History of the Colony of Avalon

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Documents relating to Ferryland: 1597 to 1726

29 July, 1612; John Guy
Letter to John Slany [from Cupids]

Samuel Purchas, His Pilgrimes, vol. 4 (London: 1625, 1907) 417-418. Reprinted in David B. Quinn ,ed., Newfoundland from Fishery to Colony: Northwest Passage Searches, New American World series, vol. 4 (New York: Arno Press and H. Bye, ©1979) 150-151.

Subjects: piracy, ships.


To Master John Slany, Treasurer, and others of the Council, and Company of the Newfoundland Plantation, the twenty nine of July, 1612.

Right Worshipful, by my last of the seventeenth of June, I wrote you of the estate then, of all matters here, by the Holland [Dutch] ship, which (I hope) is long since safely arrived, together with Master Colston, who hath (I doubt not) made by word of mouth, full relation of all matters. Because the proceedings of one Captain Peter Easton, a pirate, and his company since, are most fit to be known, before I touch our plantation business, you shall understand what they have been unto this time. Until the seventeenth of this present, the said Captain Easton remained in Harbor Grace, there trimming and repairing his shipping and commanding not only the carpenters of each ship to do his business; but hath taken victuals, munition, and necessaries from every ship, together with about one hundred men out of the Bay [Conception Bay], to man his ships, being now in number six. He purposed to have before he goeth, as is said, out of the Land [Newfoundland] five hundred men. While he remained there, two several companies, to the number of about one hundred and eighty persons to each company, being discontented, stole away from him in a shallop, and took two ships that were fishing in Trinity Bay, one belonging to Barnstaple and one other to Plymouth - and so intend to begin to be new heads of that damnable course of life. As I sailed from hence towards Renews, in a small bark, I fell into one of their hands: and one of my company was hurt with a musket. There was one of their crew that wintered with me here the first year, by whose means, and because I was in the bark, they made show that they were sorry that they had meddled with us. And so they departed from us, without coming aboard. That which they sought after was men, to increase their number. Before the said Captain Easton's departure, he sent three ships into Trinity Bay, to store himself with victuals, munition, and men, who are said to be worse used than the ships here; he taketh much ordnance from them. The said Easton was lately at Saint John's, and is now, as far as I can learn, at Ferryland, where he taketh his pleasure; and thereabouts the rest are to meet him. It is given out, that we [he?] will send one Captain Harvy in a ship to Ireland, to understand news about his pardon, which if he can obtain in that large and ample manner as he expecteth, then he giveth out, that he will come in. Otherwise, it is thought that he will get protection of the Duke of Florence and that, in his course here hence, he will hover about westwards of the Islands of the Azores, to see whether he can light upon any of the plate fleet, or any good rich booty, before his coming in. Albeit he hath so prevailed here to the strengthening of himself and encouraging of others to attempt the like hereafter, yet, were there that course taken, as I hope shall be, it is a most easy matter to repress them.

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