Voyages in Search of the North-West Passage
Part 3 out of 3
fair falcons, and Master Bruton took from one of them his prey,
which we judged by the wings and legs to be a snipe, for the head
was eaten off.
The 24th, in the afternoon, the wind coming somewhat fair, we
departed from this road, purposing by God's grace to return for
The 26th we departed from sight of the north land of this entrance,
directing our course homewards, until the 10th of the next month.
The 10th September we fell with the Land of Desolation, thinking to
go on shore, but we could get never a good harbour. That night we
put to sea again thinking to search it the next day; but this night
arose a very great storm, and separated our ships so that we lost
the sight of the Moonshine.
The 13th about noon (having tried all the night before with a goose
wing) we set sail, and within two hours after we had sight of the
Moonshine again. This day we departed from this land.
The 27th of this month we fell with sight of England. This night we
had a marvellous storm, and lost the Moonshine.
The 30th September we came into Dartmouth, where we found the
Moonshine, being come in not two hours before.
THE SECOND VOYAGE ATTEMPTED BY MASTER JOHN DAVIS,
With others, for the discovery of the North-West Passage, in Anno
The 7th day of May I departed from the port of Dartmouth for the
discovery of the North-West Passage with a ship of a 120 tons, named
the Mermaid; a barque of 60 tons, named the Sunshine; a barque of 35
tons named the Moonlight; and a pinnace of 10 tons named the North
And the 15th June I discovered land, in the latitude of 60 degrees,
and in longitude from the meridian of London westward 47 degrees,
mightily pestered with ice and snow, so that there was no hope of
landing; the ice lay in some places 10 leagues, in some 20, and in
some 50 leagues off the shore, so that we were constrained to bear
into 57 degrees to double the same, and to recover a free sea, which
through God's favourable mercy we at length obtained.
The nine-and-twentieth day of June, after many tempestuous storms,
we again discovered land in longitude from the meridian of London 58
degrees 30 minutes, and in latitude 64 being east from us, into
which course, since it pleased God by contrary winds to force us, I
thought it very necessary to bear in with it, and there to set up
our pinnace, provided in the Mermaid to be our scout for this
discovery, and so much the rather, because the year before I had
been in the same place and found it very convenient for such a
purpose, well stored with float wood, and possessed by a people of
tractable conversation; so that the nine-and-twentieth of this month
we arrived within the isles which lay before this land, lying north-
north-west and south-south-east we know not how far. This land is
very high and mountainous, having before it on the west side a
mighty company of isles full of fair sounds and harbours. This land
was very little troubled with snow, and the sea altogether void of
The ships being within the sounds we sent our boats to search for
shallow water, where we might anchor, which in this place is very
hard to find; and as the boat went sounding and searching, the
people of the country having espied them, came in their canoes
towards them with many shouts and cries; but after they had espied
in the boat some of our company that were the year before here with
us, they presently rowed to the boat and took hold in the oar, and
hung about the boat with such comfortable joy as would require a
long discourse to be uttered; they came with the boats to our ships,
making signs that they knew all those that the year before had been
with them. After I perceived their joy and small fear of us, myself
with the merchants and others of the company went ashore, bearing
with me twenty knives. I had no sooner landed, but they leapt out
of their canoes and came running to me and the rest, and embraced us
with many signs of hearty welcome. At this present there were
eighteen of them, and to each of them I gave a knife; they offered
skins to me for reward, but I made signs that it was not sold, but
given them of courtesy, and so dismissed them for that time, with
signs that they should return again after certain hours.
The next day, with all possible speed, the pinnace was landed upon
an isle there to be finished to serve our purpose for the discovery,
which isle was so convenient for that purpose, as that we were very
well able to defend ourselves against many enemies. During the time
that the pinnace was there setting up, the people came continually
unto us, sometimes a hundred canoes at a time, sometimes forty,
fifty, more and less as occasion served. They brought with them
seal skins, stags' skins, white hares, seal fish, salmon peel, small
cod, dry caplin, with other fish and birds such as the country did
Myself, still desirous to have a farther search of this place, sent
one of the ship boats to one part of the land, and myself went to
another part to search for the habitation of this people, with
straight commandment that there should be no injury offered to any
of the people, neither any one shot.
The boats that went from me found the tents of the people made with
seal skins set up upon timber, wherein they found great store of
dried caplin, being a little fish no bigger than a pilchard. They
found bags of train oil, many little images cut in wood, seal skins
in tan tubs with many other such trifles, whereof they diminished
They also found ten miles within the snowy mountains a plain
champion country, with earth and grass, such as our moory and waste
grounds of England are. They went up into a river (which in the
narrowest place is two leagues broad) about ten leagues, finding it
still to continue they knew not how far; but I with my company took
another river, which although at the first it offered a large inlet,
yet it proved but a deep bay, the end whereof in four hours I
attained, and there leaving the boat well manned, went with the rest
of my company three or four miles into the country, but found
nothing, nor saw anything, save only gripes, ravens, and small
birds, as lark and linnet.
The 3rd of July I manned my boat, and went with fifty canoes
attending upon me up into another sound, where the people by signs
willed me to go, hoping to find their habitation; at length they
made signs that I should go into a warm place to sleep, at which
place I went on shore, and ascended the top of high hill to see into
the country, but perceiving my labour vain, I returned again to my
boat, the people still following me and my company very diligent to
attend us, and to help us up the rocks, and likewise down; at length
I was desirous to have our men leap with them, which was done, but
our men did overleap them; from leaping they went to wrestling; we
found them strong and nimble, and to have skill in wrestling, for
they cast some of our men that were good wrestlers. The 4th of July
we launched our pinnace, and had forty of the people to help us,
which they did very willingly. At this time our men again wrestled
with them, and found them as before, strong and skilful. This 4th
of July, the master of the Mermaid went to certain islands to store
himself with wood, where he found a grave with divers buried in it,
only covered with seal skins, having a cross laid over them. The
people are of good stature, well in body proportioned, with small,
slender hands and feet, with broad visages, and small eyes, wide
mouths, the most part unbearded, great lips, and close toothed.
Their custom is, as often as they go from us, still at their return,
to make a new truce, in this sort: holding his hand up to the sun,
with a loud voice crieth "Ylyaoute," and striketh his breast, with
like signs being promised safety, he giveth credit. These people
are much given to bleed, and therefore stop their noses with deer
hair or the hair of an elan. They are idolaters, and have images
great store, which they wear about them, and in their boats, which
we suppose they worship. They are witches, and have many kinds of
enchantments, which they often used, but to small purpose, thanks be
Being among them at shore, the 4th of July, one of them, making a
long oration, began to kindle a fire, in this manner: he took a
piece of a board, wherein was a hole half through; unto that hole he
puts the end of a round stick, like unto a bed staff, wetting the
end thereof in train, and in fashion of a turner, with a piece of
leather, by his violent motion doth very speedily produce fire;
which done, with turfs he made a fire, into which, with many words
and strange gestures, he put divers things which we suppose to be a
sacrifice. Myself and divers of my company standing by, they were
desirous to have me go into the smoke; I willed them likewise to
stand in the smoke, in which they by no means would do. I then took
one of them, and thrust him into the smoke, and willed one of my
company to tread out the fire, and to spurn it into the sea, which
was done to show them that we did contemn their sorcery. These
people are very simple in all their conversation, but marvellous
thievish, especially for iron, which they have in great account.
They began through our lenity to show their vile nature; they began
to cut our cables; they cut away the Moonlight's boat from her
stern; they cut our cloth where it lay to air, though we did
carefully look unto it, they stole our oars, a calliver, a boat's
spear, a sword, with divers other things, whereat the company and
masters being grieved, for our better security desired me to
dissolve this new friendship, and to leave the company of these
thievish miscreants; whereupon there was a calliver shot among them,
and immediately upon the same a falcon, which strange noise did sore
amaze them, so that with speed they departed; notwithstanding, their
simplicity is such, that within ten hours after they came again to
us to entreat peace; which, being promised, we again fell into a
great league. They brought us seal skins and salmon peel, but,
seeing iron, they could in nowise forbear stealing; which, when I
perceived it, did but minister unto me an occasion of laughter to
see their simplicity, and willed that in no case they should be any
more hardly used, but that our own company should be the more
vigilant to keep their things, supposing it to be very hard in so
short time to make them know their evils. They eat all their meat
raw, they live most upon fish, they drink salt water, and eat grass
and ice with delight; they are never out of the water, but live in
the nature of fishes, but only when dead sleep taketh them, and then
under a warm rock, laying his boat upon the land, he lieth down to
sleep. Their weapons are all darts, but some of them have bow and
arrows and slings. They make nets to take their fish of the fin of
a whale; they do all their things very artfully, and it should seem
that these simple, thievish islanders have war with those of the
main, for many of them are sore wounded, which wounds they received
upon the main land, as by signs they gave us to understand. We had
among them copper ore, black copper, and red copper; they pronounce
their language very hollow, and deep in the throat; these words
following we learned from them:-
Kesinyoh, eat some. Mysacoah, wash it.
Madlycoyte, music. Lethicksaneg, a seal-skin.
Aginyoh, go, fetch. Canyglow, kiss me.
Yliaoute, I mean no harm. Ugnera, my son.
Ponameg, a boat. Acu, shot.
Conah, leap. Aba, fallen down.
Maatuke, fish. Icune, come hither.
Sambah, below. Awennye, yonder.
Maconmeg, will you have Nugo, no.
Cocah, go to him. Tucktodo, a fog.
Paaotyck, an oar. Lechiksah, a skin.
Asanock, a dart. Maccoah, a dart.
Sawygmeg, a knife. Sugnacoon, a coat.
Uderah, a nose. Gounah, come down.
Aoh, iron. Sasobneg, a bracelet.
Blete, an eye. Ugnake, a tongue.
Unvicke, give it. Ataneg, a meal.
Tuckloak, a stag or elan. Macuah, a beard.
Panygmah, a needle. Pignagogah, a thread.
Aob, the sea. Quoysah, give it to me.
The 7th of July, being very desirous to search the habitation of
this country, I went myself with our new pinnace into the body of
the land, thinking it to be a firm continent, and passing up a very
large river a great flaw of wind took me, whereby we were
constrained to seek succour for that night, which being had, I
landed with the most part of my company, and went to the top of a
high mountain, hoping from thence to see into the country; but the
mountains were so many and so mighty as that my purpose prevailed
not, whereupon I again returned to my pinnace, and willing divers of
my company to gather mussels for my supper, whereof in this place
there was great store, myself having espied a very strange sight,
especially to me, that never before saw the like, which was a mighty
whirlwind, taking up the water in very great quantity, furiously
mounting it into the air, which whirlwind was not for a puff or
blast, but continual for the space of three hours, with very little
intermission, which since it was in the course that I should pass,
we were constrained that night to take up our lodging under the
The next morning, the storm being broken up, we went forward in our
attempt, and sailed into a mighty great river, directly into the
body of the land, and in brief found it to be no firm land, but
huge, waste, and desert isles with mighty sounds and inlets passing
between sea and sea. Whereupon we returned towards our ships, and
landing to stop a flood, we found the burial of these miscreants; we
found of their fish in bags, plaices, and caplin dried, of which we
took only one bag and departed. The 9th of this month we came to
our ships, where we found the people desirous in their fashion of
friendship and barter: our mariners complained heavily against the
people, and said that my lenity and friendly using of them gave them
stomach to mischief, for "they have stolen an anchor from us. They
have cut our cable very dangerously, they have cut our boats from
our stern, and now, since your departure, with slings they spare us
not with stones of half a pound weight. And will you still endure
these injuries? It is a shame to bear them." I desired them to be
content, and said I doubted not but all should be well. The 10th of
this month I went to the shore, the people following me in their
canoes; I tolled them on shore, and used them with much courtesy,
and then departed aboard, they following me and my company. I gave
some of them bracelets, and caused seven or eight of them to come
aboard, which they did willingly; and some of them went into the top
of our ship, and thus courteously using them I let them depart. The
sun was no sooner down but they began to practise their devilish
nature, and with slings threw stones very fiercely into the
Moonlight and struck one of her men, the boatswain, that he
overthrew withal: whereat being moved, I changed my courtesy and
grew to hatred; myself in my own boat well manned with shot, and the
barques boat likewise pursued them, and gave them divers shot, but
to small purpose, by reason of their swift rowing; so small content
The 11th of this month there came five of them to make a new truce;
the master of the Admiral came to me to show me of their coming, and
desired to have them taken and kept as prisoners until we had his
anchor again; but when he saw that the chief ring-leader and master
of mischief was one of the five, then was vehement to execute his
purpose, so it was determined to take him; he came crying "Yliaout,"
and striking his breast offered a pair of gloves to sell; the master
offered him a knife for them: so two of them came to us; the one
was not touched, but the other was soon captive among us; then we
pointed to him and his fellows for our anchor, which being had we
made signs that he should he set at liberty within one hour that he
came aboard; the wind came fair, whereupon we weighed and set sail,
and so brought the fellow with us. One of his fellows still
following our ship close aboard, talked with him, and made a kind of
lamentation, we still using him well, with "Yliaout," which was the
common course of courtesy. At length this fellow aboard us spoke
four or five words unto the other and clapped his two hands upon his
face, whereupon the other doing the like, departed, as we supposed,
with heavy cheer. We judged the covering of his face with his
hands, and bowing of his body down, signified his death. At length
he became a pleasant companion among us. I gave him a new suit of
frieze after the English fashion, because I saw he could not endure
the cold, of which he was very joyful; he trimmed up his darts, and
all his fishing tools, and would make oakum, and set his hand to a
rope's end upon occasion. He lived with the dry caplin that I took
when I was searching in the pinnace, and did eat dry new land fish.
All this while, God be thanked, our people were in very good health,
only one young man excepted, who died at sea the 14th of this month,
and the 15th, according to the order of the sea, with praise given
to God by service, was cast overboard.
The 17th of this month, being in the latitude of 63 degrees 8
minutes, we fell upon a most mighty and strange quantity of ice, in
one entire mass, so big as that we knew not the limits thereof, and
being withal so very high, in form of a land, with bays and capes,
and like high cliff land as that we supposed it to be land, and
therefore sent our pinnace off to discover it; but at her return we
were certainly informed that it was only ice, which bred great
admiration to us all, considering the huge quantity thereof
incredible to be reported in truth as it was, and therefore I omit
to speak any further thereof. This only, I think that the like
before was never seen, and in this place we had very stickle and
We coasted this mighty mass of ice until the 30th of July, finding
it a mighty bar to our purpose: the air in this time was so
contagious, and the sea so pestered with ice, as that all hope was
banished of proceeding; for the 24th of July all our shrouds, ropes,
and sails were so frozen, and encompassed with ice, only by a gross
fog, as seemed to be more than strange, since the last year I found
this sea free and navigable, without impediments.
Our men through this extremity began to grow sick and feeble, and
withal hopeless of good success; whereupon, very orderly, with good
discretion they entreated me to regard the state of this business,
and withal advised me that in conscience I ought to regard the
safety of mine own life with the preservation of theirs, and that I
should not, through my overboldness, leave their widows and
fatherless children to give me bitter curses. This matter in
conscience did greatly move me to regard their estates, yet
considering the excellency of the business, if it might be obtained,
the great hope of certainty by the last year's discovery, and that
there was yet a third way not put in practice, I thought it would
grow to my disgrace if this action by my negligence should grow into
discredit: whereupon seeking help from God, the fountain of all
mercies, it pleased His Divine Majesty to move my heart to prosecute
that which I hope shall be to His glory, and to the contentation of
every Christian mind. Whereupon, falling into consideration that
the Mermaid, albeit a very strong and sufficient ship, yet by reason
of her burden not so convenient and nimble as a smaller barque,
especially in such desperate hazards; further, having in account how
great charge to the adventurers, being at 100 livres the month, and
that in doubtful service, all the premises considered, with divers
other things, I determined to furnish the Moonlight with
revictualing and sufficient men, and to proceed in this action as
God should direct me; whereupon I altered our course from the ice,
and bore east-south-east to the cover of the next shore, where this
thing might be performed; so with favourable wind it pleased God
that the 1st of August we discovered the land in latitude 66 degrees
33 minutes, and in longitude from the meridian of London 70 degrees,
void of trouble, without snow or ice.
The 2nd of August we harboured ourselves in a very excellent good
road, where with all speed we graved the Moonlight, and revictualled
her; we searched this country with our pinnace while the barque was
trimming, which William Eston did: he found all this land to be
only islands, with a sea on the east, a sea on the west, and a sea
on the north. In this place we found it very hot, and we were very
much troubled with a fly which is called mosquito, for they did
sting grievously. The people of this place at our first coming in
caught a seal, and, with bladders fast tied to him sent him in to us
with the flood, so as he came right with our ships, which we took as
a friendly present from them.
The 5th of August I went with the two masters and others to the top
of a hill, and by the way William Eston espied three canoes lying
under a rock, and went unto them: there were in them skins, darts,
with divers superstitious toys, whereof we diminished no thing, but
left upon every boat a silk point, a bullet of lead, and a pin. The
next day, being the 6th of August, the people came unto us without
fear, and did barter with us for skins, as the other people did:
they differ not from the other, neither in their canoes nor apparel,
yet is their pronunciation more plain than the others, and nothing
hollow in the throat. Our miscreant aboard of us kept himself
close, and made show that he would fain have another companion.
Thus being provided, I departed from this land the 12th of August at
six of the clock in the morning, where I left the Mermaid at anchor;
the 14th sailing west about 50 leagues we discovered land, being in
latitude 66 degrees 19 minutes: this land is 70 leagues from the
other from whence we came. This 14th day, from nine o'clock at
night till three o'clock in the morning, we anchored by an island of
ice 12 leagues off the shore, being moored to the ice.
The 15th day, at three o'clock in the morning, we departed from this
land to the south, and the 18th of August we discovered land north-
west from us in the morning, being a very fair promontory, in
latitude 65 degrees, having no land on the south. Here we had great
hope of a through passage.
This day, at three o'clock in the afternoon, we again discovered
land south-west and by south from us, where at night we were
becalmed. The 19th of this month at noon, by observation, we were
in 64 degrees 20 minutes. From the 18th day at noon until the 19th
at noon, by precise ordinary care, we had sailed fifteen leagues
south and by west, yet by art and more exact observation we found
our course to be south-west, so that we plainly perceived a great
current striking to the west.
This land is nothing in sight but isles, which increaseth our hope.
This 19th of August, at six o'clock in the afternoon, it began to
snow, and so continued all night, with foul weather and much wind,
so that we were constrained to lie at hull all night, five leagues
off the shore: in the morning, being the 20th of August, the fog
and storm breaking up, we bore in with the land, and at nine o'clock
in the morning we anchored in a very fair and safe road and locket
for all weathers. At ten o'clock I went on shore to the top of a
very high hill, where I perceived that this land was islands; at
four o'clock in the afternoon we weighed anchor, having a fair
north-north-east wind, with very fair weather; at six o'clock we
were clear without the land, and so shaped our course to the south,
to discover the coast whereby the passage may be through God's mercy
We coasted this land till the 28th day of August, finding it still
to continue towards the south, from the latitude of 67 to 57
degrees; we found marvellous great store of birds, gulls and mews,
incredible to be reported, whereupon being calm weather we lay one
glass upon the lee to prove for fish, in which space we caught one
hundred of cod, although we were but badly provided for fishing, not
being our purpose. This 28th, having great distrust of the weather,
we arrived in a very fair harbour in the latitude of 56 degrees, and
sailed ten leagues in the same, being two leagues broad, with very
fair woods on both sides; in this place we continued until the 1st
of September, in which time we had two very great storms. I landed,
and went six miles by guess into the country, and found that the
woods were fir, pine-apple, alder, yew, withy, and birch; here we
saw a black bear; this place yieldeth great store of birds, as
pheasant, partridge, Barbary hens, or the like, wild geese, ducks,
blackbirds, jays, thrushes, with other kinds of small birds. Of the
partridge and pheasant we killed great store with bow and arrows in
this place; at the harbour-mouth we found great store of cod.
The 1st of September at ten o'clock we set sail, and coasted the
shore with very fair weather. The third day being calm, at noon we
struck sail, and let fall a cadge anchor to prove whether we could
take any fish, being in latitude 54 degrees 30 minutes, in which
place we found great abundance of cod, so that the hook was no
sooner overboard but presently a fish was taken. It was the largest
and best refet fish that ever I saw, and divers fishermen that were
with me said that they never saw a more suaule, or better skull of
fish in their lives, yet had they seen great abundance.
The 4th of September, at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, we anchored in
a very good road among great store of isles, the country low land,
pleasant, and very full of fair woods. To the north of this place
eight leagues we had a perfect hope of the passage, finding a mighty
great sea passing between two lands west. The south land to our
judgment being nothing but isles, we greatly desired to go into this
sea, but the wind was directly against us. We anchored in four
fathom fine sand.
In this place is fowl and fish mighty store.
The 6th of September, having a fair north-north-west wind, having
trimmed our barque, we purposed to depart, and sent five of our
sailors, young men, ashore to an island to fetch certain fish which
we purposed to weather, and therefore left it all night covered upon
the isle; the brutish people of this country lay secretly lurking in
the wood, and upon the sudden assaulted our men, which when we
perceived, we presently let slip our cables upon the halse, and
under our foresail bore into the shore, and with all expedition
discharged a double musket upon them twice, at the noise whereof
they fled; notwithstanding, to our very great grief, two of our men
were slain with their arrows, and two grievously wounded, of whom,
at this present, we stand in very great doubt; only one escaped by
swimming, with an arrow shot through his arm. These wicked
miscreants never offered parley or speech, but presently executed
their cursed fury. This present evening it pleased God farther to
increase our sorrows with a mighty tempestuous storm, the wind being
north-north-east, which lasted unto the 10th of this month very
extreme. We unrigged our ship, and purposed to cut-down our masts;
the cable of our shut anchor broke, so that we only expected to be
driven on shore amongst these cannibals for their prey. Yet in this
deep distress the mighty mercy of God, when hope was past, gave us
succour, and sent us a fair lee, so as we recovered our anchor
again, and new-moored our ship; where we saw that God manifestly
delivered us, for the strains of one of our cables were broken; we
only rode by an old junk. Thus being freshly moored, a new storm
arose, the wind being west-north-west, very forcible, which lasted
unto the 10th day at night.
The 11th day, with a fair west-north-west wind, we departed with
trust in God's mercy, shaping our course for England, and arrived in
the West Country in the beginning of October.
Master Davis being arrived, wrote his letter to Master William
Sanderson of London, concerning his voyage, as followeth.
Sir,--The Sunshine came into Dartmouth the 4th of this month: she
hath been at Iceland, and from thence to Greenland, and so to
Estotiland, from thence to Desolation, and to our merchants, where
she made trade with the people, staying in the country twenty days.
They have brought home 500 seal-skins, and 140 half skins and pieces
of skins. I stand in great doubt of the pinnace; God be merciful
unto the poor men and preserve them if it be His blessed will.
I have now full experience of much of the north-west part of the
world, and have brought the passage to that certainty, as that I am
sure it must be in one of four places, or else not at all. And
further, I can assure you upon the peril of my life, that this
voyage may be performed without further charge, nay, with certain
profit to the adventurers, if I may have but your favour in the
action. Surely it shall cost me all my hope of welfare and my
portion of Sandridge, but I will, by God's mercy, see an end of
these businesses. I hope I shall find favour with you to see your
card. I pray God it be so true as the card shall be which I will
bring to you, and I hope in God that your skill in navigation shall
be gainful unto you, although at the first it hath not proved so.
And thus with my most humble commendations I commit you to God,
desiring no longer to live than I shall be yours most faithfully to
command. From this 14th of October, 1586.
Yours with my heart, body and life to command,
The relation of the course which the "Sunshine," a barque of fifty
tons, and the "North Star," a small pinnace, being two vessels of
the fleet of Master John Davis, held after he had sent them from him
to discover the passage between Greenland and Iceland. Written by
Henry Morgan, servant to Master William Sanderson of London.
The 7th day of May, 1586, we departed out of Dartmouth Haven four
sails, to wit, the Mermaid, the Sunshine, the Moonshine, and the
North Star. In the Sunshine were sixteen men, whose names were
these: Richard Pope, master; Mark Carter, master's mate; Henry
Morgan, purser; George Draward, John Mandie, Hugh Broken, Philip
Jane, Hugh Hempson, Richard Borden, John Filpe, Andrew Madocke,
William Wolcome, Robert Wagge, carpenter, John Bruskome, William
Ashe, Simon Ellis.
Our course was west-north-west the 7th and 8th days; and the ninth
day in the morning we were on head of the Tarrose of Scilly. Thus
coasting along the south part of Ireland, the 11th day we were on
the head of the Dorses, and our course was south-south-west until
six of the clock the 12th day. The 13th day our course was north-
west. We remained in the company of the Mermaid and the Moonshine
until we came to the latitude of 60 degrees, and there it seemed
best to our general, Master Davis, to divide his fleet, himself
sailing to the north-west, and to direct the Sunshine, wherein I
was, and the pinnace called the North Star, to seek a passage
northward between Greenland and Iceland to the latitude of 80
degrees, if land did not let us. So the 7th day of June we departed
from them, and the 9th of the same we came to a firm land of ice,
which we coasted along the 9th, the 10th, and the 11th days of June;
and the 11th day at six of the clock at night we saw land, which was
very high, which afterwards we knew to be Iceland, and the 12th day
we harboured there, and found many people; the land lieth east and
by north in 66 degrees.
Their commodities were green fish and Iceland lings and stock fish,
and a fish which is called catfish, of all which they had great
store. They had also kine, sheep, and horses, and hay for their
cattle and for their horses. We saw also of their dogs. Their
dwelling-houses were made on both sides with stones, and wood laid
across over them, which was covered over with turfs of earth, and
they are flat on the tops, and many of these stood hard by the
shore. Their boats were made with wood, and iron all along the keel
like our English boats; and they had nails for to nail them withal,
and fish-hooks, and other things for to catch fish as we have here
in England. They had also brazen kettles, and girdles and purses
made of leather, and knops on them of copper, and hatchets, and
other small tools as necessary as we have. They dry their fish in
the sun; and when they are dry they pack them up in the top of their
houses. If we would go thither to fishing more than we do, we
should make it a very good voyage, for we got a hundred green fishes
in one morning. We found here two Englishmen with a ship, which
came out of England about Easter Day of this present year, 1586; and
one of them came aboard of us and brought us two lambs. The
Englishman's name was Master John Royden, of Ipswich, merchant; he
was bound for London with his ship. And this is the sum of that
which I observed in Iceland. We departed from Iceland the 16th day
of June, in the morning, and our course was north-west; and saw on
the coast two small barques going to a harbour; we went not to them,
but saw them afar off. Thus we continued our course unto the end of
The 3rd day of July we were in between two firm lands of ice, and
passed in between them all that day until it was night, and then the
master turned back again, and so away we went towards Greenland.
And the 7th day of July we did see Greenland, and it was very high,
and it looked very blue; but we could not come to harbour in the
land because we were hindered by a firm land, as it were, of ice,
which was along the shore's side; but we were within three leagues
of the land, coasting the same divers days together. The 17th day
of July we saw the place which our captain, Master John Davis, the
year before had named the Land of Desolation, where we could not go
on shore for ice. The 18th day we were likewise troubled with ice,
and went in amongst it at three of the clock in the morning. After
we had cleared ourselves thereof we ranged all along the coast of
Desolation until the end of the aforesaid month.
The 3rd day of August we came in sight of Gilbert's Sound in the
latitude of 64 degrees 15 minutes, which was the place where we were
appointed to meet our general and the rest of our fleet. Here we
came to a harbour at six of the clock at night.
The 4th day, in the morning, the master went on shore with ten of
his men, and they brought us four of the people rowing in their
boats, aboard of the ship. And in the afternoon I went on shore
with six of our men, and there came to us seven of them when we were
on land. We found on shore three dead people, and two of them had
their staves lying by them, and their old skins wrapped about them,
and the other had nothing lying by, wherefore we thought it was a
woman. We also saw their houses, near the seaside, which were made
with pieces of wood on both sides, and crossed over with poles and
then covered over with earth. We found foxes running upon the
hills. As for the place, it is broken land all the way that we
went, and full of broken islands. The 21st of August the master
sent the boat on shore for wood, with six of his men, and there were
one-and-thirty of the people of the country, which went on shore to
them, and they went about to kill them as we thought, for they shot
their darts towards them, and we that were aboard the ship did see
them go on shore to our men, whereupon the master sent the pinnace
after them; and when they saw the pinnace coming towards them they
turned back, and the master of the pinnace did shoot off a culliver
to them the same time, but hurt none of them, for his meaning was
only to put them in fear. Divers times they did wave us on shore to
play with them at the football, and some of our company went on
shore to play with them, and our men did cast them down as soon as
they did come to strike the ball. And thus much of that which we
did see and do in that harbour where we arrived first.
The 23rd day we departed from the merchants where we had been first,
and our course from thence was south and by west, and the wind was
north-east, and we ran that day and night about five or six leagues
until we came to another harbour.
The 24th, about eleven of the clock in the forenoon, we entered into
the aforesaid new harbour, and as we came in we did see dogs running
upon the islands. When we were come in, there came to us four of
the people which were with us before in the other harbour; and where
we rowed we had sandy ground. We saw no wood growing, but found
small pieces of wood upon the islands, and some small pieces of
sweet wood among the same. We found great harts' horns, but could
see none of the stags where we went, but we found their footings.
As for the bones which we received of the savages, I cannot tell of
what beasts they be. The stones that we found in the country were
black, and some white; as I think, they be of no value; nevertheless
I have brought examples of them to you.
The 30th of August we departed from this harbour towards England,
and the wind took us contrary, so that we were fain to go to another
harbour the same day at eleven of the clock. And there came to us
thirty-nine of the people and brought us thirteen seal-skins, and
after we received these skins of them the master sent the carpenter
to change one of our boats which we had bought of them before; and
they would have taken the boat from him perforce, and when they saw
they could not take it from us they shot with their darts at us, and
struck one of our men with one of their darts, and John Filpe shot
one of them in the breast with an arrow. And they came to us again,
and four of our men went into the ship boat, and they shot with
their darts at our men; but our men took one of their people in his
boat, into the ship boat, and he hurt one of them with his knife,
but we killed three of them in their boats, two of them were hurt
with arrows in the breast, and he that was aboard our boat was shot
with an arrow, and hurt with a sword, and beaten with staves, whom
our men cast overboard; but the people caught him and carried him on
shore upon their boats, and the other two also, and so departed from
us. And three of them went on shore hard by us where they had their
dogs, and those three came away from their dogs, and presently one
of their dogs came swimming towards us hard aboard the ship,
whereupon our master caused the gunner to shoot off one of the great
pieces--towards the people, and so the dog turned back to land, and
within an hour after there came of the people hard aboard the ship,
but they would not come to us as they did before.
The 31st of August we departed from Gilbert's Sound for England, and
when we came out of the harbour there came after us seventeen of the
people looking which way we went.
The 2nd of September we lost sight of the land at twelve of the
clock at noon.
The 3rd day at night we lost sight of the North Star, our pinnace,
in a very great storm, and lay a-hull tarrying for them the 4th day,
but could hear no more of them. Thus we shaped our course the 5th
day south-south-east, and sailing unto the 27th of the said month,
we came in sight of Cape Clear in Ireland.
The 30th day we entered into our own Channel.
The 2nd of October we had sight of the Isle of Wight.
The 3rd we coasted all along the shore, and the 4th and 5th.
The 6th of the said month of October we came into the River of
Thames as high as Ratcliffe in safety, God be thanked!
THE THIRD VOYAGE NORTH-WESTWARD, MADE BY JOHN DAVIS,
Gentleman, as chief captain and pilot general for the discovery of a
passage to the Isles of the Molucca, or the coast of China, in the
year 1587. Written by John Janes, servant to the aforesaid Master
May.--The 19th of this present month, about midnight, we weighed our
anchors, set sail and departed from Dartmouth with two barques and a
clincher, the one named the Elizabeth, of Dartmouth, the other the
Sunshine, of London, and the clincher called the Ellin, of London;
thus, in God's name, we set forwards with wind at north-east, a good
fresh gale. About three hours after our departure, the night being
somewhat thick with darkness, we had lost the pinnace. The captain,
imagining that the men had run away with her, willed the master of
the Sunshine to stand to seawards and see if we could descry them,
we bearing in with the shore for Plymouth. At length we descried
her, bore with her, and demanded what the cause was; they answered
that the tiller of their helm was burst, so shaping our course west-
south-west, we went forward, hoping that a hard beginning would make
a good ending; yet some of us were doubtful of it, failing in
reckoning that she was a clincher; nevertheless, we put our trust in
The 21st we met with the Red Lion of London, which came from the
coast of Spain, which was afraid that we had been men-of-war; but we
hailed them, and after a little conference we desired the master to
carry our letters for London, directed to my uncle Sanderson, who
promised us safe delivery. And after we had heaved them a lead and
a line, whereunto we had made fast our letters, before they could
get them into the ship they fell into the sea, and so all our labour
and theirs also was lost; notwithstanding, they promised to certify
our departure at London, and so we departed, and the same day we had
sight of Scilly. The 22nd the wind was at north-east by east, with
fair weather, and so the 23rd and 24th the like. The 25th we laid
our ships on the lee for the Sunshine, who was a-rummaging for a
leak; they had 500 strokes at the pump in a watch, with the wind at
The 26th and 27th we had fair weather, but this 27th the pinnace's
foremast was blown overboard. The 28th the Elizabeth towed the
pinnace, which was so much bragged of by the owner's report before
we came out of England, but at sea she was like a cart drawn with
oxen. Sometimes we towed her, because she could not sail for scant
The 31st day our captain asked if the pinnace were staunch. Peerson
answered that she was as sound and staunch as a cup. This made us
something glad when we saw she would brook the sea, and was not
June.--The first six days we had fair weather; after that for five
days we had fog and rain, the wind being south.
The 12th we had clear weather. The mariners in the Sunshine and the
master could not agree; the mariners would go on their voyage a-
fishing, because the year began to waste; the master would not
depart till he had the company of the Elizabeth, whereupon the
master told our captain that he was afraid his men would shape some
contrary course while he was asleep, and so he should lose us. At
length, after much talk and many threatenings, they were content to
bring us to the land which we looked for daily.
The 13th we had fog and rain.
The 14th day we discovered land at five of the clock in the morning,
being very great and high mountains, the tops of the hills being
covered with snow. Here the wind was variable, sometimes north-
east, east-north-east, and east by north; but we imagined ourselves
to be 16 or 17 leagues off from the shore.
The 15th we had reasonably clear weather.
The 16th we came to an anchor about four or five of the clock in the
afternoon. The people came presently to us, after the old manner,
with crying "Il y a oute," and showed us seal-skins.
The 17th we began to set up the pinnace that Peerson framed at
Dartmouth, with the boards which he brought from London.
The 18th, Peerson and the carpenters of the ships began to set on
The 19th, as we went about an island, were found black pumice
stones, and salt kerned on the rocks, very white and glistering.
This day, also, the master of the Sunshine took one of the people, a
very strong, lusty young fellow.
The 20th, about two of the clock in the morning, the savages came to
the island where our pinnace was built ready to be launched, and
tore the two upper strakes and carried them away, only for the love
of the iron in the boards. While they were about this practice, we
manned the Elizabeth's boat to go ashore to them. Our men, being
either afraid or amazed, were so long before they came to shore,
that our captain willed them to stay, and made the gunner give fire
to a saker, and laid the piece level with the boat, which the
savages had turned on the one side because we could not hurt them
with our arrows, and made the boat their bulwark against the arrows
which we shot at them. Our gunner, having made all things ready,
gave fire to the piece, and fearing to hurt any of the people, and
regarding the owner's profit, thought belike he would save a saker's
shot, doubting we should have occasion to fight with men-of-war, and
so shot off the saker without a bullet, we looking still when the
savages that were hurt should run away without legs; at length we
could perceive never a man hurt, but all having their legs, could
carry away their bodies. We had no sooner shot off the piece but
the master of the Sunshine manned his boat, and came rowing towards
the island, the very sight of whom made each of them take that he
had gotten, and fly away as fast as they could to another island
about two miles off, where they took the nails out of the timber,
and left the wood on the isle. When we came on shore, and saw how
they had spoiled the boat, after much debating of the matter, we
agreed that the Elizabeth should have her to fish withal; whereupon
she was presently carried aboard and stowed. Now after this
trouble, being resolved to depart with the first wind, there fell
out another matter worse than all the rest, and that was in this
manner: John Churchyard, one whom our captain had appointed as
pilot in the pinnace, came to our captain and Master Bruton, and
told them that the good ship which we must all hazard our lives in
had three hundred strokes at one time as she rode in the harbour.
This disquieted us all greatly, and many doubted to go in her. At
length our captain, by whom we were all to be governed, determined
rather to end his life with credit than to return with infamy and
disgrace; and so, being all agreed, we purposed to live and die
together, and committed ourselves to the ship.
Now the 21st, having brought all our things aboard, about eleven or
twelve of the clock at night we set sail and departed from those
isles, which lie in 64 degrees of latitude, our ships being now all
at sea, and we shaping our course to go coasting the land to the
northwards, upon the eastern shore, which we called the shore of our
merchants, because there we met with people which traffic with us;
but here we were not without doubt of our ship.
The 22nd and 23rd we had close fog and rain.
The 24th, being in 67 degrees and 40 minutes, we had great store of
whales, and a kind of sea-birds which the mariners call cortinous.
This day, about six of the clock at night, we espied two of the
country people at sea, thinking at the first they had been two great
seals, until we saw their oars, glistering with the sun. They came
rowing towards us as fast as they could, and when they came within
hearing they held up their oars and cried "Il y a oute," making many
signs, and at last they came to us, giving us birds for bracelets,
and of them I had a dart with a bone in it, or a piece of unicorn's
horn, as I did judge. This dart he made store of, but when he saw a
knife he let it go, being more desirous of the knife than of his
dart. These people continued rowing after our ship the space of
The 25th, in the morning, at seven of the clock, we descried thirty
savages rowing after us, being by judgment ten leagues off from the
shore. They brought us salmon peels, birds, and caplin, and we gave
them pins, needles, bracelets, nails, knives, bells, looking-
glasses, and other small trifles; and for a knife, a nail, or a
bracelet, which they call ponigmah, they would sell their boat,
coats, or anything they had, although they were far from the shore.
We had but few skins of them, about twenty; but they made signs to
us that if we would go to the shore, we should have more store of
chicsanege. They stayed with us till eleven of the clock, at which
time we went to prayer, and they departed from us.
The 26th was cloudy, the wind being at south.
The 27th fair, with the same wind.
The 28th and 29th were foggy, with clouds.
The 30th day we took the height, and found ourselves in 72 degrees
and 12 minutes of latitude, both at noon and at night, the sun being
five degrees above the horizon. At midnight the compass set to the
variation of 28 degrees to the westward. Now having coasted the
land which we called London Coast from the 21st of this present till
the 30th, the sea open all to the westwards and northwards, the land
on starboard side east from us, the wind shifted to the north,
whereupon we left that shore, naming the same Hope Sanderson, and
shaped our course west, and ran forty leagues and better without the
sight of any land.
July.--The 2nd we fell in with a mighty bank of ice west from us,
lying north and south, which bank we would gladly have doubled out
to the northwards, but the wind would not suffer us, so that we were
fain to coast it to the southwards, hoping to double it out that we
might have run so far west till we had found land, or else to have
been thoroughly resolved of our pretended purpose.
The 3rd we fell in with the ice again, and putting off from it we
sought to the northwards, but the wind crossed us.
The 4th was foggy, so was the 5th; also with much wind at north.
The 6th being very clear, we put our barque with oars through a gap
in the ice, seeing the sea free on the west side, as we thought,
which falling out otherwise, caused us to return after we had stayed
there between the ice.
The 7th and the 8th, about midnight, by God's help we recovered the
open sea, the weather being fair and calm; and so was the 9th.
The 10th we coasted the ice.
The 11th was foggy, but calm.
The 12th we coasted again the ice, having the wind at west-north-
west. The 13th, bearing off from the ice, we determined to go with
the shore, and come to an anchor, and to stay five or six days for
the dissolving of the ice, hoping that the sea from continually
beating it, and the sun with the extreme force of heat, which it had
always shining upon it, would make a quick despatch, that we might
have a further search upon the western shore. Now when we were come
to the eastern coast, the water something deep, and some of our
company fearful withal, we durst not come to an anchor, but bore off
into sea again. The poor people, seeing us go away again, came
rowing after us into the sea, the waves being somewhat lofty. We
trucked with them for a few skins and darts, and gave them beads,
nails, needles, and cards, they pointing to the shore as though they
would show us great friendship; but we, little regarding their
courtesy, gave them the gentle farewell, and so departed.
The 14th we had the wind at south. The 15th there was some fault
either in the barque or the set of some current, for we were driven
six points out of our course. The 16th we fell in with the bank of
ice, west from us. The 17th and 18th were foggy. The 19th, at one
o'clock afternoon, we had sight of the land which we called Mount
Raleigh, and at twelve of the clock at night we were athwart the
straits which we discovered the first year. The 20th we traversed
in the mouth of the strait, the wind being at west with fair and
clear weather. The 21st and 22nd we coasted the northern coast of
the straits. The 23rd, having sailed 60 leagues north-west into the
straits at two o'clock afternoon, we anchored among many isles in
the bottom of the gulf, naming the same the Earl of Cumberland's
Isles, where, riding at anchor, a whale passed by our ship and went
west in among the isles. Here the compass set at 30 degrees
westward variation. The 24th we departed, shaping our course south-
east to recover the sea. The 25th we were becalmed in the bottom of
the gulf, the air being extremely hot. Master Bruton and some of
the mariners went on shore to course dogs, where they found many
graves, and trains spilt on the ground, the dogs being so fat that
they were scant able to run.
The 26th we had a pretty storm, the wind being at south-east. The
27th and 28th were fair. The 29th we were clear out of the straits,
having coasted the south shore, and this day at noon we were in 64
degrees of latitude. The 30th in the afternoon we coasted a bank of
ice which lay on the shore, and passed by a great bank or inlet
which lay between 63 and 62 degrees of latitude, which we called
Lumley's Inlet. We had oftentimes, as we sailed along the coast,
great roots, the water as it were whirling and overfalling, as if it
were the fall of some great water through a bridge. The 31st as we
sailed by a headland, which we named Warwick's Forehand, we fell
into one of those overfalls with a fresh gale of wind, and bearing
all our sails, we looking upon an island of ice between us and the
shore, had thought that our barque did make no way, which caused us
to take marks on the shore. At length we perceived ourselves to go
very fast, and the island of ice which we saw before was carried
very forcibly with the set of the current faster than our ship went.
This day and night we passed by a very great gulf, the water
whirling and roaring as it were the meeting of tides.
August.--The 1st, having coasted a bank of ice which was driven out
at the mouth of this gulf, we fell in with the southernmost cape of
the gulf, which we named Chidlie's Cape, which lay in 6 degrees and
10 minutes of latitude. The 2nd and 3rd were calm and foggy, so
were the 4th, 5th, and 6th. The 7th was fair and calm, so was the
8th, with a little gale in the morning. The 9th was fair, and we
had a little gale at night. The 10th we had a frisking gale at
west-north-west; the 11th fair. The 12th we saw five deer on the
top of an island, called by us Darcie's Island. And we hoisted out
our boat, and went ashore to them, thinking to have killed some of
them. But when we came on shore and had coursed them twice about
the island they took the sea, and swain towards islands distant from
that three leagues. When we perceived that they had taken the sea,
we gave them over, because our boat was so small that it could not
carry us and row after them, they swam so fast; but one of them was
as big as a good pretty cow, and very fat; their feet as big as ox-
feet. Here upon this island I killed with my piece a grey hare.
The 13th in the morning we saw three or four white bears, but durst
not go on shore unto them for lack of a good boat. This day we
struck a rock seeking for a harbour, and received a leak, and this
day we were in 54 degrees of latitude. The 14th we stopped our leak
in a storm not very outrageous at noon.
The 15th, being almost in 51 degrees of latitude, and not finding
our ships, nor (according to their promise) being any mark, token,
or beacon, which we willed to set up, and they protested to do so
upon every headland, sea, island, or cape, within 20 leagues every
way off from their fishing place, which our captain appointed to be
between 54 and 55 degrees--this 15th, I say, we shaped our course
homeward for England, having in our ship but little wood, and half a
hogshead of fresh water. Our men were very willing to depart, and
no man more forward than Peerson, for he feared to be put out of his
office of stewardship; he was so insatiate that the allowance of two
men was scant sufficient to fill his greedy appetite; but because
every man was so willing to depart, and considering our want, I
doubted the matter very much, fearing that the seething of our men's
victuals in salt water would breed diseases, and being but few (yet
too many for the room, if any should be sick), and likely that all
the rest might be infected therewith, we consented to return for our
own country, and so we had the 16th there with the wind at south-
The 17th we met a ship at sea, and as far as we could judge it was a
Biscayan; we thought she went a-fishing for whales, for in 52
degrees or thereabout we saw very many.
The 18th was fair with a good gale at west.
The 19th fair also, but with much wind at west and by south.
And thus, after much variable weather and change of winds, we
arrived the 15th of September in Dartmouth, Anno 1587, giving thanks
to God for our safe arrival.
A letter of the said Master John Davis, written to Master Sanderson
of London, concerning his fore-written voyage.
Good Master Sanderson,--With God's great mercy I have made my safe
return in health with all my company, and have sailed 60 leagues
farther than my determination at my departure. I have been in 73
degrees, finding the sea all open, and 40 leagues between laud and
land; the passage is most certain, the execution most easy, as at my
coming you shall fully know. Yesterday, the 15th of September, I
landed all weary, therefore I pray you pardon my shortness.
Sandridge, this 16th of September, Anno 1587.
Yours equal as mine own, which by trial you shall best know,
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