Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s Voyage to Newfoundland

An Electronic Edition · Edward Hayes (16th century)

Original Source: Voyages and travels: ancient and modern, with introductions, notes and illustrations. New York : P. F. Collier and son, [c1910] The Harvard classics, ed. by C. W. Ellot, vol. XXXIII

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REPORT of the VOYAGE and success thereof, attempted in the year of
our Lord 1583, by
SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT, KNIGHT, with other gentlemen assisting
him in that action, intended to discover and to plant Christian inhabitants in
place convenient, upon those large and ample countries extended northward from
the Cape of Florida, lying under very temperate climes, esteemed fertile and
rich in minerals, yet not in the actual possession of any Christian prince.
Written by
MR. EDWARD HAYES, gentleman, and principal actor in the same
voyage,who alone continued unto the end, and, by God’s special assistance,
returned home with his retinue safe and entire.

MANY voyages have been pretended, yet hitherto never any thoroughly
accomplished by our nation, of exact discovery into the bowels of those main,
ample, and vast countries extended infinitely into the north from thirty
degrees, or rather from twenty-five degrees, of septentrional latitude, neither
hath a right way been taken of planting a Christian habitation and regiment
(government) upon the same, as well may appear both by the little we yet do
actually possess therein, and by our ignorance of the riches and secrets within
those lands, which unto this day we know chiefly by the travel and report of
other nations, and most of the French, who albeit they cannot challenge such
right and interest unto the said countries as we, neither these many years have
had opportunity nor means so great to discover and to plant, being vexed with
the calamities of intestine wars, as we have had by the inestimable benefit of
our long and happy peace, yet have they both ways performed more, and had long
since attained a sure possession and settled government of many provinces in
those northerly parts of
America, if their many attempts into those
foreign and remote lands had not been impeached by their garboils at home. 1.

The first discovery of these coasts, never heard of before, was well
begun by
John Cabot the father and
Sebastian his son, an Englishman born, who
were the first finders out of all that great tract of land stretching from the
Cape of
Florida, into those islands which we now
call the
Newfoundland; all which they brought and
annexed unto the crown of
England. Since when, if with like
diligence the search of inland countries had been followed, as the discovery
upon the coast and outparts thereof was performed by those two men, no doubt
her Majesty’s territories and revenue had been mightily enlarged and advanced
by this day; and, which is more, the seed of Christian religion had been sowed
amongst those pagans, which by this time might have brought forth a most
plentiful harvest and copious congregation of Christians; which must be the
chief intent of such as shall make any attempt that way; or else whatsoever is
builded upon other foundation shall never obtain happy success nor

And although we cannot precisely judge (which only belongeth to God)
what have been the humours of men stirred up to great attempts of discovering
and planting in those remote countries, yet the events do shew that either
God’s cause hath not been chiefly preferred by them, or else God hath not
permitted so abundant grace as the light of His word and knowledge of Him to be
yet revealed unto those infidels before the appointed time. But most assuredly,
the only cause of religion hitherto hath kept back, and will also bring forward
at the time assigned by God, an effectual and complete discovery and possession
by Christians both of those ample countries and the riches within them hitherto
concealed; whereof, notwithstanding, God in His wisdom hath permitted to be
revealed from time to time a certain obscure and misty knowledge, by little and
little to allure the minds of men that way, which else will be dull enough in
the zeal of His cause, and thereby to prepare us unto a readiness for the
execution of His will, against the due time ordained of calling those pagans
unto Christianity.3.

In the meanwhile it behoveth every man of great calling, in whom is
any instinct of inclination unto this attempt, to examine his own motions,
which, if the same proceed of ambition or avarice, he may assure himself it
cometh not of God, and therefore cannot have confidence of God’s protection and
assistance against the violence (else irresistible) both of sea and infinite
perils upon the land; whom God yet may use as an instrument to further His
cause and glory some way, but not to build upon so bad a foundation. Otherwise,
if his motives be derived from a virtuous and heroical mind, preferring chiefly
the honour of God, compassion of poor infidels captived by the devil,
tyrannizing in most wonderful and dreadful manner over their bodies and souls;
advancement of his honest and well-disposed countrymen, willing to accompany
him in such honourable actions; relief of sundry people within this realm
distressed; all these be honourable purposes, imitating the nature of the
munificent God, wherewith He is well pleased, who will assist such an actor
beyond expectation of many. And the same, who feeleth this inclination in
himself, by all likelihood may hope or rather confidently repose in the
preordinance of God, that in this last age of the world (or likely never) the
time is complete of receiving also these gentiles into His mercy, and that God
will raise Him an instrument to effect the same; it seeming probable by event
of precedent attempts made by the Spaniards and French sundry times, that the
countries lying north of
Florida God hath reserved the same to be
reduced into Christian civility by the English nation. For not long after that
Christopher Columbus had discovered the
islands and continent of the
West Indies for
John and Sebastian Cabot made discovery
also of the rest from
Florida northwards to the behoof of
England. 4.

And whensoever afterwards the Spaniards, very prosperous in all
their southern discoveries, did attempt anything into
Florida and those regions inclining
towards the north, they proved most unhappy, and were at length discouraged
utterly by the hard and lamentable success of many both religious and valiant
in arms, endeavouring to bring those northerly regions also under the Spanish
jurisdiction, as if God had prescribed limits unto the Spanish nation which
they might not exceed; as by their own gests recorded may be aptly

The French, as they can pretend less title unto these northern parts
than the Spaniard, by how much the Spaniard made the first discovery of the
same continent so far northward as unto
Florida, and the French did but review
that before discovered by the English nation, usurping upon our right, and
imposing names upon countries, rivers, bays, capes, or headlands as if they had
been the first finders of those coasts; which injury we offered not unto the
Spaniards, but left off to discover when we approached the Spanish limits; even
so God hath not hitherto permitted them to establish a possession permanent
upon another’s right, notwithstanding their manifold attempts, in which the
issue hath been no less tragical than that of the Spaniards, as by their own
reports is extant. 6.

Then, seeing the English nation only hath right unto these countries
America from the Cape of
Florida northward by the privilege of
first discovery, unto which Cabot was authorised by regal authority, and set
forth by the expense of our late famous King
Henry the Seventh; which right also
seemeth strongly defended on our behalf by the powerful hand of Almighty God
withstanding the enterprises of other nations; it may greatly encourage us upon
so just ground, as is our right, and upon so sacred an intent, as to plant
religion (our right and intent being meet foundations for the same), to
prosecute effectually the full possession of those so ample and pleasant
countries appertaining unto the crown of
England; the same, as is to be conjectured
by infallible arguments of the world’s end approaching, being now arrived unto
the time of God prescribed of their vocation, if ever their calling unto the
knowledge of God may be expected. Which also is very probable by the revolution
and course of God’s word and religion, which from the beginning hath moved from
the east towards, and at last unto, the west, where it is like to end, unless
the same begin again where it did in the east, which were to expect a like
world again. But we are assured of the contrary by the prophecy of
Christ, whereby we gather that after His
word preached throughout the world shall be the end. And as the Gospel when it
descended westward began in the south, and afterward spread into the north of
Europe; even so, as the same hath begun in
the south countries of
America, no less hope may be gathered that
it will also spread into the north.7.

These considerations may help to suppress all dreads rising of hard
events in attempts made this way by other nations, as also of the heavy success
and issue in the late enterprise made by a worthy gentleman our countryman, Sir

Humfrey Gilbert, Knight, who was the first
of our nations that carried people to erect an habitation and government in
those northerly countries of
America. About which albeit he had
consumed much substance, and lost his life at last, his people also perishing
for the most part: yet the mystery thereof we must leave unto God, and judge
charitably both of the cause, which was just in all pretence, and of the
person, who was very zealous in prosecuting the same, deserving honourable
remembrance for his good mind and expense of life in so virtuous an enterprise.
Whereby nevertheless, lest any man should be dismayed by example of other
folks’ calamity, and misdeem that God doth resist all attempts intended that
way, I thought good, so far as myself was an eye- witness, to deliver the
circumstance and manner of our proceedings in that action; in which the
gentleman was so unfortunately encumbered with wants, and worse matched with
many ill-disposed people, that his rare judgment and regiment premeditated for
those affairs was subjected to tolerate abuses, and in sundry extremities to
hold on a course more to uphold credit than likely in his own conceit happily
to succeed. 8.

The issue of such actions, being always miserable, not guided by
God, who abhorreth confusion and disorder, hath left this for admonition, being
the first attempt by our nation to plant, unto such as shall take the same
cause in hand hereafter, not to be discouraged from it; but to make men well
advised how they handle His so high and excellent matters, as the carriage is
of His word into those very mighty and vast countries. An action doubtless not
to be intermeddled with base purposes, as many have made the same but a colour
to shadow actions otherwise scarce justifiable; which doth excite God’s heavy
judgments in the end, to the terrifying of weak minds from the cause, without
pondering His just proceedings; and doth also incense foreign princes against
our attempts, how just soever, who cannot but deem the sequel very dangerous
unto their state (if in those parts we should grow to strength), seeing the
very beginnings are entered with spoil. 9.

And with this admonition denounced upon zeal towards God’s cause,
also towards those in whom appeareth disposition honourable unto this action of
Christian people and religion in those
remote and barbarous nations of
America (unto whom I wish all happiness),
I will now proceed to make relations briefly, yet particularly, of our voyage
undertaken with Sir
Humphrey Gilbert, begun, continued, and
ended adversely.10.

When first Sir
Humfrey Gilbert undertook the western
discovery of
America, and had procured from her Majesty
a very large commission to inhabit and possess at his choice all remote and
heathen lands not in the actual possession of any
Christian prince, the same commission
exemplified with many privileges, such as in his discretion he might demand,
very many gentlemen of good estimation drew unto him, to associate him in so
commendable an enterprise, so that the preparation was expected to grow unto a
puissant fleet, able to encounter a king’s power by sea. Nevertheless, amongst
a multitude of voluntary men, their dispositions were diverse, which bred a
jar, and made a division in the end, to the confusion of that attempt even
before the same was begun. And when the shipping was in a manner prepared, and
men ready upon the coast to go aboard, at that time some brake consort, and
followed courses degenerating from the voyage before pretended. Others failed
of their promises contracted, and the greater number were dispersed, leaving
the General with few of his assured friends, with whom he adventured to sea;
where, having tasted of no less misfortune, he was shortly driven to retire
home with the loss of a tall ship and, more to his grief, of a valiant
Miles Morgan.11.

Having buried, only in a preparation, a great mass of substance,
whereby his estate was impaired, his mind yet not dismayed, he continued his
former designment, and purposed to revive this enterprise, good occasion
serving. Upon which determination standing long without means to satisfy his
desire, at last he granted certain assignments out of his commission to sundry
persons of mean ability, desiring the privilege of his grant, to plant and
fortify in the north parts of
America about the river of
Canada; to whom if God gave good success
in the north parts (where then no matter of moment was expected), the same, he
thought, would greatly advance the hope of the south, and be a furtherance unto
his determination that way. And the worst that might happen in that course
might be excused, without prejudice unto him, by the former supposition that
those north regions were of no regard. But chiefly, a possession taken in any
parcel of those heathen countries, by virtue of his grant, did invest him of
territories extending every way 200 leagues; which induced Sir
Humfrey Gilbert to make those assignments,
desiring greatly their expedition, because his commission did expire after six
years, if in that space he had not gotten actual possession.12.

Time went away without anything done by his assigns; insomuch that
at last he must resolve himself to take a voyage in person, for more assurance
to keep his patent in force, which then almost was expired or within two years.
In furtherance of his determination, amongst others, Sir
George Peckham, Knight, shewed himself
very zealous to the action, greatly aiding him both by his advice and in the
charge. Other gentlemen to their ability joined unto him, resolving to
adventure their substance and lives in the same cause. Who beginning their
preparation from that time, both of shipping, munition, victual, men, and
things requisite, some of them continued the charge two years complete without
intermission. Such were the difficulties and cross accidents opposing these
proceedings, which took not end in less than two years; many of which
circumstances I will omit.13.

The last place of our assembly, before we left the coast of
England, was in
Cawset Bay, near unto
Plymouth, then resolved to put unto the
sea with shipping and provision such as we had, before our store yet remaining,
but chiefly the time and season of the year, were too far spent. Nevertheless,
it seemed first very doubtful by what way to shape our course, and to begin our
intended discovery, either from the south northward or from the north
southward. The first, that is, beginning south, without all controversy was the
likeliest, wherein we were assured to have commodity of the current which from
the Cape of
Florida setteth northward, and would have
furthered greatly our navigation, discovering from the foresaid cape along
towards Cape
Breton, and all those lands lying to the
north. Also, the year being far spent, and arrived to the month of June, we
were not to spend time in northerly courses, where we should be surprised with
timely winter, but to covetitalic the south, which we had space enough then to
have attained, and there might with less detriment have wintered that season,
being more mild and short in the south than in the north, where winter is both
long and rigorous. These and other like reasons alleged in favour of the
southern course first to be taken, to the contrary was inferred that forasmuch
as both our victuals and many other needful provisions were diminished and left
insufficient for so long a voyage and for the wintering of so many men, we
ought to shape a course most likely to minister supply; and that was to take
Newfoundland in our way, which was but 700
leagues from our English coast. Where being usually at that time of the year,
and until the fine of August, a multitude of ships repairing thither for fish,
we should be relieved abundantly with many necessaries, which, after the
fishing ended, they might well spare and freely impart unto us. Not staying
long upon that Newland coast, we might proceed southward, and follow still the
sun, until we arrived at places more temperate to our content.14.

By which reasons we were the rather induced to follow this northerly
course, obeying unto necessity, which must be supplied. Otherwise, we doubted
that sudden approach of winter, bringing with it continual fog and thick mists,
tempest and rage of weather, also contrariety of currents descending from the
Cape of
Florida unto Cape
Breton and Cape
Race, would fall out to be great and
irresistible impediments unto our further proceeding for that year, and compel
us to winter in those north and cold regions. Wherefore, suppressing all
objections to the contrary, we resolved to begin our course northward, and to
follow, directly as we might, the trade way unto
Newfoundland; from whence, after our
refreshing and reparation of wants, we intended without delay, by God’s
permission, to proceed into the south, not omitting any river or bay which in
all that large tract of land appeared to our view worthy of search. Immediately
we agreed upon the manner of our course and orders to be observed in our
voyage; which were delivered in writing, unto the captains and masters of every
ship a copy, in manner following.15.

Every ship had delivered two bullets or scrolls, the one sealed up
in wax, the other left open; in both which were included several watchwords.
That open, serving upon our own coast or the coast of Ireland; the other
sealed, was promised on all hands not to be broken up until we should be clear
of the Irish coast; which from thenceforth did serve until we arrived and met
all together in such harbours of the
Newfoundland as were agreed for our
rendez-vous. The said watchwords being
requisite to know our consorts whensoever by night, either by fortune of
weather, our fleet dispersed should come together again; or one should hail
another; or if by ill watch and steerage one ship should chance to fall aboard
of another in the dark.16.

The reason of the bullet sealed was to keep secret that watchword
while we were upon our own coast, lest any of the company stealing from the
fleet might bewray the same; which known to an enemy, he might board us by
night without mistrust, having our own watchword. 17.

ORDERS agreed upon by the Captains
and MASTERS to be observed by the
fleet of Sir
Humfrey Gilbert.

First, The Admiral to carry his flag by day, and his light by

2. Item, if the Admiral shall shorten his sail by night, then to
shew two lights until he be answered again by every ship shewing one light for
a short time.19.

3. Item, if the Admiral after his shortening of sail, as
aforesaid, shall make more sail again; then he to shew three lights one above

4. Item, if the Admiral shall happen to hull in the night, then
to make a wavering light over his other light, wavering the light upon a

5. Item, if the fleet should happen to be scattered by weather,
or other mishap, then so soon as one shall descry another, to hoise both
topsails twice, if the weather will serve, and to strike them twice again; but
if the weather serve not, then to hoise the maintopsail twice, and forthwith to
strike it twice again.22.

6. Item, if it shall happen a great fog to fall, then presently
every ship to bear up with the Admiral, if there be wind; but if it be a calm,
then every ship to hull, and so to lie at hull till it clear. And if the fog do
continue long, then the Admiral to shoot off two pieces every evening, and
every ship to answer it with one shot; and every man bearing to the ship that
is to leeward so near as he may.23.

7. Item, every master to give charge unto the watch to look out
well, for laying aboard one of another in the night, and in fogs.24.

8. Item, every evening every ship to hail the Admiral, and so to
fall astern him, sailing through the ocean; and being on the coast, every ship
to hail him both morning and evening.25.

9. Item, if any ship be in danger in any way, by leak or
otherwise, then she to shoot off a piece, and presently to bring out one light;
whereupon every man to bear towards her, answering her with one light for a
short time, and so to put it out again; thereby to give knowledge that they
have seen her token.26.

10. Item, whensoever the Admiral shall hang out her ensign in the
main shrouds, then every man to come aboard her as a token of counsel.27.

11. Item, if there happen any storm or contrary wind to the fleet
after the discovery, whereby they are separated; then every ship to repair unto
their last good port, there to meet again. 28.

OUR COURSE agreed upon.

The course first to be taken for the discovery is to bear directly
to Cape
Race, the most southerly cape of
Newfoundland; and there to harbour
ourselves either in
Rogneux or
Fermous, being the first places
appointed for our rendezvous, and the next harbours unto the northward of Cape
Race: and therefore every ship separated
from the fleet to repair to that place so fast as God shall permit, whether you
shall fall to the southward or to the northward of it, and there to stay for
the meeting of the whole fleet the space of ten days; and when you shall
depart, to leave marks. 29.

BEGINNING our course from
Scilly, the nearest is by west-south-
west (if the wind serve) until such time as we have brought ourselves in the
latitude of 43 or 44 degrees, because the ocean is subject much to southerly
winds in June and July. Then to take traverse from 45 to 47 degrees of
latitude, if we be enforced by contrary winds; and not to go to the northward
of the height of 47 degrees of septentrional latitude by no means, if God shall
not enforce the contrary; but to do your endeavour to keep in the height of 46
degrees, so near as you can possibly, because Cape
Race lieth about that height. 30.


If by contrary winds we be driven back upon the coast of
England, then to repair unto
Scilly for a place of our assembly or
meeting. If we be driven back by contrary winds that we cannot pass the coast
Ireland, then the place of our assembly
to be at
Bere haven or
Baltimore haven. If we shall not happen
to meet at Cape
Race, then the place of
rendezvous to be at Cape
Breton, or the nearest harbour unto the
westward of Cape
Breton. If by means of other shipping we
may not safely stay there, then to rest at the very next safe port to the
westward; every ship leaving their marks behind them for the more certainty of
the after comers to know where to find them. The marks that every man ought to
leave in such a case, were of the General’s private device written by himself,
sealed also in close wax, and delivered unto every ship one scroll, which was
not to be opened until occasion required, whereby every man was certified what
to leave for instruction of after comers; that every of us coming into any
harbour or river might know who had been there, or whether any were still there
up higher into the river, or departed, and which way. 31.

Orders thus determined, and promises mutually given to be
observed, every man withdrew himself unto his charge; the anchors being already
weighed, and our ships under sail, having a soft gale of wind, we began our
voyage upon Tuesday, the 11 day of June, in the year of our Lord 1583, having
in our fleet (at our departure from
Cawset Bay) these ships, whose names and
burthens, with the names of the captains and masters of them, I have also
inserted, as followeth:–1. The Delight,
alias the
George, of burthen 120 tons, was
Admiral; in which went the General, and William Winter, captain in her and part
owner, and
Richard Clarke, master. 2. The bark
Raleigh, set forth by Master
Walter Raleigh, of the burthen of 200
tons, was then Vice- Admiral; in which went Master
Butler, captain, and
Robert Davis, of
Bristol, master. 3. The
Golden Hind, of burthen 40 tons, was
then Rear-Admiral; in which went
Edward Hayes, captain and owner, and
William Cox, of
Limehouse, master. 4. The
Swallow, of burthen 40 tons; in her was
Maurice Browne. 5. The Squirrel, of burthen 10 tons; in which went captain
William Andrews, and one
Cade, master. We were in number in all
about 260 men; among whom we had of every faculty good choice, as shipwrights,
masons, carpenters, smiths, and such like, requisite to such an action; also
mineral men and refiners. Besides, for solace of our people, and allurement of
the savages, we were provided of music in good variety; not omitting the least
toys, as morris-dancers, hobby-horse, and May-like conceits to delight the
savage people, whom we intended to win by all fair means possible. And to that
end we were indifferently furnished of all petty haberdashery wares to barter
with those simple people.32.

In this manner we set forward, departing (as hath been said) out
Cawset Bay the 11 day of June, being
Tuesday, the weather and wind fair and good all day; but a great storm of
thunder and wind fell the same night. Thursday following, when we hailed one
another in the evening, according to the order before specified, they signified
unto us out of the Vice-Admiral, that both the captain, and very many of the
men, were fallen sick. And about midnight the Vice-Admiral forsook us,
notwithstanding we had the wind east, fair and good. But it was after credibly
reported that they were infected with a contagious sickness, and arrived
greatly distressed at
Plymouth; the reason I could never
understand. Sure I am, no cost was spared by their owner, Master
Raleigh, in setting them forth;
therefore I leave it unto God. By this time we were in 48 degrees of latitude,
not a little grieved with the loss of the most puissant ship in our fleet;
after whose departure the
Golden Hind succeeded in the place of
Vice-Admiral, and removed her flag from the mizen into the foretop. From
Saturday, the 15 of June, until the 28, which was upon a Friday, we never had
fair day without fog or rain, and winds bad, much to the west-north- west,
whereby we were driven southward unto 41 degrees scarce.33.

About this time of the year the winds are commonly west towards
Newfoundland, keeping ordinarily within
two points of west to the south or to the north; whereby the course thither
falleth out to be long and tedious after June, which in March, April, and May,
hath been performed out of
England in 22 days and less. We had wind
always so scant from the west-north-west, and from west-south-west again, that
our traverse was great, running south unto 41 degrees almost, and afterwards
north into 51 degrees. Also we were encumbered with much fog and mists in
manner palpable, in which we could not keep so well together, but were
discovered, losing the company of the
Swallow and the
Squirrel upon the 20 day of July, whom
we met again at several places upon the
Newfoundland coast the 3 of August, as
shall be declared in place convenient. Saturday, the 27 July, we might descry,
not far from us, as it were mountains of ice driven upon the sea, being then in
50 degrees, which were carried southward to the weather of us; whereby may be
conjectured that some current doth set that way from the north. 34.

Before we came to
Newfoundland, about 50 leagues on this
side, we pass the bank, which are high grounds rising within the sea and under
water, yet deep enough and without danger, being commonly not less than 25 and
30 fathom water upon them; the same, as it were some vein of mountains within
the sea, do run along and form the
Newfoundland, beginning northward about
52 or 53 degrees of latitude, and do extend into the south infinitely. The
breadth of this bank is somewhere more, and somewhere less; but we found the
same about ten leagues over, having sounded both on this side thereof, and the
other toward
Newfoundland, but found no ground with
almost 200 fathom of line, both before and after we had passed the bank. The
Portugals, and French chiefly, have a notable trade of fishing upon this bank,
where are sometimes an hundred or more sails of ships, who commonly begin the
fishing in April, and have ended by July. That fish is large, always wet,
having no land near to dry, and is called cod fish. During the time of fishing,
a man shall know without sounding when he is upon the bank, by the incredible
multitude of sea-fowl hovering over the same, to prey upon the offals and
garbage of fish thrown out by fishermen, and floating upon the sea.35.

Upon Tuesday, the 11 of June we forsook the coast of
England. So again on Tuesday, the 30 of
July, seven weeks after, we got sight of land, being immediately embayed in the

Grand Bay, or some other great bay; the
certainty whereof we could not judge, so great haze and fog did hang upon the
coast, as neither we might discern the land well, nor take the sun’s height.
But by our best computation we were then in the 51 degrees of latitude.
Forsaking this bay and uncomfortable coast (nothing appearing unto us but
hideous rocks and mountains, bare of trees, and void of any green herb) we
followed the coast to the south, with weather fair and clear. We had sight of
an island named
Penguin, of a fowl there breeding in
abundance almost incredible, which cannot fly, their wings not able to carry
their body, being very large (not much less than a goose) and exceeding fat,
which the Frenchmen use to take without difficulty upon that island, and to
barrel them up with salt. But for lingering of time, we had made us there the
like provision.36.

Trending this coast, we came to the island called
Baccalaos, being not past two leagues
from the main; to the north thereof lieth Cape
St. Francis, five leagues distant from
Baccalaos, between which goeth in a
great bay, by the vulgar sort called the Bay of
Conception. Here we met with the
Swallow again, whom we had lost in the
fog, and all her men altered into other apparel; whereof it seemed their store
was so amended, that for joy and congratulation of our meeting, they spared not
to cast up into the air and overboard their caps and hats in good plenty. The
captain, albeit himself was very honest and religious, yet was he not appointed
of men to his humour and desert; who for the most part were such as had been by
us surprised upon the narrow seas of
England, being pirates, and had taken at
that instant certain Frenchmen laden, one bark with wines, and another with
salt. Both which we rescued, and took the man-of-war with all her men, which
was the same ship now called the
Swallow; following still their kind so
oft as, being separated from the General, they found opportunity to rob and
spoil. And because God’s justice did follow the same company, even to
destruction, and to the overthrow also of the captain (though not consenting to
their misdemeanour) I will not conceal anything that maketh to the
manifestation and approbation of His judgments, for examples of others;
persuaded that God more sharply took revenge upon them, and hath tolerated
longer as great outrage in others, by how much these went under protection of
His cause and religion, which was then pretended.37.

Therefore upon further enquiry it was known how this company met
with a bark returning home after the fishing with his freight; and because the
men in the
Swallow were very near scanted of
victuals, and chiefly of apparel, doubtful withal where or when to find and
meet with their Admiral, they besought the captain that they might go aboard
this Newlander, only to borrow what might be
spared, the rather because the same was bound homeward. Leave given, not
without charge to deal favourably, they came aboard the fisherman, whom they
rifled of tackle, sails, cables, victuals, and the men of their apparel; not
sparing by torture, winding cords about their heads, to draw out else what they
thought good. This done with expedition, like men skilful in such mischief, as
they took their cockboat to go aboard their own ship, it was overwhelmed in the
sea, and certain of these men there drowned; the rest were preserved even by
those silly souls whom they had before spoiled, who saved and delivered them
aboard the
Swallow. What became afterwards of the
Newlander, perhaps destitute of sails
and furniture sufficient to carry them home, whither they had not less to run
than 700 leagues, God alone knoweth; who took vengeance not long after of the
rest that escaped at this instant, to reveal the fact, and justify to the world
God’s judgments indicted upon them, as shall be declared in place

Thus after we had met with the
Swallow, we held on our course
southward, until we came against the harbour called
St. John, about five leagues from the
former Cape of
St. Francis, where before the entrance
into the harbour, we found also the frigate or
Squirrel lying at anchor; whom the
English merchants, that were and always be Admirals by turns interchangeably
over the fleets of fishermen within the same harbour, would not permit to enter
into the harbour. Glad of so happy meeting, both of the
Swallow and frigate in one day, being
Saturday, the third of August, we made ready our fights, and prepared to enter
the harbour, any resistance to the contrary notwithstanding, there being within
of all nations to the number of 36 sails. But first the General despatched a
boat to give them knowledge of his coming for no ill intent, having commission
from her Majesty for his voyage he had in hand; and immediately we followed
with a slack gale, and in the very entrance, which is but narrow, not above two
butts’ length, the Admiral fell upon a rock on the larboard side by great
oversight, in that the weather was fair, the rock much above water fast by the
shore, where neither went any sea-gate. But we found such readiness in the
English merchants to help us in that danger, that without delay there were
brought a number of boats, which towed off the ship, and cleared her of danger.

Having taken place convenient in the road, we let fall anchors,
the captains and masters repairing aboard our Admiral; whither also came
immediately the masters and owners of the fishing fleet of Englishmen, to
understand the General’s intent and cause of our arrival there. They were all
satisfied when the General had shewed his commission and purpose to take
possession of those lands to the behalf of the crown of
England, and the advancement of the
Christian religion in those paganish
regions, requiring but their lawful aid for repairing of his fleet, and supply
of some necessaries, so far as conveniently might be afforded him, both out of
that and other harbours adjoining. In lieu whereof he made offer to gratify
them with any favour and privilege, which upon their better advice they should
demand, the like being not to be obtained hereafter for greater price. So
craving expedition of his demand, minding to proceed further south without long
detention in those parts, he dismissed them, after promise given of their best
endeavour to satisfy speedily his so reasonable request. The merchants with
their masters departed, they caused forthwith to be discharged all the great
ordnance of their fleet in token of our welcome.40.

It was further determined that every ship of our fleet should
deliver unto the merchants and masters of that harbour a note of all their
wants: which done, the ships, as well English as strangers, were taxed at an
easy rate to make supply. And besides, commissioners were appointed, part of
our own company and part of theirs, to go into other harbours adjoining (for
our English merchants command all there) to levy our provision: whereunto the
Portugals, above other nations, did most willingly and liberally contribute. In
so much as we were presented, above our allowance, with wines, marmalades, most
fine rusk or biscuit, sweet oils, and sundry delicacies. Also we wanted not of
fresh salmons, trouts, lobsters, and other fresh fish brought daily unto us.
Moreover as the manner is in their fishing, every week to choose their Admiral
anew, or rather they succeed in orderly course, and have weekly their Admiral’s
feast solemnized: even so the General, captains, and masters of our fleet were
continually invited and feasted. To grow short in our abundance at home the
entertainment had been delightful; but after our wants and tedious passage
through the ocean, it seemed more acceptable and of greater contentation, by
how much the same was unexpected in that desolate corner of the world; where,
at other times of the year, wild beasts and birds have only the fruition of all
those countries, which now seemed a place very populous and much

The next morning being Sunday, and the fourth of August, the
General and his company were brought on land by English merchants, who shewed
unto us their accustomed walks unto a place they call the
Garden. But nothing appeared more than
nature itself without art: who confusedly hath brought forth roses abundantly,
wild, but odoriferous, and to sense very comfortable. Also the like plenty of
raspberries, which do grow in every place.42.

Monday following, the General had his tent set up; who, being
accompanied with his own followers, summoned the merchants and masters, both
English and strangers, to be present at his taking possession of those
countries. Before whom openly was read, and interpreted unto the strangers, his
commission: by virtue whereof he took possession in the same harbour of
St. John, and 200 leagues every way,
invested the Queen’s Majesty with the title and dignity thereof, had delivered
unto him, after the custom of
England, a rod, and a turf of the same
soil, entering possession also for him, his heirs and assigns for ever; and
signified unto all men, that from that time forward, they should take the same
land as a territory appertaining to the Queen of
England, and himself authorised under
her Majesty to possess and enjoy it, and to ordain laws for the government
thereof, agreeable, so near as conveniently might be, unto the laws of
England, under which all people coming
thither hereafter, either to inhabit, or by way of traffic, should be subjected
and governed. And especially at the same time for a beginning, he proposed and
delivered three laws to be in force immediately. That is to say the first for
religion, which in public exercise should be according to the Church of
England. The second, for maintenance of
her Majesty’s right and possession of those territories, against which if any
thing were attempted prejudicial, the party or parties offending should be
adjudged and executed as in case of high treason, according to the laws of
England. The third, if any person should
utter words sounding to the dishonour of her Majesty, he should lose his ears,
and have his ship and goods confiscate. 43.

These contents published, obedience was promised by general voice
and consent of the multitude, as well of Englishmen as strangers, praying for
continuance of this possession and government begun; after this, the assembly
was dismissed. And afterwards were erected not far from that place the arms of
England engraven in lead, and infixed
upon a pillar of wood. Yet further and actually to establish this possession
taken in the right of her Majesty, and to the behoof of Sir
Humfrey Gilbert, knight, his heirs and
assigns for ever, the General granted in fee-farm divers parcels of land lying
by the water-side, both in this harbour of
St. John, and elsewhere, which was to
the owners a great commodity, being thereby assured, by their proper
inheritance, of grounds convenient to dress and to dry their fish; whereof many
times before they did fail, being prevented by them that came first into the
harbour. For which grounds they did covenant to pay a certain rent and service
unto Sir Humfrey Gilbert, his heirs or assigns for ever, and yearly to maintain
possession of the same, by themselves or their assigns.44.

Now remained only to take in provision granted, according as every
ship was taxed, which did fish upon the coast adjoining. In the meanwhile, the
General appointed men unto their charge: some to repair and trim the ships,
others to attend in gathering together our supply and provisions: others to
search the commodities and singularities of the country, to be found by sea or
land, and to make relation unto the General what either themselves could know
by their own travail and experience, or by good intelligence of Englishmen or
strangers, who had longest frequented the same coast. Also some observed the
elevation of the pole, and drew plots of the country exactly graded. And by
that I could gather by each man’s several relation, I have drawn a brief
description of the
Newfoundland, with the commodities by
sea or land already made, and such also as are in possibility and great
likelihood to be made. Nevertheless the cards and plots that were drawn, with
the due gradation of the harbours, bays, and capes, did perish with the
Admiral: wherefore in the description following, I must omit the particulars of
such things. 45.

That which we do call the
Newfoundland, and the Frenchmen
Baccalaos, is an island, or rather,
after the opinion of some, it consisteth of sundry islands and broken lands,
situate in the north regions of
America, upon the gulf and entrance of a
great river called
St. Lawrence in
Canada; into the which, navigation may
be made both on the south and north side of this island. The land lieth south
and north, containing in length between 300 and 400 miles, accounting from Cape

Race, which is in 46 degrees 25 minutes,
unto the
Grand Bay in 52 degrees, of
septentrional latitude. The land round about hath very many goodly bays and
harbours, safe roads for ships, the like not to be found in any part of the
known world. 46.

The common opinion that is had of intemperature and extreme cold
that should be in this country, as of some part it may be verified, namely the
north, where I grant it is more cold than in countries of
Europe, which are under the same
elevation: even so it cannot stand with reason and nature of the clime, that
the south parts should be so intemperate as the bruit hath gone. For as the
same do lie under the climes of
Poictou in
France, between 46 and 49 degrees, so
can they not so much differ from the temperature of those countries: unless
upon the out-coast lying open unto the ocean and sharp winds, it must indeed be
subject to more cold than further within the land, where the mountains are
interposed as walls and bulwarks, to defend and to resist the asperity and
rigour of the sea and weather. Some hold opinion that the
Newfoundland might be the more subject
to cold, by how much it lieth high and near unto the middle region. I grant
that not in
Newfoundland alone, but in
Italy and
Afric, even under the equinoctial line,
the mountains are extreme cold, and seldom uncovered of snow, in their culm and
highest tops, which cometh to pass by the same reason that they are extended
towards the middle region: yet in the countries lying beneath them, it is found
quite contrary. Even so, all hills having their descents, the valleys also and
low grounds must be likewise hot or temperate, as the clime doth give in
Newfoundland: though I am of opinion
that the sun’s reflection is much cooled, and cannot be so forcible in
Newfoundland, nor generally throughout
America, as in
Europe or
Afric: by how much the sun in his
diurnal course from east to west, passeth over, for the most part, dry land and
sandy countries, before he arriveth at the west of
Europe or
Afric, whereby his motion increaseth
heat, with little or no qualification by moist vapours. Whereas, on the
contrary, he passeth from
Europe and
Afric unto
America over the ocean, from whence he
draweth and carrieth with him abundance of moist vapours, which do qualify and
enfeeble greatly the sun’s reverberation upon this country chiefly of
Newfoundland, being so much to the
northward. Nevertheless, as I said before, the cold cannot be so intolerable
under the latitude of 46, 47, and 48, especial within land, that it should be
unhabitable, as some do suppose, seeing also there are very many people more to
the north by a great deal. And in these south parts there be certain beasts,
ounces or leopards, and birds in like manner, which in the summer we have seen,
not heard of in countries of extreme and vehement coldness. Besides, as in the
months of June, July, August and September, the heat is somewhat more than in
England at those seasons: so men
remaining upon the south parts near unto Cape
Race, until after holland-tide
(All-hallow-tide–November 1), have not found the cold so extreme, nor much
differing from the temperature of
England. Those which have arrived there
after November and December have found the snow exceeding deep, whereat no
marvel, considering the ground upon the coast is rough and uneven, and the snow
is driven into the places most declining, as the like is to be seen with us.
The like depth of snow happily shall not be found within land upon the plainer
countries, which also are defended by the mountains, breaking off the violence
of winds and weather. But admitting extraordinary cold in those south parts,
above that with us here, it cannot be so great as in
Swedeland, much less in
Moscovia or
Russia: yet are the same countries very
populous, and the rigour of cold is dispensed with by the commodity of stoves,
warm clothing, meats and drinks: all of which need not be wanting in the
Newfoundland, if we had intent there to

In the south parts we found no inhabitants, which by all
likelihood have abandoned those coasts, the same being so much frequented by
Christians; but in the north are savages
altogether harmless. Touching the commodities of this country, serving either
for sustentation of inhabitants or for maintenance of traffic, there are and
may be made divers; so that it seemeth that nature hath recompensed that only
defect and incommodity of some sharp cold, by many benefits; namely, with
incredible quantity, and no less variety, of kinds of fish in the sea and fresh
waters, as trouts, salmons, and other fish to us unknown; also cod, which alone
draweth many nations thither, and is become the most famous fishing of the
world; abundance of whales, for which also is a very great trade in the bays of

Placentia and the
Grand Bay, where is made train oil of the
whale; herring, the largest that have been heard of, and exceeding the
Marstrand herring of
Norway; but hitherto was never benefit
taken of the herring fishing. There are sundry other fish very delicate,
namely, the bonito, lobsters, turbot, with others infinite not sought after;
oysters having pearl but not orient in colour; I took it, by reason they were
not gathered in season.48.

Concerning the inland commodities, as well to be drawn from this
land, as from the exceeding large countries adjoining, there is nothing which
our east and northerly countries of
Europe do yield, but the like also may
be made in them as plentifully, by time and industry; namely, resin, pitch,
tar, soap-ashes, deal-board, masts for ships, hides, furs, flax, hemp, corn,
cables, cordage, linen cloth, metals, and many more. All which the countries
will afford, and the soil is apt to yield. The trees for the most in those
south parts are fir- trees, pine, and cypress, all yielding gum and turpentine.
Cherry trees bearing fruit no bigger than a small pease. Also pear-trees, but
fruitless. Other trees of some sort to us unknown. The soil along the coast is
not deep of earth, bringing forth abundantly peasen small, yet good feeding for
cattle. Roses passing sweet, like unto our musk roses in form; raspises; a
berry which we call whorts, good and wholesome to eat. The grass and herb doth
fat sheep in very short space, proved by English merchants which have carried
sheep thither for fresh victual and had them raised exceeding fat in less than
three weeks. Peasen which our countrymen have sown in the time of May, have
come up fair, and been gathered in the beginning of August, of which our
General had a present acceptable for the rareness, being the first fruits
coming up by art and industry in that desolate and dishabited land. Lakes or
pools of fresh water, both on the tops of mountains and in the valleys; in
which are said to be muscles not unlike to have pearl, which I had put in
trial, if by mischance falling unto me I had not been letted from that and
other good experiments I was minded to make. Fowl both of water and land in
great plenty and diversity. All kind of green fowl; others as big as bustards,
yet not the same. A great white fowl called of some a gaunt. Upon the land
divers sort of hawks, as falcons, and others by report. Partridges most
plentiful, larger than ours, grey and white of colour, and rough-footed like
doves, which our men after one flight did kill with cudgels, they were so fat
and unable to fly. Birds, some like blackbirds, linnets, canary birds, and
other very small. Beasts of sundry kinds; red deer, buffles, or a beast as it
seemeth by the tract and foot very large, in manner of an ox. Bears, ounces or
leopards, some greater and some lesser; wolves, foxes, which to the northward a
little farther are black, whose fur is esteemed in some countries of
Europe very rich. Otters, beavers,
marterns; and in the opinion of most men that saw it, the General had brought
unto him a sable alive, which he sent unto his brother, Sir
John Gilbert,
Knight, of
Devonshire, but it was never delivered, as after I understood. We
could not observe the hundredth part of creatures in those unhabited lands; but
these mentioned may induce us to glorify the magnificent God, who hath
super-abundantly replenished the earth with creatures serving for the use of
man, though man hath not used the fifth part of the same, which the more doth
aggravate the fault and foolish sloth in many of our nations, choosing rather
to live indirectly, and very miserably to live and die within this realm
pestered with inhabitants, then to adventure as becometh men, to obtain an
habitation in those remote lands, in which nature very prodigally doth minister
unto men’s endeavours, and for art to work upon. For besides these already
recounted and infinite more, the mountains generally make shew of mineral
substance; iron very common, lead, and somewhere copper. I will not aver of
richer metals; albeit by the circumstances following, more than hope may be
conceived thereof.49.

For amongst other charges given to enquire out the singularities
of this country, the General was most curious in the search of metals,
commanding the mineral-man and refiner especially to be diligent. The same was
a Saxon born, honest, and religious, named
Daniel. Who after search brought at
first some sort of ore, seeming rather to be iron than other metal. The next
time he found ore, which with no small show of contentment he delivered unto
the General, using protestation that if silver were the thing which might
satisfy the General and his followers, there it was, advising him to seek no
further; the peril whereof he undertook upon his life (as dear unto him as the
crown of
England unto her Majesty, that I may use
his own words) if it fell not out accordingly.50.

Myself at this instant liker to die than to live, by a mischance,
could not follow this confident opinion of our refiner to my own satisfaction;
but afterward demanding our General’s opinion therein, and to have some part of
the ore, he replied,
Content yourself, I have seen enough; and were it but to
satisfy my private humour, I would proceed no further. The promise unto my
friends, and necessity to bring also the south countries within compass of my
patent near expired, as we have already done these north parts, do only
persuade me further. And touching the ore, I have sent it aboard, whereof I
would have no speech to be made so long as we remain within harbour; here being
both Portugals, Biscayans, and Frenchmen, not far off, from whom must be kept
any bruit or muttering of such matter. When we are at sea, proof shall be made;
if it be our desire, we may return the sooner hither again.
Whose answer I
judged reasonable, and contenting me well; wherewith I will conclude this
narration and description of the
Newfoundland, and proceed to the rest of
our voyage, which ended tragically. 51.

While the better sort of us were seriously occupied in repairing
our wants, and contriving of matters for the commodity of our voyage, others of
another sort and disposition were plotting of mischief; some casting to steal
away our shipping by night, watching opportunity by the General’s and captains’
lying on the shore; whose conspiracies discovered, they were prevented. Others
drew together in company, and carried away out of the harbours adjoining a ship
laden with fish, setting the poor men on shore. A great many more of our people
stole into the woods to hide themselves, attending time and means to return
home by such shipping as daily departed from the coast. Some were sick of
fluxes, and many dead; and in brief, by one means or other our company was
diminished, and many by the General licensed to return home. Insomuch as after
we had reviewed our people, resolved to see an end of our voyage, we grew scant
of men to furnish all our shipping; it seemed good thereof unto the General to
leave the
Swallow with such provision as might be
spared for transporting home the sick people.52.

The captain of the Delight or Admiral, returned into
England, in whose stead was appointed
Maurice Browne, before the captain of the
Swallow; who also brought with him into
the Delight all his men of the
Swallow, which before have been noted of
outrage perpetrated and committed upon fishermen there met at sea.53.

The General made choice to go in his frigate the
Squirrel, whereof the captain also was
amongst them that returned into
England; the same frigate being most
convenient to discover upon the coast, and to search into every harbour or
creek, which a great ship could not do. Therefore the frigate was prepared with
her nettings and fights, and overcharged with bases and such small ordnance,
more to give a show, than with judgment to foresee unto the safety of her and
the men, which afterward was an occasion also of their overthrow. 54.

Now having made ready our shipping, that is to say, the Delight,
Golden Hind, and the
Squirrel, we put aboard our provision,
which was wines, bread or rusk, fish wet and dry, sweet oils, besides many
other, as marmalades, figs, limons barrelled, and such like. Also we had other
necessary provision for trimming our ships, nets and lines to fish withal,
boats or pinnaces fit for discovery. In brief, we were supplied of our wants
commodiously, as if we had been in a country or some city populous and
plentiful of all things. 55.

We departed from this harbour of
St. John‘s upon Tuesday, the 20 of
August, which we found by exact observation to be in 47 degrees 40 minutes; and
the next day by night we were at Cape
Race, 25 leagues from the same
harborough. This cape lieth south-south-west from
St. John‘s; it is a low land, being off
from the cape about half a league; within the sea riseth up a rock against the
point of the cape, which thereby is easily known. It is in latitude 46 degrees
25 minutes. Under this cape we were becalmed a small time, during which we laid
out hooks and lines to take cod, and drew in less than two hours fish so large
and in such abundance, that many days after we fed upon no other provision.
From hence we shaped our course unto the island of Sablon, if conveniently it
would so fall out, also directly to Cape

Sablon lieth to the seaward of Cape
Breton about 25 leagues, whither we were
determined to go upon intelligence we had of a Portugal, during our abode in
St. John‘s, who was himself present when
the Portugals, above thirty years past, did put into the same island both neat
and swine to breed, which were since exceedingly multiplied. This seemed unto
us very happy tidings, to have in an island lying so near unto the main, which
we intended to plant upon, such store of cattle, whereby we might at all times
conveniently be relieved of victual, and served of store for breed.57.

In this course we trended along the coast, which from Cape
Race stretcheth into the north-west,
making a bay which some called
Trepassa. Then it goeth out again towards the
west, and maketh a point, which with Cape
Race lieth in manner east and west. But
this point inclineth to the north, to the west of which goeth in the Bay of

Placentia. We sent men on land to take view of the soil along this coast,
whereof they made good report, and some of them had will to be planted there.
They saw pease growing in great abundance everywhere.58.

The distance between Cape
Race and Cape
Breton is 87 leagues; in which
navigation we spent eight days, having many times the wind indifferent good,
yet could we never attain sight of any land all that time, seeing we were
hindered by the current. At last we fell into such flats and dangers that
hardly any of us escaped; where nevertheless we lost our Admiral (the Delight)
with all the men and provisions, not knowing certainly the place. Yet for
inducing men of skill to make conjecture, by our course and way we held from
Race thither, that thereby the flats and
dangers may be inserted in sea cards, for warning to others that may follow the
same course hereafter, I have set down the best reckonings that were kept by
expert men,
William Cox, Master of the
Hind, and
John Paul, his mate, both of

Limehouse. . . . Our course we held in clearing us of these flats was
east-south- east, and south-east, and south, fourteen leagues, with a
marvellous scant wind. 59.

Upon Tuesday, the 27 of August, toward the evening, our General
caused them in his frigate to sound, who found white sand at 35 fathom, being
then in latitude about 44 degrees. Wednesday, toward night, the wind came
south, and we bare with the land all that night, west-north-west, contrary to
the mind of Master
Cox; nevertheless we followed the Admiral, deprived of power
to prevent a mischief, which by no contradiction could be brought to hold
another course, alleging they could not make the ship to work better, nor to
lie otherways. The evening was fair and pleasant, yet not without token of
storm to ensue, and most part of this Wednesday night, like the swan that
singeth before her death, they in the Admiral, or Delight, continued in
sounding of trumpets, with drums and fifes; also winding the cornets and
hautboys, and in the end of their jollity, left with the battle and ringing of
doleful knells. Towards the evening also we caught in the Golden Hind a very
mighty porpoise with harping iron, having first stricken divers of them, and
brought away part of their flesh sticking upon the iron, but could recover only
that one. These also, passing through the ocean in herds, did portend storm. I
omit to recite frivolous report by them in the frigate, of strange voices the
same night, which scared some from the helm.60.

Thursday, the 29 of August, the wind rose, and blew vehemently at
south and by east, bringing withal rain and thick mist, so that we could not
see a cable length before us; and betimes in the morning we were altogether run
and folded in amongst flats and sands, amongst which we found shoal and deep in
every three or four ships’ length, after we began to sound; but first we were
upon them unawares, until Master Cox looking out, discerned, in his judgment,
white cliffs, crying
Land! withal; though we could not afterward descry any
land, it being very likely the breaking of the sea white, which seemed to be
white cliffs, through the haze and thick weather.61.

Immediately tokens were given unto the Delight, to cast about to
seaward, which, being the greater ship, and of burthen 120 tons, was yet
foremost upon the breach, keeping so ill watch, that they knew not the danger,
before they felt the same, too late to recover it; for presently the Admiral
struck aground, and has soon after her stern and hinder parts beaten in pieces;
whereupon the rest (that is to say, the frigate, in which was the General, and
the Golden Hind) cast about east-south-east, bearing to the south, even for our
lives, into the wind’s eye, because that way carried us to the seaward. Making
out from this danger, we sounded one while seven fathom, then five fathom, then
four fathom and less, again deeper, immediately four fathom then but three
fathom, the sea going mightily and high. At last we recovered, God be thanked,
in some despair, to sea room enough.62.

In this distress, we had vigilant eye unto the Admiral, whom we
saw cast away, without power to give the men succour, neither could we espy any
of the men that leaped overboard to save themselves, either in the same
pinnace, or cock, or upon rafters, and such like means presenting themselves to
men in those extremities, for we desired to save the men by every possible
means. But all in vain, sith God had determined their ruin; yet all that day,
and part of the next, we beat up and down as near unto the wrack as was
possible for us, looking out if by good hap we might espy any of them.63.

This was a heavy and grievous event, to lose at one blow our chief
ship freighted with great provision, gathered together with much travail, care,
long time, and difficulty; but more was the loss of our men, which perished to
the number almost of a hundred souls. Amongst whom was drowned a learned man, a
Hungarian (Stephen Parmenius), born in the city of
Buda, called thereof

Budoeus, who, of piety and zeal to good attempts, adventured in this action,
minding to record in the Latin tongue the gests and things worthy of
remembrance, happening in this discovery, to the honour of our nations, the
same being adorned with the eloquent style of this orator and rare poet of our

Here also perished our Saxon refiner and discoverer of inestimable
riches, as it was left amongst some of us in undoubted hope. No less heavy was
the loss of the captain,
Maurice Browne, a virtuous, honest, and discreet
gentleman, overseen only in liberty given late before to men that ought to have
been restrained, who showed himself a man resolved, and never unprepared for
death, as by his last act of this tragedy appeared, by report of them that
escaped this wrack miraculously, as shall be hereafter declared. For when all
hope was past of recovering the ship, and that men began to give over, and to
save themselves, the captain was advised before to shift also for his life, by
the pinnace at the stern of the ship; but refusing that counsel, he would not
give example with the first to leave the ship, but used all means to exhort his
people not to despair, nor so to leave off their labour, choosing rather to die
than to incur infamy by forsaking his charge, which then might be thought to
have perished through his default, showing an ill precedent unto his men, by
leaving the ship first himself. With this mind he mounted upon the highest
deck, where he attended imminent death, and unavoidable; how long, I leave it
to God, who withdraweth not his comfort from his servants at such times. 65.

In the mean season, certain, to the number of fourteen persons,
leaped into a small pinnace, the bigness of a Thames barge, which was made in
Newfoundland, cut off the rope wherewith
it was towed, and committed themselves to God’s mercy, amidst the storm, and
rage of sea and winds, destitute of food, not so much as a drop of fresh water.
The boat seeming overcharged in foul weather with company,
Edward Headly, a
valiant soldier, and well reputed of his company, preferring the greater to the
lesser, thought better that some of them perished than all, made this motion,
to cast lots, and them to be thrown overboard upon whom the lots fell, thereby
to lighten the boat, which otherways seemed impossible to live, and offered
himself with the first, content to take his adventure gladly: which
nevertheless Richard Clarke, that was master of the Admiral, and one of this
number, refused, advising to abide God’s pleasure, who was able to save all, as
well as a few. The boat was carried before the wind, continuing six days and
nights in the ocean, and arrived at last with the men, alive, but weak, upon
Newfoundland, saving that the foresaid

Headly, who had been late sick, and another called of us
Brazil, of his travel
into those countries, died by the way, famished, and less able to hold out than
those of better health. . . . Thus whom God delivered from drowning, he
appointed to be famished; who doth give limits to man’s times, and ordaineth
the manner and circumstance of dying: whom, again, he will preserve, neither
sea nor famine can confound. For those that arrived upon the
Newfoundland were brought into
France by
certain Frenchmen, then being upon the coast.66.

After this heavy chance, we continued in beating the sea up and
down, expecting when the weather would clear up that we might yet bear in with
the land, which we judged not far off either the continent or some island. For
we many times, and in sundry places found ground at 50, 45, 40 fathoms, and
less. The ground coming upon our lead, being sometime cozy sand and other while
a broad shell, with a little sand about it.67.

Our people lost courage daily after this ill success, the weather
continuing thick and blustering, with increase of cold, winter drawing on,
which took from them all hope of amendment, settling an assurance of worse
weather to grow upon us every day. The leeside of us lay full of flats and
dangers, inevitable if the wind blew hard at south. Some again doubted we were
ingulfed in the Bay of
St. Lawrence, the coast full of dangers, and unto us
unknown. But above all, provision waxed scant, and hope of supply was gone with
the loss of our Admiral. Those in the frigate were already pinched with spare
allowance, and want of clothes chiefly: thereupon they besought the General to
return to
England before they all perished. And to
them of the Golden Hind they made signs of distress, pointing to their mouths,
and to their clothes thin and ragged: then immediately they also of the Golden
Hind grew to be of the same opinion and desire to return home. 68.

The former reasons having also moved the General to have
compassion of his poor men, in whom he saw no want of good will, but of means
fit to perform the action they came for, he resolved upon retire: and calling
the captain and master of the
Hind, he yielded them many reasons, enforcing
this unexpected return, withal protesting himself greatly satisfied with that
he had seen and knew already, reiterating these words:
Be content, we have seen
enough, and take no care of expense past: I will set you forth royally the next
spring, if God send us safe home. Therefore I pray you let us no longer strive
here, where we fight against the elements
. Omitting circumstance, how
unwillingly the captain and master of the Hind condescended to this motion, his
own company can testify; yet comforted with the General’s promise of a speedy
return at spring, and induced by other apparent reasons, proving an
impossibility to accomplish the action at that time, it was concluded on all
hands to retire.69.

So upon Saturday in the afternoon, the 31 of August, we changed
our course, and returned back for
England. At which very instant, even in
winding about, there passed along between us and towards the land which we now
forsook a very lion to our seeming, in shape, hair, and colour, not swimming
after the manner of a beast by moving of his feet, but rather sliding upon the
water with his whole body excepting the legs, in sight, neither yet diving
under, and again rising above the water, as the manner is of whales, dolphins,
tunnies, porpoises, and all other fish: but confidently showing himself above
water without hiding: notwithstanding, we presented ourselves in open view and
gesture to amaze him, as all creatures will be commonly at a sudden gaze and
sight of men. Thus he passed along turning his head to and fro, yawing and
gaping wide, with ugly demonstration of long teeth, and glaring eyes; and to
bid us a farewell, coming right against the Hind, he sent forth a horrible
voice, roaring or bellowing as doth a lion, which spectacle we all beheld so
far as we were able to discern the same, as men prone to wonder at every
strange thing, as this doubtless was, to see a lion in the ocean sea, or fish
in shape of a lion. What opinion others had thereof, and chiefly the General
himself, I forbear to deliver: but he took it for bonum omen, rejoicing that he
was in war against such an enemy, if it were the devil. The wind was large for
England at our return, but very high,
and the sea rough, insomuch as the frigate, wherein the General went, was
almost swallowed up.70.

Monday in the afternoon we passed in sight of Cape
Race, having made as much way in little
more than two days and nights back again, as before we had done in eight days
from Cape
Race unto the place where our ship
perished. Which hindrance thitherward, and speed back again, is to be imputed
unto the swift current, as well as to the winds, which we had more large in our
return. This Monday the General came aboard the Hind, to have the surgeon of
the Hind to dress his foot, which he hurt by treading upon a nail: at which
time we comforted each other with hope of hard success to be all past, and of
the good to come. So agreeing to carry out lights always by night, that we
might keep together, he departed into his frigate, being by no means to be
entreated to tarry in the Hind, which had been more for his security.
Immediately after followed a sharp storm, which we over passed for that time,
praised be God. 71.

The weather fair, the General came aboard the Hind again, to make
merry together with the captain, master, and company, which was the last
meeting, and continued there from morning until night. During which time there
passed sundry discourses touching affairs past and to come, lamenting greatly
the loss of his great ship, more of the men, but most of all his books and
notes, and what else I know not, for which he was out of measure grieved, the
same doubtless being some matter of more importance than his books, which I
could not draw from him: yet by circumstance I gathered the same to be the ore
which Daniel the Saxon had brought unto him in the
Newfoundland. Whatsoever it was, the
remembrance touched him so deep as, not able to contain himself, he beat his
boy in great rage, even at the same time, so long after the miscarrying of the
great ship, because upon a fair day, when we were becalmed upon the coast of
Newfoundland near unto Cape
Race, he sent his boy aboard the Admiral
to fetch certain things: amongst which, this being chief, was yet forgotten and
left behind. After which time he could never conveniently send again aboard the
great ship, much less he doubted her ruin so near at hand.72.

Herein my opinion was better confirmed diversely, and by sundry
conjectures, which maketh me have the greater hope of this rich mine. For
whereas the General had never before good conceit of these north parts of the
world, now his mind was wholly fixed upon the
Newfoundland. And as before he refused
not to grant assignments liberally to them that required the same into these
north parts, now he became contrarily affected, refusing to make any so large
grants, especially of
St. John‘s, which certain English
merchants made suit for, offering to employ their money and travail upon the
same yet neither by their own suit, nor of others of his own company, whom he
seemed willing to pleasure, it could be obtained. Also laying down his
determination in the spring following for disposing of his voyage then to be
re-attempted: he assigned the captain and master of the Golden Hind unto the
south discovery, and reserved unto himself the north, affirming that this
voyage had won his heart from the south, and that he was now become a northern
man altogether.73.

Last, being demanded what means he had, at his arrival in
England, to compass the charges of so
great preparation as he intended to make the next spring, having determined
upon two fleets, one for the south, another for the north;
Leave that to me, he
replied, I will ask a penny of no man. I will bring good tiding unto her
Majesty, who will be so gracious to lend me 10,000 pounds, willing us therefore
to be of good cheer; for he did thank God, he said, with all his heart for that
he had seen, the same being enough for us all, and that we needed not to seek
any further
. And these last words he would often repeat, with demonstration of
great fervency of mind, being himself very confident and settled in belief of
inestimable good by this voyage; which the greater number of his followers
nevertheless mistrusted altogether, not being made partakers of those secrets,
which the General kept unto himself. Yet all of them that are living may be
witnesses of his words and protestations, which sparingly I have delivered.

Leaving the issue of this good hope unto God, who knoweth the
truth only, and can at His good pleasure bring the same to light, I will hasten
to the end of this tragedy, which must be knit up in the person of our General.
And as it was God’s ordinance upon him, even so the vehement persuasion and
entreaty of his friends could nothing avail to divert him of a wilful
resolution of going through in his frigate; which was overcharged upon the
decks with fights, nettings, and small artillery, too cumbersome for so small a
boat that was to pass through the ocean sea at that season of the year, when by
course we might expect much storm of foul weather. Whereof, indeed, we had

But when he was entreated by the captain, master, and other his
well- willers of the Hind not to venture in the frigate,
this was his answer:
will not forsake my little company going homeward, with whom I have passed so
many storms and perils.
And in very truth he was urged to be so over hard by
hard reports given of him that he was afraid of the sea; albeit this was rather
rashness than advised resolution, to prefer the wind of a vain report to the
weight of his own life. Seeing he would not bend to reason, he had provision
out of the Hind, such as was wanting aboard his frigate. And so we committed him
to God’s protection, and set him aboard his pinnace, we being more than 300
leagues onward of our way home.76.

By that time we had brought the Islands of
Azores south of us; yet
we then keeping much to the north, until we had got into the height and
elevation of
England, we met with very foul weather
and terrible seas, breaking short and high, pyramid-wise. The reason whereof
seemed to proceed either of hilly grounds high and low within the sea, as we
see hills and vales upon the land, upon which the seas do mount and fall, or
else the cause proceedeth of diversity of winds, shifting often in sundry
points, all which having power to move the great ocean, which again is not
presently settled, so many seas do encounter together, as there had been
diversity of winds. Howsoever it cometh to pass, men which all their lifetime
had occupied the sea never saw more outrageous seas, we had also upon our
mainyard an apparition of a little fire by night, which seamen do call
Castor and
Pollux. But we had only one, which they take an evil sign of more tempest;
the same is usual in storms.77.

Monday, the 9 of September, in the afternoon, the frigate was near
cast away, oppressed by waves, yet at that time recovered; and giving forth
signs of joy, the General, sitting abaft with a book in his hand, cried out to
us in the Hind, so oft as we did approach within hearing,

We are as near to
heaven by sea as by land!
Reiterating the same speech, well beseeming a
soldier, resolute in Jesus
Christ, as I can testify he was.78.

The same Monday night, about twelve of the clock, or not long
after, the frigate being ahead of us in the Golden Hind, suddenly her lights
were out, whereof as it were in a moment we lost the sight, and withal our
watch cried the General was cast away, which was too true. For in that moment
the frigate was devoured and swallowed up of the sea. Yet still we looked out
all that night, and ever after until we arrived upon the coast of
England; omitting no small sail at sea,
unto which we gave not the tokens between us agreed upon to have perfect
knowledge of each other, if we should at any time be separated. 79.

In great torment of weather and peril of drowning it pleased God
to send safe home the Golden Hind, which arrived in
Falmouth the 22 of
September, being Sunday, not without as great danger escaped in a flaw coming
from the south-east, with such thick mist that we could not discern land to put
in right with the haven. From Falmouth we went to
Dartmouth, and lay there at
anchor before the Range, while the captain went aland to enquire if there had
been any news of the frigate, which, sailing well, might happily have been
before us; also to certify Sir
John Gilbert, brother unto the General, of our
hard success, whom the captain desired, while his men were yet aboard him, and
were witnesses of all occurrences in that voyage, it might please him to take
the examination of every person particularly, in discharge of his and their
faithful endeavour. Sir
John Gilbert refused so to do, holding himself
satisfied with report made by the captain, and not altogether despairing of his
brother’s safety, offered friendship and courtesy to the captain and his
company, requiring to have his bark brought into the harbour; in furtherance
whereof a boat was sent to help to tow her in. 80.

Nevertheless, when the captain returned aboard his ship, he found
his men bent to depart every man to his home; and then the wind serving to
proceed higher upon the coast, they demanded money to carry them home, some to
London, others to
Harwich, and elsewhere, if the barque should be carried into

Dartmouth and they discharged so far from home, or else to take benefit of the
wind, then serving to draw nearer home, which should be a less charge unto the
captain, and great ease unto the men, having else far to go. Reason accompanied
with necessity persuaded the captain, who sent his lawful excuse and cause of
this sudden departure unto Sir
John Gilbert, by the boat of Dartmouth, and from
thence the Golden Hind departed and took harbour at
Weymouth. All the men tired
with the tediousness of so unprofitable a voyage to their seeming, in which
their long expense of time, much toil and labour, hard diet, and continual
hazard of life was unrecompensed; their captain nevertheless by his great
charges impaired greatly thereby, yet comforted in the goodness of God, and His
undoubted providence following him in all that voyage, as it doth always those
at other times whosoever have confidence in Him alone. Yet have we more near
feeling and perseverance of His powerful hand and protection when God doth
bring us together with others into one same peril, in which He leaveth them and
delivereth us, making us thereby the beholders, but not partakers, of their
ruin. Even so, amongst very many difficulties, discontentments, mutinies,
conspiracies, sicknesses, mortality, spoilings, and wracks by sea, which were
afflictions more than in so small a fleet or so short a time may be supposed,
albeit true in every particularity, as partly by the former relation may be
collected, and some I suppressed with silence for their sakes living, it
pleased God to support this company, of which only one man died of a malady
inveterate, and long infested, the rest kept together in reasonable contentment
and concord, beginning, continuing, and ending the voyage, which none else did
accomplish, either not pleased with the action, or impatient of wants, or
prevented by death.81.

Thus have I delivered the contents of the enterprise and last
action of Sir
Humfrey Gilbert, Knight, faithfully, for
so much as I thought meet to be published; wherein may always appear, though he
be extinguished, some sparks of his virtues, be remaining firm and resolute in
a purpose by all pretence honest and godly, as was this, to discover, possess,
and to reduce unto the service of God and
Christian piety those remote and heathen
countries of
America not actually possessed by
Christians, and most rightly
appertaining unto the crown of
England, unto the which as his zeal
deserveth high commendation, even so he may justly be taxed of temerity, and
presumption rather, in two respects. First, when yet there was only
probability, not a certain and determinate place of habitation selected,
neither any demonstration if commodity there in esse, to induce his followers;
nevertheless, he both was too prodigal of his own patrimony and too careless of
other men’s expenses to employ both his and their substance upon a ground
imagined good. The which falling, very like his associates were promised, and
made it their best reckoning, to be salved some other way, which pleased not
God to prosper in his first and great preparation. Secondly, when by his former
preparation he was enfeebled of ability and credit to perform his designments,
as it were impatient to abide in expectation better opportunity, and means
which God might raise, he thrust himself again into the action, for which he
was not fit, presuming the cause pretended on God’s behalf would carry him to
the desired end. Into which having thus made re-entry, he could not yield again
to withdraw, though he saw no encouragement to proceed; lest his credit, foiled
in his first attempt, in a second should utterly be disgraced. Between
extremities he made a right adventure, putting all to God and good fortune;
and, which was worst, refused not to entertain every person and means
whatsoever, to furnish out this expedition, the success whereof hath been
declared. 82.

But such is the infinite bounty of God, who from every evil
deriveth good. For besides that fruit may grow in time of our travelling into
those north-west lands, the crosses, turmoils, and afflictions, both in the
preparation and execution of this voyage, did correct the intemperate humours
which before we noted to be in this gentleman, and made unsavoury and less
delightful his other manifold virtues. Then as he was refined, and made nearer
drawing unto the image of God so it pleased the Divine will to resume him unto
Himself, whither both his and every other high and noble mind have always
aspired. 83.

Full Colophon Information

Genre: Prose
Subjects: Discovery and exploration of America
Period: 1550-1600
Location: British America
Format: Account/Relation

This document was first published in 1583.

The text of the document was initially prepared from and has subsequently been proofed against Voyages and travels : ancient and modern, with introductions, notes and illustrations (New York : P. F. Collier and son, 1910) The Harvard classics, ed. by C. W. Ellot, vol. XXXIII. For the present edition, all preliminaries and notes have been omitted except those for which the author is responsible. All editorial notes have been omitted except those that indicate significant textual variations. Line and paragraph numbers contained in the source text have been retained. In cases where the source text displays no numbers, numbers are automatically generated. In the header, personal names have been regularized according to the Library of Congress authority files as "Last Name, First Name" for the REG attribute and "First Name Last Name" for the element value. Names have not been regularized in the body of the text.