East Indies
April 1577


Institute of Historical Research



W. Noel Sainsbury (editor)

Year published





Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'East Indies: April 1577', Calendar of State Papers Colonial, East Indies, China and Japan, Volume 2: 1513-1616 (1864), pp. 18-20. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=68570 Date accessed: 18 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


(Min 3 characters)


April 1577

April 22. 34. Michael Lok to the Queen. On 13 October last Frobisher gave him a stone aboard his ship, in presence of Rowland Yorke and another, “the first thing that he found in the new land.” Gave pieces to Mr. Williams, assay master of the Tower, to Wheeler a gold refiner, and to Geo. Needham, but they found no metal. In January last he gave pieces to John Baptista Agnello, who made three several proofs and showed Lok gold. On 18 January received from Agnello the grain of gold, “which afterwards I delivered to Your Majesty.” Particulars of further conferences with Agnello, who desired “to have some quantity thereof for our own account,” and exhorted Lok to secrecy. Informed Frobisher “at my table at dinner” that three or four had found nothing in the stone, but that one man had found a little silver “which was worthy of the fetching away, whereat he was very glad.” On 28th January gave her Majesty in writing a true account of all he knew about it. Interviews with Sec. Walsyngham, who thought Agnello to be but an alchemist, but said he would give three or four pieces to divers men to make proofs. On 31st January Agnello devised that a ship might secretly fetch “the thing;” proposed to send one in company with Captain Frobisher under colour of fishing, and when the captain was gone through to Cathay, to lade “this thing” for ballast. Saw Mr. Secretary 1st February. Dyar and others had made proofs and found a little silver, and Walsyngham was therefore persuaded that Baptista did but play the alchemist. On 4th February Agnello resolved that he had a friend who would furnish a ship, and that if Lok would give a man to show him the place he would give Lok 20l. per ton for 100 tons, and would teach him the art. Further discourse with Mr. Secretary who promised to move the Queen to license a ship to pass thither. Advised Baptista, to disclose the matter to Her Majesty, so that the truth might be discovered; saw him and Mr. Secretary again, the latter promised to get licence for a ship of 100 tons to fetch this ore, if Baptista would put in good securities for payment. Talk of a contract with Baptista, who offers to pay 30l a ton for the ore delivered free. Mr. Secretary then promises to move the Queen upon Lok's offer to pay Her Majesty 3,000l. for licence to fetch 300 tons of ore. Was asked on 16th March by Walsyngham, if Mr. Frobisher knew of this matter; said, no, nor any other person but the Queen, himself, and Baptista. Urged daily by Baptista to complete the contract, which he did on 19th March; found Sir John Barkley's name subscribed as surety “a thing very strange unto me,” never having spoken with Barkley. On the 20th Walsyngham asked him to impart the matter to Frobisher and also for another piece of the ore; Lok did so and took it, at Mr. Secretary's request, to one Geffrey, a Frenchman, who said he found nothing but a little silver. On 28th March was at Sir Wm. Wynter's house, with others commissioned by Her Majesty, “to consider upon all matters requisite for the furniture and dispatch of Mr. Frobisher for Cathay.” Conference with Wynter, who wished Lok to talk with him in a matter of importance. Sir John Barkley, Sir William Morgan, and others, had made proofs of the ore in a house at Lambeth. Wynter's opinion that it was a far greater treasure than was known. Has since been convinced by further proof which “I have seen made by the same workmen, which holdeth more than four ounces of gold in a hundred weight of ore.” Thinks Her Majesty has been fully certified of this matter by Sir William Wynter and Captain Frobisher. Urges order to be given “in secreto quanto si puo, et con fortessa, et con espeditione, least foreign princes set foot therein.” Beseeches the Queen “to behold the situation of the world in this small carta herewithal presented truly though grossly made according to my skill.” The doings of Sir John Barkley, Sir Wm. Morgan, with the Dutchmen, their workmen have been the means of this secret being discovered, utterly without his knowledge, although he understands by Baptista's letter inclosed that the blame is laid upon him. Has truly set down all his proceedings in this matter. Requests Baptista's writings may be returned to him.
[Eight pages. DOMESTIC, Eliz., Vol. CXII., No. 25. Cal., p. 543. Incloses,
34. I. Six writings from John Baptista Agnello to Michael Lok, alluded to in the above, dated in January and February, 1577. [Italian. Fastened on one sheet. Ibid.]
34. II. The contract above referred to between Michael Lok, an English merchant, and John Baptista Agnello, a Venetian, resident in London. Signed by Lok, Agnello, and Sir John Barkley. 19th March, 1577. [Italian and English. Two pages. Ibid.]
34. III. Agnello to Lok. Report that the blame is laid upon Lok as author of the speech that is abroad which has divulged the secret of the richness of the ore. 4th April, 1577. [Italian. Three quarters of a page. Ibid.]
35. [Lok] to [the Queen]. Copy of the first seven lines of the above. [One page. Mutilated by fire. Brit. Mus., Otho, VIII., fol. 45b.]
April. 36. Names of “the prisoners who Mr. Frobisher hath out of certain prisons to go with him to Cathay, and their offences.” John Bromley, Jas. Bowyer, Thos. Randoll alias Reynoldes, John Smythe, Rich. Skyll, Thos. Welder, Christ Robinson, John Robertes alias Beggar, Jerome Dudley, Geo. Mayner, and Rich. Ramberte; mostly convicted of robbery by the highway. [One page. Indorsed as above, and “April 1577. The names of the convicted prisoners that went with Mr. Furbisher. Bromley went not with him, but remaineth presently in prison.” DOMESTIC, Eliz., Vol. CXII., No 46. Cal. p. 545.]