History of the Colony of Avalon

Special Documents:

Historical documents

Table of Contents

Ferryland names

Documents relating to Ferryland: 1597 to 1726

1620; David Pieterzoon de Vries
abstract from H.T. Colenbrander (ed.), Korte Historiael ende Journaels aenteyckeninge, van verscheyden voyagiens in de vier delen des wereldts-ronde, als Europa, Africa, Asia ende Amerika, gedaen door David Pieterz. De Vries, Werken uitgegevn door De Linschoten-Vereeniging, vol. 3 (Gravenhage, Netherlands: 1911) 20-26.

Originally published as David Pieterzoon de Vries, Korte Historiael ende Journaels aenteyckeninge, van verscheyden voyagiens in de dier delen des wereldts-ronde, als Europa, Africa, Asia ende Amerika, gedaen door David Pieterz. De Vries (Hoorn, Netherlands: 1655).

[There is an error-laden translation by Henry C. Murphy, in David Peterzoon de Vries, "Short Historical and Journal Notes of Several Voyages Made in the Four Parts of the World, namely, Europe, Africa, Asia, and America", in Collections of the New York Historical Society (2nd series), vol. 3, part 1 (New York: 1857).]

Abstract in Dicky Glerum-Laurentius, "A History of Dutch Activity in the Newfoundland Fish Trade from about 1590 till about 1680." M.A. thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1960, pp. 22-24.

Subjects: Dutch, cod, fisheries, ships, Virginia, commerce, tobacco.


...On June 10, 1620, de Vries sailed from Texel and west to England. In Weymouth he bought three guns for his ship. Besides, he took several letters from people there to bring to the fishermen at Newfoundland. He hoped that the would sell their fish to him, when he gave them their letters.

On the eighteenth of June he bought another three guns in Plymouth and after that he left England for Newfoundland. The next month, on the twenty- fifth he arrived on the Banks. He saw a lot of ships fishing there, but none of these wanted to meet de Vries, since he did not look like a fisherman. After a skirmish with one of the ships, which stayed too long to get away in time, de Vries asked at what height [latitude] the ship was fishing. The fisherman answered he did not know, because he had not taken his height for eight days, as it was always foggy on the Banks. They exchanged ten or twelve codfish for two or three pieces of bacon and meat, which de Vries thought to be a fair deal.


On the twenty-ninth of July, the Dutch ship fell on shore at Terra Nova [Newfoundland]. In the darkness of the night the ship nearly perished on the rocks, but they were able to turn just in time to sail away from the dangerous spot. The next morning, returning to the place, the Dutch discovered a lot of Biscayan [Basque] boats there. The Biscayans were shy of de Vries as they thought him to be a privateer. At last, de Vries was able to speak to one of them. This man told him that he was in Placentia Bay where the Biscayans usually fished.

From there de Vries went to Cape Race in order to come to the English fishing places. On a beautiful quiet day they rounded the Cape and on the fourth of August they came into a bay, which de Vries called "Cappelinge" [Caplin Bay], where there was a place called "Ferrelandt" [Ferryland]. There he found seven or eight fishermen [i.e., ships fishing]. He wanted to by their fish, but everyone of them had already sold his catch. De Vries does not tell us who bought this fish, or to which markets the buyers carried their cargos. De Vries decided to reconnoiter the coast. Therefore he took one of the fishing boats to row along the coast. After visiting many harbours and bays, he returned to his ship, where he arrived back on the tenth. Back in the harbour he found near his ship a vessel of a hundred or a hundred and twenty tons burden, which came from the Virginies [sic, for Virginia], laden with tobacco in order to exchange it for codfish....

Top of Page

Partnered Project Heritage Web Site Project
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Heritage Web Site Project Site Map Search Home Search Home Site Map Visiting the Colony of Avalon Artifacts Archaeology Walking Tour