Issuance of a Letter of Marque and/or Reprisal by the Admirality of Lochac

by the Admirality of Lochac  

This document provides guidelines relating to text, layout and process in producing Letters of  Marque for the Admiralty of Lochac. The material contained herein are simply guidelines,  though based on extensive research primarily by Mistress Rohesia le Sarjent and Mistress  katherine kerr.  


Letters of Marque and/or Reprisal are granted by a Crown and issued by the Lord High  Admiral of Lochac. They must be consulted before starting on production of a Letter.  

Letters of Marque and/or Reprisal are undertaken as private commissions; this work is not  handled officially by the Lochac College of Scribes. This means that there is no formally  recognised format or wording; no Royal signatures or official seals.  

The example herein uses wording taken from period documents and a late-period printed  format, with handwritten additions, to produce paperwork typical of the late 1500s, rather  than the traditional SCA illuminated scroll. For the latter, the text would remain relevant but  that format and layout falls well outside this brief to produce plausibly period paperwork.  

The aim has been to encourage these letters to be treated as living documents – something  that can be folded up, carried on board ship, amended with new vessels or company  members, presented to future Crowns for Their endorsements and so on. 

Text Background and Use  

The text references a number of maritime-related court communications primarily from the  16th century, retaining the spelling and useage of the original sources referenced by Mistress  Rohesia from Documents Relating to Law and Custom of the Sea, edited by R.G. Marsden  (Navy Records Society, 1915-1916). These include:  

⮚ a proclamation from the reign of Queen Mary and King Philip which cites both Their  Majesties (1557 Adm. Court, Libels 31 No. 76, Marsden pg 162)  

⮚ the opening phrase from a Letter of Marque by Henry IV; very similar in format to  those used in the 16th century (1404 Patent Rolls, 6 Hen.IV, pt 1, m.31 Marsden  pg.112)  

⮚ general text and wording, and closing phrase, from a warrant given to the Warden of  the Cinque Ports by Queen Elizabeth allowing the Warden to issue Letters of Marque  in the Queen’s name (1577 Add MSS. 34150, f.61) 

⮚ wording from a Letter of Reprisal given to Robert Kitchyn by Charles Lord Howard,  the Lord High Admiral, under warrant to Queen Elizabeth, as an example of a licence  issued to a named individual (1585 Adm.Court, Exemplifications 23, No.21, Marsden  pg.237) 

⮚ wording covering the apportioning of prizes from a proclamation by Henry VIII (1543  Harl.MSS. 442, f170 Marsden pg 156)  

⮚ the recognisance of Martin Frobishier as a good example of the prohibition on  attacking the friends and allies of the Crown (1563 Admiralty Courts, Letters of  Marque Bonds, 1, Marsden pg 176)  

⮚ an example of instructions to officials to comply and assist the bearer taken from a  Letter of Marque from Queen Elizabeth to the Winter brothers (1569 Adm.Court,  Acts 13, 7 Feb,. 156, Marsden pg 187)  

Any major and/or meaningful modificatons to the draft text noted here should be approved by  both the relevant Crowns and the issuing Lord High Admiral.  

This document contains the full text as approved by Duke Steffan and Duchess Branwen for  the Letters They granted as Crown, along with an example layout which has been edited to  reduce the word count for printout to A3. If your Letter of Marque was granted by a different  Crown, be sure to get Their approval for the wording; They may wish to make changes.  

Format and Layout  

The format used for this Letter of Marque is based on late-period printing practices when  forms were printed using a typeface to match a certain style of handwriting, with spaces left  for handwritten insertion of names, dates, places etc.  

It was common practice for additional details to be added in the margins. This approach can  be used to help personalise the Letter with the addition of information such as vessel details,  company insignia, crew names and the like. The design has also allowed for personalisation  of the initial capital T, with a guide letter in place as was common practice in printed  

materials. Guide letters can be overwritten with different styles of initial capital, from a  flourished T (examples provided) through to fully illuminated/gilded lettering; there are many  period examples where the guide letter itself has been let stand.  

The Letter as laid out below has been typeset in Secretary Hand, as commonly used for  Chancery services, in 32 point; this font is readily available as a free download and serves as  an acceptable substitute for the hand manual. It lacks the ligatures and other special  characteristics of period typefaces/handwriting, but that does serve to make it more readable  for modern eyes, so considered a reasonable compromise. It is also a good size for matching  penwork. Paragraph line spacing (in Word) has been kerned to 0.4 reflecting period practice.  

The layout has been edited and scaled for A3 output. A larger size would provide more room  for embellishment and period levels of white space, but would costs significantly more to  print and, if so desired, to frame. If printing at A2, move the text up and right proportionally.  

The left-hand margin allows for personalisation elements such as a flag/streamer, ship  silhouette/s, survey information (ie tonnage, crew numbers, ordnance etc), company member  names etc (see Requested Information and Ship Specs sections below). A notary symbol or  scrivenal signature could be included. “Under the sign manual” refers to the Admiral’s  signature placed at the top of the document (in lieu of a royal signature or seal). 

Required Information for Letter of Marque  

This information is used to personalise the pre-printed Letter of Marque to provide a  plausibly looking piece of period-looking paperwork.  

Your Name:  

and/or Company Name:  


Location of port (eg Country, Port name, Lochac group as preferred):  Place of awarding:  

King & Queen:  

Date and AS Year (or month/year or event if unsure):  

Name of Ship/s:  

Optional ship details, not required but nice to know if you have them(See Ships’ Specification Sheet for general information)  

Type of Ship/s (eg brigantine, caravel, galleon) :  


Number of crew/troops:  

Number of guns/ type (eg falconet, culverin, cannon) :  

Any background info/details?  

Do you/your company and/or ship/s have a standard/streamer you fly?  Would you like that on your Letter of Marque? If so, please supply artwork.  

Opening Word ornamentation options (pick one): 

(There is a small guide letter T in place as per period printing practice)  1. Drop cap T, with flourishes (suits English/Italian; see examples)  

2. 14thC red/blue penwork in LH margin (suits English/French)  

3. Leave guide letter in place (can be left as-is or use the space available for a fully  illuminated or gilded capital T as preferred)  

Production/Display Information  

A Letter of Marque should be printed on acid-free archival-quality paper, 110-140gsm.  Depending on the print process, a spray fixative may be useful to protect the text material.  

Framing should use acid-free mats. Best hung away from direct sunlight.  

Letters of Marque were used as part of everyday business operations. This format has been  developed with the aim of encouraging holders to treat the Letter as a living document to be  carried around and shown off. It would be in keeping to attach additional pages with details  

of vessels, drawings, endorsements from other Crowns, voyage and cargo details, notes on  changes in ship/company complements etc. A leather or parchment wallet could be used to  protect it from sea spray.  

Full Text of Letter of Marque  

as approved by Steffan & Branwen in AS55 for Their Letters 

[Sign Manual of the Lord High Admiral]  

By the Lord High Admiral of Lochac.  

[T]o all and singular Admirals, captains, castellans and the lieutenants, and keepers of ports  of the sea and other maritime places, and to mayors, bailiffs, constables, provosts, and  officers, and to masters and owners of ships and mariners and also to victuallers of ships, and  to all other subiects of the realm of Lochac, whether on land or at sea, within liberties or  without, to whom these presents shall come, Greeting.  

Whereas there is unyversall complainte made, aswell by our owne merchants and fishermen,  as also by other merchants strangers, being the subjects of our frinds and allyes, of the great  number of pyrats and sea rovers haunting and keeping the narrow seas and streams thereof, in  such sorte as none maie well passe to nor fro without spoyling or ryfling, to the great  hinderaunce of trafficque and the anoyaunce of our subjectes inhabiying uppon the sea  costes /  

And having care that the Reaulmes streames should be quyet and voyde of such malefactors,  and at the Commaunde of the Crowne hauing heard the sute made on behalf of  [Person/Company Name], to have licence to equippe, furnish and victuall to the seas the  shippe or shippes as designayted belowe for the chastening and repressing of the said  malefactors, offering to do the same at their owne adventure, proper costs and charges, do not  onli tak in very good parte this offer, but are also content and pleased, and by these presents  do lycense and aucthorise the aforesayd to send to the seas the sayd shippe or shippes  furnished with mariner, souldiers, gonners, and other persons and ordnance, as shalbe thought  requisit, to purge and clere the sea coasts of evill persons.  

Further by theis presents the aforesaid shall enjoy to theyre own proper use, profit, and  commoditie, all and singular such shippes, vessels, municion, marchandizes, wares, victuals  and goods of what nature and quality soever it be, which shalbe takyn of the aforesayd pyrats  and sea rovers, without making accompt in anie court or place of this realme for the same and  without paying any parte or share to anie officer or minister of their Majesties; with the  proviso, that the aforesayd do with theyre master, mariners, and suche other personnes as  shall sayle in the sayde shippe or shippes, by all the tyme of ther beinge at the seas, honestly  behave and demean themselves, and doo not robbe, spoyle, infest, trouble, evill intreate,  apprehende, ne take any persouns whiche be in league and amitie with Their Majesties, but  doo suffer all such, their highnes frendes, with ther shippes and goodes quietlye and freely to  passe and goo withoute any molestatyon, lett, impeachement, diquiett, or hurte.  And all are straightlie charged and commaunded to aid the foresaid in and aboute the  executinge of this Letter of Marque, for the better and more effectuall execucion thereof, to  be aidinge, succoringe, assistinge, and helpynge, as you and everie of you will answere for  doinge the contrarie, anye priviledge, exemption, libertie, or other thinge to the contrarye  notwithstanding, for suche is the pleasure of the Crown.  

Geven under the sign manual of the Lord High Admiral of Lochac [Name] in [Place] in the Reigne of the Kyngs and Quenes Maiesties [KingName & QueenName], Anno Societatis [AS  Number] at [location/event, day]  

Signum scrivener [Scrivener Name] 

Late 16th Century Ship Specifications  

based on Appendices in Hugh Bicheno’s Elizabeth’s Sea Dogs (Conway 2012), largely from listings for 1588 Armada vessels  



a=cannon, demi-cannon, periers  

b=culverins, demi-culverins, sakers  

c=minions or less 



Pinaza (Sp)  

20  42  70  





 Small: single-mast, for inshore work and rowing boarders,  40  

carried dismantled  


2-3 masted warship, light guns  

Coaster 35  


Galliot (similar)  

50 35 Small, two-masted, popular with brigands as fast and  manouverable, lateen rig  

Galliot: 14-16 two-man oars  


Nao (Sp)  Nef (Fr)  

Mary Rose  

400  730  

300- 2000  500  

6/24/18  14/17/9  


185  340  





+30 gunners 

14-17C, Portugeuse, tall aft/fore castles, strong bowsprit;  grappling and boarding, heavy guns aft;  

2-4 masts combining suare and lateen rigs  

eg 3 mast: 2 square rig (main/fore), mizzen lateen  Mainly cargo, merchant, discovery  


Galeaza (Sp/It)  Light galleas =  frigate  

380 50 124  Plus 300  


242 Gun deck above rowers, heavy guns forward, three-masted,  fast  

32 oars @ 5 rowers  



Galeón (Sp)  Galion (Fr)  

Golden Hind  


360  730  



2/34/5  14/17/9  









16C, fast, manoeuverable; heavy guns broadside full-length  gun deck; warships and troop transport; 3-4 masts mixed rig,  beaked prow  

French corsairs removed a deck for faster sailing; Royal Navy  followed suit 1570 

By the Lord High Admiral of Lochac.  

o all and singular Admirals captains castellans & keepers of ports of the sea and other maritime places, and to  mayors bailiffs constables & officers, and to masters & owners of ships and mariners and also to victuallers of ships, and to  all other subiects of the realm of Lochac, on land or at sea, within liberties or without, to whom these presents shall come. Whereas there is unyversall complainte made by merchants & fishermen, as also by merchants strangers  


being subjects of the Crowns allyes, of the great number of pyrats & sea rovers haunting the seas, in such sorte  as none maie passe without spoyling or ryfling to great hinderaunce & anoyaunce / And having care that the  Reaulmes waters should be quyet and voyde of such malefactors, and at the Commaunde of the Crowne hauing  heard the sute made on behalf of to have licence to equippe  furnish & victuall the shippe or shippes here designayted for the chastening & repressing of malefactors, offering  to do the same at their owne adventure costs & charges, tak in good parte this offer and are content & pleased,  and by these presents do lycense & aucthorise the aforesayd to send to sea the sayd shippe or shippes furnished with  mariners souldiers gonners and other persons & ordnance as shalbe thought requisit, to purge & clere the seas of  evill persons. Further the aforesayd shall enjoy to theyre own proper use profit & commoditie, such shippes  vessels municion marchandizes wares & victuals which shalbe takyn of the aforesayd pyrats & sea rovers, without , making accompt in anie court for the same and without paying any parte to anie officer or minister of their  Majesties; with the proviso that the aforesayd do along with all personnes as shall sayle in the sayde shippe or  shippes, by all the tyme of ther beinge at sea, shall honestly behave and demean themselves, and doo not robbe  spoyle infest trouble apprehende ne take any persouns whiche be in amitie with Their Majesties, but suffer all  such, personnes along with ther shippes & goodes to quietlye & freely go withoute any molestatyon lett diquiett or  hurte. And all are straightlie charged & commaunded to aid the foresaid in and aboute the executinge of this  Letter of Marque, for the better and more effectuall execucion thereof, to be aidinge succoringe & assistinge as  all will answere for doinge the contrarie, for suche is the pleasure of the Crown.  

Issued under the sign manual of the Lord High Admiral of Lochac  

as given in the Reigne of the Kyngs and Quenes Maiesties AS  

at  …

Many thanks to Mistress Rohesia and Mistress Katherine Kerr for these guidelines.