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

Another letter of the said M. Arthur Edwards, written the 26. of, April 1566. in Shamaki in Media, to the right worshipful Sir Thomas Lodge Knight and Alderman: and in his absence to M. Thomas Nicols, Secretarie to the right worshipfull companie trading into Russia, Persia, and other the North and East partes, touching the successe of Richard Iohnson in the third voiage into Persia.

Worshipfull Sir, my bounden duetie remembred, with heartie prayer vnto God for the preseruation of you and yours in perfect health with increase of worship. It may please you that my last letter I sent you was from Astracan the 26 of Iuly 1565. They departed from Astracan the 30. of Iuly 1565. From whence Richard Iohnson, my selfe, and Alexander Kitchin, departed as the 30 of the same. And by meanes of contrary windes, it was the 23 of August before we came to our desired port named Nazauoe. There, after we had gotten your goods on land, with much labour and strength of men, as also windlesses deuised and made, we haled your barke ouer a barre of beach or peeble stones into a small Riuer, sending your ships apparell with other things to an house hired in a village thereby. And as soone as we might get camels, being the fift of September we departed thence, and came to this towne of Shamaki the 11. of the same: Presents to the King Obdolowcan. and the 17. day following, we presented vnto Abdollocan the king of this countrey, one timber of Sables, one tunne or nest of siluer cups parsill gilt, three Morses teeth, 4. Arshines of scarlet, 3. pieces of karseis, with 40. red foxes.

He receiued our presents with giuing vs thanks for our good wils, demanding if M. Ienkinson were in good-health, and whether he would returne into these parts againe. He willed vs also himselfe to sit downe before him the distance of a quoits cast from his tent, where he sate with diuers of his counsaile and nobilitie, sending vs from his table such meate as was before him: A house giuen our men in Shamaki by the king. And after certaine talke had with vs, he sayd, if he might perceiue or know any maner of person to doe vs any wrong, he would punish them in example of others, whereby we should liue in quietnesse, and haue no cause to complaine, giuing vs a little house for the time, vntill a better might be prouided in such place as we should thinke most meete, neuer willing vs to rise or depart, vntill such time as we of our selues thought it conuenient. At the taking of our leaue, hee willed vs to put our whole minds and requests in writing, that he might further vnderstand our desires. The death of Abdollocan the 2. of October 1565. But while we were about to doe so, God tooke this good king our friend out of this present life the 2. of October past. The want of him hath bene the cause that as yet wee cannot receiue certaine debts. Howbeit, we doubt not but we shall recouer all such summes of money as are owing vs for this voyage. As for Thomas Alcocks debts they are past hope of recouerie, which had not bene lost if the king had liued. Mursay the new king of Media. We trust in the place of him, God will send as friendly a king towards vs, which [Transcriber’s note: ‘towardswvsoh:’ in original.] by report (and as we be credibly informed,) shall bee his sonne named the Mursay: who since the death of his father, at our being with him, promised to shew vs more friendship then ever we found. God grant the same.

Great troubles haue chanced in these parts. Of those which were of the old kings counsell or bare any rule about him in these quarters, some are in prison, some are pinched by the purse, and other sent for vnto the Shaugh. These troubles haue partly bene the let that wares were not sold as they might, to more profite. The death of Alexander Kitchin the 23. of October 1565. Your Agent Richard Iohnson bought foure horses, minding to haue sent to Casbin Alexander Kitchin, whom God tooke to his mercy the 23. of October last: and before him departed Richard Dauis one of your Mariners, whose soules I trust the Lord hath receiued to his mercy. We are now destitute of others to supply their roumes. Foure Mariners were few enough to saile your barke, whereof at this present we haue but one, whose name is William Smith, an honest yong man, and one that doeth good seruice here. For want and lacke of Mariners that should know their labours, we all were like to be cast away in a storme. For all the broad side of our barke lay in the water, and we had much adoe to recouer it, but God of his mercy deliuered vs. Mariners here may doe you good seruice all the winter otherwayes: and merchants here will be gladder to ship their goods in vs giuing good fraight. One merchant at this present is content to pay 20. rubbles for twentie camels lading fraight to Astracan. The Caspian sea very shoald in diuers places. Such barkes as must passe these seas, may not draw aboue fiue foote of water, because that in many places are very shallow waters. Wee mind hereafter to make the Russian boates more strong, and they shall serue our turnes very well.

And whereas some in time past tooke great paines, trauell and care, and could not haue their desire in the getting of the Shaughs letters or priuiledge: Now, I trust (with Gods helpe) they may be obtained: which being had, will be beneficiall to the company, and great quietnes to those that shal remaine here, although heretofore things haue chanced ill, as the like in other countries hath bene. But I doubt not, this priuiledge once gotten and obtained, we shall liue in quietnesse and rest, and shall shortly grow into a great trade for silkes both raw and wrought, with all kind of spices and drugs, and other commodities here, as to M. Anthonie Ienkinson is well knowen, who (I doubt not) hath long agoe throughly aduertised the Companie thereof.

The murthering of Thomas Alcock. The trueth of the slaughter of Thomas Alcock your seruant, is not certainly knowen. Some thinke it was by the meanes of a noble man, with whom your sayd seruant was earnest in demanding of your debts: vpon whose words he was so offended, that he procured his death. But other doe thinke verily, that in riding from the Court without companie, false knaues lay in waite, thinking he had much about him, and so slew him. I doubt not though this misfortune hath chanced, that things shall come well to passe, and that we shall be better beloued when we shall be more knowen.

Honest merchants are glad of our being here, and seeke to grow in acquaintance with vs, being glad to further vs in that they may, and haue spoken in our fauours to the chiefest of this Countrey: one being a noble man, with whom your Agent and I are entred into friendship, who is at this time in great fauour with the Shaugh. Cozamomet a noble man that fauoured our nation. He hath here and in other places of these parts set a good stay in things since the kings death: he is well knowen to M. Ienkinson, his name is Cozamomet. Also another Duke named Ameddin-beck is our great friend. And his sister is the Shaughes wife. These two haue promised your Agent by their lawe, not onely to procure to get the Shaughes priuiledge but also that I shall haue the debts paied me of those that went from hence to Casbin, if we would send one with them. In consideration whereof, I was vpon short warning (for want of a better) appointed by your agent, M. Richard Iohnson, all excuses laied apart, presently to put my selfe in readinesse, and to depart in company with these noblemen: with charge, when God should send me to Casbin, to vse my discretion with their aduise, for the recouering of your debts and priuiledge. I shall haue with mee one interpreter and two bought seruants: one of which partly vnderstandeth this tongue, and may be put in trust whatsoeuer should become of me. The value of a tumen. I, haue receuied 6. tumens in ready money, 200. shaughs is a tumen, reckoning euery shaugh for sixe pence Russe. I haue further receiued two timbers of Sables, one to be sold, the other to bee giuen to Thomas the Shaugh: and haue order further to giue as I shall see good to those that shall further my suite, and as occasion serueth. And forasmuch as I am commanded to go, I shall willingly do my best, putting my trust in God that he will send me well to speed in this iourney.

For all kind of wares bought or sold, you shal throughly be aduertised by your Agent Richard Iohnson, whose reckonings or accompts at no hands I might see or be priuie vnto. Your karseis were good and well sorted, they are and will be sold from 150. shaughs, to 160. the piece. Two hundred pieces were sold vnder, that needed not: one 100. pieces at 146. and 147. the piece but more would haue bene giuen, if circumspection had bene vsed. They were sold to those noble men aforesayd, which as yet it was not knowen that I should haue gone with them. They may stand vs much in stead, as they haue promised vs their good wils in that they may doe. What a batman is. Here is at this time bought for England 11. packes of rawe silke, 25. and 26. batmans being in euery packe: The batman being 7. pound, which may be 6. pound and a halfe of English waight, being bought here from 66. to 70. shaughes the batman. It is fine and good, litle course at this time was to be had. And where course silke might be had being at Grosin, we could not send thither: for that time was neglected at the first. When wee shall haue lidgers here to remaine in Sommer, we may buy it at the first hand of the countrey people that bring it to sell hither, and to other places. I would to God the Companie could find the meanes to haue a vent to make sales for the one halfe that we may buy here. The Companie may haue for 30. or 40. thousand pounds yeerely. Varas a great mart for silke. And as appeareth by your Agents wordes being at Varas, he and others sawe there so great abundance, that by report of diuers, you may bestow (if it were not for the Turkes) for a two hundred thousand pounds: besides silke of all colours died in graine, bound vp in pound waights, I thinke 15. of our ounces to their pound waight, and here sold for 23. shaughs, at 6. d. the shaugh, may be 11. s. 6. pence.

Gilan 7. dayes sailing from Astracan. From Astracan in 7. or 8. dayes, wee may saile with our barke to a place named Gilan: the which place in time to come, (I thinke) shall serue our purpose best to goe vnto. Alom is there good cheape, being brought from thence hither to Shamaki, and sold here for two bists their batman, which may be 5. pence in our money: and so I haue bought to bee sent home 223. batmans for example. And at Gilan there is rawe silke enough for the companies stocke. Gilan 4. dayes iourney from Casbin. I beleeue, if any great store of wares be sent from you, that must be the place: and from thence a man may trauell in 4. dayes to Casbin, and there make quicke and better sales, at which place your commodities are to be sold. For there be the chiefe and best merchants, and diuers other cities round about, to wit, Teueris, Ardouil, and Caishan, being the heart of the countrey, where there is more ciuilitie and merchants are better vsed. Concerning this point I haue inquired of diuers merchants both Russes and others that haue bene in those parts and found them all agreeing in one tale, and perceiue the same to be true, and that all kind of wares come from thence into these parts. From Casbin to Ormus a moneths trauel with camels. And from Casbin to Ormus is about 30. daies trauelling with camels. I haue written the prices of wares in my letter to the gouernour both for spices and some drugs which I do know.

Also you shall vnderstand here is plentie of yew for bowstaues. I caused three horse loades to be bought vs for to know the trueth: but they were cut out of season this moneth of April, the sap being in them. Three moneths I neuer left speaking to the Countrey men to bring some. Your Agent will send some home for example.

This day being the 26. of Aprill I departed towards Casbin: God giue me a good houre and well to speed, with a mery heart in returning againe, as my hope is I shall. I haue written my mind to M. Glouer your Agent, what Russian wares I thinke best to be brought for this Countrey, and to send some one hither that hath the Russe tongue, for we haue need. The secret doings of the Moscouie company. And the companie shall do well hereafter in taking of seruants to be sent hither, to see that they be such as haue discretion, and be something broken in the world, and seene in the trade of merchandise, and one (if they can get some such) as can speake the Portingall tongue, may do them as good seruice, as those that shall be here two yeeres before him: for then we may buy a slaue that can speake this language and the Portingal tongue also, which shall then interprete vnto vs in all your secret doings, not making the Russes priuy: for they are sory that we doe trade into these partes for we are better beloued then they are: because they are giuen to be drunkards, they are much hated of these people. It is to be wished that none should serue your worships in these parts that be giuen to that kind of vice: And that your chiefe Agent and Factor should be able to rule and gouerne himselfe, that no dishonestie should be imputed to him and vs. By his euill vsage he paied here 24 rubbles, being in this Countrey 4. tumens for a boy, that he was charged to haue conueied away from a Tesicke one of this countrey men, who willed him to sweare that he knew not where the boy was become, and he should not pay it. If he were honest he might do your worships good seruice because of his Russian tongue.

Your London reds are not to be sent hither, for they will not giue aboue 18. shaughes their arshine. Orient reds of Venice die. Here be reds of more orient colour, being Venice die. The people are giuen much to weare cloth: the common peoples pecially weare karseis, and the merchants of more wealth weare broad cloth. You shall doe well to send fiue or sixe broad clothes, some blackes, pukes, or other sad colours, that maybe affoorded at 20. shaughes the arshine, and not aboue. It is here reported that King Philip hath giuen the Turkes a great ouerthrow at Malta, and taken 70. or 80. of his chiefe captains.

Thus wishing I had more time to write, I pray you to beare with this my scribled letter, and after you haue red it, that M. Nicols may haue a sight thereof,

By your seruant to command,

Arthur Edwards.

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