RUPERT of the RHINE - Document Signed 1673 regarding the knighthood of Sir James Hayes
RUPERT of the RHINE (1619-1682)Document Signed (“Rupert”) stating that Sir James Hayes of Beckington was knighted by the King in his presence on 28 June 1670.
1 page folio with integral blank leaf, Prince Rupert’s red wax seal by his signature, Whitehall, 2 December 1673.
The document is headed by Prince Rupert’s titles: “Prince Rupert Count Palatine of the Rhine Duke of Bavaria and Cumberland &c Vice Adm[ira]ll of England and Constable and Governour of the Royall Castle and Hono: of Windsor”.
“These are to certifie that the Hono: of Knighthood was by his Ma[jes]tie conferr’d on Sr. James Hayes of Beckington in the County of Somerset at Whitehall the 28th day of June 1670 at the doing whereof I was (amongst others) present. . .”
Prince Rupert’s secretary, James Hayes, was largely responsible for the foundation of what was to become the very profitable Hudson’s Bay Company.
James Hayes was instrumental in obtaining the finance for an expedition by two French fur traders to explore the possibility of a trading post in Canada. The expedition proved successful and Prince Rupert immediately showed an interest in further ventures, raising money, in conjunction with Hayes, for an expedition in 1688 which was to return with a small fortune in furs. In 1670 – the year Hayes received his knighthood – the company which would become known as the Hudson’s Bay Company received its royal charter, effectively granting it a monopoly of the fur trade over a vast expanse of territory in North America.
It is clear that Hayes played a key role in establishing the Hudson’s Bay Company. While Prince Rupert became the first Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Hayes was appointed its first Deputy Governor, and would have been largely responsible for the success of the company. He was rewarded with a knighthood and in having the Hayes River in Manitoba named after him.
The document is very slightly dusty and browned at the edges and the folds have been professionally repaired, but it is clearly legible, with a bold, handsome signature and a good impression of Prince Rupert’s seal.
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