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Miscellanies: Dr. Hector Nunez: Elizabethan Merchant

Charles Meyers

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Dr Hector Nunez: Elizabethan merchant CHARLES MEYERS Dr Hector Nunez, a Portuguese Marrano doctor, was born in Evora, Portugal in 1520. He attended the University of Coimbra, receiving a BA in 1540, and a BA in medicine in 1543. Nunez emigrated to Bristol in 1546.1 The records of the Huguenot Society of London indicate that Dr Nunez resided in London in 1549.2 Although Dr Nunez was a trained medical doctor, he chose to expend most of his energies trading extensively in Europe,3 Morocco,4 South America,5 and India,6 between 1560 and his death in 1591, utilizing both his immediate relatives7 and commercial partners.8 This trade by Dr Nunez resulted in numerous legal suits initiated by and against him. It is the purpose of this paper to discuss three examples of the diverse suits involved: debt, maritime insurance, and piracy on the high seas. The first case is concerned with a debt owed to Dr Nunez by Valentine Goodwyn, a London merchant.9 Goodwyn owed Nunez ?18 7 12s 2d, for which he was held in the Marshalsea.10 Dr Nunez, through his lawyer, Christopher Rust, brought suit in Trinity term 1589 at Queen's Bench, Westminster. On 1 May, in the parish of St Mary-Le-Bow, Cheapside, Goodwyn acknowledged his debt to Nunez through a bond.11 However, when Nunez sought payment, Goodwyn did not comply. Dr Nunez then brought suit for the sum owed him as well as ?10 for damages. The judges at Queen's Bench ordered Goodwyn to reply to Nunez's suit on 10 October 1589. Goo4wyn, represented by Mr Nightingale, claimed he could not pay Nunez. The court rejected Goodwyn's professed inability to pay, and the judges declared that Nunez should recover his original debt and receive ?1 damages. Goodwyn was declared in 'mercy' of the court. The decision at Queen's Bench on 10 October 1589 did not resolve the suit brought by Dr Nunez. Payment was not only delayed indefinitely, but Goodwyn briefed a new lawyer to represent him at Queen's Bench. Ralph Scrivener appeared before the court on 20 January 1591 and declared that Goodwyn did not owe Nunez the money.12 This contention was rejected by the court. The judges declared that the full debt and 10s damages must be paid to Nunez as soon as possible. Goodwyn had no further legal recourse. The case officially ended on 31 January 1591 when Christopher Rust appeared at Queen's Bench and stated that Nunez was fully satisfied by Goodwyn concerning the debt and the damages levied by the court. The court then pardoned Goodwyn from further legal obligations. 129</page><page sequence="2">I30 Charles Meyers In the second case, Dr Nunez and his associates sought to recover insurance for the Anna Galante, seized by Zealand pirates on her way from the port of Dunkirk to Barbary. Nunez appeared on 11 July 1577 before the judges of the Admiralty to indicate that they had taken out an insurance policy at the Royal Exchange in the event of the ship being seized or lost at sea.13 The Admiralty appointed Richard Salstinsto, William Tursam, William Widnell and Hugh Offeley as commisioners in this insurance case, and these investigated the matter with all parties concerned and ruled in favour of Dr Nunez and his associates. William Villers was obligated to pay ?25, John Baptista de Sambitores had to pay ?16 13s 4d, and Alard Bartrincke had to pay ?25.14 The third case covered in this paper is the restitution of goods belonging to Dr Nunez. The Portuguese ship, the St Frances, loaded by Alonso de Basurto with sugar from Brazil, was seized by the Galleon Fenner under the leadership of Edward and William Fenner, in 15 8 5.15 The ship and its cargo were taken into Sussex and bespoiled. Dr Nunez appealed to the Privy Council for the restitution of his stolen goods. William Arrowsmith, in possession of the sugar, was called before the commissioners appointed by the Privy Council on 15 November 1586.16 Alonso de Basurto represented Dr Nunez at the Council meeting. Basurto claimed that besides the 17^ chests of sugar for which Arrowsmith had compounded to Nunez, he had also received an additional 2^ chests of sugar. He did admit that Arrowsmith had given him in partial payment his bill for 40s towards the 17^ chests of sugar. The commissioners listened to the testimony of both sides in the matter. Arrowsmith was held responsible for the debt owed Nunez. He had to pay Nunez an additional ?3 5s 8d. Once this was received, Nunez would give Arrowsmith a general dismissal for all of his demands. The three cases discussed in this paper are representative of the numerous suits of various natures that involved Nunez and his associates in Elizabethan courts from the 1560s until his death on 13 September 1591. In fact, Nunez' demise did not deter the continuance of court cases begun before his death, for instance, Richard May v. Dr Hector Nunez in 1586. The case involved goods seized by the Spanish authorities in Lisbon, which belonged to May. Richard May's widow, Mary, continued the case against Elinor Nunez and Fernando Alvarez until a final decision was reached in 1599.17 NOTES i Lisbon Inquisition, Processo 9449: 1556-7. This is the testimony of Tomas Fer? nandas, the nephew of Dr Henrique Nunes of Bristol. His uncle resided in the city from 1545-55. Tomas and Hector were cousins. 2 Huguenot Society of London, Publica</page><page sequence="3">Dr Hector Nunez: Elizabethan merchant 131 tions. Returns of Aliens in the City and Suburbs of London (1523-15 71), X, Parti, 167. Dr Nunez is cited as residing in St Dunstan's Parish, part of Tower Ward. See also Lucien Wolf, 'Jews in Elizabethan England', Trans JHSE XI (1928) 1-91. 3 A major component of Nunez' trade was with Portugal. See HC A Exemplifications, 14/16, N.148, 26 May 1576; HCA Exemplifi? cations, 14/23, N.58, Jan. 1586; HCA 13/26, f.289, 23 June 1587; KB 27/1331, N.313. In addition to these citations, data on the Portu? guese trade is amply illustrated by the Richard May v. Dr Hector Nunez case that began in 1586 and ended in 1599. See C24/250, N.6, p.34, Dec. 1586; C33/87, P.389CL 15 Oct. 1594; C33/94, p.i28d, 13 June 1598; and C33/94, p. 822, 14 June 1599. Nunez and his associates also used Antwerp as a base for trade. See HCA Examinations, 13/26, ff. 2 75~6d, 20 June 1587. An extensive trade existed between Antwerp and Morocco. Nunez also traded with Spain on an extended basis. See the May Case for the contacts of Bernal Luis Freyle in Madrid and HCA 24/58, f.i24v, N.2, 23 Dec. 1590. The citation indicates that Jasper Fernandes Hespartero, who resided in Seville, was the agent and factor of Dr Nunez and Peter Freire. Hespartero was one of several agents in Spain for Nunez besides Freyle. 4 The White Dog of Antwerp seized by Nicholas Culverwell in 1586 in Plymouth Sound and brought to La Rochelle, France. The cargo of sugar and molasses would be sold there. This case is indicative of the Moroccan trade carried on by Nunez and his associates. See HCA Examinations, 13/16 (9 March 1569), 13/17 (21, 23 May, 4-5 June, 22 July 1569) . Also, see HCA Libels, 24/41 (20 Jan. 1570) and 24/42 (4 Dec. 1570). 5 HCA Act Books, 3/19, 15 Nov. 1586. The case concerns the seizure of the Portu? guese ship, the Frances, with a cargo of Brazilian sugar by the Galleon Fenner under Edward and William Fenner in 1585. Case data is found in this paper. 6 HCA 24/56, f.124, N.76, June-Nov. 1590. Alvare de Lima (Lyma) was the factor of Dr Nunez and Peter Freire in Vayaha, India. See HCA 24/58, f. 124; 23 Dec. 1590. 7 In order to expedite trade between the cities of London, Lisbon, Madrid and Antwerp, Dr Nunez utilized his relatives in these cities. Alvaro (Alvarez) de Lima (Lyma) and Fer? nando Alvarez (Dalvarez) were based in Lon? don. Geronimo Pardo (Perdo) and Peter Freiere (Freire) resided in Lisbon. Bernal Luis Freyle was based in Madrid. However, both Freiere and Freyle, who were brothers, also travelled to Antwerp and to other European cities, including London. 8 The commercial partners of Dr Nunez were Luis Fernandes and Salvador Nunes in Antwerp and Morocco, Henry and Ferdinand Gomez serve Nunez in Morocco, e.g., the White Dog case. Alonso de Basurto (Vasurto) resided in London and Simon Soiero (Swero) was based in Antwerp. However, Salvador Nunes, Simon Soiero, and Alonso de Basurto were the primary commercial partners throughout his career. Basurto was very close to the imme? diate Nunez family, e.g., his name can be found in the will of Dr Nunez: PROB/11/78, f.66. Nunez left Basurto the sum of ?20 10s. Also, Basurto witnessed the will of Alvaro de Lima in 1596: PROB/11/87, f.28. 9 KB 27/1311, N.522, Michaelmas 31-2 Elizabeth (1589-90). 10 S. H. Steinberg and I. H. Evans, eds. Steinberg's Dictionary of British History, 224. Marshalsea was a prison in Southwark. From 1430 onwards, Marshalsea received Admir? alty prisoners and those committed for debt. 11 Op cit 12 KB 27/1316, m70od. 13 HCA Act Book, 3/17, p.24id (1569-77). 14 Ibid, p.242. 15 HCA Exemplifications, 14/23, N.58, Feb. 1586. 16 HCA Act Book, 3/19, 7 Nov. 1586. 17 Chancery - Decrees and Orders, 33/94? p.822, 14 June 1599.</page></plain_text>