Ordinances, instructions, and aduertisements of and for the direction of the intended voyage for Cathay, compiled, made, and deliuered by the right worshipfull M. Sebastian Cabota Esquier, gouernour of the mysterie and companie of the Marchants aduenturers for the discouerie of Regiones, Dominions, Islands and places vnknowen, the 9. day of May, in the yere of our Lord God, 1553. and in the 7. yeere of the reign of our most dread soueraigne Lord Edward the 6. by the grace of God, king of England, Fraunce, and Ireland, defender of the faith, and of the Church of England and Ireland, in earth supreame head.160
First the Captaine general, with the pilot maior, the masters, marchants and other officers, to be so knit and accorded in vnitie, loue, conformitie, and obedience in euery degree on all sides, that no dissention, variance, or contention may rise or spring betwixt them and the mariners of this companie, to the damage or hinderance of the voyage: for that dissention (by many experiences) hath ouerthrown many notable intended and likely enterprises and exploits.
2. Item, for as much as euery person hath giuen an othe to be true, faithfull, and loial subiects, and liege men to the kings most excellent Maiestie, his heires and successors, and for the obseruation of all lawes and statutes, made for the preseruation of his most excellent Maiestie, and his crown Imperiall of his realmes of England and Ireland, and to serue his grace, the Realme, and this present voyage truely, and not to giue vp, intermit, or leaue off the said voyage and enterprise vntill it shalbe accomplished, so farre forth as possibilitie and the life of man may serue or extend: Therfore it behoueth euery person in his degree, as well for conscience, as for dueties sake to remember his said charge, and the accomplishment thereof.
3. Item, where furthermore euery mariner or passenger in his ship hath giuen like othe to bee obedient to the Captaine generall, and to euery Captaine and master in his ship, for the obseruation of these present orders contained in this booke, and all other which hereafter shalbe made by the 12. counsailers in this present book named, or the most part of them, for the better conduction, and preseruation of the fleete, and atchieuing of the voyage, and to be prompt, ready and obedient in all acts and feates of honesty, reason, and duetie to be ministred, shewed and executed, in aduancement and preferment of the voyage and exploit: therfore it is conuenient that this present booke shall once euery weeke (by the discretion of the Captaine) be read to the said companie, to the intent that euery man may the better remember his othe, conscience, duetie and charge.
4. Item, euery person by vertue of his othe, to doe effectually and with good wil (as farre forth as him shall complie) all and euery such act and acts, deede and deeds, as shalbe to him or them from time to time commanded, committed and enioyned (during the voyage) by the Captain generall, with the assent of the Counsell and assistants, as well in and during the whole Nauigation and voyage, as also in discouering and landing, as cases and occasions shall require.
5. Item, all courses in Nauigation to be set and kept, by the aduice of the Captaine, Pilot maior, masters, and masters mates, with the assents of the counsailers and the most number of them, and in voyces vniformely agreeing in one to preuaile, and take place, so that the Captaine generall, shall in all counsailes and assemblies haue a double voyce.
6. Item, that the fleete shal keep together, and not separate themselues asunder, as much as by winde and weather may be done or permitted, and that the Captaines, Pilots and masters shall speedily come aboord the Admiral, when and as often as he shall seeme to haue iust cause to assemble them for counsaile or consultation to be had concerning the affaires of the fleete and voyage.
7. Item, that the merchants, and other skillful persons in writing, shal daily write, describe, and put in memorie the Nauigation of euery day and night, with the points, and obseruation of the lands, tides, elements, altitude of the sunne, course of the moon and starres, and the same so noted by the order of the Master and pilot of euery ship to be put in writing, the captaine generall assembling the masters together once euery weeke (if winde and weather shal serue) to conferre all the obseruations, and notes of the said ships, to the intent it may appeare wherein the notes do agree, and wherein they dissent and vpon good debatement, deliberation, and conclusion determined, to put the same into a common leger, to remain of record for the company: the like order to be kept in proportioning of the Cardes, Astrolabes, and, other instruments prepared for the voyage, at the charge of the companie.
8. Item, that all enterprises and exploits of discouering or landing to search Iles, regions, and such like, to be searched, attempted, and enterprised by good deliberation, and common assent, determined aduisedly. And that in all enterprises, notable ambassages, suites, requests, or presentment of giftes, or presents to Princes, to be done and executed by the captaine generall in person, or by such other, as he by common assent shall appoint or assigne to doe or cause to be done in the same.
9. Item, the steward and cooke of euery ship, and their associats, to giue and render to the captaine and other head officers of their shippe weekely (or oftner,) if it shall seeme requisite, a iust or plaine and perfect accompt of expenses of the victuals, as wel flesh, fish, bisket, meate, or bread, as also of beere, wine, oyle, or vinegar, and all other kinde of victualling vnder their charge, and they, and euery of them so to order and dispende the same, that no waste or vnprofitable excesse be made otherwise then reason and necessitie shall command.
10. Item, when any inferiour or meane officer of what degree or condition he shalbe, shalbe tried vntrue, remisse, negligent, or vnprofitable in or about his office in the voyage, or not to vse himselfe in his charge accordingly, then euery such officer to be punished or remoued at the discretion of the captaine and assistants, or the most part of them, and the person so remoued not to be reputed, accepted, or taken from the time of his remoue, any more for an officer, but to remaine in such condition and place, as hee shall be assigned vnto, and none of the companie, to resist such chastisement or worthie punishment, as shalbe ministred vnto him moderately, according to the fault or desert of his offence, after the lawes and common customes of the seas, in such cases heretofore vsed and obserued.
11. Item, if any Mariner or officer inferiour shalbe found by his labour not meete nor worthie the place that he is presently shipped for, such person may bee vnshipped and put on lande at any place within the kings Maiesties realme and dominion, and one other person more able and worthy to be put in his place, at the discretion of the captaine and masters, and order to be taken that the partie dismissed shalbe allowed proportionably the value of that he shall haue deserued to the time of his dismission or discharge, and he to giue order with sureties, pawn, or other assurance, to repay the ouerplus of that he shall haue receiued, which he shall not haue deserued, and such wages to be made with the partie newly placed as shalbe thought reasonable, and he to haue the furniture of all such necessaries as were prepared for the partie dismissed, according to right and conscience.
12. Item, that no blaspheming of God, or detestable swearing be vsed in any ship, nor communication of ribaldrie, filthy tales, or vngodly talke to be suffred in the company of any ship, neither dicing, carding, tabling, nor other diuelish games to be frequented, whereby ensueth not onely pouertie to the players, but also strife, variance, brauling, fighting, and oftentimes murther to the vtter destruction of the parties, and prouoking of Gods most iust wrath, and sworde of vengeance. These and all such like pestilences, and contagions of vices, and sinnes to bee eschewed, and the offenders once monished, and not reforming, to bee punished at the discretion of the captaine and master, as appertaineth.
13. Item, that morning and euening prayer, with other common seruices appointed by the kings Maiestie, and lawes of this Realme to be read and saide in euery ship daily by the minister in the Admirall, and the marchant or some other person learned in other ships, and the Bible or paraphrases to be read deuoutly and Christianly to Gods honour, and for his grace to be obtained, and had by humble and heartie praier of the Nauigants accordingly.
14. Item, that euery officer is to be charged by Inuentorie with the particulars of his charge, and to render a perfect accompt of the diffraying of the same together with modest and temperate dispending of powder, shot, and vse of all kinde of artillery, which is not to be misused, but diligently to be preserued for the necessary defence of the fleete and voyage, together with due keeping of all instruments of your Nauigation, and other requisites.
15. Item, no liquor to be spilt on the balast, nor filthiness to be left within boord: the cook room, and all other places to be kept cleane for the better health of the companie, the gromals and pages to bee brought vp according to the laudable order and vse of the Sea, as well in learning of Nauigation, as in exercising of that which to them appertaineth.
16. Item, the liueries in apparel giuen to the mariners be to be kept by the marchants, and not to be worne, but by the order of the captaine, when he shall see cause to muster or shewe them in good aray, for the aduancement and honour of the voyage, and the liueries to bee redeliuered to the keeping of the marchants, vntill it shal be thought conuenient for euery person to haue the ful vse of his garment.
17. Item, when any mariner or any other passenger shal haue neede of any necessarie furniture of apparell for his body, and conseruation of his health, the same shall bee deliuered him by the Marchant, at the assignement of the captaine and Master of that shippe, wherein such needie person shall be, at such reasonable price as the same cost, without any gaine to be exacted by the marchants, the value therof to be entred by the marchant in his booke, and the same to be discounted off the parties wages, that so shal receiue, and weare the same.
18. Item, the sicke, diseased, weake, and visited person within boord, to be tendred, relieued, comforted, and holpen in the time of his infirmitie, and euery maner of person, without respect, to beare anothers burden, and no man to refuse such labour as shall be put to him, for the most benefite, and publike wealth of the voyage, and enterprise, to be atchieued exactly.
19. Item, if any person shal fortune to die, or miscary in the voyage, such apparell, and other goods, as he shall haue at the time of his death, is to be kept by the order of the captaine and Master of the shippe, and an inuentorie to be made of it, and conserued to the vse of his wife, and children, or otherwise according to his mind, and wil, and the day of his death to be entred in the Marchants and Stewards Bookes: to the intent it may be knowen what wages he shall haue deserued, to his death, and what shall rest due to him.
20. Item, that the Marchants appointed for this present voyage, shall not make any shew or sale of any kind of marchandizes, or open their commodities to any forrein princes, or any of their subiects, without the consent, priuitie, or agreement of the Captaines, the cape Marchants and the assistants, or foure of them, whereof the captaine generall, the Pilot Maior, and cape marchant to be three, and euery of the pettie marchants to shewe his reckoning to the cape marchant, when they, or any of them shall be required: and no commutation or trucke to be made by any of the petie marchants, without the assent abouesaid: and all wares, and commodities trucked, bought or giuen to the companie, by way of marchandise, trucke, or any other respect, to be booked by the marchants, and to be wel ordred, packed, and conserued in one masse entirely, and not to be broken or altered, vntil the shippes shall returne to the right discharges, and inuentorie of al goods, wares, and merchandises so trucked, bought, or otherwise dispended, to be presented to the Gouernor, Consuls, and Assistants in London, King Edward’s Corporation. in good order, to the intent the Kings Maiestie may be truly answered of that which to his grace by his grant of corporation is limited, according to our most bound dueties, and the whole companie also to haue that which by right vnto them appertaineth, and no embezelment shall be vsed, but the truth of the whole voyage to bee opened, to the common wealth and benefite of the whole companie, and mysterie, as appertaineth, without guile, fraude, or male engine.
21. Item, no particular person, to hinder or preiudicate the common stocke of the company, in sale or preferment of his own proper wares, and things, and no particular emergent or purchase to be employed to any seueral profite, vntill the common stocke of the companie shall be furnished, and no person to hinder the common benefite in such purchases or contingents, as shal fortune to any one of them, by his owne proper policie, industrie, or chance, nor no contention to rise in that behalfe, by any occasion of iewel, stone, pearles, precious mettals, or other things of the region, where it shall chance the same to rise, or to be found bought, trucked, permuted, or giuen: but euery person to be bounden in such case, and vpon such occasion, by order, and direction, as the generall captaine, and the Councell shall establish and determine, to whose order and discretion the same is left: for that of things vncertaine, no certaine rules may or can be giuen.
22. Item not to disclose to any nation the state of our religion, but to passe it ouer in silence, without any declaration of it, seeming to beare with such lawes, and rites, as the place hath, where you shall arriue.
23. Item for as much as our people, and shippes may appeare vnto them strange and wonderous, and theirs also to ours: it is to be considered, how they may be vsed, learning much of their natures and dispositions, by some one such person, as you may first either allure, or take to be brought aboord your ships, and there to learne as you may, without violence or force, and no woman to be tempted, or intreated to incontinencie, or dishonestie.
24. Item the person so taken, to be well entertained, vsed, and apparelled, to be set on land, to the intent that he or she may allure other to draw nigh to shewe the commodities: and if the person taken may be made drunke with your beere, or wine, you shal know the secrets of his heart.
25. Item our people may not passe further into a land, then that they may be able to recouer their pinnesses, or ships, and not to credit the faire words of the strange people, which be many times tried subtile, and false, nor to be drawen into perill of losse, for the desire of golde, siluer, or riches, and esteeme your owne commodities aboue al other, and in countenance shew not much to desire the forren commodities: neuertheless take them as for friendship, or by way of permutation.
26. Item euery nation and region is to be considered aduisedly, and not to prouoke them by any disdaine, laughing, contempt, or such like, but to vse them with prudent circumspection, with al gentlenes, and curtesie, and not to tary long in one place, vntill you shall haue attained the most worthy place that nay be found, in such sort, as you may returne with victuals sufficient prosperously.
27. Item the names of the people of euery Island, are to be taken in writing, with the commodities, and incommodities of the same, their natures, qualities, and dispositions, the site of the same, and what things they are most desirous of, and what commodities they wil most willingly depart with, and what mettals they haue in hils, mountaines, streames, or riuers, in, or vnder the earth.
28. Item if people shal appeare gathering of stones, gold, mettall, or other like, on the sand, your pinnesses may drawe nigh, marking what things they gather, vsing or playing vpon the drumme, or such other instruments, as may allure them to harkening, to fantasie, or desire to see, and heare your instruments and voyces, but keepe you out of danger, and shewe to them no poynt or signe of rigour and hostilitie.
29. Item if you shall be inuited into any Lords or Rulers house, to dinner, or other parliance, goe in such order of strength, that you may be stronger then they, and be warie of woods and ambushes, and that your weapons be not out of your possessions.
30. Item if you shall see them weare Lyons or Beares skinnes, hauing long bowes, and arrowes, be not afraid of that sight: for such be worne oftentimes more to feare strangers, then for any other cause.
31. Item there are people that can swimme in the sea, hauens, and riuers, naked, hauing bowes and shafts, coueting to draw nigh your ships, which if they shal finde not wel watched, or warded, they wil assault, desirous of the bodies of men, which they couet for meate: if you resist them, they diue, and so will flee, and therefore diligent watch is to be kept both day and night, in some Islands.
32. Item if occasion shal serue, that you may giue aduertisements of your proceedings in such things as may correspond to the expectation of the company, and likelihood of successe in the voyage, passing such dangers of the seas, perils of ice, intolerable coldes, and other impediments, which by sundry authors and writers, haue ministred matter of suspition in some heads, that this voyage could not succede for the extremitie of the North pole, lacke of passage, and such like, which haue caused wauering minds, and doubtful heads, not onely to withdraw themselues from the aduenture of this voyage, but also disswaded others from the same, the certaintie whereof, when you shall haue tried by experience, (most certaine Master of all worldly knowledge) then for declaration of the trueth, which you shall haue experted, you may by common assent of counsell, sende either by lande, or otherwaies, such two or one person, to bring the same by credite, as you shal think may passe in safetie: which sending is not be done, but vpon vrgent causes, in likely successe of the voyage, in finding of passage, in towardlines of beneficiall traffike, or such other like, whereby the company being aduertised of your estates and proceedings, may further prouide, foresee, and determine that which may seeme most good and beneficiall for the publike wealth of the same: either prouiding before hand such things, as shall bee requisite for the continuance of the voyage, or else otherwise to dispose as occasion shall serue: in which things your wisedomes and discretions are to be vsed, and shewed, and the contents of this capitule, by you much to be pondred, for that you be not ignorant, how many persons, as well the kings Maiestie, the Lords of his honorable Counsel, this whole companie, as also your wiues, children, kinsfolkes, allies, friends and familiars, be replenished in their hearts with ardent desire to learne and know your estates, conditions, and welfares, and in what likelihood you be in, to obtain this notable enterprise, which is hoped no lesse to succeed to you, then the Orient or Occident Indias haue to the high benefite of the Emperour, and kings of Portingal, whose subiects industries, and trauailes by sea, haue inriched them, by those lands and Islands, which were to all Cosmographers, and other writers both vnknowne, and also by apparances of reason voide of experience thought and reputed vnhabitable for extremities of heates, and colds, and yet indeed tried most rich, peopled, temperate, and so commodious, as all Europe hath not the like.
33. Item no conspiracies, parttakings, factions, false tales, vntrue reports, which be the very seedes, and fruits of contention, discord, and confusion, by euill tongues to be suffered, but the same, and all other vngodlines to be chastened charitably with brotherly loue, and alwaies obedience to be vsed and practised by al persons in their degrees, not only for duetie and conscience sake towards God, vnder whose mercifull hand nauigants aboue all other creatures naturally bee most nigh, and vicine, but also for prudent and worldly pollicie, and publike weale, considering and alwaies hauing present in your mindes that you be all one most royall kings subiects, and naturals, with daily remembrance of the great importance of the voyage, the honour, glorie, praise, and benefite that depend of, and vpon the same, toward the common wealth of this noble Realme, the aduancement of you the trauailers therein, your wiues, and children, and so to endeuour your selues as that you may satisfie the expectation of them, who at their great costs, charges, and expenses, haue so furnished you in good sort, and plentie of all necessaries, as the like was neuer in any realme seene, vsed, or knowen requisite and needful for such an exploit, which is most likely to be atchieued, and brought to good effect, if euery person in his vocation shall endeauour himselfe according to his charge, and most bounden duetie: praying the liuing God, to giue you his grace, to accomplish your charge to his glorie, whose merciful hand shal prosper your voyage, and preserue you from all dangers.
In witnes whereof I Sebastian Cabota, Gouernour aforesaide, to these present ordinances, haue subscribed my name, and put my seale, the day and yeere aboue written.
The names of the twelue Counsellors appointed in this voyage.
160“Some of these Instructions now indeed appear rather childish, but others might still be used as rules for any well-ordered exploratory expedition.”— Nordenskiöld, Voyage of the Vega, vol. I, p. 58.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51