Home > History of Wine, Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > “they had drunk English wine sold at Jacatra” : The Cultivation of the Vine in England and the East India Company’s Concern for Wine 1600-1630

“they had drunk English wine sold at Jacatra” : The Cultivation of the Vine in England and the East India Company’s Concern for Wine 1600-1630


This post is part of Wine and the Sea which is an online symposium where several wine and food bloggers wrote coordinated posts about the history of wine.  In this post I look at the seventeenth (17th) century history of English wine.  A list of other participants appears at the end of this post.

Hugh Barty-King wrote that the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 removed an element of viticulture “which placed the activity in the centre of English life.”  The view of Ambassador Giacomo Soranzo, writing in 1554, suggests that wine was no longer being produced less than two decades later.[1]  Ambassador Soranzo spent 41 months in England and upon leaving he commented, “Although they have vines they do not make wine of any sort, the plant serving as an ornament for their gardens rather than anything else, as the grapes do not ripen save in very small quantity, partly because the sun has not much power, and partly because precisely at the ripening season cold winds generally prevail, so that the grapes wither, but in lieu of wine they make beer…they also consume a great quantity of wine, which is brought from Candia, Spain, the Rhine, and from France, this last being prized more than the rest”.

We do know that vineyards and winemaking did survive the dissolution.  One curious example of such winemaking appears in the Court Minutes of the East India Company for November 27-29, 1626.  Both Captain John Bickley of the Hart and Captain Richard Swann of the Charles “acknowledged they had drunk English wine sold at Jacatra, but who carried it there they knew not”.[2]  During the early 17th century the modern day city of Jakarta was known as Jacatra followed by Batavia.  To reduce confusion this post will use Jacatra.  Captain Swann clearly enjoyed wine for he was also questioned about the “extraordinary expense of wine” for his recent journey.  Captain Swann felt it was due to the “badness of his beer” because “he thought it was brewed at an unseasonable time, the weather in August being too hot to brew for so long a voyage.”  The English wine consumed might have been transported surreptitiously.  During the same set of minutes the pursers of the Mary, Star, and Speedwell were charged to provide locks and keys for the hold “to prevent the great abuse continually practiced by private men of carrying extra ordinary quantities of wine and beer to sell in the Indies.”[3]

Batavia Assiece en 1629 / Batavia A°.: 1629 Belegerd. Bellin, Jacques Nicolas. Call Number:G 8074 .D3 1629 .B45. Image from Northern Illinois University Libraries.

Batavia Assiece en 1629 / Batavia A°.: 1629 Belegerd. Bellin, Jacques Nicolas. Call Number:G 8074 .D3 1629 .B45. Image from Northern Illinois University Libraries.

In the span of 72 years we move from Ambassador Soranzo’s claim that no English wine was produced to English wine, vintage early 1620s, surviving the voyage to Jacatra, beings sold, and then made available for purchase.  That the Court of Directors knew that the wine was drunk by at least two Englishmen and specifically questioned them about it, adds intrigue.  The first time Hart and the Charles were both in Jacatra prior to the meeting was the winter of 1623 and 1624.  The Charles set sail on November 7, 1623[4]  and reached Jacatra by August 16, 1624, for Captain Swann was directed to survey the island of Pulo-Bessee.[5]  The Charles was still in the area as late as November 2, 1624.[6]  Captain John Bickley[7] wrote that he arrived at Jacatra on August 3, 1623, after five months and six days from passage of Lizard thus departing England at the end of February 1623.[8]  The Hart was still in Jacatra as late as May 4, 1624, for it was included in a list of serviceable ships still present.[9]  It returned to England in October 1624.  The Hart was in Jacatra a second, difficult time.  Having survived “great mortality from scurvy” the Charles and Hart were reported back at Gravesend, England on October 23, 1626.[10]  Four days later Mr. Governor and other committee members dined with the captains and masters of the two ships.

The East India Company required journals or log books to be kept during a voyage then returned to the Court for examination. Captain Bickley’s trip is detailed in his own Journal of a voyage to the East Indies and back, covering February 6, 1623, through October 17, 1626.  It is also detailed in the similarly named journal of Andrew Symms from February 25, 1623, through September 17, 1626.  In his Court meeting, Captain Bickley stated he had taken five months during his previous trip to sail to Jacatra in the Hart.[11]  It was claimed the Hart was a “slug” but while Captain Bickley acknowledged the Charles was better before the wind, the Hart was better otherwise.  For the ship Charles with Captain Swann, Henry Crosby kept the Journal of a voyage from England to Surat, Jask, &c., and back to England from March 21, 1619, through June 16, 1624.  It is possible that the Court learned about the English wine either from dining with the captains at Gravesend or reading the three journals.

The English wine may have been transported aboard the Hart or the Charles.  However, there were other English ships in the region with them.  A letter dated the first week of November, 1623, states “[f]ound here the Exchange, Hart, Roebuck, Diamond, Unity, and Rose.”[12]  A letter from Jacatra to the East India Company dated December 14, 1623, states that the “Hart, Roebuck, Charles, Star, and Eagle arrived safely.”[13]  To this list may be added the Moon along with the Elizabeth and Ruby from the Sumatra coast.[14]  It is reasonable to assume that the English wine was not transported to Jacatra aboard a Dutch ship.  Thus the wine could have been carried on any one of several English ships and still give Captains Bickley and Swann an opportunity for a drink.

It seems a curious choice to send English wine to Jacatra.  It is reasonable to assume that 1624 was the latest vintage the English wine could have been from. The English war with Spain began in 1625 and French wine imports were not prohibited until 1626.[15] So if wine imports as a whole did not reduce the availability of wine in London, leaving only local English wine, there must be some other reason for the choice.  It was known both to the Court and amongst the ships that wine could be sold in the Indies for a profit.  In December 1624, the Court heard a report from Thomas Thornborough, purser of the London, about the goods stowed aboard the ship.[16]  “[T]he Court grew into a jealously least their ships outward bound were too much filled with matter of private trade…for that the taverns in the Indies could not be furnished with wines from hence but by that means.”  In a letter from President Henry Hawley dated December 29-30, 1625, he advised sending a “good store of good strong wine” to the Indies “which would yield very great profit” for the “natives being more affected therewith” than the common “racke” drink.[17]  On November 19, 1627, the Court became aware that President Hawley and his nephew Gabriel Hawley had made it a “very common custom to sell the Company’s stores, goods, and ammunition to the Dutch”.[18]  Randall Jesson, master of Expedition traded goods not only in the East Indies but also upon return to England.[19]

The report of Alexander Lord, surgeon of the Expedition, dated November 27, 1627, gives a sense of the tensions surrounding such private trade.  “John Samuel, purser, who had written in his table book against Randall Jesson, master. The master told Willoughby he was false hearted, whereupon Willoughby answered that he lied like a rascally knave, upon which the master boxed his ears, and Willoughby flew at him with a great china platter, struck him in the face and pulled off some of his beard. Being parted, he again struck Jesson with a candlestick, and took a knife to have stabbed him, and afterward seized a carpenter’s axe and struck at him; finally, Willoughby was condemned to be put into the bilboes till released by the master’s clemency.”[20]

Ware affbeeldinge wegens het casteel ende stadt Batavia gelegen opt groot eylant Java anno 1669. Montanus, Arnoldus. 1669. Image from Historic Maps Collection, Princeton University Library.

Ware affbeeldinge wegens het casteel ende stadt Batavia gelegen opt groot eylant Java anno 1669. Montanus, Arnoldus. 1669. Image from Historic Maps Collection, Princeton University Library.

President Hawley eventually sent a cargo of wine for sale in the Indies without the Court’s approval.  During 25-27, February, 1628, it was reported that President Hawley had Randall Jesson, master of the Expedition, carry out and sell four pipes of white wine.[21]  The wine yielded a profit of 250 ryals per pipe.  If we take the ryal to be worth 15s. and not the 16s. 6d. of the spur ryal, there was a profit of 187l. 10s. per pipe.  This is a staggering amount given that the provisions for the fleet cost 18l. to 20l. per pipe. Later that month, Mr. Bell offered to send 20 pipes of white wine, which he affirmed would yield the same profit.[22]  The Court instead offered Mr. Bell to transport the wine on his own “but the distance between the freight demanded and offered was so great” that both parties refused the terms.

The English wine appears to have been secretly transported rather than sold from the Company’s provisions. Wine as a provision for the ships was an increasing concern of the Court during this period.  The Court meetings document how white wine, Canary, and Muscadine were selected for the fleet because they were wholesome and an antiscorbutic. Canary wine was considered at 15l. a pipe for the next voyage after April 10, 1618.[23]  Fifteen tuns of white wine were provided for the fleet in 1619 “to be drunk at the Line and the Cape, which is used by the Dutch to preserve men from the scurvy”.[24]  On December 29, 1623, it was requested that as for wine and cider, half the quantity of cider be sent for it was only for the sick.  When the cider went stale, the men preferred water, for the cider “doth extraordinarily wring the belly.”[25] In February, 1624, Captain Hall requested six pipes of “Canara [Canary] wine” and 10 pipes of cider instead of 6 pipes of white wine.[26]  It was ordered on August 18-22, 1624, that “Cannara” wine was to be provided for the Swallow. Five pipes of Canary wine and three pipes of white wine, part of which was to be wormwooded, were ordered to be provided on September 3, 1624, presumably for Jacatra.[27]   On January 24, 1625, Captain Blythe wanted to take in less white wine and more Canary, despite the white wine being “good against the scurvy.”[28]  Captain John Weddell aboard the Royal James wrote on April 26, 1625, that his white wine “continues good to the last drop.”[29]  The wines available in Surat were ‘a great deal better” than what was sent in the Star.  This, perhaps, illustrates how bad the wine was given that the wines of Surat were made from raisins.  Captain Moreton believed that “excess in drinking sack” was one of the main causes that “their servants untimely perish in the Indies” and requested white wine instead.[30]

Wine is included in the list of provisions and stores to be bought for the warehouses provided July 17-20, 1626.[31]  On August 15, 1626, the company was offered 20 butts of Canary wine at 19l. each.[32]  The price was deemed too expensive and that they should wait a few months when “the city is likely to be better stored with it.”  On September 13, 1626, not enough cider had been purchased for that year’s fleet for it was not yet a year old.[33]  There was a continued lack of Canary wine so the Court considered Muscadine and white wine.  However, a ship or two with Sack was shortly expected from Hamburg.  By October 18-31, 1626, the price of Canary wine had dropped from 20l. to 18l. per pipe.  Mr. Bell thought they could hold off longer on the purchase.[34]  Muscadine was still thought to “serve the turn”, strong beer “was as wholesome as Canary wine”, white wine was suggested again, and others “Rebola, which it was answered would turn to vinegar.”  In the end, “nothing was concluded.”  Also, the boatswain and purser’s mate of the Speedwell were requested to attend the next court “not to allow beer and other commodities to be stored in their ship.” By November 15, 1626, Mr. Bell wanted to speed up the provisioning of wine.[35]  On November 22, 1626, a cellar of Canary wine became available with 40 pipes at 18l. per pipe.[36]  It turned out that the wine was “not so good as expected.”[37]  Fortunately the cellar of Mr. Bernardo contained Canary wine and was ordered to be purchased.  It was noted that the Dutch used “much Muscadine” but it was again suggested that “extra ordinarily strong beer” would meet.  On January 31, 1627, it was ordered that the white wine be furnished in town in case Mr. Bell’s ship did not arrive “before that day sennight”[38]  On February 5, 1627, white wine was ordered for the Mary and the Star.  Ralph Harris, surgeon of the Mary, believed that “red wine was very useful and ‘physical’” for men sick with the flux.  Thus it was ordered that three hogsheads be bought sent to the Downs.[39]  At the same Court a gratuity of 20s. was paid out of the poor box to John Hebbs of the Mary who was injured by a falling butt of wine.

On October 10, 1627, wine amongst other items was ordered for the warehouses.[40]  The apple harvest had good yield and wine was provisioned for the Dove.[41]  A proportion of both beer and wine was chosen for the Jonas and Dove.  A week later Swanley, master of the Jonas, requested that the quantity of wine supplied be Canary, “in regard that white wine soon grows tart and the mariners utterly dislike it.”[42]  The Court passed a resolution on November 16, 1627, that the ships be supplied with one-third white wine, “notwithstanding” Mr. Swanley’s desire to have one-quarter white wine and three-quarters Canary wine.[43]  On December 12, 1627, it was requested that no more white wine than is necessary be provided for the Dove.[44]  On December 3, 1628, three or four butts of Muscadine were to be sent as a trial instead of Canary wine.[45]  Captain Weddell believed it would be very good for the ships company as the Dutch always sent Muscadine.  On December 12, 1628, 48 pipes of Canary and 8 pipes of Muscadine were purchased.[46] Thus over the period of interest the ships were provisioned with a combination of white wine, Canary, Muscadine, and perhaps a little Sack.

East India Company ships at Deptford. c. 1660. Object ID BHC1873. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection.

East India Company ships at Deptford. c. 1660. Object ID BHC1873. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection.

The journals of the East India Company reveal other types of wine consumed on the journeys, most likely privately stored or purchased at other ports.  Captain Saris wrote in the fall of 1613 of “five jars of European sweet wine” the Spanish Ambassador from the Philippine Islands had as a gift for the emperor.[47]  Richard Cockes wrote of “a great bottle of our general’s sweet wine” during the absence of Captain Saris.[48]  Spanish wine was drunk as well[49] including Alicante wine drunk with the “Mogul”.[50]    Though there were grapes in Surat, wine was only made from raisins.[51]  On October 1616, the Persian ambassador received a gift of 21 “camel loads of wine made of grapes.”[52]

Since the source of the English wine sold in Jacatra is not yet known it is useful to detail the cultivation of the vine in England between 1600 and 1630.  There is documentation of English gardens with vines, vines trained against walls, and vineyards throughout the 17th century.[53]  There are numerous incidences of a smaller number of vines being used for the production of table grapes but there were also explicitly named vineyards which may have produced wine.  In many cases the number of vines, the varieties, and whether wine was actually produced is not yet known.

In 1617 Fynes Moryson published an account of his travels during the years 1591-1601.  Of Gloucestershire, he notes that William Camden wrote there were vineyards which produced wine in the past.[54]  However whether “it rather to the Inhabitants slothfulnesse, then to the fault of the Ayre or soyle, that it yeeldes not wine at this day.”  There were grapes grown in “Gardens and Orchards” which “especially towards the South and Westare of a pleasant taste”.  He continues that “no doubt many parts would yield [wine] at this day” but “because they are serued plentifully, and at a good rate with French wines” the hills which could be planted with vines instead feed sheep and cattle.  William Camden wrote in Britain (1610) “There is no countrie in all England so thicke set as this Province with Vine-yards, so plentifull in encrease, and so pleasant in taste. The verie wines made thereof, affect not their mouthes that drinke of them with any unpleasing tartnesse, as being little inferiour in sweete verdoure to the French Wines.” Michael Drayton wrote in Poly-Olbion (1612) of Gloucestershire “where to this day many places are stiled Vine yards”.  With regards to the wines themselves which “[n]ow in many parts of this Realme we haue some: but what comes of them in the Presse is scarce worth respect.”[55]

It is possible to move from general to specific descriptions of vines.  A vine planted in 1530-31 at Clothworker’s Hall was regularly pruned and had covered one wall by 1611.[57]  There were two vines at Lincoln College, one having been trained since 1474.  The vineyard at Tilty Abbey in Essex appears on a map dated 1593.  Of Ely which had “A vine-yard yielding wine, yeerely” it had decayed as of 1610 such that by the Saint Mary’s Chapel was “a Vine bearing fruit in great plenty, which now is withered and gone.”[58] Sir Michael Hickes commented on the garden of Sir Edward Sulyard on October 2, 1609.  Whether this refers to Wetherden Hall or Haughley Park Farm is not specified.  Sir Michael Hickes found that “his grapes as good as ever I tasted for the relish and sweetness.”  Sir Edward Sulyard sent on a basket of his grapes and was willing to provide cuttings for Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury.[59]  Several years later Sir Edward Sulyard sent vines to Robert Cecil’s Hatfield House.[60] In December 1614, Sir Henry Slingsby of Red House bought a large order of fruit trees including grapes from the Tothill Street nursery.[61]  At the time grapevines cost 1s 6d.

In a letter from John Porty in Virginia to Sir Edwin Sandys dated January 16, 1619/20, he wrote that Sir George Yeardley “brought hither some plants wch doe prosper passing well.”  Presumably these vines were sourced from England for he wished the “general Company would send greate store of Vignerons, and Vine plants of a good race though growing in England.”[62]  It was also noted that Mr. Nicholas Leate, merchant, had “a lardge vine of Corynth grapes at ye house he formerly dwelt in.”

Secretary Dudley Carleton, Viscount Dorchester received grapes from Sir Thomas Gardyner on September 13, 1629, in response for helping his son.[63]  Three days later on September 16, 1629, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, wrote to Secretary Dorchester of “walking under the vine wall at Sion, to have said he was drunk with eating of grapes.”  He prayed him to “be drunk again” and that he “may take what he will of any fruits there.”  Sir Robert Karr wrote from Kew to Secretary Dorchester on October 12, 1631, that he sent “him the gleanings of his grapes (the best being all gathered long ago to his great vintage)”[64]  On September 28, 1631, Richard Brown wrote to Secretary Dorchester from Paris that he had purchased fruit trees which would be forwarded by fishing-boat to Dieppe then passage boat to Rye.[65]  The letter includes the list of trees being “principally pears, nectarines, and grapes”.

John Smythson’s plan of Wimbledon Gardens from 1609 includes a large vineyard which is described in the Parliamentary Survey of 1649.[66] The Upper or Great Garden adjoined the south side of the house.  The Upper Garden contained 13 Muscadine vines “well ordered and planted, bearing very sweet grapes, and those in abundance at the season of the year[1649].”[67]  At the south end of the garden was a long brick wall, ten feet tall, which separated it from the “Vineyard Garden”.  Within this wall were “betwixt two pillars of brick, there are set fair and large pair of railed gates, of good ornament to both the said gardens.”  The other three sides of the Vineyard Garden were bordered by nine to ten foot brick walls  The garden itself encompassed ten acres, one rood, and 23 perches.  The Vineyard Garden was divided into 12 triangles which were planted with 507 “fruit trees of divers sorts and kinds of fruits, pleasant and profitable.”  There were 106 “divers kinds of wall fruit”, raspberries, pears, cherries, apricots, pear plums, may cherries, “boone critians”, and others.

Hatfield House, the Seat of the Earl of Salisbury. 1750-1800. 1927,1126.1.29.79.  Image from The British Museum

Hatfield House, the Seat of the Earl of Salisbury. 1750-1800. 1927,1126.1.29.79. Image from The British Museum

King James I traded Hatfield House for Theobalds, the estate of Sir Robert Cecil , Lord Salisbury in 1607.  Sir Robert Cecil immediately razed Hatfield rebuilding the mansion and built extensive gardens.  In 1610 he sent John Tradescant Senior to purchase vines.  Marie de Medicie, the wife of the French ambassador, sent some 20,000 vines apparently followed by 10,000 more.  These were reported in a letter from Thomas Wilson to Lord Salisbury on February 5, 1611, where the value of the first shipment was noted at “50l. sterling.”[68]  On September 19, 1611, Sir Roger Aston wrote from Theobalds to Sir Robert Cecil that “[t]he grapes were welcome.”[69]  The Hatfield vineyard was in existence until at least 1650.  In 1650 the Parliamentary Survey described the Pheasant Garden with two vines.  Amongst the brick walls of the “Laundrie garden” were 28 vines amongst apricot, preach, and cherry trees.  On the walls of the “Capitall house side” “14 Muscadine Vines well ordered and planted.”  Amongst the graveled walks were “Vine trees.”

William Hogan was paid for planting the walls of the Hampton Court garden with “apricot trees, peach trees, plum trees, and vines of choice fruits” on December 17, 1611.  On September 18, 1617, James Bowey, was “serjeant of his Majesty’s cellar” and was paid 400l. to go to France “to make provisions of several sorts of wine, grapes, and other fruits…as in former years he hath been accustomed”.  He was paid the following year on July 17, 1618.  While this involves the grape and not the vine, it is a connection worth mentioning.

In 1602 Henry Fanshaw inherited Ware Park from his father.  It was located near Theobalds and Hatfield House.  The gardens contained grape vines as early as the summer of 1609 when Henry Fanshaw wrote to John Chamberlain “There is a reasonable quantity of peaches and grapes”.[70]   In 1614 it included “some plants of muscadine grapes from her [Lady Windwood] that were sent out of the Low Countries for excellent good.”[71]  On June 30, 1614, John Chamberlain wrote “We have set the vine plants that came from Master [Isaac] Wake as carefully as we could, and I am not out of hope but they may prove, though they be very dry and promise little by their looks”.[72]  Isaac Wake was the secretary in Venice for Sir Dudley Carleton during his ambassadorship.  The following September 15, 1615, John Chamberlain wrote “We have had a long, dry summer, and the best and fairest melons and grapes that I ever knew in England.”[73]  The Earl of Arundel and Inigo Jones visited Ware Park where they were “so pleased with the grapes and peaches” that King James I sent for them twice per week as late as October 14, 1618.[74]

Comenius, Johann Amos. Orbis Sensualium Pictus. 1664. Image from Google Books.

The royal gardens at Westminster and Windsor were still cultivated in 1618.[75]  The vineyard at Westminster was well established since for in the Lady Day and Easter rents of Henry VIII appear the entry, “for half year’s rent of the vine garden at Westminster, 53s. 4d”.[76]  On August 31, 1618, Robert Wood, the keeper of “cormorants, ospreys, and otters” was commissioned to make nine fish ponds in “a parcel of ground within the Vine-garden, at Westminster.”[77]  By October 10, 1618, Robert Wood “hath already finished a great part.”  The vineyard was no longer in existence by 1735 when John Stow wrote, “was a Garden, they called the Vine garden; because perhaps Vines antiently were there nourished and Wine made.”[78]

There was a payment on July 21, 1619, to ”John Bonnall…for dressing and keeping the vines” at the royal gardens of Oatlands.  This is the same John Bonoeil who published Obseruations to be followed, for the making of fit roomes, to keepe silk-wormes in 1620 and  His Majesties Gracious Letter to the Earle of South-Hampton in 1622.[79]  This book contained instructions on “how to plant and dresse Vines, and to make Wine” in Virginia.

The vineyard at Windsor was still intact for Secretary Edward Conway wrote to the Surveyor and Receiver at Windsor on September 29, 1624, “[t]o shut up the passages through the vineyard there.”[80]  Secretary Conway was himself cultivating the vine.  On June 15, 1628, he received a letter from Foulke Reed accounting the efforts of a Dutchman to plant vines on Conway’s estate Ragley Hall in Warwick County.[81]   The vines were already planted at Luddington where at the time “they already bud and shoot forth.”  These vines could have been planted in 1625 for the Earl of Middlesex was “ready to sign the writings for the manor of Luddington” on February 11, 1625.[82]

Hugh Barty-King writes that “in the sixteen-twenties Sir Peter Ricard was also having a notable success with a vineyard and winepress” at Great Chart in the Weald of Kent.  In looking at his source, apparently in the form of Samuel Hartlib’s The Compleate Husband-man (1659) I find of Sir Peter Ricard that he “yearly maketh 6 or 8 hogs-heads, which is very much commended by divers who have tasted it, and he hath kept some of it two years, as he himself told me, and it hath been very good.”[83]  This very same passage appears in Samuel Hartlib His Legacy of Husbandry (1652).[84] In searching through The Hartlib Papers I have not yet come across a reference to wine being produced in the 1620s.[85]  The closest dated reference to English wine appears to be, “At my Lord Warwick’s Lady Ranelagh heard a Relation of 20. or 3. tonnes of wine made last year 1652. of English Grapes by one in Kent whose name she can easily learne.”[86]

Parkinson, John. Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris. Reprinted from edition of 1629. 1904. Image from Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Parkinson, John. Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris. Reprinted from edition of 1629. 1904. Image from Biodiversity Heritage Library.

The English wine may have been made from any of several different grape varieties.  From the above accounts of vines and vineyards we learn that the Corinthian and Muscadine vines were cultivated.  Despite the presence of nurseries in London, John Harvey wrote that there appear to be no surviving strict nursery catalogs of the first half of the 17th century.[87]  A few English gardening and herbals detail the diversity of the vine.  Gervase Markham’s The English Husbandman (1613) references the Bordeaux “Gascoyne”, Greek, Muscadine, Orleans, “Rochell”, and the “Spanish or Iland” grape.[88]  He wrote that “if that which is most strange, rare, great and pleasant be the best, then…[it is] the Muskadine, or Sacke grape” sourced from Spain or the Canary Islands.  This was followed by French grapes, in order of preference, “Gascoynie” and Bordeaux with the worst the Rochell.  In John Bonoeil ‘s His Majesties Gracious Letter to the Earle of South-Hampton (1622) there are instructions for cultivating the vine in Virginia with the only varieties mentioned being indigenous.  John Parkinson’s Paradisi in Sole (1629) lists 23 different vines and grapes.[89]  John Parkinson also notes that John Tradescant had 20 different varieties growing.

It is not possible to determine which vineyard or set of vines were the source for the English wine drunk in Jacatra.  The large vineyard of Hatfield seems a likely choice.  There are also the various royal vines and vineyards of King James I.  Committee members of the East India Company did visit Theobalds where they might have learned about these vines or those nearby at Hatfield House.  On September 21, 1621, it was noted that King James I was to be made aware of the arrival of the Royal James thus a committee was sent to Theobalds House.[90]  On December 15, 1623, a committee was appointed to “render the Company’s thanks to the King at Theobalds.”[91]  On July 16, 1624, Mr. Governor and several committees had gone to Theobalds.[92]

It is not known if Captain Bickley and Captain Swann drank the English wine together.  They certainly were different personalities.  Captain Bickley was so well regarded by the Court for “his sufficiency and civil carriage” that they gave “him entertainment” for continued service[93]  Despite having sufficient money for the rest of his life he would be “willing to end his days in their service.”  The Court commended Captain Bickley for “his love and grateful acknowledgement” and made him Vice-Admiral at his former allowance of 20 marks per month.  Captain Bickley’s wife became a “sickly old woman” in December 1626, so the captain passed on his next commission.  Later in July 1628, the “ancient servant” resumed his career and was appointed Captain of the Reformation.[94]  He became viewed as “a man of approved valour and experience”[95]

Captain Swann was regarded in a different light.  Upon being considered for the master of the Charles in July 1623, Captain Swann demanded 200l. per annum and a 50l. gratuity.  The court found it “would follow no man in his unreasonable demands.”  However, the Charles was to depart on a solo journey so the Court was “extraordinary carefull” to choose a master.[96]  Captain Swann was picked as master of the Charles in August 1623 but he continued his demands.[97]  The great cabin of the Charles was appointed to the factors but Captain Swann was granted liberty to sit with them.[98]  On March 9, 1627, Captain Swann was examined and charged with “waste expense of wine in his cabin.”[99]  He rebutted that while Cockram was alive, he had command of the ship, and after his death Captain Gerrard Fowkes “kept the keys of the case of bottles.”  He also denied that he knew of any wine, beer, or other commodities carried in his ship then sold in Jacatra.  The investigation continued for on March 21-30, 1627, Captain Swann assented that he tried to lay fault on Mr. Cockram, in whose cabin most of the wine was drunk.  He was ordered to pay 40l. to “the poor box for his wasteful expense of powder and wine.”[100]  On March 24, 1627, the 40l. fine, presumably received, was ordered put into the poor box belonging to the Court.[101]  The Court minutes of August 9-15, 1626, list Captain Swann’s allowance at 15l. per month so the fine represented over two month’s wages.

Captain Swann was not the only one who served a lot of wine.  The extraordinary expense of wine and powder about the Lion was brought to attention on August 29, 1623.[102] On January 30, 1624, the Court discussed the “excessive expence” of wine and powder which they “utterly misliked.”[103]  Captain Hall, on December 14, 1626, “was charged with the unreasonable proportion of powder he spent” and “unnecessarily wasted in drinking of healths.”[104]  These “vain courses” led his expenses to be almost double of any other commanders. Captain Hall, having returned from sea, was admonished on December 8, 1626, “not to use any more private trade or wastefully to expend wine and powder in unnecessary drinking of healths.”[105]  During March 21-31, 1627, Captain Hall was again admonished for “feasting and superfluous spending of wine and other provisions”[106]  It appears this was the result of Sir Dodmore and Sir Robert for leaving their ship the Star and spending days aboard the Admiral.  It was admitted that Captain Hall could not deny them on board his ship but he had “no means to suffer them to lie aboard at night.”

Throughout this period there was a constant demand for wine aboard ships and at land.  In a letter from Jacatra to the East India Company on February 9, 1623, it was concluded that the “victualing” of ships must be remedied at home for “the commanders must be stinted as well, for in beer, wine, &c. they will not be controlled.” [107] Six years later they were still not under control for on January 9, 1629, the Court advised that they should restrain the excess of commanders for “wine spent in their cabins.”[108]  Likewise, there was a request on January 12, 1622, for “some choice pieces of canary wine for their table, for which to return the courtesies of the Dutch.”[109] Beer, wine, and cider were wanted amongst other supplies like butter, capers, and quills for the factory in Jacatra on August 20, 1622.[110]  Amongst the letters at Bantam from Armagon on June 25, 1629, it was reported that relationships with the Dutch were so good that “more cannot be expected between friends.”[111] Much wine must have been drunk for they needed “some wine to countervail the Dutch courtesies often received.”

Beeckman, Andries. The Castle of Batavia. 1656. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.  Image from Web Gallery of Art.

Beeckman, Andries. The Castle of Batavia. 1656. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Image from Web Gallery of Art.

John Peterson Coen, General of the Dutch East India Company, left instructions at Jacatra on January 21, 1623.  In them he suggested orchards and gardens be planted on the “void ground” of Jacatra for “it will be good that henceforth no provisions except wine be sent thither.”[112] This lack of vineyards for the local production of wine coupled with the demand of wine both for consumption and to sell for large profit, provided motivation to secretly trade wine in the East Indies.  This motivation ultimately led to the documentation of one example of early 17th century English winemaking.  While we do not yet know who produced or transported the English wine which Captains Bickley and Swann tasted, there are further avenues to pursue.  The minutes from the Court meeting [Ct. Min. Bk. IX. 205–215.] may be investigated in case there were details left out when Noel Sainsbury calendared them.  Additionally the three journals of the Hart and Charles may be read for details from Jacatra.


Wine and the Sea posts from other symposium participants:

Doris Handrus – Wine and the Sea
Graham Harding (Wine As Was) – On the scale from Riches to ruin: the cargo of champagne in R.L. Stevenson’s Ebb-Tide
Frank Morgan (Drink what YOU like) – Wine and the Sea — Consider the Oyster
Erin Scala (Thinking Drinking) – Wine and the Sea: Aphrodite Rising
Adam Zolkover (Twice Cooked) – Madeira, Wine, and The Sea


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[2] Sainsbury, Noel. Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, East Indies, China and Persia, Volume 6: 1625-1629. 1884. Page 267. URL: https://archive.org/details/1964colonialrecordsc06greauoft
[3] Sainsbury, Noel. Calendar of State Papers, Volume 6: 1625-1629, Page 268.
[4] Sainsbury, Noel. Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, East Indies, China and Persia, Volume 5: 1622-1624. 1878. Page 176. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=mfsUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[5] Sainsbury, Noel. Calendar of State Papers, Volume 5: 1622-1624, Page 364.
[6] Sainsbury, Noel. Calendar of State Papers, Volume 5: 1622-1624, Page 381.
[7] Due to spelling differences over the years Swann appears both as Swan and Swanne.  Bickley also appears as Bickell.
[8] Sainsbury, Noel. Calendar of State Papers, Volume 5: 1622-1624, Page 211.
[9] Sainsbury, Noel. Calendar of State Papers, Volume 5: 1622-1624, Page 260.
[10] ‘East Indies: October 1626’, Calendar of State Papers Colonial, East Indies, China and Persia, Volume 6: 1625-1629 (1884), pp. 246-258. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=71262&strquery=charles hart jacatra Date accessed: 10 November 2013
[11] Sainsbury, Noel. Calendar of State Papers, Volume 6: 1625-1629, Page 260.
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[13] ‘East Indies: December 1623-January 1624’, Calendar of State Papers Colonial, East Indies, China and Japan, Volume 4: 1622-1624 (1878), pp. 190. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=69769&strquery=jacatra hart charles Date accessed: 05 November 2013
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[15] Stephens, W.B. “English Wine Imports c. 1603-40, with Special Reference to the Devon Ports”, Tudor and Stuart Devon. University of Exeter Press. 1992.
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[21] Sainsbury, Noel. Calendar of State Papers, Volume 6: 1625-1629, Page 469.
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[56] Speed, John. The theatre of the empire of Great Britaine presenting an exact geography of the kingdomes of England, Scotland, Ireland, and the iles adioyning.  1612.  URL: http://gateway.proquest.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&res_id=xri:eebo&rft_id=xri:eebo:citation:99853126
[57] Schofield, John. “City of London Gardens, 1500-c. 1620”. Garden History, Volume 27, Number 1. Summer, 1999.
[58] Camden, William. Britain, or A chorographicall description of the most flourishing kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the ilands adioyning. 1610. URL: http://gateway.proquest.com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&res_id=xri:eebo&rft_id=xri:eebo:citation:99842869
[59] Ruckholts, 2 Oct. 1609.  Holograph 1 p. (127 171)” ‘Cecil Papers: October 1609’, Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House, Volume 21: 1609-1612 (1970), pp. 137-154. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=112448&strquery=grapes Date accessed: 11 June 2013
[60] Brewer, John. Royal Commission, Hisotrical Manuscripts. The Quarterly Review, Volume 141. 1876. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=MFgAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[61] Harvey, John H. “Leonard Gurle’s Nurseries and Some Others”. Garden History, Volume 3, Number 3. Summer, 1975.
[62] Kingsbury, Susan Myra. Records of the Virginia Company, 1606-26, Volume III: Miscellaneous Records. URL: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj8&fileName=mtj8pagevc03.db&recNum=279
[63] Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles I: 1629-1631. 1860. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=NfwUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PR3#v=onepage&q&f=false
[64] Calendar of State Papers, Domestic series, of the reign of Charles I 1631-1633. 1858. URL: https://archive.org/details/cu31924091775415
[65] Calendar of State Papers, Domestic series, of the reign of Charles I. 1858. URL: https://openlibrary.org/books/OL24188888M/Calendar_of_State_Papers_Domestic_series_of_the_reign_of_Charles_I
[66] Jarvis, P.J. “North American Plants and Horticultural Innovation in England, 1550-1700”. Geographical Review, Volume 63, Number 4. October, 1973.
[67] Cecil, Evelyn.  A History of Gardening in England. 1896. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=gXGCAAAAIAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
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[69] Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of James 1 1619-1623. 1967. URL:  https://openlibrary.org/books/OL7025685M/Calendar_of_State_Papers_Domestic._Edward_VI_Mary_Elizabeth_and_James_I
[70] Lane, John.  The Memoirs of Ann, Lady Fanshawe. 1907.  URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=haYLAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[71] Spring, Deborah.  Hertfordshire Garden History, Volume 2. University of Hertfordshire Press. 2012.
[72] Thomson, Elizabeth Ed.  The Chamberlain Letters.  Capricorn Books. 1966.
[73] Hadfield, Miles.  Gardening in Britain.  Hutchinson & Co. 1960.
[74] Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of James 1 1619-1623. 1967. URL:  https://openlibrary.org/books/OL7025685M/Calendar_of_State_Papers_Domestic._Edward_VI_Mary_Elizabeth_and_James_I
[75] Amherst, Alicia.  A History of Gardening in England. 2013. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=1_5X7XthH4YC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[76] ‘Henry VIII: May 1534, 26-31’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 7: 1534 (1883), pp. 277-294. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=79316&strquery=”vine garden” Date accessed: 10 November 2013.
[78] Stow, John. A survey of the cities of London and Westminster, borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent. 1735. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=7nBZAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA15#v=onepage&q&f=false
[79] Bonoeil, John. His Majesties Gracious Letter to the Earle of South-Hampton. 1622. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=dBDiLIN_U00C&pg=PT8#v=onepage&q&f=false
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[86] Ephemerides 1653 Part 1, Hartlib. 1653 [1 January-1 March]. Reference 28/2/45A-53B.
[87] Harvey, John.  Early Gardening Catalogues.  Phillimore & Co. Ltd.  1972.
[88] Markham, Gervase. The English Husbandman. 1613. URL: https://archive.org/stream/theenglishhusban22973gut/pg22973.txt
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[90] ‘East Indies, China and Japan: September 1621’, Calendar of State Papers Colonial, East Indies, China and Japan, Volume 3: 1617-1621 (1870), pp. 450-462. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=68872&strquery=theobalds east india Date accessed: 10 November 2013.
[91] ‘East Indies: December 1624, 11-20’, Calendar of State Papers Colonial, East Indies, China and Japan, Volume 4: 1622-1624 (1878), pp. 465-469. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=69792&strquery=theobalds east india Date accessed: 10 November 2013.
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  1. Kristen Lindelow
    October 8, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    I am researching the history of Europeans’ use of Muscadine and wonder if you can tell me if the Muscadines mentioned in this article are assumed to be Vitis rotundifolia. I’m curious as to when they were taken to England and “the low countries” and how they survived at all there. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Also, may I quote from your article (with full credit) for a presentation I am doing on Muscadines to the American Wine Society?

    Thanks.

    • October 8, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Kristen,

      Thank you for reading my post and commenting. You are touching on a subject that I am very much interested in, the transport of grapevines from America to Europe. You may certainly quote from my article and I appreciate the credit. I’ll send you an email and we can go from there.

      Aaron

  1. December 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm
  2. December 1, 2013 at 5:54 pm
  3. December 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm

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