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A briefe note of a voyage to the East Indies, begun the 10 of April 1591, wherein were three tall ships, the Penelope of Captaine Raimond, Admirall, the Merchant royall, whereof was Captaine, Samuel Foxcroft, Viceadmirall, the Edward Bonaventure, whereof was Captaine, M. James Lancaster, Rere-admirall, with a small pinnesse. Written by Henry May, who in his returne homeward by the West Indies, suffred shipwracke upon the isle of Bermuda , wherof here is annexed a large description.

THE tenth of April 1591 we departed from Plymmouth with the ships aforesayd. In May following wee arrived at Grand Canaria one of the fortunate Islands. Also toward the end of this moneth we tooke a Portugall shippe being bound for Brasil , within three degrees to the Northward of the Equinoctiall, which served greatly to our refreshing. The 29 of July following we came to Aguada Saldania a good harbour neere the cape of Buona Speranza where we stayed about a moneth with the Merchant royall, which by reason of sicknesse in our fleet was sent home for England with divers weake men. Here we bought an oxe for a knife of three pence, a sheepe for a broken knife or any other odde trifle, of the people which were Negros, clad in cloaks or mantles of raw hides, both men and women. The 8 of September the Penelope & the Edward Bonaventure weyed anker, and that day we doubled the cape of Buona Speranza. The 12 following we were taken with an extreame tempest or huricano. This evening we saw a great sea breake over our admirall the Penelope, and their light strooke out: and after that we never saw them any more. In October following we in the Edward fell with the Westermost part of the isle of S. Laurence about midnight, knowing not where we were. Also the next day we came to an anker at Quitangone a place on the main land of Africa , which is two or three leagues to the Northward of Mozambique, where the Portugals of the isle of Mozambique fetch all their fresh water. Here we tooke a pangaia, with a Portugall boy in it; which is a vessell like a barge, with one matsaile of Coco nut leaves. The barge is sowed together with the rindes of trees, and pinned with woodden pinnes. In this pangaia we had certeine corne called millio, hennes, and some fardels of blew Calicut cloth. The Portugall boy we tooke with us, and dismissed the rest. From this place we went for an island called Comoro, upon the coast of Melinde, which standeth about 11 degrees to the South of the equinoctial: in which island we stayed all November, finding the people blacke and very comly, but very treacherous and cruell: for the day before we departed from thence they killed thirty of our men on shore, among whom was William Mace our master, and two of his mates; the one of them being in the boat with him to fetch water, the other being on shore against our ship; they having first betrayed our boat. From hence we went for the isle of Zanzibar , on the coast of Melinde, whereas wee stayed and Wintered untill the beginning of February following.

The second of February 1592 wee weyed anker, and set saile directly for the East Indies; but having calmes and contrary windes, wee were untill the moneth of June before wee could recover the coast of India neere Calicut ; whereby many of our men died for want of refreshing. In this moneth of June we came to an anker at the isles of Pulo pinaom, whereas we stayed untill the first day of September, our men being very sicke, and dying apace. This day we set saile, and directed our course for Malaca : and wee had not bene farre at sea, but wee tooke a shippe of the kingdome of Pegu of some fourescore tunnes with wooden ankers, and about fiftie men in her, with a pinnesse of some eighteene tunnes at her stearne, both laden with pepper. But their pinnesse stole from us in a gust in the morning. Here we might have taken two shippes more of Pegu laden likewise with pepper and rice. In this moneth also we tooke a great Portugall ship of six or seven hundred tun, laden chiefly with victuals, chests of hats, pintados, and Calicut clothes. Besides this we tooke another Portugall ship of some hundred tun, laden with victuals, rice, Calicos, pintados, and other commodities. These ships were bound for Malaca with victuals: for those of Goa, of S. Thomas, and of other places in the Indies doe victuall it, because that victuals there are very scarce.

In the moneth of November 1592 we shaped our course for the island of Nicubar lying certeine leagues to the Northwest of the famous island of Sumatra; whereas within short time wee came to anker: and here wee had very good refreshing: for after wee arrived there, the people (whom we found in religion Mahumetans) came aboord us in their canoas, with hennes, cocos, plantans, and other fruits: and within two dayes they brought unto us reals of plate, giving us them for Calicut cloth: which reals they found by diving in the sea, which were lost not long before in two Portugall ships which were bound for China , & were cast away there. This was the furthest place that we were at to the Southeast: and heere because our company by this time was much wasted and diminished, we resolved to turne backe to the isle of Zeilan. Wherfore we weyed anker in the moneth of November, and arrived at Zeilan about the end of the same moneth. In this island groweth great store of excellent cinamom, and the best diamonds in the world. Here our captaine meant to stay to make up our voyage: whereof hee conceived great hope, by certeine intelligence which wee had received; but the company, which were in all but 33 men and boyes, being in a mutiny, and every day ready to go together by the eares (the captaine being sicke and like for to die) would not stay, but would needs go home.

The 8 of December 1592 we set saile homeward, but some 15 dayes before we had sight of the cape of Good hope, we were forced to share our bread, by reason we had certeine flies in our ship, which devoured most part of our bread before we were aware: so that when we came to sharing, we had but 31 pound of bread a man to cary us into England , with a small quantity of rice a day.

The last of March 1593 we doubled the cape of Bona Speranza.

In April next ensuing we came to anker at the island of S. Helena, whereas we found an English man a tailer, which had bene there 14 moneths before we came thither: so we sending our boat on shore with some ten men, they found this English man in the chapell; who by reason of the heat of the climat was inforced to keepe himselfe out of the Sun. Our company hearing one sing in the chapell, supposing it had bene some Portugall, thrust open the doore, and went in unto him: but the poore man seeing so many come in upon him on the sudden, and thinking them to be Portugals, was first in such a feare, not having seene any man in 14 moneths before, and afterwards knowing them to be Englishmen, and some of them of his acquaintance, in such joy, that what betweene excessive sudden feare & joy, he became distracted of his wits, to our great sorowes. Here we found of his drying some 40 goats. The party had made him for want of apparell two sutes of goats skinnes with the hairy side outwards, like unto the Savages of Canada. Here we stayed all this moneth. This man lived untill we came to the West Indies, and then he died.

In the moneth of June 1593 we arrived at the island of Trinidad in the West Indies, hoping there to finde refreshing: but we could not get any, by reason that the Spanyards had taken it. Here we were imbayed betweene the island and the maine; and for want of victuals the company would have forsaken the ship: whereupon the captaine was inforced to sweare every man not to forsake the ship untill we should see further occasion. Out of this bay, called Boca de Dragone, it pleased God to deliver us; from whence we directed our course for the isle of S. Juan de Puerto rico, but fell with the small isle of Mona , where we abode some fifteene dayes, finding in that place some small refreshing. And heere arrived a ship of Caen in Normandy , whereof was captaine one Monsieur Charles de la Barbotiere, who greatly refreshed us with bread and other provision, which we greatly wanted. And so we tooke our leaves the one of the other.

In July having foule weather at Mona , we were forced to wey anker, and to set saile, directing our course for Cape Tiburon: and in doubling of the cape we had a gust from the shore, which caried away all our sailes from the yards: so that we had left but one new forecourse to helpe our selves withall: which canvas the aforesayd Frenchman did helpe us withall. Also having doubled the foresayd cape in the distresse aforenamed, the forsayd capitan de la Barbotiere with his pinnesse gave chase unto us againe; who being come nere unto us, I went aboord him, certifying him what distresse we were in. The gentleman replied to me againe, that there was not any thing in his shippe, but what he could spare he would helpe us withall. So to conclude, we agreed with him for canvas. Moreover, he sayd that if we would go with him to an harbour called Gonnavy, which is to the Northward of Cape Tiburon, that then he would helpe us with fresh victuals enough. Whereupon I returned aboord our ship, and certified our captaine of all: who made it knowen unto the company; which no sooner heard of it, but they would all go in. So here we staied with the aforesaid Frenchman 15 dayes: but small refreshing we could get, because the Spaniards stood in some feare of the Frenchman of war, supposing our ship to be a Portugal , and that we were his prize: neverthelesse hee certified them to the contrary. And in staying so long with him, and having little refreshing, our company began to be in a mutiny, and made report that the captaine & I went aboord the Frenchman but to make good cheere, and had not any care of them: but I protest before God, that our care was to get victuals wherby we might have bene gone from him. But in the meane time a great part of our company had conspired to take away the Frenchmans pinnesse, and with her to boord the man of warre. While these things were in complotting, one of their consorts went aboord the Frenchman, and certified him of all the conspiracy. Whereupon the captaine of the French ship sent for our captaine and me to come aboord to dinner: and we stayed with him all the afternoone, being invited unto supper: and being at supper, he himselfe would not a great while come to us: but at length hee came. At his comming wee asked of him what newes. Who answered us, that either we must depart from him, or els he must goe seeke some other harborow. Whereupon I tolde captaine Lancaster ; who prayed me to tell him that rather then we would be any hindrance unto him, we would be gone. But in the mean time, while we were thus talking together, the Frenchman weyed & set saile: which we perceived, and asked him what he meant by it. He replied to the captaine & me, that he kept us for his security, and that our men had purposed as is aforesayd. When he came thwart our shippe, it blew a prety gaile of winde: the boat being asterne of them, having in her two Moores & two men of Pegu , which we had given them, brake away. Then was the Frenchman worse then before, & did threaten us very sore that we should pay his voyage. In the meane time the Edward seeing us past, weyed and set saile to go for England : and they did share among them all the captaines victuals & mine, when they saw the Frenchman keepe us as prisoners. So the next morning we went to seeke out the Frenchmans pinnesse: which being at Laguna we shot off a piece, & so she came to us, having in her three more of our company, Edmund Barker our lieutenant, and one John West, and Richard Lucland one of the mutinous crew. The which I told the Frenchman of; & he could not deny, but that there was such a thing pretended. Then I was put into the French pinnesse to seeke their boat: and in the meane time they would go to see if they could overtake our shippe. And the next day we should meet againe at Cape S. Nicolas: so the next morning we met together all three of us, but heard no newes of his boat. So he having Spanyards and Negros aboord of us, requested to have them. Our captaine desired him to send his boat aboord our shippe, and he should have them with all his heart. So with much adoe he sent his boat and had them. Then he demanded of them, if his boat were not aboord the ship. They answered no. So that then Monsieur de la Barbotiere was satisfied: and then we were great friends againe, to all our joyes.

The 12 of August 1593 our captaine was sent aboord our ship: but before his departure he requested the captaine of the French ship that he would give mee passage home with him, to certifie the owners what had passed in all the voyage, as also of the unrulinesse of the company. And this day we tooke our leaves the one of the other; the Edward for England : and we bare in for Gonnavy, where afterwards we found the Frenchmans boat.

The last of November 1593 Monsieur de la Barbotiere departed from a port called Laguna in Hispaniola. The 17 of December next insuing it was his fortune to have his ship cast away upon the Northwest part of the isle of Bermuda about midnight; the pilots making themselves at noone to be to the Southward of the island twelve leagues, certified the captaine that they were out of all danger. So they demanded of him their wine of heigth: the which they had. And being, as it should seeme, after they had their wine, carelesse of their charge which they tooke in hand, being as it were drunken, through their negligence a number of good men were cast away: and I being but a stranger among 50 and odde Frenchmen & others, it pleased God to appoint me to be one of them that were saved, I hope to his service & glory. We made account at the first that we were cast away hard by the shore, being hie clifs, but we found our selves seven leagues off: but with our boat and a raft which we had made & towed at our boats sterne, we were saved some 26 of us; among whom were no more English but my selfe. Now being among so many strangers, & seeing not roome for the one halfe, I durst neither presse into the boat, nor upon the raft, for feare lest they should have cast me over boord, or els have killed me: so I stayed in the ship which was almost full of water, untill the captaine being entred the boat, called me unto him being at hand, for that it stood upon life or death: and so I presently entred, leaving the better halfe of our company to the mercy of the sea. After this we rowed all the day until an houre or two before night yer we could come on land, towing the raft with the boat. When we came on shore, being all the day without drinke, every man tooke his way to see if he could finde any: but it was long before any was found. At length one of the pilots digg ing among a company of weeds found fresh water to all our great comforts, being only raine water: and this was all the fresh water that we found on shore. But there are in this Island many fine bayes, wherin if a man did dig, I thinke there might be found store of fresh water. This Island is divided all into broken Islands: and the greatest part I was upon, which might be some 4 or 5 miles long, and two miles & a halfe over; being all woods, as Cedar & other timber, but Cedar is the chiefest. Now it pleased God before our ship did split, that we saved our carpenters tooles, or els I thinke we had bene there to this day: and having recovered the aforesaid tooles, we went roundly about the cutting downe of trees, & in the end built a small barke of some 18 tun, for the most part with tronnels and very few nailes. As for tackling we made a voyage aboord the ship before she split, and cut downe her shrowds, and so we tackled our barke, and rigged her. In stead of pitch we made lime, and mixed it with the oile of tortoises; and assoone as the carpenters had calked, I and another, with ech of us a small sticke in our hands, did plaister the morter into the seames, and being in April, when it was warm and faire weather, we could no sonner lay it on, but it was dry, and as hard as a stone. In this moneth of April 1594, the weather being very hot, we were afrayd our water should faile us; and therfore made the more haste away: and at our departure we were constrained to make two great chests, and calked them, and stowed them on ech side of our maine mast, and so put in our provision of raine-water, and 13 live tortoises for our food, for our voyage which we intended to Newfoundland . In the South part of this Island of Bermuda there are hogs, but they are so leane that you can not eat them, by reason the Island is so barren: but it yeeldeth great store of fowle, fish and tortoises. And to the Eastward of the Island are very good harbours, so that a shippe of 200 tun may ride there land-locked, without any danger, with water enough. Also in this Island is as good fishing for pearles as is any in the West Indies, but that the place is subject to foule weather, as thundering, lightning and raine: but in April and part of May we had very faire and hot weather. The 11 of May it pleased God to set us cleere of the Island, to the no little joy of us all, after we had lived in the same almost the space of 5 moneths. And the 20 of May we fell with the land nere to Cape Briton, where we ran into a fresh water river, whereof there be many, and tooke in wood, water, and ballast. And here the people of the countrey came unto us, being clothed all in furs, with the furred side unto their skins, & brought with them furres of sundry sorts to sell, besides great store of wild ducks: so some of our company having saved some small beads, bought some of their ducks. Here we stayed not above foure houres, and so departed. This should seeme to be a very good countrey. And we saw very fine champion ground, and woods. From this place we ranne for the banke of Newfoundland , whereas we met with divers, but none would take in a man of us, untill it pleased God that wee met with a barke of Falmouth , which received us all for a little time; and with her we tooke a French ship, wherein I left capitan de la Barbotier my deere friend, and all his company, and stayed my selfe aboord the English barke: and having passage in the same, in the moneth of August I arrived at Falmouth 1594.

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