On This Day in Trinity House History – 8 July


James II Charter of Incorporation. Samuel Pepys is appointed Master

In 1685 James II took his late brother’s throne, so Trinity House, like many other corporations, handed its charter to the new king as a sign of allegiance, and began drafting anew the articles of incorporation which James II would issue in a new charter.

Royal Charter granted to Trinity House in 1685 by King James II

Royal Charter granted to Trinity House in 1685 by King James II

The 1685 charter augments the number of the Brethren from 13 to 31, and describes their duties more fully; By-Laws are created, violation of which is to be punished by “pains and penalties, amercement and forfeitures, for the use and benefit of the Corporation, for the repairs of the house and other tenements and almshouses, for the relief of poor brothers and their widows, and other poor mariners and seafaring men…”

The lengthy charter closes with a confirmation of all former grants, liberties, immunities and jurisdictions, and reasserts the crown’s confidence in the Brethren to “commence thereon upon the conservation, good estate, and wholesome government, maintenance, and increase of the navigation of the realm, and of all mariners and seafaring persons within the same.”

John Evelyn’s diary entry for 20 July 1685 reads:

“The Trinity-Company met this day, which should have been on the Monday after Trinity, but was put off by reason of the Royal Charter being so large, that it could not be ready before. Some immunities were superadded. Mr. Pepys, Secretary to the Admiralty, was a second time chosen Master. We went to church, according to custom, and then took barge to the Trinity-House, in London, where we had a great dinner, above eighty at one table.”


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