TRINITY OUSE OF DE TFORD STROND, THE CORPORATION OF —its full title is, The Master, Wardens, and Assistants of the Guild, Fraternity, or Brotherhood of the most Glorious and Undivided Trinity, and of Saint Clement, in the parish of Deptford Strond, in the county of Kent '—an institution to whose members is intrusted the management of some of the most important interests of the seamen and shipping of England. The earlier records, together with the house of the corporation, were destroyed by fire in 1714, so that the 'origin of the institution can only now be inferred from u.age and the occasional mention of its purposes in documents of a later period. It is probable that with Henry VII. origi nated the scheme, afterwards carried into effect by his son Henry VIII., of form ing efficient navy and admiralty boards, which then first became a separate branch of public service. During the reign of Henry VIII. the arsenals at Woolwich and Deptford were founded : and the Deptford-yard establishment was subse quently placed under the direction of the Trinity House, who likewise surveyed the navy provisions and stores. The ear liest official document relating to the Trinity House now extant, is a charter of incorporation made by Henry VIII. in the 6th year of his reign. An ex emplification of this charter was granted by George II., in the third year of his reign. In thiZcharter Henry says " We on account of the sincere and entire love and likewise devotion which we bear and have towards the most glorious and undi vidable Trinity, and also to Saint Clement the Confessor, have granted and given licence, for us and our heirs, as much as in us is, to our beloved liege people and subjects, the shipmen or mariners of this our realm of England, that they or their heirs, to the praise and honour of the said most glorious and undividable Tri nity and Saint Clement, may of new be. gin, erect, create, ordain, found, unite, and establish a certain guild or perpetual fra ternity of themselves and other persons, as well men as women, in the parish church of Deptford Strond, in our county of Kent." The brethren are by the same
charter empowered from time to time to elect one master, four wardens, and eight assistants, to govern and oversee the guild, and have the custody of the lands and possessions thereof, and have autho rity to admit natural-born subjects into the fraternity, and to communicate and conclude amongst themselves and with others upon the government of the guild and all articles concerning the science or art of mariners, and make laws, &c., for the increase and relief of the shipping, and punish those offending against such laws ; collect penalties, arrest or distrain the persons or ships of offenders, accord ing to the laws and customs of England or of the court of Admiralty. The char ter also grants to the corporation all liber ties, franchises, and privileges which their predecessors the shipmen or mariners of England ever enjoyed.
In the 8th year of the reign of Eliza beth, an act was passed enabling the cor poration to preserve antient sea-marks, to erect beacons, marks, and signs for the sea, and to grant licences to mariners during the intervals of their engagements to ply for hire as watermen on the river Thames.
In the 36th year of her reign Queen Elizabeth made a grant to the corpora tion of the lastage and ballastage of all ships in the river Thames, and of the bea conage and buoyage upon the coasts of the realm, which had previously afforded a considerable source of revenue to the lord high admiral. The grant recites that he had surrendered into the queen's , hands the image and ballastage of all ships coming into or being in the Thames, and also the right to erect and place bea cons, buoys, marks, and signs for the sea, on it or on the shores, coasts, uplands, or forelands near it, and besought her to grant all powers respecting these matters to them. And it then proceeds to grant the same and all fees relating to them in the fullest manner to the corporation for ever.