A Discourse of Western Planting, by Richard Hakluyt

Chap. V.

That this voyage will be a greate bridle to the Indies of the Kinge of Spaine, and a meane that wee may arreste at our pleasure for the space of tenne weeks or three monethes every yere one or twoo C. saile of his subjectes shippes at the fyshinge in Newfounde Land.

The cause why the Kinge of Spaine, these three or foure yeres last paste, was at suche intollerable chardges in furnishinge oute so many navies to wynne Tercera, and the other small ilandes of the Azores adjacent to the same, was the opportunitie of the places in interceptinge his West India flete at their returne homewarde, as a matter that toucheth him indeede to the quicke. But the plantinge of twoo or three strong fortes upon some goodd havens (whereof there is greate store) betweene Florida and Cape Briton, woulde be a matter in shorte space of greater domage as well to his flete as to his westerne Indies; for wee shoulde not onely often tymes indaunger his flete in the returne thereof, but also in fewe yeres put him in hazarde in loosinge some parte of Nova Hispania.

Touchinge the fleete, no man (that knoweth the course thereof, comynge oute betwene Cuba and the Cape of Florida, alonge the gulfe or straite of Bahama) can denye that it is caried by the currant northe and northeaste towardes the coaste which wee purpose, God willinge to inhabite; which hapned to them not twoo yeres past, as Mr. Jenynges and Mr. Smithe, the master and masters mate of the shippe called the Toby, belonginge to Bristowe, infourmed me, and many of the chefest merchauntes of that citie, whereof they had particuler advertisement at Cadiz in Spaine a little before by them that were in the same flete the selfe same yere, and were in person driven upon the same coaste, and sawe the people, which they reported to be bigge men, somewhat in makinge like the Hollanders, and lighted on a towne upon a ryvers side, which they affirmed to be above a quarter of a mile in lengthe. Besides the current, it is also a thinge withoute controversie, that all southerne and south easterne windes inforce the Spanish flete returninge home nere or upon the aforesaide coaste, and consequently will bringe them into our daunger, after wee shallbe there strongly setled and fortified.

Wee are moreover to understande that the savages of Florida are the Spaniardes mortall enemyes, and wilbe ready to joyne with us againste them, as they joyned with Capitaine Gourgues, a Gascoigne, whoe beinge but a private man, and goinge thither at his owne chardges, by their aide wonne and rased the three small fortes, which the Spaniardes aboute xx’ti. yeres agoe had planted in Florida after their traiterous slaughter of John Ribault; which Gourgues slewe, and hanged upp divers of them on the same trees whereon the yere before they had hanged the Frenche. Yea, one Holocotera, brother to one of the kinges of the savages, leapinge upp on an highe place, with his owne handes slewe a Spanishe canonier as he was puttinge fire to a pece of ordynaunce; which storye is at large in printe sett furthe by Monsieur Poplynier in his book intituled Trois Mondes.

Also, within the lande on the northe side of Nova Hispania, there is a people called Chichimici, which are bigg and stronge men and valiaunte archers, which have contynuall warres with the Spaniardes, and doe greately annoye them. The Spanishe histories which I have reade, and other late discourses, make greate mention of them. Yea, Myles Phillipps, who was xiiij. yeres in those partes, and presented his whole travell in writinge to her Majestie, confesseth this to be moste certaine.66

Nowe if wee (being thereto provoked by Spanishe injuries) woulde either joyne with these savages, or sende or give them armor, as the Spaniardes arme our Irishe rebells, wee shoulde trouble the Kinge of Spaine more in those partes, then he hath or can trouble us in Ireland, and holde him at suche a bay as he was never yet helde at. For if (as the aforesaide Miles Phillipps writeth) yt be true, that one negro which fledd from his cruel Spanishe master is receaved and made capitaine of multitudes of the Chichimici, and daily dothe grevously afflicte them, and hath almoste enforced them to leave and abandon their silver mynes in those quarters, what domage mighte divers hundreds of Englishe men doe them, being growen once into familiaritie with that valiaunte nation.

And this is the greatest feare that the Spaniardes have, to witt, our plantinge in those partes and joyning with those savages, their neighbours, in Florida, and on the northe side of Nova Hispania. Which thinge an Englishe gentleman, Capitaine Muffett, whoe is nowe in Fraunce, tolde divers tymes this laste winter in my hearinge and others of credite, namely, that when he was in Spaine, prisoner, not longe since, he hearde the threasurer of the West Indies say, that there was no suche way to hinder his master, as to plante upon the coaste nere unto Florida, from whence by greate ryvers any man mighte easely passe farre upp into the lande, and joyne with his enemyes, whereof he stoode in contynuall feare; and said moreover, that that was the occasion why suche crueltie was used towardes John Ribaulte and his companie upon his seekinge to settle there.

The benefits of plantings aboute Cape Bryton or Newfounde lande. Fynally, if wee liste not to come so nere Florida, this is a matter of no small momente, that if we fortifie ourselves about Cape Briton, nere Newfounde land, partely by the strengthe of our fortification, and partely by the aide of our navye of fishermen, which are already comaunders of others there, havinge our double forces thus joyned together, wee shalbe able upon every sooden to cease upon one or twoo hundreth Spanishe and Portingale shipps, which for tenne weekes or three monethes ate there on fisshinge every yere. This I say will be suche a bridle to him and suche an advantage vnto us, as wee cannot possibly ymagine a greater. And thus the Frenche served them in the time of Mounsieurs being in Flaunders, caryenge awaye oute of some harborowes three or foure Spanishe and Portingale shippes at ones; and more they woulde have taken, if our Englishmen, and, namely, one of myne acquaintaunce of Ratclife, had not defended them. And hither of necessitie they must yerely repaire, beinge not able to make their provision for land and sea of fishe in any place els, excepte on the coaste of Ireland, and at Cape Blancke in Africa, which twoo are nothinge worth in comparison to this thirde place.

So shall wee be able to crye quittance with the King of Spaine if he shoulde goe aboute to make any generall arreste of our navye, or rather terrifie him from any such enterpryse, when he shall bethincke himself that his navye in Newfounde lande is no lesse in our daunger, then ours is in his domynions wheresoever.

66 See Myles Phillip’s Voyage, post. Also consult Nicholas, Pleasaunt Historie of the Conquest of the Weast India, 1578, pp. 378–9.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:00