Vice-Admiralty Court of Gibraltar privateer document, 1760
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- Great Britain. Court of Vice-Admiralty (Gibraltar)
- This 47-page manuscript, dated March 1760, is a series of certified copies of legal documentation from the British Vice-Admiralty Court of Gibraltar, relating to the ship Immacolata Concezione & St. Ignazio di Loyola, commanded by Roman citizen Lorenzo Ghiglino. The ship was captured by the British privateer St. Albans (Captain Edward Vernon) in October 1759 off the coast of Cadiz, Spain. The Immacolata... was brought to Gibraltar where the ship and its cargo were condemned as prizes. This manuscript provides a detailed account of the complex legal and commercial practices during the Seven Years' War. It outlines Ghiglino's earlier encounter with New York privateers in 1757 during his initial voyage to Cap Français, Saint Domingue, his acquittal in the New York Vice-Admiralty Court in 1758, efforts to secure sugar and coffee cargo in Saint Domingue in 1759, his re-capture near Cadiz by Edward Vernon, and legal arguments about prize law. The manuscript is on loose sheets, connected by stab sewing near the top edge.
- 47 pages (1 volume)
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Jayne Ptolemy, November 2022
- Scope and Content:
This 47-page manuscript, dated March 1760, is a series of certified copies of legal documentation from the British Vice-Admiralty Court of Gibraltar, relating to the ship Immacolata Concezione & St. Ignazio di Loyola, commanded by Roman citizen Lorenzo Ghiglino. The ship was captured by the British privateer St. Albans (Captain Edward Vernon) in October 1759 off the coast of Cadiz, Spain. The Immacolata... was brought to Gibraltar where the ship and its cargo were condemned as prizes. This manuscript provides a detailed account of the complex legal and commercial practices during the Seven Years' War. It outlines Ghiglino's earlier encounter with New York privateers in 1757 during his initial voyage to Cap Français, Saint Domingue, his acquittal in the New York Vice-Admiralty Court in 1758, efforts to secure sugar and coffee cargo in Saint Domingue in 1759, his re-capture near Cadiz by Edward Vernon, and legal arguments about prize law. The manuscript is on loose sheets, connected by stab sewing near the top edge.
This manuscript includes formal copies of depositions, Vice-Admiralty Court sentences or decrees, petitions and memorials, orders, letters, passports, declarations, bills of sale, certificates, accounts and invoices, bills of lading and health, interrogations, monitions, claims, allegations and their answers.
These documents provide a record of Lorenzo Ghiglino's Atlantic mercantile practices. They include commentary on the cargo being shipped aboard the Immacolata Concezione and speculation about the financial reasoning that would explain the goods. For example, Lorenzo Ghiglino's answers to Vernon's allegations against him in Gibraltar explained that his initial transatlantic voyage in 1757 "wore a very promising aspect[,] European goods being greatly wanted at Cape François & American produce vastly cheap at that Port by reason of the circumstances of the war with Great Britain which rendered it extremely hazardous for the French to transport their American produce to Europe." However, Judge Lewis Morris's opinion delivered on October 13, 1758, in the New York Vice-Admiralty court questioned the logic. He noted that the Spanish merchant backing Ghiglino's venture, Don Francisco Xavier de los Rios, gave "orders to purchase great quantities of Indigo" despite his presumed knowledge that "it is highly penal for the Subjects of any neutral state to export indigo from Cape Francois & that it is necessary that every Vessel shou'd duly appear to be a French bottom before she can export Indigo from the Cape..." Morris therefore decided it was more likely that de los Rios was covering for French merchants attempting to sell French goods in the West Indies, illustrating the complex business practices occurring during the international conflict.
Documentation of Ghiglino's voyage back to Europe in 1759 details the ongoing impact of the war on business. Mercantile constraints imposed by the British prohibited Ghiglino from loading a cargo in New York to sell in Spain and Italy, which forced him to travel to Spanish and French colonies in the West Indies to purchase goods. For the first leg of his trip to Monte Christi, he requested permission "to man the ship with French Prisoners which will save him a great expence in the article of wages." The copy of "The Governor of Monte Christi's Certificate" verified that Ghiglino was unable to secure cargo in the city over the course of a month and a half, as merchants refused to bring sugar to market there "on account of there being many English Privateers on this Coast who daily commit acts of Piracy on the Spanish Vessels trading in this commodity." Ghiglino instead travelled to Cap Français, and his purchases of sugar and coffee are documented, listing amounts and costs, as well as unsuccessful attempts by planters to secure freight for their goods to Europe. Claims by several other crew members and passengers illustrate the smaller scale trading happening aboard merchant ships.
The court records also speak to the financial imperatives motivating privateers. The copy of the New York Vice-Admiralty Court's 1758 sentence reveals the reason why the privateers who captured the Immacolata Concezione never pursued their appeal of the case in England. The merchants tasked with selling the perishable cargo, instead of holding the sums as dictated, "distributed the money arising from the Sales or a part of it among the owners or partys interested in the Privateers concern'd in the Capture. Being thus possess'd of all the proceeds of the Cargoe.... no wonder the Libellants were contented to drop the prosecution of their appeal & that they afterwards opppos'd the Genoese Captain acquiring his freight & gratification money." Later in 1759, Edward Vernon's rejection of Ghiglino's petition for additional time to secure advice from England addresses his financial concerns. Vernon noted the "considerable expense in guarding & preserving the said Vessel & Cargoe which have been exposed especially at this Season of the year to great accident and damages." Additionally, he acknowledged that the sugar cargo was "perishable especially as being on board an old Ship," and had already depreciated some twenty per cent in value.
This manuscript provides insight into maritime law, particularly through the allegations made by British privateer Edward Vernon at the Vice-Admiralty Court of Gibraltar and Ghiglino's answers. Arguments concerned issues like the ownership of vessels and cargoes, the possession of French papers, neutral rights to trade with French colonies, and the law of nations. The types of material in the document, including copies of passports, financial receipts, petitions and memorials, and more, illustrate merchants' understanding of the importance of good documentation to meet legal disputes.
The appeals process is also discussed in the records. The New York privateers claimed to have appealed the 1758 decision, causing Joseph Ghiglino to travel to England to defend the case. Upon arrival, finding no appeal lodged, he entreated the help of Secretary of State William Pitt. A copy of Pitt's June 10, 1758, letter to New York Governor James de Lancey pressing to have the case moved forward is included. While attending to the case in Gibraltar, Lorenzo Ghiglino petitioned for additional time to secure advice from England, suggesting the difficulties of international maritime disputes, and the file closes with the note that he will be appealing the condemnation of his ship and cargo to the Lords Commissioners of Appeals in England, which necessitated his receiving a full copy of his records.
- Biographical / Historical:
Lorenzo Ghiglino was born in Genoa, Italy, ca. 1726 and worked in a business partnership with his brother, Joseph Ghiglino. In 1755, they purchased the ship Immacolata Concezione & St. Ignazio di Loyola, an English-built 300-ton vessel with twenty mounted guns. In an attempt to protect his mercantile endeavors from international conflicts during the Seven Years' War, Lorenzo Ghiglino became a naturalized Roman citizen in June 1756 to capitalize on Rome's neutrality.
In May 1757, Lorenzo Ghiglino contracted with Cadiz merchant Don Francisco Xavier de los Rios to sail from Cadiz, Spain, with a shipment of European goods destined for sale in Cap Français, Saint Domingue. On June 12, 1757, the Immacolata Concezione was captured off the coast of Cap Français by two privateers from New York, the Hornet (commanded by James Spellen) and the Revenge (commanded by Francis Koffler). Ghiglino and the Immacolata Concezione were brought to New York for trial and adjudication in the New York Vice-Admiralty Court. Judge Lewis Morris acquitted the ship and its cargo, but the privateers appealed the decision. Joseph Ghiglino travelled to England to defend the case, but he found that no appeal had been lodged. The Ghiglinos entreated the assistance of William Pitt, British Secretary of State, who consulted with a Lord of the Admiralty and lawyers before he wrote to James de Lancey, Lieutenant Governor of New York, supporting the Ghiglinos. The New York Vice-Admiralty Court cleared the Immacolata Concezione, and in November 1758, Ghiglino received payment for his part of the cargo.
Lorenzo Ghiglino unsuccessfully attempted to sell his ship in New York, so he instead petitioned for permission to trade in Monte Christi, then under Spanish rule, as British law forbade merchants from selling American produce without first landing in Great Britain or Ireland. Permission was granted in February 1759, along with approval to take several French prisoners as crew, but upon his arrival in Monte Christi in April Ghiglino discovered he was unable to secure a cargo because of merchants' anxieties about privateers in the area. Ghiglino travelled to Cap Français to purchase a cargo of sugar and coffee, where he refused French planters' attempts to secure freights of their goods instead settling on a partial load of his own purchases in an attempt to avoid any British seizures of his cargo. He received a bill of health in August 1759 and sailed for Europe with 35 mariners.
On October 20, 1759, the Immacolata Concezione was captured off the coast of Cadiz, Spain, by British privateer Edward Vernon, commanding the St. Albans. It was taken to Gibraltar to be tried at the Vice-Admiralty Court, where Alexander Perry represented Edward Vernon and Robert Campbell represented Lorenzo Ghiglino. In February 1760 Judge William Hollway ruled in favor of Edward Vernon, condemning the ship and cargo as prizes, but Lorenzo Ghiglino appealed the case in England.
- Acquisition Information:
- 2013. M-4958 .
The collection is a single bound manuscript.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
For additional materials concerning William Pitt, see the Pitt family papers.
New York Court of Vice Admiralty Records, 1753-1770, New York Public Library.
Watson, Michael. "Judge Lewis Morris, the New York Vice-Admiralty Court, and Colonial Privateering, 1739-1762." New York History 78.2 (April 1997): 117-146.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Coffee industry--Dominican Republic.
Maritime law--Great Britain.
Neutral trade with belligerents.
Prize law--Great Britain.
Prizes (Property captured at sea)
Seizure of vessels and cargoes.
Seven Years' War, 1756-1763--Naval operations, British.
Seven Years' War, 1756-1763--Prizes, etc.
Sugar trade--Dominican Republic.
War, Maritime (International law)
New York (Colony) Court of Vice Admiralty.
De Lancey, James, 1703-1760.
Morris, Lewis, 1698-1762.
Pitt, William, Earl of Chatham, 1708-1778.
Great Britain--Foreign relations--France.
San Fernando de Monte Cristi (Dominican Republic)
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright status is unknown
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Vice-Admiralty Court of Gibraltar Privateer Document, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan