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Documents relating to Ferryland: 1597 to 1726

26 August, 1621; Edward Winne
Letter to Sir George Calvert [later Lord Baltimore, from Ferryland]

Published in A LETETR [sic] WRITTEN BY CAP-taine EDWARD WINNE, to the Right Honorable, Sir George Calvert, Knight, his Majesties Principall secretary: from Ferryland in Newfoundland, the 26. of August, 1621 (London: 1621). Reprinted in Gillian T. Cell, ed., Newfoundland Discovered, English Attempts at Colonization, 1610-1630, Hakluyt Society 2nd series, no. 160 (London: Hakluyt Society, ©1982) 253-257. Revised by P.E. Pope.

Subjects: planters, harbour, forest, garden, livestock, house, women, ordnance, health, material culture.


To the Right Honourable Sir George Calvert, Knight, His Majesty's Principal Secretary.

May it please your Honour, upon the 26th day of June, between 12 and 1 in the morning we did set sail, and departed from Plymouth and upon the 4 day of August (God's Name be praised for it), we safely arrived at Ferryland. There happened nothing in our over-bound passage worthy your Honour's leisure of reading. Our passage was somewhat tedious, the which happened by means of much westerly winds, and not without some foul weather. The first land we made was that to the westward of Cape de Raze [Cape Race], and the wind at northeast, by reason whereof our arrival aforesaid was prolonged by the space of two days, in the interim of which time we travelled to and again to make good that which might maintain that outwardness toward our wished harbour. Having the happiness of a clear sky all about, and both coast and continent without any rain, fog or haziness, they being in these parts the common attendant of easterly winds. By this commodity I had the full view of the coast between (as we supposed) Cape Saint Mary's, Cape de Raze [Cape Race], and Cape Ballard, and as far as Renews, and as we hold alongst the same I saw (in my mean judgment) the pleasantest sea cant [sea coast] that ever mine eyes beheld, for that spacious tract. It is very champion [open] country without any hill appearing either within land or upon the coast, representing itself unto me like a pleasant meadow, and the sea-bank all along of an equal height, and that so indifferent that out of a floating boat one may easily throw a quoit upon the level shore. Of the fertility of the soil I can say nothing, only that it is very probable that much or most part thereof may prove very good with the help of man's industry, seeming to be void of woods and the endowments of harbours and roads for shipping, Trepassey excepted.

Renews is a place of great fishing and about a league to the northward of the same is the harbour of Fermeuse, thence to Aquafort another league, from thence to Ferryland about a mile, and to Cape Broyle another, including Caplin Bay between both, being ignorant as yet of that to the northward of the same. But from Renews to Cape Broyle, for woods and pleasant harbours they are most pleasant to behold, the sea cant [sea coast] hereof being uneven and hilly, yet not extreme, but of height indifferent, the inland more inclining towards a champion; and by general consent here, Ferryland is as pleasant and as profitable a harbour as any in the Land [Newfoundland]. It is endowed with about 100 acres of pasture land and as much more of that which is woody - all which lying to the seaboard of the beach, which severs it so from the main that it is almost an island. There is likewise about 200 acres more, lying close to the harbour, the which (with some labour) may be made good pasture land.

The sea coast to the northward of Renews is most capable and fittest for woodland, as now it is, but (most destroyed) from the bottom of the harbours, and so inwards, for arable and (most) pasture.

Both sea and land here swarm (as it were) with benefits and blessings of God for man's use and relief.

The land here is (without doubt) very fertile, for I have since my arrival seen wheat, barley and rye growing here full eared and kerned, the which had been accidentally shed out of salt mats among stones and grass. Therefore ground of better choice, well manured and fitly prepared, will doubtless bring forth plentiful increase, and wherefore there is no just doubt to be made - for in reason where there is a summer, there will be a harvest.

Besides, there are many other invitements [invitations], which (as it were) beckon unto your Honour's perseverance. First the commodity of the salt, which for vent and making here may fitly and necessarily be undertaken. Secondly, hemp and flax for cordage and thread for necessary uses, as also for nets and lines for fishing; tar, iron and timber in some measure, and places to be had for boards and building, and also for masts and yards for shipping. so likewise hops will grow here a profitable merchandise. Also here are two fishing seasons, the... former for dry fish, and the latter for corfish [wet fish] - wherewith (together with the train of the whole) many ships are employed to the market and otherwise.

My want of leisure causeth me to omit many things, which otherwise I might have enlarged, this my service of writing.

By the consent and advice of some of the masters of this harbour, I am become an humble suitor unto your Honour for the redress of such abuses, the which (except a speedy redress may be had) will overthrow the whole.

1. And first, that stones or ballast may not from henceforth be cast into the harbour, and the beaches preserved.

2. Secondly, that no man neither burn nor pull down stages, flakes, nor any part thereof.

3. Thirdly, that the rinding of trees may be prohibited, but only such as shall be felled for necessary uses and needful behooves.

[4.] Fourthly, that all such woods and timber-trees so felled, may be cut close to... the ground. 5. Lastly, that no man may be wronged in their boats and train-vats, or in anything else whatsoever. And therefore, if this by your Honour's favour and procurement may be had, a prosperous and flourishing time will follow, and all things here will go on well hereafter, the which God grant. And for the which, the said masters humbly pray that large penalties may therein be specified, and first to be proclaimed in England. Thus referring all unto your Honour's wisdom and full consideration. Our business, or rather your Honour's, now goeth forward apace. The [house] frame is in hand and almost ready for the rearing; the cellar is already digged; all things by God's grace and blessed assistance shall be performed with all care and diligence, whereof your Honour may be pleased to rest assured, as by the success of my carefulness it shall plainly appear.

The 5 persons and provision from aboard the BENJAMIN, are safely arrived here the 17th of August, but not without some danger, for I was enforced to send for them in two shallops of fishing boats from the Isles of Spear, 4 leagues from this place.

The place whereon I have made choice to plant and build upon is according to the Letter A in this superficial draught here enclosed, it being the fittest, the warmest, and most commodious of all about the harbour. And as soon as the house [Mansion House] and fortification is fitted and finished, I shall (God willing) prepare and fence in a proportion of seed ground and a garden, close by the house. It may please your Honour not to send any cattle the next year, because I cannot provide fodder for them so soon, before there be some quantity of corn [grain] growing, but it may please your honour to send some goats, a few tame conies [rabbits] for breed, as also pigs, geese, ducks and hens. I have some hens already. Some spades from London were necessary, if of the best making, also some good pick-axes, iron crows [crowbars], and a smith, and also such as can brew and bake.

Meal and malt would be sent rather than otherwise, being both better cheap and of less waste, yet referring all to your Honour's pleasure therein, humbly praying you would be pleased to proceed with all cheerfulness, nothing doubting of a good and profitable success, for here are great hopes and a large territory for to employ and receive many needy people in a blessed and a profitable doing, even who may live here both wealthily and happily.

And withall, it may likewise please your Honour, that after one year able to subsist of our selves by our own industry, with Master Jennings his help and furtherance, and that with his profit and content.

I doubt not but that within the compass of a small time to make your Honour a saver. If your Honour please, you may defer the sending of a salt pan one year more. Brigs and Owen hath bin touched with the scurvy, but are now well recovered, but all the rest of us are in perfect health, I thank God for it.

One Master Yawe, master of a ship of Barnstaple (whose owner is called Strange) he did spare me half his stage, the which did stand me in great sted to put my provision in at the first landing of them. Master Luxen, a master of another ship of Barnstaple, he showed me much courtesy, and bestowed on me a hen and 10 chickens. Master Richard Martin, master of the BLESSING of Dartmouth, he gave me a couple of young pullets, kind entertainment, and many good turns. Master Michael Waltham, master of a ship of Weymouth, he went in person to the Isle of Spear, in a boat of his own, to help to fetch our men and provision from aboard the BENJAMIN. He hath besides done me many good offices and hath sent me many presents of fresh fish; and his mate bestowed on me a good hen.

My happiness of prevailing hitherto hath been such that all the masters, as well as the common sort throughout this harbour, have used me kindly; and to say truly, I have not discerned so much as a sore aspect upon me amongst them all.

I have not been (and please your Honour) wanting in anything which by fair persuasions might produce a good liking of your Honour's proceedings, in so much that (I am persuaded) divers will stay with me another year. Therefore I humbly pray your Honour to entreat Master Jennings to send me 3 pieces of ordnance: a full saker, a minion and lesser piece for our defense, a drum, and a ship ancient [ensign].

And thus with my humble duty remembered, I most humbly cease to trouble your Honour any further for this time, resting,

Your Honour's most humble
and faithful servant
Edward Winne.
FERRYLAND, the 26th of August, 1621.

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