The principal navigations, voyages, traffiques, and discoveries of the English nation, by Richard Hakluyt

A letter from John White to M. Richard Hakluyt.

To the Worshipful and my very friend Master Richard Hakluyt, much happinesse in the Lord.

Sir, as well for the satisfying of your earnest request, as the performance of my promise made vnto you at my last being with you in England, I haue sent you (although in a homely stile, especially for the contestation of a delicate care) the true discourse of my last voyage into the West Indies, and partes of America called Virginia, taken in hand about the end of Februarie in the yeare of our redemption 1590. And what euents happened vnto vs in this our iourney, you shall plainely perceiue by the sequele of my discourse. There were at the time aforesaid three ships absolutely determined to goe for the West Indies, at the speciall charges of M. Iohn Wattes of London Marchant. But when they were fully furnished, and in readinesse to make their departure, a generall stay was commanded of all ships thorowout England. Which so soone as I heard, I presently (as I thought it most requisite) acquainted Sir Walter Ralegh therewith, desiring him that as I had sundry times afore bene chargeable and troublesome vnto him, for the supplies and reliefes of the planters in Virginia: so likewise, that by his endeuour it would please him at that instant to procure license for those three ships to proceede on with their determined voyage, that thereby the people in Virginia (if it were Gods pleasure) might speedily be comforted and relieued without further charges vnto him. Whereupon he by his good meanes obtained license of the Queenes Maiestie, and order to be taken, that the owner of the 3 ships should be bound vnto Sir Walter Ralegh or his assignes, in 3000 pounds, that those 3 ships in consideration of their releasement should take in, and transport a conuenient number of passengers, with their furnitures and necessaries to be landed in Virginia. Neuerthelesse that order was not obserued, neither was the bond taken according to the intention aforesaid. But rather in contempt of the aforesaid order, I was by the owner and Commanders of the ships denied to haue any passengers, or any thing els transported in any of the said ships, sauing only my selfe and my chest; no not so much as a boy to attend vpon me, although I made great sute, and earnest intreatie aswell to the chiefe Commanders, as to the owner of the said ships. Which crosse and vnkind dealing, although it very much discontented me, notwithstanding the scarcity of time was such, that I could haue no opportunity to go vnto Sir Walter Ralegh with complaint: for the ships being then all in readinesse to goe to the Sea, would haue bene departed before I could haue made my returne. Thus both Gouernors, Masters, and sailers, regarding very smally the good of their countreymen in Virginia; determined nothing lesse then to touch at those places, but wholly disposed themselues to seeke after purchase and spoiles, spending so much time therein, that sommer was spent before we arriued at Virginia. And when we were come thither, the season was so vnfit, and weather so foule, that we were constrained of force to forsake that coast, hauing not seene any of our planters, with losse of one of our ship-boates, and 7 of our chiefest men: and also with losse of 3 of our ankers and cables, and most of our caskes with fresh water left on shore, not possible to be had aboard. Which euils and vnfortunate euents (as wel to their owne losse as to the hinderance of the planters in Virginia) had not chanced, if the order set downe by Sir Walter Ralegh had bene obserued, or if my dayly and continuall petitions for the performance of the same might haue taken any place. Thus may you plainely perceiue the successe of my fift and last voiage to Virginia, which was no lesse vnfortunately ended then frowardly begun, and as lucklesse to many, as sinister to my selfe. But I would to God it had bene as prosperous to all, as noysome to the planters; and as ioyfull to me, as discomfortable to them. Yet seeing it is not my first crossed voyage, I remaine contented. And wanting my wishes, I leaue off from prosecuting that whereunto I would to God my wealth were answerable to my will. Thus committing the reliefe of my discomfortable company the planters in Virginia, to the merciful help of the Almighty, whom I most humbly beseech to helpe and comfort them, according to his most holy will and their good desire, I take my leaue: from my house at Newtowne in Kylmore the 4 of February, 1593.

Your most welwishing friend,


Last updated Friday, October 31, 2014 at 19:58