Date: 3 August 1599
Description: Sir Richard and Sir John Leveson of Halling (1555-1615) collaborated in a professional capacity during the late sixteenth century amidst fears of invasion by Spanish naval forces. Many letters which Sir Richard wrote to Sir John during this period include accounts of his experiences in the English navy and comment on Sir John’s work on naval defences in Kent.
The atmosphere of suspicion and speculation which followed the Spanish Armada is reflected in the letters exchanged between the two men. In a letter written on 3rd August 1599, Sir Richard attempted to reassure his cousin Sir John that England was safe. The letter reveals that Sir Richard believed Sir John was being over cautious in his work to prepare Kentish defences.
Sir Richard writes ‘I do receave dayly letter uppon letter from yo[u]r partes with such fressh Allarms of the Spaniardes approach, as putteth us poore seamen in to no littell Terror, yet ou[r] best hope is, that from the sea we do heare no such thinge: but too much sercurety is not alwayes full of saffety'.
The letters which include many intriguing accounts of military expeditions also tell us about the practicalities of serving in the English navy at this time. Sir Richard notes ‘10 howers of the 24 I do spend in pumpinge of my shippe, such is the extremety of her leake’.
Comments within Sir Richard's letters reflect public perception of the Spaniards during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Sir Richard refers to his ‘cosin Jacke’, and his brother, presumably Sir John’s sons John and Richard who would shortly join him at sea. He writes ‘Notwithstandinge the weaknes of my shippe and the danger of the enemye yf you will send down my cosin Jacke and his brother, we will laugh, and hope once agayne to se[e] Hallin[g].’
Reflecting his jolly character again, Sir Richard writes by way of a p.s. ‘I have already bespoken on Spaniardes heade for Jacke to carry unto his mother’.