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

The valiant fight performed by 10. Merchants ships of London, against 12. Spanish gallies in the Straights of Gibraltar, the 24. of April 1590.

It is not long since sundry valiant ships appertaining to the Marchants of London, were fraighted and rigged forth, some for Venice, some for Constantinople, and some to sundry other places of trafique, among whom these ensuing met within the Straights of Gibraltar, as they were taking their course homewards, having before escaped all other danger. February 1590 The first whereof was the Salomon appertaining to M. Alderman Barnam of London, and M. Bond, and M. Twyd of Harwich: which went foorth the first day of February last. The second was the Margaret and Iohn belonging to M. Wats of London: The thirde was the Minion: The fourth was the Ascension. The fifth was the Centurion of Master Cordal: the sixt the Violet: the seuenth the Samuel; the eight the Crescent: the ninth the Elizabeth: and the 10. was the Richard belonging to M. Duffield. All these ships being of notable and approued seruice comming neere to the mouth of the Straights hard by the coast of Barbary, descried twelue tall Gallies brauely furnished and strongly prouided with men and munition, ready to seaze vpon these English ships: which being perceiued by the Captaines and Masters thereof, wee made speedy preparation for the defence of our selues, still waiting all the night long for the approching of the enemie. In the morning early being the Tuesday in Easter weeke, and the 24 of April 1590 according to our vsual customes, we said Seruice and made our prayers vnto Almightie God, beseeching him to saue vs from the hands of such tyrants as the Spaniards, whom we iustly imagined to be, and whom we knew and had found to be our most mortall enemies vpon the Sea. And hauing finished our prayers, and set ourselues in a readinesse, we perceiued them to come towards vs, and that they were indeede the Spanish Gallies that lay vnder the conduct of Andre Doria, who is Vice-roy for the King of Spaine in the Straights of Gibraltar, and a notable knowne enemie to all Englishmen. So when they came somewhat neerer vnto vs, they waued vs a maine for the King of Spaine, and wee waued them a maine for the Queene of England, at which time it pleased Almightie God greatly to encourage vs all in such sort, as that the neerer they came the lesse we feared their great multitudes and huge number of men, which were planted in those Gallies to the number of two or three hundred men in ech Gallie. And it was thus concluded among vs, that the foure first and tallest ships should be placed hindmost, and the weaker and smallest ships formost, and so it was performed, every man being ready to take part of such successe as it should please God to send.

And the first encounter the Gallies came vpon vs very fiercely, yet God so strengthened vs, that if they had bene ten times more, we had not feared them at all. Whereupon the Salomon being a hot shippe, and hauing sundry cast pieces in her, gaue the first shotte in such a sowre sort, as that it shared away so many men as sate on the one side of a Gallie, and pierced her through in such maner, as that she was readie to sinke, which made them to assault vs the more fiercely. A fight of sixe houres long. Whereupon the rest of our shippes, especially the foure chiefest, namely, the Margaret and Iohn, the Minion, and the Ascension followed, and gaue a hot charge vpon them, and they at vs, where began a hot and fierce battaile with great valiancie the one against the other, and so continued for the space of sixe houres. A faint hearted Fleming. About the beginning of this our fight there came two Flemings to our Fleet, who seeing the force of the Gallies to be so great, the one of them presently yeelded, strooke his sailes, and was taken by the Gallies, whereas if they would haue offered themselues to haue fought in our behalfe and their owne defence, they needed not to haue bene taken so cowardly as they were to their cost. The other Fleming being also ready to performe the like piece of seruice began to vaile his sailes, and intended to haue yeelded immediatly. But the Trumpetter in that shippe plucked foorth his faulchion and stepped to the Pilote at the helme, and vowed that if he did not speedily put off to the English Fleete, and so take part with them, he would presently kill him: which the Pilote for feare of death did, and so by that meanes they were defended from present death, and from the tyrannie of those Spaniards, which doubtlesse they should haue found at their handes.

Thus we continued in fight sixe houres and somewhat more, wherein God gaue vs the vpper hand, and we escaped the hands of so many enemies, who were constrained to flie into harbour and shroude themselues from vs, and with speed to seeke for their owne safetie. This was the handie worke of God, who defended vs all from danger in such sort, as that there was not one man of vs slaine. And in all this fierce assault made vpon vs by the Spanish power, wee sustained no hurt or damage at all more then this, that the shrouds and backe-stay of the Salomon, who gaue the first and last shot, and galled the enemie shrewdly all the time of the battell, were cleane stricken off.

The battel being ceased, we were constrained for want of wind to stay and waft vp and downe, and then went backe againe to Tition in Barbary, which is sixe leagues off from Gibraltar, and when we came thither we found the people wonderous fauourable to vs, who being but Moores and heathen people shewed vs where to haue fresh water and al other necessaries for vs. And there we had such good intertainment, as if we had bene in any place of England.

The gouernour was one that fauoured vs greatly, whom wee in respect of his great friendship presented with giftes and such commodities as we had in our custodie, which he wonderfully wel accepted of: and here we stayed foure dayes.

After the battell was ceased, which was on Easter Tuesday, we stayed for want of winde before Gibraltar, vntill the next morning, where we were becalmed, and therefore looked euery houre when they would haue sent foorth some fresh supply against vs, but they were farre vnable to doe it, for all their Gallies were so sore battered, that they durst not come foorth of the harbour, by reason of our hot resistance which they so lately before had receiued. Yet were they greatly vrged thereunto by the Gouernour of the said Towne of Gibraltar.

At our being at Tition in Barbary, there we heard report of the hurt that wee had done to the Gallies, for at our comming from them wee could not well discerne any thing at all by reason of the smoake which the powder had made: there we heard that we had almost spoiled those twelue Gallies by shooting them cleane through, that two of them were ready to sinke, and that wee had slaine of their men such great abundance, as that they were not able to furnish forth any more Gallies at all for that yeere.

Thus after we came from Tition, we assayed to depart the Straight three seuerall times, but could not passe, yet, God be thanked, the fourth time wee came safely away, and so sailed with a pleasant winde vntil wee came vpon the coast of England, which was in the beginning of the moneth of Iuly 1590.

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