On This Day in Trinity House History – 2 January


Queen Elizabeth Grants Trinity House the Power to Erect Seamarks

An Act Eighth Of Elizabeth is passed “to enable the trinity-house to erect seamarks, and give licence to mariners to row in the river of Thames.”

In return for its steady hand in aiding the maturation and expansion of London’s shipping trade, the Corporation’s powers and influence were allowed to evolve and grow steadily over the years, and so it was that, in 1566, Queen Elizabeth I granted an Act of Parliament which would increase its powers considerably.

Elizabeth I at Trinity House

Elizabeth I at Trinity House

This Act enabled Trinity House

at their wills and pleasures, and at their costs, [to] make, erect, and set up such, and so many beacons, marks, and signs for the sea, in such place or places of the sea-shores, and uplands near the sea-coasts, or forelands of the sea, only for sea-marks, as to them shall seem most meet, needful, and requisite, whereby the dangers may be avoided and escaped, and ships the better come into their ports without peril.”

Beyond the power to erect lighthouses and day marks, Elizabeth’s favour would also confer upon the Corporation the power to license pilots, exclusive ballastage rights on the Thames and, in 1573, the grant of its coat of arms, bearing Sir Thomas Spert’s sailing ship emblem and the motto Trinitas In Unitate.

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