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Divers voyages made by Englishmen to the famous Citie of Mexico, and to all or most part of the other principall provinces, cities, townes and places throughout the great and large kingdom of New Spaine, even as farre as Nicaragua and Panama, & thence to Peru : together with a description of the Spaniards forme of government there: and sundry pleasant relations of the maners and customes of the natural inhabitants, and of the manifold rich commodities & strange rarities found in those partes of the continent: & other matters most worthy the observation.

The voyage of Robert Tomson Marchant, into Nova Hispania in the yeere 1555. with divers observations concerning the state of the Countrey: And certaine accidents touching himselfe.

ROBERT TOMSON borne in the towne of Andover in Hampshire began his travaile out of England in An. 1553. in the moneth of March: who departing out of the citie of Bristoll in a good ship called The barke yong, in companie of other Marchants of the sayde citie, within 8. dayes after arrived at Lisbone in Portugall, where the sayd Robert Tomson remained 15. dayes, at the end of which he shipped himselfe for Spaine in the sayd shippe, and within 4. dayes arrived in the bay of Cadiz in Andalusia , which is under the kingdom of Spaine, & from thence went up to the citie of Sivil by land, which is 20. leagues, and there hee repaired to one John Fields house an English Marchant, who had dwelt in the said city of Sivil 18. or 20. yeres maried with wife and children: In whose house the said Tomson remained by the space of one whole yeere or thereabout, for two causes: The one to learne the Castillian tongue, the other to see the orders of the countrey, and the customes of the people. At the end of which time having seene the fleetes of shippes come out of the Indies to that citie, with such great quantitie of gold & silver, pearles, precious stones, suger, hides, ginger, and divers other rich commodities, he did determine with himselfe to seeke meanes and opportunitie to passe over to see that rich countrey from whence such great quantitie of rich commodities came. And it fell out that within short time after, the sayd John Field (where the sayd Tomson was lodged) did determine to passe over into the West Indies, himselfe, with his wife, children, and familie, and at the request of the sayde Tomson, he purchased a licence of the King to passe into the Indies, for himselfe, his wife and children, and among them also for the sayde Tomson to passe with them: so that presently they made preparation of victuall and other necessarie provision for the voyage. But the shippes which were prepared to perfourme the voyage being all ready to depart, upon certaine considerations by the kings commandement were stayed and arrested till further should bee knowen of the Kings pleasure. Whereupon the said John Field, with Robert Tomson departed out of Sivil and came down to S. Lucar 15. leagues off, and seeing the stay made upon the ships of the said fleet, & being not assured when they would depart, determined to ship themselves for the Isles of the Canaries, which are 250. leagues from S. Lucar, and there to stay till the said fleet should come thither: for that is continually their port to make stay at 6. or 8. daies, to take in fresh water, bread, flesh, & other necessaries.

So that in the moneth of February in An. 1555. the sayde Robert Tomson with the said John Field and his companie, shipped themselves out of the towne of S. Lucar in a carvel of the citie of Cadiz , and within 6. dayes they arrived at the port of the Grand Canaria, where at our comming the ships that rode in the said port began to cry out of all measure with loud voyces, in so much that the castle which stood fast by began to shoot at us, and shot 6. or 7. shot at us, and strooke downe our maine maste, before we could hoise out our boat to goe on land, to know what the cause of the shooting was, seeing that we were Spanish ships, and were comming into his countrey. So that being on lande, and complaining of the wrong and damage done unto us; they answered, that they had thought we had bene French rovers, that had come into the said port to do some harme to the ships that were there. For that 8. dayes past there went out of the said port a carvell much like unto ours, laden with sugers and other marchandise for Spaine and on the other side of the point of the sayd Iland, met with a Frenchman of warre, who tooke the said carvell, & unladed out of her into the said French ship both men & goods. And being demanded of the said Spaniards what other ships remained in the port whence they came, they answered that there remained divers other ships, & one laden with sugers (as they were) & ready to depart for Spaine: upon the which newes the Frenchmen put 30. tall men of their ship well appointed into the said carvel which they had taken, and sent her backe againe to the said port from whence she had departed the day before. And somewhat late towards the evening came into the port, not shewing past 3. or 4. men, and so came to an anker hard by the other ships that were in the said port, and being seene by the castle and by the said ships, they made no reconing of her, because they knew her, & thinking that she had found contrary windes at the sea, or had forgot something behinde them, they had returned backe againe for the same, and so made no accompt of her, but let her alone riding quietly among the other ships in the said port: So that about midnight the said carvel with the Frenchmen in her went aboord the other ship that lay hard by laden with sugers, and drove the Spaniards that were in her under hatches, & presently let slip her cables and ankers, and set saile & carried her cleane away, and after this sort deceived them: And they thinking or fearing that we were the like, did shoote at us as they did. This being past, the next day after our arrivall in the sayd port, wee did unbarke our selves and went on lande up to the citie or head towne of the great Canaria, where we remained 18. or 20. dayes: and there found certaine Englishmen marchants servants of one Anthony Hickman and Edward Castelin, marchants of the citie of London that lay there in traffique, of whom wee received great courtesie and much good cheere. After the which 20. dayes being past, in the which we had seene the countrey, the people, and the disposition thereof, wee departed from thence, and passed to the next Ile of the Canaries 18. leagues off, called Teneriffe , and being come on land, went up to the citie called La Laguna, where we remained 7. moneths, attending the comming of the whole fleete, which in the ende came, and there having taken that which they had neede of, wee shipped our selves in a ship of Cadiz , being one of the saide fleete, which was belonging to an Englishman maried in the citie of Cadiz in Spaine, whose name was John Sweeting, and there came in the sayd ship for captain also an Englishman maried in Cadiz , and sonne in law to the sayde John Sweeting, whose name was Leonard Chilton: there came also in the said ship another Englishman which had bene a marchant of the citie of Exeter , one of 50. yeeres or thereabout, whose name was Ralph Sarre. So that wee departed from the sayd Ilands in the moneth of October the foresayd yeere, 8. ships in our companie, and so directed our course towards the bay of Mexico, and by the way towardes the Iland of S. Domingo, otherwise called Hispaniola. So that within 32. dayes after we departed from the Iles of Canaries wee arrived with our ship at the port of S. Domingo, and went in over the barre where our ship knocked her keele at her entrie: and there our ship rid before the towne, where wee went on land, & refreshed our selves 16. dayes, where we found no bread made of wheat, but biscuit brought out of Spaine, and out of the bay of Mexico: for the countrey it selfe doeth yeelde no kinde of bread to make graine withall. But the bread they make there, is certaine cakes made of rootes called Cassavi, which is something substantiall, but it hath but an unsavorie taste in the eating thereof. Flesh of beefe and mutton they have great store: for there are men that have 10000. head of cattell, of oxen, bulles and kine, which they doe keepe onely for the hides: for the quantitie of flesh is so great, that they are not able to spend the hundreth part. Hogs flesh is there good store, very sweete and savorie, and so holsome, that they give it to sick folkes to eat in stead of hennes and capons, although they have good store of poultrie of that sort, as also of Guinycocks & Guinyhens. At the time of our being there, the citie of S. Domingo was not of above 500. housholds of Spaniards, but of the Indians dwelling in the suburbs there were more. The country is most part of the yere very hot, & very ful of a kind of flies or gnats with long bils, which do pricke & molest the people very much in the night when they are asleepe, in pricking their faces and hands, and other parts of their bodies that lie uncovered, & make them to swel wonderfully. Also there is another kind of small worme which creepeth into the soles of mens feet & especially of the black Moores and children which use to go barefoot, & maketh their feet to grow as big as a mans head, & doth so ake that it would make one run mad. They have no remedy for the same, but to open the flesh sometimes 3. or 4. inches & so dig them out. The countrey yeeldeth great store of suger, hides of oxen, buls and kine, ginger, Cana fistula & Salsa perillia: mines of silver & gold there are none, but in some rivers there is found some smal quantitie of gold. The principal coine that they do trafique withal in that place, is blacke money made of copper & brasse: and this they say they do use not for that they lacke money of gold and silver to trade withall out of the other parts of India , but because if they should have good money, the marchants that deale with them in trade, would cary away their gold and silver, and let the countrey commodities lie still. And thus much for S. Domingo. So we were comming from the yles of Canaries to S. Domingo, & there staying until the moneth of December, which was 3. moneths. About the beginning of January we departed thence towards the bay of Mexico & new Spaine, toward which we set our course, and so sailed 24. dayes till we came within 15. leagues of S. John de Ullua, which was the port of Mexico of our right discharge: And being so neere our said port, there rose a storme of Northerly windes, which came off from Terra Florida, which caused us to cast about into the sea againe, for feare least that night we should be cast upon the shoare before day did breake, and so put our selves in danger of casting away: the winde and sea grew so foule and strong, that within two houres after the storme began, eight ships that were together were so dispersed, that we could not see one another. One of the ships of our company being of the burthen of 500. tun called the hulke of Carion, would not cast about to sea as we did, but went that night with the land, thinking in the morning to purchase the port of S. John de Ullua, but missing the port went with the shoare and was cast away. There were drowned of that ship 75. persons, men, women and children, and 64. were saved that could swim, and had meanes to save themselves: among those that perished in that ship, was a gentleman who had bene present the yere before in S. Domingo, his wife and 4. daughters with the rest of his servants & houshold. We with the other 7. ships cast about into the sea, the storme during 10. dayes with great might, boisterous winds, fogs & raine: our ship being old and weake was so tossed, that she opened at the sterne a fadome under water, and the best remedy we had was to stop it with beds and pilobiers, and for feare of sinking we threw and lightned into the sea all the goods we had or could come by: but that would not serve. Then we cut our maine mast and threw all our Ordinance into the sea saving one piece, which early in a morning when wee thought wee should have sunke, we shot off, and as pleased God there was one of the ships of our company neere unto us, which we saw not by meanes of the great fogge, which hearing the sound of the piece, & understanding some of the company to be in great extremitie, began to make towards us, and when they came within hearing of us, we desired them for the love of God to helpe to save us, for that we were all like to perish. They willed us to hoise our foresaile as much as we could & make towards them, for they would do their best to save us, and so we did: And we had no sooner hoised our foresaile, but there came a gale of winde & a piece of a sea, strooke in the foresaile, and caried saile & maste all overboord, so that then we thought there was no hope of life. And then we began to imbrace one another, every man his friend, every wife her husband, and the children their fathers and mothers, committing our soules to Almighty God, thinking never to escape alive: yet it pleased God in the time of most need when all hope was past, to aide us with his helping hand, and caused the winde a little to cease, so that within two houres after, the other ship was able to come aboord us, & tooke into her with her boat man, woman and child, naked without hose or shoe upon many of our feete. I do remember that the last person that came out of the ship into the boat, was a woman blacke Moore, who leaping out of the ship into the boat with a yong sucking child in her armes, lept too short and fell into the sea, and was a good while under the water before the boat could come to rescue her, and with the spreading of her clothes rose above water againe, and was caught by the coat & pulled into the boate having still her child under her arme, both of them halfe drowned, and yet her naturall love towards her child would not let her let the childe goe. And when she came aboord the boate she helde her childe so fast under her arme still, that two men were scant able to get it out. So we departed out of our ship & left it in the sea: it was worth foure hundreth thousand ducats, ship & goods when we left it. And within three dayes after we arrived at our port of S. John de Ullua in New Spaine. 1 do remember that in the great and boysterous storme of this foule weather, in the night, there came upon the toppe of our maine yarde and maine maste, a certaine little light, much like unto the light of a little candle, which the Spaniards called the Cuerpo santo, and saide it was S. Elmo, whom they take to bee the advocate of Sailers. At the which sight the Spaniards fell downe upon their knees and worshipped it, praying God and S. Elmo to cease the torment, and save them from the perill that they were in, with promising him that at their comming on land, they would repaire unto his Chappell, and there cause Masses to be saide, and other ceremonies to be done. The friers cast reliques into the sea, to cause the sea to be still, and likewise said Gospels, with other crossings and ceremonies upon the sea to make the storme to cease: which (as they said) did much good to weaken the furie of the storme. But I could not perceive it, nor gave no credite to it, till it pleased God to send us the remedie & delivered us from the rage of the same, His Name be praised therefore. This light continued aboord our ship about three houres, flying from maste to maste, & from top to top: and sometime it would be in two or three places at once. I informed my selfe of learned men afterward what that light should be, and they said, that it was but a congelation of the winde and vapours of the Sea congealed with the extremitie of the weather, which flying in the winde, many times doeth chance to hit on the masts and shrowds of the ships that are at sea in foule weather. And in trueth I do take it to be so: for that I have seene the like in other ships at sea, and in sundry ships at once. By this men may see how the Papists are given to beleeve and worship such vaine things and toyes, as God, to whom all honour doth appertaine, and in their neede and necessities do let to call upon the living God, who is the giver of all good things.

The 16. of April in Anno 1556. we arrived at the port of S. John de Ullua in new Spaine, very naked and distressed of apparell, and all other things, by meanes of the losse of our foresaid ship and goods, and from thence we went to the new Towne called Vera Cruz, five leagues from the said port of S. John de Ullua, marching still by the sea side, where wee found lying upon the sands great quantitie of mightie great trees with rootes and all, some of them of foure, five, and sixe cart load by our estimation, which, as the people tolde us, were in the great stormy weather, which we indured at sea, rooted out of the ground in Terra Florida, which is three hundreth leagues over by Sea, and brought thither. So we came to the saide Towne of Vera cruz, where wee remained a moneth: and there the said John Field chanced to meete with an olde friend of his acquaintance in Spaine, called Goncalo Ruiz de Cordova, a very rich man of the saide Towne of Vera cruz: who hearing of his comming thither with his wife and family, and of his misfortune by Sea, came unto him and received him and all his houshold into his house, and kept us there a whole moneth, making us very good cheere, and giving us good intertainement, and also gave us that were in all eight persons of the said John Fields house, double apparell new out of the shop of very good cloth, coates, cloakes, hose, shirts, smocks, gownes for the women, hose, shooes, and al other necessary apparel, and for our way up to the Citie of Mexico, horses, moiles, and men, and money in our purses for the expences by the way, which by our accompt might amount unto the summe of 400. Crownes. And after wee were entred two dayes journey into the Countrey, I the saide Robert Tomson fell so sicke of an ague, that the next day I was not able to sit on my horse, but was faine to be caried upon Indians backes, from thence to Mexico. And when wee came within halfe a dayes journey of the Citie of Mexico, the saide John Field also fell sicke, and within three dayes after we arrived at the said Citie, hee died: And presently sickened one of his children, and two more of his houshold people, and within eight dayes died. So that within tenne dayes after we arrived at the Citie of Mexico, of eight persons that were of us of the saide company, there remained but foure alive, and I the said Tomson was at the point of death of the sicknes that I got upon the way, which continued with mee the space of sixe moneths. At the ende of which time it pleased Almightie God to restore me my health againe, although weake and greatly disabled. And being some thing strong, I procured to seeke meanes to live, and to seeke a way how to profite my selfe in the Countrey, seeing it had pleased God to sende us thither in safetie. Then by friendship of one Thomas Blake a Scottishman borne, who had dwelt and had bene married in the said Citie above twentie yeeres before I came to the saide Citie, I was preferred to the service of a gentleman a Spaniard dwelling there, a man of great wealth, and one of the first conquerours of the said Citie, whose name was Goncalo Cerezo, with whom I dwelt twelve moneths and a halfe. At the ende of which I was maliciously accused by the Holy house for matters of Religion, and so apprehended and caried to prison, where I lay close prisoner seven moneths, without speaking to any creature, but to the Jailer that kept the said prison, when he brought me my meat and drinke. In the meane time was brought into the saide prison one Augustin Boacio an Italian of Genoua also for matters of Religion, who was taken at Sacatecas 80. leagues to the Northwest of the Citie of Mexico: At the ende of the said seven moneths, we were both caried to the high Church of Mexico, to doe open penance upon an high scaffold, made before the high Altar, upon a Sunday, in the presence of a very great number of people, who were at the least five or sixe thousand. For there were that came one hundreth mile off, to see the saide Auto (as they call it) for that there were never none before, that had done the like in the said Countrey, nor could not tell what Lutheranes were, nor what it meant: for they never heard of any such thing before. We were brought into the Church, every one with a S. Benito upon his backe, which is halfe a yard of yellow cloth, with a hole to put in a mans head in the middest, and cast over a mans head: both flaps hang one before, and another behinde, and in the middest of every flap, a S. Andrewes crosse, made of red cloth, sowed on upon the same, and that is called S. Benito. The common people before they sawe the penitents come into the Church, were given to understand that wee were heretiques, infidels, and people that did despise God, and his workes, and that wee had bene more like devils then men, and thought wee had had the favour of some monsters, or heathen people. And when they saw us come into the Church in our players coates, the women and children beganne to cry out, and made such a noise, that it was strange to see and heare, saying, that they never sawe goodlier men in all their lives, and that it was not possible that there could be in us so much evill as was reported of us, and that we were more like Angels among men, then such persons of such evill Religion as by the Priestes and friers wee were reported to be, and that it was great pitie that wee should bee so used for so small an offence. So that being brought into the saide high Church, and set upon the scaffold which was made before the high Altar, in the presence of all the people, untill high Masse was done, and the sermon made by a frier, concerning our matter, they did put us in all the disgrace they could, to cause the people not to take so much compassion upon us, for that wee were heretiques, & people that were seduced of the devill, & had forsaken the faith of the Catholique Church of Rome , with divers other reprochfull wordes, which were too long to recite in this place. High Masse and Sermon being done, our offences, as they called them, were recited, every man what he had said and done, and presently was the sentence pronounced against us. That was, that the said Augustine Boacio was condemned to weare his S. Benito all the dayes of his life, and put into perpetuall prison, where hee should fulfill the same, and all his goods confiscated and lost. And I the saide Tomson to weare the S. Benito for three yeeres, and then to be set at libertie. And for the accomplishing of this sentence or condemnation, we must be presently sent downe from Mexico, to Vera Cruz, and from thence to S. John de Ullua, and there to be shipped for Spaine, which was 65. leagues by land, with strait commandement, that upon paine of 1000. duckets, the Masters every one should looke straitly unto us, and carry us to Spaine, and deliver us unto the Inquisitors of the Holy house of Sivill, that they should put us in the places, where we should fulfill our penances that the Archbishop of Mexico had enjoyned unto us, by his sentence there given. For performance of the which, we were sent downe from Mexico, to the Sea side, which was 65. leagues, with fetters upon our feete, and there delivered to the Masters of the ships, to be caried for Spaine, as before is said. And it was so, that the Italian, fearing that if he had presented himselfe in

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