Commission giuen by sir Rowland Hayward knight, and George Barrie, Aldermen and gouernours of the company of English Merchants, for discouery of new trades, vnto Arthur Pet, and Charles Iackman, for a voyage by them to be made, for discouery of Cathay, 1580. in forme following.
In the name of God Almightie, and euerlasting. Amen. This writing for commission Tripartite, made the twentieth day of May Anno Dom. 1580. and in the 22. yeere of the reigne of our Souereigne Lady Elizabeth by the grace of God, Queene of England, France and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c. Betweene sir Rowland Hayward knight, and George Barne, Aldermen of the Citie of London and Gouernours of the company of English Merchants, for discouery of new trades, for the behoofe, and in the name of the said company, on the first partie, and Arthur Pet of Ratcliffe, in the Countie Middlesex, Captaine, Master, and chiefe ruler of the good barke, called the George of London, of the burthen of 40. tunnes, or thereabouts, on the second partie, and Charles Iackman of the Popler, in the said Countie of Middlesex, Captaine, Master and ruler of the good barke, called the William of London, of the burthen of 20. tunnes, or thereabouts, (which barkes are now riding at anker in the riuer of Thames against Limehouse) on the third partie: witnesseth, that the said Gouernours, and company haue hired the saide Arthur Pet, to serue in the said barke, called the George, with nine men and a boy: Burroughs streits. And likewise the said Charles Iackman, to serue in the said barke, called the William, with fiue men and a boy, for a voyage by them to be made by Gods grace, for search and discoueries of a passage by sea from hence by Boroughs streights, and the Island Vaigats, Eastwards to the countreis or dominions of the mightie Prince, the Emperour of Cathay, and in the same vnto the Cities of Cambalu and Quinsay, or to either of them.
The which passage (vpon authoritie of writers, and great reason) is conceiued to bee from the Vaigats Eastwards, according to the description in plat of spirall lines, made by master William Burrough, whereof either of the saide Arthur Pet, and Charles Iackman, haue one deliuered vnto them, and also one other sailing carde, and a blanke plat for either of them. But if it should not be in all points, according to that description, yet we hope that the continent or firme land of Asia doth not stretch it selfe so farre Northwards, but that there may be found a sea passeable by it, betweene the latitude of 70. and 80. degrees. And therefore we haue appointed you with these two barkes to make triall of the same: wishing you both to ioyne in friendship together, as most deere friends and brothers, to all purposes and effects, to the furtherance and orderly performing of the same voyage. And likewise order your companies, that they of the one barke may haue such loue and care, to helpe and succour them of the other, as most deere friends and brothers would doe: so as it may appeare, that though they be two barkes, and two companies, (which is so appointed for your greater comfort and assurance) yet that you are wholy of one minde, and bend your selues to the vttermost of your powers, to performe the thing that you are both employed for.
Doe you obserue good order in your dayly seruice, and pray vnto God, so shall you prosper the better.
We would haue you to meete often together, to talke, conferre, consult, and agree how, and by what meanes, you may best performe this purposed voyage, according to our intents. And at such meeting we thinke it requisite, that you call vnto you your mates, and also Nicholas Chanceler, (whom wee doe appoint as merchant, to keepe accompt of the merchandise you shall buy or sell, barter or change) to the ende that whatsoeuer God should dispose of either of you, yet they may haue some instructions and knowledge howe to deale in your place, or places. And of all your assemblies and consultations together, and the substance of matter you shal at euery time agree vpon we would haue you to note them in the paper bookes that wee giue you for that purpose, vnto each barke one. We do appoint Arthur Pet in the George, as Admiral, to weare the flagge in the maine top, and Charles Iackman in the William, as Viceadmirall. For good orders to be taken for your good and orderly keeping of company together, which we wish may be such, as you should neuer lose sight the one of the other, except by both your consents, to discouer about an Island, or in some riuer, when and where you may certainly appoint to meete together againe, we referre the same to your discretions.
And now for your good direction, in this voyage, we would haue you with the next good winde and weather, that God shall send thereunto meete and conuenient, after the 22. day of this present moneth of May, saile from this riuer of Thames, to the coast of Finmarke, to the North Cape there, or to the Wardhouse, and from thence direct your course to haue sight of Willoughbies land, and from it passe alongst to the Noua Zembla, keeping the same landes alwayes in your sight on your larboordsides (if conueniently you may) to the ende you may discouer, whether the same Willoughbies land be continent and firme land with Noua Zembla, or not: notwithstanding we would not haue you to entangle your selues in any Bay, or otherwise, so that it might hinder your speedy proceeding to the Island Vaigats.
The land of Samoeda. And when you come to Vaigats, we would haue you to get sight of the maine land of Samoeda, which is ouer against the South part of the same Island, and from thence with Gods permission, to passe Eastwards alongst the same coast, keeping it alwayes in your sight (if conueniently you may) vntill you come to the mouth of the riuer Ob, and when you come vnto it, passe ouer the said riuers mouth vnto the border land, on the Eastside of the same (without any stay to bee made for searching inwardly in the same riuer) and being in sight of the same Easterly land, doe you in Gods name proceed alongst by it, from thence Eastwards, keeping the same alwayes on your starboord side in sight, if you may, and follow the tract of it, whether it incline Southerly or Northerly (as at times it may do both) vntill you come to, the Countrey of Cathay, or the dominion of that mightie Emperour.
And if God prosper your voyage with such good successe, that you may attaine to the same, doe you seeke by all meanes you can to arriue to the Cities Cambalu, and Quinsay, or to the one of them. But if it happen that you cannot conueniently come to either of those places, or shalbe driuen to remaine and winter in some other port or place of his dominion, do you seeke by all meanes possible to winne fauour and liking of the people, by gifts and friendly demeanes towards them, and not to offer violence, or do wrong to any people or nation whatsoeuer, but therein to be innocent as doues, yet wilie as serpents, to auoid mischiefe, and defend you from hurt. The Queenes letters. And when you shall haue gotten friendship through your discreete ordering of your selues, towards the people, doe you learne of them what you can of their Prince, and shewe them one of the Queenes Maiesties, letters, which she sendeth with you (by either of you one, made of one substance and effect, for ech of you particularly) written in Latine, whereunto her Maiestie hath subscribed, and caused her signet seale to be set, the effect of the same letters you haue also written in English, for your own vnderstanding thereof.
The same her Maiesties letters you shall procure to deliuer vnto the same mightie Prince, or Gouernour, with some present to be giuen, such as you shall thinke meete and conuenient, vsing your selues in all points according to the effect of the same letters, and procure againe from the same Prince, his letters accordingly.
And if God so prosper your voyage, that you may this Summer passe the Streights, and compasse about the Northernmost land of Asia, vnto the country of Cathay, or dominion of that mightie Prince, and wintering in it, may obtaine from him his letters of priuiledge against the next yeeres spring, you may then after your first setting foorth, search and discouer somewhat further then you had discouered before your wintering, so farre as you shall thinke conuenient with regard had, and alwayes prouided, that you may returne home hither, to giue vs aduise of your proceedings the same Summer, or before the sharpenes or extremitie of winter ouertake you.
And if it happen you cannot this summer attaine to the border of Cathay, and yet find the land beyond the Ob, to stretch it selfe Easterly, with the sea adioyning vnto it nauigable, doe you then proceed on your discouery (as before said) alongst the same continent, so farre as you can this summer, hauing care in the trauel to finde out some conuenient harborow and place, where you may winter: and when you thinke it conuenient, put your selfe to wintering, where if you happen to finde people, you shall deale with them, as we haue before aduised you to do with the people of Cathay, &c. And if you can learne that they haue a prince or chiefe gouernour, do you procure to deliuer vnto the same Prince or gouernour one of the Queenes Maiesties letters, as before said, and seeke to obtaine againe his letters accordingly. If you so happen to winter and obtaine letters of priuiledge, finding the countrey and people, with the commodities to bee such, that by vsing trade thither with the people, and for the commodities, it may be beneficial vnto vs (as we hope you may) the same wil be some good liking vnto vs: notwithstanding we would haue you the next summer (by the grace of God) at your first setting out of your wintering harborough, proceed alongest that tract of land to Cathay, if you see likelihood to passe it (for that is the Countrey that we chiefly desire to discouer) and seeing you are fully victualed for two yeres and vpwards, which you may very wel make to serue you for two yeres and a halfe, though you finde no other help, you may therefore be the bolder to aduenture in proceeding vpon your discouery: which if you do, we doubt not, but you shall atchieue the Countrey of Cathay, and deliuer to the prince there, one of her Maiesties letters, bringing from thence the same princes letters answerable: and so in the yeere of our lord 1582. returne home with good newes, and glad tidings, not onely vnto vs the aduenturers in this voyage, but also to our whole Countrey and nation, which God graunt you do, Amen.
But if it happen that the land of Asia, from beyond the riuer Ob, extend it selfe Northwards to 80. degrees, or neerer the poole, whereby you find it to leade you into that extremitie, that small or no hope may be looked for, to saile that way to Cathay, doe you notwithstanding followe the tract of the same land, as farre as you can discouer this Summer, hauing care to finde out by the way a conuenient place for you to Winter in, the which (if you may discouer the same lande of Asia this Summer to extend it selfe to 80. degrees of latitude, and vpwards or to 85. degrees) we wish then that the same your wintering place may be in the riuer of Ob, or as neere the same riuer as you can, and finding in such wintering place, people, be they Samoeds, Yowgorians, or Molgomzes, &c. doe you gently entreat with them as aforesaide, The Queenes letters. and if you can learne that they haue a prince or chiefe gouernour amongst them, doe you deliuer him one of her Maiesties letters, and procure thereof an answere accordingly: do you procure to barter and exchange with the people, of the merchandise and commodities that you shall cary with you, for such commodities as you shall finde them to haue, &c.
The Citie of Siberia. If you so happen to winter, we would haue you the next Summer to discouer into the riuer Ob, so farre as conueniently you may: And if you shall finde the same riuer (which is reported to be wide or broad) to be also nauigable and pleasant for you, to trauell farre into, happely you may come to the citie Siberia, or to some other towne or place habited vpon or neere the border of it, and thereby haue liking to winter out the second winter: vse you therein your discretions.
Willoughbies land. But if you finde the said riuer Ob to be sholde, or not such as you may conueniently trauell in with your barkes, do you then the next summer return backe through Buroughs streights: And from that part of Noua Zembla, adioyning to the same streights, doe you come alongst the tract of that coast Westwards, keeping it on the starbord side, and the same alwayes in sight, if conueniently you may, vntil you come to Willoughbies land, if outwards bound you shall not happen to discouer and trie whether the said Willoughbies land ioyne continent with the same Noua Zembla, or not. But if you shall then proue them to be one firme and continent, you may from Noua Zembla direct your course vnto the said Willoughbies land, as you shall thinke good, and as you may most conueniently: and from Willoughbies land you shall proceed Westwards alongst the tract of it, (though it incline Northerly) euen so farre as you may or can trauell, hauing regard that in conuenient time you may returne home hither to London for wintering.
And for your orderly passing in this voyage, and making obseruations in the same, we referre you to the instructions giuen by M. William Burrough, whereof one copie is annexed vnto the first part of this Indenture, vnder our seale, for you Arthur Pet, another copie of it is annexed to the second part of this Indenture, vnder our seale also, for you Charles Iackman, and a third copy thereof is annexed vnto the third part of this Indenture, remaining with vs the saide companie, sealed and subscribed by you the said Arthur Pet and Charles Iackman.
And to the obseruing of all things contained in this Commission (so neere as God will permit me grace thereunto) I the said Arthur Pet doe couenant by these presents to performe them, and euery part and parcell thereof. And I the said Charles Iackman doe for my part likewise couenant by these presents to performe the same, and euery part thereof, so neere as God will giue me grace thereunto.
And in witnes thereof these Indentures were sealed and deliuered accordingly, the day and yeere first aboue written. Thus the Lorde God Almightie sende you a prosperous voyage, with happie successe and safe returne, Amen.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55