On This Day in Trinity House History – 18 February


The Elder Brethren put an end to extravagant dinners

Trinity House Court Minute:

“After this day the Clerk is to provide for the Corporation three dishes of good meat and not to exceed unless upon Quarter Day or upon special occasions.”

The above came, much in the same way as the forfeiture of 2d. for pipe smoking during Court, as a way of stamping out the bad habits that had been brought into the house when a Parliament-appointed committee governed the activities of the Corporation during the Interregnum, and had allowed standards and manners to lapse between 1648 and 1659. Presumably the Parliament-appointed committee had indulged in somewhat extravagant dinners in the absence of the Elder Brethren.

For more on the disruption caused by the aftermath of the English Civil War, see On This Day in Trinity House History – 2 February.

On This Day in Trinity House History – 4 February


Trinity House Writes By-Law to Prevent Bad Manners

Trinity House Court Minute:

“Ordered that whosoever in Court tyme shall take a pipe of tobacco, being of the fraternity, shall forfeit 2d. for the use of the poor, which shall be put into the Poor’s box. Neither shall any withdraw in tyme of the Court sitting unless upon some urgent occasion.”

The above By-Law was written by the Elder Brethren of Trinity House as an inducement to good manners when it was discovered that the Parliament-appointed committee governing the Corporation during the Interregnum had allowed standards and manners to lapse between 1648 and 1659.

PipeDuring the upheaval caused by the English Civil War and Cromwell’s Commonwealth, the Corporation was caught up in the various political machinations and eventually accused of royalist sympathies and dissolved by Parliament. An Ordinance to regulate the Navy, the Customs, and Trinity House dated 16 January 1648 declared anyone of royalist sympathy since 1641 incapable of holding office under pain of crippling penalties. As a result, most of the Elder Brethren were either removed or had to resign, and a Parliamentary committee was appointed to sit in their place.

This committee represented no great reform, however, and carried on its daily affairs in much the same way as before, to that extent that, in July 1659, the former Brethren were asked to bring their experience to the committee’s assistance.

It was not until 1660 that the Corporation was able to restore its Court and powers with a charter of confirmation from King Charles II; the House of Commons appointed a Master and several other members, and directed them to restore the Corporation of Trinity House.

Former Brethren returned and others were appointed following the Restoration [the collapse of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate] in May 1660. The traditional annual election of the Master and Wardens was revived on Trinity Monday in June, with George Monck, first Duke of Albemarle appointed the new Master. Admirals Sir William Batten and Sir William Penn and Edward, first Earl of Sandwich are some of the more recognisable names on a list of eminent Lords, Admirals and Knights, alongside the requisite number of merchant captains.