The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume IV


Page 1699
sponsored by
Sandi & Ken Tulk,
Manuels, NL

p. 1698                                         C

No. 707.



        A report of the voyage and successe thereof, attempted in the yeere of our Lord 1583 by sir Humfrey 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 countreys extended Northward from the cape of Florida, lying under very temperate Climes, esteemed fertile and rich in Minerals, yet not in the actuall possession of any Christian prince, written by M. Edward Haie gentleman, and principall actour in the same voyage, who alone continued unto the end, and by Gods speciall assistance returned home with his retinue safe and entire.
*                   *                    *                   *
        Thus after we had met with the Swallow, we held on our course Southward, until we came against the harbor called S. John, about 5 leagues from the former Cape of S. Francis: where before the entrance into the harbor, we found also the Frigate or Squirrill lying at anker. Whom the English marchants (that were & alwaies be Admirals by turnes interchangeably over the fleetes of fishermen within the same harbor) would not permit to enter into the harbor. Glad of so happy meeting both of the Swallow and Frigate in one day (being Saturday the 3. of August) we made readie our fights, and prepared to enter the harbor, any resistance to the contrarie notwithstanding, there being within of all nations, to the number of 36 sailes. But first the Generall dispatched a boat to give them knowledge of his coming for no ill intent, having Commission from Her Majestie for his voiage he had in hand. And immediately we followed with a slack gale, and in the very entrance (which is but narrow, not above 2 buts length) the Admirall fell upon a rocke on the larboard side by great oversight, in that the weather was faire, the rocke much above water fast by the shore, where neither went any sea gate. But we found such readinesse in the English Marchants to helpe us in that danger, that without delay there were brought a number of boates, which towed off the ship and cleared her of danger.
        Having taken place convenient in the road, we let fall ankers, the Captaines and Masters repairing aboord our Admirall; whither also came immediatly the Masters and owners of the fishing fleete of Englishmen, to

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understand the Generals intent and cause of our arrivall there. They were all satisfied when the General had shewed his commission, and purpose to take possession of those lands to the behalfe of the crowne of England, and the advancement of Christian religion in those Paganish regions, requiring but their lawfull ayde for repayring of his fleete, and supply of some necessaries, so farre as conveniently might be afforded him, both out of that and other harbors adjoyning. In lieu whereof, he made offer to gratifie them, with any favour and priviledge, which upon their better advise they should demand, the like being not to bee obteyned hereafter for greater price. So craving expedition of. his demand, minding to proceede further South without long detention in those partes, he dismissed them, after promise given of their best indevour to satisfie speedily his so reasonable request. The marchants with their Masters departed, they caused foorthwith to be discharged all the great Ordinance of their fleete in token of our welcome.
        It was further determined that every ship of our fleete should deliver unto the marchants and Masters of that harbour a note of all their wants: which done, the ships as well English as strangers, were taxed at an easie rate to make supply. And besides, Commissioners were appointed, part of our owne companie and part of theirs, to go into other harbours adjoyning (for our English marchants command all there) to laevie our provision: whereunto the Portugals (above other nations) did most willingly and liberally contribute. Insomuch as we were presented (above our allowance) with wines, marmalads, most fine ruske or bisket, sweet oyles and sundry delicacies. Also we wanted not of fresh salmons, trouts, lobsters and other fresh fish brought daily unto us. Moreover as the maner is in their fishing, every weeke to choose their Admirall a new, or rather they succeede in orderly course, and have weekely their Admirals feast solemnized: even so the General, Captaines and masters of our fleete were continually invited and feasted. To grow short, in our abundance at home, the intertainment had bene delightfull, 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 yeare, wilde 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 4 of August, the Generall and his company were brought on land by English marchants, who shewed unto us their accustomed walks unto a place they call the Garden. But nothing appeared more then Nature it selfe without art: who confusedly hath brought foorth roses abundantly, wilde, but odoriferous, and to sense very comfortable. Also the like plentie of raspis berries, which doe grow in every place.
        Munday following, the General had his tent set up, who being accompanied with his own followers, sommoned the marchants and masters, both English and strangers to be present at his taking possession of those Countries. Before whom openly was read & interpreted unto the strangers his Commisssion: by vertue whereof he tooke possession in the same harbour of S. John, and 200 leagues every way, invested the Queenes Majestie with the title and dignitie

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thereof, had delivered unto him (after the customs of England) a rod & turffe of the same soile, entring possession also for him, his heires and assignes for ever: And signified unto al men, that from that time forward, they should take the same land as a territorie appertaining to the Queene of England, and himselfe authorised under her Majestie to possesse and enjoy it. And to ordaine lawes for the government thereof, agreeable (so neere as conveniently might be) unto the lawes of England: under which all people comming thither hereafter, either to inhabite, or by way of traffique, should be subjected and governed. And especially at the same time for a beginning, he proposed & delivered three lawes to be in force immediately. That is to say: the first for Religion, which in publique exercise should be according to the Church of England. The 2. for maintenance of her Majesties right and possession of those territories, against which if anything were attempted prejudiciall, the partie or parties offending should be adjudged and executed as in case of high treason, according to the lawes of England. The 3. if any person should utter words sounding to the dishonour of her Majestie, he should loose his eares, and have his ship and goods confiscate.
        These contents published, obedience was promised by generall voyce 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 afterward were erected not farre from that place the Armes of England ingraven in lead, and infixed upon a pillar of wood. Yet further and actually to establish this possession taken in the right of her Majestie, and to the behoofe of Sir Humfrey Gilbert knight, his heires and assignes for ever; the Generall granted in fee farme divers parcels of land lying by the water side, both in this harbor of S. John, and elsewhere, which was to the owners a great commoditie, being thereby assured (by their proper inheritance of grounds convenient to dresse and to drie their fish, whereof many times before they did faile, being prevented by them that came first into the harbor. For which grounds they did covenant to pay a certaine rent and service unto sir Humfrey Gilbert, his heirs or assignes for ever, and yeerely to maintaine possession of the same, by themselves on their assignes.



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