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and America 


'"This book by one of the greatest 
living authorities on the Elizabethan 
Age," says Elizabeth Jenkins, author of 
Elizabeth the Great, "gives new mate- 
rial of vivid interest. It also shows that 
the inspiration of the early settlers was 
a part of the genius of that amazing 
era, that the rich, exciting, vigorous 
America of today comes from origins 
that matched it." 

The great Queen Elizabeth I was 
interested in everything that con- 
crned America. Here, for the first 
time, A. L. Rowse tells us what her 
part was in the contest with Spain for 
North America and in its colonization 

(Continued on back flap) 



No. Q227A 

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Rowse, Alfred Leslie* 19O3~ 

The Elizabethans and America , 
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IT is the greatest honour that has befallen me, and one for 
which I am deeply grateful, to have been asked by the 
University of Cambridge to give the first Trevelyan Lectures 
on their foundation. First and foremost, this gives me the 
opportunity to acknowledge the debt I owe, in common with 
other scholars, to a great historian for the inspiration of his 
work. In a time of confusion of standards, when so many 
do not know how to judge or what to think, G. M. Tre- 
velyan's work stands out, a beacon for all of us, a model of 
integrity in scholarship and of accomplishment in art. These 
qualities in union alone give permanence to historical 
writing. In particular, I may here record, what I can never 
repay, the constant encouragement he has given me in my 
own work, the warmth of interest, the incitement to achieve. 

A visit to America in 1957 gave me my subject an 
appropriate one, I hope, in view of the family interest and 
Sir George Otto Trevelyan's masterly work on the American 

Here in this book is the beginning of the story. It has 
enabled me to expand the inevitably contracted treatment of 
the subject in a single chapter of my Expansion of Elizabethan 
England. My aim has been to make clear what the Eliza- 
bethans contributed to the making of the greatest of modern 
nations. Though the story of the Roanoke efforts and the 
Jamestown colony may be familiar, I have more that is new 
to offer. For example, though we know that Queen Eliza- 
beth I was interested in everything that concerned America, 
no-one has hitherto put together the evidence and told us 
precisely what she did in the matter. The signal services of 
Sir Ferdinando Gorges towards the cause of New England 
colonisation have been largely overlooked. We may be too 


The Elizabethans and America 

familiar with the story of the Pilgrim Fathers and the 
founding of Massachusetts I do not tell it again ; but I 
do not know that anyone has disentangled and brought out 
the Elizabethan element in all that, or the varied and 
striking reflection much richer than is generally realised 
of America in the literature of Shakespeare's age. 

The nineteenth century was apt to think of the American 
story as beginning with the Mayflower. After the celebra- 
tions of the 35Oth anniversary of Jamestown in 1957? Ameri- 
cans appreciate better that their history goes back to at 
least the generation before. It is the purpose of this book to 
bring home that the story really goes back to the generation 
before Jamestown to the high-water mark of the Eliza- 
bethan age, the i58o's,when everything began together, the 
madrigals and the war with Spain, the Shakespearean drama 
and the English colonisation of America, which was to 
receive in the fulness of time an unimaginable extension. If 
this book helps to push back the frontier of the Americans' 
consciousness of their beginnings by a generation to the 
heart of the Elizabethan age, I shall be content to have made 
my contribution to American historiography. 

Never have I incurred with a book so many obligations 
in friendly hospitality and help, on both sides of the Atlantic. 
The idea of the book was first sounded out with the sage 
advice and encouragement of Mr. Cass Canfield in the 
congenial surroundings of the Century Club in New York. 
There, too, Mr. Orville Prescott and Mr. Francis Brown of 
the New York Times made valuable suggestions, from which 
I have profited. Professor Henry Steele Commager, most 
generous of friends, settled my title for me on a hospitable 
visit to Amherst. A chapter of the book was delivered as 
one of three public lectures at the University of Nebraska, 
under the kindly guidance of Professor Lane W. Lancaster. 
I owe my acquaintance with Jamestown to an invitation 
from Mr. Lawrence W. Towner and the active group of 
younger historians working at delightful Williamsburg. It 
is evident how much I owe to the work as I deeply 
appreciate the encouragement of Samuel Eliot Morison, 



greatest of living American historians, true successor of 
Prescott and Parkman : opposite number of our own George 
Macaulay Trevelyan. 

At Cambridge it is a pleasure to record the hospitality 
and conversation of Dr. Trevelyan himself, the Master of 
Peterhouse, Professor David Knowles, Mr. Kitson Clark and 
Dr. J. H. Plumb. A number of people showed me fascinating 
treasures the Master of St. John's the splendid portraits 
in his Lodge, Professor Nicholas Mansergh and Mr. Frank 
Thistlewaite college portraits of the Elizabethan period. 
The Master of Jesus, Dr. E. M. W. Tillyard, kindly got out 
a rarity from the Library John Eliot's presentation copy 
of his Indian Bible to his old college. 

At Oxford the Warden of All Souls generously lent me 
a rare Donne item; Miss Jean Robertson (Mrs. John 
Bromley) and Mr. John Buxton made valuable suggestions 
for my reading. Most of all, I am in the debt of Professor 
Jack Simmons of the University of Leicester for his unfailing 
critical sense and scholarship, the generous care with which 
he has scrutinised the text of this book. For my acquaint- 
ance with Suffolk I am obliged to Mr. Norman Scarfe, who 
took me round the fields and pastures of John Winthrop's 

Lent, Jr.95,9 















INDEX 217 


Pocahontas Frontispiece 


John Dee 22 

Sir Thomas Smythe 62 

Sir Edwin Sandys 78 

Captain John Smith 88 

A Virginia Adventurer 1 1 8 

The Search for a North- West Passage 182 

Powhatan's Cloak 206 




rip HE discovery of the New World, it has been said, is 
JL much the greatest event in the history of the Old. 
Certainly as that discovery went further and gathered 
momentum it marked a vast difference between the modern 
world and the Middle Ages which, in contemplation, 
have a certain static, enclosed quality in contrast with the 
ceaseless dynamism, the expansiveness characteristic of our 
world. In the title of these lectures I use the word America 
in the sense popular in England not so popular in all 
parts of that Continent to mean North America, English- 
speaking America. I am not dealing with Central and 
South America, though the Elizabethans concerned them- 
selves very considerably with both : another field of the 
same subject. In this connotation it is the heart of the 
subject the discovery of America ultimately made the for- 
tune of this island, transformed our situation in the world. 
In Trevelyan's phrase, here was a very taut, efficient little 
society within an island lying athwart the main seaways 
from America to North- Western Europe, a situation from 
which this country profited more and more. As America 
prospered and became more important, so did we. 

We live in the midst of another profound transforma- 
tion. In the dangers of our time the separateness of our 
history may be thought of as merging in the general history 
of the English-speaking peoples, who are drawn closer 
together by them. Within that community there is a 
natural shift of power and emphasis to the western side of 
the Atlantic. But already twice in our lifetime our country's 

The Elizabethans and America 

existence has been assured by the preponderant partner. 
What sort of a future could our small island expect looking 
out on a world riven between East and West, in the con- 
flicts of giant land-masses, without that assurance? We 
may indeed think that calling in the New World to redress 
the balance of the Old takes on a more urgent, a more 
ominous, meaning today. 

We owe this factor in our safety, the very condition of 
our lives, to the ambition and foresight, the enterprise and 
persistence, of our common ancestors, the Elizabethans. 
Tlieir struggle to establish an English foothold on the other 
side of the Atlantic, their part in extending our language 
and institutions across the seas, the essential first steps that 
have led to an English world-community history can 
hardly offer us a more significant theme. 

But our ancestors arrived on the scene rather belatedly : 
the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the French were ^11 there 
before us. It is a striking thought that more than a century 
elapsed between the time when the Spaniards made their 
first permanent settlement in America in 1493, and the 
English made theirs at Jamestown in 1607. The Eliza- 
bethan effort, which did not really get going until the 
second half of the Queen's reign, is all the more impressive : 
it shows what can be done by a small people, in the right 
circumstances, with a will. 

The Portuguese had already shown what can be done. 
Theirs was an astounding achievement : a people of a 
million and a quarter discovered half the world in less 
than a century. It was amid the excitement of Lisbon, 
where the riches of the East were unloaded down there by 
the quays at Belem, that Columbus was caught up by the 
movement of oceanic discovery going back already half a 
century to Prince Henry the Navigator. (Henry, on his 
mother's side of the Lancastrian royal house, had English 
blood flowing in his veins ; so also, by the way, had Vasco 
da Gama.) The next half-century saw the full flood-tide 
of Spanish conquest in America : one of the two or three 
movements of population of decisive importance in the 

The Conflict for the Mew World 

configuration of the modern world. By the middle of the 
sixteenth century the Spanish Empire had about achieved 
the historic form it retained for so long. And still the 
English were nowhere or rather, they remained at home. 
They had, under the first Tudors, with the backing 
mainly of the Bristol merchants and the inspiration of the 
Cabots, made various sporadic, inadequate, baffled efforts 
into and across the Atlantic. The significance of the dis- 
covery of the New World was grasped in the circle of Sir 
Thomas More, whose brother-in-law John Rastell attempted 
such a voyage and in his Interlude of the Four Elements wrote 
the first English description of America. If only 

they that be Englishmen 
Might have been the first of all 
That there should have taken possession 
And made first building and habitation 
A memory perpetual ! 

More's Utopia offers the first reverberation of genius 
out of the New World in the literature of the Old. But 
Henrician merchants and voyagers like Thorne and Barlow 
were reduced to hoping for an all-English route to the 
riches of the East by the seas due north across the Pole. 
Some hopes ! We may well think that Henry VIII would 
have done better to put some of the energy that went into 
matrimonial, into Atlantic, enterprises. However, he did 
much to create an English navy, the prime condition of 
later maritime achievement, and he did procreate Elizabeth : 
he could not have done much better. 

The Cabot voyages were more important for their 
consequences than for what they achieved. In 1497, while 
the West Country was convulsed by two Cornish rebellions, 
John Cabot set out from Bristol, crossed the Atlantic, made 
a landfall near Cape Breton, coasted Nova Scotia and 
sighted Newfoundland. 1 On his voyage next year he sailed 
southward down the American coast, possibly as far as the 
Chesapeake, and then was lost. He left a son, Sebastian, 

1 It is thought now that he made a preliminary reconnaissance in 1496 : 
see below, p. 159. 


The Elizabethans and America 

who had been born at Bristol : a somewhat mysterious and 
fascinating figure, about whom we know a good deal more 
though we should like to know much more still. Going 
to and fro between the courts of England and Spain, he 
carried with him a secret : he thought that he had found 
the North- West Passage that led from the Atlantic into the 
Pacific and thus to the riches of the Far East. It is possible 
that on a voyage of 1508-9 he had entered Hudson's Strait 
and thought that was the opening which tantalised the 
minds, inspired the efforts and the sacrifices, of generations 
of Englishmen. 1 Discouraged he went into Spanish service, 
became pilot-major at Seville, the first school of navigation 
in the world. Years later the governing circle round the 
young Edward VI brought him back to this country to 
organise the efforts to find a passage through by the North- 
East efforts which did eventuate in our first opening up 
trade with Russia through the White Sea and gaining the 
monopoly of it. The Elizabethan enterprises were con- 
tinuous with those of the Edwardian circle, in more ways 
than one ; and Sebastian Cabot, now an ancient mariner, 
was the link between the Mediterranean world of Colum- 
buses and Cabots, Lisbon, Genoa and Venice the mari- 
time Renaissance and the Elizabethan seamen. 

The importance of John Cabot's voyage of 1497 was 
that he was the first to discover the mainland of America, 
while Columbus and the Spaniards were still occupied with 
the West Indies. When conflict over entry into and posses- 
sion of territory in the New World became acute, the 
Elizabethans pounced upon this and made full use of it. 
Since the Spaniards based their claim to monopoly of the 
New World upon the right of prior discovery, the Eliza- 
bethans rejoined that Cabot had got to the mainland first : 
the one argument was as good as the other. International 
law has had to lend a learned ear to such considerations, 
may be said to have in part risen upon such constructions, 
One after the other, again and again as the conflict with 
Spain over the New World grows, the claim is urged, by 

1 The Voyages of the Cabots, ed, J. A. Williamson, 228. 


The Conflict for the New World 

John Dee, Hakluyt, Humphrey Gilbert, the government 
itself: the argument becomes a corner-stone in the Eliza- 
bethans' fabric of resistance to Spam's claim to monopoly, 
in the English demand for the open door to territory not 
previously occupied by other powers. 

It is fairly certain that we should have taken this line 
and refused to recognise the Papal distribution of the 
outside world between Spain and Portugal amended 
and confirmed by the treaty of Tordesillas (1494) even 
if, per impossibile, this country had remained Catholic. 
When, after Cabot's voyage, the Spanish ambassador pro- 
tested that the new continent belonged to his sovereign, 
Henry VII disregarded the Papal division of the world. 
All the same it was a great advantage to it that this country 
went Protestant, as we see ftom the reign of Mary and 
from the example of France. Under Mary, upon the 
insistence of Philip, English seamen were prohibited from 
voyages to Guinea, the Portuguese sphere though they 
did not recognise the prohibition ; I and Sebastian Cabot's 
pension was docked by one-half it is said at Philip's 
instance. Voyages to the Arctic and to the North Pole 
that was all right with Spain. Where would England 
have been if it had accepted this prohibition, or even if it 
had not fought it unitedly, undeviatingly throughout the 
Elizabethan age ? It was unthinkable that England should 
sit down under this sentence of exclusion : the whole future 
of the country and of its place irf the world was at stake. 
But on the Spanish side that was the settled determination, 
to keep everybody else out. Here was one of the two main 
causes of the long struggle the Elizabethans fought with 
Spain. The moment Elizabeth came to the throne the 
government reversed Mary's prohibition upon trading to 
Guinea ; it was something after all to have the government 
on one's side. At one of Cecil's early interviews with the 
Spanish ambassador he informed him that the English 
government did not accept the Pope's claim to make terri- 
torial awards. The ambassador observed: 'nothing will 

1 The Cambridge History of the British Empire, I. 44. 


The Elizabethans and America 

bring these people to their senses. They claim to have a 
right to go to all lands or provinces belonging to friendly 
states without exception.' One sees that conflict was in- 
evitable. As Elizabeth's position grew stronger we observe 
her coming out more openly on the side of her seamen^ 
fighting their battle politically and diplomatically, as she 
well knew how. On that issue, with all that was at stake, 
we may say that the Victorians, Froude and Kingsley, were 
roughly, if somewhat crudely, right. 

And what would have happened if we had not con- 
ducted the struggle unitedly, consistently, with Elizabeth's 
firm grasp of power, we may observe from the case of France. 

The French were active in America, North, Central and 
South, before we were and more aggressively. 1 Breton 
and Norman fishermen were off the coast of Newfoundland 
as early as 1504, though our own West Country fisherfolk 
were not far behind. The French were in South America 
as early, frequenting the coast of Brazil : a whole genera- 
tion before the voyages of 'old' William Hawkins, founder 
of the dynasty, from Plymouth in the 1530*8, who was 
merely following in their wake. So, too, with the West 
Indies : French interlopers were active there a generation 
before the English, who were quiescent and apt to respect, 
not the Spanish claim to prior discovery but the fact of 
effective occupation. 

The French kings, however, lacked the will to overseas 
expansion of Portugal and Spain : they remained faithful 
to the traditional Mediterranean policy verted towards the 
Levant, disinterested in North-Western expeditions. The 
merchants and seamen of the Norman and Breton ports 
were left to their own devices, and they did remarkably 
well. They organised from Dieppe the expedition under 
Verrazano which in 1524 first traversed the Atlantic coast 
of America, linking the Spanish explorations in Florida 
with those of the Portuguese brothers Corte-Real (1500-2) 

1 In the following paragraphs I am indebted to the standard work of 
C. A. Julien, Les Voyages de dtcouverte et les premiers titablissements 
sticks), from which I have translated the quotations cited. 


The Conflict for the Mew World 

around Newfoundland and the coast of Labrador. From 
the i52O 5 s the Portuguese began to put into practice their 
determination to destroy the French navigation to Brazil, 
massacring French sailors caught on expedition there. There 
was great indignation in Brittany, but Francis I accepted 
the veto on the navigation. 

The 1530'$ and 1 540*8 witnessed Jacques Carrier of 
St.-Malo's brilliant expeditions to and explorations of the 
St. Lawrence by which route, of course, he hoped to 
find the expected outlet into the Pacific and the Far East. 
Francis I was at last interested, and from 1540 pressed 
in his diplomacy the doctrine of permanent and effective 
occupation as the only title to possession. He replied to 
the protests of the Spanish ambassador against Carrier's 
expeditions: 'the Popes hold 'Spiritual jurisdiction, but it 
does not lie with them to distribute lands among kings, 
and the kings of France and other Christians were not 
summoned when the partition took place'. 1 This line was, 
however, not backed up by his successors, nor did he main- 
tain it consistently himself. Cartier's third voyage of 1541 
was reinforced by the Huguenot Roberval, who pushed on 
up the rivers as far as Ottawa. But Francis I, involved in 
renewed war with the Emperor, recalled Roberval, who 
three years later was killed by Catholics when coming out 
of a Protestant meeting. 

In the I55o's French interlopers were increasingly active 
in the West Indies. But by the truce of 1556 France accepted 
Philip II's demand for prohibition of the trade, except by 
special licence from him which was not readily forth- 
coming, we may suppose. The French sea-captains refused 
to accept this, but they were without the support of their 
government. Contrast England under Elizabeth : the fact 
that England went Protestant was an inestimable advantage, 
it gave us a free hand, we were no longer hampered and 
held back as the French were. By the definitive treaty of 
Cateau-Cambr^sis (1559), Henri II, in the interests of 

1 q. E. G. R. Taylor, 'The Northern Passages*, in The Great Age of Dis- 
covery, ed. A. P. Newton, 215. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Catholic unity, renounced all French enterprise 111 South 
America. From this time forward Mem de Sa was able to 
gain effective possession of Brazil for Portugal. The natives 
supported the French, but were gradually forced to submit. 
Till the end of the century France maintained a shadowy 
hold on the coast through the sympathy of the natives, by 
their own efforts, without any support from the home 
government. What France lost by the miserable (and 
orthodox) ValoisJ The torch passed to the hands of 
Admiral Coligny, the Huguenot leader, the true and far- 
seeing exponent of the interests of France. Testu and 
Thevet, returning from Brazil, dedicated to him their 
splendid coloured atlas of America. Checkmated in South, 
he turned his attention to North, America. 

Ponce de Leon had given Florida its name in 1513 : it 
was the Spaniards' name for North America, moving up- 
wards from the base of their power in the centre. The years 
1539-43 witnessed the expeditions of de Soto and Coronado, 
in the course of which they explored large areas of what is 
now the southern part of the United States. But for two 
decades after Spain did nothing to make her claim to these 
parts effective. In the years 1562-5 under the inspiration 
of Coligny as Admiral of France, three colonial expeditions 
were sent to Florida, the first headed by Jean Ribault and 
the Breton Protestant Laudonni&re. On their return France 
was in the throes of religious war, with the English inter- 
vening on the Huguenot side. Ribault came over to 
London, where in 1563 he published The Whole and True 
Discovery of Terra Florida. The French settlers, like the 
English later, failed to cultivate the soil and suffered acute 
privations. In 1565 John Hawkins on his second voyage 
visited Fort Caroline and revictualled the French there 
one sees the regular pattern of Anglo-French, or at any rate 
Anglo-Huguenot, co-operation against the monolithic power 
of Spain. The French, disheartened, were ready to return 
when a powerful reinforcement under Ribault arrived, sent 
out by Coligny. 

Ribault made a settlement at Saint Augustine, then, 


The Conflict for the Mew World 

with most of his forces was caught and wrecked in a hurri- 
cane. Pedro de Menendez had been commissioned by 
Philip to destroy them : here was a divine opportunity. He 
got the wrecked men to surrender in expectation of terms, 
and then in three successive massacres wiped them out. 
Some few French took refuge among the Indians, very few 
ever got away. Among these was Laudonni&re, who not 
unnaturally took to a life of privateering against the 
Spaniards, like Drake after a similar experience at the 
hands of the Spaniards at San Juan de Uliia a couple of 
years later. Spanish exultation was characteristic: 'men 
killed them rather by divine inspiration than by suggestion 
of any human intelligence 5 . In that one sees the loathsome 
spirit of Spanish fanaticism. 

M. Julien comments, 'one would seek in vain in the 
Catholic writings of the time for a single page of protest. 
By contrast, Protestant polemic raised the debate to another 
plane and placed before European opinion the problem of 
the methods and the rights of Spain in America. 9 All this 
added fuel to the growing Protestant detestation of Spain, 
to the campaign against the treachery and ruthlessness of 
her methods, and the humanitarian propaganda based 
on the revelations of her own Bishop Las Casas against 
the barbarity of her settlers' treatment of the natives. The 
shock of these events was felt most acutely in England, 
still on terms of amity and alliance with Spain. This 
situation Hawkins was trying to take advantage of, with 
the official backing of the Queen, to try out a licensed trade 
with the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean, if possible with 
Philip's approval for the colonists certainly needed and 
wanted the trade. 1 

There is a popular idea that Hawkins began the slave- 
trade to America. This is, of course, a delusion ; I may 
as well correct it here. The Spaniards brought a few 

1 'The whole of the Indies was an eager market for cloth, weapons, tools 
and hardware of all sorts, books, paper, wine, oil and slaves. Except for oil 
and wine, Spanish merchants could not export these goods in sufficient 
quantities or at competitive prices.* J. H. Parry, *The New World, 1521- 
1580', in The New Cambridge Modern History, II. 585. 


The Elizabethans and America 

negroes as slaves Into Hispaniola as early as 1502.* As the 
aborigines proved hopeless for labour, a steady stream of 
negroes began to flow across the Atlantic. The slave-trade 
was no innovation : slaves had been imported into Spain 
from West Africa regularly for the past half-century. In 
1518 the Spanish Crown granted a sole licence for the 
transport of 4000 negroes a year direct from Africa to the 
West Indies, and these were supplied by Portuguese mer- 
chants who had the monopoly of the African coast-trade. 
In 1538 the Emperor Charles V sold the privilege to two 
German merchants of Seville for four years. In the second 
half of the sixteenth century most of the contractors who 
purchased the right were German, Flemish or Italian sub- 
jects of the Emperor or of his son. But the supply of slaves 
was never enough for the demand, and Portuguese inter- 
lopers were the most persistent of those who sought to serve 
the market outside the Crown's licence. It was into this 
well-established trade that Hawkins sought to insert him- 
self, and, if possible, to gain Philip's licence since he had 
been, in some sense, a servant of Philip's in England. This 
may have been too much to expect, and on his third venture 
he narrowly escaped destruction. But he was in no sense 
an initiator in a trade of which, in any case, the dominant 
ethical standards of the sixteenth century did not disapprove. 
So let us hear no more of that. 

This, then, is the significance of Hawkins's three famous 
voyages, on the last of which the young Drake served as 
captain of the bark Judith. King Philip's answer was the 
piece of black treachery in the harbour of San Juan (now 
Vera Cruz), when the Spanish Viceroy Don Martin de 
Enriques broke his pledged word, Hawkins's ships were 
suddenly attacked, his voyage overthrown, over a hundred 
of his men lost to imprisonment, the lash, death at the 
hands of the Inquisition; himself returning across the 
Atlantic, unspeakable sufferings on board his ship, only a 
handful of men left to bring her into Mount's Bay. This 

1 Cf, A. P. Newton, The European Nations in the West Indus, 1493-1688, 
19 foil. ; Sir Alan Burns, History of the British West Indies, 123 foil. 


The Conflict for the New World 

experience was never forgotten or forgiven by the English 
seamen. Drake said that Hawkins lost 70,000 ducats no 
reason to disbelieve it. Drake himself followed Laudon- 
niere's example and embarked on his own private war of 
.reprisals, and certainly made the Spaniards pay for it. It 
would be absurd to call this piracy, as it is absurd to call 
Drake a pirate. Of course he was a 'pirate', a corsario, to 
the Spaniards ; but there is no reason why we should adopt 
their point of view. Hakluyt gives us the Elizabethan 
judgment on that subject : 'whoever is conversant with the 
Portugal and Spanish writers shall find that they account 
all other nations for pirates, rovers and thieves which visit 
any heathen coast that they have sailed by or looked on'. 1 

All this had a powerful effect in swinging this country 
away from the Spanish alliance. It stored up hatred of 
the Spaniards among the most nationalistic of peoples. The 
Queen took her own revenge most effectively, with her 
arrest of the Spanish treasure-ships that took refuge in her 
West Country ports in 1569. She 'borrowed' the money 
from its Genoese bankers and paid it back later ; but 
for want of it Alba's troops in the Netherlands mutinied, 
and the process of losing the Low Countries for Philip was 
well begun. The diplomatic revolution of the sixteenth 
century, the transformation of the traditional Anglo-Spanish 
alliance into hostility, was set in train. The struggle over 
entry to the New World was one of the two main factors ; 
but this in turn was a pre-condition of our gaining a share 
in the New World. 

The French were driven out. They did send a reprisal 
expedition under Dominic de Gourgues, which surprised 
three small Spanish forts. The Spaniards had massacred 
their victims, they declared, 'not as Frenchmen, but as 
heretics'. The French now hanged their prisoners, 'not as 
Spaniards, but as murderers'. But they did not dare to 
attack San Agustin, henceforth the base guarding Spain's 
outlet from the Caribbean, keystone of the Florida Channel. 
Catharine de Medici would willingly have taken advantage 

1 q. Burns, 163. 

The Elizabethans and America 

of a fait accompli that gave France a strategic position in 
Florida, athwart Philip's treasure-route. What he wanted 
was the destruction of Coligny, and in the Massacre of 
St. Bartholomew she procured it for him. The confusion 
of French policy, the inner conflicts of the religious wars, 
made it impossible to follow any consistent course and lost 
France her opportunities in America. 

Julien sums up, 'with Coligny there disappeared the 
only Frenchman of the century who fully understood the 
importance of the policy of expansion and of the struggle 
against the Spanish and Portuguese empires 5 . France 
experienced a double defeat in Brazil and Florida, where 
she had * every chance of success. ... In the event France 
retained none of the territories she had explored or occu- 
pied.' And the Treaty of Vervins at the end of the century 
(1598) came back to the position of Gateau- Cambr&is 
midway through : Spain made not the slightest concession 
on trade with America. 

We shall see how the English fared by contrast : how 
national unity and consistent political leadership enabled 
them to succeed where France failed except for Canada, 
after peace was secured at the turn of the century, and 
where the Bourbon Henri IV inherited the Huguenot 
enthusiasm for colonisation. 

But we must draw attention to what the English learned 
from the French in these matters, from their experience and 
example, the knowledge they had gathered about the New 
World, alluring, exciting, dangerous. It seems that the idea 
of American colonisation came to us out of that Huguenot 
circle. Serving together at Le Havre in 1562 were Richard 
Eden, Thomas Stukeley, Humphrey Gilbert. 1 Eden, a 
Cambridge man, was one of our first important geographers. 
Secretary to Cecil, he was one of the Northumberland circle 
active in forwarding English expansion. In Mary's reign, 
a member of Philip's household, he translated the sections 
of Peter Martyr's famous Decades dealing with the New 

1 Cf. The Voyages and Colonising Enterprises of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, cd. 
D. B. Qjuinn (Hakluyt Soc.), I. 5. 


The Conflict for the Mew World 

World, and then was deprived of his post for heresy. In 
1562 he took service with the Huguenot leader, the Vidame 
de Chartres, and spent the next ten years in France, greatly 
extending his geographical knowledge in those circles. 
Brought back to England by the Massacre of St. Bartholo- 
mew, he continued his work of translation, passing on his 
knowledge : a factor in the spate of geographical publication 
that poured forth in the 1 570*8 and 1 580*5. x 

Jean Ribault, as we have seen, came over to England 
in 1563, where he was already well known, for he, too, had 
been in service in the Northumberland circle. He was well 
received by the Queen, who encouraged the project of an 
Anglo-French expedition under Ribault and Stukeley to 
occupy the site of the first French colony that had been 
abandoned. When Ribault returned to France the Queen 
gave Stukeley licence to plant a colony, but he a light- 
headed adventurer whose adventures ultimately carried him 
beyond the boundaries of coherence and sense preferred 
a marauding expedition at sea. Next year, 1564, the pro- 
posal was for Hawkins, a very different kind of man, who 
'desired the name of an orderly person and had always 
hated folly', to establish a colony. In this he was antici- 
pated by Laudonniere as we have seen, Hawkins came 
to the help of the French there in 1565. After the disaster 
to Ribault and his colonists, the English interest was at once 
reflected in an account of it published in 1566. But the 
Spaniards had settled the issue in blood down there on the 
Florida coast. 

The fact is that in these middle decades of the century 
there was something like an Anglo-French Channel com- 
munity, particularly in evidence at the western end of the 
Channel, between Protestants on both sides of it. When 
one was in trouble, in opposition or beyond the law, the 
other came to the rescue. In Mary's reign Killigrews, 
Tremaynes, Carews, coming out in open defiance of Mary's 
Catholicism and the Spanish marriage, took refuge in 
France. In Elizabeth's reign they all provided intimate 

1 Cf. E. G. R. Taylor, Tudor Geography, 1485-1583, 20-3, 37. 

The Elizabethans and America 

members of her Court-circle. One of the Champeniownes, 
cousins of the Gilberts and Raleghs, made a Huguenot 
marriage, to a Montgomery. The young Walter Ralegh 
got his military apprenticeship serving under Huguenot 
command for several years in France : he, too, seems to 
have been brought back by St. Bartholomew. To the end 
of his life he retained French associations. When he came 
into the bright sunlight, and the cash, of high favour with 
the Queen he maintained the Huguenot artist Le Moyne 
while he did his drawings of Florida. 1 Hakluyt, one of 
whose motives in becoming chaplain to the ambassador in 
Paris was to learn all he could from French geographical 
circles, translated Laudonniere's account of the French 
enterprises in Florida and dedicated it to Ralegh. When 
the English got going, with their first colonial attempt in 
Virginia, the compliment was returned : Charles de PEcluse, 
the eminent botanist and friend of Philip Sidney, translated 
Hariot's account of Virginia for the famous European 
publication on America of De Bry, which Hakluyt inspired. 
Similarly Hawkins and Drake had close French associa- 
tions, naturally enough from Plymouth, which had its 
Protestant opposite-number in La Rochelle, with which it 
was closely connected. When Drake, quite young, returned 
to the West Indies to recoup himself and Hawkins for their 
losses at San Juan de Uliia by robbing the treasure-train 
outside Nombre de Dios, he did so in association with a 
French captain and crew. On a not dissimilar plane we 
find a community of ideas between the distinguished 
Huguenot leader Duplessis-Mornay and Philip Sidney, 
whom he wanted for his son-in-law. In 1581 Duplessis- 
Mornay urged a coup against the Isthmus of Darien, thus 
capturing a route to the East the idea that haunted the 
minds of Drake and John Oxenham, who died in pursuit 
of it. These belonged to the stock of strategic ideas common 
to the western Protestants in their struggle with the Catholic 
colossus which would impose a complete embargo on their 
entry into, or share in, the New World. With the struggle 

1 Gf. The Roanoke Voyages, 1584-90, ed. D. B. Qjuinn, 546, 548. 

The Conflict for the New World 

becoming more intense, and France counted out by civil 
war for the rest of the century maintained of course by 
Philip and necessitating our intervention for our own safety 
in the hazards of that dangerous age not unlike our 
own, with a world riven in two by the struggle between 
Reformation and Counter-Reformation, Protestant and 
Catholic, the chances in North America fell to England. 
But it was certain they would have to be fought for. 



LIZABETH I was the inheritrix and the continuer of 
the impulses and new leads coining from the Edwardian 
circle. She had been educated along with her brother by 
Cambridge tutors, of the second generation of the Renais- 
sance impulse in England, Protestant Reformers ; where 
her sister Mary had been brought up by Oxford tutors, of 
the first generation of humanists, Catholic Reformers. 
Elizabeth's mind was not enclosed within a dream of 
medieval faith ; hers was an extrovert intelligence in touch 
with everything of interest happening in the real world of 
events and affairs. And not least in the New World. She 
was interested in everything that concerned America its 
newness and strangeness, its occupants and products, its vast 
potential riches (she had a very Tudor nose for that aspect 
of things : not for nothing was she a granddaughter of that 
canny Welshman, Henry VII). She was interested, in 
several senses of the word, in the voyages and the voyagers, 
in the geography of America and the geographers, in the 
capital question of English colonisation, above all, in the 
political struggle with Spain for a place in that New World. 
But I hope I may be pardoned for saying no-one 
has yet disentangled her share in these activities, made out 
precisely what her contribution was to making North 
America English. It was a major one. Strangely enough 
the historian of the age, Froude, did her a grave injustice 
in his famous History. Right enough about the seamen, 
he was vastly wrong about the Queen. Quite simply, they 
were not in disjunction, they were complementary to each 
other ; the Queen always gave them her support, some- 
times her instigation in the cardinal instance of Drake's 


Queen Elizabeth I and America 

Voyage round the World, against the wishes of her minister 
Lord Burghley, by then a sated power, gone rather con- 
servative. It will be a good thing to rectify an historic 
injustice: I shall try to estimate her contribution politically 
and diplomatically, her financial interest in the voyages, 
her support for the idea of colonisation and of its exponents. 

Let us look, first, at her contacts with the new cosmo- 
graphers, so much involved in these enterprises, and with 
the seamen. 

An idiosyncratic figure in this circle was John Dee, 
mathematician, cosmographer, astrologer. 1 A Fellow of 
St. John's, Cambridge, he became one of the original 
Fellows of Trinity, whence he went over to Louvain and 
made*the acquaintance of the foremost Flemish geographers 
of the day, Gemma Frisius, Mercator, Ortelius. He went 
on to Paris where his lectures on Euclid, he said, made a 
striking impression. Dee was a Welshman: no-one ever 
possessed more recognisably Celtic characteristics, the 
touchiness and suspicion, the acuteness and imagination, 
the originality along with a certain haphazardness, the 
tendency to go over the borderline. He belonged by birth 
to that cousinage from the Welsh Border that surrounded 
the Queen Parrys and Cecils, Aubreys and Lewises. 
The Queen knew him well and would stop at his door at 
Mortlake when passing by; she always treated him with 
favour, and sometimes cash. He cast the horoscope for 
her coronation day : no-one can say that it did not turn 
out well. 

All his life Dee was concerned among many other 
things, mathematics, the problems of navigation, spirits 
good and evil with the over-riding problem of a route 
to the riches of the East. Could the English discover a 
route of their own, free of the Spaniards and Portuguese, 
by North-East or North- West? Over a period of thirty 
years he was connected with every voyage from England 
searching for a North-East Passage a by-product of which 1 

1 The best account of his work is in E. G. R. Taylor, Tudor Geography, 
1485-1583, cc. v, vi, vii. Gf. also C. F. Smith, John Dee, 1527-1608. 

The Elizabethans and America 

was the very profitable trade with Russia. (He thought that, 
once past the Vaigatz Islands, the Siberian coast sloped 
away south and all would be easy ! He was apt to take in- 
sufficient account of obstacles.) But he was equally interested 
in the North- West Passage, its problems and outlets and, 
that brought him up against the American Continent. 

He was, perhaps, the first to write about these problems 
in a series of what he called 'Atlantical Discourses', which 
remained, like a lot of his work, unfinished and unpub- 
lished. (He was one of those . . .) He thought that the 
term in general use then for America, c West Indies', was 
misleading ; if he could have had his way America would 
have become known as Atlantis. 

John Pee inhabited an exciting, and sometimes tortured, 
world of fact and dream, as so many earlier and later 
scientists have done we have only to think of Newton 
himself. He dreamed of a British Empire based on the 
sea : he was the originator of the phrase a Welshman, 
the word with him is always Britain, not England. Thalas- 
sokratia Britannike his writings are full of such megalo- 
maniac phrases. He planned a work in several volumes 
on this British Empire, only the first of which was published, 
the Pety Navy Royall, dedicated to Sir Christopher Hatton, 
the frontispiece proudly displaying the Queen seated in 
state in the ship of empire. Strange to say and every- 
thing about Dee is strange the megalomaniac proved 
prophetically right : perhaps he was not a clairvoyant for 
nothing after all. 

In the discussions that resulted in granting Sir Humphrey 
Gilbert the patent under which the first English colonies 
in America were planted. Dee was drawn in to advise 
about the Queen's title to North America. A Celt, he was 
not content to go back to Cabot, he went back to King 
Arthur. (He named his son, by the way, Arthur.) John 
Dee held that the Friseland of the medieval Zeni brothers 
apparently a deformation of Iceland Greenland and 
Estotiland to the west of it, perhaps Newfoundland, had 
been colonised by King Arthur and hence were rightful 


Queen Elizabeth I and America 

appanages of the British Monarchy. 1 These features are 
prominently displayed on the map he drew to accompany 
his summary of the Queen's title. At the end of his manu- 
script Great and Rich Discoveries he transcribes Mercator's 
story of the westerners arriving in Norway, towards the 
end of the middle ages, from the colonies planted in the 
west by King Arthur. This may well be a reflection of the 
fact that in the fourteenth century the settlements in western 
Greenland were abandoned. To this Dee added the Welsh 
tradition of the discoveries of the Atlantic coast by Prince 
Madoc in the twelfth century; and this he imparted to 
Hakluyt, who duly incorporated it in his work, on the 
Elizabethan principle never throw away an argument. 

We read in Dee's Diary that he spoke with the Queen 
herself as to her title in two audiences he had with her at 
Windsor in the last week of November 1577.* He also 
spoke with Secretary Walsingham and Hatton, two leaders 
of the expansionist school in her Council, patrons of the 
seamen and colonisers. Dee had further conference with the 
Queen at Richmond for two hours in October 1578. Two 
years later he was dealing with Gilbert for a share in his 
grant of American discovery, and September loth, Sir 
Humphrey Gilbert granted me my request to him, for the 
royalties to the North above the parallel of the 5Oth degree 
of latitude 3 . 3 This, as so often in Dee's life, was a purely 
notional acquisition, a chimerical gain. However, there 
were the consolations of the Queen's favour. A week later 
we have a vivid close-up of her: 'September I7th, the 
Queen came from Richmond in her coach, the higher way 
of Mortlake field, and when she came right against the 
church she turned down toward my house. And when she 
was against my garden in the field she stood there a good 
while, and then came into the street at the great gate of 
the field, where she espied me at my door making obeisance 

1 Cf. The Private Diary of Dr. John Dee, ed. J. O. Halliwell (Camden 
Soc.)> 4J and cf. E. G. R. Taylor, 'The Northern Passages', in The Great 
Age of Discovery, ed. A. P. Newton, 199 foil. 

2 Ibid. On 15 August, he writes, 'I went toward Norwich with my 
work of Imperium Britannicum*. * Ibid. 8-10, 


The Elizabethans and America 

to her Majesty. She beckoned her hand for me ; I came to 
her coach-side, she very speedily pulled off her glove and 
gave me her hand to kiss ; and, to be short, asked me to 
resort to her Court, and to give her to weet [know] when 
I came there. 5 

A fortnight later, October 3, 'at eleven of the clock 
before noon, I delivered my two rolls of the Queen's Majesty's 
title unto herself in the garden at Richmond, who appointed 
after dinner to hear further of the matter. Therefore be- 
tween one and two afternoon, I was sent for into her High- 
ness 5 Privy Chamber, where the Lord Treasurer also was, 
who did seem to doubt much that I had or could make 
the argument probable for her Highness's title so as I 
pretended/ Then, 'Oct. 7th, on Friday I came to my 
Lord Treasurer, and he being told of my being without, 
and also I standing before him at his coining forth, did not 
or would not speak to me, I doubt not of some new grief 
conceived. 5 Lord Burghley's disapproval gave Dee bad 
dreams, which he noted, full of persecution-mania. 

It is fairly clear that Burghley regarded Dr. Dee much 
as Hotspur regarded that other Welshman, Glendower, who 

all the courses of my life do show 
I am not in the roll of common men. 
Where is he living, clipped in with the sea 
That chides the banks of England, Scotland, Wales, 
Which calls me pupil, or hath read to me ? 
And bring him out that is but woman's son 
Can trace me in the tedious ways of art 
And hold me pace in deep experiments . . . 
I can call spirits from the vasty deep. 

Hotspur. Why, so can I, or so can any man; 
But will they come when you do call for them ? 

(The interesting thing is that they would not come at 
Dr. Dee's bidding, without the aid of his medium, Edward 
Kelly.) It is funny, however, to see patient old Lord 
Burghley, who was actually more like a Polonius, in the 
impatient role of a Hotspur. It took all the Queen's 


Queen Elizabeth I and America 

graclousness to console the Doctor for his treatment at 
Lord Burghley's hands. She came over to Mortlake to 
comfort him, called on horseback at his door, c and withall 
told me that the Lord Treasurer had greatly commended 
my doings for her title, which he had to examine, which 
title in two rolls he had- brought home two hours before'. 
And so on, all very consoling to the wounded pride of a 
Welshman. More to the point, on All Souls* Day, the Lord 
Treasurer sent him a haunch of venison. However, even 
astrologers can hardly Hve by venison alone. 

No terrestrial preferment, nothing to live by, came Dee's 
way, though the Queen was willing enough and made 
various suggestions : it seems the Lord Treasurer stood in 
the way. Once, when she was leaving Richmond on horse- 
back, Walter Ralegh put her in mind of the old man ; 'she 
said, "quod defertur non aufertur", and gave me her right 
hand to kiss'. 1 Once and again, she sent him a gift, forty 
angels or twenty from her own purse. At last, Dee accepted 
better prospects from the Continent and went off to raise 
the spirits with Edward Kelly in Prague. When he returned, 
the Queen did find a berth for him after all : she made him 
Warden of Manchester College, so that he spent his last 
years in security, if not exactly in the odour of sanctity. 

These discussions and consultations in the isyo's had 
their practical issue in Frobisher's three voyages to the 
North- West in 1576, 1577 and 1578. As is well known, 
their promise of further geographical discovery in that 
region was deflected into the search for gold-bearing ore. 
These voyages were set forth by a combination of the 
forward school in the Court-circle with a body of mer- 
chants in the City. The leading figures among the Queen's 
intimates in these activities were Leicester and Walsingham 
followed by young Philip Sidney, nephew of one, son-in- 
law of the other, and his friend Sir Edward Dyer. 2 

Dyer, courtier and poet, a favourite with the Queen 

* The Private Diary of Dr. John Dee, ed. J. O. Halliwcll (Gamden Soc.), 
20, 21. 

2 Cf. Cal S.P. Col., East Indies, 1513-1616, n, 23, 25, 37, 43, 46. 


The Elizabethans and America 

and evidently a charming man, is a characteristic and a 
sympathetic figure in these concerns. A Somerset man by 
origin, his father, steward in Henry VIIPs household, got 
considerable grants of monastic lands there when the going 
was good. 1 The father built up a large estate, which the 
son spent on Court life. Edward Dyer was a good friend 
to Dee, whom he visited at his house along with Leicester 
and Philip Sidney. Dyer helped to circulate the appeal at 
Court for funds to back Frobisher's first voyage in quest 
of the North- West Passage. (Dee also tells us that he was 
introduced by Dyer to Humphrey Gilbert's Discourse on this 
subject.) Among the courtiers who subscribed were 
Leicester, Warwick, Walsingham and Sidney; among the 
merchants, Sir Thomas Gresham, Anthony Jenkinson, 
Michael Lok, Alderman Bond. Frobisher made a promising 
reconnoitre of the channel between Greenland and the 
coast of Labrador, and came back with specimens of sup- 
posedly auriferous ore. 

The second voyage was then a larger and more enthusi- 
astic affair, the Queen herself becoming much the largest 
shareholder, with a venture of 1000 no doubt mainly 
represented by a ship of hers. Lord Admiral Clinton, 
Sir William Winter of the Navy Board, Walsingham and 
Pembroke made large investments (from 175 to 100) ; 
the Queen's cousin, her Lord Chamberlain Hunsdon, Dyer, 
Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Philip Sidney and his sister the 
Countess of Pembroke made smaller investments (of 50 
and 25). On the return of the ships laden with ore, of 
which there were optimistic reports, the Court circle very 
much increased its stake for the third voyage set forth in 
1578. We gather from Hubert Languet's correspondence 
that Philip Sidney would have liked to accompany Frobisher, 
how much he was excited by the 'marvellous story' of the 
second voyage, exploring 'that sea which he supposes to 
wash the north part of America'. 2 Interested in the cargoes 

1 R. M. Sargent, At the Court of Queen Elizabeth : The Life and Lyrics of 
Sir Edward Dyer, 40 foil. 

2 M. W. Wallace, The Life of Sir Philip Sidney, 195-6. 


Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 


Queen Elizabeth I and America 

of ore brought back, Sidney asked Languet for any informa- 
tion he had regarding the reduction of ores. That severe 
Protestant, however, much disapproved of the craze for 
gold. Sidney continued to be interested in American pro- 
jects, though behindhand with his subscription for the last 
voyage. The Queen increased her venture to 1350 
and was anxious that the voyage should be pressed forward. 1 
Pembroke increased his stake ; so did Walsingham and 
Philip Sidney which neither of them could well afford. 
Others came forward the gambling young Earl of Oxford 
for a large sum, all of which he lost ; Hatton, Cumberland, 
Ralph Lane, even John Dee subscribed for a 25 share. 
The sage Lord Burghley put himself down for 100, but 
he was careful not to pay up. 

The cold eyes of King Philip, who watched from that 
small study in the Escorial so much of what was going on 
all over the world, were upon the venture. He was much 
concerned at this incursion into his New World. He urged 
his ambassador in London, Mendoza, to make every effort 
to obtain a chart of Frobisher's voyage, though his own 
opinion was ' it is difficult to believe that in so cold a region 
there can be any richness of metal'. 2 Mendoza replied 
that he was hopeful of obtaining a chart through his spies. 
After several long talks with 'these people' at Court, he 
found that 'the only way for me to keep my temper is to 
bear in mind that I am one of the school of the Duke 
[Alba] and a soldier of his'. At an audience of the Queen, 
she adroitly raised the issue of Philip's denial of toleration 
in the Netherlands as the cause of his troubles there, and 
asked sensibly, c what did it matter to your Majesty if they 
went to the Devil in their own way?' Mendoza's reply 
was the shocked reaction of stupid Spanish orthodoxy: 
these things were ordained of God, it was not in the power 
of princes to restrict religion, that is, Catholicism, etc. (On 
that sort of argument, perhaps it was ordained of God that 
England should be Protestant?) However, in September 

1 Cat. S.P. Dom. 9 1547-1580, 586. 
* Cal. S.P. Spanish, 1568-1579, 594 599 601, 614, 664. 


The Elizabethans and America 

he was able to send on a chart of the voyage, which came 
safely to Philip's hand, along with some of the ore. After 
prolonged assays, it all turned out to be of no value, the 
voyages a dead loss. Philip could well afford to laugh 
except that he was never known to laugh openly. Baffled 
in that direction, the English were not now going to give 
up : they turned to others. 

The fact was that the conflict with Spain for a share 
in America was coming into the open and, joined with that 
over the Netherlands, the freedom of which was indispens- 
able to our security, brought on the war. Drake's Voyage 
round the World announced the arrival of a new power on 
the world-scene ; it immensely raised the prestige of England 
on the threshold of the conflict, and helped to produce it 
as the Queen knew it might, and took the risk. 

The more one knows about that wonderful voyage the 
more wonderful it becomes, not less. What Bartholomew 
Diaz had done in rounding the Cape, Vasco da Gama in 
crossing the Indian Ocean, Magellan in spanning the Pacific 
Drake accomplished in one voyage and came safe home 
to Plymouth Sound. The first English circumnavigator of 
the globe, he became the most celebrated Englishman of 
the day, with an aura about him for friend and foe alike. 
The Golden Hind, the ship of perhaps some 150 tons in which 
he accomplished it, was laid up at Deptford, one of the 
regular sights of London, until her timbers fell apart. It is 
pleasant to think that out of those timbers were made a 
chair that now reposes in the Bodleian Library, a table that 
stands in Middle Temple Hall. In addition to the riches 
she brought back in her hold for the Queen nearly half 
a million in specie Drake came back with an immense 
amount of new information about the wonders of the world, 
about America, the Pacific, the possibilities opening up for 
this country in the Far East. No wonder the Queen was 
closeted with him for hours alone, day after day, on his 
return. He presented to her the log-book of the Golden 
Hind, the daily record of that marvellous journey during 


Queen Elizabeth I and America 

the three years 1577-80. What would we not give to 
possess it today treasure-trove of the age we should value 
more than anything, except, say, the letters of Shakespeare ? 
This precious book disappeared, along with many other 
treasures of the Crown, either in the deplorable Civil War, 
or the fire at Whitehall in 1694 along with the maps 
and charts of the New World, Cabot's among others, that 
used to hang, suggestive to the imagination, in the Queen's 
Privy Gallery. 

What we do know now is that to the Queen alone 
belongs the decision to set forth that voyage against the 
wishes of her Lord Treasurer, Lord Burghley. That is the 
significance of Drake's first question on coming into Ply- 
mouth Sound : 6 Is the Queen alive?' It would have been 
the worse for him if she had died in the interval. The 
voyage worked out far more successfully than anyone could 
have expected except perhaps Drake himself, always a 
sanguine, confident man; but in some respects it worked 
out differently. I do not think we need take so seriously 
the loss of the draft for the Voyage, for I suspect that a 
good deal of room was left for variation and flexibility, in 
the English manner. And certainly several objectives came 
together in it. It might very easily have been overthrown : 
that was the significance of Drake's execution of Thomas 
Doughty. He was Burghley's man in the expedition, placed 
there to hamper its operations : he might have succeeded, 
had it not been for Drake's determination, with the Queen's 
backing. He sailed with her commission : nothing vexed 
him more than to be referred to as a pirate: he was the 
Queen of England's officer, he insisted, and showed one of 
his Spanish prisoners off the coast of Peru his commission. 1 

One purpose of the Voyage stems from Richard Gren- 
ville's project of a few years before for an expedition into the 
South Seas, to seek the southern continent they imagined to 
be there, Terra Australis. 2 Grenville had pointed out, perhaps 

1 H. R. Wagner, Sir Francis Drake's Voyage around the World (San Francisco, 
1926), is wrong on this point, p. 25, as in others of his interpretations. 
a Cf. my Sir Richard Grenville of the Revenge, c. v. 


The Elizabethans and America 

disingenuously, that it would merely pass by those countries 
already in the occupation of Christian princes. Anyhow, 
under the influence of a temporary lull in relations with 
Spain, the Queen countermanded his voyage. What she 
would not permit to Grenville as a private venture, she 
permitted three years later to Drake as a quasi-official one, 
with herself as the dominant partner. Sir Christopher 
Hattoii preferred Drake's suit to her and procured him an 
audience. 1 On emerging from the Straits of Magellan into 
the Pacific, Drake christened his ship the Pelican anew as 
the Golden Hind: it was Hatton's crest. Drake afterwards 
said- that on parting the Queen addressed him these words : 
* Drake! so it is that I would gladly be revenged on the 
King of Spain for divers injuries that I have received'. I 
see no reason to disbelieve this : it has the authentic ring. 
He added, 'her Majesty gave me special commandment that 
of all men my Lord Treasurer should not know it'. This 
sounds by no means improbable. In fact, what we know 
now from English and Spanish sources all hangs together. 

There was indeed some secret between the Queen and 
Drake which has never transpired : some think it relates to 
the idea of a descent on the Isthmus of Darien and cutting 
the pipe-line of Spanish treasure there. Like enough : it was 
an idea that came to the fore in these years. In the prelim- 
inary discussions that were kept very secret on the voyage 
out, no-one knew where they were bound for the objectives 
were greatly extended, and its destination to the Moluccas. 
There was included an idea of looking for the Pacific end 
of the North- West Passage, the supposed Strait of Anian 
which should debouch somewhere about the coast of British 
Columbia and perhaps of returning by that. 

From very early it had been resolved that 'her Majesty 
be made privy to the truth of the voyage'. 2 With all the 
implications of a first incursion into the Spanish-Portuguese 
preserve of the Pacific, and with the intention of reprisals 

1 J. S. Gorbett, Drake and the Tudor Navy, I. 205, 208. 

2 Cf. E. G. R. Taylor, 'The Missing Draft Project of Drake's Voyage 
of 1577-1580% in Geographical Journal, January 1930, 46 foil.; and 'More 
Light on Drake 1577-1580% in Mariner's Mirror, 1930, 134 foil. 


Queen Elizabeth I and America 

against Philip, it was decided -that the voyage could not be 
left to a private syndicate. It became an official affair, 
sponsored by the Queen and the forward party in her 
Council, Lord Burghley sitting back and absenting himself, 
well aware what it boded. As such its intentions could be 
kept secret as to some extent they have remained ever 
since. The Queen contributed her ship, the Swallow, which 
represented her investment. Among other investors were 
her Lord Admiral Lincoln and Sir William Winter of the 
Navy Board ; Leicester, Walsingham and Hatton ; Drake 
whose investment represented his confidence in himself and 
was as much as 1000, and John Hawkins 500 : those 
two were still out to recoup themselves for what they had 
lost at San Juan. And so Drake left Plymouth Sound one 
December day in 1577, bound for the other side of the 
world ; his mariners thought they were bound for Alexandria. 
His colleague John Winter in the Elizabeth was beaten 
back in the Straits of Magellan, and forced by his crew to 
turn home again. While there he did take possession of 
Tierra del Fuego in the name of Queen Elizabeth : I leave 
that consideration to the international lawyers in the dis- 
pute that is still maintained over the Falkland Islands. 
Drake was left to go forward on his own. He made a feint 
to the west to look out for the coast of Terra Australis ; then 
went up the coast of South America, off which he captured 
the treasure-ship the Cacafuego, then sailed north to Cali- 
fornia, where he landed and took possession in the name 
of the Queen. The various accounts all agree about what 
happened. 1 The native Indians were exceedingly friendly: 
'they are a people of a tractable, free and loving nature, 
without guile or treachery 5 evidently inhabitants of a 
golden age : we see how the myth of the noble savage, the 
state of nature and other concepts of literature and political 
theory grew up. To Drake's embarrassment for he was 
a firm Protestant, who always travelled with Foxe's Book 
of Martyrs on board the native Californians took to 
worshipping the English as gods. The braves sought among 

1 The World Encompassed, ed. Sir Richard Temple, 51 foil. 

The Elizabethans and America 

the seamen till they found a god whose face pleased them, 
'which commonly were the youngest of us'. It was all very 
understandable: the Elizabethans were not instructed in 

As a sign of good-will and a peace-offering the Indians 
came down bringing baskets * filled with an herb which 
they called Tabah'. And they offering their obedience, 
Drake took 'the sceptre, crown and dignity of the said 
country into his hand, wishing nothing more than that it 
had lain more fitly for her Majesty to enjoy, and that the 
riches and treasures thereof (wherewith in the upland 
countries it abounds) might with as great conveniency be 
transported to the enriching of her kingdom here at home 
as it is in plenty to be attained there. . . . Before we went 
from thence our General caused to be set up a monument 
of our being there, as also of her Majesty's and successors' 
right and title to that kingdom : namely, a plate of brass, 
fast nailed to a great and firm post ; whereon is engraven 
her Grace's name and the day and year of our arrival there, 
and of the free giving up of the province and kingdom, both 
by the king and people, into her Majesty's hands ; together 
with her Highness' picture and arms, in a piece of sixpence 
current English money, showing itself by a hole made of 
purpose through the plate, underneath was likewise en- 
graven the name of our General. . . . This country our 
General named Albion and that for two causes ; the one in 
respect of the white banks and cliffs which lie toward the 
sea ; the other that it might have some affinity in name also 
with our own country, which was sometime so called.' It 
is nice to think of California as New Albion. 

Drake proceeded north along the coast of Oregon until 
he came abreast of British Columbia, looking for the outlet 
of a North-West Passage. But, his chaplain Francis Fletcher 
wrote, 'we conjecture that either there is no passage at all 
through these northern coasts (which is most likely) or, if 
there be, that yet it is unnavigable. . . . Though we 
searched the coast diligently even unto the 48th degree, 
yet found we not the land to trend so much as one point 


Queen Elizabeth I and America 

in any place towards the east, but running on continually 
north-west, as if it went directly to meet with Asia.' They 
concluded, correctly, that 'the large spreading of the Asian 
and American continent which (somewhat northward of 
these parts), if they be not fully joined, yet seem they to 
come very near one to the other'. 

So Drake returned to a harbourage just north of present 
San Francisco, thought to be the present Drake's Bay, for 
careening his ship before the long haul across the Pacific, 
upon which he disappeared. 

Meanwhile the Queen at home had to face the music. 
Drake's depredations on the coast of Peru had made a great 
noise in the world and caused much indignation in Spain. 
When Winter came back in the summer of 1578 he was 
received with favour by the Queen, and was closeted alone 
with her to give her an account of the voyage. 1 In August 
next year Philip sent Mendoza reports of the events on 
their coast from the Viceroys of Peru and New Spain, 
'which certainly disclose a very strange affair'. -The im- 
passive Philip was a master of understatement. Drake was 
expected home after two years he was a year overdue 
before he eventually returned, and the Queen was growing 
anxious for news. She also wanted to know the purpose 
of the preparations in Spanish ports : Philip was on the 
eve of his conquest of Portugal, by which he gained an 
ocean-going fleet and added a second empire to his own. 
The situation was growing very dangerous : England was 
coming face to face with a world-empire, the balance of 
power in Europe quite thrown out with France paralysed 
by civil war. 

Elizabeth wanted to find out where she stood. In 
January 1580 she invited Mendoza to a bear-baiting that 
had been laid on for her. 2 He wanted to know her attitude 
to Drake's piracies. She countered by asking the purpose 
of Philip's preparations at sea. At last she demanded with 
emphasis, c Ut quid tot sumptus ? ' the discussion being 

1 Cal. S.P. Spanish, 1568-1579, 602, 683. 

2 Cal. S.P. Spanish, 1580-1586, 3, 7, 10. 

29 < 

The Elizabethans and America 

carried on, of course, In extemporary Latin. 1 Several times 
Mendoza demanded another audience. At last the Queen 
granted him one on 20 February, going out of her way to 
be gracious by descending from her dais and coming for- 
ward six paces to meet him, Mendoza reported to Philip, 
she was c so much alarmed about the fleet, no doubt accused 
by her own evil conscience 5 . Before he could say a word 
she asked whether he had come as a herald to declare war 
upon her. Mendoza replied that it was she apparently who 
was going to war with all the world. Elizabeth returned 
that she 'would never make war upon your Majesty unless 
you began it first'. She pointed out that he already had 
a war with the Moslems on his hands in the Mediterranean, 
besides the rebellion of his subjects in the Netherlands to 
deal with. She had always done her best for the tranquillity 
of the Netherlands and to prevent France getting a footing 
there. Mendoza complained of the plundering of Spanish 
ships, especially on the American treasure-route. The 
Queen immediately seized on this to ask if there were news 
of any such ships returned. Mendoza was only able to 
inform her, No but he was sure they were being dealt 
with as they deserved, by being sent to the bottom. The 
Queen kept him in conversation for three hours, trying to 
get out of him the extent of Philip's preparations, their 
purpose and direction. Mendoza was satisfied that he had 
increased her alarm by saying that he could guess the pur- 
pose of so great an enterprise: 'this frightened her more 
than before and she was very amiable'. Mendoza was a 
simple sort of man, who believed in frightening women. 
He never understood that here was one who, the .more 
amiable, was the more dangerous and was. not to be 

Mendoza had his spies in the West Country ports wait- 
ing for Drake's return, and one day in September Drake 
was suddenly there with his cargo of treasure intact. His 
return presented a very awkward problem for the govern- 
ment; but the spontaneous reaction in the country to his 

1 *To what purpose such great charges ?' 

Queen Elizabeth I and America 

astonishing exploit, the pride in his achievement, his nation- 
wide popularity, and behind all this the support of the 
Queen, settled the matter. She received him in high 
favour, saw him much alone, walked with him often in the 
.palace-garden, always noticed him in public. It was ex- 
pected that she would knight him when she went down 
to Deptford to visit the Golden Hind. And so she did, 
contriving to lose a purple garter in the proceedings to 
heighten good spirits, and handing the French ambassador 
the sword to do it with, by way of associating France a 
little in the event. The popular idea is that Drake got all 
the treasure. On the contrary, the bullion all came to the 
Queen, who put it safely in the Tower : she used it judi- 
ciously to keep going resistance to Philip in the Netherlands, 
so that he could never concentrate all his resources against 
us. She graciously accepted Drake's presents of jewels, and 
allowed him 10,000 reward, out of half a million, for his 
eminent services. She decreed that the other shareholders 
should receive as much again as they had invested : a 
good 100 per cent. The respectable Lord Treasurer, 
Mendoza said, refused ten bars of fine gold with 300 crowns 
to each of them. 1 Whether this was true or no, Lord 
Burghley was a virtuous man. 

Out of this juncture, the protests and discussions it 
provoked, there came a classic statement of the English 
government's position in regard to America in which no 
doubt that wise intellect had a powerful share. Camden 
had access to his official papers and reports it thus. 'The 
Spaniards have brought these evils on themselves by their 
injustice towards the English, whom, contra ius gentium, they 
have excluded from commerce with the West Indies [that 
is America]. The Queen does not acknowledge that her 
subjects and those of other nations may be excluded from 
the Indies on the claim that these have been donated to 
the King of Spain by the Pope, whose authority to invest 
the King of Spain with the New World she does not recog- 
nise. . . . This donation of what does not belong to the 

1 CaL S.P. Spanish, 1580-1586, 75. 

The Elizabethans and America 

donor and this imaginary right of property ought not to 
prevent other princes from carrying on commerce in those 
regions or establishing colonies there in places not inhabited 
by the Spaniards. Prescription without possession is not 
valid. Moreover all are at liberty to navigate that vast 
ocean [the Pacific], since the use of the sea and air are 
common to all. No nation or private person can have a 
right to the ocean, for neither the course of nature nor public 
usage permits any occupation of it/ z It is the most succinct 
statement of the English position for which the struggle was 
now engaged. 

The purpose of the struggle was to gain a footing in 
America : the idea of colonisation comes to the fore. Here 
we can only briefly indicate the Queen's part in all that; 
though we must remember that most of it went in dis- 
cussions in Council, with her ministers and members of her 
Court-circle, audiences granted to private persons, interest, 
encouragement, inspiration. Of all this there would be 
only slight traces in written documents. 

The person who undertook to carry out the idea of 
colonisation in America, as to which there had been so 
much discussion and so many abortive gestures in the 
direction of it, was Humphrey Gilbert. And from the 
Crown's patent he was granted in 1578 sprang the ultimate 
achievement. That patent gave him licence for six years 
*to search, find out and view such remote, heathen and 
barbarous lands, countries and territories not actually pos- 
sessed of any Christian prince or people'. 2 That was the 
regular formula, in pursuance of the government's consistent 
stand on American settlement. 'And the same to have, 
hold, occupy and enjoy to him, his heirs and assigns for 

Humphrey Gilbert had been from the days of his youth 
a personal servant of the Queen, from the time when, as 

1 E. P. Cheyney, 'International Law under Queen Elizabeth 1 , Eng. 
Hist. Review, 1905, 660 foil. 

2 The Voyages and Colonising Enterprises of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, ed. D. B. 
Quinn, I. 35. 


Queen Elizabeth I and America . 

Princess, she was In disgrace with her sister Mary. 1 We 
know little of Gilbert's expedition of 1578, which was secret, 
very mixed in its make-up to which some genuinely 
piratical elements were attached and turned out a complete 
failure. 2 It is thought that he was aiming at settlement in 
Florida in accordance with those ideas in the early 1560*8. 
The Queen contributed a ship of her own, the Falcon : 
captain, Walter Ralegh. (I cannot help thinking she must 
have known him, certainly have known of him, long before 
the traditionally romantic account of her sudden falling 
for him to which we have all subscribed.) 

Gilbert's failure and, no doubt, her intimate knowledge 
of his defects of temperament, made her reluctant to support 
his last and most elaborate project, which has been described 
as branching out into 'a maze of individual and corporate 
enterprises for the conquest and settlement of North America, 
and, although Gilbert lost his life in attempting to carry 
out his part in it, led to the first plantation of Virginia less 
than a year after his death'. 3 She held Gilbert to be * a 
man noted of not good hap by sea ' ; however, against her 
better judgment, she relented and gave him permission to 
go. Before he left, with characteristic graciousness, she sent 
him by Walter Ralegh now in the first flush of favour 
her good wishes, with a jewel for token, f an anchor guided 
by a Lady 5 . She asked him to leave his portrait with 
Ralegh for her ; she did not invest in the voyage. Gilbert 
went, took possession of Newfoundland, lost his flagship 
with all his stores for settlement, and was drowned in the 
bark Squirrel on the way home. 

Ralegh was the heir to Gilbert's colonising projects, 
who carried them into execution. But it was entirely his 
favour with the Queen that gave him the resources to put 
his plans into operation : the prestige and opportunities of 
his position, the support and service he could now command, 

1 Ibid. 2-3. But note p. i, that Modbury is in Devon, not Kent, and 
p. 46, Ockington should read Gockington (near Torquay). 

2 Mendoza had a spy on board from whom he hoped for an account of it 
on return. Cal. S.P. Spanish, 1568-1579, 607. 

* D. B. Quinn, op cit. I. 55. 


The Elizabethans and America 

the gifts of lands and licences, the cash. Notice that the 
Queen's favour was not given for nothing : there was an 
implied contract of service. It was her way of attaching 
men of ability to the service of the state, and from the men 
she delighted to favour the state got good service. In all 
Ralegh's efforts for Virginia she was behind him : she 
backed him, she provided his resources. In addition, she 
made her own direct contribution. 

In preparation for Ralegh's first Virginia colony Richard 
Hakluyt wrote his Discourse of Western Planting: 'Certain 
Reasons to induce her Majesty and the state to take in 
hand the western voyage and the planting therein'. It 
was an extremely able state paper, unique in that age in 
putting forth a complete argument for colonial expansion, 
on every ground economic, political, strategic, religious 

with a plan for its execution and a programme of settle- 
ment. Ralegh got Hakluyt an audience with the Queen, 
to whom he presented it on his knees. No doubt she read 
it : it was meant for her eyes, and was never printed until 
our own time. 1 But she was not persuaded. 

The argument was that only the resources of the state 
could accomplish the colonisation of America. There was 
something in that : so many were to fail, fall by the way- 
side, having ventured everything and lost; the sacrifices 
in wealth and man-power, in suffering, privation and human 
life, were immense and terrible. But a state enterprise ? 

in that age everyone plundered the government and 
every governmental undertaking. The Queen knew that 
better than anyone: had she not often had occasion to 
utter a cri de caur against the 'insatiable cupidity of men' ? 
Then, too, a state enterprise meant a head-on collision with 
Spain, a frontal challenge from which no retreat was pos- 
sible. Failure would mean a total loss of prestige to the 
state. There can be no doubt that the Queen was right to 
put it aside, and there it remained unknown till our day. 

1 In The Original Writings and Correspondence of the Two Richard Hakluyts, 
ed. E. G. R. Taylor, II. 211 foil. The original is in the New York Public 


Queen Elizabeth I and America 

But this did not mean that she was not as anxious as 
anyone that colonisation should succeed. Ultimately, it 
did, under a characteristically mixed English form of enter- 
prise, with private and public elements, and the Crown 
making a quasi-official contribution. To the first Virginia 
voyage led by Ralegh's cousin, Sir Richard Grenville she 
could not in these first years of mutual fascination spare 
Ralegh from her side she contributed a ship of her own, 
the flagship the Tiger, a well-armed ship of some 180 tons, 
and 400 worth of gunpowder from the Tower. 1 She had 
also intended to invest a small ship, the Golden Royal ; but 
at the last moment this boat was switched to the attack on 
the Spanish and Portuguese fishing fleets off Newfoundland, 
which had been a favourite project of Gilbert's and which, 
now (1585) that the war was on, could be undertaken. It 
proved, of course, immensely profitable ; but so did Gren- 
ville's first colonial voyage, by picking up a rich prize on 
the way back. The colonising Queen made a good profit 
on her investment. Grenville left his second in command, 
Ralph Lane, behind in charge of the colony : a cousin of 
Sir Edward Dyer, he was an equerry to the Queen, whose 
release from service in Ireland she had authorised to serve 
in Virginia. 

Not least important, she contributed her name to Vir- 
ginia. Everything with this politic woman meant something. 
The permission to use her name was not mere coquettish- 
ness, not only the suggestion of romance which, genuine 
enough in that day, it has come chiefly to signify for us. 
It was, like everything with her, an intensely personal act, 
calling attention to an aspect of her, personality which, if 
not unique in a ruler, was an unforgettable element in her 
fame. But it was also politics : a characteristically ambi- 
valent notice to the world that she personally was involved 
as well as the Crown of England, her good name pledged. 
It was therefore an unmistakable underlining of her claim, 
which could not chivalrously be disregarded, a warning 
to others to keep off. The name caught on at once it 

1 The Roanoke Voyages, 1584-1590, ed. D. B. Qjiinn, 120, 148, 237. 


The Elizabethans and America 

evidently had life in it with the poets no less than the 
seamen, the politicians and merchants. In these same 
eighties, while Ralph Lane was writing to her Secretary 
Walsingham from Virginia of the 'assurance of her Majesty's 
greatness hereby to grow by the addition of such a kingdom 
as this is to the rest of her dominions 5 , Ralegh's friend 
Spenser was writing, 

Or fraitfullest Virginia who did ever view ? 

The name was to become in the fullness of time with all 
its memories of Jamestown and Yorktown and Richmond, 
Washington and Jefferson, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall 
Jackson, Chancellorsville and Bull Run and Appomattox 
Court House very famous and infinitely touching. 

The great propagandist of English colonisation in 
America, the fugleman for Virginia, was Richard Hakluyt. 
No-one ever did more to keep the subject before the mind 
of the public : his services in this respect, and for English 
navigation and the seamen, were immeasurable. The 
Queen provided for him, and that enabled him to carry 
on his unique work. Though she was not persuaded by 
the argument of his Discourse, she gave him a prebend in 
Bristol Cathedral, where he was well placed for contacts 
with the West Country merchants and seamen. In 1594 
he was given the benefice of Wetheringsett in Suffolk, where 
he was hardly less well placed for consultation with the 
East Anglian mercantile and maritime interests, in par- 
ticular those of the Orwell, whence Thomas Cavendish, 
second English circumnavigator of the globe came ; Hakluyt 
married a connection. In 1602 he was made prebendary 
of Westminster a better focus still for his work ; in 1604 
chaplain of the Savoy. Altogether he was well provided 
for. Dying in 1616 he was buried in the Abbey : though 
that was usual enough for a prebendary, no-one ever 
deserved it more. 

There he is not far from the Queen he served. For the 
rest of her life she was involved in the war that these events 
and conflicts had brought on. But though she longed for 


Queen Elizabeth I and America 

peace, she would never make It, except upon the condition 
of security for the Netherlands, their virtual independence, 
and the open door to settlement in North America. When 
she was dead, peace was made ; and, though nothing was 
said about either condition, in fact both were fulfilled. 
Within a couple of years the English set about their perma- 
nent settlement in Virginia. All that flowed from that, the 
manifold consequences that have been so decisive in modern 
history and that operate today, we owe to the long struggle 
waged under the leadership of the Queen. 




THIS book cannot but have a West Country bias. For 
a notable consequence of the emergence of America 
was to bring the West Country very much to the fore, in 
the front-line of oceanic discovery and of the war with 
Spain. Bristol was the port from which the first American 
voyages set out, from those of the later fifteenth century in 
search of a fabled Atlantic island the Bristol of William 
Cannings and of St. Mary Redcliffe, which so possessed the 
mind of the young Chatterton. But from the reign of 
Henry VIII and the rise of the remarkable Hawkins family 
there, Plymouth leaped ahead and becomes the centre of 
interest. The maritime activity of these ports provided 
grand opportunities for, and a focus for the energies of, the 
county families around them as well as of the merchants 
and seamen within them. Plymouth was as convenient 
for the operations of Gilberts, Raleghs, Grenvilles as it was 
for Hawkinses, Fowneses, Trelawnys within those walls of 
the old cramped town climbing up from Sutton Pool to 
the Hoe, with the splendid prospect opening out from 

Walter Ralegh was no new man : he came from a very 
old family which had already made its place by the time 
of Henry IT, who granted a member of it Nettlecombe in 
Somerset, which later became the home of the Trevelyans. 
(It is pleasant to think of the Trevelyans succeeding the 
Raleghs there.) But by Walter Ralegh's time the family 
had lost most of its property and become rather impover- 
ished : a most humiliating and vexing situation, especially 
for an ambitious young man, to feel that you are somebody 
and haven't a bean. Something of this irritation may be 


Ralegh, Hakluyt and Colonisation 

seen all through Ralegh's career : he was always a man in 
a hurry, conscious of his gifts and .abilities, yet always 
made to wait on circumstances and maddened by frus- 
tration. And there was a yellow streak in Ralegh too 
he was a great liar a rift in him by which perhaps came 
the genius, for men have the qualities of their defects. There 
is no doubt of the genius : he bore all the stigmata of it. 

The family were occuping Hayes Barton in the parish 
of East Budleigh, within sound of the sea at Budleigh 
Salterton, at the time of Ralegh's birth : go up the narrow 
Devon road west from the village and you come to the 
pleasant Elizabethan farm-house, still thatched, with its 
great chamber upstairs where he was born. The moment 
he came into clover with the Queen, somewhat condi- 
tionally, he wrote down to the West in his grand manner 
that he wanted to buy Hayes for he meant to seat himself 
there. 1 However, Mr. Duke would not sell and Ralegh 
never did seat himself there, or permanently anywhere. 

Ralegh's mother was by birth a Champernowne, and 
widow of a Gilbert, so that these Gilberts John, Hum- 
phrey, Adrian were half-brothers of Walter and Carew 
Ralegh. 2 The Gilberts were brought up at Greenway on 
the Dart, the family seat being Compton Castle, that de- 
lightful rose-red H-shaped house of the fourteenth century, 
near Torquay, of which the roofless hall has been restored 
by Commander Walter Raleigh Gilbert, in the last few 
years. Humphrey Gilbert was some fifteen years older 
than Ralegh, and to him the young Walter owed his lead 
in sea enterprises and ideas of American colonisation. 
Where Gilbert led, at Oxford, in France and Ireland, at 
sea, over America, Ralegh followed. They had strong 
family characteristics in common : they were impulsive and 
intemperate, impatient of any opposition (they had all the 
more to put up with). They were not very nice men, but 
they had fascination and they were well-educated. They 
were men of ideas indeed with them ideas went to their head 

1 E. Edwards, The Life of Sir Walter Ralegh, II. 26. 
* J. L, Vivian, The Visitations of the County of Devon, 405-6, 638-9. 


The Elizabethans and America 

and they had great imagination : they were projectors. 

Gilbert, we have seen, was the leader in the efforts to 
put in hand English settlement in America, and from those 
efforts in which he spent his own fortune and his wife's, 
in the end his life all else stems. Gilbert's especial 
friend at Court was Walsingham, who had furthered the 
Frobisher voyages and took an active part in securing 
Gilbert's patent from the Queen. 1 Both Sir Henry Sidney 
and Philip supported Gilbert's project. Gilbert had licence 
to subinfeudate tenants in America in accordance with the 
normal English land-system, and Philip Sidney was assigned 
a mere three million acres, with power to inhabit and 
people them an assignment which he passed over to the 
interested Sir George Peckham, who played with the idea 
of Catholic settlement. 2 But Sidney several times thought 
of going on an American voyage in these years, with Gilbert 
to Virginia or with Drake to the West Indies. 3 

For Gilbert's last enterprise Ralegh set forth in the 
Bark Ralegh of 200 tons, as vice-admiral. We remember 
Edward Hay's description of the voyage and of his taking 
possession of Newfoundland in St. John's harbour, investing 
'the Queen's Majesty with the title and dignity thereof, 
and had delivered unto him (after the custom of England) 
a rod and a turf of the same soil, entering possession also 
for him, his heirs and assigns for ever'. 4 After the pro- 
clamation of laws, 6 obedience was promised by general 
voice and consent of the multitude as well of Englishmen 
as strangers. . . . After this, the assembly was dismissed. 
And afterward were erected not far from that place the 

1 Conyers Read, Mr. Secretary Walsingham, III. 399. 

* M. W. Wallace, The Life of Sir Philip Sidney, 286. It is interesting to 
observe the Catholic Peckham coming to Dee, 17 July 1582, 'to know the 
title for Norombega [i.e. North America] in respect of Spain and Portugal 
parting the whole world's discoveries *. Diary, ed. cit. 1 6. 

3 Gf. The Roanoke Voyages, ed. D. B. Quinn, 90. Sidney to Sir Edward 
Stafford, * We are half persuaded to enter into the journey of Sir Humphrey 
Gilbert, very eagerly whereunto your Master Hakluyt hath served for a very 
good trumpet'. If the date, 21 July 1584, is correct this must refer to the 
Ralegh voyage and reveals the dominant impression Gilbert had made on 
Sidney's mind, for Gilbert was already dead ; or perhaps the date should be 1 583 . 

4 R. Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, Everyman edn., VI. 18-19. 


Ralegh, Hakluyt and Colonisation 

arms of England engraven in lead and enfixed upon a 
pillar of wood/ Among the fisher-folk who had long fre- 
quented the harbour Gilbert proceeded to parcel out land 
4 by the waterside, both in this harbour of St. John and else- 
where, which was to the owners a great commodity, being 
thereby assured (by their proper inheritance) of grounds 
convenient to dress and to dry their fish, whereof many 
times before they did fail, being prevented [i.e. forestalled] 
by them that came first into the harbour. 5 

One off-shoot of Gilbert's projects was the licence 
granted to his brother Adrian, John Dee and John Davis 
in 1583 to discover and plant in the north parts of Atlantis 
observe the influence of Dee in the name. 1 Adrian 
Gilbert is the most mysterious of the three brothers, and 
perhaps not without reason for he was an alchemist. We 
find him in curious relationship with Dee, quarrelling and 
then making it up, with John Davis making a third in these 
amenities. 2 John Davis was one of the finest all-round 
navigators of the age. Born on the banks of the Dart, in 
the parish of Stoke Gabriel, he was a near neighbour of the 
Gilberts, of a class below them, coming from sound Devon 
yeoman stock. This licence to Adrian Gilbert led to the 
three memorable voyages of John Davis to north-western 
waters to all of which Ralegh contributed in which 
Davis penetrated further along the way to a North- Western 
passage than anyone hitherto. 

But the real inheritor of Gilbert's schemes was Ralegh, 
who had the enthusiastic support of the Queen in these 
years, and that was important. Humphrey Gilbert at the 
end declared that he e was now become a Northern man 
altogether'. Ralegh, however, decided to seek out more 
southerly territories for settlement, under the influence of 
Hakluyt with whom he was in correspondence and by whose 
advice he proceeded. 

In these marvellous 1 580*8 everything was beginning to 
ripen together in the heat of the tension with Spain. Poetry 

1 Cal. S.P. Col., East Indies, 1513-1616, 93. 

2 John Dee, Diary, 6-7, 18-19, 32. 

4 I 

The Elizabethans and America 

and the drama that had been so sparse and backward were 
coming to a head with Sidney and Spenser and Marlowe ; 
the first Elizabethan madrigals appear in the very year 
the war begins. And this is the moment when the idea of 
American colonisation takes shape and wing or, per- 
haps I should say, takes sail. In this activity the younger 
Hakluyt comes to the fore, makes himself the leading 
exponent of the idea, its most cogent and urgent advocate 
in his writings, a leading authority on America, adviser to 
all the voyages, collector and indefatigable publisher of all 
the information they brought back. We owe to Richard 
Hakluyt the preservation of all the early material we have 
relating to America. But this was only one side of his life's 
work. To the Elizabethan Age he was 'industrious 5 
Hakluyt, and certainly his industry was prodigious. No 
less remarkable to us is his imagination : more than anyone 
else he glimpsed the vast potentialities of America. 1 Of 
the various people who made a cardinal contribution in 
the matter the Queen, Gilbert, Ralegh, Sir Thomas 
Smythe and Gorges no-one comes before Hakluyt. 

There were two Richard Hakluyts and they were 
cousins, the elder a lawyer with connections in the City 
whose chief interest was as economic adviser to the various 
companies, from the Muscovy Company to Gilbert and 
Ralegh in regard to America. They too, like John Dee 
and the Cecils, came from the Welsh Border, from Here- 
fordshire, and theirs was a Protestant family. At Oxford 
the younger Hakluyt was for a good many years supported 
by the Clothworkers 5 Company, on condition that he 
studied divinity. Known in that age as Preacher Hakluyt, 
his sermons won acceptance. As late as 1581 we find the 
Company lending him all eleven volumes of the works of 
St. Augustine, but he had already turned, more usefully, 
to geography where we may say his heart was. 2 He was 
the first to lecture at Oxford on the new geography, 'the 

1 It is all the more fitting that the authoritative work on Hakluyt is by 
an American scholar, G. B. Parks, Richard Hakluyt and the English Voyages. 

2 T. Girtin, *Mr. Hakluyt, Scholar at Oxford', Geographical Journal, 
3> 208 foil. 


Ralegh) Hakluyt and Colonisation 

new lately reformed maps, globes, spheres and other instru- 
ments of this art for demonstration in the common schools, 
to the singular pleasure and general contentment of my 
auditory'. 1 (We see, as with John Dee, that false modesty 
was not an Elizabethan vice.) 

As early as 1580 Hakluyt got his Oxford friend John 
Florio to translate Carrier's voyages to Canada. Caught 
up in the excitement of Gilbert's projects, in 1582 Hakluyt 
published his first important collection, Divers Voyages 
touching the Discovery of America. This provided a store- 
house of information, with narratives of all the voyages to 
the North American coast claimed for England; for, as 
in so many of his works, tirelessly, effectively, Hakluyt set 
out England's claim from the Cabots onwards. Next year 
he became chaplain to the ambassador going to Paris, with 
the intention of learning there all there was to be known 
from the French about America. 

As we have seen, the French were much beforehand. 
Jacques Carrier had led three expeditions into the St. 
Lawrence and spent two winters there ; Roberval had made 
another Canadian voyage in 1541. There had been the 
colonial enterprises in Brazil and in Florida. While in 
Paris for the five years, 1583-8, Hakluyt got hold of the 
documents that gave a complete account of French activity 
in America, somehow raised the money to publish them in 
French and then translated them into English pour encourager 
Us Anglais. We know from him what was thought in Paris : 
'the English of all others for their sluggish security and 
continued neglect of the like attempts . . . were either 
ignominiously reported or exceedingly contemned'. In 
Paris he inspired the publication of Laudonni&re's History 
of Florida in French, helping to collect the materials himself, 
with a dedication to Ralegh celebrating his efforts now in 
full career, and later translating it into English. He got his 
French collaborator to translate the latest Spanish account 
of a voyage to New Mexico, by Espejo, and then published 
that in English. 

1 q. Parks, 59-60. 

The Elizabethans and America 

Meanwhile he himself was engaged in re-editing the 
complete text of Peter Martyr's Decades of the New World 
in Latin, with a long dedicatory letter to Ralegh in which 
he used his Latin to serve notice on Europe of England's 
claim, Cabot's priority on the mainland and alL He 
pointed to Ralegh's generous maintenance of the scientist 
Thomas Hariot to instruct him in navigational problems 
and brought out Peter Martyr's account of Spanish cruelties 
in the New World along with their pertinacity and achieve- 
ments. All this while he was collecting the accounts and 
narrations of English voyages through the ages, to put the 
nation on the map, so to say. He returned in 1588 to 
work hard all through Armada year to produce in 1589 
the first edition of his great classic. The Principal Navigations, 
Voyages^ Traffics and Discoveries of the English Nation. In his 
dedication to Walsingham Hakluyt was able at last to say, 
6 in this most famous and peerless government of her most 
excellent Majesty, her subjects, through the special assist- 
ance and blessing of God, in searching the most opposite 
corners and quarters of the world and, to speak plainly, in 
compassing the vast globe of the earth more than once, 
have excelled all the nations and people of the earth'. What 
a decade of work on his part, and to what purpose in the 
end ! But what a decade of inspiration ! bliss was it in 
that dawn to be alive: hence, in part, and in brief, the 
flowering of the Elizabethan age. 

In April 1584 Ralegh dispatched two barks, under 
captains Amadas and Barlow, to reconnoitre a site for a 
colony in the southern section of the North American coast. 
They went out by the southern route via the Canaries and 
West Indies and then up to Cape Hatteras to the low-lying 
coast of what is now North Carolina, where among the 
shoals and lagoons they pitched on an island which they 
considered a promising site. The advantages of an island 
for purposes of defence are obvious, and the fact that it 
was situated among those sounds, with about the most 
difficult navigation in the world, afforded it some pro- 
tection from Spanish attentions. Amadas and Barlow came 


Ralegh, Hakluyt and Colonisation 

back with a lyrical account of the country and its commodi- 
ties. They explored a little about the island: c when we 
first had sight of this country, some thought the first land 
we saw to be the continent. But after we entered into the 
haven we saw before us another mighty long sea ; for there 
lieth along the coast a tract of islands, two hundred miles 
in length, adjoining to the ocean sea, and between the 
islands two or three entrances. 3 I They made contact with 
the Indians of the mainland, with their king, whose king- 
dom was called Wingandacoa 'and now by her Majesty 
Virginia 5 . They got the same impression of the Indians 
as Drake had had in California, if indeed this be not 
common form: c we found the people most gentle, loving 
and faithful, void of all guile and treason, and such as live 
after the manner of the golden age 5 . They brought back 
with them two lusty young Indians of standing, Wanchese 
and Manteo, the first of whom was to belie these sanguine 
hopes, the second to remain ever faithful to the English. 
In that the pattern of so much in the subsequent story of 
relations between the races was foreshadowed thus early. 

That summer, while Amadas and Barlow were away, 
Hakluyt wrote his Discourse of Western Planting at Ralegh's 
request to further the cause with the Queen. It is a most 
effective state paper : if there were no other evidence, this 
would be enough to show that Hakluyt was a man of a 
powerful and superior mind. 2 He summarises the reasons 
for undertaking American colonisation most cogently, and 
with a note of urgency, for fear of being forestalled. There 
were not only the Spaniards and the French, but Ortelius 
had told him that if it had not been for the war raging in 
their country the Netherlanders meant to take a hand in 
American settlement as, in fact, after the peace with 
Spain they did. If Hakluyt places at the head of the 
advantages to be gained, the enlargement of the Reformed 
religion, that was an important consideration in that age 

1 R. Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, VI. 121 foil. 

2 Printed by E. G. R. Taylor, The Writings and Correspondence of the Two 
Richard Hakluyts, II. 211 foil. 


The Elizabethans and America 

of conflict between Reformation and Counter-Reformation, 
and, after all, hasn't it largely come about? It is interest- 
ing, from the internal point of view, that Hakluyt looked 
already to an emigration of Puritans to diminish strife at 
home. In time the former carne about, without much 
sensible diminution of the latter. 

With both Hakluyts economic considerations were in 
the forefront, though in the mind of the elder they were 
dominant, almost exclusive. They saw the importance 
America might have, especially the northern parts with 
their long cold winters, for the export of English woollens. 
The younger Hakluyt urges that the trade with Spain, now 
cut off by the war, may come in course of time to be more 
than replaced by that with America. Similarly with the 
newly opened Russian trade : Hakluyt expected the Ameri- 
can soon to surpass it. He himself had seen the consignments 
of furs brought to Paris ; of his own knowledge there was 
a great increase in the Newfoundland fisheries : furs and 
fisheries in those two came to consist much of the early 
history of Canada. Hakluyt had all the up-to-date informa- 
tion about the interior of Canada from the French : the 
promise of red copper from Saguenay, the rumours of the 
Great Lakes. And, for his hope of a near passage to the 
sea on the other side of America, he refers to c an old excel- 
lent globe in the Queen's Privy Gallery at Westminster 
which seemeth to be of Verrazano's making'. 

By contrast with the depopulation of Spain, he draws 
attention to the increase of numbers in England. Here is 
an outlet for those without work or means of subsistence. 
And if he suggests that convicts for petty crimes should be 
transported, instead of being hanged or imprisoned, that 
was in fact an humane suggestion. The passage to America 
was easy and short and does not cut across other countries. 
At this moment, on the threshold of the twenty-year long 
war with Spain, Hakluyt's mind is filled with the strategy 
of the conflict and imbued with anti-Spanish feeling. 
American treasure was the foundation of Spain's intoler- 
able ascendancy in Europe : it was felt to be intolerable, 


Ralegh, Haklttyt and Colonisation 

for it enabled Spain to intervene in everybody's internal 
affairs, not only Portugal and Italy, but France and the 
Low Countries, even in England. 1 Hakluyt did not forget 
the theme of Spanish cruelty, either in America or in 
Europe. He pointed to the devastation of the West Indies 
as they exploited them and then moved on to the mainland. 
Perhaps this was understandable in the circumstances of 
the conquest : all the same, it is generally recognised that 
the population of Hispaniola was reduced to one-third, 
from some three hundred thousand to one hundred thousand, 
while the Bahamas were left totally depopulated. 2 And 
there was the Inquisition : the seamen of other countries had 
a burning reason for hatred of Spain. We shall not under- 
stand the sixteenth century if we do not realise, what the 
Victorians well understood, that Protestant Europe loathed 
Spain and with every good reason. 3 And by 1580, we 
must not forget, 'Philip II was the ruler of all the European 
settlements so far established in the New World'. 4 

Hakluyt's message, confronting the issue of war, is one 
with that of the seamen : there is no need to fear, or even 
to heed, Spain. He points to the wastage of Spanish man- 
power through the incessant wars, intervening over half 
Europe, the decreasing population, the internal decline that 
had already set in under Philip. So far as America is con- 
cerned, 'it is well known that the Spaniards, for want of 
people of their own country, have not been able now in 
the space of ninety-two years to inhabit a third or fourth 
part of those exceeding large and waste countries, which 
are as great as all Europe and Africa'. This was fair 
enough, and he proceeds to urge the Queen's claim by 
arguments with which we are already familiar. All things 

1 In the last two decades of the century the proportion of American 
revenue to Philip II's total receipts increased rapidly, and in the year 1585 
reached 25 per cent. J. H. Parry, 'The New World, 1521-1580*, in The 
New Cambridge Modern History, II. 589. 

2 Sir Alan Burns, A History of the British West Indies, 119-22. 

3 Gf. Francis Bacon, 'The policy of Spain hath trodden more bloody 
steps than any state of Christendom*, in ' A Short View to be taken of Great 
Britain and Spain'. Works, ed. J. Spedding, VII. 26. 

* J. H. Parry, ibid., II. 588. 


The Elizabethans and America 

considered, Hakluyfs Discourse was well worth the prebend 
at Bristol with which she rewarded it. And so far as spread 
of imagination is concerned, It is a just reflection that 
Hakluyfs programme took about a century to achieve. 1 ^ 

Such was the background, and such the preparation, 
to Ralegh's first big colonial effort now taking shape. 
In December the Bill confirming his Letters Patent was 
before Parliament, and on second reading was handed over 
to a committee with an interesting membership. 2 There 
were the Queen's Vice-Chamberlain Hatton, her principal 
Secretary, Walsingham, Sir Philip Sidney, Drake, Grenville, 
Sir William Courtenay, Sir William Mohun and other West 
Country members specially interested in these matters. 
Upon third reading the Bill, 'after many arguments and a 
proviso added unto it, passed'. No-one has observed that 
this long proviso was directed against the expedition under- 
taking hostilities by sea or land ; no doubt that was due to 
Burghley's influence and represented a concession to his 
point of view. 3 By the time the little fleet set sail, open 
war with Spain made the proviso out of date and Gren- 
ville's privateering on the way home more than paid the 

The Queen at this time not being able to part with 
Ralegh, the command was handed over to his cousin 
Grenville. John Hooker of Exeter, who knew them both, 
paid Grenville this tribute: 'a gentleman of very good 
estimation both for his parentage and sundry good virtues, 
who for love he bare unto Sir Walter Ralegh, together with 
a disposition that he had to attempt honourable actions 
worthy of honour 3 , undertook the service. 4 And whatever 
may be said of Grenville there are things to be said against 
him, all (and rather more than all) said by his second-in- 
command, Ralph Lane he performed it. He made a 
successful cruise to the West Indies, where he took on board 

* Cf. J. A. Williamson, 'Richard Hakluyt', in Richard Hakluyt and his 
Successors, ed. Edward Lynam, 34. 

2 Sir Simonds D'Ewes, Journal of the Houses of Lords and Commons (ed. 
1693), 339, 341. 3 The proviso is given in Hakluyt, VI. 120. 

* q. from Holinshed's Chronicle in The Roanoke Voyages, ed. D. B. Quinn, 1 74. 

4 8 

Ralegh, Hakluyt and Colonisation 

horses and kine to stock the colony and plants, including 
sugar, to plant. At the end of June he landed the colony 
on Roanoke Island. He remained there for a month ex- 
ploring and prospecting, and then hovered off Cape Hatteras 
for another month watching out for what he could find, 
I suppose at the end of which he set sail for England. 
On 1 8 September c the general came with the prize to 
Plymouth and was courteously received by divers of his 
worshipful friends'. 1 

That expedition to plant the first colony in America 
had an interesting membership. In addition to Grenville 
and Ralph Lane, there was the brilliant young navigator 
Thomas Cavendish from Suffolk, the second Englishman to 
make a successful voyage round the world. Also upon It were 
Thomas Harlot the first scientist In the country and 
John White, one of its best draughtsmen, cartographer to 
and illustrator of the expedition. Most of the leading spirits 
were West Country relations or neighbours of Grenville 
and Ralegh : one observes among the names an Arundell, 
a Stukeley, a Prideaux, a Bonython, a Kendall and, I am 
glad to say, Anthony Rouse, a friend of Drake. Left to 
himself in command. Lane responded with a violent out- 
burst against Grenville, full of the usual Elizabethan 
persecution-mania and complaining of the unruliness of 
'the wild men of mine own nation', let alone living among 
savages. It is clear that what they needed was a Grenville 
to keep them in order; it is also clear that the Queen's 
equerry was not the type, and indeed he does not appear 
again in colonial enterprises. To Philip Sidney he wrote 
of the strategic advantages of the situation for attacking the 
Spaniards in and from the West Indies and that is one 
important aspect of these projects for settlement athwart the 
homeward route of the treasure-fleets through the Florida 

Of the commodities and prospects of 'this her Majesty's 
new kingdom of Virginia', he wrote lyrically to Hakluyt. 2 
'We have discovered the main [land] to be the goodliest 

1 Hakluyt, VI. 138. a Ibid. 140. 


The Elizabethans and America 

soil under the cope of heaven, so abounding with sweet 
trees that bring such sundry and pleasant gums, grapes of 
such greatness yet wild as France, Spain nor Italy have no 
greater, so many sorts of apothecary drugs, such several 
kinds of flax and one kind like silk, the same gathered of 
a grass as common there as grass is here.* It all sounds a 
bit taU : he knew to whom he was writing ; Ralph Lane 
spent a good deal of his life in Ireland. He continues, 
* besides that, it is the goodliest and most pleasing territory 
of the world : for the continent is of an huge and unknown 
greatness, and very well peopled and towned though 
savagely, and the climate so wholesome that we had not 
one sick since we touched the land here. To conclude, if 
Virginia had but horses and kine in some reasonable pro- 
portion, I dare assure myself, being inhabited with English, 
no realm in Christendom were comparable to it. 5 Well, I 
think we may say, that too has come to pass. 

Ralegh went down to Plymouth to meet Grenville on 
his return, who reported in more objective vein to Walsing- 
ham, e I have, God be thanked, performed the action where- 
unto I was directed as fully as the time wherein I have been 
absent from hence and all possibilities would permit me. 
I have possessed and peopled the same to her Majesty's use, 
and planted it with such cattle and beasts as are fit and 
necessary for manuring the country and in time to give 
relief with victual, as also with such fruits and plants as by 
my travail by the way thitherwards I might procure.' 

It is not my purpose to tell once more the story of this 
first English colony in America, what happened to the 
hundred or so men that became the usual number dis- 
patched in these early efforts at settlement upon Roanoke 
island during the year almost that they remained there. It 
is more to the point to enforce the cardinal importance of 
the 1585-6 colony in the whole story of those efforts. Its 
significance has been overlaid in the popular mind by the 
romantic appeal of the 6 lost colony 5 of 1587. But in fact 
everything goes back to that first colony on Roanoke island, 
to the colonial experience they gathered there, the know- 

Ralegh, Hakluyt and Colonisation 

ledge as to the physical conditions, the flora and fauna, the 
products of the soil above all, what they learned about 
Indian life, native ways and food, the difficulties of relations 
with the Indians. Most of what we know about all this 
has come down to us through the observations made by 
Hariot and White, and some of it was made available to 
the European public at the time through the publications 
of Hariot and De Bry. We can see the influence of that 
first experience, as well as some lessons that should have 
been learned but were not, through all the subsequent 
attempts until at last permanent settlement was effected at 
Jamestown in 1607, and even beyond. 

The fundamental lesson that early colonists failed to 
learn was the absolute necessity of getting down to cultivate 
the soil. But we must remember to what an extent they 
consisted of ragtag and bobtail who would not learn any- 
thing, idle and listless, recalcitrant to all discipline. (Here 
is where the grand advantage of the Puritans came in, 
when it came to their turn : in moral fibre and self- 
discipline.) The dependence of the early colonists on the 
Indians for food supplies naturally created acute troubles 
between them, for there was not enough to go round. Their 
relations, the characters of the Indian chiefs, the troubles 
between the natives and the newcomers, provide the chief 
interest of the story. The colonists were not yet discouraged, 
however, when in June 1586 Drake arrived off the coast 
with a powerful fleet from his West Indian expedition, on 
which he had wrought so much destruction. Coming up 
the Florida coast he had completely destroyed San Agustin, 
and the small outposts dependent upon it : the Spaniards 
ran off into the woods, to come back another day and 
repair the damage. 

Ralegh's promised supply-ship was late in getting to 
sea ; meanwhile Grenville was fitting out a larger expedi- 
tion upon the North Devon coast. The Roanoke colonists 
were ready to remain and wait, when their nerve was 
suddenly broken by one of those tornadoes that that coast 
enjoys and the prime defect of Roanoke was that it had 

5 1 

The Elizabethans and America 

no satisfactory harbour. Drake offered to take the colonists 
back with him and on a sudden impulse they decided to 
accept. If Lane had been a stronger man, he would have 
stuck it out. , . . And this provides one of the tantalising 
'Ifs' of history; for immediately after they had gone, 
Ralegh's supply-ship turned up, looked for the colonists 
and, not finding them, returned with its provisions to 
England. A fortnight after that Grenville arrived with 
three ships well-provided. He himself travelled c up into 
divers places of the country 3 seeking for news of the colony 
in vain. 1 Then, 'unwilling to lose the possession of the 
country which Englishmen had so long held, after good 
deliberation 5 , he left a post of fifteen men on Roanoke 
provisioned for two years to hold the fort. He has been 
criticised for a wrong decision ; but we do not know his 
circumstances or his instructions : it looks clear to me that 
he was expected to reinforce the existing colony, not plant 
a new one, nor is it likely that his people would volunteer 
to make a new settlement unprepared. The real point is 
that Drake's unintended taking off the colonists completely 
upset the planned synchronisation of Ralegh's efforts and 
spoiled the best chance of settlement. After that everything 
went wrong. 

Ralegh was not yet discouraged, and Hakluyt did his 
best to advertise his labours. In the dedication of his Peter 
Martyr he spoke of a letter from the English Court 'in 
which you freely swore that no terrors, no personal losses 
or misfortunes could or ever would tear you from the sweet 
embracements of your own Virginia, that fairest of nymphs 
though to many insufficiently well known whom our 
most generous sovereign has given you to be your bride. 
If you persevere only a little longer in your constancy, 
your bride will shortly bring forth new and most abundant 
offspring . . and cover with disgrace and shame those 
who have so often dared rashly and impudently to charge 
her with barrenness.' 2 Of course that is the way one had 
to write in Latin : even so one sees that there were people 

HaVluyt, VI. 164. * q. Taylor, II. 367. 


Ralegh, Haklvyt and Colonisation 

ready to disparage and discourage. A more practical 
service was Hakluyt's insistence from now on that the best 
place to site the colony was on the Chesapeake, which had 
good harbourage and was not exposed : in that too he 
proved right. 

In 1587 Ralegh sent out his second colony actually 
it was the fourth voyage he had set forth under John 
White. This had a somewhat different plan : it was not 
intended to supersede Roanoke but to supplement it with 
a settlement on the Chesapeake, and Ralegh gave White, 
as governor with twelve assistants, a charter to found the 
city of Ralegh in Virginia a measure of self-government. 
Ralegh's directions were never carried out, for the sailors 
refused to carry the colonists to the Chesapeake but insisted 
on landing them on Roanoke. The colonists insisted on 
John White returning for further supplies, and that was the 
last that was ever heard of them. There were again just 
over a hundred in all, with seventeen women and half a 
dozen children. We know their names including that of 
Ananias Dare, assistant to John White : they are those of 
simple English folk and not recognisably West Country. 1 
Some think that they perished on their way through the 
forest to the Chesapeake, and that is likely enough : in 
their fate forerunners to how many countless pioneers who 
perished in the American wilderness. 

In the spring of 1588 Ralegh sent out a couple of small 
pinnaces, which never got across the Atlantic in the dis- 
turbed conditions of that memorable summer. At Bideford 
Grenville was fitting out his strongest expedition yet, three 
tall ships and four barks. But with the Armada on the way 
he was not allowed to go: his Virginia voyage counter- 
manded, he was ordered to take his ships around to Ply- 
mouth and serve under Drake. In 1589 everything in the 
West Country went into the big Lisbon expedition under 
Drake and Norris which was our riposte to the Armada. 
In that year for the first time Ralegh incurred a temporary 
disfavour with the Queen, and for the next two years he 

1 Gf. Hakluyt, VI. 209-11. 


The Elizabethans and America 

and Grenville, understandably discouraged, turned their 
attention to nearer colonising projects in Ireland. 

In March 1589 Ralegh assigned his rights in the pro- 
posed city of Ralegh to Thomas Smythe, William Sanderson 
and other merchants of London, among whom Hakluyt's 
name was included. Sanderson was a connection by mar- 
riage who gave Ralegh constant financial support, so it 
looks as if the strain was telling on his resources. However, 
Ralegh's patent remained in force, his overall rights intact. 
In 1590 another syndicate of merchants set out a privateer- 
ing expedition under (if that is the word) John White, who 
seems to have been able to exert no more control than 
before. White wrote that 'as I had sundry times afore 
been chargeable and troublesome unto him for the supplies 
and reliefs of the planters in Virginia' so he was indebted 
to Ralegh for procuring licence to go, on condition that 
the ships transported a number of colonists with further 
supplies. 1 But the crews, 'regarding very smally the good 
of their countrymen in Virginia, determined nothing less 
than to touch at those places' : they went privateering until 
the end of the summer, when the weather turned too bad 
for that treacherous coast. White prevailed on them to 
call at Roanoke, where he saw the evidences of the spoil 
the Indians had made: c we found five chests that had 
been carefully hidden of the planters, and of the same 
chests three were my own, and about the place many of 
my things spoiled and broken and my books torn from the 
covers, the frames of some of my pictures and maps rotten 
and spoiled with rain, and my armour almost eaten through 
with rust'. Upon a tree they found the letters CRO carved, 
which White understood to mean that the colonists had 
meant to make their way to Croatoan. The weather grew 
more foul ; it was impossible to remain on the coast ; he 
could not get the ships' crews to make the attempt. And 
that really was the end of the first cycle of Virginia enterprise. 

The Armada years were full of work and activity for 
Ralegh and Grenville. As Lord-Lieutenant of Cornwall 

1 Cf. Hakluyt, VI. 211 foil. 

Ralegh, Hakluyt and Colonisation 

Ralegh was responsible for the land-defences of the county 
most exposed to invasion. He was kept busy in the West, 
at Court and in Ireland. In 1591 Grenville was killed in 
the last fight of the Revenge, celebrated by Ralegh in unfor- 
gettable prose. Next year, with tension relaxed, Ralegh 
fell into utter disgrace with the Queen. Everything that 
he had so far been able to do was due to his favour with 
her: he had no independent position or footing, he was 
not a peer of the realm with estates and a feudal dependence, 
he had no fortune of his own. It all depended on his 
position with the Queen. A man like Ralegh had a diffi- 
cult razor-edge to walk. The Queen liked very masculine 
types though they also had to be intelligent. The lan- 
guage in which this maiden lady delighted was the language 
of love : a difficult situation for these high-spirited, highly- 
sexed men, supposed to be in love with her, though of 
course it was a platonic relationship, always at a certain 
distance. Nothing more exacting than to be admitted to 
so privileged an intimacy and at the same time to keep 
your distance and your head. For their vestal virgin who 
presided over it all was a jealous deity : they could neither 
have the Queen nor anybody else. It was more than flesh 
and blood could stand, particularly the hot flesh and blood 
of these Elizabethan courtiers. One after the other lost his 
balance, toppled over and fetched up for a spell in the 

Ralegh was pretty free with women; at last he fell 
seriously in love with one and was caught : another Eliza- 
beth, a Throckmorton and what made it worse a 
maid-of-honour to the Queen. It became evident, I think, 
that Ralegh had, in the technical sense, behaved badly : 
he compromised her, or they compromised each other. 
To the Queen, for psychological reasons that one can under- 
stand though perhaps not wholly sympathise with, the 
offence was unpardonable after such protestations of 
love, a passion on an altogether higher plane, for her. 
Ralegh made it worse by denying that he had any intention 
of marrying the lady. The Queen clapped them both up 


The Elizabethans and America 

in the Tower and had them ignominiously married, no-one 
knows when or how. She never admitted Lady Ralegh to 
her presence again: for her, poor lady, it was a prelude 
to a lifetime of trouble. I hope that Ralegh's fine phrase 
when condemned to death by James c I chose you, and 
I loved you, in my happiest times ' made up a little for 
it with her. They seem to have remained always in love ; 
perhaps it was just as well, though Ralegh may have had 
some doubts when, for the next five years, the Queen kept 
him away from Court and all influence in the prime of 
his powers. 

It was during these years that Ralegh developed his 
fixation for it was no less on Guiana. There was the 
urgent necessity to effect something striking to recapture 
the Queen's favour. It seemed clear enough now that 
Virginia was not going to do that ; while Guiana was not 
yet occupied by the Spaniards and there was gold there. 

To seek new worlds for gold, for praise, for glory, 

To try desire, to try love severed far, 

When I was gone she sent her memory 

More strong than were ten thousand ships of war. 

So he wrote in the long unfinished poem, Book of the Ocean 
to Cynthia, in which he "recounted the experiences of his 
despair and with which he hoped to recapture her favour. 
Ralegh made his voyage, published his celebrated book on 
the Discovery of the Large and Beautiful Empire of Guiana and 
for the rest of his life was mesmerised by it. We are not 
concerned here with Ralegh's Guiana projects : out of 
bounds ; but henceforth it took first place in his feverishly 
scheming mind. 

In the last years of the Queen's reign Ralegh came 
back to his place at Court, though things were never quite 
the same between them again. In 1600 he was made 
Governor of Jersey, and local tradition there credits him 
with beginning the trade between the Channel Islands and 
Newfoundland. 1 Nor did he forget his interests in Virginia, 

1 A. J. Eagleston, The Channel Islands under Tudor Government, 1485-16439 


Ralegh, Hakluyt and Colonisation 

the lost colonists there. Purchas tells us that in 1602 he 
sent out a bark under Samuel Mace of Weymouth : e a very 
sufficient mariner, an honest sober man, who had been at 
Virginia twice before, was employed thither by Sir Walter 
Ralegh to find those people which were left there in the 
year 1587. To whose succour he hath sent five several 
times at his own charges. The parties by him set forth 
performed nothing; some of them following their own 
profit elsewhere ; others returning with frivolous allega- 
tions.' 1 Ralegh's luck with Samuel Mace was no better : 
the ship's company refused, on grounds of weather and loss 
of tackle, to search the coast round Cape Hatteras to which 
they had been sent. 

Ralegh was evidently preparing to renew his contacts 
when James came to the throne and Ralegh not long after 
was condemned for treason. He spent practically the rest 
of his life in the Tower : not a very good base from which 
to conduct colonial enterprises. However, he maintained 
his interest and his belief in the future of Virginia. * I shall 
yet live to see it an English nation', he wrote grandly from 

How to strike a balance in estimating Ralegh's colonial 
achievements, his services to America ? 

He was criticised in his own day, as he has been in 
ours, for not doing more. That splendid intellect but not 
very nice man, Francis Bacon, who was not above kicking 
a man when he was down, wrote in his essay fi Of Planta- 
tions % 'it is the sinfullest thing in the world to forsake or 
destitute a plantation once in forwardness, for besides the 
dishonour, it is the guiltiness of blood of many commiser- 
able persons'. Everyone would know whom he had in 
mind. In our own time an American historian describes 
Ralegh as being c difficult to acquit of the heartless abandon- 
ment of the Roanoke settlers to an unknown fate'. 2 Hakluyt, 
who knew all the facts and was in a better position to judge, 
says simply that Ralegh was disheartened by the great 

1 Samuel Purchas, Purchas , his PUgrimes (MacLehose edn.), XVIII. 321. 
2 W. F. Graven, The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, 57. 


The Elizabethans and America 

expense and by the unfaithfulness of those he employed, 
6 after he had sent (as you may see by these five several 
times) colonies and supplies at his own charges and now 
at length both himself and his successors thus betrayed'. 1 
Indeed, he made a fruitless attempt to go himself on a 
voyage to Virginia, if we may judge from a letter he wrote 
from the Tower to James Ps Queen. e I long since presumed 
to offer your Majesty my service in Virginia, with a short 
repetition of the commodity, honour and safety which the 
Bang's Majesty might reap by that plantation, if it were 
followed to effect. I do still humbly beseech your Majesty 
that I may rather die in serving the King and my country 
than to perish here.' 2 

We have seen something, not only of his difficulties and 
disappointments, the obstacles in the way, but the sheer 
impossibility of getting his orders executed on the other 
side of the Atlantic in his own enforced absence. Arm- 
chair critics of today often do not have the imagination to 
appreciate the physical and other conditions upon which 
achieving anything in the Elizabethan age depended, how 
much men were at the mercy of circumstances, of wind and 
weather, of personal caprice or royal favour, the unde- 
pendability of agents, the perversity of things. 

Yet Ralegh's efforts did bear fruit : a people's memory 
is more generous, and perhaps speaks more truly, than the 
professors. Ralegh put Virginia on the map. The first 
Roanoke colony was of prime formative significance : subse- 
quent colonial enterprise in America built on that founda- 
tion. By his position at Elizabeth's Court he gave the most 
powerful impetus in practice to the idea of English settle- 
ment in America. Even his patronage of smoking tobacco, 
giving it social cachet, was not without its effect in helping 
Virginia's staple product, the crop by which she ultimately 
achieved economic viability. 

There remained Hakluyt to carry on the continuity 
through the pause of the 1590'$, when the country's energies 

1 q. G. G. Stopes, The Life of Henry, third Earl of Southampton, 1573-1624, 
318. 2 E. Edwards, Life of Sir Walter Ralegh, II. 333. 


Ralegh) Hakluyt and Colonisation 

were mainly absorbed in the war and mercantile interests 
moved strongly over to privateering. No shadow of un- 
respectability ever rested upon that reverend figure 
though he had an odd experience one day in November 
1605 when he found that, all unaware, he had been dining 
at the Mitre Tavern in company with the Gunpowder Plot 
conspirators. 1 He was, characteristically, on his way to 
peruse a rutter of Sir Francis Drake's navigations. In the 
last decades of his life his dominating concern with America 
spread to all four quarters of the globe. We find him 
inspiring the translation of works on the Far East and 
Africa : his motive becomes the universalised one of spread- 
ing geographical knowledge. All the time he went on 
collecting the narratives and accounts of the English 
voyages : at the end of the decade he was able to publish a 
very much enlarged edition of his great work. And after 
this he went on accumulating material, including five books 
on the Americas, down to the latest accounts of Virginia 
and North Virginia to become New England. He had 
to take on a young man to aid him, John Pory, who later 
became Secretary to Virginia though the materials 
Hakluyt left did not come to his hands unfortunately but 
to muddled-minded Purchas, described by Parks as 'the 
cringing, unctuous and indefatigable parson'. 2 As indus- 
trious as Hakluyt, intellectually he was of an altogether 
lower calibre. 

Hakluyt continued, too, his practical contacts with 
American concerns. With the near approach of peace a 
new series of voyages began, the earlier efforts to be taken 
up again. Twenty years after Humphrey Gilbert had taken 
possession of Newfoundland, Hakluyt in 1603 persuaded 
the Bristol merchants to send out Martin Pring to prospect 
in Gilbert's northerly latitudes, and obtained Ralegh's per- 
mission for the voyage. 3 In 1606 he joined Bartholomew 
Gilbert in petitioning James for the first Virginia charter 
and was named one of the patentees. He was concerned 
in the councils preparatory to establishing the colony at 

1 T. Girtin, he. cit. 2 Parks, 226. 3 Purchas, XVIII. 322. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Jamestown and in the propaganda on behalf of the Virginia 
Company. In 1609, the critical year for Jamestown, he 
translated and published de Soto's Travels, that it might 
'yield much light to our enterprise now on foot'. Con- 
sultant to the East India magnate. Sir Thomas Smythe, 
now leader in the Virginia enterprise, Hakluyt appears 
along with him as a patentee of the North-West Passage 
Company. In 1616, the year of Shakespeare's death, he 
died. Each of them it is not absurd to mention them 
together in his spread of mind spanned the age, and the 
ages. Along the particular line of his prime interest, 
America, Hakluyt formed the true link between the strenuous 
fragmented efforts under Elizabeth, which yet have l3ie 
cohesion and unity of a campaign, and their final fulfilment 
in Virginia. 




FTIHE approaching end of the war with Spain, with the 
JL end of the century, made it certain that the English 
would now resume their efforts to settle in North America. 
After all, that was what they had fought Spain for with 
success. The Queen would not make peace without 
guarantees for the Netherlands and the principle of the 
open door in America. On that negotiations had broken 
down in 1598 and 1599. When they were renewed, after 
her death, Spain was in a still weaker position to insist, 
and peace was made in London, the negotiations dominated 
by Cecil, who represented the continuity of Elizabethan 
policy. 1 The government obtained all that it wished in 
regard to the Netherlands. With regard to America there 
was no agreement. The Spaniards refused to accept the 
English position of freedom of trade with all parts not in 
effective occupation : hence the continuance of 'war beyond 
the line 5 , that is the Pope's line, and the subsequent romantic 
and bloody history of the buccaneers. 2 On the subject of 
English colonisation, most important of all, nothing was 
said. The English were not going to admit that it was a 

* Gf. S. R. Gardiner, History of England, 1603-42, (ed. 1900), I. 208 foil. 

a The Venetian ambassador reported in December 1604, that the Spaniards 
had captured two English vessels. * They cut off the hands, feet, noses and 
ears of the crews and smeared them with honey and tied them to trees to be 
tortured by flies and other beasts. The Spaniards here plead that they were 
pirates, not merchants, and did not know of the peace. But the barbarity 
makes people here cry out.' Cat. S.P. Yen., 1603-7, no. 307. The Venetian 
ambassador to Spain in 1596, referring to Spanish cruelty to English prisoners 
previously said that the English 'most certainly never approached anywhere 
near such cruel conduct towards the Spanish*. We may compare Drake's 
constant good treatment of the prisoners he took, or the humanity displayed 
at the capture of Cadiz, which astonished and impressed the Spaniards. 
However little people like to hear it least of all some kinds of Englishmen 
the truth is that the English record historically has been exceptionally humane. 


The Elizabethans and America 

subject for discussion : the only implication to be drawn 
was that they would now go ahead. 

Already exploratory voyages to the coast had been 
resumed, and with a clear sense, expressed in the narra- 
tives, of the continuity with those of the 1580'$. Notably 
the voyage of Captains Gosnold and Bartholomew Gilbert 
in 1602 to Sir Humphrey Gilbert's hunting grounds in the 
north parts of Virginia to become New England in a 
couple of decades. They explored along the coast of Maine, 
naming Martha's Vineyard and making contact with the 
Indians ; but they fell out and so failed to make a stay on 
the coast. James Rosier made a report to Ralegh on the 
country, its character and commodities, and on the Indians 
with whom they trafficked for furs. We have seen that 
Ralegh sent out Samuel Mace to the Roanoke coast in 
1602, and in 1603 Bartholomew Gilbert took a small bark 
to the Chesapeake, which he 'thirsted' to enter, c to seek 
out the people for Sir Walter Ralegh left near those parts 
in the year isSy'. 1 And here he lost his life to the Indians, 
who had had hostile exchanges with the Spaniards in the 
Chesapeake years before. 2 

In 1605 the young Earl of Southampton and Lord 
Arundell of Wardour set forth Captain George Weymouth 
on a voyage to the northern part of the coast, where they 
explored, finding a great river running up into the moun- 
tains : * as we passed with a gentle wind up with our ship, 
any man may conceive with what admiration we all con- 
sented in joy'. 3 Some of the mariners who had been with 
Ralegh to the Orinoco, 'which echoed fame to the world's 
ears', thought it was not to be compared with this. This 
is the first appearance on the scene of a prominent actor 
in these parts : Shakespeare's Southampton. As a young 
man no better than he should be or perhaps, rather 
worse in middle age he became, as sometimes happens, 
an uncongenial Puritan. He had been next to Essex in 

1 Purchas, XVIII. 334. 

2 Cf. Clifford M. Lewis and Albert J. Loomie, The Spanish Jesuit Mission 
in Virginia, 7570- 7575. 3 Purchas, XVIII. 351. 


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Essex's conspiracy against the Queen, and narrowly escaped 
with his life. In the Tower he had plenty of time to study 
the new and much enlarged edition of Hakluyt ; his interest 
may date from this profitable time for reflection. His family 
had been Catholic he is said to have owed his conversion 
to Sir Edwin Sandys, who was still more important in 
Virginia concerns. Lord Arundell of Wardour lapsed back 
into Catholicism ; anyone who knows much about him 
knows what a curious ass he was. The government defin- 
itely discouraged him from taking a hand in these enterprises. 

The French, now released from civil war, and from war 
with Spain by the Treaty of Vervins (1598), took up once 
more their long suspended colonial ambitions and with 
the active encouragement of Henri IV, who inherited the 
old Huguenot enthusiasm. In 1603 ^ e granted M. de 
Monts, a gentleman of his bedchamber, licence to settle in 
lands between 40 and 46 N., and there followed the first 
settlement in Acadia, at Port-Royal. In these years the 
great Champlain was exploring these coasts and in 1608 
clinched French power in the St. Lawrence with the 
founding of Quebec. Already the intrepid navigator Henry- 
Hudson was scouring the Arctic ice from Greenland to 
Spitzbergen to find a way through to the East, and next 
year (1609) was exploring the Hudson and the Delaware 
on behalf of the Dutch. A new phase of international 
rivalry for North America was beginning. 

In 1606 a body chiefly of West Countrymen came 
together to petition James I for licence to plant a colony 
Ralegh's rights having lapsed by his condemnation for 
treason. These men were Sir Thomas Gates and Sir 
George Somers, from Devon and Dorset respectively, both 
of whom had seen much service on land and at sea in the 
late war ; so had Edward Maria Wingfield, who had been 
taken prisoner in the Low Countries, with Ferdinando 
Gorges, in 1588. Wingfield came of a Catholic family, 
which kept the name Maria going in honour of Mary 
Tudor, who had been godmother to this man's father. In 
addition there were Ralegh Gilbert, Sir Humphrey's son, 


The Elizabethans and America 

and Prebendary Hakluyt to give continuity. A new recruit 
was George Popham, kinsman of Lord Chief Justice Popham, 
who had vilified Ralegh at his trial. These were only the 
harbingers of those interested ; for the Spanish ambassador 
Zufiiga, who watched the proceedings with a jealous eye 
and was suspiciously well-informed, regarded Sir John 
Popham, c a great Puritan ', as the ring-leader, and he was 
an associate, a Somerset neighbour, of Sir Ferdinando 

From this patent the subsequent colonisation sprang, in 
the northern part of Virginia, that is, New England, as well 
as the south. For it constituted two companies to carry 
out the twin projects envisaged. The southern company 
was to plant between 34 and 41 N., and was backed 
mainly from London. The northern colony was to plant 
between 38 and 45 N. ; it was backed mainly from 
Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth, but came to be known as the 
Plymouth Company. The strength of the Plymouth Com- 
pany, it was hoped, would lie in its fishing interests ; 
London in finance : finance and fishing there could be 
no doubt which would emerge the stronger. Though there 
was some interaction between the two, and more friction, 
I leave the Plymouth Company to my next chapter : from 
it sprang, if in various ways and in varying degrees, the 
colonisation of New England. 

A paper at this time adduced 'Reasons to move the 
High Court of Parliament to raise a stock for the main- 
taining of a Colony in Virginia', pointing to the marvellous 
achievements of the Dutch East India Company in a few 
years, promising a gain of 2s. for every is. and urging that 
'the whole state shall be interested in the benefit of it'. 1 
Though the government rightly rejected the idea of a state 
enterprise the money was to be raised by a public 
joint-stock and the public to take its chance nevertheless 
the venture was given official backing from the first. The 
Crown was brought in, in a new and unprecedented manner, 

1 Alexander Brown, The Genesis of the United States (London, 1890), I. 36 
foil. This is still the best collection of documents on the subject. 

6 4 


to give official warrant to the colonisation of Virginia. It 
also served to warn foreign powers that this was a national 
enterprise. 1 The Crown appointed a Council for Virginia 
in London, drawn from the leading members of both 
companies. We find the Privy Council constantly con- 
cerned to encourage, urge, awe with its authority, intervene, 
change the constitutional arrangements when necessary, 
until the day came when it was necessary for the Crown to 
take over the government of the established colony. That 
meant more independence for the colony, not less ; and by 
then no-one was more anxious for the system of royal 
governors to continue, lest the Virginia Company should 
come back with its direct control, than the colonists in 
Virginia themselves. 2 

Money and management were to be supplied by the 
city of London ; and here the merchants weighed in, above 
all the East India magnate Sir Thomas Smythe, to whom 
the establishment and survival of the colony at Jamestown 
is chiefly due. It is significant that where the independent 
and ill co-ordinated resources of courtiers, gentlemen and 
merchants had not answered earlier, the resources of the 
City merchants, made more manoeuvrable by the mechanism 
of the joint-stock company, succeeded. One must pay 
tribute to the unfaltering leadership of these merchant 
magnates both Smythe and his opponent Sir Edwin 
Sandys, with their supporters in the City in all the dis- 
couragements and disasters that befell Virginia, for its ill- 
luck continued, on the Chesapeake as at Roanoke. Lesser 
men would have given up in despair, would have had to 
for want of resources. But these men had, no less important, 
resource, resilience, flexibility : they turned their hands 
to anything rather than see it fail. And this time they 
saw it through. 

The little fleet of three ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed 
and Discovery, with the usual complement of a hundred men, 

* Cf. Cambridge History of the British Empire, I. 78. 

2 As against the old-fashioned prejudice against the Grown of Miss 
S. M. Kingsbury, ed. The Records of the Virginia Company of London, I. n foil. 


The Elizabethans and America 

sailed in December 1606 under the command of Captain 
Christopher Newport. Now a man of forty, who had been 
concerned in the capture of the Madre de Dios, richest of 
prizes In the war, he was one of the best-esteemed sea- 
captains of the day. From now until 1611 he made the 
Virginia voyage each year five voyages in all. In 1612 
he entered the East India service. Before his last journey 
he made his will, 'being to go with the next wind and 
weather, captain of the Hope, to sail into the East Indies, 
a long and dangerous voyage 5 . 1 On that voyage he died, 
at Bantam in 1617, leaving a good deal of property, 400 
dowry to a daughter Elizabeth, but only 5 to Jane, c in 
regard of many of her disobediences towards me, and other 
her just misdemeanours to my great heart's grief 3 . In that 
moment this long-dead sailor comes alive for us. Next year 
his son died, master's mate on board the Hope ; making his 
will, sick in Table Bay, he leaves 10 to sister Jane on 
condition she has 'reformed her course of life'. 2 Somehow 
we feel that we know a good deal about Jane. 

Christopher Newport brought his ships safe into the 
Chesapeake without let or hindrance. George Percy, 
brother of Ralegh's companion in the Tower, the 'Wizard' 
Earl of Northumberland, tells us of 'fair meadows and 
goodly tall trees, with such fresh waters running through 
the woods as I was almost ravished with the first sight 
thereof'. 3 They picked on the site of Jamestown, low and 
marshy as it was, unhealthy as it proved to be, because, 
being almost an island, it was defensible. There they con- 
structed their fort. Opening their instructions, they found : 
'if you happen to discover divers portable rivers, and 
amongst them any one that hath two main branches . . . 
make choice of that which bendeth most toward the North 
West, for that way you shall soonest find the other sea'. 4 
In obedience to this they explored up the James River, till 

1 P.C.C., Meade 92. * Ibid. 85. 

3 Purchas, XVIII. 407. Percy later excused himself to his brother for 
overspending himself at Jamestown on the ground that when governor he 
was * bound to keep a continual and daily table for the gentlemen of fashion'. 

4 Brown, I. 80. 



they were checked at the falls where now Richmond is. 
Thus early they came upon the frontier between tide-water 
and piedmont Virginia, so influential a factor in its later 
history. We note the continuing stress upon finding a 
passage through to the Pacific ; they were continually led 
to hope by stories of the Indians about a sea just beyond the 
mountains, and hope was not entirely extinguished until 
the end of the century. It is tribute to Captain John Smith's 
sense that he describes the bounds of Virginia as on the east 
* the great ocean ; on the south lieth Florida ; on the north 
Nova Francia ; as for the west thereof, the limits are un- 
known 5 . 1 To discover them constituted the epic of the 
American people, and not until a couple of generations ago 
was the process, set in being by the Elizabethans, complete. 
In that sense, looking over the last prairie country to be 
settled, going through Rockies or Cascades, we may feel 
ourselves for a moment linked, in touch, with those first 
Elizabethans who started it all. 

Theirs were the sacrifices and the cost in human life 
in the first two decades of Virginia was terrible. No doubt 
this first venture was experimental and exploratory; 
Captain John Smith says that they had eaten up their pro- 
visions on too long a sea-voyage, had arrived too late to 
plant and in any case were insufficiently provided. He 
adds philosophically, 'such actions have ever since the 
world's beginning been subject to such accidents, and 
everything of worth is found full of difficulties, but nothing 
so difficult as to establish a commonwealth so far remote 
from men and means, and where men's minds are so unto- 
ward as neither do well themselves nor suffer others'. 2 In 
other words, there was what is called the human factor 
and it proved very human. There is no point in enter- 
taining illusions about it these voyages transported the 
flotsam and jetsam of humanity, even the better average 
proved selfish and listless and would not work to save them- 
selves, let alone others. Famine and the marshes bred 

1 John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer 
Isles (MacLehose edn.) } I. 43. 2 Ibid. I. 93. 

6 7 

The Elizabethans and America 

disease, and men began to die. Without any concentration 
of authority bickerings and quarrels increased ; the council 
at Jamestown deposed Wingfield, its first president, making 
him the scapegoat, charging him, as a Catholic^ with pro- 
Spanish sympathies. Kendall was executed for attempted 
mutiny. Robert Hunt, the Oxford man who had gone out 
as their chaplain we hear of his books being consumed 
by fire ; it must have been the first library in the colony I 
did his best to reconcile quarrels and got Smith admitted 
to the council. By the end of the first winter, they were 
down to thirty-eight men left alive. 

Then the first supply arrived just in time, for they 
might have given up. (The colony planted contemporane- 
ously by the Plymouth Company in the North at Sagadahoc 
did give up and went home.) With two supplies sent out 
in 1608 things began to look up; buildings that had been 
burned down were repaired and the colonists began to 
plant a little. Faced with a second winter of privation, 
John Smith, 'whom no persuasions could persuade to 
starve', came to the fore and as President took matters 
forcefully in hand. e lf any would not work, neither should 
he eat' : he threatened to drive those who would not work 
into the wilderness. And, 'since necessity hath not power 
to force you to gather for yourselves those fruits the earth 
doth yield, you shall not only gather for yourselves but 
those that are sick'. 2 He took what measures he could 
against the 'damnable and private trade' by which both 
planters and sailors traded away invaluable stocks and 
stores intended for the general use. He threatened to hang 
anyone attempting to steal away in the pinnace to New- 

By these means, and by his own energy and force of 
character, Smith carried the colony successfully through 
the second winter, with few losses. Among them, however, 
was the vicar of Jamestown, Robert Hunt : a sad loss for, 
like a good Oxford man, he was a man of the middle way 

1 Cf. M. P. Andrews, Virginia: the Old Dominion, 31. 
* Smith, I. 182. 



according to Wingfield, 'not In any way to be touched 
with the rebellious humour of a papist spirit, nor blemished 
with the least suspicion of a factious schismatic V For 
more than a year the colony went without the ministrations 
of a clergyman, until the Rev. Richard Buck, another 
Oxford man, arrived to take Hunt's place. 

That winter the colonists had enough novelties, excite- 
ments, dangers, consolations to last them a lifetime. They 
kept Christmas in bad weather 'among the savages, where 
we were never more merry, nor fed on more plenty of good 
oysters, fish, flesh, wild fowl and good bread, nor never 
had better fires in England than in the dry smoky houses of 
Kecoughtan'. 2 In spite of all difficulties, exploration of the 
vast bay and its rivers, the country round about, went on ; 
Mr. Sicklemore, 'a very valiant, honest and a painful 
soldier' was sent out c with two guides and directions how 
to seek for the lost company of Sir Walter Ralegh's 5 . He 
returned safely, e but found little hope and less certainty of 
them'. 3 Relations with the Indians had all the complexity 
of contacts between races at very different levels of civilisa- 
tion, by turns friendly and hostile or rather, the same 
emotions in the same breast, so that a sharp look-out had 
to be kept all the time. The Company at home insisted 
on the coronation of Powhatan, the leading chief of the 
area, against Smith's better judgment: of 'subtle under- 
standing and politic carriage', he was rendered all the more 
difficult to deal with. The most dangerous moment came 
when the small group of Germans in the colony con- 
spired, characteristically, to betray it. They surreptitiously 
smuggled weapons to the natives and hoped to betray the 
colony to Spain. Equally characteristically, they got what 
was coming to them ; a brace who got away to Powhatan 
had their brains beaten out for their treachery to the 
English. Then the Indians gave a masque or entertain- 
ment in the woods, after which their women pursued the 

1 q. H. G. Porter, 'Alexander Whitaker : Cambridge Apostle to Virginia', 
William and Mary Quarterly 1957, 333. 

2 Smith, I. 155. 3 Ibid, I. 183. 


The Elizabethans and America 

embarrassed Smith with their pressing endearments. Or 
Powhatan's pretty daughter Pocahontas, not yet however 
nubile, would turn cart-wheels naked in the street of James- 
town to delight the hearts of the planters. 

At home in England a wave of interest in Virginia was 
rising to the height of a national enterprise, a towering 
crest that broke into the big expedition of 1609 upon 
the island of Bermuda as well as the Chesapeake the 
second charter and all that followed. Already in 1607 
large additions had been made to the membership of the 
joint Virginia Council in London, Impossible to enumerate 
them all here, some of the names are of special interest. 
For the London Company there were Sir Oliver Cromwell, 
uncle of the Protector and after whom he was named; 
Sir Fulke Greville, Philip Sidney's friend ; Sir Maurice 
Berkeley, of the family to become important in the history 
of Virginia ; Sir Edwin Sandys, who would wrest the control 
of the Company from Sir Thomas Smythe. For the Ply- 
mouth Company there were Sir John Gilbert, eldest son of 
Sir Humphrey, Sir Richard Hawkins, son of Sir John, 
Bernard Grenville, Sir Richard's son and heir. Eliza- 
bethans all we note the strength of continuity with the 
efforts made under the Queen, in addition to that already 
represented on the Council. 

The undertaking was gathering way and was launched 
in 1609 with the second Charter, the effective instrument 
in the creation of Virginia. For this incorporated the 
Virginia Company that governed the colony and saw it 
through its infancy to a permanent existence, and separated 
it from the Plymouth Company concerned now only with 
the North. The Virginia Company drew upon a most 
impressive array of support that can truly be said to repre- 
sent the nation. It came to include 56 city companies and 
some 659 individuals 21 peers, 96 knights, 28 esquires, 
58 gentlemen, no merchants, 282 citizens and so on. 1 To 
read the names of the Adventurers is like hearing a roll-call 
of the most active elements in the society of the last years of 

1 Brown, I. 207. 



Shakespeare. 1 There they all are, from the Archbishop of 
Canterbury and Shakespeare's own patrons, the Earls of 
Southampton, Pembroke and Montgomery, through many 
names with more distant echoes, for there are Cecils and 
Cromwells and Chamberlains, Lord North along with the 
Spencer ancestor of the ChurchiUs, while the Winston 
ancestor took shares later ; Anglican bishops alongside of 
Puritans and Catholics, famous figures in the life of London 
down to an obscure Cornish squire like William Roscarrock, 
living on the Atlantic coast near Padstow, or Gabriel and 
John Beadle, two poor gentlemen who went out to Virginia 
in the first supply (1608). Everybody who was anybody 
seems to have been in it, except the poets and they as 
usual were short of cash. 

However, the laureate Drayton wrote a poem, the 
splendid 'Ode to the Virginian Voyage'. 

You brave heroic minds, 
Worthy your country's name. 

That honour still pursue, 

Go and subdue, 
Whilst loitering hinds 
Lurk here at home with shame. 

Britons, you stay too long, 
Quickly aboard bestow you, 

And with a merry gale 

Swell your stretched sail, 
With vows as strong 
As the winds that blow you . . . 

And cheerfully at sea 
Success you still entice, 

To get the pearl and gold 

And ours to hold, 
Earth's only paradise . . . 

1 I have adapted here some sentences from my Introduction to Ralph 
Hamor's A True Discourse of the Present State of Virginia (1615), reprinted by 
the Virginia State Library, Richmond, Va., 1957. 


The Elizabethans and America 

We miss the name of Shakespeare, though his friend and 
executor Sir Thomas Russell was there. And, as we shall 
see, the events of the voyage made an unforgettable im- 
pression upon that most sensitive of registers, his imagina- 
tion. For, in the Atlantic, they ran into a great tempest. 

The jealous attentions of the Spanish ambassador 
Zufiiga were aroused. Amazed at the response to Virginia 
in English society, he wrote home to Philip III that 'fourteen 
earls and barons have given 40,000 ducats, the merchants 
give much more, and there is no poor little man nor woman 
who is not willing to subscribe something. . . . Much as 
I have written to your Majesty of the determination they 
have formed here to go to Virginia, it seems to me that I 
still fall short of the reality.* l There was a spate of tracts, 
sermons, appeals, promotional literature of all kinds. The 
home-keeping Archbishop of York, Toby Mathew (who 
had not subscribed) reports, 'for of Virginia there be so 
many tractates, divine, human, historical, political, or call 
them as you please, as no further intelligence I do desire 9 . 2 
Hakluyt inspired the publication of the Nova Francia, to 
show from the French experience that the southern regions 
were better for settlement. In April William Symonds 
preached at Whitechapel a sermon of twenty thousand 
words to the Adventurers and planters ready to go : e this 
land was of old time offered to our kings. Our late sovereign 
Queen Elizabeth (whose story hath no peer among princes 
of her sex) being a pure virgin, found it, set foot in it and 
called it Virginia.' 3 

For Virginia itself the effective change made by the 
second Charter was the appointment of a governor with 
real power and authority, advised but not displaceable by 
the council there. The governor appointed, Lord De la 
Warr, was to follow. Meanwhile Sir Thomas Gates went 
as his deputy, with Sir George Somers as admiral of the 
fleet of eight ships that left Plymouth in May. This had 
some six hundred colonists on board, including a hundred 
women : the largest expedition for America until the mass 

1 q. Brown, I. 244. 2 Ibid. I. 321. 3 q. ibid. I. 285. 



emigration to Massachusetts started in 1630. The sailing 
of Somers's little fleet has been described as *the true be- 
ginning of one of the great folk movements of history. . . . 
The first planters of 1607 ^ a( i served as scouts in advance 
of an unbroken migration which was directed between 1609 
and 1612 to Jamestown, between 1612 and 1618 principally 
to Bermuda, from 1618 through 1623 once again and in 
mounting force to Virginia, after 1623 at an even more 
accelerated rate to the West Indies, and through the decade 
of the 1630*8 to New England, with a lesser stream to trace 
once more a reviving interest in the Chesapeake area. In 
this continuing though frequently redirected migration is 
found one of the major forces shaping the development 
of that Atlantic community of which so much is heard 
today.' * 

Virginia's ill-luck held good. To avoid Spanish attentions 
and a long sea-voyage, Somers's fleet took a direct course 
across the Atlantic from the Canaries. They ran into a 
hurricane, and Somers's flagship was cast away upon the 
coast of Bermuda, though all the folk were saved. The 
'still-vexed Bermoothes' were thought by the Elizabethans 
to be haunted by evil spirits. Out of the fusion of those 
two inspirations for several accounts of it circulated at 
home came The Tempest. The castaways found it 
pleasant and healthful, with plenty to eat ; and there they 
passed an agreeable winter, while building a couple of 
pinnaces to take them to Virginia. The rest of the fleet, 
with four hundred of the people, had arrived there in a 
battered condition and went through a terrible winter. 
This was the real 'starving time' in Virginia history. By 
the time their leaders arrived from Bermuda in the spring, 
of all the four hundred and those there before, only some 
sixty remained alive. No doubt they brought disease with 
them, after so exhausting a journey, and added to that 
was the listlessness of despair undermining morale. But 
the main reason for the disaster it was no less was the 
absence of leadership, of all authority and discipline. 

1 W. F. Craven, The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, 96-7. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Elizabethans simply could not operate without it: with 
their leaders wrecked in Bermuda for all they knew, 
drowned the colony went to pieces. Provisions and live- 
stock were all consumed; the Indians refused trade except 
for the colonists' arms, implements and utensils, and then 
turned on them, 'till there remained not past sixty men, 
women and children, most miserable and poor creatures; 
and those were preserved for the most part by roots, herbs, 
acorns, walnuts, berries, now and then a little fish 5 . 1 There 
was, in fact, an instance or two of cannibalism. 'Unto 
such calamity', William Strachey, Secretary to the colony, 
sums up, 'can sloth, riot and vanity bring the most settled 
and plentiful estate.' 2 The Virginia Council at home sadly 
admitted, on learning the facts: c no man would acknow- 
ledge a superior nor could from this headless and unbridled 
multitude be anything expected but disorder and riot". 3 

When Gates arrived he set himself to restore order 
sternly; but there was little he could do; men went on 
dying and there were only four days' provisions left when 
the colony gave up and set sail down the river. On their 
way they met the incoming governor, Lord De la Warr, so 
long delayed, and they were turned back to Jamestown. 
Here, under proper authority, they were set to work once 
more: 'every man endeavoureth to outstrip other in dili- 
gence : the French preparing to plant the vines, the English 
labouring in the woods and grounds ; every man knoweth 
his charge and dischargeth the same with alacrity.' 4 How- 
ever, even during this period 1 50 men died, and De la Warr 
himself fell ill and went home to die. In 1611 Sir Thomas 
Dale was sent out with three ships, men and cattle and 
provisions for a year. At Jamestown, according to Ralph 
Hamor one of the colonists of 1609 who survived all 
through the founding period 5 he found 'most of the 
company at their daily and usual works, bowling in the 
streets. These he employed about necessary works, as felling 

1 Smith, I. 1204. 

3 W. Strachey, The Historic of Travell into Virginia Britania (1612), ed. 
L. B. Wright and V. Freund, (Hakluyt Soc.), xxiv. 

3 q. Brown, I. 347. 4 Smith, I. 208. 5 He died in 1626. 



of timber, repairing their houses ready to fall upon their 
heads/ ' 

One notices the mercurial ups and down of temperament 
among these Elizabethans, particularly exposed in those 
isolated conditions outside the firm framework of an authori- 
tarian society. The fact was that the early Virginian voyages 
contained a large proportion of ne'er-do-wells and misfits, 
around the solid core of serious hard-working planters like 
Hamor. Here is a contrast with the Puritans in the North 
and yet during their first winter at Plymouth one-half 
of the Pilgrims died. Gates and Dale brought over mainly 
artisans, and 'fewer gallants to escape evil destinies . . . 
lascivious sons, masters of bad servants and wives of ill 
husbands'. 2 There came over with Dale a promising 
young Cambridge clergyman, Alexander Whitaker, son of 
the well-known divine and Master of St. John's. Young 
Whitaker, who stepped out of a regular Puritan cousinage 
of Nowells, Chadertons and Culverwells, had experienced a 
genuine call to Virginia. Next year he published his Good 
News from Virginia, which attracted considerable attention. 
Whitaker became minister of Henrico, but the call was 
rendered null, the promise unfulfilled, by his drowning in 
the James River in 1617.3 

With regard to the motives of the young men going over, 
a few traces are left in the records. Robert Evelyn writes 
in this year 161 1, C I am going to the sea, a long and danger- 
ous voyage with other men, to make me to be able to 
pay my debts and to restore my decayed estate again.' 
A young Spelman describes himself, 'being in displeasure 
of my friends and desirous to see other countries'. The 
character of the remittance-man is to be seen in an unruly 
son of the Lady Finch who was sent to Virginia to be tamed, 
returned and within a week was killed in a drunken quarrel 
with the watch. 4 Not much chance of getting drunk in 
Virginia ! Gradually consignments of women helped, let 

1 Hamor, ed. tit. 26. * q. Brown, I. 355, 441, 484. 

3 For his career . H. G. Porter, loc. ciL 

4 The Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. N. E. McClure, II. 502. 


The Elizabethans and America 

us hope, towards the stabilisation of society. In 1622, when 
everything else had lost money, the results of c the joint 
stock for transporting a hundred maids to be made wives' 
gave the shareholders s gr eat contentment'. 1 Whether the 
colonists received equal contentment I do not know, for 
the girls arrived just in time for the great Indian Massacre, 
in which some three hundred and fifty colonists lost their 


Gates and Dale had been Netherlands campaigners, and 
they in turn imposed upon the colony the military laws 
that had governed the English army in the Netherlands. 
This answered : Hamor tells us that if these 'laws had not 
been so strictly executed, I see not how the utter subversion 
of the colony should have been prevented'. 2 Now they 
pressed on to found a new town, Henrico, fifty miles up the 
river in a more healthy situation than Jamestown. Harnor 
describes Jamestown for us as it was at this time with some 
pride : * reduced into a handsome form, and hath in it two 
fair rows of houses, all of framed timber, two stories and an 
upper garret or corn-loft high, besides three large and 
substantial store-houses joined together in length some 
hundred and twenty foot and in breadth forty. And this 
town hath been, lately, newly and strongly impaled, and 
a fair platform for ordnance in the west bulwark raised.' 
It is touching to think of, to those of us who have seen 
the deserted site, the foundations now being laid bare, the 
simple objects of the colonists' daily use recovered from the 
soil, fragments of metal and pottery, if not their bones 
for, of course, the whole place is a cemetery, their eloquent 
memorial. Dale never faltered in his hopes of the colony : 
he wrote to Robert Cecil, now Lord Salisbury, in 1611, I 
know right well how covetous (if not zealous) your full and 
absolute meditations are over and concerning this so pious, 
so heroic enterprise, in these days not employing any state 
in Christendom with a like work parallel to it.' 3 The old 
campaigner's phrasing, writing to the great man, was a 

1 W. R. Scott, Joint Stock Companies to 1720, II. 277. 
3 Hamor, 27, 33. 3 q. Brown, I. 501. 

7 6 


trifle clumsy, but there Is no doubt of Ms faith in the enter- 
prise. Two years later he writes to Sir Thomas Smythe, 
'I have seen the best countries in Europe; I protest unto 
you, before the living God, put them all together, this 
country will be equivalent unto them, if it be inhabited with 
good people/ l 

At home Sir Thomas Smythe needed every ounce of 
confidence to keep the Adventurers to the task. In the 
absence of any return on their money, with repeated calls 
for further supplies, the discouragements of all these disasters, 
the persistent run of ill-luck and the rumours circulating 
against the colony in consequence, Smythe needed courage 
and statesmanship of the highest order to pull things round. 
These he possessed. He was a man of immense capacity 
and experience, of unhurried judgment and weighty de- 
cision, a somewhat impersonal man, who had the confidence 
of both the City and the Court. He was the son of the 
well-known Customer Smythe, customer of the port of 
London, and son-in-law of Sir Andrew Judd, one of the 
founders of the Muscovy Company. In 1604-5 k e had 
been sent as envoy to Russia, to return with a new grant of 
privileges to the Company. From then on to 1621 he was, 
with one short break, Governor of the East India Company. 
He supported further voyages to find a North- West Passage, 
including Baffin's an account of which the absurd Purchas 
omitted to include in his book ; Baffin, penetrating farthest 
yet, gave his patron's name to Smith Sound. From the 
beginning Smythe had been in charge of the Virginia 
Company and the affairs of the colony. 

Faced with a crisis in those affairs and finding that 
Bermuda looked now more promising, he called in Bermuda 
to redress the balance of Virginia. He obtained from the 
Crown a third Charter for Virginia, extending her bounds 
three hundred leagues from the Continent to include Ber- 
muda. A Bermuda, or Somers Islands, Company was 
floated on a joint-stock, began to make profits from an 
immense piece of ambergris found on the coast and started 

1 q. ibid. I. 640. 


The Elizabethans and America 

to colonise. By 1616 there were some 600 In Bermuda to 
only 350 In Virginia, after the many hundreds that had 
been sent there. It Is Interesting to note some of the addi- 
tional names recruited : Robert and Edward Berkeley, of 
that family to become famous in Virginia ; Sir Samuel 
Saltonstall, head of a stock to make its name in New England 
Massachusetts today Is represented in the Senate by a 
Saltonstall ; Sir Carew Ralegh, brother of Sir Walter. What 
chimes these names set going down the corridors of history ! 

But the Virginia Company was at its wit's end to know 
how to raise money. There was the greatest difficulty in 
getting the subscribers to pay up their promised instalments : 
actions were set going in the courts to make them. The 
new Charter permitted a lottery to be started, with prizes, 
to raise cash. And latterly the Company became chiefly a 
land-company, its one asset the land that had been bought 
with the sacrifices of the first ten years 5 . 1 The Company 
appealed to intending planters with an offer of 50 acres for 
every person to be sent to the colony ; on this basis planta- 
tion continued and was extended whatever the setbacks 
now, settlement went on. 

Within the colony, too, the corner may be said to have 
been turned with the change from communal arrangements 
to private ownership. No doubt the first tasks in a new 
settlement were communal in their nature. But when the 
soldier-governors allotted every man in the settlement three 
acres of clear ground, they turned from bowling in the 
street to cultivating their gardens. Progress was at once 
to be seen. Captain Smith wrote, "when our people were 
fed out of the common store and laboured jointly together, 
glad was he could slip from his labour, or slumber over his 
task, he cared not how ; nay, the most honest among them 
would hardly take so much true pains in a week as now for 
themselves they will do in a day; neither cared they for 
the increase, presuming that howsoever the harvest pros- 
pered, the general store must maintain them, so that we 
reaped not so much corn from the labours of thirty as now 

1 W. F. Craven, The Virginia Company of London, 160^-1624, 32. 

From Noteslein: *The English People on the Eve of Colonization*. Harper Bros., New Tork 


three or four do provide for themselves'. 1 No doubt. At 
the same time what was to become Virginia's staple export, 
tobacco, makes its first appearance. The credit for the 
first experiments is thought to be John Rolfe's, He made 
another experiment, too, which has brought him greater 
fame : he fell in love with Pocahontas, and she with him. 
After much deliberation with his friends, and some prayer, 
he married her properly. This favourably impressed the 
Indians and for some years there was a blissful interval of 
peace and good relations. Rolfe later brought Pocahontas 
home to England, where she 'unexpectedly 5 died of the 
climate, perhaps. 

Now that the colony had been brought round, the man 
by whose efforts it had been accomplished, Sir Thomas 
Smythe, lost control of the Company and received his dis- 
missal, in the usual way of such things. There always had 
been a division in the Company between the big City mer- 
chants and the more numerous small adventurers, between 
the platform and the floor of the house. (As usual, the 
platform was generally right, the floor generally wrong.) 
Again as usual, the discontented majority found leadership 
among the magnates : in the Earl of Warwick, Shakespeare's 
Southampton, above all, Sir Edwin Sandys. Robert Rich, 
Earl of Warwick, was a jovial, rather tolerant type for a 
Puritan he later used his influence in New England in 
favour of religious toleration, as against the Massachusetts 
Puritans. His illegitimate cousin, Richard Rich, was a 
planter in Bermuda, whose description of the tempest and 
wreck on that coast was one of the tracts Shakespeare may 
have read. This man quarrelled with the governor, who 
was Smythe's protege, and so the Earl of Warwick joined 
Sandys in attacking Smythe's administration of the Virginia 
Company. Captain John Smith, who was no friend to 
Sir Thomas, tells us that he * would hold it worse than 
sacrilege to wrong the Company but a shilling 5 , and there 
never has been any doubt about the integrity of Sir Thomas's 

1 John Smith, The General Historic of Virginia, New England and the Summer 
Isles (MacLehose edn,), I. 222. 


The Elizabethans and America 

administration. 1 However, that did not save him; when 
he saw that the coalition had produced a majority against 
him, he withdrew and in 1619 Sandys became Treasurer. 

Sir Edwin Sandys was a remarkable man, too. Educated 
under Richard Hooker at Oxford, where he became a 
Fellow of Corpus, and provided with a prebend at York 
by his father, the nepotistical Archbishop though the son 
was never in orders he was much more of an intellectual 
than Sir Thomas Smythe. He toured Europe with Arch- 
bishop Cranmer's great-nephew and dedicated the book 
he wrote, Europae Speculum, to Archbishop Whitgift. We 
see that his early associations were archiepiscopal. This did 
not prevent him from being rather a demagogue in the 
House of Commons, where he was very forward in opposi- 
tion, resisting demands for supply, maintaining that the 
origin of monarchy was by election, that the people gave 
their consent to the authority of a king on reciprocal condi- 
tions and that a king who pretended to rule by any other 
right might be overthrown. (Is that not, if you will pardon 
the anachronism, rather an American inflexion?) It is 
almost enough to make one sympathise, if anything would, 
with James I and his divine-right nonsense : they both had 
read too much medieval theology for common sense. 

In the Virginia Company Sandys captured the leader- 
ship of the lesser shareholders, many of whom, including 
fifty M.P.s, had not paid up their subscriptions. Sandys 
thereupon resorted to lotteries ; he was very ingenious and 
resourceful, full of energy and ideas, up to anything and 
everything to raise money. And we must do him this 
justice : he did infuse new energy into, gave a fresh impetus 
to, the colony. After his first year of office James refused 
to have him renominated : ' Choose the Devil, if you will, 
but not Sir Edwin Sandys.' So Southampton was elected 
Treasurer; but Sandys remained the moving spirit. In 
1620 the Crown came to the aid of Virginia by granting 
it the monopoly of the import of tobacco into England. 
Sandys proposed to help Bermuda still under the control 

1 q, Scott, II. 267. 



of his rival by allowing her tobacco the English market, 
where it would pay 6d. a Ib. custom, while Virginia's had 
the foreign market, where it paid little or none. Sir Edwin, 
I fear, was a sharp customer. When it came to depressing 
reports from Virginia, he and the Ferrars (later so holy 
at Little Gidding) doctored the minutes. An adept at 
manoeuvring votes in council, by 1622 he had got into 
control of both Companies. He now proposed a scheme 
of salaries for himself and offices for his supporters that 
was unprecedented : himself as director to receive 500 a 
year. Smythe, after five years as Governor of the East 
India Company, had refused to accept more than 400 
gratuity. For twelve years' service as Treasurer of the 
Virginia Company he was rewarded with twenty shares; 
Sandys got as much for one year, and John Ferrars as his 
deputy the same amount for three years. It is not the 
first time that a reformer has been revealed as self-interested. 
This aroused bitter opposition and brought Warwick back 
into line with Smythe. But Sandys managed to ensure 
control by using the existing majority to 'suspend' the 
votes of his opponents. 

The son of an archbishop had nothing to learn in the 
distasteful arts of managing committees. He was plausible, 
artful, restless, scheming, a favourite House of Commons 
man. Meanwhile, so engrossed were they in these character- 
istic amenities of committees, idiotic dissensions and per- 
sonal manoeuvres, that the terrible Indian massacre of that 
year in which three hundred and fifty were killed and 
five hundred more died within the twelvemonth went 
unnoticed, so far as remedies went. Sandys and the Ferrars 
suppressed information as to the worst miseries the colony 
endured, and put about misleading reports. But disquiet 
about Virginia grew, and Smythe's governor back from 
Bermuda, revealed the facts of Sandys's feverish over- 
shipping of colonists and the fearful mortality in consequence. 
He had certainly been energetic. In the four years of 
Sandys' administration 4000 had been transported; the 
net increase to the population was 275. In all, by 1622 


The Elizabethans and America 

some 10,000 souls had gone out to Virginia ; of these only 
2000 were alive. As to money, under Smythe 80,000 
had been expended ; in the far shorter period of Sandys, 
between 80,000 and 90,000. Lest you think me unjust 
to Sandys, I sum up in the words of an economic historian : 
'Sandys should have been able to show very much better 
results since, when he took office, many of the initial diffi- 
culties had been overcome, instead of which, at approxi- 
mately equal cost, under vastly more favourable conditions, 
he effected less'. 1 

No : the effective founder of Jamestown colony was 
Sir Thomas Smythe. 

These facts were revealed by a committee appointed by 
the Crown, which exonerated Smythe's administration, 
going through all the books and figures, and condemned 
Sandys. There was furious dissension, for, of course, Sandys 
retained the support of the Commons. But the government 
had had enough of it; when Sandys and his allies appealed 
to the Commons, the Crown recalled the Virginia Charters 
and resumed the government of the colony into its own 
hands: henceforth this took the classic shape of royal 
governors with assistants nominated by the Crown, with a 
representative assembly. We may take this to end the 
founding phase in the colony's history. Up to 1624 the 
whole cost of the plantation of Virginia was about 200,000, 
with what little return we have seen. We may profitably 
contrast the money poured out by England to settle her 
stock in Virginia with Spain's ruthless exploitation of the 
West Indies, the regular drain of treasure from Mexico 
and Peru. 

Meanwhile, what was the old enemy thinking of the 
course of events ? 

From the beginning in 1607 the Spanish ambassador 
Zufiiga was urgent with his king, Philip III, to dig up the 
root. 2 'It will be serving God and your Majesty to drive 

1 Scott, II. 287. 

2 Zuniga's correspondence is printed in Brown I. 122 foil., from which the 
above quotations are cited. 



these villains out from there, hanging them in time, which 
is short enough for the purpose.' The Spanish Council of 
State considered the matter, but held that if, in negotiating 
the peace, they had demanded the exclusion of the English 
they would have encountered * the difficulty that it is more 
than thirty years since they have had peaceful possession 
of it'. But the Council agreed that a small fleet should be 
made ready to windward (in Mexico) to drive them out, 
since their numbers would make this an easy task. A 
minute added that there would be delay in getting it ready 
and that it was not to be relied on. In December Zufiiga 
writes, 'will your Majesty give orders that measures be 
taken in time ? ' He hears that the aim is to put 2000 men in 
Virginia and then it will not be possible to move them thence. 
Among the papers transmitted by Zuniga was one that 
stated the official English view with regard to North 
America. c The coasts and lands of Virginia were dis- 
covered many years ago by the English and we have sent 
colonies there at different times and without opposition on 
the part of the natives of the country, nor of any other 
sovereign, which is sufficient argument for us.' As for Pope 
Alexander VI, c we do not acknowledge him as our superior 5 . 
It compared the situation at the beginning of the Queen's 
reign with that at the end, amazed at the contrast and by 
the fact that, while coming to the aid of her neighbours 
and maintaining large armies and fleets, nevertheless she 
had improved the condition of her subjects and increased 
their wealth immensely, compared with what she had 
found. * Our ancestors on account of their lack of foresight 
and their carelessness lost the first opportunity and the first 
offering of the greatest treasures of the world, and we tax 
the omission of it. Yet now the same offering and the same 
trial is made to their children, Divine Providence having 
reserved lor us this magnificent region and the discovery of 
this great world, which it now offers to us ; and since we 
have arms to embrace it, there is no reason why we should 
let it escape us.' Nor did they. After 1607 they never let 
go, in spite of fearful discouragements, and this was in the 


The Elizabethans and America 

end the achievement of London and the London merchants 
more than anyone. The statement is a fascinating example 
of the Elizabethan awakening to self-awareness as funda- 
mental an element in the fruition of Elizabethan literature 
as in the settlement of North America, the two immortal 
achievements of the age. 

Zuniga was in touch with Lord Arundell of Wardour, 
from whom he got information. Lord Arundell was dis- 
contented, Zufiiga reported, because as a Catholic they 
did not confide this business to him. The king warned 
his ambassador to proceed with caution or Lord Arundell 
might be hechadifo (done in). Lord Arundell offered to 
take a man from the Canaries to Virginia, to report to 
Spain the strength and fortifications of Jamestown. Now 
we know the kind of man Lord Arundell of Wardour was ; 
however, he was not done in. In 1610 Zuniga reported 
that a thousand more men were to go over, and this showed 
how much store the English set by it, 'since with such very 
great losses as they have suffered . . . they still show so 
much courage'. When he learned of the losses of the 
* starving-time' he returned to the charge: now it would 
be easy to make an end of it altogether by sending a few 
ships to finish off what was left of the place. We see that 
Zuniga was just like Mendoza had been twenty years 
before : I suspect that he must have been a stupid Castilian 
like him, quite unlike the clever, insinuating Galician 
Gond6mar who succeeded. 

In 1611 Philip III was still seeking information as to 
the exact state of the colony before deciding, and asked 
Zuniga to place two Catholic spies on board the first ship 
sailing. That summer the Governor of Havana did send a 
sloop into the James River to investigate, with an Irish 
pilot on board, who was captured. On the way home in 
1616, Sir Thomas Dale, finding that this man had acted 
as a pilot to the Armada in 1588, strung him up from the 
yard-arm. From 1612-13 the colony was at its lowest ebb 
and Philip III was glad to recline upon the hope that the 
business might sink of itself. He concluded that the best 



thiqg was to do nothing. It Is always easier to do nothing 
as Sir Winston Churchill says of the 1930*8. Even the 
clever Gondomar got the impression in the autumn of 1613 
that the colony would be abandoned. Sir Thomas Smythe 
told him that to date they had spent as much as 465000 
on the enterprise, all contributed by the merchants and 
with some lotteries, without costing the King a real. And 
he regaled Philip with the information we know already 
that of the thousand persons sent during the last year and 
those who were there, eight hundred had died; there 
remained only three hundred in the colony. 

We have a state paper drawn up by Hakluyt his last 
service to the great cause of his life giving in detail the 
bounds and limits of Spanish occupation in the New World. 1 
There were ' all those huge coasts and mighty inlands lying 
southward of the Tropic of Cancer, which hitherto are 
quite free from any Spanish government ; all those spacious 
countries on the east part of America from 32 to 72 of 
northerly latitude have not nor never had any one Spanish 
colony planted in them, but are, both by right of first 
discovery performed by Sebastian Cabot at the cost of 
King Henry VII and also of later actual possession taken 
in the behalf and under the sovereign authority of her 
Majesty, by the several deputies of Sir Walter Ralegh and 
by the two English colonies thither deducted, as likewise by 
Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Sir Martin Frobisher, Mr. John 
Davis and others, most justly and inseparably belonging to 
the crown of England. Which countries being greater than 
all Europe and in goodness of soil nothing inferior there- 
unto are by no means by us to be given over unto them, 
who have already a great deal more than they can well 
wield. Lastly on the backside or west of America beyond 
Cape California, from 24 of northerly latitude to 43 (all 
which coast Sir Francis Drake in his voyage about the 
world discovered and took possession thereof for her Majesty 
in 38, calling the country New Albion) they have not one 
foot of actual possession, much less more northerly. And 

* q. ibid. II. 669 foil. 
8 5 

The Elizabethans and America 

therefore in time to come they shall have no pretence of 
cavillation against a North-West Passage, if it should please 
God to lay open the same/ 

There remained no more to be said. The facts spoke. 
Within the colony, after such tribulations, all was at last 
set fair. Even before the last of them, the Indian Massacre 
of 1622, a most important development in government took 
place, from which the ultimate form of American govern- 
ment was shaped : the first representative assembly, based 
on popular election, met there in the tiny church beside the 
river at Jamestown. A touching scene in its simplicity and 
yet in all that it signifies the heart of the political experi- 
ence of the English-speaking peoples and the peculiar 
contributions they have to make to the world. It is the 
distant consequences that matter, and we see evidence of 
them even in formal details that speak: c in selecting a 
new title in 1609, the adventurers chose the alternate of 
"governor" which, together with the traditional courtesy 
designation of "his Excellency 5 ', was destined to remain a 
permanent feature of American colonial and state govern- 
ment'. 1 

At home the interest displayed in very different quarters 
tells its own story. In matter of policy James I did not 
depart from the stand Queen Elizabeth had taken on 
America, though there were people, Sir Edwin Sandys 
among them, who were afraid that he might give way to 
the Spaniards. Anyway, in the first years that mattered 
most, he had Cecil beside him to guide policy on the Eliza- 
bethan lines. James's own interest did not amount to 
much. We have an exchange between Southampton and 
Salisbury in 1609 which shows what they thought. James 
had heard of the Virginia squirrels said to fly and asked 
Southampton whether there were none for him and whether 
Salisbury had not provided some for him. Southampton 
would not have told him 'but that you know so well how 
he is affected to these toys'. 2 One notices the contrast 

1 W. F. Graven, The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, 1 1 3. 

* Col. S.P. Col., 1574-1660, 8. 



between the light-headed James in these matters and the 
profound and tenacious concern of the great Queen. And 
indeed nothing could have advertised that contrast more 
signally to the world than James's execution of Ralegh at 
the behest of Spain. 

More worthy of respect is the interest of ordinary 
Englishmen in all walks of life in the new England rising 
on the other side of the Atlantic. The bishops raised a 
fund of some 2000 for an Indian college and for the sup- 
port of an Indian school, though the Company was too 
short of funds to use them. One day in November 1620 a 
stranger stepped into a meeting of the court and presented 
Ralegh's history of Guiana, with a map and four great 
books, for the college ; twelve months later a stranger 
again came forward with more books for it. 1 Most moving 
of all are the collections made on board the East Indiamen 
for Virginia. In 1621 at the Cape of Good Hope the Royal 
James collected 70 : 6 : 8 towards building a free school, 
the highest amount ten marks from Captain Pring and so 
down to is. from the mariners. 2 Two other ships collected 
100 marks in all 192 : i : 10 that Virginia might have 
a school. When we think of the hard conditions of those 
sailors' lives and out of their little pay contributing their 
shillings, we glimpse something of what America meant for 
those simple English folk. 

On the other hand, there is all that the old country 
meant for the new. Professor Craven rightly emphasises 
that the beginnings of American history can only properly 
be read forward from the Elizabethan England of which it 
was an extrapolation, not backwards from modern America. 
He is writing in particular about the South, though what 
he says also applies with little change to the North: e the 
historian who would trace the main threads woven into the 
pattern of Southern life must, therefore, turn first to 
England. . . . For it was the Elizabethan Englishman who 
planned and undertook the settlements to which most of us 

1 G. C. Slopes, The Life of Henry $rd Earl of Southampton, 1573-1624, 427, 
429. 2 Brown, II. 973. 


The Elizabethans and America 

look back on as our beginnings. The Elizabethan tongue 
that once rang out across the James and the York may still 
be heard in certain out-of-the-way spots of the South. The 
Elizabethan devotion to Protestantism, born of a long 
defence of Elizabeth's church settlement and fed on the 
fiery materials of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, still survives 
to &hape the fundamental tenets of the great majority of 
Southerners. Even the institutional pattern our forefathers 
adapted to the peculiar requirements of a new-world 
environment was more Elizabethan than anything else. 
Though sheriffs, coroners, constables, justices of the peace, 
juries and representative assemblies were ancient parts of 
the English scene, it was as their place and function had 
been defined under Elizabeth that the early colonists under- 
stood them. Here, too, has the South, ever prompt to 
recognise individual achievement, discovered the first heroic 
figures of her history Elizabeth herself and Ralegh.' I 

1 W. F. Graven, The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, 27-8. 


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WE owe the name of New England to Captain John 
Smith, so he said, and it seems to be true. This may 
be surprising, his name is so memorably associated with 
those first years in Virginia. But in 1614 he made a voyage 
along the coast of New England, the coasts of Maine and 
Massachusetts from the towering cliffs of Penobscot, in 
and out the islands that form a kind of barrier reef, to the 
sandy shores of Cape Cod and the Massachusetts coast that 
reminded him of Devon. The coast of New England in 
summer conquered him; from that time forward he was 
its slave and its promoter. Two years later he published 
his Description of New England, and from that time the name 
stuck. Hitherto it had been known, rather clumsily, as the 
northern parts of Virginia, or North Virginia. 

The name was probably suggested by comparison with 
Drake's New Albion : 'New England is that part of America 
in the Ocean Sea opposite to Nova Albion in the South 
Sea, discovered by the most memorable Sir Francis Drake 
in his Voyage about the World, in regard whereof this is 
styled New England, being in the same latitude'. 1 Smith 
was a sort of journalist-promoter as much as anything else. 
He published the best map of the New England coast to 
date, though somewhat marred by his habit of conferring 
his own names upon places everywhere : for example, Cape 
Cod, already well known as such, is called Cape James. 
That name did not stick. He followed this up with New 
England's Trials in 1620, and in 1624 his General History of 
Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles. Nor was this the 

* John Smith, The General History (MacLehose edn.), II. 8. 
8 9 

The Elizabethans and America 

tale of his publications: as late as 1631 there appeared his 
Advertisements for the unexperienced Planters of Mew England or 
anywhere. By this time there were in New England many 
planters with a longer experience than his own. An Eliza- 
bethan, bom in 1580 'John Smith was not daunted by that. 
An eminent American historian, Samuel Eliot Morison, 
sums up: 'Smith was in Virginia only two years and a 
half, and left it forever in 1609, at the age of twenty-nine. 
The remaining twenty-one years of his life were largely 
devoted to promoting the colonisation of New England. 9 * 

Twelve years earlier there was born a West Countryman 
to whom the actual colonisation of New England owed 
much more indeed probably owed more than to any 
other man, as C. M. Andrews, author of the best history 
of the colonial period in America, recognises. This man 
was Sir Ferdinando Gorges. He came of ancient Somerset 
stock, connected with both the Queen and the Howards 
and therefore a Court family, which in this generation 
blossomed into these romantic names. There was a poet 
in the family named Arthur, whose lifelong friendship with 
Ralegh began, characteristically, in the Marshalsea, where 
those young bloods had been laid by the heels for Court 
offences: Ralegh 'for a fray beside the tennis-court', 
Arthur Gorges c for giving the lie to Lord Windsor in the 
Presence Chamber'. 2 What he gave his sons might also 
be thought to merit the Marshalsea the names Timoleon, 
Egremont, Carew. 

Ferdinando was a cousin. Then there was Tristram, 
another cousin of an older generation, who inherited 
Budockshide, at the head of a creek of the Tamar below 
St. Budeaux church, where Drake was married, looking 
across to Saltash whence his bride came. There Tristram 
Gorges lies in what is left of a fine Elizabethan tomb, after 
the Victorians have done with it, hidden behind a nonde- 
script organ and littered with hymn-books. This Gorges 
was related to Ralcghs and Gilberts through his mother. 

1 S. E. Morison, Builders of the Bay Colony, g. 
a Raymond Gorges, The Story of a Family, 57. 


Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

He was associated with Adrian Gilbert in the patent for 
the North- West Passage in 1583. His brother Edward was 
on the famous Grenville expedition to plant at Roanoke in 
1585, while a son of his was with Ralegh in Guiana ten 
years later. It was to him that Drake confided the custody 
of the distinguished prisoner he captured from the Armada, 
Don Diego de Valdez, and to him that Cavendish wrote his 
last letter of touching affection, Tristram Gorges was a 
near neighbour and good friend to his cousin Ferdinando, 
during his earlier years as Captain of the Fort at Plymouth. 
The clan held together and gave each other mutual support. 
When Ferdinando was in need of a third wife, he took 
Tristram's daughter Elizabeth Gorges. When he shortly 
after needed a fourth, he did not go outside the family: 
he recruited another cousin, also Elizabeth this time a 
widow with a useful portion for him to spend on colonisation. 
A younger son, Ferdinando Gorges inherited little and 
went off to the wars in Flanders : we find him at twenty 
one of the prisoners at Ypres to be exchanged for an 
equivalent gentleman taken in the Armada. 1 In the 1 590*3 
he served under Essex in Normandy, and in after years 
used often to tell how Henry of Navarre carried him 
wounded from some breach or other. Certainly Henry 
had a high opinion of him and wrote recommending him 
to the Queen for promotion : he * hath gained very great 
reputation for his valour and conduct in war'. 2 She re- 
sponded with the command of the Fort at Plymouth : he 
was the first there in the citadel looking out over the Bar- 
bican and Cattewater where the ships came and went for 
America. He was a loyal kind of man, and his loyalty to 
Essex, who made him a knight, brought him into danger : 
that homme fatal brought everybody he was in touch with 
into trouble. At the time of his outbreak the e rebellion 
unius diet 9 as 'the Queen contemptuously named it Essex 
called Gorges up from Plymouth and he was one of those 
caught in Essex House. In a meeting with Ralegh in a 
boat on the Thames, Ralegh tried to get him to go back 

1 S.P. 12/216, 6. * R, A. Preston, Gorges of Plymouth Fort, 40. 

9 1 

The Elizabethans and America 

to Plymouth. When all was lost, it was Gorges who released 
Essex's eminent hostages, the Privy Councillors, from the 
house ; and at Essex's trial he did not cut a dignified figure. 
However, he saved himself, or his family and friends at 
Court saved him ; * and having burned his fingers badly 
once, he remained a government man ever afterwards. On 
James's accession he was restored to his command at 

We have already seen that, before the Queen's death, 
exploratory voyages to the American coast, to both Virginia 
and North Virginia, were being made. All this time, all 
through the war, the West Country fishermen were going 
regularly, and in increasing numbers, to the Newfoundland 
fishery. But the New England fishery, several hundred 
miles farther on, was yet to be discovered. In 1602 Captains 
Gosnold and Bartholomew Gilbert set sail from Falmouth 
for the New England coast, with the intention of leaving 
a plantation there. They were much impressed by the 
climate in summer * as healthful a climate as any can 
be*, and c had not a man sick two days together in all our 
voyage'. 2 They named Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and 
Elizabeth's Isle, names that stuck. They nosed up two 
main rivers that e may haply become good harbours and 
conduct us to the hopes men so greedily do thirst after', 
i.e. a North-West Passage. They made effective contact 
with the Indians, who had already been in touch with 
Europeans : ' these with a piece of chalk described the coast 
thereabouts and could name Placentia of the Newfound- 
land' that bay to gather such unforgettable memories in 
our time. They noted the Indians' facility with languages : 
'they spake divers Christian words and seemed to under- 
stand much more than we, for want of language, could 
comprehend'. The red men were friendly and even 

1 Gorges thought of seeking service abroad again at this time, cf. his 
letter to Cecil, 18 February 1602: 'how grievous it is to me that after 
the expense of so many years in Her service, so much blood lost and my 
whole estate wasted I should now be forced to raise a new foundation 
under a foreign prince*. Cal. S.P. Dom.> 1601-1603, I 53- 

* Purchas, Pilgrims, XVIII. 301 foil. 


Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

pressing. On going ashore a chief came to greet them 
Gabriel Archer stepping forth and embracing him, 'his 
company then all sat down in manner like greyhounds upon 
their heels, with whom my company fell a-bartering. . . . 
Our captain gave him a straw hat and a pair of knives ; 
the hat awhiles he wore, but the knives he beheld with great 
marvelling, being very bright and sharp. This our courtesy 
made them all in love with us.* The only thing the Indians 
did not like was English mustard, 'whereat they made many 
a sour face'. A small fort was constructed on shore and 
here ten men were left while the ship went off to collect a 
cargo of cedar wood. Left to themselves with only three 
meals 5 meat, the ship two days overdue, c in the mean we 
sustained ourselves with alexander and sorrel pottage, 
ground-nuts and tobacco, which gave nature a reasonable 
content. We heard at last our captain to lure unto us, 
which made such music as sweeter never came unto poor 
men.' Nevertheless, they did not stay, as they had intended : 
there was some dispute whether they had enough victuals 
for six weeks, let alone six months, and wrangling between 
the planters and the sailors a foretaste of what became 
so frequent, on the Mayflower and all. So they agreed to 
come home again. A report of the voyage was made to 
Ralegh, whose rights in regard to American colonisation 
were at this time still in force. 

He gave his permission for the voyage inspired by 
Hakluyt next year and backed by Bristol merchants, chief 
among them Robert Aldworth whose immense monu- 
ment one used to see in his 'own aisle' in St. Peter's church 
before the destruction of Bristol's churches. The captain 
was that excellent navigator, Martin Pring, 1 who made 

1 Pring's memorial in St. Stephen's church is worth recording. 

* To the pious memory of Martin Pring merchant, and sometime General 
to the East Indies, and one of the fraternity of the Trinity House. 
The living worth of this dead man was such, 
That this fair touch can give you but a touch 
Of his admired gifts. These quartered arts 
Enriched his knowledge and the sphere imparts. 
His heart's true emblem where pure thoughts did move 
By a most sacred influence from above. 


The Elizabethans and America 

so Gorges testified later c the most exact discovery of that 
coast that ever came to my hands since 5 . 1 He added that it 
was this, more than anything, that made him and that 
other Somerset man. Lord Chief Justice Popham, persevere 
with their efforts in spite of their initial discouragements. 
It was Pring who first penetrated into and appreciated the 
amenities of Massachusetts Bay. They took out with them 
a couple of excellent mastiffs, 'Fool 5 and 'Gallant 5 , c of 
whom the Indians were more afraid than of twenty of our 
men'. 2 They took back an Indian canoe, which they 
thought much like a Thames wherry. Contacts with the 
Indians were as important as geographical discovery or the 
commodities of the country. 

Apparently the savages liked Elizabethan music. 'We 
had a youth in our company that could play upon a gittern, 
in whose homely music they took great delight and would 
give him many things, as . tobacco, tobacco-pipes, snakes' 
skins of six foot long which they use for girdles, fawns' 
skins and such-like. And danced twenty in a ring, and 
the gittern in the midst of them, using many savage gestures, 
singing Jo, Ja, Jo, Ja, Ja, Jo : him that first brake the ring 
the rest would knock and cry out upon. 5 The English 
reported well of the Indian cultivation they saw, the gardens 
in which were sown * tobacco, pompions, cucumbers and 

Prudence and Fortitude are top this tomb 
Which in brave Pring took up the chiefest room. 
Hope Time, supporters, show that he did climb 
The highest pitch of hope though not of time. 
His painful, skillful travels reached as far 
As from the Arctic to the Antarctic star. 
He made himself a ship : Religion 
His only compass, and the truth alone 
His guiding cynosure. Faith was his sails, 
His anchor Hope, a hope that never fails ; 
His freight was Charity, and his return 
A fruitful practice. In this fatal wine 
His ship's fair bulk is lodged, but the rich lading 
Is housed in heaven, a haven ever fading. 
Hie terris multum iactatus et undis. 
Obit anna salutis U6a6 

aetatis j 46.' 

1 Sir Ferdinando Gorges and his Province of Maine, ed. J. P. Baxter (Prince 
Soc.), II. ii. * Purchas, XVIII. 322 foil, 


Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

such-like ; and some of the people had maize or Indian 
wheat among them 5 . They noted the timber and for- 
bearing capacities of the country; as for trees there was 
plenty of sassafras, 'a plant of sovereign virtue for the 
French pox 5 and so held in much estimation by Eliza- 
bethan sailors. They laded their small bark, the Discoverer, 
with as much as they thought sufficient 'to give some 
speedy contentment to the adventurers', and sent her home 
to Bristol ahead of them. 

In 1605 Captain Weymouth of Torbay, who had intended 
a fishing voyage on behalf of some Plymouth merchants, 
went instead on a prospecting voyage to Maine, set forth 
by the Earl of Southampton. People were becoming aware 
of the profits the French were making from the fur-trade, 
and at the same time Champlain was exploring these coasts. 
Weymouth collected some furs and skins, but was chiefly 
interested in prospecting for settlement and in the Indians. 
The narrator James Rosier wrote, 'the first and chiefest 
thing required for a plantation is a bold coast and a fair 
land to fall with. The next, a safe harbour for ships to 
ride in. 51 He noted, 'here are made by nature most excel- 
lent places as docks to grave and careen ships of all burthens, 
secured from all winds . . . such that in few places in 
England, or in any other parts of Christendom, art with 
great charges can make the like 5 . The subsequent mari- 
time history of Maine, the part it played for a century 
and a half in the history of the Royal Navy, showed how 
true that was. 2 Of the Indians, Weymouth gave an interest- 
ing account of their habits and of contacts with them; 
more important, he brought back five, three of whom he 
handed over to Gorges on his return. Gorges wrote that 
'this accident must be acknowledged the means under God 
of putting on foot and giving life to all our plantations 5 . 3 

With the peace of 1604 Sir Ferdinando, like other pro- 
fessional soldiers, some of whom went to Virginia, was 

* Ibid. 335 foil. 

z Cf. W. H. Rowe, The Maritime History of Maine, 33. 

Baxter, II. 8. 


The Elizabethans and America 

rather at a loose end: he spoke of it as 'this idle time 5 . 
He was a modest man, having been at Oxford briefly, and 
described himself as 'a plain soldier and one that is no 
scholar'. But he wrote plainly and well, and was interested 
in the problems of fortification and navigation. An un- 
published letter among the Hariot papers in the British 
Museum shows him to have been a friend both of him and 
of the mathematician Warner. He sends Hariot a dis- 
course he has written 6 Of the manner to observe the varia- 
tion of the compass, or of the wires of the same, by the 
sun's rising or setting'. 1 He asks him c to bestow an hour 
or two in reading it, for that time will largely suffice, a s 
to my good friend I recommend that pains, and as to a 
most judicious mind I desire your overlooking of my over- 
sights '. A more intimate mark of friendship, he entreats 
Hariot to bring Mr. Carleton and Mr. Warner along with 
him to be gossips at a baptism. (Hariot, by the way, was 
usually regarded as an atheist; but fa n'empeche pas.) 

These three Indians were a godsend to an energetic 
soldier with time on his hands at Plymouth Fort, and there 
closely in touch with the fishing voyages to Newfoundland, 
the ships going to and from America and the West Indies. 
c After I had those people sometime in my custody I ob- 
served in them an inclination to follow the example of the 
better sort, and in all their carriages manifest shows of 
great civility far from the rudeness of our common people.' 
(Remember, this is ten or fifteen years before the visit of 
Pocahontas.) 'And the longer I conversed with them the 
better hope they gave me of those parts where they did 
inhabit, as proper for our uses, especially when I found 
what goodly rivers, stately islands and safe harbours those 
parts abounded with, being the special marks I levelled at 
as the only want our nation met with in all their naviga- 
tions along that coast. And having kept them full three 
years, I made them able to set me down what great rivers 
ran up into the land, what men of note were seated on 
them, what power they were of, how allied, what enemies 

1 Add. MSS., 6789. 

Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Nvw England 

they had, and the like of which in his proper place. 3 J 

Next year, 1606, came together the two companies, the 
London and the Plymouth Companies, to undertake Ameri- 
can plantation in the South and in the North, without a 
complete separation between each other's areas and with 
intermingled rights and claims. Support for the Western 
Company came as much from Bristol as from Plymouth, 
and here Gorges found common meeting ground with his 
Somerset neighbour, Lord Chief Justice Popham, who had 
been Recorder of Bristol. It seems that the idea of a public 
plantation, instead of a series of individual enterprises, was 
Popham's and that it was his influence that got the Virginia 
Charter, combining London and West Country interests. 
From the beginning the Western ports, with their traditional 
jealousy and their conflict of interest with London, were 
displeased : their main interest was fishing, not plantation. 
And this cast a shadow over the whole future of the Plymouth 
Company and Gorges's life-long efforts. 

However, optimistic and ardent, Popham and Gorges 
came together to send out a ship, victualled for twelve 
months, under Henry Challons as captain and with a 
Plymouth pilot who had been with Weymouth on the 
coast of Maine the year before. They took with them two 
of Gorges's Indians from that coast. Their instructions were 
to make for Cape Breton and then feel their way south 
and west ; instead of which they made for the West Indies, 
where they were captured and taken off to prison in Spain. 
This utter c loss and unfortunate beginning did much abate 
the rising courage of the first adventurers'. 2 Popham's 
second ship, under a Dorset connection Captain Hanham 
and the invaluable Pring, made the coast of Maine and 
brought back such a promising account that 'the Lord 
Chief Justice and we all waxed so confident of the business 
that the year following every man of any worth formerly 
interested in it was willing to join in the charge for the 
sending over a competent number of people to lay the 
ground of a hopeful plantation*. 

* Baxter, II. 8-9. * Ibid. I. 204-5. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Next year 1607 at the same time as the London 
Company sent their first colony out to Jamestown the 
Plymouth Company sent their first plantation out from 
Plymouth. This consisted of the usual hundred landsmen, 
with arms and provisions, in two ships : the Gift of God 
under the stern Chief Justice's kinsman, George Popham, 
and the Mary and John captained by Ralegh Gilbert. Shortly 
after they left the Lord Chief Justice died. 1 Our old friend 
Zufiiga reported joyfully to Madrid that, since he was the 
most active forwarder of the business and in the position 
to advance it best, he expected it would now drop. 2 And 
indeed it was a great blow : Gorges writes that his c sudden 
death did so astonish the hearts of the most part of the 
adventurers as some grew cold and some did wholly 
abandon the business 5 . 3 In fact, he himself stepped into 
the breach : from this time forward it was he- who most 
persistently, against all discouragements, kept the idea of 
New England colonisation to the fore. 

The colonists arrived safely in Maine and settled down 
at Sagadahoc on the Kennebec River for the winter, which 
proved, hard. We derive news of them from Gorges's letters 
to his kinsman Sir Robert Cecil, who was interested in these 
first voyages. 'This present day here is arrived one of our 
ships out of the parts of Virginia with great news of a fertile 
country, gallant rivers, stately harbours and a people tract- 
able (so discreet courses be taken with them), but no return 
to satisfy the expectation of the adventurers . . . Plymouth 
this i of December late at night 1607.' 4 News from the 
colony was not good. 'For first the President himself 
[George Popham] is an honest man but old and of an 
unwieldy body and timorously fearful to offend or contest 
with others that will or do oppose him.' Whereas 'Captain 
Gilbert is described to me from thence to be desirous of 
supremacy and rule, a loose life, prompt to sensuality, little 
zeal in religion, humorous, headstrong and of small judgment 

1 He is buried beneath a splendid painted tomb, with all his family 
gathered round him at the base, in the chilrch of Wellington in Somerset. 
* A. Brown, The Genesis of the United States, I. in. 
' Baxter, I. 206. * Ibid. III. 154-63. 


jffir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

and experience, otherwise valiant enough'. We see that 
he was a true son of Sir Humphrey, and now, a generation 
on, he remembered that his father had had the first grant 
for North America,, 'He holds that the king could not give 
away that by patent to others, which his father had an act 
of Parliament for and that he will not be put out of it in 
haste . . . besides he hath sent into England for divers of 
his friends to come to him, for the strengthening of his party 
on all occasions. 3 Like father, like son : this faction-fighting 
in the bitter Maine winter, with their store-house burnt 
down over their heads, much discouraged the planters. 
One lesson that needed to be learned was that each colony^ 
to be successful, needed one undisputed head : a Governor 
Bradford or a Governor Winthrop. 

Some of the colony had behaved well. The preacher, 
Richard Seymour, e is most to be commended, both for his 
pains in his place and his honest endeavours ; as also is 
Captain Robert Davis and likewise Mr. Turner their 
physician, who is come over to solicit their supplies'. Of 
Master Carew nothing is said : probably a supporter of 
his cousin Gilbert. 1 Gorges ends, with an impulse of dis- 
couragement, though it expressed his deepest conviction, fi I 
desire in my soul that it would please God his Majesty would 
take it into his own hands, unto whom of right the conquest 
of kingdoms doth appertain'. Three months later the second 
ship returned with nothing to show from a winter in Maine, 
except to say that, surprisingly, all the colony were well : 
not a death among them. However, 'these often returns 
without any commodity hath much discouraged our adven- 
turers, in especial in these parts'. But Gorges viewed the 
question of colonisation from a loftier standpoint than 
immediate profit, and indeed, for himself, he was to spend 
all his private means and his wives' upon it, many thousands, 
and impoverish himself in the end. 

He pointed out to Cecil that *in common reason it be 

1 I mention him simply to correct his name as given in all the books, 
Gome Carew. It is evidently Gawen, a name in use in the Carew family 
at this time. 


The Elizabethans and America 

not to be looked for that, from a savage wilderness, any 
great matters of moment can presently be gotten, for it is 
art and industry that produceth those things, even from 
the farthest places of the world. And therefore I am afraid 
we shall have much ado to go forwards as we ought, where- 
fore it were to be wished that some furtherance might be 
had, if it were possible, from the chief spring of our happi- 
ness, I mean his Majesty, who at the last must reap the 
benefit of all our travail.' But the chief spring of all our 
happiness, the son of Darnley and Mary Stuart, had other 
objects on whom to spend his money: not a penny did 
he spend unlike the great Queen on what was to give 
the English their place in the world. As for colonisation, 
America, the sea he was vastly more interested in 

The soldier in Gorges realised the strategic importance 
of possession of the coast. Already the French had a settle- 
ment farther up the coast in Acadia ; in this year Champlain 
founded Quebec ; the Dutch were sending Hudson to 
explore the river called by his name and were shortly to 
occupy Manhattan Island in the finest harbour in fhe 
world. Gorges was there in mind before them : he asked 
if the king e would be pleased to adventure but one of his 
middle sort of ships with a small pinnace 3 as Elizabeth 
would certainly have done c and I durst myself to under- 
take to procure them to be victualled by the adventurers 
of these parts, for the discovery of the whole coast along, 
from the first to the second colony'. Gorges offered him- 
self for the command, would be proud to accomplish it. If 
it had been taken notice of, we should have been first on 
the Hudson. Instead of which : no response. 

Gorges and his associates in the West found means to 
send out two little supply ships from. Topsham, and were 
racking their brains to find the means to send out another 
of 200 tons the next spring. But there was no return from 
the colony at all. In mid-December George Popham had 
written the king a grandiose letter, in Latin, as he thought 
befitting, from 'the fort of St. George in Sagadahoc of 


Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

Virginia 5 , announcing that the Indians c positively assure 
me that there is a certain sea in the opposite or western 
part of this province, distant not more than seven days' 
journey : a sea large, wide and deep, of the boundaries of 
which they are ignorant ; which cannot be any other than 
the Southern Ocean, reaching to the regions of China, 
which unquestionably cannot be far from these parts*. 1 
This effort exhausted him. When the Mary and John arrived 
with supplies for another year of it, they found that the 
President was dead. They brought news that was more 
disastrous : at home Sir John Gilbert had died, leaving 
his brother heir to his estate. To claim it Ralegh Gilbert 
returned home, and the colonists elected to return with 
him in the Mary and John, and the pinnace they had built 
that winter. She was the Virginia, first English ship to be 
built in North America : she survived to make several 
voyages to Virginia. Considering that all but two of the 
colonists had survived, in contrast to Jamestown the 
Maine winter had acted as a preservative, perhaps a tonic 
it was a most disappointing conclusion. 

Thus ended the first plantation in New England the 
parallel to Roanoke in 1585-6. 

The Western adventurers had lost everything they put 
into these attempts, and they simply had not the resources 
of the London Company to go on and on until the plant 
rooted. (Even so, we know what a near thing it was in 
Virginia.) However, fishing voyages increased upon the 
coast and began to creep down to the New England fishery, 
which had one advantage in that it was much closer inshore 
than the Grand Banks. From this time forward there were 
constantly men visiting the coast, some of them remaining 
there like Captain Williams from Popham's colony whom 
John Smith found leading a Robinson Crusoe existence on 
the mainland opposite the island of Monhegan, the best 
location for fishing. Gorges continued to send fishing 
vessels along with others in the hope that 'by our ordinary 
frequenting that country' it would in time 'yield both 

1 Brown, I. 145-6. 

The Elizabethans and America 

profit and content'. Southampton sent a vessel out In 
1611 and another in 1614. The first brought back more 
Indians, one of whom, Epenow from Martha's Vineyard, 
was sent to join Captain Weymouth's Assacumet from 
whom Gorges was learning about the Cape Cod area to 
the South. 

Some of these Indians had fantastic experiences, Assa- 
cumet had been captured on Challons's ship and taken with 
him to Spain, whence the Indian managed to escape and 
somehow got back to Gorges at Plymouth. Gorges's con- 
tacts and conversations with these Indians helped to keep 
his interest alive. In 1614 a Captain Hunt seized a score 
or more Indians on the coast and took them to Malaga 
to sell as slaves. One of these, Tisquantum or Squanto, 
managed to get a passage on a Bristol fishing-boat out of 
Malaga to Newfoundland on his way home to Cape Cod. 
In Newfoundland he met a Captain Dermer, who brought 
him back with him to Gorges at Plymouth. His interest 
in Indians must have been well known by now, and he was 
certainly shocked by Hunt's treacherous conduct, which 
naturally made the Indians on the Massachusetts coast 
mistrustful and hostile for some time to come. 

Epenow, who was a fine-looking fellow, had been shown 
in London 'for a wonder ', and preferring to get back to 
his people, put up a tall story about a gold-mine on Cape 
Cod, which persuaded Gorges and his fellow-adventurers 
to equip a vessel to take him across the Atlantic treating 
it as his Cunarder, evidently. When he got to the coast, 
being a man of great stature and strength, he slipped out 
of their clutches over the side and joined his relations. That 
ended the hopes of that voyage : dead loss again. Never- 
theless In 1618 Gorges tried once more, sending out a Captain 
Rocroft with a scratch crew, who, after various adventures 
on the New England coast, made him go for Virginia where 
his ship was wrecked and himself killed in a quarrel. (It 
is the world of Treasure Island.) Next year Gorges sent out 
Captain Dermer, an able navigator, with friend Squanto 
aboard, whom he set ashore among his people, and then 

1 02 

Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

met with Epenow once more. In his exploration of the 
coast Dermer penetrated into Long Island Sound, got 
through Hell Gate, proving that it was an island, and 
followed the coast south all the way to Virginia, where he 
wintered. Returning in the spring to Epenow's coast, the 
Indian tried to kill him, and, severely wounded, Dermer 
struggled back to Virginia to die. 

The more amenable Squanto, however, does not seem 
to have resented his English experiences. When the inno- 
cent Pilgrims arrived at New Plymouth in 1620 they were 
astonished to find a savage who spoke fluent English : they 
considered him, of course, c a special instrument sent of God 
for their good beyond their expectation'. 1 And indeed he 
made himself invaluable to them as their interpreter, put 
them in touch with the native chief Massasoit with whom 
they made peace, 'directed them how to set their corn, 
where to take fish and to procure other commodities, and 
was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places for 
their profit and never left them till he died'. It was Squanto 
who gave them their contact with .the Indians southward 
in Massachusetts Bay, which enabled them to start up a 
trade in beaver. On a journey with them to get Indian 
corn and beans, without which they could hardly have 
lasted out their second winter, he died, 'desiring the 
Governor to pray for him that he might go to the English- 
men's God in heaven, and bequeathed sundry of his things 
to sundry of his English friends, as remembrances of his 
love; of whom they had a great loss'. It is hard to see 
how the Pilgrims could have got through their first two 
years without him : no recognition, of course, of what 
they owed to the trouble Gorges had previously taken with 
the Indian. 

The Pilgrims were the first to make a permanent planta- 
tion, but there were already small settlements on the coast, 
fishermen wintering there, regular communications with 
Virginia. Virginia was interested in the New England 

1 William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647 (Mass. 
Hist. Soc.)> I- 202-3, 283. 


The Elizabethans and America 

fishery, and sent boats up for supplies. The French were 
already settled on the coast farther north. M. de Monts 
had moved his original settlement (1604) from the Ste-Croix 
river to Port Royal in Nova Scotia. Now in 1613 a new 
settlement was made in the Mount Desert area on the coast 
of Maine. This was within the latitude of the Virginia 
Company's charter. They were not going to undertake all 
those efforts, undergo all those sacrifices, to find themselves 
forestalled by the French : they ordered Captain Argall up 
from Virginia to put an end to the settlements. Which he 
did, effectively, but with complete humanity : no massacres 
like those the Spaniards committed in Florida, or such as 
the Dutch were shortly to commit in Amboyna. He took 
the colony's leaders off into gentlemanly captivity along 
with Pocahontas at Jamestown. The Jesuit Father Biard 
pays tribute to ArgalPs humanity : though e a very clever 
and cunning captain 5 he was * still a gentleman, with truly 
noble courage ; his men were neither inhuman nor cruel 
in their treatment of us'. 1 

This is not the full tale of the efforts made by Gorges 
and others in these years before the sailing of the Mayflower, 
Captain John Smith had come back in 1614 fired by an 
idea no doubt others had it at the time, but he made 
more of it namely, of combining planting with fishing. 
The fishing-boats went out and back doubly manned, having 
to carry men to dry and cure the fish, in addition to the 
fishermen. What more obvious than that these should 
remain on shore as planters, supplementing the fishermen 
at need, instead of being carried to and fro ? This became 
the basis of Gorges's next phase of activity, as also of the 
Dorchester Company with its brief colony at Cape Ann, 
out of which the Massachusetts Bay Colony sprang. In 
1615 four London ships sailed for New England, only one 
from Plymouth and that largely provided by Gorges. She 
* returned as she went, and did little or nothing but lost her 
time'. This may have been captained by Sir Richard 
Hawkins, Sir John's son who had spent several years in 

1 G. M. Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History, I. 149. 

Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

captivity in Spain. Next year Gorges had better luck with 
the boat he sent under his servant Richard Vines ; for 
though the ship's company refused to explore but concen- 
trated on fishing, Gorges's men were able to trade along the 
coast and actually wintered there. Thus it was Gorges 
who tried out, what Smith had only suggested, the feasi- 
bility of winter settlement in New England the Popham 
experiment had made people very doubtful. What returns 
Gorges got from fishing ventures he spent on exploring 
with a view to settlement, his real passion: 'this course I 
held some years together, but nothing to my private profit, 
for what I got one way I spent in another'. 1 

On the basis of all this experience and dearly-bought 
knowledge Gorges thought he now saw the way to successful 
plantation : he would secure from the Crown a patent for 
the northern territory with rights of government and power 
to grant licences to plant as also to fish on the coasts : the 
payments for fishing licences would provide funds for 
plantation. At once he found himself opposed by the 
Virginia Company under the redoubtable Sir Edwin 
Sandys. 2 However, the Crown granted the charter for 
New England, with an extension of boundaries, as had 
been done for Virginia to include Bermuda in this case 
to 48 North to include Acadia. A Council was set up, 
very different from the Virginia Company : a self-perpetu- 
ating body, including seven sleeping Privy Councillors who 
never attended ; it was not under the control of the investors 
perhaps that was why it had no investors', or very few, 
beyond Gorges, his family and a few friends like Argall, 
Dr. Sutcliffe and Dr. Gooch, successive Deans of Exeter. 
They were a company of gentlemen. The absence of the 
merchants was fatal : the New England Council simply 
never had enough resources, it lived from hand to mouth. 

1 Baxter, II. 19. 

a The dispute came before the Virginia Company, where Gorges pro- 
tested against what he considered the infringement of the Plymouth Company's 
patent. Sandys retorted, plausibly as ever, that the two Companies were 
one free of the other, and that their patents allowed each to fish within the 
other, the sea being free, Records of the Virginia Company of London, ed. S. M. 
Kingsbury, I. 277. 


The Elizabethans and America 

The whole idea was the Elizabethan one of a regulated 
colonial enterprise, already becoming inappropriate in the 
circumstances of seventeenth-century society. 1 

Checkmated by the Crown Sandys carried the case to 
the House of Commons. One would hardly expect that 
body to take long views, and freedom to fish was the popular 
cause, upheld (of course) by Sir Edward Coke. They 
considered fishing more profitable to the commonwealth 
than planting English stock in America. So did the West 
Country ports, and their M.P.s followed suit. The attack 
was held up by successive adjournments of Parliament, but 
the struggle itself increased hostility to Gorges and the New 
England Council, and support fell away: "all men were 
afraid to join with us ', he wrote. 

Meanwhile, a very different body of men came forward : 
the Pilgrims. e ln the story of American colonisation*, 
C. M. Andrews says, 'the Pilgrim plantation at Plymouth 
occupies a place apart from the normal colonising process, 
in that its origin and purpose were entirely out of touch 
with the features of settlement characteristic of the time. 5 2 
They were a religious body, at any rate the nucleus of them 
was only thirty-seven of the hundred or so who came 
over in the Mayflower. 

The Pilgrims were in origin a Nottinghamshire group 
who were in the habit of meeting at Scrooby manor, where 
their Elder Brewster was postmaster. The lease of Scrooby 
manor was held by Sir Edwin Sandys's brother, Sir Samuel, 3 
eldest son of the acquisitive and philoprogenitive Archbishop 
he got it from his father, out of the see of York. To 
enjoy their own brand of religious observance and the 
ministrations of their pastor, John Robinson, the Pilgrims 
migrated to Holland. After a decade of that they decided 

1 In the Brief Relation Gorges points the contrast, evident to 'every well- 
affected person or any truly loving the public good of our nation', between 
* trading by joint stock under government and order and the promiscuous 
trading without order and in a disjointed manner, as of late they have done 
to the infinite prejudice of others already*. Baxter, I. 223. 

2 C. M. Andrews, 298. 

3 Sir Samuel's grandson married the widow of Col. Henry Washington, 
cousin of John Washington, emigrant ancestor of the first President. 

1 06 

Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Mew England 

on America. They first thought of Guiana, with Ralegh's 
recent expedition in mind, "but the jealous Spaniard would 
never suffer tteem long, but would overthrow them, as he 
did the French in Florida 5 . 1 Spain would have made 
short shrift of them : it would have been the flames of the 
Inquisition. So they concluded 'to live as a distinct body 
by themselves under the general government of Virginia 5 . 
They sent two emissaries to London, where they 'found the 
Virginia Company very desirous to have them go thither, 
And willing to grant them a patent with as ample privileges 
as they had or could grant to any/ They should have 
toleration in practice : the King could not openly depart 
from the law, but he 'would connive at them and not 
molest them'. King James and even the much-maligned 
bishops consented to the Pilgrim form of subscription. The 
Pilgrims were in the habit of regarding themselves as much 
persecuted in this world, but in fact everybody was very 

At this time, 1619, Sandys gained control of the Virginia 
Company and gave them every encouragement. They got 
their patent to settle, the Company approved their plan, 
declared the thing was of God and, what was more im- 
portant, loaned them 300 out of its exiguous resources. 
On this basis they went forward : 'it is not with us as with 
other men, whom small things can discourage, or small 
discontentments cause to wish themselves at home again'. 
And so it proved. They were much aided in making their 
arrangements by a not very respectable promoter-under- 
taker, a Mr. Weston, who obtained the patent for them 
and organised the business end of their affairs in London 
which proved largely unremunerative, I may say, to the 
original investors. However, late in the season, much 
delayed, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth on 16 Septem- 
ber 1620. 

They had originally intended to settle, as 'but one 
particular colony or plantation' within the area of the 
Virginia Company. As they drew near to the coast they 

1 Bradford, I. 64-8, 76. 

The Elizabethans and America 

thought of the Hudson River, but much-buffeted and ex- 
hausted by the voyage they halted at Cape Cod, then 
settled across the bay at New Plymouth. They kept the 
Mayflower with them that first terrible winter in which 
as at Jamestown half the colonists died. In one respect 
they were lucky: in the two or three years before their 
coming most of the Indians on that coast, after bitter inter- 
necine war, had died of plague. This was regarded as a 
special providence, and it meant that in their weakened 
state they were not molested. 

We cannot pursue their story here. We must merely 
note that they went under a patent similar to all the other 
grants made by the Virginia Company, allotting them land 
but no powers of government. They never did get any 
grant of powers of government all that was provisional, 
dependent upon the measures to be taken by the Crown 
for the government of New England when the time came. 
The Pilgrims never had the slightest reluctance unlike 
the Massachusetts Puritans in owning their allegiance and 
obedience to the Crown. What they were chiefly interested 
in was their separateness and sufficiency to themselves as a 
church. Satisfied as to that they entered into a compact 
together that is, the members of the church to form 
a 'civil body politic for our better ordering and preserva- 
tion'. 1 A lot has been made of that, a whole myth grown 
up around the Pilgrim Compact : in fact, it was merely 
common sense, operating like any corporate town at home 
in England, such as they formed. And it certainly did not 
represent the rule of the majority : it merely provided for 
popular ' ratification of government by the best men'. 2 
Actually, Governor Bradford, governor for some thirty years, 
exercised a benevolent autocracy, as he was well qualified 
to do. 

Having settled in New England, in 1621, they sued out 
a fresh patent from the New England Council, of which 
Gorges was the ruling spirit. Gorges made no difficulty 
whatever; he had no objection to Puritans, indeed we find 

1 Bradford, I. 191. 2 Andrews, I. 293. 

1 08 

Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

him working in association with Warwick in the New 
England Council and he was friendly with other Puritan 
leaders, Sir John Eliot and Lord Saye and Sele. He was 
glad to welcome the Pilgrims into his plans for the planta- 
tion of New England always with, the proviso of the 
ultimate governmental rights of the New England Council. 
When the Pilgrims' agent, John Pierce, got himself a second 
patent constituting something like a seigniory for himself, 
and the Pilgrims objected, it was withdrawn. Later they 
had no difficulty in securing a patent for the Kennebec 
concession in Maine, where they had their fishery, and in 
1630 Bradford secured them a charter with enlarged rights 
and delimitation of boundaries. So long as the work went 
forward and there was no challenge to the overlordship of 
the New England Council, Gorges was content and helpful. 
In 1621 Sir Ferdinando, still sanguine, married his 
second wife, a Cornish widow with a portion, which enabled 
him to expend some more money on his schemes and under- 
take the building of a large vessel, the Great Neptune, to 
control the New England fishery. It was time for him to 
assert the Council's rights. That slippery customer Weston 
had forfeited his ship for exporting ordnance contrary to 
the law, and slipped away to Massachusetts Bay with a 
very mixed crew of people, who were dealing badly with 
the Indians and causing trouble. This was within the 
Council's jurisdiction, but it had no funds and therefore 
effective power to assert it. Gorges fell back on the pis 
aller of land grants to raise cash, and on the device of a 
grand lottery at Greenwich Palace, with King James 
amiably drawing lots on behalf of his still sleeping Privy 
Councillors, by way of attracting publicity. As part of the 
campaign Gorges published his Brief Relation of the Discovery 
and Plantation of New England, our best authority for the 
first obscure stages in which he had been a prime mover. 
The book has the further interest of exposing his idea of 
colonisation as an extrapolation of the normal English 
society of the day, with its usual structure and accustomed 
institutions. Laws were to be enacted by a general assembly : 


The Elizabethans and America 

Gorges was in no way behind the first assembly of Virginia 
or the Mayflower Compact. 

Among those who had got grants of land on Massa- 
chusetts Bay was Robert Gorges, Sir Ferdinando's second 
son, and in 1623 he sent him over to assert authority as 
Governor-General of New England. There went with him 
Captain Francis West of the De la Warr family so much 
interested in Virginia to assert authority over the fisher- 
men and various others who had taken up land with the 
idea of forming a plantation. The whole assumption was 
that this was but a forerunner to a larger expedition next 
year with the big ship, the Great Neptune, which was not yet 
ready. Until that happy consummation they had nothing 
to assert their authority with, and the realisation of that 
gives a certain edge to Governor Bradford's account of their 
proceedings, which betrays his satisfaction. 

The Pilgrim Governor conducted himself with perfect 
propriety and much worldly wisdom. He received the 
young Governor-General with politeness, when he came 
over from Wessagussett in pursuit of the contumacious 
Weston. When Weston perceived that Gorges possessed no 
greater power than himself, and was indeed dependent on 
the Pilgrims, he grew insolent. Governor Bradford did not 
question young Gorges's authority : he contented himself 
with pointing out the impossibility of exercising it. It was 
a humiliating situation all the more since Captain West 
failed equally to get the fishermen to recognise his authority, 
while the clergyman they brought with them did not dare 
exercise his ministry in that holy place. Bradford sums up 
the episode in his History : c the Governor and some that 
depended upon him returned for England, having scarcely 
saluted the country in his government, not finding the state 
of things here to answer his quality and condition'. 1 

Sir Ferdinando did not blame his son for not having 
made a better effort, though he might well have done. 
For some of his company remained on there : the incoming 
Puritans later found David Thomson living alone on an 

1 Bradford, I. 336. 

Sir Ferdinando Gorges and' New England 

island in Boston Bay, another comfortable solitary occupy- 
ing Beacon Hill. 1 Some came back; others floated off to 
Virginia. Gorges put down his son's failure simply to 'the 
poor means he had'. Meanwhile, he himself was approach- 
ing the West Country towns once more to support his 
efforts. So far from that, they were only waiting for Parlia- 
ment to meet to attack what they regarded as a fishing 
monopoly, upon which Gorges's hopes rested; and when 
Parliament met the attack broadened into one against the 
Council's Charter itself. Gorges did his best in Parliament, 
appearing before the Commons' committees, answering the 
agitation with his usual reasonableness and patience. But 
in vain : the government gave way over the fishing rights 
and that knocked the bottom out of his plan for plantation. 
There were very few who had given him any support, and 
these now withdrew. 'These crosses did draw upon us 
such a disheartened weakness as there only remained a 
carcass in a manner breathless/ 2 

The next few years, 1624 to 1629, were occupied by 
desultory wars with Spain and France into which the 
incompetent handling of affairs by those young men, 
Buckingham and Charles, muddled the country. Gorges, 
as governor of Plymouth, had the express confidence of the 
government, and he was busily employed not only there, 
struggling to equip and dealing with the debris of their 
ill-managed expeditions, but also in operations at sea. All 
that is no part of our story ; what is, is this. In Canada 
Quebec was taken, and the whole of French territory fell 
into British hands. At the peace this was handed back to 
France, in return for the payment of Henrietta Maria's 
dowry to the understandable indignation of Puritan 
empire-buildfers, who did not much appreciate her private 
theatricals or her. Secondly, while Gorges's back was 

* This man, William Blackstone, a Cambridge man told them, *I came 
from England because I did not like the Lord Bishops, but I cannot join 
with you because I would not be under the Lord Brethren.' q. H. G. Porter, 
Reformation and Reaction in Tudor Cambridge, 257. 

* q. Preston, 233. 


The Elizabethans and America 

turned and he had other things to think about, something 
happened that turned out to be decisive for the American 
future : the Massachusetts Bay Company got its charter 
for territory plumb in the middle of the New England 
Council's grant, and incidentally overlaying Robert Gorges's 
perfectly legal grant on the shores of the Bay prelude to 
the big Puritan migration that, more than any other factor, 
made New England what it became. How the Massa- 
chusetts Bay Company got a patent, which it proceeded 
to turn into a royal charter, has never been fully clear and 
will never now come to light. And those legally-minded 
Puritans, John Winthrop and company, were careful to 
carry their charter away with them from the English shores 
so that, when the government asked for it for investigation, 
it could not be produced. 

The story goes back to 1623 and to Dorchester, where 
John White, a Wykehamist Fellow of New College, was the 
pastor of Holy Trinity and St. Peter's churches for nearly 
half a century. 1 (He lies buried there under the porch of 
St. Peter's Hardy's St. Peter's.) For most of that time 
he was an active propagandist of colonisation in America 
and took a direct hand in equipping and sending out ships 
and colonists a Dorset parallel to Gorges, with whom he 
was roughly contemporary. He was taken with Captain 
John Smith's idea of combining fishing with plantation, and 
in 1623 got over a hundred Dorset and Somerset folk to 
subscribe to a joint-stock for the purpose and form the 
Dorchester Adventurers, with his parishioner John Humfry 
as treasurer, subsequently a leading figure in Massa- 
chusetts. They got their patent from the New England 
Council, sent out a colony in that year to Cape Ann and 
in successive years dispatched further ships with supplies. 
By 1626 they lost everything they had put into it and 
more. (It does not seem that anybody ever made any 
money by these ventures.) 
John White found, like Gorges before him, that fishing 

1 F. Rose-Troup, John White, the Patriarch of Dorchester and the Founder of 
Massachusetts, 1575-1648, vii. 


Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

and planting did not go together. *No sure fishing place 
in the land is fit for planting nor any good place for planting 
found fit for fishing, at least near the shore. And, secondly, 
rarely any fishermen will work at land, neither are husband- 
men fit for fishermen but with long use and experience.' I 

However, like Gorges, White was undaunted : he wrote, 
c as in building houses the first stones of the foundation are 
buried under ground and are not seen, so in planting 
colonies the first stocks employed that way are consumed, 
although they serve for a foundation to the work 5 . 2 And 
the Cape Ann venture had important consequences. In 
its last year Roger Conant moved up there from New 
Plymouth to take charge. He had come out from Ralegh's 
parish of East Budleigh, but had been put off by the rigid 
separatism of the Pilgrims. Now he led the remnant of the 
Cape Ann settlement back to Massachusetts, where he 
became the founder of Salem. At home a new idea of 
signal importance became grafted on to that of plantation : 
with the gathering conflict between Crown and Parliament, 
between the Puritans and the Laudian church, that of a 
Puritan refuge overseas. The idea was very understand- 
able, if one thinks only of the blundering ineptitude of 
Charles I's conduct of affairs. Even James had not been 
quite such a fool though there were West Countrymen 
who never forgave Ralegh's execution : two of them who 
had witnessed it outside the Gatehouse at Westminster 
wrought an almighty revenge upon the Stuarts John 
Eliot and, brought up on Tamarside in the home of the 
Rouses, John Pym. 3 

There now came together three elements : John White 
and his West Country supporters ; the London merchants 
who have been shown to be indispensable chief among 
them Sir Richard Saltonstall of the Virginia Company, in 
whose house Captain John Smith died ; and a formidable 
group of East Anglian Puritans, of whom the leader was 

1 q. Andrews, I. 351. 

2 q. S. E. Morison, Builders of the Bay Colony, 29. 

3 For their colonial activities v. A. P. Newton, The Colonising Activities 
of the English Puritans. 


The Elizabethans and America 

John Winthrop. His father was Adam Winthrop, cloth- 
worker of London, who became the squire of Groton in 
Suffolk. (The manor had been bought, from the estates of 
Bury St. Edmunds, when the going was good, after the 
Dissolution.) Adam Winthrop was auditor of Trinity Col- 
lege, Cambridge ; his famous son John, born in Armada 
year, went up to Trinity before the end of the Queen's 
reign, in i6oi. r He did not remain long; like all Puritans 
he was disturbed about his spiritual condition and some 
other little things, for at seventeen he married. Reading 
between the lines, I rather think John Winthrop was of an 
amorous disposition all within the safe bounds of Christian 
matrimony, of course : he ran through four wives. Married 
in April 1605, his first son was born in February 1606 to 
become well known as Governor of Connecticut. 

Winthrop's Journal reveals him as becoming more in- 
tensely religious, as family troubles accumulated, and as the 
country moved from the balance of the Elizabethan age to 
that sharpening of conflict, that scission and unbalance that 
foreboded the lamentable, the destructive, Civil War. All 
this group were very much under the influence of Puritan 
theologians, William Perkins of Christ's, William Ames and 
the rest of them. 

A group of such men, friends and relations, gentlemen, 
men of ability and education nearly all Cambridge men 
came together. There were Isaac Johnson and John 
Humfrey, who had married the daughters of two Puritan 
peers ; Thomas Dudley, who, like Gorges, had fought under 
Henry of Navarre and was latterly a parishioner of the 
Puritan divine, John Cotton, at Boston. There were Increase 
Nowell and William Pynchon and Saltonstall, At Cam- 
bridge in 1629 they met and signed a compact to go to 
New England and found a commonwealth. They next 
decided to take their patent with them, for they meant to 
be in control themselves. This was the fundamental differ- 
ence between them and the Pilgrims. These were not 
simple people content to obey; these were governing 

1 TKf Winthrop Papers, I. 78, 89, 1 75. 

Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

Puritans who were leaving the country because they could 
not have their own way. When they got to Massachusetts, 
from the beginning they made it clear that they meant to 
have it. People who wanted the Book of Common Prayer 
were soon given to understand that they had better leave 
and indeed the Pilgrims had sent Church of England people 
away from New Plymouth. They never went over there 
to set a model of toleration, they never intended it ; they 
went there to have their own way, and to impose it on 
others. As John Cotton said, 'do ye not know that the 
Saints shall judge the world ? ' (Saints = themselves.) * And 
Solomon maketh it the joy of a commonwealth, when the 
righteous are in authority.* * In other words, it was a 
reinforcement of their own egoism naturally the most 
vital force in human history. And it certainly succeeded 
the central, if not necessarily the final, test in human history. 

Governor Endecott, a stern, unattractive Devonshire- 
man, had gone before in 1628 to prepare the ground. In 
1630 no less than fourteen ships left these shores with over 
a thousand colonists, and since they had such strong 
backing and resources no want of supplies. This was in 
marked contrast with everything that had gone before, in 
New England no less than Virginia. It was something 
exceptional. And there was another thing that was excep- 
tional, too. In the interval they had managed to turn 
their patent from the New England Council into a royal 
charter, which confirmed to them not only territorial rights, 
but rights of government. ' The charter created something 
that had not existed before, the right of these men as a 
corporate body to rule and administer the territory under 
their authority and to exercise complete sway over any 
colonies or plantations that might be set up on its soil. 5 2 

How had they managed it? Nobody knows. One 
thing is clear : they managed it when nobody was looking. 
For another : these Puritans were not lawyers, like John 
Winthrop, for nothing. For a third : there is no doubt at 
all that the Puritan magnates, the Earl of Warwick and 

1 q. Morison, 85-6. 2 Andrews, I. 368. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Lord Saye and Sele, were deliberately helping them out 
with their plans. They got their original patent from 
Warwick as President of the New England Council, when 
Gorges was away at the war. There is no evidence of any 
conflict between Warwick and Gorges over the matter. 
And surreptitious as the whole thing was, it may have been 
simply that people thought the New England Council was 
moribund and were quick to take advantage of it. Once 
before its rights had been set aside, when James I trans- 
ferred Nova Scotia to a fellow-Scot, Sir William Alexander. 
Now again Gorges was forced to acquiesce, saving the 
rights of his son on Massachusetts Bay. But the New 
England Council was not moribund, though it was some 
time before Gorges learned, or appreciated the significance 
of, what had happened. With the end of the war he 
married again, so that he could retire from his command 
at Plymouth and was both free and in a position to take up 
his colonial projects where he had left them. 

Before and during the wars Gorges had been associated 
with an interesting man, Captain John Mason, who, born 
in 1586, had served six years as Governor of Newfoundland, 
1 615-2 1. 1 In 1622 they took out a joint grant of all the 
land that subsequently became Maine and New Hampshire. 
Here Mason settled David Thomson in the first settlement 
on the Piscataqua, living by the fur-trade and fishing. In 
1629 Mason took a grant of the southern half of the territory 
to himself, becoming thus the founder of New Hampshire. 
In that year, with Canada conquered and Champlain a 
prisoner in London, Gorges and Mason set up the Laconia 
Company, hoping to tap the Canadian fur-trade through 
the Lake Champlain route to New England. The return 
of Canada to the French knocked this project on the head 
and left Gorges and Mason with a dead loss. 2 

Gorges had, however, secured in Mason a valuable and 
energetic recruit to the New England Council, of which he 

1 C. W. Tuttle, Capt. John Mason, the Founder of New Hampshire (Prince 
Soc.)j ii. 

2 For a full treatment v. R. A. Preston, 'The Laconia Company of 1629', 
Canadian Hist. Rev., 1950, 125 foil. 


Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

became Vice-President in 1632, and which to the surprise 
of the Massachusetts Puritans now burst into renewed 
activity. A number of individual grants of land were made. 
Gorges being now careful to make them outside the territory 
of Massachusetts Bay. We cannot go into them all here, 
but one of them was made to his grandson Ferdinando, 
to carry forward the Gorges interests. Others were made 
to Bristol and Plymouth merchants we have the corre- 
spondence of the latter in the Trelawny Papers. 1 Meanwhile 
people were pouring into the Massachusetts territory c in 
heaps' by no means all of them Puritans; indeed, it is 
likely that a majority of them were not. But all power 
was held by the governing Puritan minority they were a 
governing class and they knew well how to govern : no 
nonsense with them about democracy. 2 The Board there 
arrogated all power to themselves, and they proceeded to 
show their mettle by driving out of the colony those of 
whom they disapproved. 

It may be said that to this they had a perfect right; 
but it gave an opening to their opponents in England, who 
now realised more clearly what they were up to. The 
extradition of that merry scamp, Thomas Morton of Merry- 
mount, Sir Christopher Gardiner and others, provided a 
matter to bring before the Privy Council. To everyone's 
surprise, not least that of the Bay Puritans, Charles I's 
Privy Council came to their defence and even offered them 
further support. They did not wish, they said, to discourage 
a colony that was of potential value to the nation, and 
anyhow the extruded persons were not very respectable. 
The Bay Puritans had influences very high up on their 
side, and thus Gorges's first attempt to assert the general 
rights of the New England Council over the Bay colony 
was blocked for the time. 

1 Edited by J. P. Baxter. (Portland, Maine, 1884.) 

z *At the first meeting of the General Court, consisting of exactly six 
Assistants beside the two chief magistrates, it was decided, in direct violation 
of charter terms, that the Governor and Deputy-Governor be elected out 
of the Assistants, by the Assistants. In other words, the first Board of Assist- 
ants, not one half of the legal number, arrogated to themselves complete 
legislative, executive and judicial power.' Morison, 85. 


The Elizabethans and America 

It was not until Laud was in the saddle and, realising 
the implications of the Puritan migration overseas, formed 
the Commission of Foreign Plantation to control it, that 
Gorges got his opportunity. He proposed that New England 
should be divided into a number of provinces under pro- 
prietors, with a Governor-General over the whole, appointed 
by the Crown. Meanwhile the Bay Charter was to be 
returned home for investigation by due process of law. The 
Puritans at once prepared to resist ; they planned to fortify 
Boston harbour. The undaunted Endecott defaced the flag 
of St. George on the ground that it was a Popish symbol, 
and Massachusetts adopted its own ensign of a red and 
white rose. Only five years after their first settlement 
and how it looks forward to 1776! They accepted all the 
advantages of the Crown's protection, but they were not 
going to yield obedience in return. 

This opened people's eyes at home, though Laud's 
respect for the law was such that no steps were taken until 
the Massachusetts Charter was voided by due process of 
the courts, and that took two years. Gorges was to go out 
as Governor-General, with Mason as Vice-Admiral, in a 
new ship they were building, to control the shipping and 
trade that were now greatly increasing on the coast. But 
Mason, nearly twenty years younger than Gorges, died : 
'the Lord, in mercy, taking him away', wrote Winthrop, 
'all the business fell on sleep, so as ships came and brought 
what or whom without any question or control'. 1 And, 
by a further special providence, when the ship was launched 
it 'fell all in pieces, no man knew how'. Gorges was reduced 
to sending out a young nephew William to look after the 
various private family interests that were scattered about 
there, primarily the northern half of the Gorges-Mason 
grant, or Maine proper, which he called the province of 
New Somerset. In these last years Gorges was reduced 
more and more to his own family for support : after Warwick 
withdrew, significantly, from the New England Council, 
Lord Gorges took his place. Young William made no 

1 Winthrop' s Journal (Mass. Hist. Soc.), I. 181. 



Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

success of it in Maine and shortly returned home. Gorges's 
servant Richard Vines remained on, holding the fort 
gallantly there as deputy-governor. 

At last the courts ruled in favour of the Crown over the 
Bay Charter, and Gorges was named Governor-General. 
Massachusetts greeted this news by keeping c a general fast 
through all the churches, for seeking the Lord to prevent 
evil that we feared to be intended against us by a General 
Governor'. Either this, or perhaps merely terrestrial events 
in England, in the end turned out efficacious. 1 Gorges sent 
various conciliatory messages, which Winthrop regarded as 
mere hypocrisy. 2 (One thing must in fairness be admitted 
of the best Puritans they were always ready to believe 
the worst of other people.) Gorges, on the other hand, 
always spoke of Winthrop with respect. There is no evi- 
dence at all that Gorges was hostile to Puritans as such; 
several of his friends he found among them, he collaborated 
in the Laconia Company with the Rev. John Cotton, later 
a sainted figure in Massachusetts ; he was a firm Protestant, 
a fervent anti-Papist. When his cousin Thomas Gorges went 
out to govern Maine, he ruled it on rather Puritan lines and 
actually won the grudging approval of Massachusetts. All 
that Gorges cared about was the colonisation of America : 
he was a man of one idea, but that a great one. 

He received very little support from Charles's Privy 
Council only from Laud. He put forward to them his 
last and matured ideas on colonisation, continuous with 
those of the Elizabethans : the special importance to 
England of an increase of trade and shipping, and conse- 
quently of colonies. He adduced the classic argument, 
borne out by our subsequent history, of the superiority of 
natural expansion by trading colonies to the imperialism of 
war and conquest with Rome and Spain in mind. To 

* Winthrop' s Journal, 1630-1649, ed. J. K. Hosnaer, I. 269. 

2 Gf. Winthrop's summing up : 'Sir Ferdinando Gorges also sided with 
our adversaries against us, but underhand, pretending by his letters and 
speeches to seek our welfare ; but he never prospered. He attempted great 
matters, and was at large expenses about his province here, but he lost all.' 
Ibid, II. IO-H. 


The Elizabethans and America 

this the pro-Spanish Treasurer, Lord Cottington, replied : 
'Romans, Spanish and Dutch did and do conquer, not plant 
tobacco and Puritanism only, like fools.' I He was evidently 
a very short-sighted type. When Gorges defended the 
Puritans by saying that, whatever their humours, their 
colonising activity brought honour to the whole realm. 
Lord Cottington annotated, c What honour, if no profit, 
but extreme scandal to the whole Christian world?' (He 
was a crypto- Catholic and became a convert.) 

This shows something of what not only Gorges but 
Laud, too, had to put up with at home. However, in 1639 
Gorges got his charter for Maine as a proprietary province, 
to support his position as Governor-General of New England, 
if ever he should come to it. It was all too late. He was 
no longer the man he had been ; though capable of taking 
part in a horse-race in his sixties, he now was 'doubtful of 
the state of my own body, not able to endure the sea any 
long time 5 . 2 He was an old man, his resources spent on 
his life-long labours to bring about the colonisation of New 
England. He sent out his young cousin, Thomas, to take 
his place, writing a last letter to Governor Winthrop to 
aid him c in any just and reasonable occasion he shall have 
cause to use your favour in, I having given him command 
to be careful to do his best that all fair correspondency be 
maintained between those two several plantations . . . and 
when God shall be pleased that I may arrive, I doubt not 
but you shall perceive my greatest ambition shall tend 
(next to the service of God) by what ways or means an 
union or conformity of all parties may be established, or 
at the least a patient or charitable bearing with each other's 
errors or self-affections.' That day was not to arrive ; at 
home the country was splitting apart, was on the eve of 
the Civil War. The Massachusetts Puritans were free to 
go their own way ; certainly the Lord, as they said, seems 
to have been on their side. 

Thomas Gorges did his job well in Maine. While old 
Sir Ferdinando occupied himself writing his second book, 

1 q. Preston, 314-15. 2 Baxter, HI, 278, 296. 


Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Mew England 

A Brief Narration of the Original Undertakings of the Advance- 
ment of Plantations into the Parts of America. Especially Showing 
the Beginning, Progress and Continuance of that of New England, 
telling the story of the efforts made and expounding once 
more his ideas, his young kinsman was putting them into 
practice on the spot. Even Winthrop at last spoke well 
of him: 'he was sober and well-disposed; he stayed a 
few days at Boston, and was very careful to take advice of 
our magistrates how to manage his affairs'. 1 Thomas 
Gorges brought together the scattered settlements in that 
wild and beautiful country into a firm and ordered govern- 
ment that lasted, under the faithful Vines, until after the 
Civil War. For the young man himself came home to 
fight on the King's side, and even the aged Sir Ferdinando 
was able to perform some service. In 1647 he died, and 
after him, two years later, John Winthrop. Perhaps we 
may judge equitably between these two men : they contri- 
buted, in their different ways, more than any others to the 
building of New England. While John Winthrop made 
everything he became out of it, Sir Ferdinando Gorges spent 
everything he possessed on it. For it there was Maine to 
show and then, in 1652, the Puritans having won in 
England, the empire-building commonwealth of Massa- 
chusetts annexed Maine outright. After the Restoration 
they had to make some composition : they acknowledged 
Sir Ferdinando's rights by buying his grandson and heir 
out for a miserable 1250. 

It has been usual to regard the career of Sir Ferdinando 
Gorges as a failure. I do not think we need do so, though 
he has no place in the American tradition commensurate 
with his contribution. Where Pilgrims and Puritans have 
always been held high in history, their cherished names 
entered not only into folk-memory but into myth and 
poetry, his name is hardly remembered. Except, of course, 
in Maine, where he is rightly honoured as the Founder. 
It is only in the careerist sense that he did not succeed, for 
in fact his efforts did bear fruit, even if others enjoyed the 

1 Winthrop' } s Journal, ed. J. K. Hosmer, II. 8. 

The Elizabethans and America 

rewards. Sir Ferdinando Gorges was the man to whom, 
more than any other. New England owes it that the idea of 
colonisation there was kept before the mind of the public 
and attempts made with constancy to carry it out, as the 
result of which scattered settlements took root before ever 
Pilgrims or Puritans appeared : the man who held on tena- 
ciously to his fixed idea, in spite of all setbacks, personal 
losses and discouragements. 

He was an Elizabethan, and a more characteristic one 
than a brilliant and broken man of genius like Ralegh, or 
an impulsive and rash one like Humphry Gilbert. For 
he was an average, humdrum person, of fair judgment, 
dogged and persistent. We know nothing ill of him in all 
his long life ; the one mistake he made was out of a personal 
loyalty to an impossible leader, Essex, a man fit to wreck 
anybody. By his longevity, exceptional for those days, 
Gorges's life provides not only a bridge between the Eliza- 
bethan age and the Civil War, but also between the 
Elizabethan conception of regulation and control in enter- 
prise and the freer, more variegated individualism of the 
seventeenth century. The latter, naturally and inevitably, 
won, and Gorges's inability to control those developments 
had vast consequences. Though the majority of incomers 
were not Puritans, the dominating minority were ; and this 
gave New England its character and temper, of the greatest 
importance for the future. 

The settlement of New England, as we have seen, stands 
in some contrast to that of Virginia, under the control of 
the Company, then of the Crown. But there is a deeper 
contrast. Where Virginia was an extrapolation of normal 
Elizabethan society, Massachusetts was dominantly an 
extrapolation of the opposition. We may say that except 
for the short period of the Interregnum, when Old England 
fell into step with the New, Massachusetts was always 
opposition-minded. These two, Virginia and Massachu- 
setts, were the prime seed-beds of the American nation. 
When Virginia, with its more normal but not less self- 
governing tradition, joined with New England, against the 


Sir Ferdinando Gorges and New England 

old country, the new nation was made. 

However, it is better to end with poetry than politics, 
for disagreements, convictions, conflicts of opinion are less 
interesting than men. In the end we should think of the 
men themselves, their endeavours and endurances, the harsh 
rewarding lives they lived, wresting their living from the 
woods and waters, the soil and the sea. As a modern poet, 
their descendant, does : 

They died 

When time was open-eyed. 
Wooden and childish; only bones abide 
There, in the nowhere, where their boats were tossed 
Sky-high, where mariners had fabled news 
Of Is, the swashing castle. What it cost 
Them is their secret. 




IT Is no part of my purpose to tell again the too often 
told story of the Pilgrim Fathers and the Massachusetts 
Puritans. In any case theirs is a story specifically of the 
seventeenth century, very characteristic of that age split 
open by religious scission. But not only was their back- 
ground Elizabethan, the first generation of leaders in New 
England, the founding fathers, were themselves Elizabethans, 
their minds formed by that age before its passing. And this 
whether we take the end of the reign in 1 603, or, as is more 
usual, some such date as 1616, in which both Shakespeare 
and Hakluyt died, as a dividing line. 

John Winthrop, the great governor of Massachusetts, 
was born in Armada Year, 1588 ; even his son, the governor 
of Connecticut, of the second generation, was born in 
England as early as 1606. Of the first leaders Thomas 
Hooker, Richard Saltonstall and Francis Higginson were 
born in 1586, John Cotton and Miles Standish in 1584, Peter 
Bulkeley 1583, Nathaniel Ward 1578, Thomas Dudley 1576, 
and Elder Brewster as early as I567. 1 All these we may 
regard without question as Elizabethans. And it would 
not be straining the point to regard those born in the earlier 
ISQO'S as ^Elizabethans too : Governor Bradford, Increase 
Nowell, William Pynchon born in 1590, William Vassall, 
Charles Chauncey and Samuel Gorton in 1592, George 
Phillips 1593, Governor Haynes 1594, Edward Winslow 
I 595- It is when we come to those leaders born in the 
early i Goo's, with Roger Williams born in 1603 and Thomas 

1 Others who died early, like Isaac Johnson, d. 1630, or William Wood, 
d. 1635, may belong to this group or the next. 


Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

Shepard 1605, that we mark a real difference. In the 
famous controversy between John Cotton, e the unmitred 
Pope of a pope-hating commonwealth', 1 and Roger Williams, 
the apostle of toleration and freedom of thought, the essential 
difference was in the cast of their minds, for they were 
mutually exclusive and one physically excluded the other. 
All the same, it is not usually noticed that one was nearly 
twenty years older. John Cotton was an entire Elizabethan, 
who believed in an ordered society possessing full authority 
over its members, himself looking to the past. Roger 
Williams regarded the individual's conscience as supreme, 
with no authority higher than that (save God a reflection 
of it) : himself entirely a man of the seventeenth century, 
he looked very much to the future. May we not suppose 
that the difference of generation between them counted for 
something ? It is certainly apt to do so ; it is only natural. 

The New England Puritans had already behind them 
almost a century's experience of Protestant effort and 
thought ; it was not in this realm that they had anything 
new to contribute. A leading authority on the subject tells 
us, c the major part of Puritan thought was taken bodily 
from sixteenth-century Protestantism. From the great re- 
formers came the whole system of theology, definitions of 
terms, orientation of interests, interpretations of Scripture, 
and evaluations of previous scholarship. Puritan thinking 
was fundamentally so much a repetition of Luther and 
Calvin, and Puritans were so far from contributing any 
new ideas, that there is reason to doubt whether a distinctly 
Puritan thought exists.' 2 What was new, and of extreme 
importance, was the opportunity to carry these ideas into 
practice, erect upon the unencumbered soil of the New 
World a Bible commonwealth free of the corruptions and 
adhesions of the Old. In this we see a fundamental and 
continuing element in the American experience, and in 
America's conception of her role in history. 

There can be no doubt at all, after a generation of 

1 M. G. Tyler, A History of American Literature, I. 212. 
2 Perry Miller, The New England Mind : the Seventeenth Century, 92. 


The Elizabethans and America 

historical controversy, that the realisation of this ideal was 
the dynamic motive that drove the Puritans across the 
Atlantic. We might go so far as to say that Charles I and 
Archbishop Laud made New England ; for it was during 
the decade of personal rule 1630-40, and as a consequence 
of it, that the great migration of many thousands took 
place. After the meeting of Parliament in 1640 this ceased, 
with the prospect of the Puritans getting their own way 
in the old country; and for the next two centuries there 
was little migration to change the essential character of 
Nw England. 1 Left to themselves and their own breeding, 
they produced that stock with its so recognisable idiosyn- 
crasy, which became the strongest factor in the making of 
the nation and has formed the most efficacious agent in 
the formation of its mind. 2 

The Puritans, even in New England, were a minority ; 
when one considers effective church membership, which 
was apt to coincide with full citizenship, a small minority. 
All the decisive movements in history are made by minori- 
ties. And the Puritans carried with them these irresistible 
elements of strength, that they knew quite clearly what 
they wanted, the character their polity should take was 
already formulated in their minds and in their writings, 
the structure of belief and discipline worked out. There 
were only minor adjustments to be made in accordance 
with conditions on the other side of the Atlantic, for in the 
New World, in the wilderness, they were essentially free to 
have their own way that was what they had gone there 
for. (If they could have had their way at home they would 
not have gone.) 3 A perfectly clear-minded and determined 
minority, provided it is agreed and united, can usually 
impose its will on the rest. Hence, by the way, the em- 
phasis on unity, the determination of Massachusetts to 
inflict uniformity on all within its borders. 

1 Winthrop's Journal, 1630-1649, ed. J. K. Hosmer, I. 3. 

2 Massachusetts supplied probably more than a quarter of the fighting 
men in the Revolutionary war. Ibid. I. 4. 

3 In the controversy as to the motive-force behind the migration, this 
consideration seems to me to clinch the matter. 


Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

The conception of a Bible commonwealth was already 
clear to them : they had entered into a covenant with God 
to erect a polity according to the pattern they conceived 
laid down in the New Testament, without the subsequent 
excrescences of history, without a hierarchy in church and 
state-government. They did not at all question the hierarchy 
of social classes. In his famous sermon on board the Arbella 
on the way over John Winthrop laid down that God had 
ordained that 'in all times some must be rich, some poor, 
some high and eminent in power and dignity ; others mean 
and in subjection 5 . 1 This was the usual Elizabethan con- 
ception of society except that these people had no use 
for episcopacy, or for a nobility above them, or even, for 
that matter, of a monarchy when Christ was their king. 
I think we may say that there was an incipient republicanism 
in Massachusetts from the beginning. As for the hierarchical 
organisation of society, they were not keen to recognise any 
order above themselves, though quite clear that there were 
people below them. It is a very middle-class point of view, 
and the Puritans were essentially middle class : John Win- 
throp was unlikely to see over there anyone more 'high 
and eminent in power and dignity than himself 3 . Q.E.D. 
(Modern America is likewise a society essentially governed 
by the middle-class, in which middle-class standards and 
values are dominant.) 

To achieve the ends of this Bible commonwealth they 
had entered into a covenant with each other : * we have 
professed to enterprise these actions upon these and these 
ends. . . . We must be knit together in this work as one 
man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection.' 2 
They were embarked upon a mission: c for we must con- 
sider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all 
people are upon us'. If they failed in their endeavour, 
God will c make us a story and a by-word through the world, 
we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the 
ways of God and all professors for God's sake'. (God means 
themselves, of course.) On the other hand, if they succeeded, 

* q. Perry Miller, Errand into the Wilderness , 5. 2 q. Ibid. 5, n. 


The Elizabethans and America 

men would say of later settlements, 'the Lord make it like 
'that of New England 5 . We recognise thus early that 
exemplary element, so different from other colonies, the 
sense of mission that is so strong in the American make-up 

That came from the Bay Puritans, not from the Plymouth 


The corner-stone of all their churches, as Perry Miller 
tells us, was a covenant; and 'the covenant doctrine 
preached on the Arbella had been formulated in England'. 
We find it clearly stated by one of their mentors, the Eliza- 
bethan Henry Jacob, a generation before: c a free mutual 
consent of believers joining and covenanting to live as 
members of a holy society together in all religious and 
virtuous duties as Christ and his apostles did institute and 
practise in the Gospel'. 1 Upon this they were all agreed, 
with their religious experience in the Old World, whether 
in England or Holland, behind them. As John Cotton 
afterwards said, the churches that they established on 
coming to New England were naturally ' one like to another 
... I do not know that they agreed upon it by any common 
consultation 5 . 2 

Actually, while John Cotton was minister of the parish 
church of Boston in Lincolnshire he entered into a covenant 
with some members of his congregation. It seems a little 
invidious and it did give rise to some question ; but we 
are told that fi almost the entire twenty years that he spent 
at Boston he was treated with great leniency and considera- 
tion by his bishop 5 . 3 It is not surprising that during his 
pastorate, though apparently not by his responsibility, the 
Puritans defaced the sculpture and monuments and broke 
all the stained glass in that splendid church so that two 
or three centuries later the Victorians had to be at the pains 
of replacing it all with much worse glass. Those of us who 
attach more value to what men create in things of beauty, 

1 q. G. Burrage, The Early English Dissenters, II. 157. 
* q. Ibid. I. 361. 

3 Dictionary of National Biography > under Cotton. 

Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

rather than the varieties of nonsense they are apt to think, 1 
find cause for regret in this. 

It was this corner-stone of a congregational covenant 
that made them Congregationalists. The Pilgrims at Ply- 
mouth were rather a different case, though it seems to be 
questioned today whether they were absolutely and deter- 
minedly separatists, willing to be regarded as utterly 
separated from the Church of England. Their mentor, 
John Robinson, at Leyden rather changed his position about 
this, under the influence of Henry Jacob, who was never a 
separatist : Robinson came back to the idea of being still 
members of the Church, agreeing in Christian beliefs, 
though not in Church government. And though the 
enemies of the Pilgrims called them Brownists Robert 
Browne had been very vituperative about the Elizabethan 
bishops in fact the Plymouth Pilgrims did not descend 
from Browne : they had an independent ancestry of their 
own in the Scrooby congregation, and its pastors and 
mentors, John Smyth, Richard Clifton, John Robinson, 
Elder Brewster. As for the vastly more important Massa- 
chusetts Puritans, nobody could mistake them for Brownists : 
'they never begat us, either to God, or to the Church, or 
to their Schism ... so we have ever borne witness against 
it, since our first knowledge of it'. 2 They held themselves 
to be Puritan congregations of the Church of England and 
regarded separation as a sin. They were out to set a better 
model, away from the corruptions of the Old World, and 
by their example to convert the Church at home, upon 
which they had their eyes fixed. 

As the Arbella drew away from Land's End in 1630 a 
more important ship than the Mayflower, for she carried 
Winthrop and the Massachusetts leadership on board 
Francis Higginson gathered the passengers in the stern to 
take their last sight of England. He spoke these words, 
'We will not say as the Separatists were wont to say at 
their leaving of England, Farewell Babylon! Farewell 

1 Cf. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience. 

2 q. Burrage, I. 362. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Rome ! But we will say. Farewell dear England ! Fare- 
well the Church of God in England, and all the Christian 
friends there ! We do not go to New England as Separatists 
from the Church of England, though we cannot but separate 
from the corruptions in it ; but we go to practise the positive 
part of Church reformation, arid propagate the gospel in 
America. 3 I 

We have already seen that there was this difference 
between the Plymouth people and the Bay Colony, that 
the Pilgrims were self-effacing exiles who only wanted to 
escape attention to worship and live in their own way; 
the Massachusetts Puritans were a governing body going 
forth to convert others to their way and impose it on others, 
so far as they could. After a generation of historical dis- 
cussion we now understand much better the relation between 
the one and the other. The nineteenth century immensely 
exaggerated the importance of the Pilgrim Fathers. Their 
story was told in countless books and then put into verse 
by Longfellow. To judge from its literature anyone would 
think that America started with them, and I wonder whether 
that is not the popular belief still. This book has shown 
to what diverse sources it goes back, way beyond James- 
town in the generation before the Plymouth colony, to two 
generations earlier the 1 580*8, high- water mark of the 
Elizabethan age, when everything begins together, including 
the colonisation of America, to prove in the fullness of time 
the most spacious achievement of the age. 

The Pilgrim Fathers are much more important in 
American folklore and myth than they are historically 2 
and no country is so addicted to myth where its history is 
concerned. Even for New England the seed-bed is not 
Plymouth, but imperious and imperial Massachusetts. 3 
Samuel Eliot Morison tells us, 'by any quantitative standard, 
the Plymouth Colony was one of the smallest, weakest, and 

1 q. G. M. Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History, I. 377 n. 

2 S. E. Morison, *The Pilgrim Fathers: their Significance in History*, 
in By Land and By Sea, 233-4, 2 3^- 

3 I should explain that the words 'imperial* and * imperialism' are not 
used in any pejorative sense. 


Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

least important of the English colonies, even of those in 
New England 3 . On the other hand, 'in spiritual quality 
it was second to none in the New World'. Of course, it was 
no more democratic than Massachusetts : only one-third 
of its menfolk were freemen with a vote, and even so 'from 
1627 to 1639 there was one minor group that had greater 
power than the whole body of freemen, the "Old Comers 3 ', 
who had the exclusive power to allot land'. Governor 
Bradford would have agreed with Governor Winthrop that 
'the best part of a community is always the least, and of 
that best part the wiser is always the lesser'. 1 It is difficult 
to see how anyone can disagree with that. The Pilgrims' 
own mentor, John Robinson, left behind at Leyden, in- 
structed them, e it behoves the elders to govern the people, 
even in their voting, in just liberty, given by Christ what- 
soever. Let the elders publicly propound, and order all 
things in the Church ... let the people of faith give their 
assent to their elders' holy and lawful administration.' 2 

It seems to bother American historians that New England 
did not come up to modern democratic standards. In their 
disappointment they have failed to observe what an advance 
all the colonies made in this respect on the Elizabethan 
England they came out of. 

The Pilgrims had the advantage of priority, and thereby 
exerted an influence by the example they set of civil marriage 
and in the registering of deeds. Theirs also was the first 
Congregational church, a working model already in being 
when the Massachusetts Puritans began to arrive. But in 
every other respect the influence was all the other way. 
The size, power and importance of the Bay Colony began 
to tell, until ultimately it absorbed Plymouth. It does not 
appear that it absorbed the Pilgrim spirit : ' towards other- 
minded persons, the Pilgrims, considering that the Plymouth 
Colony was their colony and that there was plenty of room 
for the otherwise-minded elsewhere in New England, be- 
haved with singular kindness, forbearance and justice'. 3 

1 Winthrop' s Journal) ed. cit,, I. 125. 
2 q. Perry Miller, 22. 3 Morison, 240. 

The Elizabethans and America 

The religion, and thereby the mentality, of New England 
was essentially the product of Elizabethan Cambridge. 
When one considers the formative influence of that upon 
America, I suppose one must regard it, along with nuclear 
physics, as the cardinal contribution of Cambridge to the 
making of the modern world. New England Puritanism 
was entirely English in its sources, in spite of the Pilgrims' 
sojourn in Holland. It has been noticed that in their 
libraries English theological works were much more numer- 
ous even than those of Luther and Calvin ; and of them 
Cambridge theologians like William Perkins and William 
Ames, especially the former, came first. Elder Brewster, 
in his remarkable library at Plymouth, had more books by 
Perkins than any other author. 

It is already significant that it should be Perkins who 
had such a marked influence on New England, and not 
Cartwright. Cartwright, who dominated the earlier Cam- 
bridge Puritanism, was a Presbyterian. Perkins, the fore- 
most Cambridge theologian of the end of Elizabeth's reign, 
though a Puritan, always kept within the bounds of the 
Church of England. Though a rigid Calvinist, he had a 
certain catholicity of spirit ; his ability and candour were 
recognised on all sides. Preaching was the key to success 
with Puritans, and Perkins was a prodigious preacher. In 
addition he was a voluminous writer. The secret of his 
power was probably that, in spite of high intellectual ability, 
he had a way of expressing himself simply ; he did not 
allow himself to get bogged down with merely intellectual 
problems, he directed his intellect to the main issues of 
Christian teaching and the problems of the conscience, 1 
Not unnaturally, this became also the inflexion of his pupil 
William Ames, also of Christ's, whose chief work De Con- 
scientia adumbrated Christian morality applied to specific 
cases thereby absolving Puritan lambs from the necessity 
of resorting to the wisdom of the Egyptians. 

1 Thomas Fuller tells us how Perkins 'would pronounce the word damn 
with such an emphasis as left a doleful echo in his auditors' ears a good while 
after *. This would, of course, give him pleasure. 


Pilgrims and Puritans: the Elizabethan Element 

These men exerted more influence, through their dis- 
ciples, than any others, on Pilgrims and Puritans alike. 
Let us indicate something of it. The influences upon the 
Pilgrims, partly because they went underground in Holland, 
used to be a somewhat confused matter; but I think the 
affiliation can be made clear. 

The original congregation at Scrooby followed the lines 
suggested by John Smyth, another fellow of Christ's, who 
had already established a congregation at Gainsborough. 
Leaving the country for Amsterdam in 1608, his arrival 
there set off further dissensions in the English community, 
for he frequently changed his position, disputing hotly as 
he went. He became a Baptist; but no sooner had he 
baptised himself and his congregation than he perceived 
it was all an error. The disappointed congregation there- 
upon excommunicated him, and when he died joined the 
Mennonites. I believe he is respected by the Baptists as a 

The Scrooby flock looked up and were fed by Richard 
Clifton, a beneficed minister who apparently neglected his 
living for the purpose : to whom the celebrated John 
Robinson attached himself as assistant. Clifton removed 
to Holland in 1608, where he joined Francis Johnson's 
church as teacher. Johnson, another fellow of Christ's, was 
singular in that he was a follower of Cartwright and had 
therefore a Presbyterian colouring, if colouring is the word. 
After making trouble at Cambridge and being frustrated 
of his intention of settling with other sectaries on an island 
off Newfoundland, he had removed to Holland. John 
Smyth now brought over a Lincolnshire congregation 
and they all quarrelled like mad over their absurdities. 
Smyth insisted on a rigid separation from the Church of 
England, for which the others attacked him in a cor- 
porate work, The Profane Schism of the Brownists, with the 
impiety, dissensions, lewd and abominable vices of that impure Sect 

Amid these enthusiasts John Robinson was distinguished, 
comparatively, by sense and moderation. He, too, was a 


The Elizabethans and America 

Cambridge man, also influenced by Perkins. 1 Bishop Hall, 
a truthful person, makes no doubt that Robinson was dis- 
gruntled, or not particularly gruntled, at not getting a 
preferment to the hospital at Norwich, and that this was 
the cause of his separation. Having joined the Scrooby 
flock, he followed Clifton with a number of them to Holland. 
They showed sense, or a preference for quiet, in not joining 
the church at Amsterdam, where the pot was now boiling 
over, dissensions, preachings against each other, pamphlet- 
warfare, law-suits a very unholy resort to Baal. 

The Scrooby flock settled at Leyden, where John 
Robinson was publicly ordained as their pastor ; Brewster 
became their ruling elder. Here Robinson corresponded 
agreeably with Ames, and took a full share in the contro- 
versies against Smyth and the Baptists on one side, Johnson 
and the Presbyterians on the other. While rejecting the 
rude names of Brownist or Barrowist, Robinson advocated 
a moderate Congregational position, what became the 
'Congregational way'; like Elizabeth I, comparing herself 
with Mary, Queen of Scots, he was exactly ' the right height'. 

In the discussions prior to emigration it was agreed 
that if a majority of the congregation volunteered, Robinson 
should go as their pastor. To his disappointment only a 
minority volunteered. Only thirty-seven of the hundred or 
more passengers on board the Mayflower were Pilgrims from 
Leyden ; 2 we do not know who the rest were, but some of 
them we learn from Bradford were profane fellows. Robin- 
son remained behind to minister to the majority; after 
his death further groups from his congregation did go to 
New England. Meanwhile he refused to sanction the 
administration of the sacraments by Elder Brewster at 
Plymouth : not being ordained, Brewster might preach and 
pray, but not baptise or give communion to the flock. 
Robinson kept hoping that he might be able to join them ; 
he sent them spiritual advice and consolation, but he was 

1 Robinson was a Nottinghamshire man, born 1576, matriculated from 
Corpus Christi 1592. J. A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses, Pt. I, Vol. III. 470. 

2 Morison, 239. 


Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

removed shortly to a better world. The state of the Pilgrims 
at Plymouth may be described as one of 'Waiting for 
Robinson 5 . 

However, they seem to have got on very well without 
him. Elder Brewster, a mature man of fifty-three when 
they landed at Plymouth, had already had a wide and 
varied experience. He had been for a short time at Peter- 
house, where he acquired nonconforming ideas. 1 For several 
years, 1583-9, he was in the household of Secretary Davison, 
whom he accompanied on missions abroad, hence his 
acquaintance with Holland. In 1590 he succeeded his 
father as postmaster at Scrooby where he remained as pillar 
of the congregation till 1608. 'After some investigation of 
their proceedings by the High Commission at York, which 
clearly did not amount to persecution, they decided to leave 
so ungodly a land.' 2 They found Amsterdam uncongenial, 
so they went on to Leyden ; when they found Leyden not 
altogether congenial, only the wilderness would do. To 
the wilderness they went. 

Social life in Plymouth has been described as 'un- 
doubtedly quiet in the extreme' ; but Brewster, according 
to Bradford, was 'of a very cheerful spirit, very sociable 
and pleasant amongst his friends'. He had an excellent 
library of some four hundred books, more than half of 
which he took over with him. 3 Mostly theology, since he 
had to preach thrice a week ; the rest practical herbals, 
books of surveying and medicine, works on the culture of 
silkworms and varieties of timber. But, in addition, were 
these worldly authors, Machiavelli's Prince, Bodin's Republic, 
Bacon's Advancement of Learning, and Ralegh's Prerogative of 

For company there were Miles Standish and a much 
younger man, Edward Winslow; above all Governor 
Bradford, to whom Elder Brewster stood second in the little 
colony. Miles Standish was born about 1584, of a younger 

1 He matriculated from Peterhouse in 1580, but did not take a degree. 
Venn, Pt. i, Vol. I. 213. 

2 Dictionary of American Biography, under Brewster. 

3 S. E. Morison, The Intellectual Life of Colonial New England, 133. 


The Elizabethans and America 

branch of the old Lancashire family, probably the Duxbury 
branch, after which he called his place in New England. 
Before 1603 he was already a lieutenant under Vere in the 
Netherlands. A professional soldier, he joined the Pilgrims 
as such, for in religion he was never one of them. He was 
given command of parties exploring the country and to 
defend the colony against suspect Indians on one occa- 
sion being responsible for a deed of blood against some 
Indian chiefs. It fell to him to take the merry-andrew 
Thomas Morton of Merrymount. In 1621 he was made 
Captain of the colony, and was frequently an assistant to 
the governor. Next to Standish in dealing with the Indians 
was Winslow, also a man of good family, who when travel- 
ling on the Continent fell into the Leyden community, it 
may be said, since he married into it. Above all there was 
Governor Bradford : impossible to overestimate what the 
Plymouth plantation owed to him, for he was, like Winthrop, 
ideally suited to govern. They would not have been the 
great men they became, if they had remained at home in 
England: no scope, no opportunity. Bradford brought 
with him the same Elizabethan ideas of authority that 
Winthrop enjoyed: the generality share in government 
'only in some weighty matters, when we think good'. 1 
Queen Elizabeth I might have subscribed to that. Bradford 
and Winthrop were good and just men, of a marked modera- 
tion and lenity in government; Bradford had further to 
recommend him that he was accustomed to answer mildly 
'the harsh insolence which the Pilgrim colony sometimes 
received from the Bay authorities'. 

These two were of an age : Winthrop born in 1 588, 
William Bradford in 1590, of substantial Yorkshire yeoman 
stock. As a youth affected by the preaching of Richard 
Clifton, he joined the Scrooby flock and went with Robinson 
to Leyden. Bradford was of a spirit to dislike sectarian 
labels and wished to retain fellowship with all reformed 
churches. This was too much for some, but Bradford 
thought it *a great arrogancy for any man or church to 

1 Diet. Amer. Biog., under Bradford. 

Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

think that he or they have sounded the word of God to the 
bottom'. Re-elected governor thirty times, almost con- 
tinuously in fact in spite of the fear of the New England 
colonies of a governor for life it is obvious that the 
Pilgrims could not get on without him: his long rule was 
really one of a benevolent autocracy. 

Though not a university man, he was well read, and 
indeed as an historian to better purpose ; for his History of 
Plymouth Plantation is, by all counts, a masterpiece. In his 
well-stocked library he, too, had Bodin, Guicciardini's 
History of Florence, and Peter Martyr's Decades of the New 
World. It is nice to think that this Puritan governor, so 
wise, so sober, so restrained, an * achieved spirit', as his 
age would say, also owned a red waistcoat with silver 
buttons, a coloured hat and a violet cloak. But it is by his 
History that he lives, for it offers us the perfect mirror of the 
life of the Pilgrim colony to all time. 

His book has been much admired by a great American 
historian, Samuel Eliot Morison, and by an eminent English 
one, Richard Pares, foremost of our scholars on the colonial 
history of America : their judgment I am bound to respect. 
It has indeed the qualities that give enduring life to a book : 
absolute fidelity, lifelikeness and trustworthiness ; its moral 
purity shines through, the selflessness, submission and con- 
trol. Its tones are, however, those of a New England winter, 
russet and grey and white ; where I prefer colour and 
poetry. Perhaps there is a sober, subdued poetry in Brad- 
ford, as it might be Cowper the parallel is really Anne 
Bradstreet; and the book certainly has charm: like all 
living work it carries the personality of its author. C. M. 
Andrews warns us that we must be careful about accepting 
his opinions about those whom he criticises : that is merely 
human, and anyway he has more justice of mind than 
most. Morison pays tribute to the distinction of the style, 
a perfect instrument and manner for expressing all that the 
governor wishes to convey; he points out the superiority 
of the style of this first generation in New England, who 
were born and bred in Elizabethan England, to that of the 


The Elizabethans and America 

next generation who had Jacobean complexity and quaint- 
ness for their background. 

Let us cite two passages from Bradford significant for 
their content. The first, on the colony's experience of 
communal arrangements, we may compare with Captain 
Smith's account of Virginia's experience. 'At length, after 
much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of 
the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set 
corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard 
trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the 
general way as before. And so assigned to every family a 
parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number 
for that end, only for present use (but made no division for 
inheritance), and ranged all boys and youth under some 
family. This had very good success ; for it made all hands 
very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than 
otherwise would have been by any mean the Governor or 
any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, 
and gave far better content. The women now went willingly 
into the field and took their little ones with them to set corn, 
which before would allege weakness and inability; whom 
to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny 
and oppression. The experience that was had in this 
common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that 
amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity 
of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients, applauded by 
some of later times : that the taking away of property and 
bringing in community into a commonwealth, would make 
them happy and flourishing ; as if they were wiser than 
God.' ' 

Bradford is in still livelier vein in dealing with the 
misdoings of Thomas Morton of Merrymount. 'After this 
they fell to great licentiousness and led a dissolute life, 
pouring out themselves into all profaneness. And Morton 
became Lord of Misrule, and maintained (as it were) a 
school of atheism. . . . They also set up a maypole, drink- 

1 William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, (Mass. 
Hist. Soc.), I. 300-2. 

Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

ing and dancing about it many days together, inviting the 
Indian women for their consorts, dancing and frisking 
together (like so many fairies, or furies rather), and worse 
practices. As if they had anew revived and celebrated the 
feasts of the Roman goddess Flora, or the beastly practices 
of the mad Bacchanalians. Morton likewise (to show his 
poetry) composed sundry rhymes and verses, some tending 
to lasciviousness and other to the detraction and scandal 
of some persons, which he affixed to this idle or idol May- 
pole.' (Though the Puritans had not read Freud, they 
knew what a maypole meant.) 'They changed also the 
name of their place, and instead of calling it Mount Wol- 
laston, they called it Merrymount, as if this jollity would 
have lasted ever.' I The Massachusetts Puritans, under the 
uncongenial Endecott, saw to it that it did not : they soon 
brought those junketings to an end. 

For the Elizabethan background of Massachusetts we 
could not do better than look at the life lived at Groton 
in the years before John Winthrop left for America. All 
the Winthrops were given to writing, letters, diaries, journals, 
so it is well documented. We derive an agreeable impression 
of their family life in the pleasant undulating pastures in 
that nook of East Anglia. 

The Winthrops were originally clothiers, connected with 
the celebrated Springs of Lavenham. 2 One of them was a 
favourer of the Reformers under Mary, to whom the martyr 
Philpot confided his papers and these were used by John 
Foxe. So advanced Protestant sympathies were endemic in 
the family. Adam Winthrop, the governor's grandfather, 
who died in 1562, described himself in his will as cloth- 
worker of London, gentleman of Groton where he lies 
again under his brass, taken away to America in the last 
century, restored in this. His son Adam, bred to the law, 
became auditor of Trinity College. His diary shows him 

* ibid. II. 48-9. 

2 For details in these paragraphs, v. Winthrop Papers, I, 1498-1628 (Mass. 
Hist. Soc.) passim. 


The Elizabethans and America 

paying his obligations in Groton church porch, for the poor 
or to the collectors of a subsidy or for setting forth a soldier 
to the wars. We note his payments indoors and outdoors, 
for a new plough or half a dozen skins of parchment, for 
settles for the hall, for shoes and books for young John. 
He notes the coining and going of men and maids in service ; 
on April FooPs day 1596, 'Thomas Bond ran his way for 
that he had gotten a maid with child'. The diary reveals 
Adam Winthrop's bookish interests ; he constantly lends 
books to friends, the Rheims Testament to the vicar of 
Acton, or he lends Lambard's Perambulation of Kent) Petrarch's 
Works, Jewel's Defence of the Apology, Eusebius and Socrates 
in English. The Biblical commentaries of Nicholas de Lyra 
are much in use ; but so is Googe's Husbandry. An interest- 
ing geographical item is Munster's Cosmography, for which 
he paid five shillings ; while his Theatrum Terrae Sanctae his 
son subsequently gave to Harvard. 

It is unexpected to come across the curious, the asinine 
William Alabaster, who went to and fro like a weathercock 
in his religious opinions ; but he was a nephew of Adam 
Winthrop, who, I must say, treated him with marked for- 
bearance for all the trouble he gave. The first mention of 
him is characteristic: 'William Alabaster departed from 
my house towards Cambridge, 9 July, malcontent'. And 
malcontent he remained all through ; we do not need to 
take his religious opinions seriously, he was just a psycho- 
logical case. In 1597 'my cousin William Alabaster fate- 
batur se esse papistam', and they rode together to London. 1 
Unable to keep his mouth shut and publishing a contro- 
versial tract, Alabaster found himself in the Tower, whence 
he was removed in 1600 to Framlingham Castle more 
convenient, or perhaps less, for his unfortunate relatives. In 
August next' year, sister Alabaster and sister Veysey came 
to the house, 'where five of us that are brethren and sisters 

1 Elizabethans sometimes used the word 'cousin 1 for other relationships. 
Alabaster had been a chaplain on Essex's expedition to Cadiz in 1596. After 
the capture of the city there was a discussion between the English ministers 
and some Spanish priests, as a result of which Alabaster found himself con- 
verted, v. my Expansion of Elizabethan England, 309. 


Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

met and made merry, which we had not done in sixteen 
years before'. 

Then brother Alabaster turned up and 'told me that he 
made certain English verses in his sleep which he recited 
unto me' 5 on the strength of which he borrowed forty 
shillings. We see where the silliness in William Alabaster 
came from : not from the Winthrop side nor the poetry 
either. In 1603 Alabaster submitted, received his pardon 
and came to show it off to his uncle. In summer next year 
the complaint seems to have been seasonal he was 
committed to prison again for popery. On his release he 
went abroad, where he published a treatise on cabalistic 
divinity; the Jesuits persuaded him to go on to Rome, 
where the Inquisition at once threw him into prison. When 
he got away, Winthrop heard from Sir William Waldegrave 
that his nephew 'was revolted from the Pope's religion, 
quod vix credo, licet verum esse libenter vellem. But since 
he came into England and revolted from the Pope 1610, 
20 November.' In the end it remained for the despised 
Church of England to provide for him, with a prebend in 
St. Paul's cathedral and a nice living in Hertfordshire. 

Adam Winthrop was better justified in his sensible son. 
John was admitted to Trinity College in 1601 ; but he left 
early, to be married at the age of seventeen. From his 
'Experiencia' it seems that he was already beginning to 
burn, or rather, felt the impulses of nature rising. So he 
was safely married by the religious Ezekiel Culverwell, and 
on his return from his honeymoon his father made the 
young couple a marriage-feast, 'with Sir Thomas Mildmay 
and his lady my sister present'. 

In the last decade of Elizabeth's reign we observe in the 
Winthrop family an illustration of a general theme the 
increasing wealth and standards of comfort in these smaller 
landed gentry. Adam Winthrop buys himself a great bed- 
stead of walnut for his great chamber, costing him 5, a 
livery cupboard of walnut for the same ; a framed table of 
wainscot and a pair of green curtains ; a long table of 
wainscot for his great parlour, a dozen buffet stools and 


The Elizabethans and America 

e a joined cupboard standing in my hall 5 , with a couple of 
settles for the chimney corner there. There follow pur- 
chases of a salt of silver and gilt, a dozen silver spoons, 
three silver bowls, pewter porringers, a bason and ewer. 
Evidently there is no want of money, or of comforts, when 
we read of unpuritanical cushions, and lute strings, taffeta 
and lace for a sweet-bag, a box of tobacco and half a dozen 
pipes in a case. Then, in 1610, Adam Winthrop resigns his 
auditorship for which he receives 20 multiply by thirty 
for a contemporary valuation. 

Now it is John Winthrop's turn. In the son we observe 
a more intense and introspective religious consciousness : 
John was much under the influence of the gloomy Ezekiel 
Culverwell. 1 And this state of mind was not improved by 
the deaths of two wives in eleven years, for John Winthrop 
was distinctly uxorious. Of the second he writes, 'for her 
carriage towards myself, it was so amiable and observant 
as I am not able to express ; it had this only inconvenience, 
that it made me delight too much in her to enjoy her long '. 

It was at this time, in this year 1616, that he began to 
keep a record of his spiritual state, from which we gain an 
authentic picture of a Puritan's inner mind. 2 John Winthrop 
felt that his heart halted between God and the world, that 
he was not yet 'resolved upon the denial of this world and 
myself. His 'Experiencia' shows us how hard he tried. 
After the affliction of his second wife's death he thought he 
'had brought under my rebellious flesh and prettily tamed 
it by moderate and spare diet and holding it somewhat 
close to its task, by prayer, reading, meditation and the 
works of my calling'. He was a busy Justice of the Peace, 
but at sessions he refrained his * mouth, eyes, and ears from 
vanity as well as I could while I was there'. And 'whereas 
I was wont to lose all my time in my journeys my eyes 
running upon every object and my thoughts varying 
with every occasion, it pleased God that I now made 
use of my time, both in praying, singing and meditat- 

1 For this man cf. Two Elizabethan Puritan Diaries, cd, M. M. Knappen. 
2 Winthrop Papers, I. 190 foil. 


Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

ing with good intention and much comfort 5 . 

Nevertheless, when he tried to settle down to his ordinary 
tasks again, he found that * the. flesh had gotten head and 
heart again and began to linger after the world ; the society 
of the saints seemed a contemptible thing, meditations were 
few, prayer was tedious, and fain would the flesh have been 
at an end before I began'. He put himself on a spare diet 
again and set himself to read the devout Mr. Rogers and, 
of course, Perkins. After some time at this, he was sur- 
prised to find that he c grew very melancholic and uncom- 
fortable 5 , especially since he had refrained from any 'outward 
conversation in the world'. In this condition he began to 
enjoy experiences more like that of a Counter-Reformation 
mystic, St. John of the Gross or St. Theresa. He had such 
c a heavenly meditation of the love between Christ and me 
as ravished my heart with unspeakable joy ; methought my 
soul had as familiar and sensible society with him as my 
wife could have with the kindest husband. I desired no 
other happiness but to be embraced of him. 5 And, very 
shortly, he was : c O my Lord, my love, how wholly delect- 
able art thou ! Let him kiss me with the kisses of his 
mouth, for his love is sweeter than wine ; how lovely is thy 
countenance ! how pleasant are thy embracings ! ' 

This state of exaltation seems to have ended with his 
third marriage and perhaps it was about time in 1618, 
when this spiritual diary comes to an end. Winthrop got 
away from this disagreeable intensity of morbid introspec- 
tion ; his impulses found normal channels of expression ; 
he was able to turn himself to the extrovert tasks of a legal 
career. He became an attorney in the Court of Wards 
and a member of the Inner Temple. It would seem that 
it was external considerations that decided him to go to 
America, the state of the country, the loss of his post ; the 
king's decision to dispense with Parliaments, his embarking 
upon personal rule, meant that there was no future for 
Puritans while that lasted. 1 The outlook was indeed gloomy ; 

1 Cf. Diet. Nat. JBiog., under Winthrop. His admission to the Inner 
Temple ' seems to indicate that his emigration was not the result of long 


The Elizabethans and America 

Winthrop's response to it may be read in a letter to his third 
wife, 'I am verily persuaded God will bring some heavy 
affliction upon this land, and that speedily. . . . If the Lord 
seeth it will be good for us, he will provide a shelter and a 
hiding-place for us and ours, as a Zoar for Lot. 5 I 

Of those who met together at Cambridge in August 1629 
and entered into an agreement to go, Thomas Dudley was 
eight years, Richard Saltonstall two years, Winthrop's 
senior ; William Pynchon and Increase Nowell his junior 
by two years, William Vassall by four years. ^Such men 
were Elizabethans, formed in that age. They were followed 
by others, more important. 

Dudley, born at Northampton in 1576, was the son of 
a captain c slain in the wars'. Left an orphan, but with a 
sufficient maintenance, he went to a grammar school and 
became a page in the household of the Earl of Northampton. 
In turn he went to the wars to serve as captain under 
Henry IV, but saw no fighting for peace was made : that, 
then, would be 1598. In 1603 he married, according to 
Cotton Mather, c a gentlewoman of good estate and good 
extraction 5 . Becoming steward to the Puritan Earl of 
Lincoln, in nine years he succeeded in paying off 20,000 
debts and arranged a marriage of the young Earl with a 
daughter of the still more Puritan Lord Saye and Sele. 
Now well off, Dudley retired to Boston to enjoy the minis- 
trations of the Rev. John Cotton. In close touch with all 
the discussions preparatory to the move, he sailed on the 
Arbella with Winthrop. Though Winthrop 5 s deputy- 
governor, Dudley had a violent quarrel with him over the 
decision to move from their first site to Boston. They ex- 
changed some very ungodly, though not necessarily unpuri- 
tanical, words : the fact was that the two men were hardly 
congenial to each other. 

Dudley was dogmatic and overbearing ; he had none of 
Winthrop's moderation, judgment, charm for there is a 

previous deliberation. John Winthrop had not joined any of the colonial 
companies as an adventurer, and the earliest intimation of his leaving the 
old world for the new is conveyed ' in the letter above. 
1 Winthrop Papers, II. 91-2. 


Pilgrims and Puritans: the Elizabethan Element 

certain charm In the personality of Winthrop. Once and 
again they came into conflict there were people who dis- 
approved of Winthrop's wise lenity ; but the terms of mutual 
submission with which they terminated their dispute are a 
tribute to the efficacy of Puritan discipline in self-restraint 
and self-control. A man of fifty-four when he landed in 
New England, Dudley was tough physically : he produced 
progeny at the age of seventy. He was four times elected 
governor, thirteen times deputy-governor; he was one of 
the first governors of Harvard, one of the two Massachusetts 
commissioners that formed the New England Confederation. 
He was something of a scholar and, like most Elizabethans, 
wrote verse. A last poem, found in his pocket after his 
death, spoke his mind on toleration : 

Let men of God in courts and churches watch, 
O'er such as do a toleration hatch. 

These lines were not without application to such as 
Saltonstall. Nephew to Sir Richard Saltonstall, who had 
been Lord Mayor of London, owner of the manor of Leds- 
ham and a J.P., he was one of the Puritan governing-class 
who went over on the Arbella. But he did not see eye to 
eye with the rigid exclusiveness of the theocracy, and was 
twice fined for backslidings in regard to church matters. 
Perhaps this helped to persuade him to return home next 
year : he had not burnt his boats. He never went back to 
Massachusetts, though he obtained a grant of land in 
Connecticut; a son continued the line in New England. 
From wicked Old England he remonstrated later with the 
Rev. John Cotton and the Rev. John Wilson for their harsh 
attitude to the Quakers. 

Of those only just junior to Winthrop, Pynchon, Nowell, 
Vassall, all three had trouble with the ruling authorities. 
Pynchon became a member of the first court of assistants 
and helped to found Roxbury. In 1636 he withdrew from 
Massachusetts along with the Rev. Thomas Hooker, who 
found the infallibility of the Rev. John Cotton too much 
for him. They were then charged by Cotton with breaking 


The Elizabethans and America 

their covenant by departing. Later, Pynchon, who had 
founded Springfield, withdrew it from the rule of Connecti- 
cut. Thereupon Hooker accused him of breaking the 
covenant, in the same terms Cotton had used. (Q.E.D. 
There is no objectivity in these people's arguments : they 
are merely rationalisations of what suits their interests.) 

In England, Pynchon, like Winthrop, had been the 
squire in his parish; and, as Morison puts it, 'the squire 
of Springfield in Essex had become the squire of Springfield 
in Massachusetts'. 1 Treasurer of the colony 1632-4, 
Pynchon was granted the fur-trading privilege of Roxbury 
for one year for his service. When Pynchon decided to 
leave, he opted on the Connecticut river as the best location 
for the fur-trade and planted opposite Agawam. But he 
could not get along with Hooker, who unfairly accused him 
of cornering the corn trade and of breaking his oath. Hooker 
pursued Pynchon unjustly, pressing for his excommunica- 
tion. Pynchon took his opportunity on the commission of 
confederation to secede from Connecticut. Hooker pro- 
tested furiously to Cotton, with aspersions on Pynchon's 
character. There seem to have been no substance in the 
specific complaints with which he was charged. I suspect 
that the objection to Pynchon was at bottom anti-squire- 
archical, and that Hooker was the mouthpiece of the com- 
munity, jealous of any eminence above them. For Hooker 
certainly had the people with him, condemning Pynchon 
unheard ; the air they breathed in the New World was thus 
early egalitarian. 

Pynchon had no better luck with Massachusetts. When 
later he wrote a book controverting the Calvinist view of 
the Atonement, the General Court ordered the book to be 
burnt and the author to appear before them. This he 
refused to do; 'instead, he decided to return to England, 
where he might enjoy that liberty of opinion which was 
denied him in the colony he had helped to found'. 

1 For this account, v. S. E. Morison, * William Pynchon, the Founder 
of Springfield ', in Mass. Hist. Soc,, vol. 64, from which the quotations above 
are taken. 


Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

Increase Nowell arrived with Winthrop, to whom he 
became an assistant. A ruling elder of the church at 
Boston, he developed the libertarian view that it was 
improper to be both a magistrate and an elder, as he was. 
He was thereupon dismissed from the pastorate, and went 
off to found the church at Charlestown. William Vassall, 
whose father was a member of the Virginia Company, 
accompanied Winthrop, but, unable to agree with the 
elect, left after a few months. In 1635 he returned to join 
the Plymouth colony, where he prospered financially. How- 
ever, still not at ease in Zion, he returned to England and 
finished his earthly course, a rich man, in Barbados. Isaac 
Johnson, the wealthiest to go over, avoided these difficulties 
by dying almost immediately. His wife, the Lady Arbella, 
daughter of the Earl of Lincoln, had died even sooner : one 
glimpse enough for her. The ship that took these magnates 
over, the Arbella, had been renamed in her honour; the 
mystique did not work as with the Mayflower. 

In 1633 there went over the two authoritative religious 
leaders of the first generation, Cotton and Thomas Hooker. 
The same boat contained them, though the same pulpit on 
arrival did not. They had been invited over together, but 
it was wisely decided that 'a couple of such great men 
might be more serviceable asunder than together'. 1 Samuel 
Stone accompanied them, so that it was possible to say, in 
the punning manner of the time, that in Massachusetts 
they now had e Cotton for their clothing, Hooker for their 
fishing, and Stone for their building'. With them went 
Edmund Quincy and John Haynes. John Haynes, born in 
1594, was a gentleman of good estate in Essex one sees 
how easterly New England was who signalised himself by 
attacking Winthrop's government as too mild. He himself 
removed with Hooker to Hartford, where he became the 
first governor of Connecticut. 

The important Cotton was probably the leading non- 
conforming clergyman in, if it is not paradoxical to say so, 
the Church of England. Born at Derby, where his father 

1 Diet. Amer. Biog,, under Hooker. 


The Elizabethans and America 

was a lawyer, he went up to Trinity and took his degree 
in 1603. As a normal undergraduate Cotton heard the bell 
tolling for Perkins with relief that 'he should now be rid 
of him who had (as he said) laid siege to and beleaguered 
his heart 5 . 1 However, his heart was forced by another 
clergyman and so he qualified to become a fellow of 
Emmanuel that paradise of Elizabethan Puritans. We 
have seen that he became vicar of Boston, where he at once 
began to simplify the services in the interest of more preach- 
ing h e W as a great preacher ; we did not note that the 
bishop had to be squared to approve of his somewhat 
irregular appointment. He soon developed a faithful 
following, dependent on his ministrations ; he, like Win- 
throp, was a leader and this was given full scope in 
Massachusetts where Roger Williams said there were people 
'who could hardly believe that God would suffer Mr. Cotton 
to err'. 2 Everybody else erred at some time ; Mr. Cotton 
never. Cotton had journeyed down to Southampton to 
preach the farewell sermon at Winthrop's embarkation. 
It is not surprising that in Massachusetts those two formed 
a solid front in church and state, which nothing could 
break or by-pass. 

They were both Elizabethans in their point of view ; 
they were both men whose minds were geared to govern- 
ment. Cotton's chief works were in defence of the civil 
power's right to interfere in support of the truth. (This was 
just what the government believed in in England.) What 
Cotton pronounced was apt to become the law of the land 
except when, given the job of drawing up a code of laws, 
he came out with the complete Mosaic system, of a dra- 
conian severity, appropriate to unpleasant tribes of two 
thousand years earlier. This had to be rejected by the laity, 
who showed more sense. But Cotton had no more illusions 
than Winthrop as to the people's fitness to govern ; * Demo- 
cracy', he wrote, 'I do not conceive that ever God did 
ordain as a fit government either for church or state.' This 

1 q. H. G. Porter, 'Alexander Whitaker', William and Mary Quarterly, 
> 3 28 "9- a q. Tyler, I. 212, 


Pilgrims and Puritans: the Elizabethan Element 

was what the rejected Church of England held, without 
breaking stained-glass windows or for that matter Rome, 
without breaking anything, except men's heads. Neverthe- 
less, there was in Protestantism an inner dynamic that led 
on to democracy in particular in Congregationalism 
with the emphasis on the consent of the congregation, if 
highly select ; and this became shortly evident in New 

John Wilson, three years younger than Winthrop, had 
accompanied him over in 1630. Born at Windsor, where 
his father was a canon his mother was a niece of Arch- 
bishop Grindal he was at Eton and King's, where he was 
converted by William Ames, became troublesome and re- 
fused to conform. He was made teacher at the first church 
of Boston and, when Cotton arrived, was sometimes at odds 
with him ; yet the pulpit managed to hold them both, if 
at different times. 

This was hardly the case with Hooker too near a 
rival for the great Cotton. We now know that there was 
no real divergence of opinion between these two, as used 
to be thought ; it was simply that both could not be first. 
A couple of years junior to Cotton and senior to Winthrop, 
Thomas Hooker was the son of a Leicestershire yeoman, 
was a student at Queens 3 and became, like Cotton, a fellow 
of Emmanuel. At Esher, to which living he was presented 
by Francis Drake, his patron's wife lay under the impression 
that she had committed the unpardonable sin whatever 
that was (something sexual and absurd, no doubt : one can 
imagine). Hooker succeeded in comforting her, where 
Usshcr and John Dod had failed. Hooker had a way with 
him to the soul and married the lady's waiting woman : 
the proper social status for a clergyman's bride, as we learn 
from Elizabethan Injunctions. 1 Then, falling under the 
influence of John Rogers of Dedharn, he eeased to conform 
and left his living. He took to schoolmastering in the 
country in Essex, with John Eliot, later Apostle to the 

* These amusing facts, from the Diet. Nat, Biog. under Hooker, are 
unaccountably omitted from the Diet* Amr< Biog, 


The Elizabethans and America 

Indians, as assistant. 1 Then Hooker went to Holland, 
where, undergoing the influence of William Ames, he wrote 
a preface for Ames's book against ceremonies. (The effect 
of all this we can still observe in the simplicity that is a 
keynote of New England worship.) 

Hooker and Stone were called as pastor and teacher of 
Newtown. But they and their congregation became restive 
under the self-sufficient autocracy of Massachusetts. It used 
to be thought one of the many myths of American history 
that they were democrats. As to that, Samuel Stone, 
whose later life was embittered by a long controvery with 
the ruling elder of his church, spoke succinctly : he held 
the essence of Congregationalism to be fi a speaking aristo- 
cracy in the face of a silent democracy 5 . Hooker's resolu- 
tion to move away into Connecticut was preached against 
by Cotton as a breach of the covenant and opposed by the 
General Court in consequence. Hooker refused to discuss 
the matter and settled at Hartford, where there was greater 
freedom than in Massachusetts though, as we saw, he 
took the same line as Cotton when William Pynchon wished 
to withdraw in turn from Connecticut. 

Hooker's sermon at the making of the Connecticut con- 
stitution used to be thought a democratic declaration, when 
he stated that the 'foundation of all authority is the free 
consent of the people'. 2 But we recognise in that the tradi- 
tional social contract doctrine as the base of society, which 
appears in the far greater Hooker of the Laws of Ecclesiastical 
Polity. c They who have the power to appoint officers and 
magistrates', wrote Thomas Hooker, c it is in their power 
also to set the bounds and limitations of the power and 
place unto which they call them.' We recognise in that a 
continuing element in American society, the heart of Ameri- 

1 One of the treasures of the library at Jesus College, Cambridge, is an 
original edition of John Eliot's translation of the New Testament into the 
language of the Massachusetts Indians, with the inscription : 

Pro Collegia Jesu. Accipias mater quod alumnus humillimus offtrt Filius, oro 
preces semper habere tuas. Johannes Eliot, 

2 For a re-statement of the traditional view that Connecticut was more 
democratic, v. D. H. Fowler, * Connecticut's Freemen: the First Forty- 
Years', William and Mary Quarterly , 1958, 312 foil. 


Pilgrims and Puritans: the Elizabethan Element 

can political conviction. And it did fall to Hooker to 
formulate the classic statement of the 'Congregational way' 
in his Survey of the Sum of Church Discipline. 

The bent of Hooker's mind was, however, evangelical, 
in what is called saving souls : his books bear such titles 
as The Soul's Preparation for Christ, The Soul's Vocation, The 
Soul's Implantation into Christ, etc. From Connecticut Hooker 
was called to take part in the controversies that raged in 
Massachusetts over the tiresome Roger Williams and the 
exceptionally self-satisfied Mrs. Hutchinson, the anti- 
nomian. 1 That far from quiet Quietist, spilling her spiritual 
favours all round her, played a part in New England com- 
parable with that of Madame Guyon at the court of 
Louis XIV. The New England theocracy had no more 
hesitation in shutting up the one than the French bishops 
had the other : the New England version of an episcopate 
was no less responsible for keeping order in the nursery. 
The matter was ended happily with their condemnation of 
eighty-two specifically erroneous opinions. 

Roger Williams did not agree, but then he never agreed 
with anybody, including himself, for long. As for order 
in the nursery, in a sense he never emerged from it. Since 
he was a man entirely of the seventeenth century, we do 
not have to go into his career only in so far as his conflict 
with the Elizabethan views of Cotton brings out the char- 
acter of the latter. No sooner had Williams landed in 
Massachusetts than he discovered that he was c once more 
in a land where the non-conforming were unfrce 9 . He 
responded by declaring that civil governments had no right 
to enforce religious injunctions, and when the civil authori- 
ties showed that they had the power he took refuge in 

* We can hardly blame Winthrop for his credulity about the monstrous 
births produced by Mrs, Hutchinson and her friend Mrs. Dyer, for the 
gruesome details of which v* Winthrop* s Journal, I. 266-7, 377 ; or as to the 
witchcraft of Mrs. Hutchinson's bosom-friend Mrs, Hawkins, .who 'had 

much familiarity with the Devil in England, when she dwelt at St. Ivcs, 
where clivers ministers and others resorted to her and found it true', ibid. 
II. 8; or for the execution of Mrs. Dyer, which took place in 1660, long 
after Winthrop was dead. These things were true to the mind of the age, 
and anyway regrettably Elizabethan. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Plymouth. He inconveniently attacked the 'imperialism 5 
of the Puritan colonists, for of course their pushing out the 
Indians was 'imperialism 5 of an uncompromising sort. This 
troubled the sensitive conscience of Roger Williams, who 
adored Red Indians. Banished from Massachusetts, he 
escaped in mid-winter to their friendly shelter and founded 
a settlement at Providence, the beginning of Rhode Island. 
Imperial Massachusetts sought to extinguish Rhode Island 
and invaded it ; only an appeal to Old England secured a 
patent and freedom for it to exist. 

It was while enjoying the freedom of the old country 
that Roger Williams engaged in his famous controversy 
with Cotton. Cotton had issued his encyclical, A Letter 
concerning the Power of the Magistrate in Matters of Religion. 
To this Williams replied with The Bloody Tenet of Persecution 
for the Cause of Conscience, putting forward the shocking 
doctrine that c God requireth not an uniformity of religion ' 
and urging that all individuals and religious bodies were 
entitled to liberty as a natural right. 1 The affronted Cotton 
rejoined with The Bloody Tenet Washed and Made White in 
the Blood of the Lamb. Williams, inexplicably unabashed, 
wound up with The Bloody Tenet jet more Bloody by Mr. 
Cotton's Endeavour to wash it white in the Blood of the Lamb. (One 
begins to perceive that the Blood of the Lamb also -- what 
one happens to think.) This was the kind of thing that 
New England delighted in bothering its head about. Yet 
these were real issues, and Roger Williams's ideas lived on 
to win the battle at a later date. In the dichotomy between 
John Cotton and Roger Williams much of America's subse- 
quent history consists not least in the twentieth century. 

Perry Miller tells us that c such a learned and acute 
work as Hooker's Survey of the Sum of Church Discipline, which 
is specifically about the regime set up in America, is written 
entirely within the logical patterns and out of the religious 
experience of Europe'. 2 But, of course. Logical patterns 
are much the same in all times and places would one 
expect Hooker to write outside them ? As for the religious 

1 Diet, Amer. Biog., under Williams, 2 Miller, 10* 


Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

experience of Europe, this was all they had to proceed on. 

The Puritans went out to set a model of a godly common- 
wealth for the world to see and follow. They suffered the 
fate of all who make an egoistic, a conceited assumption 
as to the course history will take : the course it takes is 
never what they suppose it will be. They are always dis- 
appointed but they ask for disillusionment, to assume so 
boldly, so confidently, that things are going to go the way 
they think. The godly in England, like Milton, suffered the 
bitter surprise that the country did not want them, but the 
King again, the ungodly Restoration. Similarly with New 
England the second generation there wondered what had 
gone wrong. * 

Nevertheless, all experience does not go for nothing; 
not everything the heroic effort, the sacrifice had been 
in vain. The continuing legacy of the Elizabethan Puritans 
to New England though different from what they ex- 
pected - was a matter of the highest importance in the 
constitution of the greatest of modern nations. It did not 
turn out the New Jerusalem, but it did provide the strongest 
of bonds to bind together a continental society of a new 
sort and kind. Something very strong, even astringent, was 
needed to hold together so vast a country the New 
England mentality, something very wiry and taut and idio- 
syncratic ; something which, when it lost the narrowness 
of its early beliefs, retained a distinguishing element 
strongly ethical, seeing life in terms of obligation and duty 
rather than pleasure, social responsibility and doing good, 
ncighbourliness and goodness. Though the theology and 
belief had gone, the metaphysics broken down, the Puritan 
character remained the strongest factor in survival ; for, 
in history, to survive is what matters. 

The overwhelmingly, the excruciatingly theological 

1 Cf. Miller, 6 foil. ; and MorLson, Builders of the Bay Colony^ 341 : * there 
is much evidence that the proportion of church members to population fell 
off rapidly after 165-2, and that Palfrey's estimate of ao to 25 per cent may be 
substantially correct for 1670. This falling off was not, however, caused 
by immigration, but by the decline of religious interest in the new native- 
born generation.' 


The Elizabethans and America 

complexion of the intellectual culture of New England did 
but reflect, not so much Elizabethan England as Elizabethan 
Puritanism. Massachusetts was the realisation of the dreams 
of its later, rather than earlier, generation. We must not 
underrate their intellectual energy, if we disrelish the forms 
it took. The Puritans were intolerant in their day, and in 
consequence they have met with an intolerance in ours 
reluctant to do them justice for what they achieved. 1 Samuel 
Eliot Morison tells us that c the dominant Puritan clergy, 
far from being indifferent to culture, did everything possible 
under the circumstances under which they lived, to stimu- 
late, promote and even produce intellectual activity. More- 
over, it was largely the clergy who persuaded a poor and 
struggling people to set up schools and a college, which 
continued to serve the community in later centuries.' 2 

Their handicaps in keeping civilised standards going 
were tremendous theirs was a pioneer country strenu- 
ously engaged in the struggle for existence, a whole Atlantic 
away from the centres of learning. *Ncw England was a 
poor country, even by the standards of the day, struggling 
with a niggardly nature for livelihood. 3 It is all the more 
astonishing what they achieved, whether one likes it or not. 
Within ten years of its founding Massachusetts had a 
vigorous intellectual life of its own, ' expressed institutionally 
in a college, a school system, and a printing press ; applied 
in a native sermon literature, poetry and history 5 . No 
other English settlement until the nineteenth century 
attempted to provide for learning so soon after it was 
founded not even the States of the Union two centuries 
later, as the frontier advanced. But New England had 
Elizabethan England behind it, with its enthusiasm for 
education, fortified by the Puritan belief in the intellect. 

1 The classic instance of this may be seen in James Truslow Aclarns'3 
The. Founding of New England, of which Morison says handsomely that thoxiffh 
'fundamentally unsympathetic to the Puritans ... it is still th best gmeral 
history of seventeenth-century Massachusetts that we have, and a salutary 
one for New Englanders to read'. Builders of the Bay Colony , 347. 

2 For the content of the above pars. I am indebted to S, K, MorLion'ft 
brilliant lectures on The Intellectual Life of Colonial New England* from which 
the quotations arc taken. 


Pilgrims and Puritans: the Elizabethan Element 

New Englanders proved their belief not only in their pre- 
cepts but in their works : they were ready to tax themselves 
for things which in Old England were provided by endow- 

These were things of the mind, and their mind was 
formed by the English universities, especially by Cambridge, 
from which nearly all the leaders came, notably from those 
Puritan seminaries, Emmanuel and Christ's. The Puritan 
migration contained a very high proportion of university 
men : up to 1646 there were a hundred Cambridge men to 
some thirty from Oxford. 1 It was the university of Cam- 
bridge to which the leaders looked back, the Elizabethan 
Cambridge of Perkins and Ames, Preston and Chaderton. 2 
There was an average of one university man to every forty 
or fifty families much higher, we may say, than in Old 
England. The standards they set themselves to reproduce 
were naturally those they had imbibed at home. At Harvard 
the programme of education laid down was c very similar 
to that which many founders of New England had studied 
at Old Cambridge'. Similarly the Elizabethan grammar 
school curriculum was repeated in New England : it was 
what the founders 'understood to be the proper secondary 
education of a boy'. 

Puritanism throve * under conditions of vigour, hardship 
and isolation 3 ; the tensions within the New England mind 
resulted in a higher average of intellectual activity, which 
in fact was c conspicuously absent in other colonies '. Morison 
tells us that Puritanism 'preserved far more of the humanist 
tradition than did non-Puritanism in the other colonies'. It 
devoted more attention to classical scholarship, and had an 
interest therefore in making verses, such as all English 
students were taught to write. 'This tradition and, to a 
surprising extent, the amorous poetical fashion of Elizabeth's 

* S, E. Morison, The Founding of Harvard College^ 40. * If we would know 
upon what model Harvard College was established, what were the ideals of 
her founders and the purpose of her first governors, we need seek no further 

than the University of Cambridge. It was there that the greater part of 
them had their education.' 

3 For a brief treatment of the Cambridge contingent in New England, 
v. H. C, Porter, Reformation and Reaction in Tudor Cambridge, 255 foil. 


The Elizabethans and America 

reign, crossed to New England together with other things 
of which the stricter Puritans did not approve. 5 So, too, 
with literary form and style : Morison points out that e the 
older generation of New England grew up in the age of 
Shakespeare and the King James Bible 5 , and in consequence 
these men 'wrote prose superior by any standard to that of 
the later native-born writers'. 

However, we must not allow ourselves to be over- 
persuaded by the charm of a great historian. Shakespeare 
was precisely what the New England Puritans excluded; 
and the Cambridge they looked back to was the Cambridge 
of Perkins, not of Spenser and Marlowe, Greene and 
Thomas Nash, or even of Bacon and the scientist William 
Gilbert. The Puritans cared for none of these things. As 
the historian of their literature, Moses Coit Tyler, allows, 
the Puritan was 'at war with nearly every form of the 
beautiful. ... In the logic and fury of his tremendous 
faith, he turned away utterly from music, from sculpture 
and painting, from architecture, from the adornments of 
costume, from the pleasures and embellishments of society.' * 
They would have suppressed the Elizabethan drama if they 
could. They had no appreciation of the majesty of the 
Catholic Church, the Rome of Sixtus V, the music of 
Palestrina they are not called on to admire their opposite 
numbers, St. Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits. They had 
nothing but dislike for the grave and ordered beauty of the 
Anglican Church, the cadence of the Book of Common 
Prayer, the music of Byrd and Orlando Gibbons, their 
contemporaries ; there is no evidence that they had any 
liking for the music of that golden age, the wonder of their 
time, Tallis and Dowland and Wilbye. (The Catholics 
had : they contributed largely to it.) Nor did they respond 
to painting, the contemporary world of Tintoretto and 
Veronese, El Greco and Velasquez, or even the very English 
charm of Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver ; let alone the 
delights of sculpture, a Michelangelo or a Bernini, or even 
the chaste marbles of Nicholas Stone. 

1 Op. dt. 264. 


Pilgrims and Puritans : the Elizabethan Element 

No civilised person who cares for the arts can have much 
liking for them. Nor can one forgive them for their attitude 
to the dear Church of England though no doubt some of 
the bishops were proud, pompous, and prelatical. 

If we do not like them, we must give a reason why a 
rational one. The Puritans' attitude involved a profound 
contraction of response to life, in some ways a denial of life. 
They were enemies to the glorification of the natural man, 
with all his instincts and appetites, that characterised the 
Renaissance and the great Elizabethans, the discovery of a 
new world of riches in himself to match that in the outer 
world across the oceans. Shakespeare expresses its inspira- 
tion : 'what a piece of work is man ! how noble in reason ! 
how infinite in faculties ! in form and moving how express 
and admirable ! in action how like an angel ! in apprehen- 
sion how like a god ! ' The Puritan stood at the opposite 
pole : the doctrine of the total depravity of man ', Tyler 
tells us, 'lay in his mind under a light of absolute certainty'. 
He expressed it in the usual appalling language. Here is 
the Rev. Thomas Shepard, who with Cotton and Hooker, 
stood, according to Tyler, 'apart, above rivalry, above 
envy' though not among each other. Here is Shepard 
on man's mind : c thy mind is a nest of all foul opinions, 
heresies, that ever were vented by any man ; thy heart is a 
foul sink of all atheism, sodomy, blasphemy, murder, whore- 
dom, adultery, witchcraft, buggery . . .' J We observe the 
Puritan obsession with sex, the natural concomitant of re- 
pression ; they had not very nice minds. Their dominating 
art was of the pulpit, and pulpit oratory is a vulgar art. 

We cannot rank very high their voluminous expressions 
in this kind, or even such a tract as Nathaniel Ward's 
Simple Cobbler of Agawam, which stands out rather by the 
flatness of the surrounding country. The literature of social 
objurgation is not rated so highly today as it was in the day 
of Carlyle and Ruskin. Their early literature shows best 

1 I should have hesitated to quote this passage, if it had not already been 
cited by the respectable Moses Goit Tyler in his History of American Literature 
which, Morison tells us, *has never been surpassed *, For the quotations above, 
v. Tyler, L 193, 201, 208. 

The Elizabethans and America 

in the writings of their historians the sincerity and truth- 
fulness, prime qualities for an historian, of Bradford and 
Winthrop. But what a story they had on hand to write ! 
Then, shortly, after the winter, they would be putting forth 
shoots of poetry, naive, musical, delightful as a bird's song 
with Anne Bradstreet. 

On the other hand, some contraction of response, some 
repression, some inhibition produces greater strength and 
energy with which to face the ills of life, particularly in the 
harsh sad conditions of pioneer life in the wilderness. One 
sees, with more imaginative sympathy, what it all meant 
for them as one stands in the Museum devoted to them at 
Plymouth, surrounded by the rude objects of their daily use, 
or by the graveyards, touching in their simplicity, by the 
roadside in country places or in the village streets of New 
England. And for the life of their community, in probity 
and public spirit, in moral responsibility and uprightness, 
in humaneness as to punishment and in mutual help in need, 
in simple godliness whether we believe or no, regarding 
it as a human fact they did exemplify higher standards 
than any other English society. And theirs' more than any 
others' was the making of the nation. 



THERE remain for consideration the further efforts to 
find a short cut to Asia by the North- West., the goal 
of all these endeavours, in the course of which they had 
stumbled upon America ; the plantations in Newfoundland 
and Nova Scotia, the first British holdings in what was 
to become Canada. And first for Newfoundland until 
recently, with its absorption into Canada, for long the 
oldest dominion of the Crown. 

It is here that Bristol came first to the fore with the 
Cabot voyages and moved back effectively into the picture, 
with the Newfoundland efforts, at the end of our period. 

Attempts from Bristol to find rumoured islands in the 
Atlantic go back to the decade before Cabot, with the 
voyage set forth by John Jay as early as I48O. 1 He was a 
merchant engaged in trading with both Portugal and Ice- 
land, and these trades, with their rumours of Atlantic islands 
and Greenland, made Bristol the natural focus for the first 
attempts stretching out towards the continent lost in the 
mists of the Atlantic. Every year from 1491 to 1498 some 
voyage of this kind went out from the port, and again in 
1501 and 1502. Cabot's voyages it is now held that 
there were three, including a preliminary unsuccessful recon- 
naissance in 1496 2 fit naturally into this series. What 
lured him to Bristol was not commerce so much as the 
prospects of discovery. 

These voyages found that, with a favourable wind, the 

1 Gf. J. A. Williamson, T/te Voyages of the Cabots, 132 foil. 

2 Gf. L. A. Vigneras, 'The Cape Breton Landfall : 1494 or 1497% Canadian 
Hist. Rev., 1957, 2ii 5' 

The Elizabethans and America 

nearest land on the other side of the Atlantic could be 
made in some twenty days. It is usually held that Cabot 
made his first landfall at Cape Breton, though there is an 
interesting note attached to Cape Bonavista, in the first 
map of Newfoundland, made by Captain Mason, saying e a 
Caboto primum repertaV This is a century later, but it 
must represent some element of tradition. 

What these voyages also discovered was that the waters 
off Newfoundland were alive with fish ; though these English 
and Anglo-Portuguese expeditions 2 were voyages of dis- 
covery, and others Normans and Bretons, Basques and 
Biscayans were earlier engaged in fishing, certainly in 
greater numbers. But by 1522 we find a casual mention of 
the Newfoundland fishing fleet, so that by then it had 
become a regular thing, though until the middle of Eliza- 
beth's reign it lagged far behind the foreigners in those 
waters. From first to last the English interest in the matter 
was, naturally, a West Country concern. The West Country 
fishing interests came to dominate not only those waters 
but the development of Newfoundland, and even to exert 
something of a stranglehold upon it. After all, the historian 
of the island tells us, c the Newfoundland trade was by far 
the greatest English enterprise in America up to i63o'. 3 
This was reflected in England by the prominence of that 
element in Bristol's trade over centuries, 4 while, Edmund 
Gosse tells us, Poole in the early iSoo's was almost an off- 
shoot of Newfoundland. It is well recognised that one 
reason for the English taking possession of the coast was 
their adherence to dry-fishing curing the fish on land ; 
and in the West Country of my childhood, dryfish, pro- 
nounced familiarly like that, was an accustomed diet of the 
people in winter (though not much in favour with me) . 

1 Prefixed to Sir William Vaughan's The Golden Fleece^ see below, p, 173. 

2 For the Portuguese background see S. E. Morison, The Portuguese Voyages 
to America in the Fifteenth Century. 

3 D. W. Prowse, A History of Newfoundland, xiv. 

4 By 1667 the Mediterranean products brought in to Bristol in exchange 
for Newfoundland fish accounted for 40,000 customs duty at the port. 
J. Latimer, The Annals of Bristol in the Seventeenth Century, 345. 

1 60 

Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the North- West Passage 

We have to see the efforts to come to grips with New- 
foundland, in shape like a crab, against the background 
of those harbours on the Avalon peninsula at the south- 
eastern end increasingly swarming with fishermen in the 
summer season. The reign of Henry VIII saw two voyages 
that made an unwilling acquaintance with the island. John 
Rut set out from Plymouth in 1527 to seek the passage to 
Asia, but found himself in St. John's harbour and got no 
farther. Master Hore in 1536, with a cargo of no less than 
thirty gentlemen weighing him down, got farther and fared 
worse. Somewhere on the coast of Newfoundland or 
Labrador they were stranded on an inclement shore with 
no food, and were just being reduced to cannibalism, when 
they managed to lighten a French ship of her cargo by 
a stratagem and struggled home in sad straits. Hakluyt 
rode two hundred miles to get an account of this affair 
from its last survivor, then an old man. How well Hakluyt 
deserved the tribute to his 'burning zeal' and c good nature 
which is so ready pressed to benefit your country and all 
such poor men as have any spark in them of good desires', 
which the Bristol merchant Anthony Parkhurst paid him in 
his 'Report of the True State and Commodities of New- 
foundland', written in I578. 1 

Parkhurst tells us that at this time there were 'above a 
hundred sail of Spaniards that come to take cod, who make 
all wet and do dry it when they come home, besides twenty 
or thirty more that come from Biscay to kill whale for train 
[i.e. oil]. These be better appointed for shipping and 
furniture of munition than any nation saving the English- 
men, who commonly are lords of the harbours where they 
fish, and do use all strangers' help in fishing if need require, 
according to an old custom of the country, which thing 
they do willingly.' Apparently this was due to the English 
ships, though fewer, being better armed and fought, and 
the foreigners' submission to them was in return for 'pro- 
tection of them against rovers or other violent intruders, 
who do often put them from good harbour, etc/. Life in 

* R, Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, ed, dL V, 343 foil. 

The Elizabethans and America 

those waters was a scuffle and a scrimmage, out of which 
the West Country fishermen emerged on top, before ever 
Queen Elizabeth I effectively clinched matters and made 
their supremacy permanent. This move was only five years 
ahead. Now, in 1578, there were about fifty Portuguese 
sail, and a hundred and fifty French and Breton, c the most 
of their shipping is very small, not past forty tons, among 
which some are great and reasonably well appointed 5 
better than the Portuguese, but not so strong as the Spaniards. 
Parkhurst was in favour of strengthening our position there ; 
by fortifying the strait at Belle Isle, c we shall be lords of 
the whole fishing in time, if it do so please the Queen's 
Majesty'. It shortly did please the Queen's Majesty, and 
by a more direct measure. 

This same year Sir Humphrey Gilbert advocated the 
scuppering of the Spaniards and their extrusion from the 
fishery there. His visit to the island in 1583 and taking 
formal possession of it in the Queen's name in St. John's 
harbour had no real influence upon its history, though it 
has left its charming memorial in Edward Hay's narration 
of the voyage. The fisher-folk were the men, and until 
Gilbert produced his commission from the Queen were 
prepared to resist his entrance. There were in harbour at 
that moment some thirty-six sail, over whom were 'the 
English merchants, that were and always be admirals by 
turns interchangeably . . . for our English merchants com- 
mand all there'. 1 Hay illustrates for us what a mart the 
harbour had already become, with the opportunities of 
exchanging fish against Mediterranean delicacies. 'Inso- 
much as we were presented, above our allowance' so 
magical was the Queen's commission 'with wines, mar- 
malades, most fine rusk or biscuit, sweet oils and sundry 
delicacies. Also we wanted not of fresh salmons, trouts, 
lobsters and other fresh fish brought daily unto us.' Em- 
bedded in his account is a brief relation of Newfoundland 
and its commodities, the climate, the soil and its products. 
'The soil along the coast is not deep of earth, bringing forth 

* Hakluyt, VI. 16 foil. 

Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

abundantly peason small, yet good feeding for cattle. Roses 
passing sweet, like unto our musk roses in form, raspberries, 
a berry which we call whorts, good and wholesome to eat. 
The grass and herb doth fat sheep in very short space, 
proved by English merchants which have carried sheep 
thither for fresh victual and had them raised exceeding fat 
in less than three weeks.' And so on. 

Sir George Peckham, the chief adventurer in Gilbert's 
voyage, added to the growing literature about America 
with his True Report of the late Discoveries, written after the 
return of one of the captains from it and upon his informa- 
tion, before Gilbert's fate was known. It is concerned 
chiefly with the general question of America, setting forth 
the Queen's title to North America and discussing the 
rights of traffic with the natives, which ' the savages may 
not justly impugn and forbid in respect of the mutual society 
and fellowship between man and man prescribed by the 
law of nations. . . . For who doubteth but that it is lawful 
for Christians to use trade and traffic with infidels or savages, 
carrying thither such commodities as they want, and bringing 
from thence some part of their plenty ? ' * His informant 
gave him an account of their coasting the south of Newfound- 
land, where off Cape Race they were becalmed and took 
large quantities of cod. 'And from thence, trending the 
coast west toward the bay of Placcntia, the general sent 
certain men ashore to view the country, which to them as 
they sailed along seemed pleasant. Whereof his men at 
their return gave great commendation, liking so well of the 
place as they would willingly have stayed and wintered 
there.' 2 It was on their course to the mainland that, in a 
fog, the flagship the Delight, was lost with all Gilbert's 
supplies, his books and charts, and Hakluyt's room-mate at 
Oxford, Stephen Parmcnius, the geographer. On the way 
home Gilbert himself was drowned in the little frigate, the 
Squirrel. The Queen was only too much justified in her 
fear that he was a man 'not of good hap by sea'. Peckham 
lost everything he had put into the venture, and later 

1 Ibid. 49. 2 Ibid, 44-5. 

l6 3 

The Elizabethans and America 

forfeited his family estate for his debt to the Crown. 

As a first strategic move, with the opening of the war 
in 1585, Bernard Drake was sent to round up the Spanish 
fishing fleet in Newfoundland. This was a very profitable 
enterprise and six hundred fishermen were brought back to 
be taken care of. Henceforth no Spanish fishing fleet went 
to Newfoundland, and ' out of the whole number of fishing 
vessels England had more than double the fleet of her rivals 
and all quietly submitted to her control'. 1 Already the 
Queen had furthered a more settled state of affairs with a 
wise ruling in 1582, that the master of a vessel might retain 
his space on the foreshore so long as he kept buildings on it. 
The fishing fleet was achieving regular organisation, with 
charter-parties, licences to export and even insurance 
policies by 1603. And the first settlements made on the 
coast were those of the fishermen, winter crews harbouring 
there to prepare flakes, stages, cellars for the spring fishery. 
They remained hostile to any idea of plantation : they felt 
that they had conquered this water-world and it was theirs. 
Bristol and Hakluyt had been to the fore in promoting 
Gilbert's tragic voyage. Walsingham had written to a 
leading merchant, Thomas Aldworth, asking for support, 
and upon Hakluyt's information an assembly of merchants 
put up a thousand marks to furnish a bark. 2 A decade 
later Hakluyt gives us an account of the voyage of a Bristol 
and a Topsham ship into the Gulf of St. Lawrence * to flay 
the morses or sea-oxen'. The Topsham bark returned with 
an interesting report of Indian life and habits upon Cape 
Breton. * One thing very strange happened in this voyage : 
to wit, that a mighty great whale followed this ship by the 
space of many days as we passed by Cape Race, which by no 
means we could chase from our ship, until one of our men fell 
overboard and was drowned, after which she immediately 
forsook us and never afterward appeared unto us. 3 Thus early, 
in the Elizabethan age, appears the theme of Moby Dick. 

Hakluyt gives us accounts of three voyages into the 
Gulf in these years, with the characteristic note, c because 

1 Prowse, 79. * Hakluyt, VI. 79, 93 foil. 


Newfoundland^ Nova Scotia and the North- West Passage 

they are the first, for aught that hitherto is come to my 
knowledge, of our own nation that have conducted English 
ships so far within this gulf of St. Lawrence and have brought 
us true relation of the manifold gain which the French, 
Bretons, Basques and Biscayans do yearly return from the 
said parts ; while we this long time have stood still and 
have been idle lookers on, making curtsy who should give 
the first adventure or, once being given, who should con- 
tinue or prosecute the same'. .In 1594 the Grace of Bristol, 
under Sylvester Wyatt, went up to the north-west of New- 
foundland and into the mouth of the St. Lawrence as far 
as Natiscotec (Anticosti) island. In Placentia bay they met 
with over threescore sail of fishermen from St.-Jean-de-Luz 
and Biscay, 'whereof eight ships only were Spaniards, of 
whom we were very well used and they wished heartily for 
peace between them and us 3 . In 1597 two London barks, 
the Hopewell and the Chancewell, had a very exciting time 
of it in the Gulf, being chased and giving chase, pillaging a 
Basque ship and being threatened with mutiny by one of 
their crews, catching lobsters to the number of a hundred 
and forty in one place 'with a little draw net', and ending 
up with a Spanish prize of two hundred tons. c The New- 
foundland we found very subject to fogs and mists.' 

In the wake of this tradition of interest and enterprise, 
it was not surprising that, when peace came, Bristol should 
look to Newfoundland as its special province. When we 
say Bristol we mean the circle of its leading merchants, 
Aldworths, Slanys, Guys, Colstons. When Popham and 
Gorges approached the City Council to subscribe to the 
Plymouth Company, they got little response except from 
the mayor, the sheriff John Guy, who promised twenty 
marks and Robert Aldworth ^12 : I0. 1 But in 1609 Bristol 
began to favour a plan of its own. John Guy put forth a 
tract 'to animate the English to plant in Newfoundland 5 , 
and a number of merchants joined with associates in London 
to petition the Privy Council for a patent. Bright was that 
dawn : with peace all the colonising ventures were taking 

* Latimer, 27, 38* 

The Elizabethans and America 

shape together Jamestown, Bermuda, New England, 
Newfoundland. In 1610 a patent was granted to c The 
Company of Adventurers and Planters of London and 
Bristol for the colony or plantation of Newfoundland in the 
southern and eastern parts 3 . 1 A number of grandees were 
added to grace the document : the Earl of Northampton, Sir 
Francis Bacon, Sir Lawrence Tanfield, Sir John Doddridge ; 
the work fell upon the Guys, Slanys, Aldworth and Colston. 

There was already a sprinkling of settlers in the neigh- 
bourhood of St. John's and spread about Conception bay. 
John and Philip Guy, with their brother-in-law William 
Colston, went out in 1610: three small ships carrying 
thirty-nine persons, including a few women and children. 
Their first instruction was to assemble the fishermen and 
assure them that there was no intent to deprive them of 
their rights in fishing. On that understanding the fishermen 
amicably supplied their wants. But Guy was careful to 
settle out of their way, in a secluded and defensible spot, 
Cupid's or Cupert's cove, at the head of an inlet, where he 
proceeded to build a little fort, with stockade and battery, 
and to erect cottages, farm-buildings, grist- and saw-mills. 
Here they spent an exceptionally mild winter, c small brooks 
were not the whole winter frozen over so thick as that the 
ice could bear a dog to go over it, which I found by good 
proof, Guy wrote home; 'for every morning I went to 
the brook which runneth by our house to wash'. All that 
winter the colony remained in health. 

With the spring Guy as governor proclaimed his orders 
for the fishermen to keep, and this at once aroused their 
hostility : they were accustomed to regard the isle as their 
own and rule as they pleased. They petitioned the king 
against the planters, and meanwhile attempted to destroy 
their mills. The planters' reply to the petition, later on, 
stated the view mildly that 'it is conceivable to be lawful 
for them the inhabitants to make choice of their fishing 
place and not to leave the benefit thereof to the uncertain 
comers thither'. 2 Here was the fundamental conflict of 

1 Purchas, ed. cit. XIX. 406 foil. a Prowsc, JOG. 

1 66 

Newfoundland) Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

interest thus early, that proved so discouraging to colonising 
efforts in Newfoundland. In the autumn of 1611 Guy 
returned to England, leaving Colston as his deputy. In 
the spring of 1612 Guy took over peasants and artisans, 
horses, cattle and poultry, and also an aggressively Pro- 
testant preacher, the Rev. Erasmus Stourton, who later 
was banished by Lord Baltimore for his troublesomeness. 

That summer they were visited by Captain Easton, a 
celebrated pirate, who robbed fishermen and planters alike. 
' In October John Guy with thirteen others in the Endeavour 
and five in the shallop went upon discovery.' * In the 
north of Trinity bay they made contact with the elusive 
Indians of the island. When the bark and shallop rowed 
towards them, the Indians made off; 'whereupon the bark 
wheazed unto them and flourished the flag of truce and 
came to anchor, which pleased them, and then they stayed. 
Presently after the shallop landed Master Whittington with 
the flag of truce, who went towards them. Then they 
rowed into the shore with one canoe, the other standing 
aloof off and landed two men, one of them having the 
white skin in his hand ; and coming towards Master Whit- 
tington, the savage made a loud speech and shaked the 
skin, which was answered by Master Whittington in like 
manner. And as the savage drew near he threw down the 
white skin on the ground, the like was done by Master 
Whittington. Whereupon both the savages passed over a 
little water-stream towards Master Whittington, dancing, 
leaping, and singing; and coining together, the foremost 
of them presented unto him a chain of leather full of small 
periwinkle shells, a spitting knife, and a feather that stack 
in his ear.' These were the preliminaries to friendly contact 
with the braves, who commonly c have no beards ; behind 
they have a great lock of hair platted with feathers like a 
hawk's lure, with a feather in it standing upright by the 
crown of the head'. We recognise the familiar picture, so 
clearly described in excellent Elizabethan English, to prevail 
over the course of so much history to come, 

* Purchas, XIX. 419 foil. 
I6 7 

The Elizabethans and America 

In 1613 Guy returned to his busy life in Bristol, becom- 
ing mayor in 1618, member of Parliament in 1621 and 
1624. Stow describes him as c a man very industrious and 
of great experience'. By 1626 he was dead, not old, leaving 
four sons under age. 

In Newfoundland Colston remained as deputy-governor 
during the winter of 1613-14, and when he went the colony 
was left without law or order. Nor was there any means 
for such a small band, with no authority, to enforce order 
upon thousands of fishermen. By 1615 there were some 
two hundred and fifty English sail engaged in the fishery, 
a tonnage of fifteen thousand, taking fish and making train- 
oil to the annual value of 135,000.* One sees the enormous 
increase since Queen Elizabeth I's pounce upon the Spanish 
fishing fleet thirty years before an unrecognised achieve- 
ment of the age in the New World. 

On the other hand, tiny as the colony was, it became 
the parent of further plantations in the temperate south- 
eastern peninsula. In 1616 the Bristol Company sold a 
band of territory running across the Avalon peninsula to 
Placentia bay to Sir William Vaughan of Golden Grove, 
and that brought an interesting Welsh fantastic, with his 
public spirit and poetry and nonsense, upon the scene. In 
the previous year two men of mark arrived : Captain 
Whitbourne, later Sir Richard, arrived in the Trinity in 
Trinity bay on Trinity Sunday, to hold an Admiralty court 
and enforce some order upon the swarming fishermen ; 
and Captain John Mason, who remained as governor of 
the parent colony for the six years, 1615 to 1621. He was 
succeeded as governor by Robert Hayman, who wrote his 
Quodlibets while there the first book of original English 
verse, for Sandys in Virginia was engaged in translation, 
to come out of America. All these four wrote books dealing 
with Newfoundland : it is curious how literary its early 
history appears or perhaps it reflects the unabashed 
expressiveness of Elizabethan colonisers. 

In 1618 some Bristol merchants Robert Aldworth 

* Purchas, XIX. 437. 
1 68 

Newfoundland) Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

continuing his interest purchased a grant for plantation 
not far from Guy's location, at Harbour Grace. It was 
known as Bristol's Hope, but it proved none. Vaughan 
planted his settlement at Trepassy. Besides the original 
settlers In and around St. John's, Falkland planted his 
colony on Trinity bay, and there was Calvert's, Lord 
Baltimore's : altogether some six settlements came into 
existence in James's reign. 

We have already come across the excellent Captain 
John Mason as an associate of Gorges in the New England 
Council and as founder of New Hampshire. Born at King's 
Lynn in 1586, he was taken early to Portsmouth where he 
spent most of his life, latterly in the house where Bucking- 
ham was assassinated. Hence he seems to have looked 
upon himself as a Hampshire man. In 1610 he equipped 
two ships and spent fourteen moftths in subduing the re- 
bellious Redshanks in the Hebrides on behalf of James I, 
who left him to foot the bill. 1 (By 1629 the bill, with 
interest, amounted to nearly 12,500 and was never paid, 
of course.) Perhaps as some kind of recompense, he was 
appointed governor of Newfoundland ; he at once set about 
exploring all round it and constructing a map. When 
completed, a careful and charming work, it was prefixed 
to Vaughan's book The Golden Fleece, published in 1626. 
Mason was no poet, but he wrote some commendatory 
verses for the book : 

O how my heart doth leap with joy to hear 
Our Newfound Isle by Britons prized dear ! 
That hopeful land which winters six I tried 
And for our profit meet at full descried . . . 

To Vaughan's volume celebrating Charles I's marriage 
called Cambrensium Caroleia with its word-play upon the 
crab-like shape of the island (cans means sea-crab), Mason 
contributed a Latin poem, *In Cambriolae Plantationem', 

Quae deserta Novae quondam fuit insula terrae 
Curis et musis nunc viget alma tuis . . . 

* Captain John Mason, eel. J. W. Dean, with Memoir by G. W. Tuttle 
(Prince Soc,), 10 foil. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Mason had not been at Magdalen College for nothing 
or else Vaughan wrote the verses for him. 

In 1620 he published his Brief Discourse of the Newfound- 
land with the idea of 'inciting our nation to go forward in 
that hopeful plantation begun'. 1 It is a pleasant little tract, 
giving his experience of the climate and an account of the 
products, the herbs and roots he managed to raise in his 
garden. As with most of the Newfoundland promotion- 
literature he was at pains to answer the prevalent idea that 
the winter-climate was too cold for settlement. However, 
he admits the pest of mosquitoes in summer 'small flies 
bred of the rottenness of ruined wood and moisture, like as 
in Russia'. The advantages of Newfoundland for settlement 
that he enumerates are four : though the soil and climate 
are inferior to Virginia, it is only half the distance there ; 
it costs only ten shillings to transport a planter, and twenty 
shillings for victual, to Newfoundland, five pounds to Vir- 
ginia; the fishery employs three thousand seamen a year, 
freighting three hundred ships, and providing for twenty 
thousand people in England ; the security of the island was 
complete and plantation on it, there being but few Indians 
in the north and none in the south. 

The admirable sailor Richard Whitbourne followed with 
his A Discourse and Discovery of Newfoundland in 1622. The 
historian of the island calls him the Captain Smith of 
Newfoundland, and certainly his is a pleasant little book, 
written, as the Dictionary of National Biography observes, 
'with a literary skill hardly to be looked for in one who 
had been a mariner from fifteen years of age'. 2 But, then, 
we may observe he was an Elizabethan mariner. He 
was born, just over the hill from Ralegh's Budleigh, at 
Exmouth. He made several Newfoundland voyages and 
knew it well, having made his first in 1579 in a ship set 
forth from Southampton, bound for whaling in the Gulf. 
'But this our intended voyage was overthrown by the indis- 
cretion of our captain and faint-heartedness of some gentle- 
men of our company ; whereupon we set sail from thence 

1 Captain John Mason, 139 foil. * D.N.B., under WMtboumc, 


Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the North- West Passage 

and bare with Trinity harbour in Newfoundland.' z Four 
years later he was there in command of another Southampton 
ship at the time of Gilbert's taking possession of the country, 
'whereof I was an eye- witness'. Two years later he was 
present when Bernard Drake rounded up the Spanish and 
Portuguese fishing fleets. In 1588 he served in a ship of 
his own against the Armada, and made several more New- 
foundland voyages in the Queen's reign. 

Whitbourne was there again in 1611 when the cele- 
brated pirate Captain Easton replenished his fleet of ten 
ships and kept Whitbourne in his custody for eleven weeks, 
making the virtuous sailor many offers and golden promises. 
The West Countryman resisted these blandishments, re- 
questing Easton only c to release a ship that he had taken 
on the coast of Guinea, belonging to one Captain Rashleigh 
of Fowey in Cornwall, a man whom I knew but only by 
report ; which he accordingly released. Whereupon I 
provided men, victuals and a freight for the said ship, and 
so sent her home to Dartmouth in Devon, though I never 
had so much as thanks for my kindness therein.' 

In 1614 Whitbourne was back in Newfoundland, when 
another well-known pirate or privateer, Mainwaring, was 
upon the coast and compelled his company for a time. 
Next year Whitbourne went back with a commission from 
the Court of Admiralty to hold a court and rectify disorders 
among the fishermen. In 1616 he had a ship of his own 
returning thence rifled by a French pirate, the voyage 
overthrown to the loss of more than ^860, for which he 
never got any recompense. From all this we perceive that 
Whitbourne was fairly regularly engaged in the Newfound- 
land trade ami what a thing it had become in the country's 
trade in general, the West Country's in particular. In 1618 
he went out in a ship of his own, partly victualled by Sir 
William Vaughan, to take charge of the latter's unsatisfactory 
settlement on the Avalon peninsula, for which he had got 
a grant from the London and Bristol Company. And this 
brings an interesting Welsh character upon the scene. 
* Purchas, XIX. 425 foil. 

The Elizabethans and America 

Dr. Vaughan was born in 1577 and matriculated, like 
a good Welshman, at Jesus College, Oxford, in 1592. A 
gentleman of some estate, he then travelled abroad to 
France and Italy, and became a doctor of laws at the 
university of Vienna. He married and settled on his estate 
at Torcoed in Carmarthen, where lightning struck the house 
and killed his wife. This increased his eccentricity some- 
what and implanted a streak of religious, or perhaps perse- 
cution, mania that led him to write a mystical work to 
answer the 'disgraceful libels dispersed far and nigh' about 
his wife's death. (Did the Welsh think that this man of 
learning was a wizard who could make lightning ?) How- 
ever, the Doctor was a public spirited man, who was much 
depressed by the poverty and unemployment in Wales, 
the redundant population many of whom died of want, 
though one cannot credit his figures. C I am sorry to find 
so many hopeless in my country of Wales, whereas close 
by us in Devonshire a hundred and fifty ships go to New- 
foundland transporting from thence those commodities with- 
out which Spain and Italy can hardly live.' * In 1616 
he purchased his grant and at his own expense sent out a 
colony to settle at Trepassy, at the southernmost tip of the 

For all his pains the colonists were not less hopeless 
than they had been at home. Whitbourne wrote of them 
as he found them: 'for certainly I have already seen and 
known by experience that the desired plantation can never 
be made beneficial by such idle fellows as I found there in 
1618, which people had remained there a whole year before 
I came there or knew any of them and never applied 
themselves to any commendable thing, no, not so much as 
to make themselves a house to lodge in, but lay in such 
cold and simple rooms all the winter as the fishermen had 
formerly built there for their necessary occasions the year 
before those men arrived there. ' 2 Nothing could be ex- 
pected of such people, but they attracted in addition the 
ill-luck of those who will not help themselves. Whitbourne 

1 q. Prowse, 136. 2 q. Ibid. 112. 


Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

went out as Vaughan's deputy to govern the colony, taking 
a further recruitment of people. He was interested in the 
venture and anxious 'to advance that work'. He and 
Vaughan set forth an additional ship for a fishing voyage 
and carrying victuals to the colony, but this ship was cap- 
tured by an 'erring captain' from Ralegh's last Guiana 
enterprise: 'whereby our intended fishing voyages of 
both our ships were overthrown and the plantation hin- 

This seems to have been the end of Whitbourne's interest 
in Newfoundland, and we are not concerned here with the 
rest of his career of service. It is nice to think that for it 
he was eventually knighted. 

Vaughan himself went out in 1622 and remained a 
couple of years, patriotically calling the settlement Cambriol 
and conferring the names of the South Welsh counties upon 
the places. But it was all to no purpose, and the very names 
disappeared. Vaughan found the burden c too heavy for 
my weak shoulders' and assigned the northerly portion of 
his grant to Falkland, the rest to Lord Baltimore. That 
was the end of Cambriol except that one of his Welshmen, 
'Captain Wynne, a Carnbro-Briton', took on the job of 
settling Baltimore's plantation at Fcrriland. We are not 
called upon to go into that; for all these failures the in- 
habitation of Newfoundland was now begun, though it 
proceeded slowly and always with the hostility of the fishing 
interests. It was not until the arrival of the imperialist 
Puritans to power and the rule of Cromwell that New- 
foundland got able and upright administration from their 
governor, John Treworgie to be betrayed, of course, at 
the Restoration. 

Vaughan came back with a couple of books to add to 
the literature of Newfoundland. In 1626 he published The 
Golden Fleece^ by Orpheus Junior. 1 The device of a modern 
pursuit of the golden fleece, as reported before a court of 
the ancient gocls, enabled him to traverse a number of 
contemporary questions upon which he expressed strong 

1 He is best known by his book, The Golden Grove. 

The Elizabethans and America 

opinions : tithes, celibacy of the clergy, Rome and so on. 
One may judge the style of the thing from the preface : 
*my masters, you that slight the first lesson of the Psalms, 
you that plot at home like crafty crowders, to reap the 
fruits of all painful trades without wetting your cat's feet, 
though the fish be never so dearly prized, you who repose 
your chiefest felicity in playing on the viol of fraud, and 
in idolizing a painted strumpet, come not at Colchos, nor 
presume ye once, more than Tantalus, to touch the golden 
apples of the Hesperides'. One observes the instinctive 
Welsh alliteration and the exaltation of temperament that 
goes with it. 

The golden apples of the Hesperides were to be found 
in Newfoundland ; but it is not until the third book that 
we are allowed to arrive there. Its recommendations turn 
out pedestrian enough, for they are naturally the same as 
those already advanced on behalf of plantation there. But 
Vaughan's literary device enables him to call upon all those 
concerned to give their evidence in the court of Apollo : 
John Guy as to the climate, since he was * the first Christian 
that planted and wintered in that island', John and 
Humphrey Slany as to its commodities, Mason as to its 
advantages; while Gorges, accused by the western fisher- 
men of hindering their stages for drying fish, replies to the 
anti-planters that it is for the good of the commonwealth 
that there should be an outlet for surplus population. Guy 
and Mason were called in to write commendatory verses, 
while the latter contributed his delightful map. Guy wrote : 

We need not now coipplain for want of trade 
Sith from the West we golden wares may lade ; 
Which Orpheus shows in this his golden fleece, 
A trade more rich than Jason brought to Greece 
From Colchos land ; if by our slothful ease 
And wanton peace we lose not the increase. 
What I first chalked two years at Cuperts cove 
New Cambriol's planter sprung from Golden Grove 
Old Cambria's soil up to the skies doth raise. 
For which let Fame crown him with sacred bays. 


Newfoundland) Nova Scotia and the North- West Passage 

Perhaps the learned Doctor wrote these verses himself 
under the Bristol merchant's name ? We cannot help feeling 
that that may have been the case with the Latin poems of 
Guy and Mason prefixed to Vaughan's volume of Latin 
verses, Cambrensium Caroleia, reportata a Colchide Cambriola ex 
australissima Novae Terrae Plaga. Here again, as in Vaughan's 
prose-work, he traverses numerous contemporary themes 
exposing to the full, in true Celtic fashion, his views and 
prejudices, without restraint : that the old country will gain 
by transporting felons to the Newfoundland colonies ; on 
the advantages of plantation there ; the North-West Passage ; 
De Tobacconistarum prodigalitate comprimenda. 

Nor was this the end of Vaughan's interest. Some years 
after his return he wrote a little work, The Newlander's 
Cure, on the complaints prevalent there, with his suggested 
remedies. Pleasant and idiosyncratic a writer as Vaughan 
was, we could dispense with a measure of his opinions for 
a little more about his days in Newfoundland. He must 
have spent a good many of them writing Latin verses, and 
then, himself unwell and his colony not prospering, came 
home again. Anyhow, Vaughan's interest was not that of 
a practical man but of a projector, a combination of public 
spirit and fantasy. 

Perhaps it was the climate, and the loneliness, that 
turned men's thoughts to literature. For Vaughan's con- 
temporary, Robert Hayman, while in charge of Bristol's 
Hope at Harbour Grace wrote his volume of Qitodlibets and 
translated four books of John Owen's Latin epigrams into 
English verse. Hayman was a Devonshire lad who matricu- 
lated at the age of eleven from Exeter College in 1590: * 
so he too was an Elizabethan, a couple of years junior to 
Vaughan. He was a student at Lincoln's Inn at the time 
of the capture of Cadiz ; years afterwards in far Newfound- 
land he would think of the festival days and grand nights in 
the hall, the young men taking the guests by the hand and 
trooping round the fire singing a song, 'which I could never 
sing'. A still earlier memory from childhood came back to 

1 J, Foster, Alumni Oxon^ II. 68 1 (early series). 


The Elizabethans and America 

his mind, of Drake, home from a voyage, enquiring for his 
father at his house in Totnes : 

As he was walking up Totnes' long street : 

He asked me whose I was ? I answered him. 

He asked me if his good friend were within ? 

A fair red orange in his hand he had ; 

He gave it me, whereof I was right glad, 

Takes and kissed me, and prays God bless my boy. 

These simple and artless verses bring to mind many 
names from the West Country circles interested in New- 
foundland, Hayman's early friends at Oxford, among the 
citizens and churchmen of Exeter and Bristol, the literary 
men of London. The first poem in commendation of 
Hayman's volume is by Vaughan, 'to my dear friend and 
fellow-planter', ending 

Thus he who borrowed twice sweet Orpheus' name, 
Poor Cambriol's lord, adds to your rising fame. 

In turn Hayman salutes e the admirably witty and excellently 
learned Sir Nicholas Smith, knight, of Larkbeare near 
Exeter, my ancient friend'; and the Cornishman, e the 
right worshipful William Noy esquire, one of the benchers 
of Lincoln's Inn, long since of my acquaintance both in 
Oxford and London' to become Charles Fs Attorney- 
General. Among other lawyers are Nicholas Duck, Re- 
corder of Exeter, Arthur Duck, Chancellor of London and 
of Bath and Wells Hayman's cousins - and also William 
Hakewell. Among clergymen, there was Archdeacon George 
Hakewell, Dean Winnise of Gloucester, 'anciently of my 
acquaintance in Exeter College, Oxford', and the Cornish 
incumbent, chaplain to the Rouses, 'the reverend, learned, 
acute and witty Master Charles FitzGeofFrey, B.D., my 
especial kind friend, most excellent poet' of whom we 

learn : 

Featured you are like Homer in one eye. 

Among the bright young men who had been at Exeter 
College together was one Taylor, a turncoat, for he had 
turned Jesuit, 'sometime my familiar friend in Oxford'. 


Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

Hayman proceeds to write some skeltonics in praise of 
Newfoundland, and it is a pleasant enough picture of life 
there that he gives : 

Although in clothes, company, buildings fair 
With England Newfoundland cannot compare, 
Did some know what contentment I found there 
Always enough, most times somewhat to spare, 
With little pains, less toil and lesser care, 
Exempt from taxings, illness, lawing, fear, 
If clean and warm no matter what you wear, 
Healthy and wealthy if men careful are, 
With much much more than I will now declare 
I say, if some wise men knew what this were, 
I do believe they'd live no other where. 

A poem to Captain John Mason celebrates the wholesome 
air, 'the fire as sweet as any made with wood 5 , the waters 
teeming with fish in fact, the four elements. 

Among those similarly involved in plantation Hayman 
remembers the Slanys at Bristol, the mayor and one or two 
merchants in the city ; Lord Baltimore, Sir Richard Whit- 
bourne, Sir William Vaughan a poem from which we 
learn of his illness. There is the Rev. Erasmus Stourton, 
parson of Ferriland, and a poem for Thomas Rowley, * who 
from the first plantation hath lived in Newfoundland, little 
to his profit'. But for this poem, we should not know of 
his existence : it shows that there were planters, however, 
who did not give up. Two poems were addressed to 
Sir William Alexander, interested in Nova Scotia. 

Last, there were Hayman's literary friends, Bishop Hall 
at Exeter, Donne now Dean of St. Paul's, Ben Jonson and 
George Wither. And there is c my right worthy friend 
Master Michael Drayton, whose unwearied old Muse still 
produccth new dainties' : with him we are back again in 
the heart of the Elizabethan age. 

After the Welsh and Gambriola, the Scots and Nova 

Welsh feeling had largely impelled Vaughan in his 


The Elizabethans and America 

schemes ; a similar element of Scottish feeling moved Sir 
William Alexander to look for an outlet for Scottish over- 
population in America. Just as Vaughan's heart had been 
touched by the spectacle of poor Welsh folk dying of want, 
so Alexander tells us that Scotland was overswarming with 
people (in relation to available livelihood), and if new 
habitations were not provided for them they would miscarry 
for want or turn drones. 1 Nevertheless, 'my countrymen 
would never adventure in such an enterprise, unless it were 
as there was a New France, a New Spain, and a New 
England, that they might have a New Scotland . . . which 
they might hold of their own Crown and where they might 
be governed by their own laws'. 2 

They were both poets : Vaughan in the fantastic Welsh 
manner, Alexander in the prolix Scots manner his poem 
Doomsday is in twelve books and has eleven thousand lines. 
Alexander was in fact a whole decade senior to Vaughan, 
being a contemporary of Elder Brewster, and had been, like 
him, at Leyden, but at the university. Most of Alexander's 
poems were written in the decade after 1603, though they 
were not published till later : of a grave and didactic beauty, 
in a Scots manner. A laird of old family, towards the end 
of his life he was made Secretary of State for Scotland, 
where, for his breadth of view and tolerance, he was naturally 
unpopular. He was made Earl of Stirling and Viscount of 
Canada, but this did not prevent him from dying poor like 
so many of these colonial pioneers. 

In 1611 James I had created his new order of baronets 
to raise money for the plantation of Scots in Ulster. Alex- 
ander suggested the application of the scheme to America, 
and in some ten years over a hundred Nova Scotia baronets 
were created to raise cash. James disregarded the prior 
rights of Gorges's New England Council to make Alexander 
an immense grant of the land south and east of the St. 
Lawrence, and from Cape Breton to Maine. This land 
had been opened up and fairly well explored by the English 

1 E. F. Slafter, Sir William Alexander and American Colonisation (Prince 
Soc.), 56. a Ibid. 196. 


Newfoundland) Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

voyagers in the first decade of the century, as we see from 
a 'Description of the Country of Mawooshen 3 which Purchas 
found among Hakluyt's papers. 1 So far from objecting. 
Gorges did all he could to encourage Alexander, who pays 
him this tribute, 'Sir Ferdinando Gorges hath been a chief 
man for the furtherance of all things that might lend to the 
advancement of New England, having been at great charges 
these many years past for the discovery thereof. 

Sir William Alexander got his patent for Nova Scotia 
in 1621, and immediately granted a charter to Sir Robert 
Gordon for Cape Breton island as New Galloway. Nothing 
of this took effect, and when Alexander sent out a ship 
with his colonists next year they were driven back by storm 
and forced to put in at St. John's to winter. Next spring 
Alexander sent a supply ship, which found the colonists 
already dispersed, some gone a-fishing, to return home with 
their catch. The supply ship decided to explore the coast of 
Nova Scotia, whence they returned with the usual glowing 
reports, upon which Alexander based his tract, An Encour- 
agement to Colonise, published in 1624. This went right back 
to the beginning of colonisation with the exodus of the 
Jews, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans. It recited the history 
of colonial efforts in America, from the good fortune of the 
Spaniards, who were c of all others in regard of their scarcity 
of people most unfit for planting thereof 5 . On the other 
hand, * Scotland by reason of her populousness being con- 
strained to disburden herself did every year send forth 
swarms, whereof great numbers did haunt Pole [Poland] 
. . . till now they were compelled , , . to betake them- 
selves to the wars against Russians' 2 , etc. And now that 
the great current of Scottish emigration to Ireland had run 
dry, there remained Amexica. 

America appealed to Alexander's poetic imagination : to 
think 'how it hath pleased the Lord to lock it up so long 
amidst the depths, concealing it from the curiosity of the 
ancients, that it might be discovered in a fit time for their 
posterity'. 3 He thought that there must be some narrow 

* Purchas, XIX. 400 foil a Slafter, 305-6. 3 Ibid. 208-9, 


The Elizabethans and America 

sea towards the north, a passage whence the original In- 
habitants came from Asia or perhaps they came floating 
on the mountains of ice that float every spring along the 
Newfoundland coast. 'But this is a matter that can hardly 
be determined by demonstration or reason . . . (all men 
forming that which they know not according to the square 
of their own conceits) we must leave this to the unlimited 
liberty of the imagination of man.' 

With the set-backs he had endured, like Gorges and so 
many others, Alexander's schemes languished. But with the 
outbreak of war with France and the remarkable exploits 
of the Kirke brothers, to be crowned by the capture of 
Quebec, Sir William revived his interest. He made an 
agreement with the formidable trio for an Anglo-Scottish 
descent on Nova Scotia which to the French was Acadia, 1 
In 1628 Alexander's son headed a party of Scots colonists 
to occupy Port Royal, of whom thirty died that winter. 2 
In 1629 Lord Ochiltree landed a party on Cape Breton, 
but these were held off by the French. 3 In spite of the 
Kirkes' brilliant success in capturing Quebec and Champlain 
in It 3 by the Treaty of St.-Germain Charles I handed over 
his subjects' conquests and their claims for the payment of 
his wife's dowry. It was not until this that the effective 
French colonisation of the St. Lawrence began. 4 As for 
Nova Scotia-Acadia, this turn of events led to the complex 
and disputed history of the territory later. The shape of 
the long conflict for Canada was thus early prefigured. 

We have had constant indications of the extreme im- 
portance to the Elizabethan . English of finding a route to 
the East by North-East or North- West : if they could dis- 
cover it, it would be their route. Moreover, the southern 
routes were already occupied. Some idea of the importance 

1 Donald Creighton, Dominion of the North, 35. 

2 T. G. Haliburton, An Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia, I. 45. 

3 W. O. Raymond, 'The Acadian Settlements and Early History, 1604- 
1713*, in Canada and its Provinces, ed. A. Shortt and A. G. Doughty, XIII. 15 

4 Claude de Bonnault, Histoire du Canada franfais, 1534-1763, 22. 

1 80 

Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

of the question may be gained when we reflect that the 
opening of trade and communications with Russia and their 
first acquaintance with America were by-products of the 
quest. Nothing is more impressive, in that age in which 
so much impresses us with their energy, than the pertinacity 
with which they pressed on with the pursuit, returned again 
and again to it, in spite of all set-backs and losses of life and 
fortune. The sequence of efforts began with the Queen's 
reign, and when it ended hope had not yet faded out in the 
far North-West. 

The effective broaching of the matter, putting it on the 
map politically, as it were, we owe to the fruitful, the originat- 
ing mind of Humphrey Gilbert. He held a disputation, in 
formal academic style, with Anthony Jenkinson, the ex- 
ponent of the idea of a North-East Passage, before the 
Queen herself and some of her privy councillors in the 
winter of 1565-6. It was at this time that Gilbert wrote 
his celebrated Discourse of a Discovery for a new passage to 
Cathay ', though it was not published till 1576, to coincide 
with Frobishcr's first voyage to the North-West. It has not 
been realised that Gilbert himself hoped to lead a voyage 
to those waters as early as this. 

Professor Quinn says that the fact that c it was largely 
out of date by the time it was published should not obscure 
its significance at the time it was written. It was the first 
considerable English treatise on a project about which, for 
forty years, many had thought'. 1 That is only just. In 
addition to the argumentation from classical authorities, de 
rigueur in this time of the Renaissance, Gilbert had equipped 
himself with a wide reading in contemporary geographers 
for he was very much of an intellectual, besides being a 
soldier and had researched into the original materials, 
documents and maps, left by the Cabots. Impossible as it 
is to traverse the whole Discourse here, we may note some 
shrewd observations tending to the conclusion, thus early, 
that America must be an island : c if that America were 

1 The Voyages and Colonising Enterprises of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, ed. D. B. 
Qjuinn (Hakluyt Soc,), I. 8. 


The Elizabethans and America 

not an island, but a part of the continent adjoining to 
Asia, the people which inhabit Mangia, Anian and Quinsay 
[i.e. present-day British Columbia and Alaska], being bor- 
derers upon it, would before this time have made some 
road into it. 5 I Conversely, Gilbert has a whole section e to 
prove that the Indians . . . came only by the North West, 
which induceth a certainty of our passage by experience'. 

The idea of a colony arose consequentially, as a trading 
base and a half-way house between England and Asia 
c about Sierra Nevada', i.e. California. Shortly after, Gilbert 
entered upon his period of service in Ireland ; it was his 
experience there that emphasised the colonising aspect of 
his schemes. And it is indeed to be noticed that it was the 
group of West Countrymen concerned with colonising in 
southern Ireland, Gilbert, Ralegh, Grenville, who were first 
to stretch their minds and arms across the Atlantic to 

We have seen that Frobisher's voyages were disappoint- 
ing from a geographical point of view, though even more 
so from that of their hunt for gold. The first effective search 
for a North- West passage comes also out of the Gilbert 
circle, with John Davis's three .attempts in 1585, 1586, 1587. 
Gilbert's Discourse was approved of by John Dee, who was 
acquainted with Adrian Gilbert and John Davis, though 
they quarrelled like everybody who came within the aura 
of the occult philosopher. They made it up, however, for 
we find in Dee's Diary, 23 January 1583: Mr. Secretary 
Walsingham came to my house, where by good luck he 
found Mr. Adrian Gilbert, and so talk was begun of North 
West straits discovery. 24 January : I, Mr. Adrian Gilbert 
and John Davis went by appointment of Mr. Secretary to 
Mr. Beale's house, where only we four were secret, and we 
made Mr. Secretary privy of the N.W. passage, and all 
charts and rutters were agreed upon in general. 6 March : 
I and Mr. Adrian Gilbert and John Davis did meet with 
Mr. Alderman Barnes, Mr. Towerson and Mr. Young and 

1 The Voyages and Colonising Enterprises of Sir Humphrey Gilbert I. 141, 

Newfoundland^ Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

Mr. Hudson, about the N.W. voyage. 5 * These discussions 
led to Adrian Gilbert's obtaining a patent next year for 
North- Western discovery/ though when John Davis set out 
it was with the backing principally of the merchant William 
Sanderson, Ralegh's faithful friend and supporter. 

John Davis was one of the best and most scientific 
navigators of the age; we derive the impression that he 
was also a charming man. He was born about 1550 at 
Sandridge in the parish of Stoke Gabriel by the waters of 
the Dart : the yews in the churchyard go back to him, his 
pew in the church still awaits him. His close neighbours, 
the gentry of the neighbourhood, were the Gilberts then 
living at Greenway with its view of the river opening out 
to sea. 

Davis left Dartmouth, 7 June 1585, with two little barks, 
the Sunshine and the Moonshine^ of fifty and thirty-five tons 
only, though they carried four musicians on board. These 
came in handy when they got across the Atlantic, into what 
is now Davis Strait and made contact with the Eskimos 
upon the islands. 'The people of the country, having espied 
us, made a lamentable noise, as we thought, with great 
outcries and screeching : we hearing them thought it had 
been the howling of wolves.' 3 A party landing from the 
ships, c we brought our musicians . . . purposing by force 
to rescue us, if need should so require, or with courtesy to 
allure the people. When they came unto us, we caused our 
musicians to play, ourselves dancing and making many 
signs of friendship.' Thus they made contact: *we were 
in so great credit with them upon this single acquaintance 
that we could have anything they had. We bought five 
canoes of them ; we bought their clothes from their backs, 
which were all made of sealskins and birds 9 skins ; their 
buskins, their hose, their gloves, all being commonly sewed 
and well dressed.' On this first reconnaissance they got up 
as far as 66 4', finding the sea 'altogether void from the 
pester of ice*. Here they named the features around them, 

* The Private Diary of Dr. John Dee, ed. J. O. Halliwell (Camden Soc.), 
1 8, 19. 2 Hakluyt, V. 276 foil. 3 Ibid. 285-6, 


The Elizabethans and America 

Mount Ralegh, Capes Walsingham and Dyer, Exeter Sound 
and Totnes Road, and were back at Dartmouth by the end 
of September. 

For the second voyage, also supported chiefly by Sander- 
son, the Mermaid of 120 tons was added, and a little pinnace 
called the North Star. In Davis Strait the Eskimos gave the 
English an engaging welcome, and after exchanging presents 
they took to leaping together and wrestling, in which c we 
found them strong and nimble, for they cast some of our 
people that were good wrestlers'. 1 For their religion 'they 
are idolaters and have images great store, which they wear 
about them and in their boats, which we suppose they 
worship. They are witches and have many kinds of en- 
chantments, which they often used, but to small purpose, 
thanks be to God.' When it came to property it seems these 
primitive people made no nice distinctions, stealing anything 
they could lay hand on, cables, calivers, oars, spears, swords. 
"They brought us seal-skins and salmon peal, but seeing 
iron they could in no wise forbear stealing; which, when 
I perceived, it did but minister unto me an occasion of 
laughter to see their simplicity, and I willed that in no 
case they should be any more hardly used.' They remained 
among these islands collecting their cargo of seal-skins and 
much pestered with ice-banks so that they did not get 
higher than 66 33' in latitude before returning. 

However, on his third voyage, in 1587 Davis penetrated 
as far as 72 12' along the Greenland coast, 'the sea open 
all to the westwards and northwards', before the wind 
changing to the north forced them to run across to the 
opposite coast, where they found themselves greatly im- 
peded by an immense ice-bank. 2 On his return Davis was 
able to report, 'I have been in 73 degrees, finding the sea 
all open, and forty leagues between land and land. The 
passage is most probable, the execution easy. 5 But this was 
Davis's last chance of trying it. Frustrated along this route 
he joined Cavendish's second expedition to the Straits of 
Magellan, with the hope of tackling the problem from the 

1 Hakluyt, V. 294-5. * Ibid. 313, 316-17, 


Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

Pacific end. This, too, was the motive of his going east with 
the first East Indiamen. It is sad to record that in his 
absence the Gilberts tried to wrest his livelihood from him 
in his old homestead one would not put it past them. 1 
Then, as we read in his will, he was 'bound to the sea for 
the coast of China in the Tiger of London and uncertain of 
my return 3 . 2 Davis's wife being dead, he left one-fourth of 
his estate to Judith Harvard, * unto whom I have given my 
faith in matrimony, to be solemnized at my return 3 . He 
did not come back : in 1605 he was killed in a treacherous 
attack by Japanese pirates in the Straits of Malacca. 

Davis left behind him a tradition. 3 It seems that James 
Hall of Hull, who piloted three Greenland voyages in 
1605-7, ori behalf of the King of Denmark, had served 
with Davis, In 1607 a licence was granted to Richard 
Penkivell of Roserrow in Cornwall to make a journey to 
discover the North- West passage. 4 Nothing came of this. 
But Penkivell's family in the previous generation was closely 
connected with the Gilberts. 5 Back in 1576 William 
Carnsew, brother-in-law of the Penkivells and their neigh- 
bour at Bokelly, close acquaintance of Adrian Gilbert, was 
reading the Discoursed One sees how tenacious was the 
attraction, the lure of what lay beyond the horizons of 
the far North-West opening out from Padstow haven or 

Davis's true successor, a man of his own stature and 
devotion, who shared his fixation on the Arctic, was Henry 
Hudson. He would have been about ten years junior, born 
before 1570, and a close relative of the Muscovy Company 
merchant whom we met discussing the North- West passage 
in 1583. In 1607 Hudson commanded the Hopeful, set 
forth by the Muscovy Company, to sail across the Pole, if 

> Salisbury MS<$. (H.M.G.), XIII. 599. In the patent of 1583 Adrian 
Gilbert is described as 'of Sandridge 1 ; it is probable then that Davis's family 
had been tenants, and that the later dispute related to the property. 

* The Voyages and Works of John Davis, ed. A. H. Markham (Hakluyt 
Soc.), taii. 

3 This is best set out in G. R. Markham's excellent Life of John Davis, 
the Navigator. 4 Cd. S,P. Dom. t 1603-10. 344. 

5 Quinu, L se. 6 df. my Tudor Cornwall, 427-9. 

The Elizabethans and America 

possible, as Robert Thorne had advocated long ago to 
Henry VIII. Hudson skirted the coast of eastern Green- 
land, struck the ice-barrier and then followed it round in 
fearful storms and fogs to the east of Spitzbergen, honour- 
ably naming a headland for Hakluyt on the way. Next 
year he attempted the North-East, finding it impossible to 
get past Vaigatz ; and in 1 609 when he tried again, in 
Dutch service, his crew refused to attempt it. So, stretching 
across the North Atlantic, he searched the Delaware and 
Hudson entrances for an opening. In 1610 the Discovery 
was fitted out by Sir Thomas Smythe and other merchants, 
and Hudson sailed for the strait now named after him. He 
entered it at the end of June ; the last words in his journal 
read, 'then I observed and found the ship at noon in 61 
degrees 20 minutes, and a sea to the westwards'. 1 

Hudson must have thought that he had discovered the 
passage, and he determined to winter in the bay in order 
to explore to the west for an outlet in the spring. After a 
desperate winter of fearful hardships his crew thought other- 
wise, and next June, having reached open water in James 
Bay, they mutinied and cut him adrift in the shallop to die. 
His life's work is, however, sufficiently commemorated and 
constantly before our attention with those famous names, 
Hudson's Bay and Strait, the Hudson River. News of the 
discovery of that sea reached England and in 1612 Thomas 
Button went out, with over a hundred adventurers on board, 
confident that they had only to sail due west to reach Asia. 
They sailed due west, found themselves up against the 
impenetrable west coast of the bay, sailed south to winter 
and home again in the spring. 

We may regard William Baffin as in the true succession 
to John Davis, in his life, his character and navigational 
skill, as in his end. Baffin had made several Arctic voyages 
to Spitzbergen and Greenland, in the series set forth by 
that imaginative magnate Sir Thomas Smythe. In 1615 he 
accompanied Bylot on a reconnaissance of North- Western 
waters; Parry, in the nineteenth century, bore witness to 

* q. J. B. Brebncr, The Explorers of North America, 14$$-! 806, 209. 

1 86 

Newfoundland) Nova Scotia and the North-West Passage 

the accuracy of his observations. In 1616 Baffin sailed on 
his fifth and most important Arctic voyage, which was 
backed again by Smythe and his East Indies and Virginia 
associates. Sir Dudley Digges and Wostenholme. Indeed, 
we must appreciate how in their minds these objectives hung 
together Virginia and the East Indies, with the hope of 
a North-West passage to connect them. This time Baffin 
followed Davis along the route to his farthest north, 
Sanderson's Hope, and beyond into Baffin Bay to 78 N., 
farther than anyone had yet penetrated. Here in this 
northern sea Baffin conferred names deservedly honoured : 
Smythe Sound, Hakluyt Island, Lancaster Sound. Baffin's 
conscientiousness as a navigator made him conclude that 
these sounds were but bays, and that there was no passage 
through. Actually two of them, Lancaster Sound and Jones 
Sound, afford channels through to the so much desired 
Pacific. Concluding that an attempt was more feasible 
from the east, Baffin, like Davis before him, signed on for 
the Orient, where he too was killed. 

Actually there is a channel, also, at the northernmost 
extremity of Hudson's Bay, but neither Luke Foxe, who 
had been Bitching after it ever since 1606', nor Captain 
James of Bristol discovered it in the voyages that brought 
this cycle of effort to an end. 1 James's voyage indeed has 
more literary than geographical interest, for his desolating 
narrative inspired the seascapes of The Ancient Mariner. 

1 Brebnor, 216-17, 




LTERATURE, in earlier times, naturally has a closer 
association with the events of history and often adheres 
recognisably to their rhythm. This is noticeably so with 
regard to America. More's Utopia is the first, and a most 
distinguished, reflection of the New World in the literature 
of the Old ; and if More reflects Columbus as much as he 
does Cabot, there is no doubt that his brother-in-law 
Rastell gives voice to Cabot in the Interlude of the Four 
Elements, with its Tudor nationalism and its early expression 
of resentment at the great chance that had been left to the 
Spaniards. And just as the Cabot voyages tailed off into 
the half-hearted attempts of Henry VIII's reign and then, 
for a time, nothing so we are faced with a blank in the 
literature until the revival of interest in America in Eliza- 
beth's reign. That is, after an interval, given expression 
in the literature; as the interest in and knowledge of 
America gather momentum, so the reverberation in literature 
and the arts becomes louder, more frequent and more varied. 
If we wish to make distinctions, we may make a useful 
one between the direct expression of America in writing 
and the indirect. On the one hand, there were the writings 
and reports of .those who had been there, as collected by 
Hakluyt and Purchas, the books written by people like 
Captain Smith and Morton and Strachey, the histories and 
journals of Bradford and Winthrop, the numerous tracts 
and sermons devoted to the subject. On the other, there 
is the reflection of America in the mirror of the imagination, 
in the poetry and prose of Spenser and Sidney, Ralegh and 
Chapman, Shakespeare and Drayton, Bacon and Donne. 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

Sometimes these things run into one another : in the case 
of Ralegh, for example, who always straddles all fences. 
But it is fascinating to observe how not only the content 
but the very phrases of the voyagers will appear in the lines 
of the poets : how the words of Ralegh's sea-captain Barlow 
take wing in the verse of his master, or reappear in Drayton's 
Ode, or how Strachey's account of the hurricane offBermuda 
is echoed in The Tempest, 

We may observe another practical distinction. The 
reawakening interest in America, from the middle of the 
century, had at first to feed upon translations, from Spanish, 
French, Latin. When the English began to go to Virginia 
themselves in the 1580'$, they were able in turn to con- 
tribute new information to other peoples, whom we find 
beginning now to translate from them. Hariot's Brief 
Report was republished in Latin by De Bry, and had no less 
than seventeen printings in the next quarter of a century : * 
an indication not only of Europe's interest in North America, 
but of people's turning to England now for information : 
Hariot remained the leading, the most scientific, authority 
for the best part of a century. The transition from the one 
to the other came about in the late seventies and early 
eighties those years of heightening geographical interest 
and may be seen incarnate in the career of Hakluyt. 
He began as a translator, with the Divers Voyages translated 
out of other people's accounts of the New World, but 
ended by collecting the narrations of the English voyagers, 
by which he is chiefly known to posterity. 

Again, the transition from the factual world of trans- 
lation to the effect upon the realm of the imagination may 
be seen first, as in so many things, in the circle of Philip 
Sidney, to whom Hakluyt dedicated the Divers Voyages. In 
his preface to the Principal Navigations Hakluyt acknow- 
ledged his indebtedness to Sir Edward Dyer for putting 
him in touch with various people who forwarded the work. 
It was Dyer who encouraged Frampton, a Bristol merchant 
who had spent many years in Spain, to translate Monardes' 

1 W. F. Craven, The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, 52. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Joyful Mews out of the Newfound World with its account of the 
plants found there and their medicinal qualities. A courtier 
who is a Somerset man, a Bristol merchant, a prebendary 
of the cathedral there such are the natural groupings 
observable all through our story. 

When we read the Arcadia, whose author was so much 
interested in America and several times thought of going 
there, we recognise the atmosphere of the voyages. It 
begins with a shipwreck, with the wrack floating in a sea 
of very rich things and c many chests which might promise 
no less*. The capture of prizes dominates the first chapters, 
with the arrival of Musidorus in a strange country, having 
lost his friend Pyrocles, who subsequently turns up. It is 
like the beginning of The Tempest, or episodes of A Winter's 
Tale and Pericles. The influence of the voyages speaks in 
them all, inciting the imagination to strange scenes and 
countries across the seas. 

The atmosphere of Arcadia has something in common 
with that of The Faerie Queene the dream-like timeless- 
ness of a fairy world of romance. But Spenser, who had 
been a friend of Sidney, made the acquaintance of Ralegh 
in Ireland, and the introductory stanzas to Book II ac- 
knowledge the impulse of the expansion, in answer to the 

That all this famous antique history 
Of some th' abundance of an idle brain 
Will judged be, and painted forgery 
Rather than matter of just memory. . . 

But here is c matter of just memoiy 5 : 

But let that man. with better sense advise 
That of the world least part to us is red ; 
And daily how through hardy enterprise 
Many great regions are discovered, 
Which to late age were never mentioned. 
Who ever heard of th' Indian Peru ? 
Or who in venturous vessel measured 
The Amazon huge river now found true ? 
Or fruitfullest Virginia who did ever view ? 

America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

Yet all these were when no man did them know, 

Yet have from wisest ages hidden been ; 

And later times things more unknown shall show. 

Canto XI, Book IV, reflects the geographical excite- 
ment of the time in the recital of the names of the great 
rivers of East and West. Stanza xxii turns to the country 
of Ralegh's later fixation, Guiana, with a rebuke to those 


quail in conquest of that land of gold. 
But this to you, O Britons, most pertains 
To whom the right hereof itself hath sold, 
The which, for sparing little cost or pains 
Lose so immortal glory and so endless gains, 

Here we have the complaint of Hakluyt and a hundred 
others, which they never tired of enforcing. It was American 
gold and silver, which gave Spain her ascendancy in Europe, 
that made other people so envious. And this theme con- 
stantly crops up in the literature. 

With people in general America is always regarded as 
overflowing with gold : it is what it chiefly meant to people 
in the Old World as it still does to some. Marlowe has 
several references to this in Tamburlaine : 

Desire of gold, great sir ? 

That's to be gotten in the Western Ind : 

i.e. America. (We might rephrase that now with some 
exchange of alliteration : to ' desire of dollars', etc.). The 
thought is expressed by Greene, Peele, Lyly, Massinger, 
Chapman. It appears in Shakespeare, where sooner or 
later everything gets expression. We must remember that 
America, in this connotation, often appears as India, with 
or without the adjective * Western'. This is made suffi- 
ciently clear by the dominant association with 'mines'. 
'As bountiful as mines of India', he writes; Henry VIII's 
meeting with Francis I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold 

Made Britain India ; every man that stood 
Showed like a mine. 

The Elizabethans and America 

In Twelfth Mght when Maria appears to lay down the letter 
that entraps Malvolio, Sir Toby belches, 'How now, my 
metal of India', i.e. piece of gold. When Malvolio falls 
into the trap and is utterly bemused, Maria reports, 'he 
does smile his face into more lines than is in the new map 
with the augmentation of the Indies', That was the map 
that went with the first volume of the enlarged edition of 
Hakluyt appearing in 1598 and gives us a useful date for 
the play. Shakespeare derived inspiration and profit from 
reading Hakluyt. The theme of digging for gold is an 
important element in Timon at a time, too, when the 
Jamestown colony was temporarily given over to a frantic 
search for it. Todkill declared in 1608 that there was 
then c no talk, no hope, no work but to dig gold, wash gold, 
refine gold, load gold'. 1 And this was about the date 
when Timon was written. The combination of the gold- 
theme with digging for roots for subsistence comes straight 
from the voyages. 

The theme is extended in the scenes that Chapman, 
Ralegh's poet, contributed to Jonson and Marston's East- 
ward Ho! The absurd Sir Petroncl Flash's money is be- 
stowed on a ship bound for Virginia. Security comments : 
c We have too few such knight adventurers: who would 
not sell away competent certainties to purchase, with any 
danger, excellent uncertainties ? ' This was precisely what 
many did for Virginia and New England too. Seagull helps 
with a lot of mariner's tales about Virginia to gull the 
public. c Come, boys,' he says, 'Virginia longs till we share 
the rest of her maidenhead.' That was a regular phrase 
with the voyagers Ralegh's phrase for Guiana. On this 
Spendall asks ; fi Why, is she inhabited already with any 
English?' Seagull: C A whole country of English is there, 
man, bred of those that were left there in '79.' (Actually 
the date was '87 ; but we do not go to dramatists for dates 
any more than to historians for dramatics.) 'They have 
married with the Indians and make 'em bring forth as 
beautiful faces as any we have in England, and therefore 

1 E. G. R. Taylor, Late Tudor and Early Stuart Geography 9 1 583-* 650, 159. 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

the Indians are so in love with 'em that all the treasure 
they have they lay at their feet.' Scapethrift : 'But is there 
such treasure there, captain, as I have heard ? * Seagull : 
*I tell thee, gold is more plentiful there than copper is with 
us ; and for as much red copper as I can bring, I'll have 
thrice the weight in gold. Why, man, all their dripping 
pans and their chamber pots are pure gold; and all the 
chains with which they chain up their streets are massy 
gold ; all the prisoners they take are fettered in gold ; and 
for rubies and diamonds they go forth on holidays and 
gather 'em by the sea-shore . . .' l Scapethrift asks : 'And 
is it a pleasant country withal ? ' Captain Seagull replies : 
* As ever the sun shined on : temperate and full of all sorts 
of excellent viands.' And then, in the spirit in which 
Cobbett enumerated* the advantages of America, ending up 
with c No Wilberforces ! Think of that : no Wilberforces ! ', 
Seagull admits that there are a few industrious Scots there : 
for his part he would *a hundred thousand of them were 
there'. For this abuse of the new King's fellow-countrymen 
the authors served a turn in prison. 

Perhaps it was the closeness of Chapman to the dangerous 
Ralegh that added to the objectionableness. Chapman had 
written his De Guiana: Carmen Epicum to celebrate Ralegh's 
voyage and urge the Queen to take over the country : 

What work of honour and eternal name 

For all the world to envy and us to achieve . . . 

Chapman was a friend and admirer of Hariot, to whom he 
addressed his translation from the Iliad, Achilles* Shield : 

Virtue must wait on wealth ; we must make friends 

Of the unrighteous Mammon, and our sleights 

Must bear the forms of fools or parasites. 

Rich mine of knowledge, O that my strange muse 

Without this body's nourishment could use 

Her zealous faculties, only to inspire 

Instructive light from your whole sphere of fire. 

Perhaps a more accurate description of Chapman's muse, 
which he himself describes as * strange' and 'stifled', 

1 This passage is adapted from More's Utopia, 


The Elizabethans and America 

'struggling for birth' would be 'costive' or 'constipated 5 . 

These leads, Spenser, Marlowe, Chapman, all point to 
Ralegh, as they were all his friends: he stands at the 
cross-roads in literature as he did in these actions. The 
captains he sent to reconnoitre Virginia in 1584 reported 
as follows and we may note in passing how their report, 
and indeed all the prose recorded in Hakluyt, contradicts 
Virginia WoolPs view of the lumbering complexity of 
Elizabethan prose. 'The second of July we found shoal 
water, where we smelt so sweet and so strong a smell as if 
we had been in the midst of some delicate garden abound- 
ing with all kind of odoriferous flowers, by which we were 
assured that the land could not be far distant. ... We 
viewed the land about us, being, whereas we first landed, 
very sandy and low towards the water's side, but so full 
of grapes as the very beating and surge of the sea over- 
flowed them ; of which we found such plenty, as well on 
every little shrub as also climbing towards the tops of high 
cedars that I think in all the world the like abundance is 
not to be found. . . . Under the bank or hill whereon we 
stood, we beheld the valleys replenished with goodly cedar- 
trees, and having discharged our arquebus shot, such a 
flock of cranes arose under us, with such a cry redoubled 
by many echoes, as if an army of men had shouted all 
together.' I 

In the poem Ralegh was writing some years later to 
recover the Queen's favour (but never finished), Book of 
the Ocean to Cynthia, we read : 

On highest mountains where those cedars grew 
Against whose banks the troubled ocean bet 
And were the marks to find thy hoped port 
Into a soil far off themselves remove. 

And when we come to Drayton's 2 Ode to the Virginian Voyage, 
we find : 

1 R. Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, VI. 122-3. 

* Drayton was an intimate of the Rainsford family, whose head, Sir 
Henry, was a considerable shareholder in the Virginia Company and a 
constant supporter of Sir Edwin Sandys. G. G. Stopes, Life of Henry Third 
Earl of Southampton, 422. 


America in Elizabethan Literature., Science and the Arts 

When as the luscious smell 
Of that delicious land 

Above the sea that flows 

The clear wind throws 
Your hearts to swell 
Approaching the dear strand. 

And the ambitious vine 
Crowns with his purple mass 

The cedar reaching high 

To kiss the sky, 
The cypress, pine. 
And useful sassafras. 

Of the motives that could lead men to leave home 
Ralegh speaks, in his own case : 

My hopes clean out of sight with forced wind 

To kingdoms strange, to lands far off addressed . . . 

And he sums them all up in one famous line, 

To seek new worlds for gold, for praise, for glory. 

Naturally we turn to the drama for a more realistic, 
not to say cynical, ascription of motive. 1 A prodigal spend- 
thrift in Middleton's Spanish Gipsy implores, * Then send me 
to the West Indies; buy me some office there'. In Mas- 
singer's City Madam the unscrupulous Luke suggests shipping 
his sister-in-law and her daughters off to America. 

Lady Frugal : How ! Virginia ! 

High Heaven forbid ! Remember, sir, I beseech you, 

What creatures are shipped thither. 
Anne : Condemned wretches, forfeited to the law. 
Mary : Strumpets and bawds, for the abomination of their 

life spewed out of their own country. 

This suggests one reason for the greater success of the 
godly at New Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. It was 
certainly one of the reasons for the troubles of early Virginia. 
We recall Bacon's censure : * it is a shameful and unblessed 
thing to take the scum of people and wicked condemned 

1 Gf, for some of these and further illustrations, R. R. Gawley, The Voyagers 
and Elizabethan Drama. 


The Elizabethans and America 

men to be the people with whom you plant'. Hakluyt, 
however, gave expression to an humanitarian consideration 
on the other side. 

In a play of Jonson's, someone in the toils of a usurer, 
bursts out, 'I'll to Virginia, like some cheating bankrupt, 
and leave my creditor in the suds'. Others beside Sir 
Petronel Flash thought of carrying off the lady of their 
choice to Virginia. A character in Middleton's Roaring 
Girl warns, 'take deliberation, sir, never choose a wife as 
if you were going to Virginia*. Aurelia in Mayne's City 
Match imparts the information, 

I do mean to marry, 

Like ladies in New England, where they couple 
With no more ceremony than birds choose their mate 
Upon St. Valentine's day. 

But I cannot think this refers to those virtuous Puritan 
matrons, Mistress Bradford or Mistress Winthrop, the 
spouses of Miles Standish or Saltonstall perfect Long- 
fellow heroines : it must refer to naughty Indian ladies. 

There was a whole succession of literary men who went 
as officials to Virginia : William Strachey, John Pory, 
Christopher Davison, George Sandys. Donne, who was 
hard up before he condescended to take orders, sought to 
be made Secretary. Strachey, an Emmanuel man, moved 
in a literary and dramatic circle in London. 1 He wrote a 
sonnet for Jonson's Sejanu$> in which Shakespeare acted. 
He was a shareholder in the Children of the Queen's Revels 
and so came to Blackfriars two or three times a week, where 
he would meet Shakespeare. In 1609 he went out with 
Gates and Somers in the Sea Venture^ which was famously 
wrecked on Bermuda, though all were saved and spent an 
agreeable winter there. The extraordinary happening made 
a strong impression on people's minds at home, and several 
accounts of it appeared, the most detailed being Strachey's 
letter to a Noble Lady, which circulated in manuscript. 

* W. Strachey, The Hutme qf Travell into Virginia BrUanm t cd L. B 
Wright and Virginia Freund, xviii foil. 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

It is not surprising that the most impressionable mind in 
that circle was struck by it : for this was the germ of The 
Tempest. 1 

It is somehow right that just as More's Utopia provides 
the first expression of genius of the New World in our 
period, so The Tempest provides the last, that these two 
transcendent minds should have risen to the full height of 
the theme. For there is far more of the New World in 
Shakespeare's play than the original suggestion coming from 
Strachey's letter the storm with its veracious details, St. 
Elmo's fjre flaming amazement along the main-mast, the 
wreck and not a hair of the people hurt, the enchanted 
island full of noises, for Bermuda was believed to be haunted 
by evil spirits. The whole play sings of the sea ; the loveliest 
songs are of the sea : 

Come unto these yellow sands, 

And then take hands : 
Curtsied when you have and kissed, 

The wild waves whist . . , 

and the most haunting song, surely, ever written : 

Full fathom five thy father lies, 
Of his bones are coral made ; 

Those are pearls that were his eyes ; 
Nothing of him that doth fade 

But doth suffer a sea-change 

Into something rich and strange. 

It is not only that, but with the creation of Caliban, 

the primitive savage, possessor of the island, and his relation 
to Prospero, the very civilised and lordly person who dis- 
possesses him, the whole question of what happens when 
civilisation makes its impact upon primitive society is placed 
before us in a way we can never forget. Our sympathies 
are not with Prospero and perhaps in the subconscious 
corridors of the mind we think of what happened to the 

1 Shakespeare, like Drayton, had a number of close friends in the Virginia 
Company* CfL Leslie Hotson, /, Wttliarn Shak0spearg 9 c. ix, and The Arden 
m t Th* Ttmp&t, ed, Frank Kcnnode, xxvi foil. 


The Elizabethans and America 

redskins. There is something affecting about Caliban : 

When thou earnest first, 
Thou strok'dst me and mad'st much of me, would'st 

give me 

Water with berries in't, and teach me how 
To name the bigger light, and how the less, 
That burn by day and night. 

This is what happened time and again, generation after 
generation, with tribe after tribe, all along the coasts of 
America when the Indians came in contact with the white 
men and their superior knowledge. We read in Hakluyt 
and Captain Smith with what avidity they learned about 
the stars and the firmament, watched the white men's 
instruments, were impressed by loadstone and magnet, 
optic glass and clock. 

And then I loved thee 
And showed thee all the qualities o 5 the isle, 
The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile. 

That, too, had often happened we remember how Squanto 
showed the Pilgrims where best to take their fish, how to 
set Indian corn and enabled them to subsist through the 
hard first years. In one sense, the Indians were quick to 
learn ; in another, they never learned the gulf between 
their primitive cast of mind and that of the white man was 
too deep to bridge. And so the red man lost in the struggle 
for existence. Nor did he profit from his knowledge, in 
spite of his experiences at the hand of the white man. After 
Prospero comes the drunken Trinculo : 

Caliban : I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow ; 
And I with my long nails will dig thee pig-nuts ; 
Show thee a jay's nest and instruct thee how 
To snare the nimble marmoset ; I'll bring thee 
To clustering filberts and sometimes Fll get thee 
Young scamels from the rocks. 

In spite of what he has suffered at the hand of Prospero, 
Caliban now wants Trinculo to be his god ; 

I'll show thee every fertile inch o' th' island : 
And I will kiss thy foot : I prithee, be my god. 

America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

We are reminded of the native Galifornians who embar- 
rassed Drake and his men by taking them for gods. 

We come to the brink of an ambivalent and difficult 
theme, that of the golden age some people saw in the 
primitive state of nature these Indians lived in. Captain 
Barlow reported of the Roanoke Indians, much like the 
impression Drake derived of those of California : c we found 
the people most gentle, loving and faithful, void of all guile 
and treason, and such as live after the manner of the golden 
age'. 1 First impressions of other voyagers were similar 
until further experience corrected their illusions. Opinion 
then swung to the other extreme, as with Captain John 
Smith who, in spite of Pocahontas, held a harsh view of 
them, and even the sainted Pilgrims were driven to a deed 
of blood against them. Captain John Smith tells with 
some gusto what happened to the religious-minded George 
Thorp, who *did so truly affect their conversion that who- 
soever under him did them the least displeasure were 
punished severely. He thought nothing too dear for them, 
he never denied them anything, in so much that when 
they complained that our mastiffs did fear them, he to 
content them in all things caused some of them to be killed 
in their presence, to the great displeasure of the owners.' 2 
We recognise an early type of the Liberal illusionist : he 
was one of the first to be murdered in the Indian massacre 
of 1622. Caliban had another side to him. 

Shakespeare, with indefeasible justice of mind, presents 
both sides, Caliban is a savage, yet Gonzalo reports of the 
people of the island that 

Their manners are more gentle-kind than of 
Our human generation you shall find 

Many, nay, almost any. 

And it is Gonssalo who speaks the passage about his ideal 

state of nature, that eomes from Montaigne's essay on the 
Cannibals, as translated by Florio. 

* Hakluyt, VI. 128. 

1 Smith, I. 381. 


The Elizabethans and America 

T the commonwealth I would by contraries 
Execute all things : for no kind of traffic 
Would I admit ; no name of magistrate : 
Letters should not be known ; riches, poverty, 
And use of service, none : contract, succession, 
Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none ; 
No use of metal, corn, or wine or oil ; 
No occupation : all men idle, all ; 
And women too, but innocent and pure 

Gonzalo forgets himself, is carried away into caricature, so 
that we see Shakespeare did not share these fantasies^ any 
more than the practical Captain Smith or Governor 
Bradford did. 

Gonzalo : All things in common nature should produce 
Without sweat or endeavour : treason, felony, 
Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine, 
Would I not have ; but nature should bring forth, 
Of its own kind, all foison, all abundance, 
To feed my innocent people. 

We see what nonsense Shakespeare thought it : the kind of 
nonsense idealists cherish though why passes compre- 

The idea of an original state of nature was to have a 
long and important development in political speculation 
and theorising about society, and it was given an immense 
forward impetus by what men discovered in the New 
World. We cannot go into it here. It was brought home 
vividly to me years ago when I saw John Locke's library 
as it had come down in the possession of his representa- 
tives : we take it for granted that he was a generalising 
and abstract thinker, as he was, but his library was full 
of the American voyages. There, made visible, was an 
example of the way early anthropology went into political 

Tudor folk were fascinated by the trappings of Indian 
life and the spectacle of Indians, from the time Cabot 
brought back some to the streets of Westminster and a 
Brazilian chief was presented at the Court of Henry VIII- 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

To celebrate the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth in 1613 
when the great Virginian venture was much in mind 
two masks were given by the Inns of Court. Bacon's Mask 
of Flowers argued the merits and demerits of Virginia's 
chief product, tobacco, before the anti-tobacconist James I. 
Chapman's mask, a much grander affair dressed by Inigo 
Jones, had the maskers attired in Indian costume 'with 
high sprigged feathers on their heads, hair black and large 
waving down to their shoulders'. 1 The musicians were 
attired like Virginian priests no doubt from John White's 
drawing. But the serious-minded Chapman addressed him- 
self to a searching theme, the problem posed by the diversity 
of religion revealed by a new world, of which Holy Scripture, 
which held the key to all human history, had no knowledge. 
The orthodox poet spoke through Eunomia, representing 
civilised order : 

Virginian princes, you must now renounce 
Your superstitious worship of these Suns, 
Subject to cloudy darkenings and descents, 
And of your fit devotions turn the event 
To this our British Phoebus, whose bright sky 
(Enlightened with a Christian piety) 
Is never subject to black error's night, 
And hath already offered heaven's true light 
To your dark region, 

The British Phoebus had not had much success with the 
Puritans at the Hampton Court Conference, and his theo- 
logical mind found the questions raised by the religion of 
the Indians, and even their existence, a problem. 

The Elizabethans were troubled by this. 2 All human 
beings, they knew from the Bible, were descended from the 
sons of Noah : the Asiatics from Shem, the Africans from 
Ham, Europeans from Japhet From whom had the ab- 
original inhabitants of the New World descended ? People 
tried to console themselves with tales that the Indians had 

1 E. D. Neill, History of the Virginia Company of London, 61. 
a Cf, Sir Sidney Ltc, 'The American Indian in Elizabethan England', 
in Elizabethan and Qth#r Essays, cd. F. S. Boas. 


The Elizabethans and America 

shared the experience of the Flood. Others tried hard to 
believe that they worshipped one god to offset the dis- 
turbing new revelations of human diversity, which offered, 
after all, a more appropriate subject for anthropological 
observation than theological fantasy. When they found it 
no longer possible to entertain illusions on the subject, it 
was concluded that it must be devils that the Indians 
worshipped all very simple in the usual human manner. 
Similarly they tried hard to find assurance that the Indians 
believed in immortality. A report to this effect made the 
British Phoebus conclude that the gospel must previously 
have been known in that benighted land and that this was 
the one vestige of light that remained. 

All this, of course, offered no problem to the adult mind 
of a Montaigne, who well understood the relativism of 
human conditions and beliefs. 

There were people, even then, who speculated sensibly 
whether the American Indians had not come across the 
narrow divide of the Behring Strait from Asia. Some re- 
flection of these speculations may be seen in Bacon's jeu 
d'esprit, The New Atlantis. Naturally the influence of the 
voyages and reading Hakluyt is apparent, and Bacon had 
the direct interest in colonisation, by this time, of being one 
of the Council for Newfoundland. Bacon's Utopian island 
was in the Pacific, which might still have islands and 
continents not yet come to light Australia was yet to 
come out of it. But he refers to the inundation of an Atlantic 
continent, and the shrinking Atlantic shelf of America. 
Hence the American Indians were but remnants of a 
people : c marvel you not at the thin population of America, 
nor at the rudeness and ignorance of the people ; for you 
must accept your inhabitants of America as a young people : 
younger a thousand years, at the least, than the rest of the 
world'. 1 Bacon takes pains to tell us of the inhabitants of 
his New Atlantis, * as for masculine love, they have no touch 
of it'. This was very far from the case with the American 
Indians, as we know from the shocked reports of the English 
1 Bacon, Works, cd. J. Speckling, III. 143, 

America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

voyagers and the matter-of-fact recording of the facts of life 
by Spanish Dominicans. 

We are not concerned here with the main interest of 
Bacon's tract : the programme of research and discovery 
which mirrors his immense intellectual optimism he 
looked forward to improvements in plants and fruits, vivi- 
section for the extension of anatomical knowledge, an 
extended range of harmonies, the conveyance of sound 
through pipe-lines, means of flight and of under-water 
sailing, refrigeration all of which developments have in 
time come to bind together the community of Atlantis. 
The answers to real questions were to come the way of 
observation and reasoned analysis on the basis of evidence. 

This was not the cast of Donne's medieval mind, even 
though he was affected by the stimulating geographical 
curiosity of the time. This is reflected in his poems, in the 
unexpected images he reaches out for on the subject of love : 

Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone, 
Let maps to others worlds on worlds have shown, 
Let us possess one world, each hath one and is one. 

Where can we find two better hemispheres 
Without sharp North, without declining West ? 

Or in addressing his Mistress, going to bed, in somewhat 
unusual terms : 

O my America ! my new-found-land, 

My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned ! 

Or there are direct geographical references : 

WeVe added to the world Virginia, 'and sent 
Two new stars lately to the firmament. 

Another poem begins : 

That unripe side of earth, that heavy clime 
That gives us man up now, like Adam's time 

Before he ate * . , 

there is Donne's expression of the golden age theme. 

Many were the sermons that were preached to speed 


The Elizabethans and America 

the Virginia enterprise, especially before the big venture of 
1609 Robert Gray, William Symonds, Daniel Price, 
Crakenthorpe, William Crashaw. 1 John Chamberlain wrote 
to his friend Carleton that sermons were becoming as 
necessary as masses with Papists : one could not have a 
feast without one. 2 Donne, who was interested in Virginia 
all along, was given the freedom of the Virginia Company 
and Council in i622. 3 That autumn he preached a sermon 
at their feast in Merchant Taylors' hall. Since we cannot 
go into the sermons here, perhaps we may take Donne's 
sermon as the finest specimen of the class, in which it is 
elevated to literature. 4 

As we should expect, he raises the issues presented by 
colonisation to a higher plane. He warned those going 
against seeking independence or exemption from the laws 
of England. fi lf those that govern there would establish 
such a government as should not depend upon this, or if 
those that go thither propose to themselves an exemption 
from laws to live at their liberty, this is to ... divest 
allegiance and be under no man.' It is contrary to the 
Scriptural command, c a kingdom you must not have*. His 
warning that they were not to expect profit either was 
much to the point. They were not to be discouraged, 
'though you see not your money [he himself had none 
invested in it], though you see not your men, though a 
flood, a flood of blood have broken in upon them. . . . 
Great creatures lie long in the womb.' 'The plantation 
shall not discharge the charges, not defray itself yet, but 
yet already, now at first, it shall conduce to great uses. It 
shall redeem many a wretch from the laws of death, from 
the hands of the executioner. . . . 5 It shall sweep your 
stjeets and wash your doors from idle persons and the 
children of idle persons and employ them.' This was the 

1 For the message of these sermons v. Perry Miller, * Religion, and Society 
in the Early Literature of Virginia', in Errand into the Wilderness, C. IV. 

2 The Letters of John Chamberlain, ed, N. E, McClure, II , 464. 

3 Records of the Virginia Company of London, ed. S. M. Kingsbury, XI* 76. 

4 Reprinted in Ten Sermons by John Donne, ed, Geoffrey Kcyne*. 

5 The reprinted text here, p. 52, reads *laws*, not *jaw$*. 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

obverse side of the argument Bacon put forward in his 
essay *Of Plantations', and surely a more humanitarian 

Donne had something very much to the point to say in 
the modern discussion about colonialism, on the central 
issue. The law of nations ordains that every man improve 
that which he hath: 'the whole world, all mankind must 
take care that all places be improved as far as may be to 
the best advantage of mankind in general 3 . He adjured 
the governors of the greatest companies to proceed with 
integrity and justice. Those adventurers who were old 
would pass out of the world 'with this great comfort that 
you contributed to the beginning of that commonwealth 
and of that church, though they live not to see the growth 
thereof to perfection : Apollo watered, but Paul planted ; 
he that begun this work was the greater man'. He ended 
with the prayer, c Look graciously and look powerfully upon 
this body which thou hast been now some years in building 
and compacting together, this plantation', to become in 
the fullness of time a famous commonwealth. 

Virginia in its beginnings had a literary flavouring. 
George Sandys, the translator of Ovid, was a public servant 
of the colony for some twenty years. Unhappily married, 
he was able to escape from his wife into travel ; he wrote 
no love-poetry. When Sir Edwin Sandys gained control 
of the Virginia Company, he was able to provide for his 
youngest brother by making him Treasurer. Accompany- 
ing Sir Francis Wyatt over as Governor, Sandys carried 
forward his translation of the Metamorphoses: 'yet amongst 
the roaring of the seas, the rustling of the shrouds and 
clamour of sailors, I translated two books and will, when 
the sweltering heat of the day confines me to my chamber, 
give a further assay*' * Anyone who knows the heat of tide- 
water Virginia, in summer will sympathise. Drayton wrote 
to encourage him : 

And (worthy George) by industry and use, 

Let's sec what lines Virginia will produce ; 

* R. B. Davis, George Sandys, 140. 


The Elizabethans and America 

Go on with Ovid as you have begun 

With the first five books ; let your numbers run 

Glib as the former, so shall it live long 

And do much honour to the English tongue : 

Entice the Muses thither to repair, 

Entreat them gently, train them to that air, 

For they from hence may thither hap to fly ... 

If you vouchsafe rescription, stuff your quill 

With natural bounties and impart your skill 

In the description of the place, that I 

May become learned in the soil thereby ; 

Of noble Wyatt's health, and let me hear, 

The Governor ; and how our people there 

Increase and labour, what supplies are sent 

Which I confess shall give me much content . . . 

Drayton concedes that he would 

like it well to be the first 
Whose numbers hence into Virginia flew ; * 

and we may recall that the nineteenth Song of his Polyolbion 
celebrates all the Virginia voyages. Amid distractions, like 
leading the first avenging column against the Indians after 
the Massacre an event which was celebrated by name 
in a ballad, in those days when the news was sung in the 
streets Sandys found time to complete the remaining 
eight books before returning home to publish the whole, 
with a dedication to King Charles I for which he was 
made a gentleman of the Privy Chamber. He seems to have 
been an efficient servant of the Colony, and, like John 
Pory, 2 was responsive to the natural beauty of the country. 
He corresponded with John Tradescant and may therefore 
be responsible for the latter's Indian collections in the 
Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. 3 

* Poems of Michael Drqyton, ed. John Buxton, I. 143 foil. 

2 Pory might have written well about the colony. On his appointment 
as Secretary in 1618, Chamberlain wrote, *no question but he will become 
there a sufficient sober man, seeing there is no wine in all that climate*. 
Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. N. E. McClure, II. 190. But, alas, we hear 
that he * followed the custom of strong potations*, q. M. C. Tyler, History 
of American Literature., I. 49, 

3 Tradescant was a shareholder in the Virginia Company. C, C. Stopcs, 
The Life of Henry Third Earl of Southampton, 422. 


H Museum, Oxford 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

Among these the most splendid is Powhatan's ceremonial 
mantle, made of deerskins decorated with patterns of tiny 
shells, forming the figure of a man down the spine with an 
animal on each side, long ears and tail, in an attitude of 
supplication with outstretched paws. The rest has roundels 
of thickly encrusted shells disposed in rough symmetry 
around the edges and filling the spaces. The whole thing 
has extraordinary vivid life in it: perhaps it had magic 
properties to bring success in the chase ? The Ashmolean 
tradition is that this was given to Captain Christopher 
Newport in 1608. There are other objects: a wallet of 
hide with shell- work decoration, a girdle made of wampum 
and a necklace, 'variety of chains, made of the teeth of 
serpents and wild beasts, which the Indians wear*, double- 
ended canoe paddles and bows from Virginia. It is some- 
how affecting to think of these relics, treasure-trove from 
those shores, from all the past that has been engaging our 
attention, fetching up in seventeenth-century Oxford. We 
may think of them along with other relics from that van- 
ished life, the Indian words like canoe, wampum, tobacco, 
taken over by the Elizabethans. 

There is no more vivid account of that life than Captain 
Smith's General History. There has been some discussion 
about how much he is to be believed, but far less appre- 
ciation of how much he is to be enjoyed. His was not a 
Puritan inflexion, and so he has met with some disparage- 
ment, in particular from Henry Adams. (Who was it 
who said that vinegar, not red blood, flowed in the veins 
of the Adamses ; and, anyway, enjoyment was not much 
in their line.) It is true that Smith's was an assertive 
personality in that, truly Elizabethan with himself well 
in the centre of action and no doubt making himself out 
to be more important than he was. But what is the point 
of an autobiographer suppressing himself? It makes for 
bad autobiography, 1 I am glad that he passes the test of 

1 The reference is, of course, to Sheridan : 

* You write with case, to show your breeding, 
But eaay writing's vile hard reading/ 

The Elizabethans and America 

the strict Miss E. G. R. Taylor, who has a good opinion of 
him as a geographer ; * as an historian, where it is possible 
to test him, he seems pretty reliable. For the rest, he is a 
writer by nature : the very assertion of personality shows 
it, against dull dogs ; he has an acute sense of others' 
personalities as well as his own, is racy and humorous, at 
times funny, at others indignant, but always alive, with a 
naive poetry that is endearing. He can turn a good phrase, 
as with the sainted Pilgrims, 'whose humorous ignorances 
caused them for more than a year to endure a wonderful 
deal of misery with an infinite patience'. Or take his 
delightful description of the mask of Indian ladies. fi Pre- 
sently they were presented with this antic : thirty young 
women came naked out of the woods, only covered behind 
and before with a few green leaves, their bodies all painted, 
some of one colour, some of another, but all differing. 
Their leader had a fair pair of buck's horns on her head 
and an otter's skin at her girdle, a quiver of arrows at her 
back, a bow and arrows in her hand. The next had in 
her hand a sword, another a club, another a pot-stick : all 
horned alike ; the rest everyone with their several devices. 
These fiends with most hellish shouts and cries, rushing 
from among the trees, cast themselves in a ring about the 
fire, singing and dancing with most excellent ill variety, 
oft falling into their infernal passions, and solemnly again 
to sing and dance ; having spent near an hour in this 
mascarado, as they entered in like manner they departed. 
Having reaccommodated themselves, they solemnly invited 
him to their lodgings, where he was no sooner within the 
house but all these nymphs more tormented him than ever, 
with crowding, pressing, and hanging about him, most 
tediously crying, "Love you not me? Love you not 
me? 35 ' 2 

The Captain seems to have preserved his virtue, which, 

1 * Smith has, by many besides his contemporaries, becm ranked far below 
his worth, for his powers of observation were great, and his main arguments 
and forecasts have stood the test of time.* E. G. R. Taylor, Late Tudor and 
Early Stuart Geography, 1^8^-1630, 162. 

2 Smith, I. 140-1. 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

I should have thought, might have recommended him better 
to virtuous New England. 

Geography was, in a sense, the characteristic science of 
the Renaissance, as astronomy had been in antiquity. With 
a New World being discovered, there was not only an 
immense extension of geographical knowledge, but a com- 
parable impetus to improving its quality and techniques, 
solving problems hitherto recalcitrant. In the first half of 
the sixteenth century Italy was the chief centre of map- 
making, and most of the Atlantic coast of America was 
first traversed by Italians Columbus and the Cabots, 
Vespucci and Verrazano. 1 But a fundamental consequence 
of the discovery of America was to draw the main trade- 
routes away from the Mediterranean, greatly to enhance 
the importance of the North-Western countries and ulti- 
mately make their fortune. Geographical knowledge fol- 
lowed : the centre passed to the Netherlands, and this was 
visibly expressed in the publication of the atlases of Ortelius 
and Mercator, 

England was backward in this art, as in so much else ; 
but now her geographers profited from their contacts with 
these leaders of thought, while they made use of the in- 
formation gathered by the English voyagers in constructing 
their maps Ortelius, of Anthony Jenkinson for Russia and 
Persia, Mercator, of Drake for America and the Pacific. 
Though English map-makers in this field were not yet com- 
parable, they were beginning. Frobisher's and Gilbert's 
voyages to North America led to a considerable increase of 
information about the northern areas, which is reflected in 
the maps of Michael Lok and Thomas Best. A number of 
John Dec's maps of these regions remain, and illustrate, as 
everything about him does, his curious mixture of shrewd 
criticism and crazy credulity. His map of North America, 
for example, based on Gilbert's explorations, has a proper 
realisation of the width of the Continent across Canada ; 
but theorist, fantaisiste, as he was, he has no compunction 

x R. V. Toolcy, Maps and Map-Makers, ig foil 

The Elizabethans and America 

in tracing a waterway right across to debouch with the 
Colorado into Southern California. 1 I may be rather harsh 
to the Celtic spirit as exemplified in John Dee : all I can 
say is that I should be sorry for the sailors who proceeded in 
accordance with his injunctions, and I have the feeling that 
the practical seamen at Muscovy House knew very well 
how to take him. Still, he gave a considerable propulsion 
to geographical thought, and he was early in the field ; by 
the end of the century much more exact and useful contri- 
butions were being made to navigation and cosmography 
by such men as John Davis and Edward Wright. 

With the marvellous 1580'$, the first colonies and the 
defeat of the Armada, a specifically English geographical 
literature begins at the same moment as the madrigals. 
We can read it in works that are also works of literature, 
written by such as Ralegh and Hariot, Hakluyt and Captain 
Smith, as well as the average contributors to Hakluyt and 

Hariot appears as the most complete, all-round scientist 
of that time, with his interest alike in mathematics and 
astronomy, anthropology and navigation. 2 Here again we 
find him at the centre of Ralegh's circle, for many years a 
constant associate and confidential servant. 3 The tone of 
this circle was unorthodox, sceptical and scientific, intel- 
lectually questing. Said Nashe in Pierce Penniless, *I hear 
say there be mathematicians abroad that will prove men 
before Adam'. At Ralegh's trial Lord Chief Justice Popham 
described Hariot's opinions as * devilish', and Hariot as 
*that devil'. The poet Marlowe expressed the spirit of the 
group somewhat more carefully than the lawyer : 

Our souls whose faculties can comprehend 
The wondrous architecture of the world, 
And measure every wandering planet's course^ 

1 Reproduced by E. G. R, Taylor, 'John Dee and the Map of North- 
East Asia*, in Imago Mundi, XII. 103 foil, 

* He wrote a book on navigation, the Arcticon, which is lost. 

3 After Gunpowder Plot Hariot was imprisoned for having the King's 
horoscope cast, Gf. S.P. 14/216, no. 122, His intimate membership of the 
Northumberland-Ralegh circle in the Tower made him suspect, 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

Still climbing after knowledge infinite, 
And always moving as the restless spheres 
Will us to wear ourselves and never rest. 

Hariot set a model of first-class scientific method with 
his Brief and true Report of the newfound land of Virginia. It is 
the work of a superior mind ; no Elizabethan quaintness 
in this, no fancy, let alone fantasy ; all is in due order, based 
on close observation, accurately brought into correlation 
with existing categories. It gives an account of the flora 
and fauna : the commodities of the country with their 
qualities and uses ; methods of agriculture and properties 
of the soil, plants and fruits and roots ; the beasts, fowl and 
fish ; ending with the nature and manners of the people, 
for Hariot had learned enough of their language to com- 
municate with them regarding their notions and beliefs. 

This concise little work, important as it is, is only a 
fragment of the materials collected by Hariot and John 
White at Roanoke. White was similarly engaged in map- 
ping the coasts and sounds, and rendering the life of the 
place in his water-colours of the plants and fishes, the 
characters and ways of the natives. But many of their 
maps and papers were lost in the sea after the hurricane 
that decided the colony to leave, in the hurried transfer 
of their goods by the sailors to Drake's ships. Others of 
White's papers left on Roanoke were spoiled by the Indians. 
But what remains is considerable. Professor Quinn sums 
up their work ; e between them they compiled the first 
detailed records to be assembled by Englishmen of the 
natural relations and resources of any part of North America. 
The high degree of objectivity and the painstaking accuracy 
which they brought to their tasks make their work (though 
much of it has been lost) a landmark in the history of 
English cartography and the natural sciences, as well as, 
almost incidentally, in the development of a native school 
of water-colour painting/ 

If only Hariot and White had had the leisure, or per- 
haps the temperament, to complete their projects what a 
wonderful joint work, an American masterpiece, we might 


The Elizabethans and America 

have had ! But circumstances were distracting : not only 
were precious papers lost, a war was on, we know how 
White was employed on subsequent fruitless attempts. 
Even so, in consequence of their work, 'we know the 
Indians of the Carolina sounds as well in some respects as 
we know the contemporaries of the Tudor Englishmen who 
drew and described them'. 1 Through their work, and the 
accounts of Lane and Smith, we come as near to under- 
standing these first Indians the English met with as possibly 
ever again, and with all the freshness and shock of first 
impact. Moreover, White's cartographic work was 'incom- 
parably the best yet done on any part of North America by 
any Europeans'. His depiction of Indian figures, through 
their reproduction in De Bry, became the regular conven- 
tional representation of the Indian to the European eye for 
more than a century. 

The impact of America upon natural history in general, 
and botany in particular, was no less exciting. A wide 
range of new plants and animals provided continuing 
stimulus to the scientific curiosity, as well as the fancy, of 
naturalists in England as elsewhere. And this is reflected 
in their books. From the New World came the giant sun- 
flower, nasturtium, Michaelmas daisy, lobelia, evening 
primrose and so on. 2 But by far the most important intro- 
ductions were tobacco and the potato : these affected history. 

In the early years sassafras was much imported, as a 
remedy for syphilis, one of the first bequests of the New 
World to the Old, which raged through Europe like a 
prairie fire. The Indians also used guaiacum, the bitter 
bark of the wood, for the same purpose. Tobacco was also 
thought to be of use, since its medicinal properties were 
considered valuable. *Herba panacea', c hcrba santa', it 
was called; 'divine tobacco', by Spenser, 'our holy herb 
nicotian ', by William Lilly. Hariot reported that it * purgeth 
superfluous phlegm and other gross humours, and opencth 
all the pores and passages of the body ; by which means 

1 Thi Roanoke Voyages, 1584-1590, cd. D. B. Qiuinn, I. 316*17, 
* W. Blunt, The Art of Botanical Illustration* 76, 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

the use thereof not only preserveth the body from obstruc- 
tions, but also (if any be, so that they have not been of 
too long continuance) breaketh them'. 1 Hariot became a 
heavy smoker : frequent purchases of tobacco appear in his 
papers ; he died of cancer of the mouth. 

The habit of smoking rapidly spread among the courtiers 
and in the upper class, popularised by Ralegh and those in 
touch with the colonies. His addiction was another of the 
counts in James's indictment of him: 'it seems a miracle 
to me how a custom springing from so vile a ground, and 
brought in by a father so generally hated, should be wel- 
comed upon so slender a warrant'. 2 It was noted as a 
piece of arrogance on his part that c he took a pipe of tobacco 
before he went to the scaffold' ; it is more likely to have 
been to steady his nerves, or as a last pleasure on earth. 
Already by 1600, at Essex's trial, the peers were smoking 
copiously over their deliberation as to the verdict ; we see 
thus early, and in these eminent quarters, the application 
of the vulgar phrase, to 'put it in your pipe and smoke it'. 
Even before the end of the Queen's reign, the habit was 
spreading to the lower orders : Hentzner tells us, c at bull- 
baiting, bear-whipping and everywhere else the English are 
constantly smoking the Nicotian weed, which in America 
is called tobacco'. All this was good for Virginia: it put 
the colony on its feet and enabled it to survive. 

The potato has had even more effect in history. Dr. 
Salaman writes, { the introduction of the potato has proved 
to be one of the major events in man's recent history, but, 
at the time, it was a matter of relatively little moment and 
called forth no immediate public comment'. 3 Its first 
mention in print by this name occurs in 1596 in Gerard's 
Catalogue of the plants growing in his garden at Holborn. 
(He also had the oversight of Lord Burghley's garden in 
the Strand.) In his bulky Herbal next year he gave the 
potato a chapter to itself. The famous Flemish botanist 

1 Hakluyt, VI. 177. 

C. M. Maclnnes, The Early English Tobacco Trade, 32. 

3 K, N. Salaman, T/if History and Social Influence of the Potato, 142. 

The Elizabethans and America 

Pficluse, friend of Philip Sidney, kept in touch with English 
voyagers from whom he received specimens of American 
plants and he described the potato accurately. 1 It seems 
that Gerard got muddled between the potato and the sweet 
potato, and gave an inexact description; but he was not 
a scientist, merely a practical gardener who grew things. 
He says that since PEcluse's description, 'I have received 
roots hereof from Virginia, which grow and prosper in my 
garden as in their own native country'. 2 Apparently 
Hariot's 'openauks', 'growing many together one by another 
in ropes, as though they were fastened with a string', are 
not our potatoes, but sweet potatoes. 3 However, Gerard 
may have got hold of the real thing through ships coming 
back from the West Indies. To the Elizabethans the inno- 
cuous potato was not only sustaining, but stimulating to 
lust. We remember that when Falstaff, with the worst 
intentions, gets Mistress Ford and Mistress Page to come 
in to him, he calls on the sky to rain potatoes. Amid so 
much that is earthy, not to say murky, about this vegetable, 
Dr. Salaman thinks it quite probable that Ralegh did intro- 
duce the growing of potatoes into Ireland one more of 
the many things he has to answer for. This certainly had 
remote and far-reaching consequences, setting in motion 
the cycle that ultimately led to the mass-migration of the 
Irish, during and after the Famine, to America. 

It was from Ireland, too, not long after, that John 
White's drawings of American life turned up, having long 
disappeared from view. 4 In the end, it is through such 
things as these, Powhatan's mantle, a wampum girdle or a 
shell-necklace, the things the Elizabethans held in their 
hands and brought home, the flotsam and jetsam of time, 
that we are most directly in touch with that early American 
life. And perhaps through those fragments of memory that 
have entered into folklore, the unforgottcn impression that 
Pocahontas made on the English people in her day still 

1 John Buxton, Sir Philip Sidney and tfie English Renaissance, 143, 

3 q. Salaman, 81. 3 Hakluyt, VI. 177. 

4 Lawrence Binyon, English Wafer-Colours t a, 


America in Elizabethan Literature, Science and the Arts 

alive in the famous inn-sign, 'La Belle Sauvage'* 1 I write 
these words not far from a village in Cornwall still called 
after her, Indian Queens. For it is what enters into the 
unconscious life of the mind and is carried on in folklore 
that expresses the truest and most intimate nature of a people. 
I remember being most moved by this thought at a perform- 
ance of Thornton Wilder's Our Town in the haggard and 
heroic England of war-time. There, to console and fortify, 
were the recognisable habits and ruts trodden through the 
centuries, the ways of thought, the very turns of phrase, the 
same hymns sung and prayers used in America as in England. 
These things and those fragments that remain of shared ex- 
perience are the best evidence of the strength of common 
memories, common affections and common ancestry. 

1 Her entering a tavern surprised people and may be responsible for her 
elevation to inn-signs as patroness. Gf. Ben Jonson, The Staple of News : 
Pocahontas, as the historian calls her, 
And great King's daughter of Virginia, 
Hath been in womb of tavern. 



Acadia, 63, 100, 180 

Africa, 10, 59 

Alabaster, William, 140-1 

Alaska, 182 

Alba, Duke of, n, 23 

Aldworth, Robert, 93, 165, 168-9; 

, Thomas, 164 
Alexander VI, Pope, 5, 83 ; , Sir 

William, 116, 177, 178-80 
Amadas, Captain, 44-5 
Ames, William, 114, 132, 134, 149, 

150, 155 

Amsterdam, 133, 135 
Anian, supposed Strait of, 26 
Arctic, the, 5, 63, 185-7 
Argall, Captain, 104 
Armada, Spanish, 53, 54, 84, 91, 171 
Arthur, King, 18-19 
Arundell of Wardour, Lord, 62, 63, 

8 4 

Asia, 1 80, 182, 186, 202 

Atlantic, the, i, 2, 3, 10, 53, 72, 73, 

xoa, 159, 1 86, 202, 209 
Australia, 'JCerra, 25-6, 27, 202 

Bacon, Sir Francis, 57, 166, 195-6, 

301, 202-3, a 5 
Baffin, William, 77, 186-7 
Bahamas, 47 

Baltimore, Lord, 167, 169, 173 
Barlow, Captain, 44-5, 189, 194, 199 
Beacon Hill, Massachusetts, 1 1 1 
Berkeley, Edward and Robert, 78 ; 

, Sir Maurice, 70 
Bermuda, 70, 73, 74, 77-8, 79, 81, 

189, 196-7 

Biard, leather, S. J., 104 
Bodin, Jean, 135, 137 
Boston, Lines,, 114, 128, 144, 148; 

, Massachusetts, in, n8, 121, 

144, 147, 149 
Bradford, Governor, 99, 108, 109, 

no, 124, 134, 135, 136-9, 158 
Bracistrcet, Anne, 137, 158 
Brazil, 6-7, 8, ia 

Brewster, Eider, 106, 134, 129, 132, 
5 178 

Bristol, 3, 4, 36, 38, 59, 93-4, 97, 117, 
1 59- 6 o 164, 165-6, 176, 177, 187, 
190; Company, 166, 168, 171 

British Columbia, 26, 28, 182 

Brittany, 6, 7 

Browne, Robert, 129 

Bry, Theodore de, 14, 51, 189, 212 

Buck, Richard, 69 

Buckingham, Duke of, in, 169 

Budleigh, East, 39, 113, 170 

Bury St. Edmunds, 114 

Button, Captain, 186 

Cabot, John, 3, 4, 159-60, 188, 200, 
209 ; , Sebastian, 3-4, 5, 25, 85, 

Cadiz, 140, 175 

California, 27-8, 45, 85, 182, 199, 

Calvin, John, 125, 132 

Cambridge, 12, 16, 17, 114, 140, 144, 
156 colleges : Christ's, 132, 133, 
155; Emmanuel, 149, 155, 196; 
Jesus, 150; King's, 149; Peter- 
house, 135; Queens', 149; Trinity, 
"4> *39, Hi> H2, 148; in- 
fluence on New England, 1 32-4, 1 55 

Camden, William, 31-2 

Canada, 7, 12, 43, 46, 63, in, 116, 
159, 1 80, 209 

Cape Ann, 104, 112-13; Breton, 3, 
97, 159, 1 60, 179, 1 80; Cod, 89, 
92, 102, 1 08 ; of Good Hope, 24, 
66,87; Hatteras, 44, 49, 57 ; 
Race, 163, 164 

Caribbean, the, 9, 1 1 

Carder, Jacques, 7, 43 

Cartwright, Thomas, 132 

Gateau-Cambr&sis, treaty of, 7-8, 1 2 

Catherine de Medici, 11-12 

Cavendish, Thomas, 36, 49, 184 

Cecil, Robert, Earl of Salisbury, 61, 
76, 86 ; , William, Lord Burgh- 
ley,5, 12, 17,20,21,23,25-7,31,48 

Challons, Henry, 97, 102 

Champlain, Samuel, 63, 95, 100, 
116, 180 


The Elizabethans and America 

Chapman, George, 192-4, 201 
Charles I, in, 113, 117, 119, 121, 

126, 143, 180, 206 
Charles V, Emperor, 10 
Chesapeake Bay, 3, 53, 62, 65, 66 
Civil War, the, 121, 122 
Clifton, Richard, 129 
Cobbett, William, 193 
Coke, Sir Edward, 106 
Coligny, Admiral of France, 8, 12 
Colston, William, 166, 167, 168 
Columbus, Christopher, 2, 4, 209 
Conant, Roger, 1 1 3 
Congregationalism, 129, 131, 133, 

134, 149, 150 

Connecticut, 114, 124, 140, 150, 151 
Cornwall, 3, 54-5, 71, 171, 185, 215 
Corte-Real, brothers, 6-7 
Cottington, Lord, 120 
Cotton, John, 114, 115, 119, 124, 125, 

128, 144, 145, 146, 147-8, H9. *5* 

152, 157 
Croatoan, 54 
Cromwell, Oliver, 1 73 ; , Sir 

Oliver, 70 
Culverwell, Ezekiel, 141, 142 

Dale, Sir Thomas, 74, 75, 76-7, 84 

Dare, Ananias, 53 

Darien, Isthmus of, 14, 26 

Dart, River, 39, 41, 183 

Dartmouth, 171, 183, 184, 185 

pavis, John, 41, 182-5, *86, *87, 
210; Strait, 183, 184 

Dee, John, 5, 17-21, 22, 41, 43, 
182-3, 209-10 

Delaware, 63, 186 

De la Warr, Lord, 72, 74 

Deptford, 24, 31 

Dermer, Captain, 102-3 

Devon, 33, 39, 41, 51, 63, 171, 172 

Diaz, Bartholomew, 24 

Dieppe, 6 

Donne, John, 177, 203^4 

Dorchester, 112; Company, 104 

Dorset, 63, 97, na 

Doughty, Thomas, 25 

Drake, Bernard, 164, 171 ; , Fran- 
cis, of Esher, 149 ; , Sir Francis, 
9, jo-n, 14, 16-17, A 49 5*- 2 53* 
59, 90, 91, 176, ax i ; Voyage round 
the World, 24-32, 45, 85, 89, 199 

Drayton, Michael, 71, 177, 194-5, 
197, 205-6 

Dudley, Thomas, 114, 124, 144-5 

Duplessis-Mornay, Philippe, 14 


Dutch, the, 63, 100, 186 ; East 

India Company, 64 
Dyer, Sir Edward, 21-2, 35, 189-90 

Easton, Captain, a pirate, 167, 171 

Ecluse, Charles de V, 14, 213-14 

Eden, Richard, 12 

Edward VI, 4, 16 

Eliot, John, 1 49-50 ; , Sir John, 
109, 113 

Elizabeth I, 2, 3, 5-6, 7, 9, n, 13, 61, 
70, 90, 91, 100, 134, 136, 181 ; 
and America, 16-37, 4 2 47~&, B6-7, 
162, 163, 164 ; and Drake, 24-31 ; 

and Ralegh, 39, 48, 53, 55-6, 
194 ; and Virginia, 49, 72, 88 

Elizabeth, Princess, James Fs daugh- 
ter, marriage of, 201 

Endecott, Governor, 115, 118, 139 

Enriques, Martin de, 10 

Epenow, American Indian, 102-3 

Eskimos, 183-4 

Essex, 147, 149; , Robert, Earl 
of, 62-3, 91-2, 122, 140, 213 

Evelyn, Robert, 75 

Exeter, 48, 105, 176, 177 

Falkland, Lord, 169, 173 

Falmouth, 92 

Ferrars, the brothers, 8 1 

FitzGeoffrey, Charles, 176 

Fletcher, Francis, 28-9 

Florida, 6, 8-9, 12, 13, 14, 43, 67, 

104, 107; Channel, 11,49 
Florio, John, 43, 199 
Foxe, John, 27, 88, 139 ; , Luke, 

France, 5^ 12, 13-14, 30, 47, x x x, x8o ; 

and America, a, 6-15, 43, 46, 63, 
95, iix, 162, 165, 178, 1 80 

Francis I, 7, 191 

Frobisher, Sir Martin, 21-4, 181, 

182, 209 
Froude, J. A., 6, 16 

Gama, Vasco da, a, 24 

Gardiner, Sir Christopher, 117 

Gates, Sir Thomai, 63, 72, 76, 196 

Gerard, John, 213, 214 

Germans in Virginia, 69 

Gilbert family, 38, 39, 90, 185; , 
Adrian, 39, 41, 91, 182-3, 185 > ~~i 
Bartholomew, 59, 62, 92-3 ; -, 
Ralegh, 63 , 98, 99, icx ; Sir 
Humphrey, 5, 12, 18, 19, aa, 32-3, 


39-4 1 * 59> 99> *22, 162, 171, 181-2, 
209; , Sir John, 39, 70, 101 

Glendower, Owen, 20 

Gond6mar, Count, 84, 85 

Gorges family, 90-1 , 1 18 ; , Arthur, 
91; , Edward, Lord, 118; , 
Elizabeth, 4th wife of Sir Ferdin- 
ando, 91 ; , Sir Ferdinando, 63, 
90-2, 94, 95-8, 99-102, 103, 104-6, 
108-12, 113, 114, 116-22, 165, 174, 
178-9; 9 Ferdinando, Sir F.'s 
grandson, 117; , Robert, 1 10-1 1 , 
112; 5 Thomas, 119, 120, 121; 

, Tristram, 90-1 ; , William, 

Greenland, 18, 19, 22, 63, 184, 185, 

1 86 
Grenville, Sir Richard, 25-6, 35, 

4#-9> 50, 5i"2, 53-5, 70 
Greville, Sir Fulke, 70 
Groton, Suffolk, 114, 139-42 
Guiana, 56, 107, 173, 191, 193 
Guinea, 5 

Gunpowder Plot conspirators, 59 
Guy, John, 165-8, 174 

Hakluyt, Richard, the elder, 42, 46; 

-, , the younger, 5, u, 14, 19, 
34 36, 40, 4* 42-8, 49* 52-3> 57, 
58-60, 63, 64, 72, 85-6, 161, 164-5, 

179, 189, 191, 192, 202 

Hall, Bishop, 134, 177; , James, 

of Hull, 185 

Hanxor, Ralph, 74, 75, 76 
Hariot, Thomas, 14, 44, 49, 51, 96, 

Hartford, Connecticut, 147, 150 
Harvard College, 140, 145, 155; 

, Judith, 185 
Hatton, Sir Christopher, 18, 23, 26, 

27, 48 
Hawkins, Sir John, 8, 9-11, 13, 14, 27, 

70 ; --, Sir Richard, 70, 104-5 ~> 

4 old* William, 6 
Hayes Barton, 39 
Hayman, Robert, 168, 175-7 
Haynea, Governor, 124, 147 
Henri IV, 12, 63, 91, 114, 144 
Henrico, Virginia, 75, 76 
Henrietta Maria, Queen, i 1 i 
Henry VIT, 5, 16,85 
Henry VIII, 3, 22, 188, 191, 200 
Henry the Navigator, Prince, 2 
Higgmson, Francis, 124, 129-30 
Hispaniola, 47 
Holland, 106, 132, 133, 134, 135, 150 

Hooker, John, 48 ; , Richard, 80, 

I50 . 9 Thomas, 124, 145-6, 147, 

H9-5I, 157 
Hore, Master, 161 
Hotspur, 20 
Hudson, Henry, 63, 100, 185-6 ; J s 

Bay, 186-7 ; River, 63, 100, 108, 

1 86 ; Strait, 4 
Humfry, John, 112, 114 
Hunt, Robert, 68, 69 
Hutchinson, Mrs., 151 

Iceland, 18 

Indians, American, 27-8, 45, 51, 54, 
62, 67, 69-70, 74, 92-3, 94, 95, 96, 
101, 102-3, 152, 167, 182, 197-203, 
212; Indian College, Virginia, 87 ; 

Massacre, 76, 86, 206 
Indies, East, 66, 185, 187; East 

India Company, 77, 81 
Indies, West, 4, 6, 7, 9-10, 44, 47, 

48-9, 214 

Inquisition, Spanish, 10, 47 
Ireland, 35, 39, 55, 182, 214 
Italy, 47, 209 

Jacob, Henry, 1285 129 

James I, 56, 59, 63, 80, 86-7, 100, 107, 

109, 113, 1 16, 169, 178, 201, 202, 

213; 9 Captain, of Bristol, 187; 

River, 66, 74, 75, 84, 88 
Jamestown, 2, 51, 60, 65, 66-70, 

73-5, 76, 86, 192 
Jay, John, 159 
Jenkinson, Anthony, 22, 181 
Jersey, 56 
Johnson, Isaac, 1 14, 147 ; , Lady 

Arbella, 147 
Jones, Inigo, 201 
Jonson, Ben, 192-3, 196, 215 

Kelly, Edward, medium, 20, 21 
Kennebec River, 98, 109 
Kirke, brothers, 180 

Labrador, 7, 22, r6i 

Laconia Company, the, 116, 119 

Land's End, 129 

Lane, Ralph, 23, 35, 36, 48, 49-50, 


Languet, Hubert, 22-3 
Las Gasas, Bishop, 9 
Laud, Archbishop, 118, 119, 120, 126 
Laudonniere, R. de, 8, 9, 11, 14, 43 
Leicester, Robert, Earl of, 21, 22, 27 
Levant, the, 6 


The Elizabethans and America 

Leyden, 129, 134, 135, 136, 178 

Lisbon, 2, 53 

Locke, John, 200 

London, 8, 21, 23, 61, 64, 65, 84, 

107, 140, 165 

Longfellow, H. W., 130, 196 
Long Island Sound, 103 
Louvain, 17 
Luther, Martin, 125, 132 

Mace, Samuel, 57, 62 
Magellan, Ferdinand, 24 ; , 

Straits of, 27, 184 
Maine, 62, 89, 95, 97, 98-9, 104, 

109, 116, 118, 119, 120-1 
Manhattan, 100 

Marlowe, Christopher, 191, 210-11 
Marshalsea, 90 

Martha's Vineyard, 62, 92, 102 
Martyr, Peter, 12, 44, 52, *37 
Mary I, Queen, 5, 13, 16, 33, 63 
Mason, Captain John, 116, 118, 160, 

168, 169-70, 174, 175, 177 
Massachusetts, 73, 78, 89, 108, 115, 

118-22, 126-8, 129-31, 139, H4-5S; 

Bay, 103, 104, 109, no, 116, 
nyj Company, 112; 

Charter, 115-16, 118, 119 
Massasoit, Indian chief, 103 
Massinger, Philip, 195 
Mathew, Toby, Archbishop, 72 
Mayne, Jasper, 196 
Mendoza, Bernardino de, 23-4, 

29-30* 33, 84 
Menendez, Pedro de, 9 
Mercator, Gerard, 17, 19, 209 
Middleton, Thomas, 195, 196 
Mildrnay, Sir Thomas, 141 
Milton, John, 153 
Mitre Tavern, the, 59 
Montaigne, Michel de, 199-200, 202 
Monts, M. de, 63, 104 
More, Sir Thomas, 3, 188, 197 
Mortlake, 17, 19-20, 21 
Morton, Thomas, 117, 136, 138-9 
Moyne, J. le, 14 
Muscovy (Company, the, 42, 77, 185 

Netherlands, u, 23, 24, 31, 37, 45, 
61, 156, 209 

Nettlecombe, 38 

New Albion, 28, 85, 89 

New England, 59, 62, 64, 73, 89-90, 
92-5,96-105, io8-n, 118-23, 124-8, 
130-2, 134-9, x 44-58; Coun- 

cil, 105-6, 108-9, in, 112, 115-17, 

Newfoundland, 3, 6-7, 18, 33, 35, 40- 

41, 46, 56, 59, 92, 102, 116, i59-77> 


New Hampshire, 116, 169 
New Mexico, 43 
Newport, Captain, 66, 207 
Nombre de Dios, 14 
Normandy, 6, 91 
North-East Passage, 4, 17-18, 180-1, 

1 86 
Northumberland, * Wizard* Earl of, 

66, 210 
North- West Passage, 4, 17-18, 21-2, 

26, 28-9, 41, 77, 86, 92, 180-7; 

- Company, 60 
Nova Scotia, 3, 104, 116, 177-80 
Nowell, Increase, 114, 144, 147 
Noy, Attorney-General, 176 

Oregon, 28 

Ortelius, Abraham, 17, 45, 209 

Ottawa, 7 

Oxenham, John, 14 

Oxford, 1 6, 39, 42, 68, 69, 155, 163, 

176; Ashmolean Museum, 206-7; 

Exeter College, 175, 176; Jesus 

College, 1 72 ; Magdalen College, 

Oxford, Edward, Earl of 

Pacific, the, 4, 7, 24, 26-9, 32, 67, 

1 01, 185, 187, 209 
Paris, 14, 16, 43, 46 
Parkhurst, Anthony, 161, 162 
Parliament, 48, 80, 82, in, 143 
Parmcnius, Stephen, 163 
Peckham, Sir George, 40, 163-4 
Pembroke, Earl of, 22, 23 ; , 

Mary, Countess of, 22 
Penkivell, William, of Roserrow, 1 85 
Perkins, William, 114, 132, 134, 143, 

*4B *55 *56 
Philip II, 7, 9, io f 12, 15, 23-4, 39- 

30, 31, 47 

Philip III, 72, 8a, 83, 84-5 
Philpot, John, 139 
Pierce, John, 1 09 
Pilgrims, Plymouth, 75, 103, io6-xo, 

114-15, xai, x9, 130-1, 133-9, 198, 


Placentia Bay, 92, 163, 165, 168 
Plato, 138 
Plymouth, 6, 14, 27, 38, 49, 50, 73, 

91, 92, 96, u>'4, 107, n6, 117; 


Company, 64, 68, 70, 97-8; , 
Massachusetts, 75, 103, 108, no, 
113, 130, 131, 132, 134-8, 147, 158, 


Pocahontas, 70, 96, 104, 214-15 
Poland, 179 
Pole, North, 3, 5 
Ponce cle Leon, 8 
Poole, 1 60 
Popham, George, 64, 98, 100-1 ; , 

Sir John, 64, 94, 97-8, 165, 210 
Port Royal, 63, 104, 180 
Portsmouth, 169 
Portugal, 2, 6, 7, 8, 47 ; Portuguese 

Empire, 2, 5, 7-8, 12 
Pory, John, 59, 196, 206 
Potato, the, 213-14 
Powhatan, 69, 70, 207, 214 
Prague, 21 
Presbyterianism, 1 32 
Pring, Captain, 59, 87, 93-4, 97 
Purchas, Samuel, 57, 59, 179 
Pym,John, 113 
Pynchon, William, 114, 124, 144, 

Quebec, 63, JOG, in, 180 

Ralegh, Sir Carew, 39, 78 ; , Sir 
Walter, 14, 31, 33-5, 36, 62, 64, 87, 
90, 113, xaa, 173, 1 88, 189, 194-5, 
3 i a, 2 1 3, 3 1 4 ; and colonisation, 
38-44, 63, 93 ; "~~ and Queen Eliza- 
beth, 49, 55-6 ; - and Virginia, 
44-54, 56-8, 62, 88 

Rashleigh, Captain, 171 

Rastell, John, 3, 188 

Rhode Island, 153 

Ribault, Jean, 8-9, 13 

Rich, Richard, 79 

Richmond, 19, o ; , Virginia, 36, 67 

Rounoke Island, 44-5, 49-54, 58, 65, 

!<)<), 31 X-I3 

Roberval, Seigneur cle, 7, 43 
Robinson, John, 106, 139, 131, 133-5 
Rorhelle, La, 14 
Roeroft, Captain, 102 
Rogers* John, 143, 149 
Rome, ng, 141, 156 
Roscarrock, William, 71 
Rouse family, 113, 1 76 ; -, Sir 

Anthony, 49 

Roxbury, Massachusetts, 145 
Russell, Sir Thomas, 72 
Russia, 4, 18, 46, 77, 179, x8i, 209 
Rut, John, 161 

Sagadahoc, 68, 98-101 
St. Augustine, 8-9, 1 1 
St. Bartholomew, Massacre of, 12, 

i3> H 

St. Budeaux, 90 

St. John's, Newfoundland, 40-1, 161, 
162, 166 

St. Lawrence, River, 7, 43, 63, 164, 
165, 178, 1 80 

St.-Malo, 7 

Salem, 113 

SaltonstalL, Richard, 114, 124, 144, 
*45\ > Sir Richard, 113, 145; 
, Sir Samuel, 78 

Sanderson, William, 54, 183 

Sandys, Archbishop, 80, 1 06 ; , 
George, 196, 205-6 ; , Sir Edwin, 
63, 65, 7> 79-82, 105-7, 205 ; , 
Sir Samuel, 106 

San Francisco, 29 

San Juan de Ulua, 9, 10-11, 14, 27 

sassafras, 95, 212 

Saye and Sele, Lord, 109, 116, 144 

Scotland, 178, 179 

Seville, 4, 10 

Shakespeare, William, 60, 62, 71, 72, 
73> 79, 156, 157, 191-2, 196-8, 214 

Shepard, Thomas, 124-5, 157 

Ships: Arbella, 127, 128, 129^ 144, 
145, 147; Bark Ralegh, 40; Caca- 
fuego, 26; Chancewell, 165; Delight, 
1 63 ; Discovery, 66 ; Discovery (Sir 
Thomas Symthe's), 186; Eliz.a~ 
beth, 26; Endeavour, 167; Falcon, 
33 ; Gift of God, 98 ; Godspeed, 66 ; 
Golden Hind, 24, 26, 31 ; Golden 
Royal, 35 ; Grace, 165 ; Great Nep- 
tune, 1 09, no; Hope, 66 ; Hopeful, 
185; Hopewetl, 165; Judith, 10; 
Madre de Dios, 66 ; Mary and John, 
98, 101 ; Mayflower, 93, 104, 106, 
107-8, 129, 134, 147; Mermaid, 
1 84 ; Moonshine, 1 83 ; North Star, 
184; Pelican, 26; Revenge, 55; 
Royal James, 87; Sea Venture, 196; 
Squirrel, 33, 163; Sunshine, 183; 
Susan Constant, 65 ; Swallow, 26 ; 
Tiger (Queen's ship), 35 ; Tiger 
of London, 185; Trinity, 168; Vir- 
ginia, 101 

Sidney, Sir Philip, 14, 21, 22, 23, 40, 
49, 70, 189-90, 214 

Slave Trade, 9-10 

Smith, Captain John, 67, 68-70, 78, 
79, 89-90, 104, us, 113, 138, 199, 
200, 207-9 


The Elizabethans and America 

Smyth, John, 129, 133, 134 
Smythe, Sir Thomas, 54, 60, 65, 70, 

77, 79-82, 85, 186-7 
Somers, Sir George, 63, 72-3, 196 . 
Somerset, 22, 38, 94, 98, 112 
Soto, Hernando de, 8, 60 
Southampton, Henry, Earl of, 62-3, 

Spain, 5-6, 8-9, u, 29, 34, 38, 46-7, 

6 1 , 63, 97, 1 07 ; Spanish Empire, 

2-3, 9-io> 12, 46-7, 82-4, 119 
Spitzbergen, 63, 186 
Springfield, 146 ; , Massachusetts, 


Standish, Miles, 124, 135-6 
Stone, Samuel, 147, 150 
Stourton, Erasmus, 167, 177 
Suffolk, 36, 49, 139-42 
Symonds, William, 72, 204 
syphilis, 212 

Thevet, Andr6, 8 
Thomson, David, no-n, 116 
Thome, Robert, 186 
Throckmorton, Elizabeth (Lady 

Ralegh), 55-6 

tobacco, 28, 58, 80- 1, 20 1, 212-13 
Topsham, 100, 164 
Tordesilias, treaty of, 5 
Totnes, 176 
Tower of London, 31, 35, 55-6, 57, 

58, 63, 140 

Tradescant, John, 206 
Trevelyan family, 38 
Treworgie, John, 173 

Vaigatz Islands, 18, 186 
Valdez, Diego de, 91 
Vassall, William, 144, 147 
Vaughan, Sir William, 168-70, 

i7i-5 *7^ 177. 178 
Verrazano, Giovanni,' 6, 46, 209 
Vervins, treaty of, 12, 63 
Vines, Richard, 105, 119, 121 
Virginia, 14, 33, 34-7, 45, 49-54, 56- 
60, 64-88, 96, 103-4, 122, 170, 192- 
193, *94-5, 196, 201, 204, 205-8, 
211, 213, 214; - Assembly, * 8 6, 

no; Charters, 64, 65, 70, 72, 
82, 97; Company, 64-5, 70-1, 
72, 74 77~8, 79-82, 87, 10 1, 105, 
107-8, 113, 194, 204, 205 

Wales, 172 

Walsingham, Sir Francis, 19, 21, 22, 
27, 40, 44, 48, 182 

Ward, Nathaniel, 124, 157 

Warwick, Robert, Earl of, 79, 81, 
109, 116 

Washington, 36, 106 

West, Captain Francis, no 

West Country, 3, 13-14, 30, 36, 38, 
48, 49 53, 63, 92, 1 06, in, 1 60, 
176, 182 

Westminster, 36, 46 

Weston, Mr., 107, 109-10 

Wetheiingsett, 36 

Weyrnouth, Captain, 62, 95 

Whitaker, Alexander, 75 

Whitbourne, Captain, 168, 170-3 

White, John, 49, 51, 53, 54, 201, 211- 
212, 214; , Rev. John, of Dor- 
chester), 112-13 

Whitgift, Archbishop, 80 

Whittington, Master, 167 

Williams, Roger, 124, 125, 148, 

Wilson, John, 145, 149 

Wingfield, Edward Maria, 63, 68, 69 

Winslow, Edward, 124, 135, 136 

Winter, John, 27, 29 ; -, Sir 
William, 22, 27 

Winthrop family, 114, 139-42; -, 
Adam, 139; -, Adam (son of 
the preceding), 114, 139-42; -, 
John, governor of Massachusetts, 
99, 112, 114, 115, 1x8, 119, lao, 
121, 124, 127, 129, 131, 136, 139, 
142-4, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 151, 
158; , John, governor of Con- 
necticut, 114, 124 

York, 135; , see of, 106 

Xufiiga, Spanish ambassador, 64, 72, 
82-4, 98 

(Continued from front flap) 

with English-speaking peoples. He de- 
scribes her diplomatic and political 
struggle, her participation in the voy- 
ages, her support of her seamen. 

Ralegh, Gilbert, Drake, Hawkins 
and other daring spirits were opening 
up the New World and their discov- 
eries in turn opened minds in the Old. 
Events in America had a swift impact 
on men of genius such as Shakespeare, 
Donne and Bacon. Reports from across 
the Atlantic revolutionized geography 
and botany and, in a brilliant conclud- 
ing chapter, Mr. Rowse estimates the 
influence of America upon Elizabethan 
literature, science and the arts as well. 

Governor Bradford, John Winthrop, 
John Cotton, the Puritans and the Pil- 
grims appear in a new and illuminat- 
ing way against the Elizabethan back- 
ground from which they came. 

This was an age of heroes. Its pag- 
eantry, its roster of remarkable charac- 
ters, its exploits all are presented here 
with the color and vividness only a 
master can bring to this extraordinary 

No. 9228A