KIRKE Percy AYLMER Matthew and COMPTON Henry - Document Signed 1684
Percy KIRKE (d. 1691) last governor of Tangier; Matthew AYLMER (d. 1720) naval officer; and Henry COMPTON (1632-1713) Bishop of London
Document Signed ("M. Aylmer"; "H: London" and "Kirke") a series of three testimonials to the good character of John Croft, chaplain on board His Majesty's Ship Tygre, preceded by a similar testimonial signed by Thomas Hughes and William Morgan, Ministers of His Majesty's Royal Garrison at Tangier.
3 pages folio on conjugate leaves, London, 25 October 1684.
The various testimonials credit Croft with exemplary behaviour. Kirke says that he "carryd himself allways with exemplary Piety & Loyalty" who is "worthy to be Provided for" to "serve God and the King". Aylmer attests that "during ye whole voyage [he] has behavd himself Piously Soberly & Honestly", while the Bishop of London asserts that he "brought a good testimony with him at his first setting out, so has he ever since had it from those under whom he served."
It is encouraging to find the chaplain so praised by these men, two of whom had a far less salubrious reputation. According to DNB, Samuel Pepys, who travelled to Tangier, was appalled by Kirke's violent temper, bawdy table talk, boasts of sexual conquests, expulsion of the Jews from Tangier, corruption and intimidation, and summed him up as "a very brute".
Pepys had an equally low opinion of Matthew Aylmer, whom he described as a coward and one of the greatest libertines in the fleet. As Pepys himself was not especially known for his restraint in the latter field, the criticism implies an impressive record on Aylmer's part, or possibly a touch of jealousy on Pepys'. Despite this, Aylmer went on to have a successful career in the navy, becoming a commissioner of the navy in 1694.
Tangier had been ceded to England by Portugal as part of Catherine of Braganza's dowry in 1661. By 1683, it had become obvious that the port, far from being an asset, was a serious drain on the country's finances, as ever increasing funds were required for its defense in an area plagued by pirates. It was evacuated in 1684, when Croft presumably returned to England.
Aylmer's signature is somewhat faded, but still legible; the rest of the document and all the other signatures are in very good condition.
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