Captaine Thomas Ewens

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Captaine Thomas Ewens
Person Captaine Thomas Ewens
Title Captaine
First name Thomas
Middle name(s)
Last name Ewens
Spouse of
Widow of
Occupation Mariner
Secondary shorebased occupation
Mariner occupation Commander, Master
Associated with ship(s) Scipio (Master: Thomas Ewens)
Training Not apprentice
Is apprentice of
Was apprentice of
Had apprentice(s)
Citizen Unknown
Literacy Signature
Has opening text Captaine Thomas Ewens
Has signoff text Tho: Ewens
Signoff image (Invalid transcription image)
Language skills English language
Has interpreter
Birth street
Birth parish
Birth town
Birth county
Birth province
Birth country
Res street Limehouse
Res parish Stepney
Res town
Res county Middlesex
Res province
Res country England
Birth year 1609
Marriage year
Death year 1667
Probate date February 4, 1667
First deposition age 46
Primary sources
Act book start page(s)
Personal answer start page(s)
Allegation start page(s)
Interrogatories page(s)
Deposition start page(s) HCA 13/70 f.54r Annotate, HCA 13/70 f.688v Annotate, HCA 13/71 f.276v Annotate
Chancery start page(s)
Letter start page(s)
Miscellaneous start page(s)
Act book date(s)
Personal answer date(s)
Allegation date(s)
Interrogatories date(s)
Deposition date(s) Jan 17 1655, Nov 9 1655, Jul 1 1656
How complete is this biography?
Has infobox completed Yes
Has synthesis completed No
Has HCA evidence completed No
Has source comment completed No
Ship classification
Type of ship Merchant ship
Silver Ship litigation in 1650s
Role in Silver Ship litigation None

Biographical synthesis

Captaine Thomas Ewens (alt. Thomas Ewens; Thomas Ewen) (b. ca. 1609; d. poss. ca. 1667). Mariner.

Commander of the ship the Scipio in between 1648 and 1651, and possibly outside this period.

Resident in 1655 and 1656 in Limehouse in parish of Stepney.

Listed as a vestryman of Limehouse in February 1655.

The Stepney hearth tax returns for 1666 show "Capt. Tho: Ewens 8 hearths" in Nightingall Lane.[1]

The will of Thomas Ewens is dated October 8th 1664 and proved on February 4th 1667[2]

The widow of Charles Conyers, who is mentioned by Sir William Ryder in his correspondence with Sir George Oxenden, may have married Captain Thomas Ewens' twenty-seven year old son, also named Thomas Ewen, who styled himself a gentleman and bachelor. The marriage took place in December 1667.[3]

Evidence from High Court of Admiralty

January 1655

Forty-six year old Captaine Thomas Ewens deposed on January 17th 1655 in the High Court of Admiralty. He was examined on an allegation in the case of the "Claime of the said Captaine Andrew Rand for his goods in the Nostra Seniora da Rosario.[4]

Thomas Ewens stated that he was at Bahia de Tadas las Santos in Brazil in June and July 1650, with his ship the Scipio, of which he was commander. Also at that port were Andrew Rand, who was commander of the ship the Thomas and Lucy and George Wheeler, who was commander of a Portuguese ship called the Nostra Senora da Rosario.[5]

November 1655

On November 9th 1655, forty-six year old Thomas Ewen deposed again in the High Court of Admiralty. This time the Court notary did not assign him the title of Captain, but the signature is identical with his January 1655 deposition, and again he is described as being resident in Limehouse. He was examined on an allegation on behalf of Robert Rich in "A busines of examination of wittnesses to perpetuity by and on the behalfe of Robert Rich owner of the shipp the Chapman of London (whereof Nicholas Trevrire was master) her apparrell tackle and furniture touching the losse of the sayd shipp occasioned by the subiects of the King of Portugall".[6]

July 1656

Forty-seven year old Thomas Ewen deposed on July 1st 1656 in the High Court of Admiralty. He was examined on an allegation the cause of "Gold Roach and others against Dobbins".[7]

Ewens gave expert testimony regarding the custom of average and primage. Stating that he had frequented the sea as a mariner for the last thirty years he secribed the practices he had seeen. As a general principle "in all sea voyages there hath bin and is an allowance to the master and companies of shipps, in some voyages more and in some lesse according to the nature of the voyage and the qualities of the goods".[8] He then exemplified, saying "from Saint Malo France, Newhaven, fflanders, or Dover to Genoa or Ligorne, or other ports in Spaine Portugal or Italy or from Spaine Portugal or Italy to Saint Malo's, Roane, New haven, fflanders or Dover the masters and companies use by custome to have for average upon every bale of strangers goods one Ryall at least upon every docket fraight and for English goods a royall upon every bale good and three Ryalls every tonne and this customary allowance hee saith is comprized under the names of primage and average, or more properly average, and saith there is constantly in English billls, mention made of primage and average, a part from the freight".[9] Ewens was clear that average was separate from freight, saying "there is constantly in English billls, mention made of primage and average, a part from the freight".[10]

He then turned to the custom of average on the Lisbon to Brazil sea route. He drew on his experience as ommander of the ship the Scipio, which had gone from Lisbon to Brazil, and whose charter party and bills of lading specified the average to be paid to mariners. His comments are worth reproduceing in their entrety:

" for divers yeares last past wherein English shipps have gonne from Lisbone to Brazilia manned with English, there hath constantly a certaine average bin used to be expressed in every Charter partie and bill of lading for and in lieu of average over and besides the freight expressed in the said charter parties and bills, which said average, (as being belonging to the masters and mariners, and not to the owners of the shipps) hath bin accustomed constantly to be paid and allowed by the ffreighters, and that the same was not nor is ever understood to be allowed or given to the owners of the shipp imployed, but to the masters and company as an encouragement and regard in regard of their care and diligence of in stowing and preserving the lading as much as in them lives, and depending the same against men of warr or otherwise hazarding their lives for the same; and alsoe as an earnest or obligation upon them to be carefull of the said lading, in asmuch as by their receiving the said average, they stand liable for dammage that shall happen by ill stowage or want of due pumping and performing their bounden duties in that behalfe, which hee knoweth for the reasons aforesaid, and for that hee hath gonne the said voyage from Lisbone to Brazila, as commander of the shipp Scipio which was manned with English, and this deponent had his charter partie and bills made accordingly."[11]

His own experience as commander of the Scippio on a voyage in 1650 from Lisbon to Brazil and back was then detailed. She went "freighted by charterpartie for the said voyage homewards by the Portugall Brazila company, and with that foure Mil Res per tonne was expressed to be his avarage for the said voyage in his Charterpartie (which hee hath nowe with him) for the goods laden from Brazila for Portugal, and for the goods from Portugall hee was to have eight mil Res per tonne freight, and for average upon the same hee saith hee
received a teston upon every Mil Re of freight according to the custome, but had noe charterpartie for the said outward voyage,and saith his owners never claimed or pretended to the said average".[12]


Thomas Pinshurst, a thirty-five year old shipwright of Redriff in Surrey, deposed on March 8th 1659 in the High Court of Admiralty. He was examined on an allegation in the cause of "Humfrey ffosse John Tucker and Charles Howgate late mariners of the shipp the Scipio against Thomas Ewen the captaine thereo".[13] The case concerned a dispute between some former mariners of the Scipio for unpaid pay. Pinshurst had been carpenter's mate in the Scipio, and claimed that when hired he was told the voyage was for the Mediteranean and not for Brazil. Pinshurst himseelf had settled a former dispute with Ewens and said "hee is paid all his wages for the voyage in question according to an arbitration made betweene the sayd Ewens and this deponent thereabout soe that hee intendeth noe suite against Ewens whosoever prevaileth in this cause".[14]

Comment on sources


PROB 11/135/674 Will of Robert Ewens, Mariner of London 10 June 1620


PROB 11/213/357 Will of William Ewens, Mariner of Greenwich, Kent 12 August 1650


"List of vestrymen & parishioners, Limehouse, 1654/5

"ffebruarie the 27:th 1654

Att a Generall Meeting of the Parishion:rs in the Vestry house the daye & yeare afforesaid, the house being full Itt was taken into consideracon the greate want of Meetings for the settling and carrieing on of the weighty Matters of the Parish, the regulateing of all abuses and the more speedy effecteing of such good and wholsome orders & y:e execution of all good lawes that tends to reformacon & that haue thought fitt att this Meeteing to avoyde tumolteoues appearances for future and referr the Matter & consideracon vnto the severall Gentlemen whose names are hereunder to be a representative of pish of Stepnie & bee called a vestry and that they & every of them by their consents and meeteings or adiounem:ts to doe and act to all intents and purposes as the whole Parish, And that all Meeteings appoynted by them or any twelve of them together w:th two of the Churchwardens for tyme being, shall bee held deemed, and hereafter accounted a lawfull number:

In Ratcliffe

[Names ommitted for this wiki note]

In Lymehouse

Cap:t John Limbrey
M:r John Heaman
Cap:t Walter Maniard [sic]
Cap:t John Proud
Cap:t William Baylie
M:r John Ducie
Cap:t Richard Reade
M:r William Graues
Cap:t John Harris
Cap:t Thomas Ewens"[15]

fn. 4 on Capt. Thomas Ewens: "Captain Thomas Ewens, one of those recommended by Waterton (p. 179). His will was dated October 8, 1664, and on March 2, 1666, his widow, Martha (for her life), and son, Thomas, were admitted at a manorial court to his property: - State Papers, Domestic; Stepney Court Rolls, iii. 59, v. 178."


PROB 11/323/163 Will of Thomas Ewen, Mariner of Stepney, Middlesex 04 February 1667

"[1667] Dec. 17 Thomas Ewen, of Limehouse, par. Stepney, Midx., Gent., Bach:r, ab:t 27, & Elizabeth Conyers, of S:t Giles, Cripplegate, Wid., ab:t 28; at S:t Giles, Cripplegate"[16]
  1. Hearth Tax: Middlesex 1666: Stepney : Nightingale Lane', London Hearth Tax: City of London and Middlesex, 1666 (2011). URL:, viewed 10 February 2012
  2. PROB 11/323/163 Will of Thomas Ewen, Mariner of Stepney, Middlesex 04 February 1667
  3. Joseph Lemuel Chester, Allegations for marriage licences issued by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, 1558-1699: also, for those issued by the Vicar-General of the Archbishop of Canterbury, 1660 to 1679 (London, 1886), p. 143
  4. HCA 13/70 f.54r
  5. HCA 13/70 f.54r
  6. HCA 13/70 f.688v
  7. HCA 13/71 f.276v
  8. HCA 13/71 f.276v
  9. HCA 13/71 f.277r
  10. HCA 13/71 f.277r
  11. HCA 13/71 f.277r
  12. HCA 13/71 f.277v
  13. HCA 13/73 f.76v
  14. HCA 13/73 f.77v
  15. G.W. Hill, W.H. Frere (eds.), Memorials of Stepney parish that is to say the vestry minutes from 1579 to 1662 (Guilford, 1890-91), pp. 202-203
  16. Joseph Lemuel Chester, Allegations for marriage licences issued by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, 1558-1699: also, for those issued by the Vicar-General of the Archbishop of Canterbury, 1660 to 1679 (London, 1886), p. 143