A Commission giuen by vs Thomas Randolfe Ambassadour for the Queenes Maiestie in Russia, and Thomas Bannister, &c. vnto Iames Bassendine, Iames Woodcocke and Richard Browne, the which Bassendine, Woodcocke, and Browne we appoint ioyntly together, and aiders, the one of them to the other, in a voyage of discouery to be made (by the grace of God) by them, for searching of the sea, and border of the coast, from the riuer Pechora, to the Eastwards, as hereafter foloweth Anno 1588. The first of August.
In primis, when your barke with all furniture is ready, you shall at the beginning of the yere (assoone as you possibly may) make your repaire to the Easterne part of the riuer Pechora, where is an Island called Dolgoieue, and from thence you shall passe to the Eastwards alongst by the Sea coast of Hugorie, or the maine land of Pechora, and sailing alongst by the same coast, you shall passe within seuen leagues of the Island Vaigats, which is in the straight, almost halfe way from the coast of Heugorie, vnto the cast of Noua Zembla, which Island Vaigats and Noua Zembla you shall finde noted in your plat229, therefore you shall not need to discouer it: but proceed on alongst the coast of Hugory, towards the riuer Obba.
Cara Reca. Naramsi Reca. There is a Bay230 betweene the sayd Vaigats, and the riuer Obba, that doth bite to the Southwards, into the land of Hugory, in which Bay are two small riuers, the one called Cara Reca231, the other Naramsy232, as in the paper of notes which are giuen to you herewith may appeare: in the which Bay you shall not need to spend any time for searching of it, but to direct your course to the riuer Ob (if otherwise you be not constrained to keepe alongst the shore) and when you come to the riuer Ob you shall not enter into it, but passe ouer vnto the Easterne part of the mouth of the sayd riuer.
And when you are at the Easterne part of Obba Reca, you shall from thence passe to the Eastwards, alongst by the border of the sayd coast, describing the same in such perfect order as you can best do it. You shall not leaue the sayd coast or border of the land, but pass alongst by it, at least in sight of the same, vntil you haue sailed by it so farre to the Eastwards and the time of the yeere so farre spent, that you doe thinke it time for you to returne with your barke to Winter, which trauell may well be 300 or 400 leagues to the Eastwards of the Ob, if the Sea doe reach so farre as our hope is it doth: but and if you finde not the said coast and sea to trend so farre to the Eastwards, yet you shall not leaue the coast at any time, but proceed alongst by it, as it doth lie, leauing no part of it vnsearched, or seene, vnlesse it be some bay, or riuer, that you doe certeinly know by the report of the people, that you shall finde in those borders, or els some certeine tokens whereby you of your selues may iudge it to be so. For our hope is that the said border of land and sea doth in short space after you passe the Ob, incline East, and so the Southwards. And therefore we would haue no part of the land of your starreboord side, as you proceed in your discouery, to be left vndiscouered.
But and if the said Border of land do not incline so to the Eastwards as we presuppose it, but that it doe proue to incline and trend to the Northwards, and so ioyne with Noua Zembla, making the sea from Vaigats to the Eastwards but a bay: yet we will that you do keepe alongst by the said coast, and so bring vs certaine report of that forme and maner of the same bay.
And if it doe so proue to be a bay, and that you haue passed round about the same, and so by the trending of the land come backe vnto that part of Noua Zembla that is against Vaigats whereas you may from that see the said Island Vaigats, if the time of the yeere will permit you, you shall from thence passe alongst by the said border and coast of Noua Zembla to the Westwards, and so to search whether that part of Noua Zembla doe ioyne with the land that Sir Hugh Willoughbie discouered in anno 53,233 and is in 72 degrees, and from that part of Noua Zembla 120 leagues to the Westwards, as your plat doeth shew it vnto you: and if you doe finde that land to ioyne with Noua Zembla, when you come to it, you shall proceed further along the same coast, if the time of the yere will permit it, and, that you doe think there will be sufficient time for you to returne backe with your barke to Winter either at Pechora or in Russia, at your discretion: for we refer the same to your good iudgements, trusting that you will lose no time, that may further your knowledge in this voyage.
Note you, it was the 20 of August, 56 yer the Serchthrift began to returne backe from her discouerie, to Winter in Russia, and then she came from the Island Vaigats, being forcibly driuen from thence with an Easterly winde and yce, and so she came into the riuer Dwina, and arriued at Colmogro the 11 of September, 56. If the yce had not bene so much that yere as it was in the Streights, on both sides of the Island Vaigats, they in the said pinnesse would that yere haue discouered the parts that you are now sent to seek: which thing (if it had pleased God) might haue bene done then: but God hath reserued it for some other. Which discouerie, if it may be made by you, it shall not only proue profitable vnto you, but it will also purchase perpetuall fame and renowme both to you and our country. And thus not doubting of your willing desires, and forwardnesse towards the same, we pray God to blesse you with a lucky beginning, fortunate successe, and happily to end the same. Amen.
Necessarie notes to be obserued, and followed in your discouerie, as hereafter followeth.
When your barke with all furniture and necessaries shall be in readinesse for you to depart to the sea (if it be that you take your barke at S. Nicholas, or any part of Dwina Reca) you shall from thence, euen as timely in the spring as the yce will permit you, saile, and make all expedition that may be, vnto the mouth of the riuer Pechora (as your commission doth leade you) and as you passe by the coast all alongst (notwithstanding the plat that sheweth you the description of the said coast, from Dwina vnto Vaigats) yet you shall seeke by all the meanes that you can, to amend the same plat, vsing as many obseruations, as you possibly can do: and these notes following are to be obserued by you principally.
1 First, that you do obserue the latitude as often, and in as many places as you may possibly do it, noting diligently the place where you do so obserue the same.
2 Also that you doe diligently set with your compasse, how the land doth lie from point to point, all alongst as you goe, and to vse your iudgements how farre there may be betweene ech of them.
3 Item, that you do alwayes vse to draw the proportion and biting of the land, aswell the lying out of the points, and headlands, vnto the which you shall giue some apt names (at your discretion) as also the forme of the Bayes, and to make some marke in drawing the forme, and border of the same, where the high cliffes are, and where low land is, whether sandy hilles, or whatsoeuer: omit not to note any thing that may be sensible and apparant to you, which may serue to any purpose.
4 In passing along by any coast, that you keepe your lead going often times, and sound at the least once euery glasse, and oftener if you thinke good as occasion doth serue, and note diligently the depth with the maner of the ground, and at euery time, how farre the same sounding may be from the next shore to it: and how the next point or headland doth beare from you. And in the sea after you set off from your port, you shall orderly at the end of euery foure glasses sound, and if you finde ground, note the depth and what ground, but if you can finde no ground, you shall also note in what depth you could find no ground.
5 Also that you do diligently obserue the flowing, and ebbing in euery place, and how the tides do set, which way the flood doth come, and how much water it doth high in euery place, and what force the same tide hath to driue a ship in an houre, as neere as you can iudge it.
6 Also that you doe seeke to obserue with the instrument which I deliuer you herewith, according as I taught you at Rose Island, the true platformes, and distances, in as many places as conueniently you may, for it serueth very aptly your purpose.
7 Also that you take with you paper and ynke, and keepe a continuall iournall or remembrance day by day, of all such things as shall fall out worth the knowledge, not forgetting or omitting to write it, and note it, that it may be shewed and read at your returne.
8 These orders if you shall diligently obserue, it will be easie for you to make a plat and perfect description of your discouery, and so shall your notes be sufficient to answere that which is looked for at your hands. But withall you may not forget to note as many things as you can learne and vnderstand by the report of any people whatsoeuer they be, so that it appertaine any way to our desires. And thus the Lord God prosper your voyage, Amen. 234
230 Gulf of Kara.
231 River Kara.
232 Probably the River Juribei.
233 There is, of course, no such land.
234 Though dated 1588, this journey took place in 1578. Nothing is really known of the result of the expedition; but it has been supposed that the English vessel, which was wrecked at the mouth of the Ob about 1580, and whose crew was massacred by Samoyeds (_Purchas_, iii. p. 546; _Hamel_, p. 238), was the one bearing Bassendine and his companions.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51