A true report of the late discoueries, and possession taken in the right of the Crowne of England of the Newfound lands, By that valiant and worthy Gentlemen, Sir Humfrey Gilbert, Knight.
Wherein is also briefly set downe, her highnesse lawfull Title thereunto, and the great and manifold commodities, that are likely to grow therby, to the whole Realme in generall, and to the aduenturers in particular: Together with the easinesse and shortness of the Voyage.
Written by Sir George Peckham Knight, the chiefe aduenturer and furtherer of Sir Humfrey Gilberts voyage to Newfound Land.
The first Part, wherein the Argument of the Booke is contained.
Master Edward Hays. It was my fortune (good Reader) not many dayes past, to meete with a right honest and discreete Gentleman, who accompanied that valiant and worthy Knight Sir Humfrey Gilbert, in this last iourney for the Westerne discoueries, and is owner and Captaine of the onely vessell which is as yet returned from thence.
By him I vnderstand that Sir Humfrey departed the coast of England the eleuenth of Iune last past, with fiue sayle of Shippes, from Caushen bay neere Plimmouth, whereof one of the best forsooke his company, the thirteenth day of the same moneth, and returned into England.
The other foure (through the assistance of Almighty God) did arriue at Saint Iohns Hauen, in Newfoundland, the 3. of August last. Sir Humfrey Gilbert did arriue at Saint Iohn’s Hauen in Newfound land, the 3. of August, Anno 1583. Vpon whose arriuall all the Masters and chiefe Mariners of the English Fleet, which were in the said Hauen, before endeuouring to fraight themselues with fish, repaired vnto Sir Humfrey, whom he made acquainted with the effect of his Commission: which being done, he promised to intreat them and their goods well and honourably as did become her Maiesties Lieutenant. They did all welcome him in the best sort that they could, and shewed him and his all such courtesies as the place could affoord or yeelde.
Then he went to view the Countrey, being well accompanied with most of his Captaines and souldiers. Among these there was found the tract of a beast of 7. ynches and 2 halfe ouer.They found the same very temperate, but somewhat warmer then England at that season of the yeere, replenished with Beasts and great store of Foule of diuers kinds: And Fish of sundry sortes, both in the salt water, and in the fresh, in so great plentie as might suffice to victuall an Armie, and they are very easily taken. What sundry other commodities for this Realme right neccssarie, the same doeth yeelde, you shall vnderstand in this treatise hereafter, in place more conuenient.
On Munday being the fifth of August, the Generall caused his tent to be set vpon the side of an hill, in the vieweof all the Fleete of English men and strangers, which were in number betweene thirtie and fourtie sayle: then being accompanied with all his Captaines, Masters, Gentlemen and other souldiers, he caused all the Masters, and principall Officers of the ships, aswell Englishmen as Spanyards, Portugales, and of other nations, to repayre vnto his tent: Sir Humfrey tooke possession of the Newfound land in right of the Crowne of England. And then and there, in the presence of them all, he did cause his Commission vnder the great scale of England to bee openly and solemnely read vnto them, whereby were granted vnto him, his heires, and assignes, by the Queenes most excellent Maiestie, many great and large royalties, liberties, and priueledges. The effect whereof being signified vnto the strangers by an Interpreter, hee tooke possession of the sayde land in the right of the Crowne of England by digging of a Turffe and receiuing the same with an Hassell wand, deliuered vnto him, after the maner of the law and custome of England.
Then he signified vnto the company both strangers and others, that from thencefoorth, they were to liue in that land, as the Territories appertayning to the Crowne of England, and to be gouerned by such lawes as by good aduise should be set downe, which in all points (so neere as might be) should be agreeable to the Lawes of England: And for to put the same in execution, presently be ordained and established three Lawes.
Three lawes established there by Sir Humfrey. First, that Religion publiquely exercised, should be such, and none other, then is vsed in the Church of England. The second, that if any person should bee lawfully conuicted of any practise against her Maiestie, her Crowne and dignitie, to be adiudged as traitors according to the lawes of England.
The third, if any should speake dishonourably of her Maiestie, the partie so offending, to loose his eares, his ship and goods, to be confiscate to the vse of the Generall.
All men did very willingly submit themselues to these lawes. Then he caused the Queenes Majesties Armes to be ingraued, set vp, and erected with great solemnitie. Sundry persons became Tenants to Sir Humfrey and doe mainteine possession for him in diuers places there. After this, diuers Englishmen made sute vnto Sir Humfrey to haue of him by inheritance, their accustomed stages, standings, and drying places, in sundry places of that land for their fish, as a thing they doe make great accompt of, which he granted vnto them in fee farme. And by this meanes he hath possession maintained for him, in many parts of that Countrey. To be briefe, he did let, set, giue and dispose of many things, as absolute Gouernour there, by vertue of her Maiesties letters patents.
And after their ships were repaired, whereof one he was driuen to leaue behind, both for want of men sufficient to furnish her, as also to carrie home such sicke persons as were not able to proceede any further: He departed from thence the 20 of August, with the other three, namely, the Delight, wherein was appointed Captaine in M. William Winters place, (that thence returned immediatly for England) M. Maurice Browne: the Golden Hinde, in which was Captaine and owner, M. Edward Hays: and the little Frigat where the Generall himselfe did goe seeming to him most fit to discouer and approch the shore.
The 21 day they came to Cape Race, toward the South partes whereof, lying a while becalmed, they tooke Cod in largness and quantitie, exceeding the other parts of Newfound land, where any of them had bene. And from thence, trending the coast West toward the Bay of Placentia, the Generall sent certaine men a shore, to view the Countrey, which to them as they sayled along, seemed pleasant. Whereof his men at their returne gaue great commendation, liking so well of the place, as they would willingly haue stayed and wintred there. But hauing the wind faire and good, they proceeded on their course towards the firme of America, which by reason of continuall fogs, at that time of the yeere especially, they could neuer see, till Cox Master of the Golden Hinde did discerne land, and presently lost sight thereof againe, at what time they were all vpon a breach in a great and outragious storme, hauing vnder 3. fathome water. But God deliuered the Frigat and the Golden Hind, from this great danger. And the Delight in the presence of them all was lost, to their vnspeakable griefe, with all their chiefe victuall, munition, and other necessary prouisions, and other things of value not fit here to be named. Whereupon, by reason also that Winter was come vpon them, and foule weather increased with fogs and mists that so couered the land, as without danger of perishing they could not approch it: Sir Humfrey Gilbert and M. Hays were compelled much against their willes to retyre homewards: And being 300. leagues on their way, were after by tempestuous weather separated the one from the other, the ninth of September last, since which time M. Hays with his Barke is safely arriued, but of Sir Humfrey as yet they heare no certaine newes.
Plutarch. Vpon this report (together with my former intent to write some briefe discourse in the commendation of this so noble and worthy an enterprise) I did call to my remembrance, the Historie of Themystocles the Grecian, who (being a right noble and valiant Captaine) signified vnto his Countreymen the Citizens of Athens, that he had inuented a deuise for their common wealth very profitable: but it was of such importance and secrecie, that it ought not to be reuealed, before priuate conference had with some particular prudent person of their choyse.
The Athenians knowing Aristides the Philosopher, to be a man indued with singular wisedome and vertue, made choyse of him to haue conference with Themystocles, and thereupon to yeelde his opinion to the Citizens concerning the said deuise: which was, that they might set on fire the Nauie of their enemies, with great facilitie, as he had layde the plot: Aristides made relation to the Citizens, that the stratageme deuised by Themystocles was a profitable practise for the common wealth but it was dishonest. The Athenians (without further demaund what the same was) did by common consent reiect and condemne it, preferring honest and vpright dealing before profite.
By occasion of this Historie, I drewe my selfe into a more deepe consideration of this late vndertaken Voyage, whether it were as well pleasing to almightie God, as profitable to men; as lawfull, as it seemed honourable: as well gratefull to the Sauages as gainefull to the Christians. And vpon mature deliberation I found the action to be honest and profitable, and therefore allowable by the opinion of Aristides if he were now aliue: which being by me herein sufficiently prooued, (as by Gods grace I purpose to doe) I doubt not but that all good mindes will endeauour themselues to be assistants to this so commendable an enterprise, by the valiant and worthy Gentlemen our Countrey men already attempted and vndertaken.
Now whereas I doe vnderstand that Sir Himfrey Gilbert his adherents, associates and friends doe meane with a conuenient supply (with as much speede as may be) to maintaine, pursue and follow this intended voyage already in part perfourmed, and (by the assistance of almightie God) to plant themselues and their people in the continent of the hither part of America, betweene the degrees of 30. and 60. of septentrionall latitude: Within which degrees by computation Astronomicall and Cosmographicall are doubtlesse to bee found all things that be necessarie, profitable, or delectable for mans life: The clymate milde and temperate, neyther too hote nor too colde, so that vnder the cope of heauen there is not any where to be found a more conuenient place to plant and inhabite in: which many notable Gentlemen, both Englishmen, Msster Iohn Hawkins; Sir Francis Drake; M. Willliam Winter; M. Iohn Chester; M. Martin Frobisher; Anhony Parkhurst; William Battes; Iohn Louel; Dauid Ingram. Strangers, French, Iohn Ribault; Iaques Cartier; Andrew Theuet; Monsieur Gourgues: Monsieur Laudonniere. Italians, Christopher Columbus; Ioha Verazanus. of our owne nation and strangers, (who haue bene trauailers) can testifie: and that those Countries are at this day inhabited with Sauages (who haue no knowledge of God:) Is it not therefore (I say) to be lamented, that these poore Pagans, so long liuing in ignorance and idolatry, and in sort thirsting after Christianitie, (as may appeare by the relation of such as haue trauailed in those partes) that our heartes are so hardened, that fewe or none can be found which will put to their helping hands, and apply themselues to the relieuing of the miserable and wretched estate of these sillie soules?
Whose Countrey doeth (as it were with armes aduanced) aboue the climates both of Spaine and France, stretch out it selfe towards England only: In maner praying our ayde and helpe, as it is not not onely set forth in Mercators generall Mappe, but it is also found to be true by the discouerie of our nation, and other strangers, who haue oftentimes trauailed vpon the same coasts.
God doth not alwayes begin his greatest workes by the greatest persons. Christopher Columbus of famous memorie, the first instrument to manifest the great glory and mercy of Almightie God in planting the Christian faith, in those so long vnknowen regions, hauing in purpose to acquaint (as he did) that renoumed Prince, the Queenes Majesties grandfather King Henry the seuenth, with his intended voyage for the Westerne discoueries, was not onely derided and mocked generally even here in England, but afterward became a laughing stocke to the Spaniards themselues, who at this day (of all other people) are most bounden to laude and prayse God, who first stirred vp the man to that enterprise.
And while he was attending there to acquaint the King of Castile (that then was) with his intended purpose, by how many wayes and meanes was he derided? His custome was to bowe himselfe very lowe in making of courtesie. Some scorned the wildnesse of his garments, some tooke occasion to iest at his simple and silly lookes, others asked if this were he that lowts so lowe,104 which did take vpon him to bring men into a Countrey that aboundeth with Golde, Pearle, and Precious stones? If hee were any such man (sayd they) he would cary another matter of countenance with him, and looke somewhat loftier. Thus some iudged him by his garments, and others by his looke and countenance, but none entred into the consideration of the inward man.
Hernando Cortes. Francisco Pizarro. In the ende, what successe his Voyage had, who list to reade the Decades, the Historie of the West Indies, the conquest of Hernando Cortes about Mexico, and those of Francisco Pizarro in Peru about Casamalcha and Cusco may know more particularly. All which their discoueries, trauailes and conquests are extant to be had in the English tongue. This deuise was then accounted a fantasticall imagination, and a drowsie dreame.
But the sequele thereof hath since awaked out of dreames thousands of soules to knowe their Creator, being thereof before that time altogether ignorant: And hath since made sufficient proofe, neither to be fantasticke nor vainely imagined.
Withall, how mightily it hath enlarged the dominions of the Crowne of Spaine, and greatly inriched the subiects of the same, let all men consider. Besides, it is well knowen, that sithence the time of Columbus his first discouerie, through the planting, possessing, and inhabiting those partes, there hath bene transported and brought home into Europe greater store of Golde, Siluer, Pearle, and Precious stones, then heretofore hath bene in all ages since the creation of the worlde.
I doe therefore heartily wish, that seeing it hath pleased almightie God of his infinite mercy, at the length to awake some of our worthy Countrey men out of that drowsie dreame, wherein we haue so long slumbered:
That wee may now not suffer that to quaile for want of maintenance, which by these valiant Gentlemen our Countreymen is so nobly begun and enterprised. For which purpose, I haue taken vpon me to write this simple short Treatise, hoping that it shall be able to perswade such as haue bene, and yet doe continue detractors and hinderers of this iourney, (by reason perhaps that they haue not deliberately and aduisedly entred into the iudgement of the matter) that yet now vpon better consideration they will become fauourable furtherers of the same. And that such as are already well affected thereunto will continue their good disposition: A reasonable request. And withall, I most humbly pray all such as are no nigards of their purses in buying of costly and rich apparel, and liberall Contributors in setting forth of games, pastimes, feastings and banquets, (whereof the charge being past, there is no hope of publique profile, or commoditie) that henceforth they will bestowe and employ their liberality (heretofore that way expended) to the furtherance of these so commendable purposed proceedings.
And to this ende haue I taken pen in my hand, as in conscience thereunto mooued, desiring much rather, that of the great multitude which this Realme doth nourish, farre better able to handle this matter then I my selfe am, it would haue pleased some one of them to haue vndertaken the same. But seeing they are silent, and that it falleth to my lotte to put pen to the paper, I will endeuour my selfe, and doe stand in good hope (though my skill and knowledge bee simple, yet through the assistence of almightie God) to probue that the The argument of the booke. Voyage lately enterprised, for trade, traffique, and planting in America, is an action tending to the lawfull enlargement of her Maiesties Dominions, commodious to the whole Realme in general, profitable to the aduenturers in particular, benefciall to the Sauages, and a matter to be atteined without any great danger or difficultie.
And lastly, (which is most of all) A thing likewise tending to the honour and glory of Almightie God. And for that the lawfulnesse to plant in those Countreys in some mens iudgements seemeth very doubtfull, I will beginne the proofe of the lawfulnesse of trade, traffique, and planting.
Last updated Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 12:59