Folio. 340 by 230mm. Single leaf as issued, paper loss to upper left corner, small tear with no loss of text, edges creased, folded. Inscribed on verso. Large historiated woodcut initial and Royal crest. Oxford, [Leonard Lichfield], .
A proclamation prohibiting the sale or disposal of valuable goods including silver and cochineal from the Spanish ship Sancta Clara pending an investigation into their lawful ownership. The proclamation’s inception came at the behest of Don Alonco de Cardenas, King Philip IV of Spain’s Ambassador to London. De Cardenas addressed the King in a speech given at Court at Oxford, and this proclamation was the immediate result. The Sancta Clara was the victim of an act of piracy whilst traversing the dangerous trade routes between the Spanish main and Europe. The pirate in question is the otherwise seemingly unknown captain Bennet Strafford, who along with his associates is accused of unlawfully seizing the vessel in Santo Domingo before bringing her back to Southampton in order to disperse the plundered booty. The inclusion of cochineal in her cargo would strongly indicate that the Sancta Clara had set off from Mexico before being waylaid at a Spanish port in the West Indies. Often overlooked for more glimmering bounties like silver and gold, the dyestuffs produced from indigenous Central American flora and fauna were of great value, and highly sought after in European markets. The proclamation specifically prohibits all persons “to buy, meddle with, or dispose of any part of the said Cocheneale”. The fact that the taking of this ship threatened to cause a diplomatic incident between England and Spain, on the eve of the English Civil War, further evinces the value of this commodity. A translation of de Cardenas’ full speech was printed the following year with the title A SPEECH, OR COMPLAINT, LATELY Made by the Spanish Embassadour to his Majestie at Oxford, upon occasion of the taking of a Ship called Sancta Clara. This gives further details of the incident, the severe sanctions threatened by the Spanish crown, and the immediate response of Lords Mawbray and Faulkland, including their disavowal of Bennet Strafford as a member of the King’s Navy. OLCL finds copies of this broadside at BL, Huntington and Harvard. ESTC adds Oxford and Eton. ESTC, R226402; Madden, 1158; Wing, C2691