Sir Humphrey Gilbert's Voyage to Newfoundland
Edward Hayes

Etext prepared by Dagny,
and John Bickers,


This text is one of the items included in Voyages and Travels:
Ancient and Modern and was prepared from a 1910 edition,
published by P F Collier & Son Company, New York.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert's Voyage to Newfoundland

by Edward Hayes


Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the founder of the first English colony in North
America, was born about 1539, the son of a Devonshire gentleman, whose
widow afterward married the father of Sir Walter Raleigh. He was
educated at Eton and Oxford, served under Sir Philip Sidney's father
in Ireland, and fought for the Netherlands against Spain. After his
return he composed a pamphlet urging the search for a northwest
passage to Cathay, which led to Frobisher's license for his
explorations to that end.

In 1578 Gilbert obtained from Queen Elizabeth the charter he had long
sought, to plant a colony in North America. His first attempt failed,
and cost him his whole fortune; but, after further service in Ireland,
he sailed again in 1583 for Newfoundland. In the August of that year
he took possession of the harbor of St. John and founded his colony,
but on the return voyage he went down with his ship in a storm south
of the Azores.

The following narrative is an account of this last voyage of
Gilbert's, told by Edward Hayes, commander of "The Golden Hind," the
only one to reach England of the three ships which set out from
Newfoundland with Gilbert.

The settlement at St. John was viewed by its promoter as merely the
beginning of a scheme for ousting Spain from America in favor of
England. The plan did not progress as he hoped; but after long delays,
and under far other impulses than Gilbert ever thought of, much of his
dream was realized.


A 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.

[*] Hayes was captain and owner of the /Golden Hind/, Gilbert's Rear-

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

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 continuance.

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

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 Spain, John and Sebastian Cabot made discovery also of the rest
from Florida northwards to the behoof of England.

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 gathered.

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.

Then, seeing the English nation only hath right unto these countries
of 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 begun in the south countries of
America, no less hope may be gathered that it will also spread into
the north.

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

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.

And with this admonition denounced upon zeal towards God's cause, also
towards those in whom appeareth disposition honourable unto this
action of planting 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 Humfrey Gilbert, begun, continued, and ended

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 gentleman, Miles Morgan.

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.

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.

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 covet 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 the
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

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.

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 rendezvous. 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.

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.

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.

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 another.

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 pole.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.


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 of 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.

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 captain 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.

In this manner we set forward, departing (as hath been said) out of
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.

About this time of the year the winds are commonly west towards the
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.

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.

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.

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.

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 poor /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 convenient.

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.

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 frequented.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 Bretagne, Anjou, 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 Germany, 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 American 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.

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.

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.

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

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

The captain of the /Delight/ or Admiral, returned into England, in
whose stead was appointed captain 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.

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.

Now having made ready our shipping, that is to say, the /Delight/, the
/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.

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.

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.

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 Cape 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 time.

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.

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
the 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 the 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 the 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.

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.

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 enough.

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: /I 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.


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