A letter of M. Henrie Lane to the worshipfull M. William Sanderson, conteining a briefe discourse of that which passed in the the Northeast discouery for the space of three and thirtie yeres.
Master Sanderson, as you lately requested mee, so haue I sought, and though I cannot finde things that heretofore I kept in writing and lent out to others, yet perusing at London copies of mine old letters to content one that meaneth to pleasure many, I haue briefly and as truely as I may, drawen out as foloweth: the rough hewing may be planed at your leasure, or as pleaseth him that shall take the paines.
First the honorable attempt to discouer by sea Northeast and Northwest named for Cathay, being chiefly procured by priuiledge from king Edward the sixt, and other his nobilitie, by and at the cost and sute of M. Sebastian Cabota, then gouernor for discoueries with sir Andrew Iudde, sir George Barnes, sir William Garrard, M. Anthonie Hussie, and a companie of merchants, was in the last yeere of his Maiesties reigne 1553. Anno 1553 M. William Burrough was then yong, and with his brother in this first voyage. The generall charge whereof was committed to one sir Hugh Willoughbie knight, a goodly Gentleman, accompanied with sufficient number of Pilots, Maisters, Merchants and Mariners, hauing three shippes well furnished, to wit, The Bona Sperança, the Edward Bonaduenture, and the Confidentia. The Edward Bonaduenture, Richard Chanceller being Pilot, and Steuen Burrough Maister, hauing discouered Wardhouse vpon the coast of Finmark, by storme or fogge departed from the rest, found the bay of S. Nicholas now the chiefe port for Russia, there wintred in safetie, and had ayde of the people at a village called Newnox. Newnox is from the road of S. Nicholas Westward 35. miles.
The other two shippes attempting further Northwards (as appeared by pamphlets found after written by Sir Hugh Willoughbie) were in September encountered with such extreame colde, that they put backe to seeke a wintring place: and missing the saide baye fell vpon a desert coast in Lappia, entring into a Riuer immediately frozen vp, since discouered, named Arzina Reca, distant East from, a Russian Monastery of Monkes called Pechingho, from whence they neuer returned, but all to the number of 70. persons perished, which was for want of experience to haue made caues and stoues. Note. These were found with the shippes the next Summer Anno 1554. by Russe fishermen: and in Anno 1555. the place sent vnto by English merchants as hereafter appeareth.
Anno 1554. Anno 1554. the sayd shippe Edward Bonaduenture (although robbed homewards by Flemings) returned with her company to London, shewing and setting foorth their entertainments and discouery of the countreys euen to the citie of Mosco, from whence they brought a priuilege written in Russe with the Kings or great Dukes seale, the other two shippes looked for and vnknowen to them where they were.
Anno 1555. An. 1555. the said company of Merchants for discouerie vpon a new supply, sent thither againe with two ships, to wit, the Edward Bonaduenture, and another bearing the name of the King and Queene, Philip and Marie, The King and Queenes letters. whose Maiesties by their letters to the said Moscouite, recommended sundry their subiects then passing, whereof certaine, to wit, Richard Chanceller, George Killingworth, Henry Lane, and Arthur Edwards, after their arriuall at the Bay, and passing vp Dwina to Vologda went first to Mosco, where, vpon knowledge of the said letters, they with their traine had speciall entertainment, with houses and diet appointed, and shortly permitted to the princes presence, they were with gentlemen brought through the citie of Mosco, to the castle and palace, replenished with numbers of people, and some gunners. They entred sundry roomes, furnished in shew with ancient graue personages, all in long garments of sundry colours, golde, tissue, baldekin, and violet, as our vestments and copes haue bene in England, sutable with caps, iewels, and chaines. These were found to be no countries, but ancient Moscouites, inhabitants, and other their merchants of credite, as the maner is, furnished thus from the Wardrobe and Treasurie, waiting and wearing this apparell for the time, and so to restore it.
Then entring into the presence, being a large roome floored with carpets, were men of more estate, and richer shew, in number aboue an hundred set square: who after the said English men came in, doing reuerence, they all stood vp, the prince onely sitting, and yet rising at any occasion, when our King and Queenes names were read or spoken. Then after speeches by interpretation, our men kissing his hande, and bidden to dinner, were stayed in another roome, and at dinner brought through, where might be seene massie siluer and gilt plate, some like and as bigge as kilderkins, and washbowles, and entring the dining place, being the greater roome, the prince was set bare headed, his crowne and and rich cappe standing vpon a pinnacle by. Not farre distant sate his Metropolitane, with diuers other of his kindred, and chiefe Tartarian Captaines: none sate ouer against him, or any, at other tables, their backes towards him: which tables all furnished with ghests set, there was for the Englishmen, named by the Russes, Ghosti Carabelski, to wit, strangers or merchants by ship, a table in the middest of the roome, where they were set direct against the prince: and then began the seruice, brought in by a number of his yoong Lordes and Gentlemen, in such rich attire, as is aboue specified: and still from the Princes table (notwithstanding their owne furniture) they had his whole messes set ouer all in massie fine golde, deliuered euery time from him by name to them, by their seuerall Christian names, as they sate, viz. Richard, George, Henry, Arthur. M. Killingworths beard of a marueilous length. Likewise bread and sundry drinkes of purified mead, made of fine white and clarified honie. At their rising, the prince called them to his table, to receiue each one a cup from his hand to drinke, and tooke in his hand Master George Killingworths beard, which reached ouer the table, and pleasantly deliuered it the Metropolitane, who seeming to blesse it, sayd in Russe, this is Gods gift. As in deede at that time it was not onely thicke, broad, and yellow coloured, but in length fiue foot and two inches of assize. Then taking leaue, being night, they were accompanied and followed with a number, carying pots of drinke, and dishes of meat dressed, to our lodging.
This yeere the two shippes, with the dead bodies of Sir Hugh Willoughbie, and his people, were sent vnto by Master Killingworth, (which remained there in Mosco Agent almost two yeeres) and much of the goods and victuals were recouered and saued.
Anno 1556. Anno 1556. The company sent two ships for Russia, with extraordinary masters and saylers to bring home the two ships, which were frozen in Lappia, in the riuer of Arzina aforesaid. The two ships sent this yeere from England sailing from Lapland to the Bay of S. Nicholas, tooke in lading with passengers, to wit, a Russe ambassador, named Ioseph Napea, and some of his men shipped with Richard Chanceller in the Edward. But so it fell out that the two which came from Lappia, with all their new Masters and Mariners, neuer were heard of, but in foule weather, and wrought seas, after their two yeeres wintring in Lapland, became, as is supposed, vnstanch, and sunke, wherein were drowned also diuers Russes merchants, and seruants of the ambassadour. A third shippe the Edward aforesayd, falling on the North part of Scotland, vpon a rocke was also lost, and Master Chanceller, with diuers other, drowned. The sayd Russe ambassadour hardly escaping, with other his men, mariners, and some goods saued, were sent for into Scotland, from the King, Queene, and Merchants (the messenger being M. Doctor Laurence Hussie, and others:) And then, as in the chronicles appeareth, honorably enterteined and receiued at London.
This yeere also the company furnished and sent out a pinnesse, named the Serchthrift, to discouer the harborowes in the North coast from Norway to Wardhouse, and so to the Bay of S. Nicholas. There was in her Master and Pilot, Stephen Burrough, with his brother William, and eight other. Their discouery was beyond the Bay, towarde the Samoeds, people dwelling neare the riuer of Ob, and found a sound or sea with an Island called Vaigats, first by them put into the Carde or Mappe. In that place they threw snowe out of their said pinnesse, with shouels in August, by which extremitie, and lacke of time, they came backe to Russia, and wintred at Colmogro.
Anno 1557. Anno 1557. The company with foure good ships, sent backe the said Russe ambassadour, and in company with him, sent as an Agent, for further discouery, Master Anthony Ienkinson, who afterward anno 1558, with great fauour of the prince of Moscouia, and his letters passed the riuer Volga to Cazan, and meaning to seeke Cathay by land, was by many troupes and companies of vnciuil Tartarians encountred, and in danger: Boghar voyage. 1560. but keeping company with merchants of Bactria, of Boghar, and Vrgeme, trauelling with camels, he with his company, went to Boghar, and no further: whose entertainment of the king is to be had of master Ienkinson, which returned anno 1559. to Moscouie. The first trade to the Narue. 1560. And in anno 1560. he with Henry Lane, came home into England: which yeere was the first safe returne, without losse or shipwracke, or dead fraight, and burnings. And at this time was the first traffike to the Narue in Liuonia, which confines with Lituania, and all the dominions of Russia: and the markets, faires, commodities, great townes and riuers, were sent vnto by dyuers seruants: the reports were taken by Henry Lane, Agent, and deliuered to the companie, 1561. The trade to Rie, and Reuel, of old time hath bene long since frequented by our English nation, but this trade to the Narue was hitherto concealed from vs by the Danskers and Lubeckers.
Anno 1561. the said Master Anthony Ienkinson went Agent into Russia; who the next yeere after, passing all the riuer of Volga to Astracan, and ouer the Caspian sea, arriued in Persia, and opened the trade thither.
Alcock slaine in Persia. Bannister died in Media. Edwards died at Astracan. Also betweene the yeeres 1568. and 1573. sundry voyages after Master Ienkinsons, were made by Thomas Alcock, Arthur Edwards, Master Thomas Banister, and Master Geffrey Ducket, whose returne (if spoyle neere Volga had not preuented by rouing theeues) had altogether salued and recouered the companies (called the olde companies) great losse, charges, and damages: but the saying is true, By vnitie small things grow great, and by contention great things become small. This may be vnderstood best by the company. The forwardnesse of some few, euill doing of some vniust factors, was cause of muche of the euill successe.
Arthur Edwards was sent againe 1579. and died in the voyage at Astcacan. About which matters, are to be remembred the voyages of Master Thomas Randolph Esquire, Ambassador, anno 1567. And late of Sir Ierome Bowes, anno 1583. both tending and treating for further discoueries, freedomes, and priuileges, wherewith I meddle not. But in conclusion, for their paines and aduentures this way (as diuers do now adayes other wayes) as worthy Gentlemen sent from princes, to doe their countrey good, I put them in your memorie, with my hearty farewell. From S. Margarets neere Dartforth in Kent.
Yours Henry Lane.
Last updated Monday, March 24, 2014 at 19:54