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



A report of a Voyage of two Englishmen in the company of Sebastian Cabota, intended for the Malucos by the Streights of Magellan, but perfourmed onely to the riuer of Plate in April 1527. Taken out of the information of M. Robert Thorne to Doctor Ley Ambassador for King Henry the eight, to Charles the Emperour, touching the discouery of the Malucos by the North.

This was the fleete wherein Cabot discouered the riuer of Plate, 1526. Two Englishmen went with Cabot in this discouery. In a flote of three ships and a carauel that went from this citie of Siuil armed by the merchants of it, which departed in Aprill last past, I and my partner haue one thousand foure hundred duckets that wee employed in the sayd fleete, principally for that two Englishmen, friendes of mine, which are somewhat learned in Cosmographie, should goe in the same ships, to bring me certaine relation of the situation of the countrey, and to be expert in the nauigation of those seas, and there to haue informations of many other things, and aduise that I desire to know especially. Seeing in those quarters are ships and mariners of that countrey, and cardes by which they saile, though much vnlike ours: that they should procure to haue the sayd cards, and learne how they understand them, and especially to know what nauigation they haue for those Islands Northwards and Northeastward.

The Islands of the Malucos. The New found Ilands discouered by the English. For if from the said Islands the sea doth extend without interposition of land to saile from the North point to the Northeast point one thousand seuen hundred or one thousand eight hundred leagues, they should come to The new found Islands that we discouered, and so we should be neerer to the said Spicerie by almost 200 leagues then the Emperour, or the king of Portugall are.

An extract out of the discourse of one Lopez Vaz a Portugal, touching the fight of M. Fenton with the Spanish ships, with a report of the proceeding of M. Iohn Drake after his departing from him to the riuer of Plate.

Vpon the relation of Pedro Sarmiento concerning the streits of Magellan, that they might be fortified, and for that the king heard, that there were ships in England preparing for the same streits, he commanded Diego Flores de Valdes a noble man of Spaine, to passe thither with 23 ships, and 3500 men to stoppe the passage of the Englishmen.

Fiue ships of this fleete cast away on the coast of Spaine. There went in this fleete the gouernour of Chili, with 500 olde souldiers that came out of Flanders: but this was the vnhappiest fleet of ships that euer went out of Spaine: for before they came from the coast of Spaine a storme tooke them, and cast away fiue of the fleete and in them aboue 800 men, and the rest came into Cadiz. But the king sent them word that they should proceede: and so there went out on the voyage 16 of the shippes, for two more of their fleete were much spoyled by the storme which they had.

In these sixeteene shippes Pedro Sarmiento was sent to bee gouernour in the straites, and had assigned vnto him 500 men to stay there with him, and hee carried with him, all kinde of Artificers to make him forts, and other necessaries, with great store of ordinance and other munition.

This fleete because it was late, did winter on the coast of Brasil, in the riuer of Ienero: and from thence they went when the winter was past, and about the height of 42 degrees they had a sudden storme, so that Diego Flores beat it vp and downe 22 dayes, in which time hee lost one of the best ships he had, which had in her 360 men and 20 women, that went to inhabit the Streits: and in this ship also was most part of the munition which should haue bene left in the Streits, so in the ende the storme grew to bee so great, that the ships were not able to endure it any longer, but were put backe vnto an Island called Santa Catelina:1 and there he found a barke wherein were some fryers going for the riuer of Plate: M. Fenton took these fryers. which friers told him of two great English ships, and a pinnesse, which had taken them, but tooke nothing from them, nor did them any harme, but onely asked them for the king of Spaines ships.

Hereupon Diego Flores knowing that these English ships would goe for the Streits, determined to goe thither, although it was in the moneth of Februarie, and choosing 10 ships of the 15 that were left, hee left two ships that were not in case to goe to sea at the Iland, and into the other three ships which were old, and shaken with the storme hee put all the women, and sicke men in all the fleete, and sent them to the riuer of Ienero, and he with the other 10 returned againe for the Streits.

The three ships in which the sicke men and women were, went to Brasil, and there they found within the port of S. Vincent the two ships before mentioned.

A fight betwixt our 2 English ships and three Spanish ships. They woulde haue had the English men to haue gone out of the harbour, and thereupon they fell to fight, and because that these three ships were weake with the storme, and the men that they had were the worst in all the fleete, the Englishmen easily put them to the worst, and sunke one of them, and might haue sunke another, if the Englishmen would: but they minded not the destruction of any man: for that is the greatest vertue that can be in a man, that when hee may doe hurt, yet he will not doe it. They victual at Spirito Santo. So the Englishmen went from this port to Spirito Santo, where they had victuals for their merchandise, and so they went backe for England, without doing of any harme in the Countrey.

1 Santa Catherina.

The cause why these English shippes vnder the conduct of M. Fenton went not to the streits, I know not: but some say that they were put backe by foule weather: other some say that it was for feare of the kings ships.

Iohn Drake proceedeth on to the riuer of Plate. But the pinnesse of these two ships went from them, in which was Captaine Iohn Drake: the cause why they parted I know not, but the pinnesse came into the riuer of Plate, and within fiue leagues of Seale Island, not farre from the place where the Earle of Cumberlands shippes did take in fresh water, shee was cast away vpon a ledge of rockes: but the men were saued in their boat, which were in number 18, who went ashore on the Northside, and went a dayes iourney into the land, and met with the Sauages which are no men-eaters, but take all the Christians that they can, and make them slaues.

But the Englishmen fought with them and the Sauages slew fiue of them, and tooke 13 aliue, which were with the Sauages about 15 moneths. Richard Faireweather remayneth in the riuer of Plate. But the Master of the pinnesse, whose name was Richard Faireweather being not willing to indure the misery that hee was in, and hauing knowledge that there was a towne of Christians on the other side of the riuer, he in a night called Iohn Drake, and another yong man which was with them, and tooke a very little Canoa, which had but two oares, and so passed to the other side of the riuer, which is about 19 leagues broade, and were three dayes before they could get ouer without meat: and comming to land, they hit vpon an high way that went towardes the Christians: and seeing the footing of horses, they followed it, and at last came to an house where there was corne sowed, and there they met with Indians seruants vnto the Spaniards, which gaue them meate, and clothes to couer them, for they were all naked, and one of the Indians went to the towne, and told them of the Englishmen: so the Captaine sent foure horsemen, who brought them to the towne behind them.

This Captaine clothed them, and prouided lodging for them, and Iohn Drake dieted at the Captaines table, and they were all very well intreated, the Captaine purposing to send them for Spaine. Iohn Drake sent to the Viceroy of Peru. But the Viceroy of Peru hauing newes hereof, sent for them, and so Iohn Drake was sent to him, but the other two were kept there, because they were married in the countrey, so that I know no more of their affaires.

Vpon this comming of the Englishmen, there were prepared 50 horsemen to goe ouer the riuer to seeke the rest of the Englishmen, and also certaine Spaniards that were among the Sauage people, but I am not certaine, whether they went forward or not.

A ruttier which declareth the situation of the coast of Brasil from the Isle of Santa Catelina vnto the mouth of the riuer of Plata, and all along vp within the sayd riuer, and what armes and mouthes it hath to enter into it, as farre as it is nauigable with small barks.

The Isle of Santa Catelina. Rio Grande. From the Isle of Santa Catelina, (which is in 28 degrees of Southerly latitude) vnto Rio Grande is fortie leagues. This riuer by another name is called Ygai. The Island of Santa Catelina is sixe leagues in length: It hath two small Ilands on the North side betweene the maine land and it: and on the South side it hath a shoald of rockes, which lyeth hidden very neere vnto the poynt of the Isle. You are to passe betweene the firme land and the poynt of the Isle.

Puerto de Biaza, or Laguna. From Santa Catelina to the hauen of Biaça, which by another name is called la Laguna, are twelue leagues: it is a good hauen within: but you must stay the full sea to enter into it, because it hath shoaldes in the mouth, and it may be knowen by a small Island which lyeth a league into the sea which is called La Isla de Raparo, that is The Island of succour or defence, and you must ride there to search the chanell.

From this harbour vnto the riuer before named there is no hauen for a ship to harbour it selfe. And Rio Grande hath many shoalds in the mouth thereof. It is a riuer that none but very small shippes can enter into. And this riuer diuideth the countrey of the people called Carios from other nations which are called Guauaes. Certaine Ilands 12 leagues distant from the mouth of the riuer of Plate, which are 3 in number. And from this riuer vnto the entrance of the mouth of the riuer of Plate it is al a plaine land, and very low: you must saile all along two or three leagues into the sea from the shore, vntill you come to certain Islands2 which lye twelue leagues from the mouth of the riuer of Plate.

2 Castillos and Palmarones.

From Rio Grande vnto these Islands are 68 leagues. And from these Islands vnto the Cape of Saint Marie the coast runneth Northeast and Southwest, somewhat inclining a poynt to the South. The Islands are three, and may be knowen as you come from the sea by two poynts, which shew like the eares of a conie: you may ride betweene them and the maine.

Isla de Lobos. From Rio Grande to the Cape of Saint Marie are 80 leagues: and the Cape may be knowne by one Island which lyeth from it a league and an halfe into the sea. You may sayle betweene the maine and that Island, because there is aboue 8 or 9 fathoms water. The Cape of Saint Mary standeth in 35 degrees of Southerly latitude.

The Cape of Santa Maria vpon the poynt thereof hath a little hill which standeth ouer against the Isle of Seales. The way to enter into the riuer of Plate. From this coast of Santa Maria you must coast along the land alway on the North shore, and along the same are certaine Bayes. From the Cape vnto the riuer of Solis are tenne leagues, the coast runneth East and West. There standeth an Island ouer against the mouth thereof. From this riuer of Solis vnto Los tres Mogotes which are on the maine land is three leagues. And from Los Mogotes vnto the Isles of Saint Grauiel are other 8 or 9 leagues more; all this distance runneth East and West. These are fiue small Islands: to ride here you must keepe somewhat neere the maine within an harquebuze shot halfe a league before you come at the Islands, and straightway you shall see a crosse standing on the said land, and there is an harbour for some winds.

From Saint Grauiel vnto the riuer of Sant Iuan going along the same coast, I say on the North shore, are three leagues: it is very well knowen by the broken cliffe which it hath, which is a white hill. The entrance into this riuer is very dangerous; because it is shallow, and none but very small shippes can enter into the same: the entrance thereof is on the West side very neere the land, great Carackes may ride within the harbour. From this riuer vnto the Isle of Martin Garçia are three leagues: it is one Island alone, and you must sayle along the coast on the North shore: and after you be come vnto the Island, I say, ouer against the same, you shall haue three fathoms water, and on the West side it hath a little creeke where you may ride.

He that desireth to crosse ouer the riuer of Plate vnto the riuer de Buenos Aëres from the Isles of Saint Grauiel, must shape his course Southwest: and the cut ouer is sixeteene leagues and vpon his arriuall on the South shore of the riuer, hee must seeke a chanell of three fathomes water, and straite he must goe along the coast vntill hee come to a broken cliffe and a poynt like vnto the firme land, which is distant from this chanell three or foure leagues: and when thou seest this broken cliffe, keepe thee a league from it. The first Spanish colonie was planted in the riuer of Buenos Aëres. Here vpon this riuer of Buenos Aëres was the first Colonie that Don Pedro de Mendoça planted. This riuer lieth very much hidden: because it is not seene, it is very shallow at a low sea, wherefore you must come in with the first of the flood.

From the Isle of Martin Garçia vnto certaine small Islands which are called the Isles of Saint Lazarus is two leagues, these are shoalds: and to goe thither you must goe hard aboord the maine, for there goeth the chanell: all this is to be passed on the North shore, and with small barkes, and with good heede.

From the Isle of Martin Garçia to the mouthes of the riuer are eight leagues in passing along on this side to seeke one of the mouthes of the riuer Parana, as it is hereafter described. But you had need first to harbour in a bay, which is in the very cliffe or Barranca, and you must stay for the full sea. Rio Vruay. And if you fall into the mouth of the riuer which is called Vruay,3 you must leaue it on the right hand, I say on the North side. Parana is the great riuer. And foorthwith leauing the said mouth forward toward the West, you may enter into the first mouth although it seeme narrow; or rather you may enter into any of the mouthes: for all of them meete together in Parana, which is the maine riuer.

3 River Uruguay.

Rio de las Palmas. And hee that desireth to goe from the Isle of Martin Garçia to the riuer of Palmas, which is the best of all these armes, or mouthes to speake more properly, is to shape his course to the West, and comming ouer to the other shore, and sayling along the coast Northnorthwest hee shall discouer the mouth of this riuer of Palmas: and hee must enter hard by Los Iuncales, which lye on the South side: and afterward within is very deepe sounding. All these mouthes of this riuer which are 5, are full of sholds towards the East aboue the space of two leagues. And if the course of the water were not swift there, you could not enter into them, as I haue already sayd, and you must passe all along with much heede and foresight.

Cape Blanco on the South side of the mouth of the riuer of Plate a very low and euen land. And if peradventure you haue passed Cape Saint Marie and are come ouer to Cape Blanco, consider it, that it is so euen and smooth a land, that you can scarcely discerne it a league from the maine, vnlesse it be a very cleare day: and after this sort the coast lieth low vnto the riuer de Buenos Aeres. And from thence the coast lyeth somewhat high vnto the entrance of the riuer de Palmas: all the coast runneth as I sayd before. Man-eaters vpon the south shore. And all along this coast are naughty people, which eate those which they kill, and many Tygers.

From the Isle of Martin Garçia vnto Saint Saluador is nine or tenne leagues. This is an Island which standeth two leagues within the first mouth: where Sebastian Cabota tooke possession. And this countrey is very well peopled by a people called Carios; and you most beware of all these people: for they are your deadly enemies. The most Southerly mouth of Parana called Rio de Palmas is sixteene leagues long, and it hath many turnings, and many palme or date-trees growing neere it, whereupon it is called The riuer of palme trees: and forthwith it entreth into the riuer Parana, as soone as these sixteene leagues are finished. All the other armes containe likewise sixteene leagues in length, sauing one small or narrow arme, which is called The riuer de los Beguaes; for this containeth fortie leagues in length. From this you must enter by the mouth of the riuer of Palmas vnto Santo Spirito, the way is fiftie leagues: you are to passe still along the cliffes. As you enter on the left hand which is on the West shore vp this riuer there are many Isles, lakes and small riuers, and many Indians which are your enemies.

From Santo Spirito vnto a people which are called Los Tenbuis is fifteene leagues. This is by the narrow arme whereby they passe into the riuer Parana: it is the more because it is the longer way. From the Tenbuis by this narrow arme vpward vnto the Quiloacas, which is another nation, are twentie leagues; and all vp this riuer is great store of people.

From the Quiloacas, to a place where the Spaniards now haue builded a towne, are fifteene leagues. This towne perhaps may be the towne of Santa Anna, 15. leagues. From this towne vnto the people called Los Mequaretas is twentie leagues. Here are many sholds which continue thirtie leagues. All these thirtie leagues are sunken lands: where are many Isles, flats, and nations, which are our enemies.

From the Mequaretas vnto the people called Mepenes ate these thirtie leagues. And from hence begin the coasts of the firme land vnto the mouth of the riuer Paraguai; sauing that there are eight leagues more of sunken ground.

From the Mepenes vnto the month of the riuer of Paraguai are thirtie leagues: it is a riuer that cannot be mistaken although it hath many armes and Islands and dangers, it hath a marke two leagues beneath the mouth on the East side, to wit, an high land, where are 7 points, which we call the 7 currents: and immediately aboue these currents there is an Island as you passe vp the riuer ouer against the poynt aforesaid standeth the mouth of Paraguai. The towne of Piquiri or Picora 170 leagues vp the riuer of Parana. This mouth is very plaine to be found in seeking whereof a man cannot be deceived. From this mouth the riuer of Parana is diuided, which is a very great riuer: and it goeth vnto the towne of Piquiri, which is an hundred and seuentie leagues: and it runneth all this space North and South, and in the way are many flats and shoalds; and great store of people, which are a bad nation, although they be diuided. The citie of Assumption, or Ascension 60 leagues from the mouth of Paraguai. From the place where these two riuers are diuided, that is to say, from the mouth of Paraguai are sixtie leagues vnto the citie of Assumption. This is a good riuer, and better to sayle then all the rest of the riuers, which are in this countrey. 200 leagues from Assumption subiect to the Spaniard, to the citie of Xaraes. And from this towne to Los Xaraes4 are 200. leagues, very well inhabited with people of diuers nations, which serue the Spanyards.

4 North of Lake Uberaba, in latitude 17 degrees South, and longitude 52 1/2 West.

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 19:52