Newport Medieval Ship was discovered within the boundaries
of the former Lordship of Newport with its administrative
centre in Newport Castle. The Lordship was one of the possessions
of the Staffords. The wealth and lands of the Staffords
were vast, and they were among the most powerful members
of the baronage in the later medieval period. The site of
the creek or bay where the Newport ship was abandoned appears
to be on the boundary of lands belonging to an Austin
Friary founded in 1377 by Hugh Stafford, second Earl
of Stafford. This was next to an open area to the south
of the Town Pill which was the main
landing point in the medieval and early post medieval period.
A map of Newport dated 1794 shows a projection into the
River Usk described as the Moderator Slip. This may be a
slipway discovered above the ship during the archaeological
was Humphrey, later to be created Duke of Buckingham, who
in 1427 granted a confirmation charter to the borough of
Newport. This charter confirmed that "all merchants
with their merchandise shall not pass elsewhere through
our lordships, either by water or by land, than by the royal
streets of our town aforesaid for the reason that we or
our heirs may at any time lose our toll or other customs
due to us". (ii)
Minister Accounts for Newport for 1464-1465 indicate that
the Lordship received revenues from traffic "under
and over the bridge" and to the passage of vessels
"beyond the water" before the making of the bridge.
(iii) Between 1465 and 1468, during his receivership
of Newport, William, Lord Herbert was able to make a net
annual profit of about £358 - above the annual farm
of £100 a year which he was paying into the Exchequer.
After the execution of Edward, third Duke of Buckingham
in 1522 a survey of his estates records
said toune of Newport is a burgh and a p'pur toune and hath
a goodly haven commyng unto hit, well occupied with small
Crayes whereunto a veray great shippe may resoorte and have
good harbour." (v)
the 10th July 1460 Humphrey Stafford, first Duke of Buckingham,
was killed fighting on the Lancastrian side in the Battle
of Northampton. His son, Humphrey Lord Stafford, had died
in 1458 and the Stafford inheritance passed to his son,
Henry second Duke of Buckingham, at that time still a minor.
After the death of his grandfather the lands inherited by
Henry, second Duke of Buckingham, went into wardship. The
custody of the Lordship of Newport was granted to Richard
Neville, Earl of Warwick (Warwick the Kingmaker), together
with several other Stafford territories on 4th. November
1460. However on 11th.May 1461 King Edward IV placed the
custody of Newport in the hands of William Herbert, Baron
Herbert of Raglan.
2nd February1461 Herbert supported Edward at the Battle
of Mortimer's Cross, in Herefordshire. This was a major
victory for the Yorkists and Herbert was made Chief Justice
and Chamberlain of South Wales. He was created Earl of Pembroke
in 1468 as a reward for his capture of Harlech Castle, the
last Lancastrian stronghold in England and Wales. He was
also a ship owner and in 1465 was granted the wreckage of
a great ship of his called the Gabrielle which had been
wrecked off the coast of Ireland. (vi)
Herbert was defeated and executed after the Battle of Edgecote
on 6th. July 1469 by the Earl of Warwick. The custody of
the Lordship of Newport passed back to the Earl of Warwick
but he again lost custody when his possessions were seized
after his flight to France in March 1470. His subsequent
return and the deposing of Edward IV in October 1470 allowed
him to regain control of Newport (vii) until his death at
the Battle of Barnet on 14th April 1471. Edward then regained
his throne and the custody of Newport may have passed to
the Duke of Gloucester, the future Richard III. (viii) Henry,
Second Duke of Buckingham, came into his inheritance in
his wealth Warwick had at times insufficient resources to
support his activities. Warwick therefore at times allowed
his ships to indulge in piracy to boost his finances as
well as capturing "legitimate" enemy vessels during
periods of war, and large numbers of ships including Burgundian,
French, Spanish, Portuguese and Breton ships were captured.
(ix) One of the last acts of piracy by his fleet occurred
in March 1471 when his ships seized and plundered twelve
large Portuguese ships despite the alliance between England
and Portugal. (x) However there is no obvious candidate
for the Newport Ship to be one of the vessels known to have
been captured by Warwick or his agents.
private fleet included large ships of up to 500 tons. One
of his ships, also called the Trinity, was captured by pirates
from St Malo in 1465 and was possibly returned on the orders
of the French King Louis XI. A Trinity that was ceremoniously
commissioned on 12th June 1469 at Sandwich may have been
this ship refitted for the Earl of Warwick. However it cannot
be the Newport ship excavated in 2002 as this was abandoned
during refitting. (xi) Nor is it likely to be the same Trinity
of Newport recorded in 1461 as this did not appear to one
of Warwick's fleet.
letter of authorisation dated 22 November 1469 by the Earl
of Warwick to Thomas Throkmorton, his receiver of Glamorgan
and Morgannwg authorised the payment to Trahagren ap Merik
(xii) for payments he had made of £10 to John Colt
and of 53s.4d. to Richard Port purser for "the making
of the ship at Newport". (xiii) He also paid 6s 8d
to William Toker, mariner for the carriage of iron (presumably
nails) from Cardiff to Newport for the ship and £15
2s 6d to Matthew Jubber in money, iron, salt and other stuff
belonging to the ship. However these amounts are too small
to cover the cost of even a small ship and the Newport Ship
excavated in 2002 was an old ship, partly repaired, but
then partly dismantled. It remains to be seen whether John
Colt and Richard Port's ship is the excavated Newport Ship
although if the payments were made for a repair then the
costs seem reasonable. (xiv)
origins of the Newport Ship are still enigmatic but the
ship must have strong Portuguese connections as the coins
and pottery found in the bilges are Portuguese.
Text of the Warwick Letter
Earl of Warwick and Salisbury great chamberlain of England
and captain of Calais to Thomas Throckmorton our receiver
of our lordship of Glamorgan and Morgannwg greeting.
will and charge you that of the revenues of your office
to your hands coming you content and pay
Trahagren ap Merick £10 the which he paid unto John
Colt for the making of the ship at Newport to Richard
Port purser of the same 53s 4d, to William Toker mariner
for carriage of iron from Cardiff unto Newport for the
said ship 6s 8d to Matthew Jubber in money, iron, salt
and other stuff belonging to the said ship £15 2s
under our signet at our castle of Warwick the 22 day of
November the ninth year of the reign of our sovereign
lord king Edward the fourth. (1469)
more information about the 'Newport Ship' see: The
Friends' Of Newport Ship Website
Other "ship finds" in the Newport area include
part of a vessel discovered in April 1868 during the excavation
of a new timber pond at the Newport Alexandra Dock. At the
time it was described as Danish built clinker vessel. (xv)
This seemed to be confirmed by the radiocarbon dating of
a small piece of surviving oak planking, which suggested
a date centred on AD 950. However subsequent investigations
indicate that the vessel may not be Danish and that since
the sample came from the innermost part of a tree the date
of felling could be much later. (xvi)
In 1928 fragments of a "barge", including a "rudder"
and a "Y shaped" piece were recovered during building
work for the National Provincial Bank on the corner of Cambrian
Road and Bridge Street, Newport. They were found at a depth
of 10 feet below ground level in association with pot sherds
of 14th. Century Bristol Redcliffe ware. (xvii) This indicates
that in the mediaeval period the Town Pill extended into
the town centre as can be also seen on 18th century maps
In 1994 the distorted timbers of a boat, dated by dendro-chronolgy
to AD 1240, and believed to be a small coastal vessel, were
found at Magor Pill near Newport. Magor Pill has been identified
as the former site of a mediaeval landing place known as
Abergwaitha. The boat timbers were recovered on behalf of
the National Museum of Wales for eventual display. (xviii)
(i) A Plan of the Town and Liberties of the Borough
of Newport in the County of Monmouth 1794 Newport Reference
Library pqM (912).
(ii) William Rees 'The Charters of the Borough
of Newport in Gwynllwg.' (1951).
(iii) Gwent Record Office MAN/B/90/0004. Information
from Tony Hopkins.
(iv) Carole Rawcliffe 'The Staffords, Earls of
Stafford and Dukes of Buckingham 1394-1521.' (1978)
(v) State Papers Dom; Henry VIII. Vol. 3, Part
1. A cray was a small trading vessel.
(vi) C.P.R., 1467-77, page 427.
(vii) C.F.R. 1461-71, page 295. Refers to the
commitment to Richard earl of Warwick - by mainprise - of
the keeping of the castle and lordship of Newport. Dated
21 Feb. 1471.
(viii) It is not clear who had custody of Newport
after the death of Warwick. However Edward IV had appointed
the Duke of Gloucester as chief justice for South Wales
during the minority of Sir William Herbert, heir of William
Herbert, late earl of Pembroke. Calendar of Patent Rolls
7 February 1470.
(ix) Charles Ross 'Edward IV' (1974). page 161
(x) Jehan de Waurin Recueil des Croniques et
Anchiennes Istories de la Grant Bretaigne. HMSO (1891) page
(xi) 'The Chronicle of John Stone' Edited by
W.G. Searle 1902 and referred to by Michael Hicks in 'Warwick
the Kingmaker' (1998) pages 250-251
(xii) Trahagren ap Merik was receiver at Newport
for William Lord Herbert 11 May 1461 - 27 July 1469 and
may have been retained by the Earl of Warwick. See Carole
(xiii) Warwick Record Office CR 1998/J2/177.
Note also that John Colt was a Northumberland supporter
of the Earl of Warwick. CPR 24 January 1464. Richard Port
was described as a "merchant of Bristol" CPR.
22 October 1462
(xiv) The Newport ship was well over 100 tons.
A ship at this time cost between £1 and £2 a
ton. See G.V. Scammell Ship Owning in England c.1450-1550.
(xv) Octavius Morgan 'Ancient Danish Vessel discovered
at the mouth of the Usk' Proceedings at a Meeting of the
Royal Archaeological Institute, June 7, 1878.
(xvi) Gillian Hutchinson 'A plank fragment from
a boat-find from the River Usk at Newport'. The International
Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploration
(1984), 13.1: 27-32. The plank fragment is in the collections
of Newport Museum and Art Gallery ref. NPTMG:1930.54.
(xvii) Unpublished. The desiccated timbers and pottery
are in the collections of Newport Museum and Art Gallery
(xviii) Nigel Nayling 'The Magor Pill Medieval Wreck'
Bob Trett 2007