Locks, Wears and Mills. 40

Locks, Wears and Mills.

For as then, for want of Water, when they lay on Ground, they had no Help but by shutting of the said Locks, to send down some Flashes of Water, whereby to set them on float, which otherwise should lie still for a long Time. That within the Banks or Wears belonging to the said Mills, were contained infinite Loads of Chalk and other Rubbish; which if they should be loosed or stirred, it were the next way to choak the River, and thereby to overthrow the Substance of all Passage. That notwithstanding divers and sundry Laws heretofore made for the Furtherance and Passage of Ships, Barges and other Vessels; yet were the said Mills, Locks, and Wears within the River of Thamyse never impeached, as Things repugnant to Law, or offensive to the Commonwealth, for and until such time as one Bishop began his outragious Attempts therein. It was also to be understood, that the Mills, Locks and Wears within the River, amounting in the whole to the Number of LXX. or thereabouts, were for part the Queen's Inheritance: And for the Residue, the Inheritance of divers other of her Subjects; the Queen having only a Way or Passage for her People thorow the said Locks. And that Marlow Lock particularly, was as well maintained, or better, than ever it was in any Age past. And that it was obtained from the Queen in the Tenth Year of her Reign; and that the same was now as well and carefully used as ever it was; and so fully proved by sundry Depositions remaining of Record in her Majesty's Court of the Star Chamber; besides sundry other Depositions taken before the Commissioners of Sewers; as also by the several Decrees made in the Queen's said Court of Star Chamber.

Secondly, As for the Causes why the Passage through these Locks were become somewhat more perillous than heretofore; they were, That the Barges were now of greater Burthen than ever they were in Time past, being almost double of what they were wont to be. That they laded them so extremely as therein was no measure: That they were in Time past wont to unlade part of their Lading beneath the Lock, when they were to come up, and take it in again above. And namely, when they brought up but Seven or eight Loads; whereas now of Twenty Loads, they commonly would not unlade any thing: That they entertained People of no Skill, and such as for many of them, used not that Foresight that were meet. That many times they would travel up and down so late and so early, that they could not see or perceive what they did. That they commonly spared neither Sabbath Day, nor others; besides much ill Demeanor, too long to be recited. And in fine, that there was more likelihood of Peril in these Days than heretofore, in that the Number of Barges within the Time of Memory, were encreased from the Number of X. or XII. to that of Fourscore, or thereabouts.


Lastly, As touching the Persons drowned and slain at Marlow Lock within this Eight Years, one was drowned by manifest Negligence, partly that the Barge was overcharged with a greater Burthen than should have been; and also, that it wanted Wash-boards on the Sides, as all other Barges commonly had for their Defence. Another in truth was drowned, but not at the Lock. Another killed by his own Negligence and Folly. Another came up the said Lock in the Winter so late, as he could not discern what he did. That it was no mervail, though they now and then break a Cable; in that they were many times made of ill Stuff, and their Barges being so great, and so unmeasurably laden. That in all Ages past, some now and then had by Negligence of Watermen perished at the said Locks; which, next to the Providence of Almighty God, were by the good Foresight and Provision of the Passengers chiefly to be holpen, and could not otherwise be provided for.

At another Time, when the like Complaint was made against these Mills, Locks and Wears, these Things were said and proved for the Maintenance of them. First, That they were erected and made, and so have continued for many Hundred Years, without any Challenge or Interruption. That the Laws and Statutes of this Realm, whereof the last was made in the 12. Edw. IV. that touch the Reformation of Locks and Wears, extend only to such as then were erected to the Disturbance of Barges and other Vessels. Whereas at that Time there was no common Passage for Barges so far as Marlow or Bysham, as it was upon vehement Presumption thought. That it was further to be most manifestly proved, that within the Memory of such as be yet living, there were not above the Number of Four Barges that passed so far into the River of Thamyse as Marlow or Bisham; and that such as then passed were not above half the Burthen of such as now commonly passed by the said River, being near about the Number of Threescore. That it was most certain and true, that such inconsiderate People, and namely, of the said Bargemen as wished or desired the Decay or pulling down the Locks and Wears, desired therein but their own great Hindrance, or rather Undoing; considering that without them they could not pass; and that many times, and especially at Low Waters, they were enforced to desire the shutting of the said Locks, to the end to convey Water for the removing of their Barges when they were set on Ground. That if the said Wears should be pulled down, there were such Quantities of Chalk and other Rubbish therein, as that by the loosing thereof, such Hills would grow in many Places, as that a small Boat in divers Places of the Thamyse would hardly pass. That in case the said Passage should be disturbed, it should not only tend to the great Let and Hindrance of the Queen's Provision, and of her City of London, but also of divers of her Subjects and People. That the Provision for grinding of great Part of the Inhabitants Corn within the Counties of Bucks, Berks, and Oxon, rested upon the Mills situate within the said River; which, without the said Locks and Wears, could not be maintained, or grind any thing; and should they decay, the Inhabitants would be to seek where to grind their Corn. That in all the Commissions of Sewers, that in any Age or Time had been awarded, these Mills and Locks were never thought to be within the Precinct of any Laws, or in any respect meet to be reformed. That if any Disorder were herein, the same were to be reformed by the ordinary Proceedings of the Queen's Majesties Laws, and not otherwise.

Reasons for the maintaining the Wears.

About the Year 1508. certain Mills were erected upon this River Thames, near the Bridge, to grind Corn for the better Supply of the City. For the City had for some Years past suffered very much by reason of Dearth, and Scarcity of Corn, and that encreased greatly for some Number of Miles about the City, in regard of the Difficulty of grinding of Corn for the Relief of the Poor. Therefore in the Month of March, 1588. the Maior, Aldermen, and Commonalty of the City, petitioned the Queen, that they might erect four Corn Mills on the River of Thames, under two Roofs near the Bridge, in such Places where it should breed no Annoyance. Whereupon several of the Council, viz. the Lord Chancellor Hatton, the Earl of Leicester, Charles Howard, Baron of Effingham, Sir Francis Knollys, Sir Francis Walsingham, sent their Letter, April 1. 1588. from the

Corn Mills erected on the River.

The City petition the Queen to set up certain Mills near the Bridge.