The examinacon of Thomas Elvish [1] of Basford in the County of  Nottinghm gen[2] taken the xiiith day of May Ano dni 1608 before Sir Roger Halton [3] knight and Thomas Hatteclyff [4] esquire two of his maties Justices of peace

Ffirst being demaunded whether on Monday last being the nynth day of this instant may he did hyre the kele [5] of one Henry Spensour of  Hull then being at Gainsbrough to carry certeine stuffe & passengers from thence to Grimsby or Stallingbrough[6] haven according as Henry Spensour the maister of  the keele doth affirme in his exam: he sayth

that he cometh hither by commaundment to answeare or suffer wherein he hath offended. Other answeare to the said question he refuseth to make. And further then this he will not answeare us to any question we shall aske being asked whether he were privye to the passage of  the rest of the people brought downe in the kele & the stuffe with them and being asked how he ment to dispose of  his wyfe & family or whether they ment to goe he sayth that he cometh hither to suffer whatsoever he shal be contemned (?) of. Other answere then which he refuseth to make unto us.

The exam: of Edward Armfield servant of Thomas Elvish of Basford in the county of Nottinghm gen taken the day & yeare above said

This examinate being asked divrs questions concerning his maisters  comeing wth his wyfe & children into theise pts & of their intent & purpose how to dispose of themselves when they came hither & divrs other matters he refuseth to answeare directly to my question saveing that he confesseth that he lay at Caistrop (?) [7] on tewsday night & at the end sheepcote by humber syde on Stallingbrough shore on Wednesday night

being asked where his maister & mistris lay on Wednesday night he sayth that they were at a sheepcote at Stallingbrough shore some pt of the nights and in the morning after.

Roger Halton    Thomas Hatteclyff


[1] Elvish is one of many spellings of the name Helwys. The man referred to here is Thomas Helwys. Born in about 1575, he died in about 1614, probably in prison in London, where he was detained for sedition. Regarded by modern Baptists as a pioneer of their form of worship, Helwys offended King James I by writing a tract which argued that the king and his ministers had no right to regulate religious belief. During their early years in England, Thomas Helwys was the leading layperson among the Separatists who eventually formed the nucleus of the Plymouth Colony. Here he refuses to answer questions, to avoid incriminating himself.

[2] i.e. generosus, or gentleman.

[3] Sir Roger Halton (1566-1616): Lincolnshire landowner, with an estate at Worlaby, about ten miles from Grimsby.

[4] Thomas Hatcliff (1550-1610): another local landowner, member of Parliament for Grimsby in 1597, and Halton’s colleague as a justice of the peace.

[5]Keeles” were flat-bottomed boats which carried coal down the east coast of England, for sale in London as domestic fuel.

[6] Stallingborough Haven was a “creek” or small harbor on the Humber estuary, a few miles north of Grimsby. Due to their remote locations and the treacherous mud flats which surrounded them, the creeks between Grimsby and the Yorkshire port of Hull saw little traffic. However, they attracted suspicion from the authorities because they were sometimes used by renegade Roman Catholics travelling to and fro between the north of England and Spanish territory in Flanders.

[7] Caistor in Lincolnshire.


The National Archives of the UK, used by permission

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