Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

The true copie of a note found wrltten in one of the two ships, to wit, the Speranza, which wintered in Lappia, Where sir Hugh Willoughby and all his companie died, being frozen to death. Anno 1553.

The voiage intended for the discouerie of Cathay, and diuers other regions, dominions, Islands, and places vnknowen, set forth by the right worshipful, master Sebastian Cabota Esquire, and Gouernour of the mysterie and company of the Marchants Aduenturers of the citie of London: which fleete being furnished, did set forth the tenth day of May, 1553. and in the seuenth yeere of our most dread Soueraigne Lord, and King, Edward the sixt.

The names of the shippes of the fleete and of their burden, together with the names of the Captaines, and Counsellors, Pilot Maior, Masters of the ships, Marchants, with other officers, and Mariners, as hereafter followeth.

the first ship: The Bona Esperanza, Admirall of the fleete, of 120. tunnes, hauing with her a pinnesse, and a boate.

the second ship: The Edward Bonauenture, of 160. tunnes, with her a pinnesse, and a boate.

the third ship: The Bona Confidentia of 90. tunnes, hauing with her a pinnesse, and a boate.

The Iurameutum, or othe, ministred to the Captaine.

You shall sweare to be a faithful, true, and loyal subiect in all points, and duties, that to a subiect appertaineth, to our soueraigne Lord the kings Maiestie, his heires, and successors: and that you shall wel and truely to the vttermost of your capacitie, wit, and knowledge, serue this present voiage, committed to your charge, and not to giue vp nor sooner intermit the same, vntil you shall haue atchieued the same, so farre foorth, as you may without danger of your life, and losse of the fleete: you shall giue good, true and faithful counsell to the said societie, and to such as shal haue the charge with or vnder you, and not to disclose the secrets, or priuities of the same to any person by any maner of meane, to the preiudice, hurt, or damage of it. You shal minister iustice to all men vnder your charge, without respect of person, or any affection, that might moue you to decline from the true ministration of iustice. And further, you shal obserue, and cause to be obserued, as much as in you lieth, all and singular rules, articles, prouisions hitherto made, or heereafter to be made for the preseruation or safeconduct of the fleete and voyage, and benefit of the company. You shall not permit nor suffer the stocke or goods of the company to be wasted, imbezeled, or consumed, but shall conserue the same whole and entire, without diminishment, vntill you shall haue deliuered, or cause to be deliuered the same, to the vse of the companie. And finally you shall vse your selfe in all points, sorts, and conditions, as to a faithfull captaine, and brother of this companie shall belong and appertaine: So helpe you God, &c.

The othe ministred to the Maister of the ship, &c.

You shall sweare by the holy contents in that booke, that you according and to the vttermost of your knowledge and good vnderstanding in mariners science and craft, shall in your vocation doe your best to conduct the good shippe called the N. &c. whereof you nowe are Maister vnder God, both vnto and from the portes of your discouerie, and so vse your indeauour and faithfull diligence, in charging, discharging, lading againe, and roomaging of the same shippe, as may be most for the benefite and profite of this right woorshipfull fellowship: and you shall not priuately bargein, buy, sell, exchange, barter, or distribute any goods, wares, merchandise, or things whatsoeuer (necessary tackles and victuals for the shippe onely excepted) to or for your owne lucre, gaine or profit, neither to nor for the priuate lucre, gaine, or profit of any other person or persons whatsoeuer. And further, If you shall know any boatswaine, mariner, or any other person or persons whatsoeuer, to buy, sell, barter, trucke, or exchange any goods, wares, merchandises, or things for priuate account, reckoning, or behalfe, you shall doe your best to withstand and let the same: and if you cannot commodiously so doe, that then before the discharge of such goods bought for priuat account, you shall giue knowledge therof to the cape marchant of this said fellowship for the time being. And you shall not receiue nor take, nor suffer to be receiued or taken into your said ship during this voyage any maner person or persons whatsoeuer, going or returning, but onely those mariners which without fraud or guile shall be hired to be of your company, and to serue in mariners craft and science onely: so helpe you God, &c.

These foresaid shippes being fully furnished with their pinnesses and boates, well appointed with al maner of artillerie, and other things necessary for their defence with al the men aforesaid, departed from Ratcliffe, and valed vnto Detford, the 10. day of May, 1553.

The 11. day about two of the clocke, we departed from Detford, passing by Greenwhich, saluting the kings Maiesty then being there, shooting off our ordinance, and so valed vnto Blackwall, and there remained vntil the 17. day, and that day in the morning we went from Blackwall, and came to Woolwhich by nine of the clocke, and there remained one tide, and so the same night vnto Heyreth.

The 18. day from Heyreth vnto Grauesend, and there remained vntil the twentieth day: that day being Saterday, from Grauesend vnto Tilberie hope, remayning there vntill the two and twentieth day.

The 22. day from Tilbury Hope to Hollie Hauen.

The 23. day from Hollie Hauen, till we came against Lee, and there remained that night, by reason that the winde was contrary to vs.

The 24. day the winde being in the Southwest in the morning, we sailed along the coast ouer the Spits, vntill we came against S. Osyth, about sixe of the clocke at night, and there came to anker, and abode there all that night.

The 25. day about tenne of the clocke we departed from S. Osyth, and so sailed forward vnto the Nase, and there abode that night for winde and tide.

The 26. day at fiue of the clock in the morning, we weyed our anker, and sailed ouer the Nase, the winde being at the Southwest, vntill wee came to Orwell wands, and there came to an anker, and abode there vntill the 28. day.

The same day being Trinitie Sunday about 7. of the clocke before noone we weyed our ankers, and sailed til we came athwart Walsursye, and there came to an anker.

The 29. day from thence to Holmehead, where we stayed that day, where we consulted which way, and what courses were best to be holden for the discouerie of our voyage, and there agreed.

The 30. day of May at fiue of the clocke in the morning wee set saile, and came against Yermouth about three leagues into the sea, riding there at anker all that night.

The last of May into the sea sixe leagues Northeast, and there taried that night, where the winde blew very sore.

The first of Iune the winde being at North contrary to vs, wee came backe againe to Orwell, and remained there vntill the 15. day tarying for the winde, for all this time the winde was contrary to our purpose.

The 15 day being at Orwel in the latitude of 52 degrees, in the morning wee weyed our ankers, and went forth into the wands about two miles from the towne, and lay there that night.

The 16 day at eight of the clocke we set forward, and sayled vntill we came athwart Alburrough, and there stayed that night.

The 17 day about fiue of the clocke before noone we went backe unto Orfordnesse, and there remained vntill the 19 day.

The 19 day at eight of the clocke in the morning we went backe to Orwel, and abode there three dayes tarying for the winde.

The 23 day of Iune the wind being faire in the Southwest we hailed into the seas to Orfordnesse, and from thence into the seas ten leagues Northeast: then being past the sands, we changed our course sixe leagues Northnortheast: about midnight we changed our course againe, and went due North, continuing in the same vnto the 27 day.

The 27 day about seuen of the clocke Northnorthwest 42 leagues to the ende to fall with Shotland: then the wind veared to the West, so that we could lie but North and by West, continuing in the same course 40 leagues, whereby we could not fetch Shotland: then we sayled North 16 leagues by estimation, after that North and by West, and Northnorthwest, then Southeast, with diuers other courses, trauersing and tracing the seas, by reason of sundry and manifolde contrary windes, vntill the 14 day of Iuly: and then the sunne entring into Leo, we discouered land Eastward of vs, vnto the which we sayled that night as much as we might: and after wee went on shore with our Pinnesse, and found little houses to the number of 30, where we knew that it was inhabited, but the people were fled away, as we iudged, for feare of vs.

The land was all full of little Islands, and that innumerable, which were called (as we learned afterwards) Ægeland and Halgeland In this land dwelt Octher, as it seemeth. 162, which lieth from Orfordnesse North and by East, being in the latitude of 66 degrees. The distance betweene Orfordnesse and Ægeland 250 leagues. Then we sailed from thence 12 leagues Northwest, and found many other Islandes, and there came to anker the 19 day, and manned our Pinnesse, and went on shore to the Islands, and found people mowing and making of hay, which came to the shore and welcomed vs. In which place were an innumerable sort of Islands, which were called the Isles of Rost, being vnder the dominion of the king of Denmarke: which place was in latitude 66 degrees, and 30 minutes. The winde being contrary, we remayned there three dayes, and there was an innumerable sort of foules of diuers kindes, of which we tooke very many.

The 22 day the winde coming fayre, we departed from Rost, sailing Northnortheast, keeping the sea vntil the 27 day, and then we drew neere vnto the land, which was still East of vs: then went forth our Pinnesse to seeke harborow, and found many good harbours, of the which we entred into one with our shippes, which was called Stanfew163, and the land being Islands, were called Lewfoot, or Lofoot, which were plentifully inhabited, and very gentle people, being also vnder the king of Denmarke: but we could not learne how farre it was from the maine land: and we remained there vntill the 30 day, being in latitude 68 degrees, and from the foresaid Rost about 30 leagues Northnortheast.

The 30 day of Iuly about noone we weyed our ankers, and went into the Seas, and sayled along these Islands Northnortheast, keeping the land still in sight vntill the second day of August: then hailing in close aboord the land, to the entent to knowe what land it was, there came a skiffe of the island aboord of vs, of whom we asked many questions, who shewed vnto us, that the Island was called Seynam, which is the latitude of seuenty degrees, and from Stanfew thirtie leagues, being also vnder the king of Demarke, and that there was no merchandise there, but onely dryed fish; and traine oyle. Then we being purposed to goe vnto Finmarke, inquired of him, if we might haue a pilot to bring vs vnto Finmarke, and he said, that if we could beare in, we should haue a good harbour, and on the next day a pilot to bring vs vnto Finmarke, vnto the wardhouse,164 which is the strongest holde in Finmarke, and most resorted to by report. But when wee would haue entred into an harbour, the land being very high on euery side, there came such flawes of winde and terrible whirlewinds, that we were not able to beare in, but by violence were constrained to take the sea agayne, our Pinnesse being vnshipt: we sailed North and by East, the wind increasing so sore that we were not able to beare any saile, but tooke them in, and lay a drift, to the end to let the storme ouer passe. And that night by violence of winde, and thickenesse of mists, we were not able to keepe together within sight, and then about midnight we lost our pinnesse, which was a discomfort vnto vs. Assoone as it was day, and the fogge ouerpast, we looked about, and at the last we descried one of our shippes to Leeward of vs: then we spred an hullocke of our foresaile, and bare roome with her, which was the Confidence, but the Edward we could not see.165 Then the flaw something abating, we and the Confidence hoysed vp our sailes the fourth day, sayling Northeast and by North, to the end to fall with the Wardhouse, as we did consult to doe before, in case we should part company. Thus running Northeast and by North, and Northeast fiftie leagues, then we sounded, and had 160 fadomes, whereby we thought to be farre from land, and perceiued that the land lay not as the Globe made mention. Wherfore we changed our course the sixt day, and sailed Southeast and by South eight and fortie leagues, thinking thereby to find the Wardhouse.

The eight day much winde arising at the Westnorthwest, we not knowing how the coast lay, strook our sayles, and lay a drift, where we sounded and found 160 fadomes as afore.

The ninth day, the wind vearing to the South Southeast, we sailed Northeast 25 leagues.

The tenth day we sounded, and could get no ground, neither yet could see any land, wherat we wondered: then the wind comming at the Northeast, we ran Southeast about 48 leagues.

The 11 day, the winde being at South, we sounded, and found 40 fadoms, and faire sand.

The 12 day the winde being at South and by East, we lay with our saile East, and East and by North 30 leagues.

Willoughbie his land in 72 degrees. The 14 day early in the morning we descried land, which land we bare with all, hoising out our boat to discouer what land it might be: but the boat could not come to land the water was so shoale, where was very much ice also, but there was no similitude of habitation, and this land lyeth from Seynam East and by North, 160 leagues, being in latitude 72 degrees. Then we plyed to the Northward the 15, 16 and 17 day.166

The 18 day, the winde comming at the Northeast, and the Confidence being troubled with bilge water, and stocked, we thought it good to seeke harbour for her redresse: then we bare roome the 18 day Southsoutheast, about 70 leagues.

The 21 day we sounded, and found 10 fadome, after that we sounded againe, and found but 7 fadome, so shoalder and shoalder water, and yet could see no land, where we marueiled greatly: to auoide this danger, we bare roomer into the sea all that night Northwest and by the West.

The next day we sounded, and had 20. fadoms, then shaped our course, and ran West Southwest vntill the 23. day: then we descried Low land, vnto which we bare as nigh as we could, and it appeared vnto vs vnhabitable. Then we plyed Westward along by that lande, which lyeth West Southwest, and East Northeast, and much winde blowing at the West, we haled into the sea North and by East 30. leagues. Then the winde comming about at the Northeast, we sailed West Northwest: after that, the winde bearing to the Northwest, we lay with our sailes West southwest, about 14. leagues, and then descried land, and bare in with it, being the 28 day, finding shoale water, and bare in till we came to 3. fadome, then perceiuing it to be shoale water, and also seeing drie sands, we haled out againe Northeast along that land vntill we came to the point therof. That land turning to the Westwarde, we ran along 16. leagues Northwest: then comming into a faire bay, we went on land with our boat, which place was vnhabited, but yet it appeared vnto vs that the people had bin there, by crosses, and other signes: from thence we went all along the coast Westward.

The fourth day of September we lost sight of land, by reason of contrary winds, and the eight day we descried land againe. Within two dayes after we lost the sight of it: then running West and by South about 30. leagues, we gat the sight of land againe, and bare in with it vntill night: then perceiuing it to be a lee shore, we gat vs into the sea, to the end to haue sea roome.

The 12. of September we hailed to shoareward againe, hauing then indifferent wind and weather: then beeing neere vnto the shoare, and the tide almost spent, we came to an anker in 30 fadoms water.

The 13. day we came along the coast, which lay Northwest and by West, and Southeast and by East.

The 14. day we came to an anker within two leagues of the shoare, hauing 60. fadoms.

There we went a shore with our boat, and found two or three good harboroughs, the land being rocky, and high, but as for people could we see none. The 15 day we ran still along the coast vntill the 17 day: then the winde being contrary vnto vs, we thought it best to returne vnto the harbor which we had found before, and so we bare roomer with the same, howbeit we could not accomplish our desire that day. The next day being the 18 of September, we entred into the Hauen, and there came to an anker at 6 fadoms. This hauen runneth into the maine, about two leagues, and is in bredth halfe a league, wherein were very many seale fishes, and other great fishes, and vpon the maine we saw beares, great deere, foxes, with diuers strange beasts, as guloines, Or, Ellons. and such other which were to vs vnknowen, and also wonderfull. Thus remaining in this hauen the space of a weeke, seeing the yeare farre spent, and also very euill wether, as frost, snow, and haile, as though it had beene the deepe of winter, we thought best to winter there. Wherefore we sent out three men Southsouthwest, to search if they could find people who went three dayes iourney, but could figd none: after that, we sent other three Westward foure daies iourney, which also returned without finding any people. Then sent we three men Southeast three dayes three dayes iourney, who in like sorte returned without finding of people, or any similitude of habitation.

Here endeth Sir Hugh Willoughbie his note, which was written with his owne hand.

These two notes following were written vpon the outside of this Pamphlet, or Booke.

  1. The proceedings of Sir Hugh Willoughby after he was separated from the Edward Bonauenture.

  2. Our shippe being at an anker in the harbour called Sterfier in the Island Lofoote.167

The riuer or hauen wherein Sir Hugh Willoughbie with the companie of his two ships perished for cold, is called Arzina in Lapland, neere vnto Kegor.168 But it appeared by a Will found in the ship that Sir Hugh Willoughbie and most of the company were aliue in January 1554.169

161The “George Blage” mentioned above.

162See Vol I., p. 51 of this Edition.

163Steenfjord, on the West of Lofoden.


165This vessel’s successful voyage is related further on.

166In Purchas, III., p. 462, Thomas Edge, a captain in the service of the Muscovy Company, endeavoured to show that this land was Spitzbergen. This being proved incorrect, others have supposed that the land Willoughby saw was Gooseland. or Novaya Zemlya. Nordenskiöld supposes it to be Kolgujev Island. This, he says, would make its latitude two degrees less than stated, but such errors are not impossible in the determination of the oldest explorers.

167The object of Willoughby’s voyage was to discover a new route to Asia, inaccessible to the armadas of Spain and Portugal, a feat only performed in 1878–9 by Professor Nordenskiöld. It was the first maritime expedition on a large scale sent out by England. The above narrative, written by Willoughby himself, is all we know of that unfortunate navigator’s proceedings after his separation from the Edward Bonaventure in August 1553. The following year some Russian fishermen found, at the ship’s winter station, the bodies of those who had perished, probably of scurvy, with the above journal and a will, referred to in the note on page 40. The two ships, with Willoughby’s corpse, were sent to England in 1555 by George Killingworth.

168“With regard to the position of Arzina, it appears from a statement in Anthony Jenkinson’s first voyage [see post] that it took seven days to go from Vardoehus to Swjatoinos, and that on the sixth he passed the mouth of the river where Sir Hugh Willoughby wintered. At a distance from Vardoehus of about six-sevenths of the way Between that town and Swjatoinos, there debouches into the Arctic Ocean, in 68 deg. 20 min. N. L. and 38 deg. 30 min. E. L. from Greenwich, a river, which in recent maps is called the Varzina. It was doubtless at the mouth of this river that the two vessels of the first North–East Passage Expedition wintered, with so unfortunate an issue for the officers and men.”— NORDENSKIÖLD, Voyage of the Vega, Vol. I., p. 63.

169The testator was Gabriel Willoughby, and Sir Hugh was a witness.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55