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

The voiage set forth by M. Iohn Newton, and M. Iohn Bird marchants of London to the kingdome and Citie of Benin in Africa, with a ship called the Richard of Arundell, and a pinnesse, in the yere 1588. briefly set downe in this letter following, written by the chiefe Factor in the voyage to the foresaid Marchants at the time of the ships first arriual at Plimouth.

Worshipful Sirs, the discourse of our whole proceeding in this voyage wil aske more time and a person in better health then I am at this present, so that I trust you will pardon me, till my comming vp to you: in the meane time let this suffice. Whereas we departed in the moneth of December from the coast of England with your good ship the Richard of Arundell and the pinnesse, we held on our direct course towards our appointed port, and the 14 day of Februarie following we arriued in the hauen of Benin, where we found not water enough to carry the ship ouer the barre, so that we left her without in the road, and with the pinnesse and ship boat, into which we had put the chiefest of our marchandise, [Sidenote: Goto in Benin.] we went vp the riuer to a place called Goto, where we arriued the 20 of February, the foresaid Goto being the neerest place that we could come to by water, to go for Benin. [Sidenote: The great citie of Benin.] From thence we presently sent Negroes to the king, to certifie him of our arriuall, and of the cause of our comming thither: who returned to vs againe the 22 day with a noble man in their company to bring vs vp to the Citie, and with 200 Negroes to carrie our commodities: hereupon the 23 day we deliuered our marchandize to the Kings Factor, and the 25 day we came to the Citie of Benin, where we were well intertained: The sixe and twenty day we went to the Court to haue spoken with the king, which (by reason of a solemne feast then kept amongst them) we could not doe: but yet we spake with his Veadore, or chiefe man, that hath the dealing with the Christians: and we conferred with him concerning our trading, who answered vs, that we should have all thing to our desire, both in pepper and Elephants teeth.

The first of March, we were admitted to the kings presence, and he made vs the like courteous answere for our traffike: the next day we went againe to the Court, where the foresaid Veadore shewed vs one basket of greene pepper, and another of dry in the stalkes: wee desired to haue it plucked from the stalks and made cleane, who answered, that it would aske time, but yet it should be done: and that against another yeere it should be in better readines, and the reason why we found it so vnprepared was, because in this kings time no Christians had euer resorted thither, to lade pepper. The next day there were sent vs 12 baskets, and so a litle euery day vntill the 9 of March at which time we had made vpon 64 serons of pepper, and 28 Elephants teeth. In this time of our being at Benin (our natures at this first time not so well acquainted with that climate) we fell all of vs into the disease of the feuer, whereupon the Captaine sent me downe with those goods which we alreadie had receiued, to the rest of our men at Goto: where being arriued, I found all the men of our pinnesse sicke also, and by reason of their weaknes not able to conuey the pinnesse and goods downe to the place where our ship road: but by good hap within two houres after my comming to Goto, the boate came vp from the ship, to see how all things stood with vs, so that I put the goods into the boat, and went downe towards the ship: but by that time I was come aboord, many of our men died: namely, Master Benson, the Cooper, the Carpenter, and 3 or 4 more, and my selfe was also in such a weake state that I was not able to returne againe to Benin. Whereupon I sent vp Samuel Dunne, and the Chirurgian with him to our men, that were about to let them blood, if it were thought needfull: who at their comming to Benin, found the Captaine and your sonne William Bird dead, and Thomas Hempsteede very weake, who also died within two dayes after their comming thither. This sorrowfull accident caused them with such pepper and teeth, as they could then find, speedily to returne to the ship, as by the Cargason will appeare: at their comming away the Veadore tolde them, that if they could or would stay any longer time, he would vse all possible expedition to bring in more commodities: but the common sicknesse so increased and continued amongst vs all, that by the time our men which remained were come aboord, we had so many sicke and dead of our companie, that we looked all for the same happe, and so thought to loose both our ship, life, countrey and all. Very hardly and with much adoe could we get vp our ankers, but yet at last by the mercie of God hauing gotten them vp, but leauing our pinnesse behind vs, we got to sea, and set saile, which was vpon the 13 of Aprill. After which by little and little our men beganne to gather vp their crums and to recouer some better strength: and so sailing betwixt the Ilands of Cape Verde, and the maine we came to the Islands of the Azores vpon the 25 of Iuly, where our men beganne a fresh to grow ill, and divers died, among whom Samuel Dun was one, and as many as remained liuing were in a hard case: but in the midst of our distresse, it fell so well out, by Gods good prouidence, that we met with your ship the Barke Burre, on this side the North cape, which did not only keepe vs good companie, but also sent vs sixe fresh men aboord, without whose helpe, we should surely haue tasted of many inconueniences. But by this good meanes we are now at the last arriued in Plimouth, this 9 day of September: and for want of better health at this time, I referre the further knowledge of more particularities till my comming to London. Yours to commaund Antony Ingram.

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