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The victorious voyage of Captaine Amias Preston now knight, and Captaine George Sommers to the West India, begun in March 1595. Wherein the yle of Puerto Santo, the yle of Coche neere Margarita, the fort and towne of Coro , the stately city of S. Iago de Leon were taken sacked and burned, and the towne of Cumana ransomed, & Jamaica entred. Written by Robert Davie one of the company.

CAPTAINE AMIAS PRESTON, and captaine Sommers, both valiant gentlemen & discreet commanders, lying ready with two tall ships, the Ascension and the Gift, and a small pinnesse at Plimmouth, for the space of a moneth attending the comming of captaine Jones their consort, which in al that time, through the bad dealing of those which he put in trust, could not make his ship in readines, according to his appointment, the 12. of March 1595. set forward on their voyage for the West Indies. We with captaine Jones in the Derling, and Captaine Prowse in the Angel, followed after them the 19. of the said moneth. The last of March, captaine Preston by giving chase to a saile, was separated from captaine Sommers, and his pinnesse, so that they utterly lost sight ech of other: whereupon captain Preston in his ship alone, resolved to surprise the yle of Puerto santo, and shortly after came before the same. This yland standeth in the Northerly latitude of 33. degrees, and lieth to the Northward of the yle of Madera, and is inhabited by old souldiers, which the kings of Portugal were wont to reward for their former olde services, by placing of them there. This yland is rich in come, wine, & oile: and hath good store of sheep, asses, goats & kine: they have also plenty of foules, fishes, & fruits. Captaine Preston comming before this yland with one ship only sought with 2. long boats to land his men & to force the same: but the people were on shore in warlike array, with baricados & trenches made, ready to withstand them. Whereupon, considering the great danger, and disadvantage of the place, he caused his people to returne abord againe. And the next morning 3 or 4 houres before day, he landed in a place of greater security, with 60 men onely, who lay closely in a chapel, to defend themselves from the raine til break of the day, and so marched forward upon the backs of their enemies, which kept their baricados upon the shore. By this time the enemie was 500 strong. But, being so suddenly surprised, after some resistance of our muskets, when they saw our pikes approch, and had tasted somewhat of their force they began to flee into certaine thickets, & shrubs, thinking from thence to gall our men: but with very litle or no losse at all, our men dislodged them of that place also. Hereupon, they all fled toward the chiefe towne of the yland: but once againe they thought to make a new stand at a certaine house by the way, from whence they were repulsed by captaine Roberts. So in the flight part of them were slaine, and an ensigne, which one captaine Harvey an English man had lost not long before, was recovered: and the chiefe towne it selfe was by our men wholly woon and possessed. But before the entrance of our men they had conveighed their wives, their children, and the rest of their goods into an exceeding high hil which standeth neere the towne, and could not be conquered, but with exceeding losse. Although they sent divers times to redeeme their towne, which was very faire and large, yet in regard of their crueltie and treachery, which they used towards captaine Harvey and his people, captaine Preston would shew them no favour, but utterly burnt their towne to ashes, and sent his men to wast the rest of their villages of the yland, preferring the honour & just revenge of his country men, before his owne private gaine, & commodity. And so with small pillage and great honour he retired in safetie and all his small company with him, from the conquered yland unto his ship. But we in our ship met not with him, untill the 12. of April following. We therefore in the Derling pursuing our voyage, had sight of the yles of the Canaries the 6 of April, and the 8 of the same, we watered on the Southeast side of the grand Canaria. There we met with capt. Sommers, & his pinnesse, & 3 ships of Hampton , in one whereof was cap. Willis . The 9 of April we al departed for Tenerif to seeke captaine Preston: and standing over towards Tenerif, the 9 day at night I came into captaine Sommers ship. The 10 in the morning we brake our maine yard, yet we recovered Tenerif, & the same day towards night we ankered under the southside of the same. There I went aland in our boat, & found 3 or 4 fisher boats, and brought one of them off. The rest bulged themselves. Here we rode to mend our yard til the 11 at night: then we set saile to find captaine Amias Preston: and standing towards Gomera , the 12 in the morning we had sight of him. Then we thought to have landed in Gomera : but the wind blew so much, that we could not. So we departed altogether with joy the 13 of April, & set our course for the West Indies. And the 8 of May next ensuing, we arrived at the yland of Dominica . In all which time nothing happened unto us saving this, that the 18 day of April at midnight, our admiral lost her long boat in towing. We staied at Dominica til the 14 of May, to refresh our sicke men. Here the Indians came unto us in canoas made of an whole tree, in some wherof were 3 men, in some 4 or 6, & in others 12 or 14, and brought in them plantans, pinos, and potatos, and trucked with us, for hatchets, knives, & small bead-stones. Here in refreshing of our men, we found an hot bath hard joyning to a cold river side: wherein our sick men bathed themselves, and were soone recovered of their sicknesses. This is a goodly yland, and something high land, but al overgrowen with woods. The 14 we departed from thence, & the 16 sailing Southwestward, we had sight of Granada , but landed not there. The 17 we arrived at the Testigos & ankered there, and consorted with the 3 ships of Hampton , wherin captaine Willis was. The 18 we landed our men & tooke view and muster of all, & the same night set saile away. The 19 we had sight of Margarita, where the Spaniards by their Indians fish for pearle : we stood in very neere the rode, but saw nothing there. Therefore we went no further in, but stood from it againe. The same day toward night, we had sight of a litle yland, betweene Margarita & the maine, called Coche. We came neer it in the night with our ships within some 3 leagues, & there ankered under the maine side, and about midnight we manned our pinnesses & boats, and in the morning about breake of day, we landed on the yland, wherein are few or none inhabitants, but they commonly come from Margarita in boats on the munday, and remaine there fishing for pearles untill the Saturday, and then returne & cary al that they have taken to Margarita. Here we tooke some few Spaniards and Negros their slaves with them, and had some smal quantitie of pearls. We remained on this iland the 20 and 21, in which time we went a fishing with our seine, and tooke good store of mullets and other fish, and amongst the rest drew a shore in the seine a fish called by the Spaniards Lagarto, and by the Indians Caiman, which is indeed a Crocodile, for it hath 4 feete and a long taile, and a wide mouth, and long teeth, & wil devour men. Some of these Lagartos are in length 16 foot, some 20 foot, and some 30 foot: they have muske in them, and live as wel on the land, as in the water. The 21 of May we departed for Cumana , thinking to have gotten in that night to have landed: but the current striketh so strong out of the bay that we could not recover the towne till day light. In the morning we espied 2 sailes before the towne but could not fetch them. Here we plied too and againe in the sound all the forenoone, but could not get up so farre as the towne. These 2 sailes came roome to us, after they saw that we were at an anker, & came somewhat neere us, and sent their skyphs abord our admiral. They were 2 flieboats of Middleburgh which traded there, & had secretly advertised the country of our comming, to our great hinderance: but we knew it not at our first arrivall. Here they of Cumana perceiving that we would land, came to parle with us, and tolde us, if we would land, we might easily take the towne, for they ment not to withstand us, but that they had caried all their goods into the mountaines, but, if we would not land to burne and spoile the towne, they would give us some reasonable ransome, and any victuals that we wanted. So our general agreed with them, received their ransome, and departed without landing. But at our first arrival in this bay, our generals long boat was sent forth wel manned, and tooke 3 Caravels, but found litle or nothing of value in them: saving in one were some sides of bacon, and some maiz and Guiny-wheat. Here we staied til the 23 of May, & in the evening we set saile, and departed from thence. And the 26 of the same we thought to have landed at a fort that standeth by the sea-coast in the Caracos, as you go for S. Iago. This is a marveilous high land, as high as the pike of Tenerif. We could not land here over night, by reason of the roughnes of the sea, which goeth in that place, & there is but one litle creeke against the fort, to come in with your boat. So, we perceiving no fit place to land, by reason of the sea, stood away some league to the West-ward, about a litle head-land, there we ankered al night: and the 27 in the morning we all landed in safety, none resisting us. Then we presently set our selves in aray, and marched toward the fort, & tooke it without any resistance. Here we remained al the rest of this day until the 28, about three of the clock in the afternoone. We found nothing in this fort but a litle meale, or 2 or 3 tunnes of wine, which by reason of some disorder amongst the company overcharging themselves with the wine, our general for the most part caused to be spilt. While we remained here, some of our company ranging the woods, found the governor of the fort where he lay asleepe, brought him to our general: who examined him touching the state of the citie of S. Iago de Leon . Who declared unto us that they had newes of our commind a moneth before, and that they of the towne had made preparation for our comming: and that if we did go the common beaten way, it was never possible for us to passe, for that they had made in the midst of the way betweene this fort and the said city, an exceeding strong baricado on the top of a very high hil, the passage being not above 25 or 30 foot in bredth, & on each side marveilous steep-upright, and the woods so thicke that no man could passe for his life: which indeed at our returning backe we found to be true. Upon which speeches our general demanded of him if there were not any other way: who answered, there is another way marvellous bad and very ill to travel, which the Indians do commonly use: but he thought that the Spaniards had stopt the same, by cutting downe of great trees and other things, as indeed they had. This Spaniard was a very weake and sickle man not able to travel, so our generall sent him abord his ship, & there kept him. In the taking of our 3 small Caravels at Cumana , we had a Spaniard in one of them that had traveiled these wayes to the citie of S. Iago. He told us he would cary us thither by any of both these wayes, if afterward we would set him at libertie: the which was granted. While we remained at the fort by the waters side, the Spaniards came downe unto us by the great & beaten way on horsebacke, who being discovered, our generall sent out to meete them captaine Roberts with some 40 or 50 musketeirs, who came to skirmish with them, but they would not stay. The same day in the afternoone we marched forth toward S. Iago, & tooke the Indians way called The unknowen way. In our march we came to divers Indians houses, which we never hurt, but passed by and left them untouched: but the Indians were all fled into the woods, and other places, we know not whither. We marched until it was night over such high mountaines, as we never saw the like, and such a way as one man could scarse passe alone. Our general being in the forward, at length came whereas a river descended downe over the mountaines, and there we lodged all that night. Here in going this way, we found the Spanish governours confession to be true: for they had baricadoed the way in divers places with trees, & other things in such sort, that we were driven to cut our way through the woods by Carpenters, which we caried with us for that purpose. The next day being the 29 of May early in the morning we set forward to recover the tops of the mountaines: but (God knoweth) they were so extreeme high and so steep-upright, that many of our souldiers fainted by the way: and when the officers came unto them, and first entreated them to goe, they answered, they could goe no further. Then they thought to make them goe by compulsion, but all was in vaine: they would goe a little and then lie downe, and bid them kill them, if they would, for they could not, nor would not goe any further. Whereby they were enforced to depart, & to leave them there lying on the ground. To be short, at length with much ado we gat the top of the mountaines about noone : there we made a stand til all the company was come up, and would have stayed longer to have refreshed our men: but the fogge and raine fell so fast, that wee durst not stay. So wee made hast to descend towards the towne out of the fogge and raine: because that in these high mountaines by report of the Spaniards themselves, it doeth almost continually raine. Assoone as we were descended downe neere halfe the way to the towne the raine ceased, and going downe a little further, on the toppe of a hill we saw the towne not farre distant from us. Here we all cleared our muskets: and when our colours came in sight, we discharged a second volee of shot to the great discouragement of the enemie. Thus we marched on a round pace. The enemie was in readinesse a little without the towne to encounter us on horsebacke. Being nowe fully descended from the mountaines wee came into a faire plaine champion fielde, without either hedge, bush or ditch, saving certaine trenches which the water had made, as it descendeth from the mountaines. Here we set our selves in a readinesse, supposing the enemie would have encountered us: but having pitched our maine battell, and marching forward a good round pace, captaine Beling, and captaine Roberts tooke ech of them some loose shoot, and marched in all hast toward the enemie before the maine battell, wherein was our generall with capt. Sommers and came to skirmish with them: but it was soone ended: for the enemie fled. One Spaniard was slaine in this skirmish, and not any one of our companies touched either with piece or arrow, God be thanked. We soone marched into the towne, and had it without any more resistance: but there we found not the wealth that we expected: for they had conveyed all into the mountaines, except such goods as they could not easily cary, as wine, and iron, and such things. By three of the clocke in the afternoone the 29 of May, we entred the citie. Here we remained until the 3 of June without anie great disturbance, saving sometime by night they would come on horsebacke hard unto our Corps du guard, and finding us vigilant, and readie for them, would depart againe.

The first of June, there came a Spaniard neere unto us alone: the Corps du guard perceiving him, called our General, who soone came towards him: but before he approched, the Spaniard made signes that he should lay aside his armes : which he refused to doe, but promised as he was a souldier, if he would come, hee should have free passage. Upon which promise hee came to him on horse-backe, and our General brought him within the towne, and there communed with him. Who demanded what he ment to do with the towne: he answered that he meant to remaine there and keepe it; or if he did depart from it he would burne it. The Spaniard then demanded, what the ransome of it should be. Our General required 30000 ducats. Whereunto he replied that it was very much. So having had some other conference together, hee shewed him that hee had bene a souldier in Flanders a long time, and now was sent thither by his kings commandement. Among other things our General demanded of him, what the reason was they had not walled the citie, being so faire a thing as that was. The Spaniard replied, that hee thought it to bee stronger walled than anie citie in the world, meaning, by those huge & high mountains which the enemie must passe over before he can approch it; which we found very true. Thus with many other faire speeches, he tooke his leave for that day, and told our Generall, that he would go speake with the governour: (but it might be himselfe, for any thing we know) howbeit because our General had granted him free comming and going, he suffred him to depart: who before his departure, requested to have a token of our General, that he might shew to the Governour how he had spoken with us, or else he doubted, that he would not beleeve him. Wherupon our General gave him a piece of 12 pence: so he departed and promised the next day by ten of the clocke to returne unto us with an answere: in which meane time nothing befel. The next day being the 2 of June, at his houre appointed, he returned with his Indian running by his horses side. So he was brought to the Generall, and there remained till after dinner, and dined in his company in the governours house that was. The dinner ended, with the best entertainement which could be given him, they communed again about the ransome of the citie. Our General proposed his old demand of 30000 ducats. The Spaniard first proffered him 2000, then 3000, last of all 4000, and more he would not give. Our General counting it a small summe of money among so many, did utterly refuse it. So the Spaniard departed. But before his departure our general told him, that if he came not to him again before the next day noone, with the ransome which he demanded, he would set all on fire. That whole day past, and the night also without any thing of moment, except some shew of assault, by their approching towards our Corps du guard, and retiring backe againe. The 3 day being come, in the morning some of our company went forth, a league or more from the towne, & some two leagues and more unto certaine villages thereabout, & set them on fire: but the enemy never came to resist them, so they returned backe againe safe into the towne, and brought certaine Indian prisoners with them, among whom there was one which spake broken Spanish, which being examined, confessed unto us of his own accord, how the General had sent to the other towns thereabout for aide, and that he thought they would be there with him that day. When we understood this, we grew into some distrust of the Spaniards trechery, and thought upon the messenger, how he had used long delayes with us: wherupon we were commanded presently, every man to make ready to depart, and to fire the citie: which forthwith was done. And after we had seene it all on fire, & burnt to ashes, we tooke our leaves and so departed, & marched away that day being the 3 of June, not that way we came, but by the great beaten way. And when we had marched halfe the way towards the waters side, we came unto that strong baricado which they had made, and there lay all that night. Here we found the Spanish captaines word to be true which we tooke at the fort by the waters side: for this baricado was of such force, that 100 men in it wel furnished, would have kept backe from passing that way 100000: first by reason of the huge and high mountaines, next the steepenes of them, on both sides, last of all in regard of the fine contriving of it with the large trenches, and other munitions, which I cease to recite. The fourth day of June in the morning wee departed from thence: but before our departure, wee overthrew on the one side of the steepe hill two bases of yron, which we found there planted by the enemie, and so set forward toward our ships, and by 12 of the clocke came to the waters side, and there remayned in the fort which wee had taken before, untill the fift day at night: in which time we laded some small quantity of hides, and Salsa-perilla, which we found there at our first landing. So the fift day at night we departed from thence, to goe to a towne called Coro : but before wee departed, wee set fire in the fort, and all the Indians houses that were about it, and burnt them. Then we set sayle, and standing along the coast, our Spanish guide signified unto us, that there were foure sayles of ships about five leagues from thence, in a place called Checherebiche, and Caio, and Maio . So the 6 day in the morning we were thwart of the place, and there our generall sent away his long boate with captaine Sommers, unto those places, where they found 3 of the ships: but the Spaniards had conveyed their sailes ashore into the woodes, so that they could not bring them off, but set fire in them and burnt them. From hence we stood along the shore, sailing untill the ninth day of June, on which day toward the evening we imbarked our selves in our pinnesses and small caravels, to land at Coros: but we had none that knew the place certainely: wherefore we ankored that night some two leagues to the Eastward of it, and in the morning I went on land, and nine more with me, to see if we could discover the towne, but we could not, wee went above a league up into the countrey, but could not see any village or towne. So returning backe, wee met our Generall, with divers others which came ashore with him, with whom we marched into the countrey againe, but could see nothing, & so returned. At the water side captaine Prowse died. There we remained all that day on land, by reason the wind blew so much that wee could not get aboord untill the evening. After our comming aboord a boat which we sent into the bay, returned and brought us newes, that there rode a barke within the bay, and by all likelyhood the towne should be there. So presently our Generall went into the bay with the Derling and some of the small caravels. The tenth day in the morning, the rest of our shipping came into the bay, and our men landed the same day, about 10 or 11 of the clocke in the night, & so marched on toward the towne: but in the way they had made baricados, and kept them very strongly. Notwithstanding the courage of our men was such, as that they feared nothing, and forced them to leave their forces, and flie. Having wonne this baricado they there remained untill the next day being the 11 of June, and then early in the morning they marched on towards the towne, where by the way, the enemie often times came to skirmish with them, but alwayes fled. In fine they wan the towne without any great losse of men, God be thanked. Having gotten the town, they found nothing in it at all; for they had intelligence from Sant Iago, how wee had used them before, which caused them to convey all their goods into the mountaines and woods: finding nothing in it, our Generall caused it to be set on fire, thinking it not good to remaine there, but to returne againe, backe to the ships : and the greatest cause was by reason of the departure of captaine Sommers: who the day before in a most furious tempest, being in the pinnesse, with some 50 men at anker, had his cables broken and lost all his ankers, and so was faine to put to sea to save himselfe, otherwise they had bene in danger of perishing. Thus our General and his company, returned backe againe the twelfth day and imbarked themselves, and departed away with all speede to seeke captaine Sommers. The 13 toward night, hee came where captaine Sommers was, and found him riding, but not by anie ankers, but by two bases, which they had made for to stay their barke by: at which meeting the company was very glad. Then they determined to go into a mighty great bay, to a towne called Laguna : but the bay was so deepe and should withall, that we returned backe againe, after wee had stood in two daies & a night. So we sayled over toward the Isle of Hispaniola the sixteenth of June: and the twentieth day we saw it. The 21 we ankored under Cape Tiburon. Here we watered, and stayed untill the 25 of the same. After our departure out of the bay of Laguna , a great sicknes fell among our fleete, and there died about eighty men of the same. This sicknesse was the fluxe of the bellie, which is a common disease in that countrey. We remayned about this Island untill the eight and twentieth of this moneth. Then we departed from thence, and the second of July arrived at the Island of Jamaica. Before our comming hither, the three ships of Hampton had forsaken us, and left our company. And the Derling wherein was captaine Jones, was sent to discover some other secret matter, in which discovery the valiant gentleman ended his life. So our whole fleete was now but our generall, with captaine Sommers, and a small pinnesse. We stayed at this Isle of Jamaica until the sixt of July, in which meane time we landed to see if we could kill any beeves, but we could not, they were so wild : here is great store of them, and great plenty of fresh-fish. We departed hence the 6 of July, and passed by the Islands, called Caimanes, and the Isle de Pinos, and the 12 of the said moneth by Cape de Corrientes where we watered, and the same night, wee set saile towards the cape of S. Anthony, being the westermost part of the Isle of Cuba. The 13 day in the morning we were under this cape, and the same day we met with the honourable knight, Sir Walter Ralegh, returning from his paineful, and happie discovery of Guiana , and his surprise of the Isle of Trinidad. So with glad hearts, wee kept him and his fleete of three ships company till the twentieth day at night, what time we lost them. In all which time nothing of moment fell out, save that we gave chase to a couple of frigats, but could not fetch them.

Afterward we plyed to recover Havana , untill the five and twentieth of July: then we set our course for the head of the Martyrs, the 27 we were in sight of them. The 28 wee entred the gulfe of Bahama: then we set our course homeward toward Newfoundland , but we could not fetch it, but were on the Banke, and tooke fish there the 20 day of August. The same night we set sayle to come home, by reason the wind was contrary to goe in with Newfoundland . So the tenth day of September, we arrived in safety (God be thanked) in Milford haven in Wales, having performed so long a voyage in the space of sixe moneths, or somewhat lesse.

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