A report of Master Robert Flicke directed to Master Thomas Bromley, Master Richard Staper, and Master Cordall concerning the successe of a part of the London supplies sent to my Lord Thomas Howard to the Isles of the Azores, 1591.
Worshipfull, my heartie commendations vnto you premised: By my last of the twelfth of August from this place I aduertised you particularly of the accidents of our Fleete vntill then. It remayneth now to relate our endeuours in accomplishing the order receiued for the ioyning with my Lorde Thomas Howard, together with the successe wee haue had. Our departure from hence was the seuenteenth of August, the winde not seruing before. The next day following I caused a Flagge of Counsell to be put foorth, whereupon the Captaines and Masters of euery shippe came aboord, and I acquainted them with my Commission, firmed by the Right honourable the Lordes of her Maiesties Counsell, and with all the aduertisements of Sir Edward Denny, of my Lordes determination to remaine threescore leagues to the West of Fayal, spreading North and South betwixt thirtie seuen and a halfe or thirty eight and a halfe degrees. And not finding him in this heighth to repaire to the Isles of Flores and Coruo, where a Pinnesse of purpose should stay our comming vntill the last of August, with intent after that day to repaire to the coast of Spaine, about the heigth of The Rocke, some twentte or thirtie leagues off the shoare. The which being aduisedly considered of hauing regard vnto the shortnesse of time, by reason of our long abode in this place, and the vncertainety of the weather to fauour vs, it was generally holden for the best and securest way to meete with my Lorde, to beare with the heigth of The Rocke, without making any stay vpon the coast, and so directly for the Islands which was accordingly fully agreed and performed. The 28 day wee had sight of the Burlings, and the 29 being thwart of Peniche, the winde seruing vs, without any stay we directed our course West for the Islands. The 30 day we met with Captaine Royden in the Red–Rose, sometime called the Golden Dragon, separated from my Lorde of Cumberland in a storme: who certified vs of 50 sayles of the Spanish kings Armadas to be gone for the Ilands, but could not informe vs any newes of my Lord Thomas Howard, otherwise then vpon presumption to remaine about the Islandes, and so wee continued our course the winde standing with vs.
The 4 of September we recouered Tercera, and ranged along all the Islands, both on the South and North sides the space of foure dayes: during which time it was not our hap to meete with any shipping, whereby either to vnderstand of my Lord, or of the Indian Fleete: hereupon we directed our course to the West from Fayal, according to the instructions of Sir Edward Denny. The 11 day in the plying to the Westwards we descried a sayle out of our maine toppe, and in the afternoone betweene two and three of the clocke hauing raysed her hull, the weather became calme, so that the ship could not fetch her. I sent off my Skiffe throughly manned, furnished with shot and swords, The Cherubin, and the Margaret and Iohn doing the like. Vpon this the sayle stood off againe, and the night approching, our boates lost her and so returned. In this our pursute after the sayle the Centurion being left a sterne, the next morning wee missed her, and spent that day in plying vp and down seeking her. And for as much as euery of the ships had receiued order, that, if by extremity of weather or any other mischance they should be seuered from our Fleete, they should meete and ioyne at Flores, we, according to the instructions of Sir Edward Denny, proceeded to the finding of my Lord Thomas Howard, being in the heigth appointed and not able to holde the same by reason of extreme tempestes which forced vs to the Isles of Flores and Coruo, which we made the 14 day in the morning, and there also ioyned againe with the Centurion, whose company before we had lost: who declared vnto vs that the 12 day, being the same day they lost vs, they met with fiue and forty sailes of the Indian Fleete. The same night, vpon these newes we came to an anker betweene Flores and Coruo, and the morow following at the breake of day, a flagge of Counsell being put out, the Captaines and Masters came abord me: where, for the desire to vnderstand some tidings of my Lord, as also the supplying of our want of water, it was thought good to send our boats furnished on shore, vnder the conduct of Captaine Brothus, and then it was also ordered after our departure thence to range along the Southsides of the Islands to the end we might either vnderstand of my Lord, or else light on the Indian fleete; and in the missing of our purpose to direct our course for Cape Sant Vincente.
The boates, according to the foresayd determination, being sent on shoare, it chaunced that the Costely ryding vttermost in the roade, did weigh to bring her selfe more neere among vs for the succour of the boates sent off, and in opening the land discouered two sayles, which we in the roade could not perceiue: whereupon shee gaue vs a warning piece, which caused vs to waue off our boates backe, and before they could recouer our shippes, the discryed ships appeared vnto vs, towardes the which we made with all haste, and in a very happie hour, as it pleased God. A violent storm. In that wee had not so soone cleared the lande, and spoken with one of them, which was a Barke of Bristoll, who had also sought my Lorde in the heigths appointed and could not finde him, but a violent storme arose, in such manner, as if we had remained in the roade, we had beene in daunger of perishing: and the same extremely continued during the space of threescore houres. In which storme I was separated from our Fleete, except the Cherubin and the Costely, which kept company with mee. And so sayling among the Ilands, I viewed the roade of Fayal, and finding no Roaders there, went directly for the Isle Tercera.
The nineteenth day in the morning comming vnto the same with intent to edge into the Road, a tempest arose and scanted the winde, that we could not sease it: from the which being driuen we fell among certaine of the Indian Fleete, which the sayde storme dispersed, and put them from the road: whereupon my selfe with the other two ships in companie gaue seuerall chases, and thereby lost the company each of other.
A Portugall Prize taken. In following our chase aboue noone we made her to strike and yeelde, being a Portugall, laden with hides, salsa-perilla and Anile. At this very instant we espied another, and taking our Prise with vs followed her, and somewhat before night obtayned her, named the Conception, Francisco Spinola being Captaine, which was laden with hides, Cochonillio, and certaine raw silke. And for that the seas were so growen, as neither with boate nor shippe they were to bee boorded, we kept them till fit opportunitie. A rich West–Indian Prize taken. The same night a litle before day there happened another into our company, supposing vs by our two prizes to be of their Fleete, which we vntill the morning dissembled.
The 20 day in the morning, the sayle being shot somewhat a head of vs, hauing a speciall care for the safe keeping of the two former, we purposed to cause our Prizes to put out more sayle thereby to keep them neere in giuing chase to the other: vnto the which the Master would not hearken nor be perswaded, but that they would follow vs: by the which his wilfulnesse by such time as we had caused the other to yeelde, and sent men aboord, the Conception, Francisco Spinola Captaine being brought a sterne, and hauing gotten the winde of vs, stood off with all her sayles bearing, so as we were forced to make a new chase of her: and had not the winde enlarged vpon vs we had lost her. In the pursute before we recouered her and brought our selues againe in company of our other Prizes, the whole day was spent, and by this meanes we lost the oportunitie of that day, the weather fitly seruing to boord the Portugall Prize, which was in great distresse, and made request to take them being readie to sinke, and, as we well perceiued, they ceased not to pumpe day and night: the which ship to all our iudgements the same night perished in the sea.
The one and twentie day the Conception, whereof Francisco Spinola was Captaine, being also in a leake, and the same still increasing notwithstanding the continuall pumping, in such sort as not to be kept along aboue water, I tooke and discharged out of her two and forty chestes of Cochonillio and silkes, and so left her with 11 foote water in holde and her furniture and 4700 hides, vnto the seas.
The other prize which we haue brought into the harborough is named Nostra Sennora de los remedios, whereof Francisco Aluares is Captaine, laden with 16 chests of Cochonillio, certaine fardels of raw silke, and about 4000 hides. Vpon the discharge of the goods your worships shall be particularly aduertised thereof.
In the boording of the prizes the disorder of the company was such, as that they letted not presently besides the rifling of the Spaniards to breake open the chests and to purloyne such money as was in them: notwithstanding that it was ordered at convenient leasure to haue gone on boord my selfe, and therein the presence of three or foure witnesses to haue taken a iust account thereof, and the same to haue put in safe keeping, according to the effects of articles receiued in this behalfe.
And whereas there were also certaine summes of money taken from the company which they had thus purloyned and embeseled, and the same with some other parcels brought aboord my ship, amounting vnto 2129 pezoes and a halfe, the company as pillage due vnto them demanded to haue the same shared, which I refused, and openly at the maine maste read the articles firmed by my Lord Treasurer and my Lord Admirall, whereby we ought to be directed, and that it was not in mee any way to dispose thereof, vntill the same were finally determined at home. Hereupon they mutinied and at last grew into such furie, as that they would haue it or els breake downe the cabbine, which they were also readie to put into practise, whereby I was forced to yeeld, least the Spaniards which we had abord being many perceiuing the same, might haue had fit opportunitie to rise against vs, which, after their brawles were appeased, they sought to haue put into execution.
By the last aduise from Castile the Generall of the kings Armada which is lately come to sea hath receiued commaundement to ioyne his Fleete with those of the Indies, and for to stay altogether at Tercera vntill the 15 of October: for that 6 pataches with 7 or 8 millions of the kings treasure will come by that time, or els they stay their comming from Hauana vntill Ianuary next, or the kings further pleasure therein to be knowen. These pataches are said to be of 300 tuns the piece, and to cary 30 pieces of brasse, and also of saile reported to haue the aduantage of any shipping.
There perished of the Indies Fleete sunke in the sea before there comming to Flores 11 sailes, whereof the General was one, and not one man saued. And it is by the Spaniards themselues presupposed that the stormes which we had at Flores and at Tercera haue deuoured many more of them, whereof in part we were eye witnesses. And so what by the seas and our men of warre I presume that of 75 sailes that came from Hauana, halfe of them will neuer arriue in Spaine.
The 11 day of October at night we came to anker in the sound of Plimouth, and the next morning with our Prize came into Cattewater: for which God be thanked: for that a vehement storme arose, and with such fury increased, as that the Prize was forced to cut ouer her maine maste: otherwise with the violence of the storme, her ground tackle being bad, she had driuen on shore: which was the most cause that moued me to put in here; intending now here to discharge the goods without further aduenture, and haue certified thus much vnto my Lord Admirall, and therewith also desired to vnderstande the direction of the Lords of the Counsell together with yours, insomuch as my Lord Thomas Howard is not returned. How the rest of our consorts which were seperated from vs by weather haue sped, or what Prizes they haue taken, whereof there is much hope by reason of the scattering of the West Indian Fleete, as yet we are able to say nothing. And thus expecting your answere, and for all other matters referring me vnto the bearer Captaine Furtho, I end. Plymouth the 24 of October 1591.
Your worships louing friend
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