The principal navigations, voyages, traffiques, and discoveries of the English nation, by Richard Hakluyt

A voyage to Benin beyond the Countrey of Guinea, set foorth by Master Bird and Master Newton Marchants of London, with a shippe called the Richard of Arundell, and a Pinesse; Written by Iames Welsh, who was chiefe Master of the said voyage, begunne in the yeere 1588.

Vpon the twelft of October wee wayed our ankers at Ratcliffe and went to Blackwall. And the next day sayling from thence, by reason of contrary winde and weather, wee made it the 25. of October before wee were able to reach Plimouth, and there we stayed (to our great expense of victuals) for lacke of winde and weather vnto the 14. of December.

On Saturday the said 14. of December we put from thence, and about midnight were thwart of the Lizart.

[Sidenote: Rio del oro is in 22. degrees and 47. min.] Thursday the second of Ianuary wee had sight of the land neere Rio del oro, God be thanked, and there had 22. degrees of latitude, and 47. minutes.

[Sidenote: Cauo de las Barbas.] The thirde of Ianuary wee had sight of Cauo de las Barbas, and it bare Southeast fiue leagues off.

[Sidenote: Crosiers.] The 4. we had sight of the Crosiers in the morning.

[Sidenote: Cauo Verde in 14. degr. 43. m.] Tuesday the 7. day we had sight of Cauo verde, and I find this place to be in latitude 14. degrees, and 43. minutes, being 4. leagues from the shoare.

[Sidenote: Cauo de Monte.] Friday the 17. Cauo de Monte bare off vs North Northeast, we sounded and had 50. fathom blacke oase, and at 2. of the clocke it bare North Northwest 8. leagues off. [Sidenote: Cauo Mensurado.] And Cauo Mensurado bare of vs East and by South, and wee went Northeast with the maine: here the current setteth to the East Southeast alongst the shoare, and at midnight wee sounded and had 26. fathome blacke oase.

The 18. in the morning we were thwart of a land, much like Cauo verde, and it is as I iudge 9. leagues from Cauo Mensurado; it is a hill sadlebacked, and there are 4. or 5. one after another: and 7. leagues to the Southward of that, we saw a row of hils sadlebacked also, and from Cauo Mensurado are many mountaines.

[Sidenote: Rio de Sestos. Cauo dos Baixos.] The 19. we were thwart Rio de Sestos, and the 20. Cauo dos Baixos was North and by West 4. leagues off the shoare, [Sidenote: Tabanoo.] and at afternoone there came a boate frome the shoare with 3. Negroes, from a place (as they say) called Tabanoo. And towards euening we were thwart of an Island, and a great many of small Islands or rockes to the Southward, and the currant came out of the Souther-boord: we sounded and had 35. fathomes.

[Sidenote: A French ship at Ratire. Crua.] The 21. wee had a flat hill that bare North Northeast off vs, and wee were from the shoare 4. leagues, and at 2. a clocke in the afternoone we spake with a Frenchman riding neere a place called Ratire, and another place hard by called Crua. [Sidenote: A current to the Southeastward.] This Frenchman caried a letter from vs to M. Newton: wee layd it on hull while wee were writing of our letter; and the current set vs to the Southward a good pase alongst the shore South Southeast.

The 25. we were in the bight of the Bay that is to the Westward of Capo de Tres puntas: the currant did set East Northeast.

The 28. we lay sixe glasses a hull tarying for the pinesse.

[Sidenote: Caou de tres puntas.] The last of Ianuary the middle part of Cape de tres puntas was thwart of vs three leagues at seuen of the clocke in the morning: and at eight the pinnesse came to an anker: and wee prooued that the current setteth to the Eastward: and at sixe at night the Vttermost lande bare East and by South 5. leagues, and we went Southwest, and Southwest and by South.

Saturday the first of February 1588. we were thwart of a Round foreland, which I take to be the Eastermost part of Capo de tres puntas: and within the saide Round foreland was a great bay with an Island in the said bay.

[Sidenote: The Castle of Mina.] The second of February wee were thwart of the Castle of Mina, and when the thirde glasse of our Looke-out was spent, we spied vnder our Larbord-quarter one of their Boates with certaine Negroes, and one Portugale in the Boate, wee haue had him to come aboord, but he would not. [Sidenote: Two white watch-houses.] And ouer the castle upon the hie rockes we did see as it might be two watch-houses, and they did shew very white: and we went eastnortheast.

[Sidenote: Monte Redondo.] The 4 in the morning we were thwart a great high hill, and vp into the lande were more high ragged hilles, and those I reckoned to be but little short of Monte Redondo. Then I reckoned that we were 20 leagues Southeastward from the Mina, and at 11 of the clocke I sawe two hilles within the land, these hils I take to be 7 leagues from the first hils. And to sea-ward of these hilles is a bay, and at the east end of the bay another hill, and from the hils the landes lie verie low. We went Eastnortheast, and East and by North 22 leagues, and then East along the shore.

[Sidenote: Villa longa.] The 6 we were short of Villa longa, and there we met with a Portugall Carauell.

The 7 a faire temperate day, and all this day we road before Villa longa.

The 8 at noone we set saile from Villa longa, and ten leagues from thence we ankered againe and stayed all that night in ten fadom water.

[Sidenote: Rio de Lagos.] The ninth we set saile, and all alongst the shore were very thicke woodes, and in the afternoone we were thwart a riuer, and to the Eastward of the riuer a litle way off was a great high bush-tree as though it had no leaues, and at night we ankered with faire and temperate weather.

The 10 we set sayle and went East, and East and by South 14 leagues along the shoare, which was so full of thicke woods, that in my iudgement a man should haue much to doe to passe through them, and towards night we ankered in 7 fadome with faire weather.

[Sidenote: Very shallow water.] The 11 we sayled East and by South, and three leagues from the shore we had but 5 fadome water, and all the wood vpon the land was as euen as if it had beene cut with a paire of gardeners sheeres, and in running of two leagues we descerned a high tuft of trees vpon the brow of a land, which shewed like a Porpose head, and when wee came at it, it was but part of the lande, and a league further we saw a head-land very low and full of trees, and a great way from the land we had very shallow water, then we lay South into the sea, because of the sands for to get into the deepe water, and when we found it deepe, we ankered in fiue fadom thwart the riuer of Iaya, in the riuers mouth.

The 12. in the morning we road still in the riuers mouth. This day we sent the pinnesse and the boat on land with the marchants, but they came not againe vntil the next morning. The shallowest part of this riuer is toward the West, where there is but 4 fadom and a halfe, and it is very broad. [Sidenote: Rio de Iaya.] The next morning came the boate aboord, and they also said it was Rio de Iaya. Here the currant setteth Westward, and the Eastermost land is higher then the Westermost Thursday the 13 we set saile, and lay South Southeast along the shore, where the trees are wonderfull euen, and the East shore is higher then the West shore, and when wee had sayled 18 leagues we had sight of a great riuer, then we ankered in three fadom and a halfe, and the currant went Westward. [Sidenote: Rio Benin.] This riuer is the riuer of Benin, and two leagues from the maine it is very shallowe.

[Sidenote: A currant Westward.] The 15 we sent the boat and pinesse into the riuer with the marchants, and after that we set saile, because we road in shallow water, and went Southsoutheast, and the starboard tacke aboord vntill we came to fiue fadom water, where we road with the currant to the Westward: then came our boat out of the harbour and went aboord the pinnesse. The West part of the land was high browed much like the head of a Gurnard, and the Eastermost land was lower, and had on it three tufts of trees like stackes of wheate or corne, and the next day in the morning we sawe but two of those trees, by reason that we went more to the Eastward. And here we road still from the 14 of Februarie vntill the 14 of Aprill, with the winde at Southwest.

The 16 of Februarie we rode still in fiue fadom, and the currant ranne still to the Westward, the winde at Southwest, and the boat and pinnesse came to vs againe out of the riuer, and told vs that there was but ten foote water vpon the barre. All that night was drowsie, and yet reasonable temperate.

The 17 a close day, the winde at Southwest. Our marchants wayed their goods and put them aboord the pinnesse to goe into the riuer, and there came a great currant out of the riuer and set to the Westward.

The 18 the marchants went with the boat and pinnesse into the riuer with their commodities. This day was close and drowsie, with thunder, raine, and lightning.

The 24 a close morning and temperate, and in the afternoone the boat came to vs out of the riuer with our marchants.

Twesday the 4 of March, a close soultry hot morning, the currant went to the Westward, and much troubled water came out of the riuer.

[Sidenote: Sicknesse among our men.] The 16 our pinnesse came a boord and Anthonie Ingram in her, and she brought in her 94 bags of pepper, and 28 Elephants teeth, and the Master of her and all his company were sicke. This was a temperate day and the winde at Southwest.

The 17. 18. and 19 were faire temperate weather and the winde at Southwest. This day the pinnesse went into the riuer againe, and carried the Purser and the Surgion.

The 25 of the said moneth 1589 we sent the boate into the riuer.

[Sidenote: The death of the Captaine. Pepper and Elephants Teeth.] The 30 our pinnesse came from Benin, and brought sorowfull newes, that Thomas Hemstead was dead and our Captaine also, and she brought with her 159 Cerons or sackes of pepper and Elephants teeth.

[Sidenote: A good note.] Note that in all the time of our abiding here, in the mouth of the riuer of Benin, and in all the coast hereabout it is faire temperate weather, when the winde is at Southwest. And when the winde is at Northeast and Northerly, then it raineth, with lightning and thunder, and is very intemperate weather.

The 13 of Aprill 1589 we set saile homewards in the name of Iesus. In the morning we sayled with the winde at Southwest, and lay West and by North, but it prooued calme all that night, and the currant Southeast.

The 14 the riuer of Benin was Northeast 7 leagues from the shore, and there was little winde and towards night calme.

The l7 a faire temperate day the winde variable, and we had of latitude foure degrees and 20 minutes.

The 25 a faire temperate day the winde variable, and here we had three degrees and 29 minuts of latitude.

[Sidenote: A deceiptfll currant.] The 8 of May we had sight of the shore, which was part of Cauo de Monte, but we did not thinke we had beene so farre, but it came so to passe by reason of the currant. In this place M. Towrson was in like maner deceiued with the currant.

The 9 we had sight of Cauo de monte.

The 17 a darke drowsie day, this was the first night that I tooke the North starre.

The 26 a temperate day with litle winde, and we were in 12 degrees and 13 minutes of latitude.

The 30 we met a great sea out of the Northwest.

The 6 of Iune we found it as temperate as if we had beene in England, and yet we were within the height of the sunne, for it was declined 23 degrees, and 26 minuts to the Northward, and we had 15 degrees of latitude.

The 8 faire and temperate as in England, here we met with a counter sea, out of the Southborde.

The 15 a faire temperate day, the winde variable, here we had 18 degrees and fiftie nine minutes;

[Sidenote: Rockweed or Saragasso all along the sea.] The 12 of Iuly in 30 degrees of latitude we met with great store of rockweed, which did stick together like clusters of grapes, and this continued with vs vntill the 17 of the said moneth, and then we saw no more, at which 17 day we were in two and thirtie degrees sixe and fortie minutes of latitude.

The 25 at sixe of the clocke in the morning, we had sight of the Ile of Pike, it bare North and by East from vs, we being 15 leagues off.

The 27 we spake with the poste of London and she told vs good newes of England.

The nine and twentieth we had sight of the Island of Cueruo, and the 30 we saw the Island of Flores.

The 27 of August in 41 degrees of latitude we saw 9 saile of Britons, and three of them followed vs vntill noone, and then gaue vs ouer.

The 30 we had sight of Cape Finisterre.

The eight of September at night wee put into Plimouth sound, and road in Causon Bay all night.

The 9 we put into Catwater and there stayed vntill the 28 of September, by reason of want of men and sicknesse.

The nine and twentieth we set sayle from Plimouth, and arriued at London the second of October 1589.

The commodities that we caried in this voyage were cloth both linnen and woollen, yron worke of sundry sorts, Manillios or bracelets of copper, glasse beades, and corrall.

The commodities that we brought home were pepper and Elephants teeth, oyle of palme, cloth made of Cotton wool very curiously wouen, and cloth made of the barke of palme trees. Their monie is pretie white shels, for golde and siluer we saw none. [Sidenote: Inamia, a kind of bread in Benin.] They haue also great store of cotton growing: their bread is a kind of roots, they call it Inamia, and when it is well sodden I would leaue our bread to eat of it, it is pleasant in eating, and light of digestion, the roote thereof is as bigge as a mans arme. Our men vpon fish-dayes had rather eate the rootes with oyle and vineger, then to eate good stockfish. [Sidenote: Wine of palm trees.] There are great store of palme trees, out of which they gather great store of wine, which wine is white and very pleasant, and we should buy two gallons of it for 20 shels. They haue good store of sope, and it smelleth like beaten violets. Also many pretie fine mats and baskets that they make, and spoones of Elephants teeth very curiously wrought with diuers proportions of foules and beasts made vpon them. There is vpon the coast wonderfull great lightning and thunder, in so much as I neuer hard the like in no Countrey, for it would make the decke or hatches tremble vnder our feete, and before we were well acquainted with it, we were fearefull, but God be thanked we had no harme. The people are very gentle and louing, and they goe naked both men and women vntill they be married, and then they goe couered from the middle downe to the knees. [Sidenote: Abundance of honey.] They would bring our men earthen pottes of the quantitie of two gallons, full of hony and hony combes for 100 shelles. They would also bring great store of Oranges and Plantans which is a fruit that groweth upon a tree, and is like vnto a Cucumber but very pleasant in eating. It hath pleased God of his mercefull goodnesse to give me the knowledge how to preserue fresh water with little cost, [Marginal note: This preseruatiue is wrought by casting into an hogshead of water an handful of bay-salt, as the author told me.] which did serve vs sixe moneths at the sea, and when we came into Plimmouth it was much wondered at, of the principal men of the towne, who said that there was not sweeter water in any spring in Plimmouth. Thus doth God prouide for his creatures, vnto whom be praise now and for euermore, Amen.

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Last updated Monday, March 10, 2014 at 22:20