A 17th century ship’s pass for the vessel Mary of Cork signed by King James II and Samuel Pepys was formally presented to the National Library of Ireland on Thursday August 5th 2010 by Enda Connellan, CEO Dublin Port Company, previously the Dublin Port and Docks Board. In presenting the pass which was acquired by the Dublin Port and Docks Board in 1924, Mr. Connellan said that the Dublin Port Company was delighted to present this interesting and rare historical document to the National Library of Ireland as this will ensure that it will be appropriately conserved and displayed and will be more accessible to the public in its new home.
The pass is one of the few known examples of the 17th century ships’ passes in the world with other examples held by the National Archives in Kew and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The pass presented to the National Library of Ireland was issued to the Mary of Cork to provide it passage free from English warships or warships of states maintaining diplomatic relations with England. The Mary of Cork, under Captain Zachary Peebucket and manned by a crew of five, by sailed from Dublin in late 1687 bound for the Canary Islands which at that times were major exporters of sugar and Malvasia, a fortified white wine which travelled well and was extremely popular in Britain.
It’s believed that the vessel may have been trading in these foodstuffs in exchange for products such as salted Irish beef. The pass was issued at the Court of Whitehall, London, on September 29th 1687 and signed by King James II (Lord High Admiral 1685 to 1688) and Samuel Pepys in his capacity as Secretary to the Admiralty. On April 18th 1688 the ship’s pass was returned to Ireland where Thomas Williamson entered it into the registry of the High Court of Admiralty of Ireland.
In the near future the pass will be displayed in the National Library of Ireland’s Department of Manuscripts.