being, to keep & preserve the sd wreck of the Sea, & the Goods, Debts & Chattels & all & singular, other the Premisses together with all & all manner of Fines, Mulcts, Issues, Forfeitures, Amerciaments, Ransomes, & Recognizances whatsoever forfeited or to be forfeited, & pecuniary Punishments for Trespasses, Crimes, Injuries, Extortions, Contempts & other Misdemeanours whatsoever, howsoever imposed or inflicted or to be imposed or inflicted for any Matter, Cause or Thing whatsoever, in our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories thereunto belonging, & Maritime Parts of the same, & thereto adjoining, in any Court of Our Admiralty there held or to be held, presented or to be presented, assessed, brought, forfeited or adjudged & also all Amerciaments, Issues, Fines, Perquisites, Mulcts & pecuniary Punishments whatsoever, & Forfietures of all manner of Recognizances, before you, or your Lieutenant, Deputy or Deputies in Our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories thereunto belonging & Maritime Parts of the same & thereto adjacent, whatsoever, happening or imposed or to be imposed or inflicted, or by any Means assessed, presented, forfeited or adjudged, or howsoever by reason of the Premisses due or to be due in that behalf, to Us or Our heirs or Successors, & further to take all manner of Recognizances, Cautions, Obligations & Stipulations, as well to our Use, as at the Instance of any Parties for Agreements or Debts, & other Causes whatsoever, & to put the same in Execution, & to cause & command them to be executed, & also to arrest & cause & command to be Arrested, According to the several Maritime Laws & ancient Customs of Our said Court, all Ships, Persons, Things, Goods, Wares & Merchandizes for the Premisses & every of them, & for other Causes whatsoever, concerning the same, wheresoever they shall be met with, or found throughout our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories thereunto belonging, & Maritime parts thereof & thereto adjoining within Liberties & Franchises, or without, & likewise for all other Agreements, Causes or Debts howsoever contracted or arising, so that the Goods or Persons of the Debtors may be found within Our Jurisdiction aforesaid, & to hear, examine, discuss & finally determine the same with their Emergencies, Dependancies, Incidents, annexed & connexed Causes & Businesses whatsoever, together with all other Causes Civil & Maritime, & Complaints Contracts & all & every the respective Premisses whatsoever above expressed according to the Laws & Customs aforesaid, & by all other lawful ways, means & methods according to the best of your Skill & Knowledge, and to compel all manner of Persons in that behalf as the Case shall require, to appear & to answer, with Power of using any Temporal Coertion, & of inflicting any other Penalty or Mulct, according to the Laws & Customs aforesaid, & to do & minister Justice, according to the Right, Order & Course of the Law, summarily & plainly, looking only into the Truth of the Fact, & to fine, correct, punish, chastize & reform, & imprison, & cause & command to be imprisoned in any Goals being within Our Province of Massachusetts Bay aforesaid & Territories thereunto belonging the Parties guilty, & the Contemnors of the Law & Jurisdiction of Our Admiralty aforesd & Violaters, Usurpers, Delinquents & Contumacious Absenters, Masters of Ships, Mariners Rovers,184 Fishermen, Shipwrights & other Workmen & Artificers whatsoever, exercising any kind of Maritime Affairs, according to the Rights, Statutes, Laws, Ordinances & Customs anciently observed & to deliver & absolutely discharge & cause, & command to be discharged, whatsoever Persons imprisoned in such Cases, who are to be delivered, & to preserve & cause to be preserved the publick Streams, Ports, Rivers, fresh Waters & Creeks whatsoever, within Our Maritime Jurisdiction aforesaid in what Place so ever, they be, in Our said Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories thereunto belonging & Maritime parts of the same, & thereto adjacent whatsoever, as well for the Preservation of Our Navy Royal & of the Fleets & Vessels of Our Kingdoms & Dominions aforesaid, as of whatsoever Fishes increasing in the Rivers & Places aforesd & also to keep & cause to be executed & kept in Our said Province of Massa Bay & Territories thereunto belonging & maritime Parts thereof & thereto adjacent whatsoever, the Rights, Statutes, Laws, Ordinances & Customs anciently observed, & to do, exercise, expedite & execute all & singular other Things in the Premisses, & every of them, as they by right & according to the Laws & Statutes, Ordinances & Customs aforesaid should be done, And Moreover to reform Nets too close & other unlawful Engines or Instruments whatsoever for the catching of Fishes wheresoever by Sea or publick Streams, Ports, Rivers, fresh Waters or Creeks whatsoever throughout Our Province of Massachusetts Bay aforesd & Territories dependent thereon & Maritime parts of the same & thereto adjacent, used or exercised by Water within Our Maritime Jurisdiction aforesd wheresoever, & to punish & correct the Exercisers & Occupiers thereof according to the Statutes, Laws, Ordinances & Customs aforesd and to pronounce, promulge & interpose all manner of Sentences & Decrees, & to put the same in Execution, with Cognizance & Jurisdiction of whatsoever other Causes Civil & maritime which relate to the Sea, or which any Manner of Ways respect or concern the Sea, or Passage over the Same, or Naval or Maritime Voyages, or Our said Maritime Jurisdiction, or the Places or Limits of Our said Admiralty, & Cognizance aforementioned, & all other Things done or to be done, with Power also to proceed in the same, according to the Statutes, Laws, Ordinances & Customs aforesaid, anciently used, as well of meer Office mixt or promoted, as at the Instance of any Party, as the Case shall require & seem convenient, & likewise Recognizance & Decision of wreck of the Sea, great or small, & of the Death, drowning & Veiw of dead Bodies of all Persons howsoever killed or drowned or murthered, or that shall happen to be killed, drowned or murthered or by any other means come to their Death in the Sea or publick Streams, Ports, fresh Waters or Creeks whatsoever, within the flowing of the Sea, & high Water Mark, throughout our aforesd Province of Massachusetts Bay & Territories thereunto belonging & maritime Parts of the same & thereto adjacent or elsewhere within Our Maritime Jurisdiction aforesd Together with the Cognizance of Mayhem in the aforesd Places within Our Maritime Jurisdiction aforesd & flowing of the Sea & Water there happening, with Power also of punishing all Delinquents in that kind according to the Exigencies of the Laws & Customs aforesd & to do, exercise, expedite & execute all & singular other Things which in & about the Premisses only, shall be necessary or thought meet according to the Rights, Statutes, Laws, Ordinances & Customs aforesd with Power of deputing & surrogating in your Place for the Premisses, One or more Deputy or Deputies, as often as you shall think fit, & also with Power from Time to Time of naming, appointing, ordaining, assigning, making & constituting whatsoever other Necessary, fit & convenient Officers & Ministers, under you for the sd Office & Execution thereof in Our sd Province of Massa Bay & Territories thereunto belonging, & maritime Parts of the same & thereto adjacent whatsoever, Saving always the Right of Our High Court of Admiralty of England & also of the Judge & Register of the sd Court from whom or either of them it is not Our Intention in any thing to derogate by these Presents, & saving to Every One who shall be wronged or grieved by any definitive Sentence or Interlocutory Decree, which shall be given in the Vice-Admiralty Court of Our Province of Massa Bay aforesd & Territories thereunto belonging, the Right of appealing to Our aforesd High Court of Admiralty of England; Provided Nevertheless & under this express Condition, that if you the aforesd William Shirley Esqr Our Captain General & Governour in Chief aforesd shall not yearly viz, at the End of every Year between the Feast of St Michael the Archangel & all Saints duely certify & cause to be effectually certified, if you shall be thereunto required, to Us & Our Lieutenant Official, Principal & Commissary General & special & Judge & President of the High Court of Our Admiralty of England aforesd all that which from Time to Time by Virtue of these Presents you shall do, execute, collect or receive in the Premisses or any of them, together with your full & faithful Account thereupon to be made in Authentick Form & Sealed with the Seal of our Office, remaining in your Custody, that from thence & after Default therein these Our Letters Patent of the Office of Vice Admiral aforesd as above granted, shall be null & void & of no Force or Effect; Further we do in Our Name command all & singular Our Governours, Justices, Mayors, Sheriffs, Captains, Marshalls, Bailiffs, Keepers of all our Goals & Prisons, Constables & all other Our Officers & faithful & liege Subjects whatsoever & every of them as well within Liberties & Franchises as without, that in & about the Execution of the Premisses & every of them, they be Aiding, favouring, Assisting, submissive & yield Obedience in all Things as tis fitting to you the aforesaid William Shirley Esqr Our Captain General & Governour in Chief of our Province of the Massachusetts Bay aforesd & to your Deputy whomsoever & to all other Officers by you appointed or to be appointed, of Our said Vice-Admiralty in Our Province of Massachusetts Bay aforesd & Territories thereunto belonging & maritime Parts of the same & thereto adjoining, under Pain of the Law & the Peril which will fall thereon. Given at London in the high Court of Our Admiralty of England aforesaid under the Great Seal thereof, the Twenty first day of August in the Year of Our Lord One thousand Seven hundred & forty one & of our Reign the fifteenth.
SAML HILL Register
The Great Seal of the High Court of Admiralty appending
Examined ꝑ J. Willard Sec͞r͞y
— Crown Commissions, 1628–1663, pp. 40–45.