Letter of Marque
A privateer is a sailor with a "letter of marque" from a government. This letter "allows" the sailor to plunder any ship of a given enemy nation. Technically, a privateer was a self-employed soldier paid only by what he plundered from an enemy. In this, a privateer was supposed to be above being tried for piracy.
Dauntless Letter of Marque:
Charles R.-Oure Soverane Lord ordanis ane letter of markque to be made under the grite seale in dew forme makand mentioun that her Majestie, considdering the manie grite indignities and injuries done to her Majestie and her umquhile darrest father of worthie memorie under cullour of treaties and allyanceis by the Queen of England, and the many violencis offerit be the said Queen and her subjectis to divers of her Majesteis subjectis by taking, slaying and ransoning thame in hostilemaner whenas thay intendit thair lawfull merchandice at sea; and her Majestie in her princelie wisdome and providence foirsieing that, whill the said Queen of England contineweth in these courssis of hostilitie, itis not aggreeable with her Majesteis honnour nor pollicie that her Majestie sould ony longer forbeare these remedies whilk the law of nationis in matteris of ther kynd allowis and approves: Thairfore her Majestie, with advise of the Lordis of her Secreit Counsell, hes gevin and grantit, and be tennour heirof gevis and grantis, full power and commissioun, expres bidding and charge, to Phelan MacGregor , capitane of the ship callit The Dauntless , to arme and furnishe his said ship with men, vittalis, armour and artiellirie grite and small, and with poulder, leid, lunt and all other wearlike furnitout and provisioun, and with his said ship to mak her addresse to the sea, and thair to searche, seik, follow and persew with all hostilitie, and to tak or sink, the shippis or goodes of the said Queen of England and her subjectis, alsweele of the Low cuntreyis under the governament, as of otheris her dominionis, according as the necessitie of the tyme of the persute sall fall oute; and alsua to impeshe, stay, and arreist all otheris shippis of whatsomever cuntrey or natioun whome he may apprehend going to West Flanderis or ony other of the said Queen of England her dominionis with victuall, money, armour, or with intention to goe to the same with ony provisionis serveing to build furnishe, or arme any shippis of warre or ony munitioun for the warre or materiallis for the same, and to bring in the saidis shippis and goodes to ony port or harhorie, thair to be sauld and ordoured as goodes dewlie foirfeytted to her majestie; the companie and equippage of the English or West Flanderis shippis so taikin to detene or ransoun as the said Captain MacGregor sall think expedient; the commodities and goodes being within the same shippis to meddle and intromet with, and to use the same shippis and goodes as pryise laufullie foirfeytted to her Majestie; and to use suche militarie lawis agains the companie equippage of the saidis shippis as is usuall in matteris of ther kynd agains profest and avowwed enemies to her majestie and her estate; and generallie with power to the said Captain MacGregor to doe and performe all and everie other thing that towardis the execution of the premissis is necessarlie requisite: Ferme and stable halding and for to hald all and whatsomevir thingis sal be laughfullie done heirin, and that the said commissioun be extendit in the best forme with all claussis neidfull, and be direct to all kingis, princes, dukes, governouris, and republicquis, magistrattis of burrowis and commanderis of navyis, and to all otheris her Majesteis freindis and confederattis whome these presentis doe or may concerne; requesting thame to acknawledge the said Captain MacGregor and companie and equippage of his ship as her majesteis goode and laughfull subjectis authorized with her Majesteis warrand and commissioun for executioun of the praemissis; and if the said Captain MacGregor salhappin to come in thair boundis with ony pryise or pryises tane be him, thast thay suffer and permitt him to mak laughfull merchandice thairof, and to sell and dispone upon the same at his pleasure; and that thay furneis him with vittaillis and otheris necessaris upoun his reasounable expenssis, and withstand and resist all violenec that salbe offerit unto thame; and that thay shawe all otheris commoun dewties of friendship unto thame, as her Majestie salbe carefull in all occurrentis of ther kynd to caus the like be shawne unto thame and thair subjectis. And that thir presentis be ane warrand to the gritte seale without ony furder preceptis to be direct thairupoun, and dureing the tyme of the warre after the date heirof but revocatioun to indure.
Gevin at Leith the tuentie day of Aprile 1562.
Sic subscribitur, Geo.Cancell., Mar, Montrois, Wyntoun, Linlithgow, Perth, Wigtoun, Roxburgh, Bugcleugh.