East Indies
August 1624, 2-10


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'East Indies: August 1624, 2-10', Calendar of State Papers Colonial, East Indies, China and Japan, Volume 4: 1622-1624 (1878), pp. 338-357. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=69781 Date accessed: 24 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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August 1624, 2-10

Aug. 2/12.
The Hague.
535. The States General to King James. His Majesty's signal favours in the maintenance of their State, his care and his Royal Alliance cause them to resent in the liveliest manner his displeasure at a certain process, which the officers of their East India Company have held at Amboyna, to the prejudice both in persons and goods of the Company of his Majesty's kingdom, for which he has demanded prompt reparation or justification. Desiring to take away all suspicion of carelessness of duty, and of respect towards his Majesty in a matter which touches him so nearly, they have postponed all other deliberations, and have had brought before them all the acts and informations sent from the Indies to their Company (copies of which are sent to his Majesty), with a firm determination not to abandon the inquiry until it shall clearly appear if the wrong be on their side, when those who have committed excess "against our good intentions," shall be severely punished. But as by these papers they cannot clear up the points which the English Company complain of the most, they pray that his Majesty will assist them in obtaining information from those inhabiting or bordering on Amboyna, by means of his subjects of the Council of Defence. If his Majesty know of any other shorter and surer means to advance the satisfaction he demands, they will do all that can be desired by so good a judge. [French. Three pages. Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 3–4.536. Court Minutes of the East India Company. Five pounds of the wages due to James Haggett, late servant to Capt. Bennett, deceased, to be paid to Haggett's mother as the free gift of Bickford. The Court perceiving that sundry persons have raised monies out of private trade, it is ordered that in the next letters to the Indies directions be given for a strict examination how these persons come to be possessed of such great sums. Concerning the double warrant to Sir Thos. Smythe and Sir Wm. Russell. The motion put forward at a former Court for collecting from seafaring men in the Company's service voluntary contributions towards a school to be erected in Virginia, was reconsidered, and it was thought if such a collection were made towards a hospital to be erected for the aged and impotent in the Company's service, it would be both a benefit and a grace to the Company; and if anything can be collected from men that die abroad, the same to be reserved for Virginia. Henry Garroway's offer of 3s. 4d. per lb. for flat indigo to be trans ported for the Straits to be accepted if he will take 300 barrels. Charles Snelling named as an arbitrator on behalf of Capt. Greene. Gratifications of 100 nobles each given to Munden, master of the Exchange, and Capt. Adams, of the Elizabeth.
Aug. 4.—Complaint of bad beer; ordered that in future no beer be bought of any Dutchman for the Company's use. Concerning the estates of men paid to the Company in the Indies: ordered that lists be sent home of what is received and brought to account. Mr. Lanman delivered into the poor box 20l. of the estate of Edward Grant, purser of the Exchange and Elizabeth, for so much falsely exacted from the men of those two ships in Lanman's name. Committee appointed to settle a complaint from the officers of the Custom House, who are not satisfied with the fees they have from the Company for goods exported. Petition of Ralph Moore, showing that he served in the Bull, and was commanded to lie in her boat by night to free her from water, that the hawser which fastened the boat was broken by the violence of a storm, and that with extreme difficulty he saved his life by cutting his clothes to make a sail; that he drifted upon a strange coast where he was taken and kept a slave by the country people for 30 months, when he was ransomed for 100 marks by the English, which ransom swallowed up all his wages, all which Munden doth know to be true; prays for the Company's benevolence. He was answered, that the ransom was more than was due for his wages, notwithstanding Munden is to be warned to the next Court, when the Company will signify their further pleasure therein. [Seven pages and a half. Court Minute Book, VII., pp. 49–56.]
Aug. 5.
537. Barlow to Carleton. Boreel is returned and this afternoon means to be at their next meeting. Has received a pamphlet without name, entitled "The true relation of the conspiracy in Amboyna," wherein the libeller would insinuate to the States the upright carriage of the business, and the foulness of the fact in ours. Conceives it to be the work of Boreel, for with him the States are come to town, and the Bewinthebbers disperse the pamphlets among their friends. Hopes the States will not foster any such libels, that are ashamed of their author. Intends to send this pamphlet to-morrow, for London; incloses one to Carleton herewith. This night the press hath gone liberally, for he finds now quantities, and holds they will be cried abroad "Wat wonder watt news vande grote Verrade bij den Engelse in Amboyna." [Holland Corresp. One page.] Incloses,
537. I. A Pamphlet, printed in Dutch, concerning the conspiracy in the island of Amboyna. Dated 13/23 July 1624:—
A true Declaration of the news that came out of the East Indies with the pinnace called the Hare, which arrived in the Texel in June 1624, concerning a conspiracy discovered in the island of Amboyna, and the punishment following thereupon, according to the course of justice in March 1624, (sic) comprehended in a letter missive.
Printed anno 1624.
Right worshipfull and worthy Sir,
The great outcryes which have been made in England upon the last news which came out of the East Indies about a certain execution which was done in the island of Amboyna in March 1623, because we see the great desire that your Worship hath to keep good correspondence betwixt these two nations, it hath caused me (beyond my own curiosity) to search and enquire after the right and true beginning, proceedings, and issues of these affairs upon which this execution followed. Wherein I persuade myself I have attained good success, by such means as I have used, and by my good acquaintance, so that (at the last), I am come to the clear light of the matter: partly by the letters that have been sent home to the Company here and declared to the States General, as also by a particular examination of the process made against them in Amboyna before their execution, and sent over hither in writing, which at this present hath caused me to write this unto your Worship, that so the truth may be made known concerning this business in all places where your worthiness and respect can or may bring it to pass; that so your Worship and all true willers (of our country) may be no otherwise thought of than we deserve.
The very causes and beginnings through which the Governor and Council established in the name of the United Netherlands in Amboyna came into suspicion that some thing was plotted against that province, did first flow from the great licentiousness of the Ternatanes in Moluque and Amboyna, who, contrary to the contract of Alliance, 1606, made with the High and Mighty Lords, the States attempted (without our consent and knowledge) to make peace with the King of Tedore, as also truce with the Spaniards, (their and our ancient adversaries), by which the said Ternatanes had too much cast off all respect which they, both in regard of our confederacy and manifold assistance, did owe to this State. The Spaniard also was master enough at sea in the Moluque, because the English merchants there in the East Indies were unwilling to furnish us with ships of war toward the common defence, as they were bound to do, according to the treaties 1619, to the number of ten. Through which the voyages to Manilla, coming to cease, the enemy traded there without any interruption, and procured power to send gallies, ships, and pinnaces to the Moluque with great succours of people and provision, and that because against the same (through the default of the English merchants), there were no ships of war kept as there should have been.
The subjects of the King of Ternata begun to commit great insolencies (otherwise than they were wont) against our nation, having outrageously assaulted divers of us divers ways, and also slain some, and we, notwithstanding, could not obtain any punishment upon them. And as one outrage (unpunished) provokes many more through hope of the like impunity or other considerations, so likewise the said Ternatans of Amboyna, dwelling at Loho, Cambello, and those near adjoining places, proceeded further, and have armed themselves at sea and invaded divers islands and places standing under the Netherlands Governor in Amboyna, spoiling them, and killing our subjects, and taking others, and carrying them away for slaves. And, notwithstanding the instant request of the Netherlands Governor, no satisfaction or justice hath followed, but the said Ternatanes are yet gone further, and openly threatened to murder the Dutch merchants, and to spoil and burn the logie or factory which our people have many years there enjoyed, so that our merchants have taken out the Dutch goods to avoid damage. And the Ternatanes at Loho did actually set on fire and ruined the said Netherlands factory. In the Manichells (an island being under the province of Amboyna) they have in like manner, shortly after, burned the Netherlands logie, with the loss of all the goods therein. The Netherlands Governor, that by his presence and authority, he might cause such rebellions to cease, and to give order for time to come and also to seek satisfaction and punishment upon the foresaid insolencies, went towards Loho with a small power of sloops, and coming thereabout was met (otherwise than was wont) by a navy of sloops of the Ternatanes of Loho, stronger than his were. These (by their conference) gave him well to know how little reverence they gave the Dutch Governor; they braved him, without hope of restitution of anything to come, so that (nothing done) he was fain to return to his castle of Amboyna. By reason of these things, the said Ternatanes became so stout and daring that they gave out openly that they would come and spoil our subjects by a general army with above a 100 frigates; with these they said they would come against Amboyna, to make a universal spoil of our people. Through which there came a great fear upon the Indians standing under the subjection of the High and Mighty Lords the States, as also over the Netherlanders.
In the islands lying far eastward of Banda, it was also said and the news went currently there, that the Hollanders were sure enough quit of the castle of Amboyna. And at that time there were divers secret correspondencies between the Indians and others which gave us great suspicion. By this means the Netherlands Governor and Council of Amboyna were moved to have special regard and look narrowly unto all things, seeing that it might be thence clearly gathered that something might be plotted against the State in Amboyna, and that the Indians (of themselves) durst not offer to undertake any such great design without some great help of some of Europe either of Spaniards, Portugals, or some others, and also they understood that they of Loho, Cambello, &c., had great secret correspondence with the English merchants. When things were in such a state in Amboyna there came forth and was wonderfully discovered in February 1623 a horrible conspiracy against the castle and person of the Dutch Governor and the whole state of Amboyna. And first by the apprehension of a certain Japonian (a complice of the feat) who at an unreasonable time was often seen upon the wall of the castle where he also over curiously enquired of the most unskilful and silliest soldiers touching the setting and change of the watch and what number of people might be in the castle, and many other things. Whereupon in the very act the said Japonian was apprehended, and being examined of many circumstances, he confessed, that the Japonian soldiers under our service had decreed to make themselves masters of the castle, and that they should have set upon this by the help of the English who had solicited them unto it, and that he with all the other Japonians in the English house oftentimes within three months before going had conferred with the English (whom he there named by their names) touching the manner whereby they should bring this treachery to pass. Hereupon it came to pass that all the Japonian soldiers which were in our service were disarmed and imprisoned, and by examination of them all it appeared plainly by an orderly and joint confession that all the said Japonians upon the entreaty of Gabriel Towerson and other English merchants and officers agreed to assist the said English to betray the castle and to give it over into the English power, and that Gabriel Towerson and Abel Price (an English surgeon), and other English, dealt often with them (whom he named by their names) of the way and means how they should work it, the said Abel Price being before imprisoned for a foul and execrable fact and yet remaining in durance.
And although it appeared sufficiently to the Governor and Council of Amboyna, out of the confessions of the Japonians, what the said Gabriel Towerson with his merchants and other complices had before resolved to do, and that the Council had sufficient information to imprison them all, yet the General Council would not precipitate but commanded the said Abel Price (who was in prison) to come before the Council, and (after the places, persons, and time nominated to him, where and when he had dealt with the Japonians and other English about the said treachery) it was also from him well understood how he (in the name and by the command of Gabriel Towerson) and another Japonian (who was then also in prison) had persuaded all the Japonians to consent to this villany, and that consequently the said Towerson as the first author and all the other English merchants (being the Foreign Cantore of the province of Amboyna) had also knowledge of the said treachery.
Upon this full uniform examination and confession of 12 persons as well of the 11 Japonians as one English, is the said Gabriel Towerson called to the Council, and there appearing the said Towerson called together all his people unto the castle upon the request of the General Council, who were there taken and imprisoned except the said Gabriel Towerson himself, to whom (upon his request) and in regard of his quality, being chief merchant in Amboyna, in the name of the English Company, his own house was allotted him for his safe keeping and forthcoming. And the said prisoners were all lawfully and orderly examined, and it appeared by them jointly according to their own confession (every one having underwritten it with his own hand) as followeth:
Gabriel Towerson about New Year's Day 1623, having with him almost all the English merchants of the Foreign Cantore in Amboyna, he assembled them in his chamber and propounded to them that he had something of great moment to impart unto them (which he alone could not effect) under the fidelity of an oath to be taken before, for the keeping secret thereof and being trusty therein, saying it is necessary so to be, for if the thing should come abroad which I shall make known unto you, it will cost all our lives. Whereupon the Holy Gospel was produced, upon which every one who was present did swear secrecy and fidelity as was required. Then Towerson (after a preface) opened to the conspirators how he had a way and means to make himself master of the castle of Amboyna; and whereas some present made it difficult to do, being too weak for it, the said Towerson answered that he had already won to his purpose the Japonian soldiers who were in the castle, and that they should execute his purpose when the Dutch who were in the castle were in their greatest weakness and worst provided, or (unawares) when the Governor should be absent about some exploit, and that they should wait till some English ships or ship were in Amboyna, whose people he might employ in this attempt, as also when all other the English merchants and slaves of the Foreign Cantore in Amboyna should be sent for to the castle. And said further that he knew how to get men enough, and they should leave this to his care, and themselves do their best, and that they of Loho should also come to help him with certain curricurries, &c., upon which inducements all that were present swore to assist Towerson herein. And concerning the manner of execution the said Towerson had prescribed to the Japonians which were in the castle that they should send to every point of the bullwarks two men, and the rest in the court attend the Governor and to murder him, and that at the sign which should be given by the English they should make themselves masters of every point of the bullwark and kill all who should resist and imprison the rest, and further should take and divide between themselves and the Japonians the goods of the Dutch East India Company, except a 1,000 ryals of eight, which every Japonian should have before, and that they should kill the citizens who would not consent with them, and do them all the mischief they could. And touching the time, he had not yet certainly set it, but that there should suddenly be another assembly of the conspirators, when Gabriel Towerson would give order for all things and give a sign to the Japonians, whereupon when they showed it they should begin the work within.
The said Gabriel Towerson being asked in particular what moved him to such a wicked fact, he answered the desire of honor and profit. Being further demanded who should enjoy that honor and profit, and for whom he would have taken the castle, he answered that if he did obtain his desire he should presently have advertized those of his nation being in Batavia, and called for their help, who if they had sent him succour he would have kept the castle for his own Company (viz., for the English East India Company), and if not, he would have held it for himself and have endeavoured a peace with the Indians, that so by the one means or the other he might attain his purpose.
After the examination of Towerson was ended, the Dutch Governor in Amboyna upbraided Towerson of his cruel intent, and asked if this should have been the recompense of the manifold honors and kindnesses he had done uuto him. Whereto Towerson answered, with a deep sigh, Oh! if it were to be begun, it should not be done. This voluntary confession and penitent acknowledgement with much sorrow was made the 9 of March, being the day when the execution should have been done; but the examination of Towerson was ended the 18 of February, so many days before.
This is the substance of the confessions of 10 Japonians, of 14 English, and of a Netherlandish Merinho or captain of the slaves, who all confirmed these their confessions with their own hands.
What crime this intended prodition was, is hence very manifest and undoubted; what punishment is due to treachery, according to the law and customs of all nations, is also well known; no true Christian man will patronize any such horrible attempt, but will adjudge it worthy of death, as it was determined upon the complices of this conspiracy, according to order of justice, as there in Amboyna it is exercised (according to desert) by the Governor and Council in the name of the High and Mighty Lords the States.
Here you have (Sir) the very substance of the truth, both of the fact and punishment, other than which many things are spread abroad in England, but upon what pretence or intendment I know not; let the matter itself speak for itself.
The first point which is objected against this justice done in Amboyna is concerning the proceedings which are said to be holden without formality and with extremity against these conspirators. Your Worship (and each reasonable man) knoweth that every land hath their laws and ordinances and their particular manner of proceeding, as well in civil as in criminal causes. England hath hers. France, Spain, Dutchland, Netherland, and all other kingdoms and governments have also theirs, which are just and lawful to every one in their dominion; so that when any man will judge of the equity or injustice of a proceeding used in any land, he mnst examine the same according to the laws and customs of that kingdom or dominion where the justice and proceedings were holden. These proceedings were holden by the Netherlandish Governor in the name of the illustrious Lords the States, having supreme power many years since in the isles of Amboyna, which were conquered (in the name of the said Lords the States) from the Spaniards or Portugals, who held that castle in the name of the King of Spain, our hereditary enemy. Therefore they are now possessed in the name of the Lords the States, and are under their dominion by a just and lawful title of war, according to the law of nations. There (among other things) justice is administered according to the laws of the Netherlands, in that manner as was used in the proceedings against these conspirators. I know that the laws of England are divers from ours in criminal cases, yea and from all the nations in Europe; howbeit therefore no man hath any ground of reason to say that the proceedings of the English judges (holden in England) against delinquents are not legitimate, though the said English proceedings do vary in the manner from the proceedings of France, Spain, &c., where other customs are; for that is lawful which agreeth with the laws of that land where the fact is committed. Now, then, the Japonian soldiers being in the service of the Netherlands Company in Amboyna, are discovered to have conspired against the castle and the govern ment there, under whose oath and pay they were; they were apprehended and examined and convicted of the said conspiracy. This proceeding is lawful and toucheth no man, because the said Japonians know no other master than the Netherlanders, under whose oath, service, and pay they stand. All these Japonian conspirators, with the said Merinho, a captain of the Netherlands slaves, confessed with one mouth that they were moved and induced to this conspiracy by the English merchants resident in Amboyna, whose names they named. Now not only the right of Netherland, but of England and of the whole world requireth that the authors, abettors, and complices of murder and treason should be punished with death, whereto according to the common laws, as also the particular laws of every kingdom or dominion, the suspected persons first and before all should be imprisoned, not only for preventing the effect of their evil purpose, but that they might also receive their deserved punishment; which appre hensions could not (in that place) be done by any other man than by the command of the Netherlands Governor, to whom it belongeth to take care to see every act concerning supreme power to be there observed, and specially (all other reasons ceasing) the highest English officers there could not apprehend these English conspirators, because all the chief of the English merchants in Amboyna were themselves of the conspiracy and complices of the fact upon which the apprehension was made. Therefore the apprehension of the English compliccs must be done by the Dutch Governor, who therefore hath therein proceeded according to the custom of all nations of the world. And that these apprehensions may be holden more lawful, it appeareth out of the written process that the said English complices were not imprisoned upon the first suspicions and gross evidences which were had against them, but then at last, when all the Japonian soldiers were taken, examined, and convicted, and had discovered by the uniform confession of all the 11, the names and surnames of such English as had persuaded and hired them to this fact, of which English, one (viz., Abel Price, barber) was before apprehended as an incendiary for burning and violence done upon other houses, who also was first examined and first confessed (as the other 11 Japonians) that he (by name Gabriel Towerson) and other English merchants (whom he named by their names) had suborned the said Japonian soldiers, and that all the English merchants in the Foreign Cantores in Amboyna had knowledge of this conspiracy, &c. So that it may be seen out of that which went before that the Dutch Governor dealt no otherwise in the apprehension and examination of the English than according to his place and power, and that with great discretion, according to the laws of these United Provinces.
The second point, which is abusively dispersed in England against this execution, is that it is said that it did not appertain to the Netherlanders in Amboyna to imprison the said English, and to proceed against them or to punish them, but that it did belong to the Council of Defence resident at Jacatra, consisting half of English and half of Netherlands, according to the treaty of the year 1619, made between his Majesty and the Lords the States, between the two East India Companies. That I might the better inform myself thereof, I took in hand and perused the general treaty of 1619, with the explication following thereupon, but I profess that (as I think) every understanding man (not loving discord) must confess, that neither in the said treaty nor in the enlargement any one article or word could be perceived whereby (according to that which is untruly said in England) either this or any such thing is ordained or decided by the said treaty, as it ought to have clearly been in so great and important a point as this part of jurisdiction is. I appeal to all wise men, who I desire may judge of this, whether this speech of some in England (to wit, that the said Council of Defence should (alone) have judged these conspirators) be agreeable to the said treaty or contrary to the same. I find many arguments for my negative opinion,—to wit, that before the treaty of 1619 the Dutch in Amboyna administered jurisdiction and judicature upon all and every one who dwelt in or under the jurisdiction of the Castle, as well inhabitants as strangers without difference, and that in this said treaty the Dutch with the English merchants made only a league in the matter of commerce and negotiation of nutmegs, mace, cloves, and pepper in some quarters, without having any further treaty or communication in the land, by the right and possession which either Company enjoyed and exercised severally, according as the same appeareth out of the 23rd Article of the treaty, wherein it is expressly said, That castles and forts shall remain in their hands who at present do possess them. And out of the 13th, 14th, 15th Articles of the treaty, all may see that this common Council of Defence hath no more power, save only over the fellowship of the treaty, that is, over the Navy of Defence in the sea to the defence of the common merchandize and liberty of commerce, and lastly to tax the charges for the provision of munition in the forts; neither can any other thing be sincerely collected out of the said treaty so far as I can conceive. Therefore this second point is found to be untrue and abusive, being not founded upon the said treaty, which treaty (notwithstanding) ought to be the only rule both of the one and the other Company.
Finally, it is given out in England that in the examination of the conspirators there was excess in the Netherlands judges in the point of torture. I acknowledge that no argument or pretext against the justice of this execution hath more moved me in the beginning than this pretence of excess aforesaid, because this stirreth Christian compassion, although I also judge that wise men will not suffer themselves to be too much transported thereby, because the true reasons do fully appear, which should move us thereunto. For I well remember yet that in the time of former mistakings in the Indies, many things were pretended on both parts upon which there were greater outcries on either side, which yet by due examination were found to be (though fair, yet) false pretexts of some ill-willers and men desirous to wrangle, which pretences being thoroughly sifted by the high and much admired wisdom of his Majesty and the Lords the States, were well discovered to be no such matters as they were made, as it is also undoubtedly to be believed that his Majesty and the States will yet further do in this affair; and so the cause of the Dutch Company may be (in the carriage hereof) rightly justified, of which I understand that the Lords the States have special regard, and that they have been thoroughly informed what is the very truth of the things there past and of the execution in Amboyna upon the English conspirators; unto which end the Lords the States resolved to see and peruse all the letters and papers touching the said proceedings. And now thereupon men speak far otherwise than heretofore, for pretences and cavils being once detected) cannot stand with truth. And it doth plainly appear that there is little truth in the matter of torture reported to be most cruelly inflicted upon these English conspirators, as in England it is said. And I have ever suspected this for a slander, for I know the Dutch nation doth naturally abhor this kind of cruelty, and are as much moved to commiseration as any other people. But whether these evil-minded men, who have scattered this great slander in England, and have so foully defaced a just cause, have done it by occasion of our use of tortures in these lands in some weighty causes, according to the custom of the most dominions in Europe, I cannot judge. But is that to be censured and judged to be unjust of the whole world which is repugnant to the laws of England (or any one nation) where torture is rarely used? Nothing so, but the justice or injustice of a cause must be as aforesaid determined according to the laws where it is done and not of other lands. If this were not so, why then should not the whole world much more judge that as a hard and a thing unheard (and therefore condemnable) which in some cases is used in England, according to the laws there when they proceed against some guilty person, who being once and again asked of the judge, and utterly refusing to be legally tried, is adjudged as dumb, that is by contumacy, whose condemnation then accordingly followeth. That he is laid upon a table or plank, and another plank upon him, and so much weight of stone or lead laid upon him that his body is miserably bruized, and so pressed violently to death. The which, according to the confession of all nations (especially because this kind of justice is not used in other lands), and by the English writers, is judged to be one of the most sharp and severe kinds of death that can be invented; yet cannot such an execution be called cruel and unlawful when it is done in England, because it is done according to the laws of that land, though strangers shall judge otherwise of it. And in like manner the English nation cannot complain of the torture which evil-willers say was used upon these English conspirators in Amboyna, because it was done according to the laws of this Government, and is not unusual in cases of treason neither with us nor (almost) any nation in Europe. And for England itself, it is well known (and his most excellent Majesty doth acknowledge by his own princely pen) that the rack and the manicles are the only tortures that are exercised upon traitors to force them to confess (without concealment) what they know to be dangerous to the State.
And to say the truth, without taking parts, the English conspirators being affronted with the uniform and written confessions of the 11 Japonians (their complices), which could convince them sufficiently according to the laws, and find them guilty of the same conspiracy, and consequently of death; if now, notwithstanding this, they had persisted in the stout denial of the fact, were not this (to speak according to the manner of England) enough to judge them dumb by contumacy, and so to esteem them worthy of this sore punishment of pressing to death as is aforesaid ? But this torture of ours (if any in Amboyna were so tortured) is to be judged far less than that pressing where the malefactor doth suffer such extreme misery as cannot be imagined, and which is not to be lenified or eased at all, but ended by death. But to the sufficient satisfaction of myself and your Worship, and all men, and not to speak according to the sentence and conscience of others, I have used all diligence to get into my hands the written process concerning the conspirators in Amboyna, which I obtained authentically and read carefully, and I find that all that is by me abovesaid is confirmed, to wit, That the Japonian complices were examined and made their confession as aforesaid for three days, viz., the 23, 24, 25 of February 1623, and that all this being done and consummated before, then at last is Gabriel Towerson first, with the rest of the English complices imprisoned the said 25 of February, when their examination and confession began and continued divers days without overhasting till the 3 of March. And the said examinations and confessions being so finished, the Netherlands Governor and Council deliberated whether the punishment might be deferred to any long time or referred to any other place, but it was so concluded by joint consent of all, that the said punishment (there deserved) must be executed in the same place, for example, and that it could not (in any wise) be delayed without extreme danger, for reasons there related; and among others because the Ternatanes and Indians about Amboyna had otherwise than they were wont rebelled; neither could it be fully known what great confederacy these conspirators hade made with them and others. And touching any extraordinary and cruel torture, I have accurately overlooked every one's confession, but I find not one word in any one which maketh any mention of such torture as is unjustly spoken of in England, nay, scarce find any mention of that ordinary torture, which is in use, save only these words in one Act of the 27 Feb. 1623, viz.: The Council being gathered together have thought meet that all the English should be presently examined one after another (as accordingly it was instantly done), and some of them before any torture, others after a little (or rather a touch) of it, confessed as followeth. Unto which followeth presently the particular confession of each one, subscribed with his own hand, as aforesaid. So that hence it is manifest that no extraordinary torture was used, in such manner as is given out there by those that wish us evil, nay, that those few that felt any were only touched (not punished) with ordinary torture.
And thus your Worship hath the upright and impartial truth of this business, touching the whole passage as it proceeded, and the punishment as it was inflicted, from which some English were exempted by favor, that the English goods should not be lost, according as order hath been given to that end. And I find that the sentence was given the 9 of March 1623, by a competent assembly of 14 judges, who (as it appeareth in the sentence) in the doing thereof did (before) earnestly call upon the name of the Lord that He would be pleased to be President and Predominant in every one of their hearts in this their sorrowful assembly, and that He would inspire them only with that which might be judged to be expedient and just, &c. So that out of all that is above said, nothing else can appear, but that this business was managed lawfully and orderly by men of honesty and conscience against such as had undertaken against the State, against the wealth and advantage of the East India Company, the lives of their officers there placed, against the estate and welfare of many who had little deserved and as little expected such wickedness from their friendly confederates in the same society of merchants there resident with them.
And now (considering the premises), I hope it shall be far from every Christian in any wise to protect or excuse this wicked fact, but rather to mourn and grieve (as wee do) for this conspiracy, and for the evil the conspirators have so deservedly drawn upon their own heads; and do honor them who in justice have punished villany according to the due merit thereof; for we all know that without justice, without reward of that which is good, and punishment of that which is evil, no society of mankind can consist.
And of this information (which I send in love and honor to your Worship as unto a lover of truth and a hater of treachery), you may make such use as to you shall seem good, in any place where you come, both for refutation of anything already reported contrary thereunto, and for prevention of any further false rumours or clamors; and finally for propagation of that undoubted truth, which here (to my best) I have endeavoured to discover. And if you shall meet with anything of worth which can be truly avowed to be contradictory unto anything I have written I desire to understand it from you, and you to suspend your wise and impartial judgment till I have cleared it unto you. Truth remaineth ever the same. So I commend you to the God of truth, desiring him to give us minds not to judge according to outward appearance, but to judge with a righteous judgment. From the Hague, July 23, 1624.
[Dutch printed pamphlet. Eighteen pages. Holland Corresp.]
[This translation is taken from a printed copy in the British Museum, 802 K. 1, with the following addition to the title page: "and sent from a friend in the Low Countries to a friend of note in England for information of him in the truth of those pasages."]
Aug. 6.
538. Barlow to Carleton. Was yesterday at the East India House to get the Bewinthebbers' answer concerning the 23,906 ryals which they confess to be due. Account of what took place. They all denied and protested they were ignorant of the [author of the Amboyna] pamphlet. "I told them that could not be, for the party that wrote it, whomsoever he were, must have all his light from them, which they denied and said it might be that some of the States' clerks had done it, they having all their originals out of the Indies. That, I told them, was unlikely that any would do it, but must be encouraged by them. For my part, I said, by the style I could read the man's name that did it, Burrell (Boreel) being present, whom I do make full account is the author, for there were divers of them looked at him when I spake it." [One page. Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 6.539. Court Minutes of the East India Company. The general letter from Surat dated 9th January 1623 was read, also copy of the capitulations agreed upon and ratified between the new Governor of Guzerat and the English for the better accommodation of trade for the future, and a letter from the factors in Persia dated 30th October 1622. Petition of Henry Bate, renewing his old demand for 303 ryals disbursed by him; agreed that Sir Henry Marten shall hear and end the same. Choice of arbitrators for Capt. Greene, and for the Company. Mr. Governor reported that himself and others the day before attended the Lords and delivered the Company's reply to the King's answer of the propositions, whereupon much argument passed between them and the Lords; resolved to send their answer to the King, with their opinions thereon. It was agreed that the Persian's letter be delivered to the King when he comes to Windsor, because the Company's letters from Persia are not yet come to hand. The providing of coral was then taken into consideration, and the Court took knowledge that 156 chests were sold at Surat for 34,000l. which produced great benefit to the Company, and they have resolved to send some to the Coast; ordered that Mr. Munnes write to Signor Guadagni to provide 40 or 50 chests more. Concerning the appointment of officers for the pinnace Swallow; John Kingston is appointed purser and steward, and Humphrey Pym master, at 5l. per month. Offer of Mr. Symmonds to sell a parcel of ryals refused, it being the Company's purpose not to engage themselves further in debt. Examination of Capt. Welden concerning a diamond ring having been given to him by Van Speult, Governor of Amboyna, the 24th June 1623; he said it was for a debt due from Capt. Towerson; also concerning some diamonds given him the day following, and as to his drinking a health at Macassar to the Governor of Amboyna, which he could not deny but excused, saying the Dutch shipper urged him thereto; he utterly denied to have received treasure from the King of Booton to deliver rice for which the Company are like to answer. [Three pages and a half. Court Minute Book, VII., pp. 57–60.]
1624?540. Some brief notes concerning the strength and wealth which the East India trade doth bring to this kingdom. "As to the strength, the trade will maintain 10,000 tons of shipping, and employ 2,500 mariners and as many artizans. As to the wealth, it supplies our wants with commodities from the East Indies for a quarter of the price hereto paid in Turkey and Lisbon; pepper alone to the value of 200,000l. was imported into England last year, nine tenths of which is already exported; it will bring 50,000l. yearly into the King's customs. The losses would be much greater than the gains. Evil effects of the Dutch extortions, wrongs, and cruel murders in the Moluccas, Banda, and Amboyna; cloves, heretofore sold by the English from thence for four or five shillings a pound, are now sold by the Dutch at twelve shillings, although they cost but ten pence. Design of the Dutch to make themselves absolute masters of the trade in the East Indies even now that they are treating with the King's Ambassador at the Hague about accommodation of former wrongs and settling a reglement for the future. The Dutch will never give any satisfaction for wrongs or do justice for the murder at Amboyna; their ships passing in the Narrow Seas should be seized. [Two pages. East Indies, Vol. III., No. 25.]
Aug.?541. The East India Company to the Privy Council. In reply to the King's answer to their propositions. First there are many important difficulties in the way of accepting the King's offer to be an adventurer with the Company and to have their ships sail under his royal standard. Secondly, although the King has given them liberty to erect forts to be kept in his Majesty's name, yet the Company have no assurance that the Dutch in the Indies will be commanded not to oppose or hinder "this great work," without which the Company have not sufficient power to effect it. Thirdly, though his Majesty has given no answer concerning their separation from the Dutch, they do with one consent agree that the Company cannot any longer continue the trade under the contract of 1619, but they are confident the Company will proceed with cheerfulness, and hope to increase the trade if they may perform it freely and without hindrance by the Dutch where at present they have no such possession upon which to ground a pretended sovereignty. Have thought it their duty to advise them that it is vehemently suspected that satisfaction for the cruelties at Amboyna may be denied or delayed with devices and cunning promises; the Company therefore request the King, according to his promise, to make stay of a Dutch ship which has arrived at Plymouth laden with calicoes and indigo, of the value of about 60,000l. sterling, and also of four other ships laden with spices which are daily expected from Jacatra, in which (as they are informed) are some of the principal actors in the bloody execution at Amboyna. So that until something be acted upon "by these occasions" the Company will remain discouraged, and continue in their resolution to bring in no more money for maintenance of the trade, but rather to send away the pinnace, already prepared to call home their servants, ships, and the remainder of their stock. Endorsed, "The reply of the East India Company to his Majty's answer." [One page. East Indies, Vol. III., No. 26.]
Aug. ?542. The reply of the East India Company to the King's answer. This is a French translation of the preceding, except the first clause about the King's offer to be an adventurer with the Company, which is omitted altogether. [French. One page. East Indies, Vol. III., No. 27.]
Aug. 7.
543. Minutes of proceedings of the Privy Council. The East India Company presented their answer in writing [see ante No. 541] which, not being found satisfactory, they explained what they most desired for their encouragement; that they were resolved to trade no longer under the treaty with the Dutch, and desired the King would declare the treaty void; that they have liberty to erect forts in all places in the Indies where the Dutch have no such possession; that the King will right the Company and repay their losses upon the Dutch trading through the Narrow Seas; and that stay be made of a Dutch ship newly arrived at Plymouth from the Indies, of the value of 60,000l., and provision made for the stay of four other Dutch ships which were about to arrive. To this last demand it is urged that the King having given the States a day yet to come by which to return a satisfactory answer to the Company's late complaints, it would be unfit to stay any of their ships before then. The Company did rather wave than lay hold of the King's "princely offer to encourage and grace this trade by becoming an adventurer amongst them;" and were dismissed with encouragement to go on cheerfully with their trade, and with assurances of the King's resolution to provide for the future safety of their persons and goods, and to repair the deep injuries they had suffered. [Domestic Corresp., Jac. I., Vol. CLXXXII., No. 62, Cal., p. 563.]
Aug. 7.544. Morris Abbott to Carleton. The Company, howsoever their intentions are as yet no further to prosecute the trade, give Carleton their best thanks for his "resolute persevering to unmask this their pretended gloss of treason, devised only for the spilling so much innocent blood, to work their ends thereby;" but in not acquainting the States with the Company's intentions to leave that trade, he has, in their opinion, done very well, until he receive directions from his Majesty. Agrees in opinion with Carleton that this stratagem, "although not in the particularity" was otherwise hatched in Amsterdam, for it were impossible that their people in the Indies, should dare to take unto themselves such boldness, in this and many other things, had they not power and encouragement from their superiors. The Company have not sought to print the narration [see ante No. 499 I. enclosure], but have dispersed many written copies, which begin to be much asked after especially by the knights and burgesses of Parliament. For their own parts it will not give the Company any content to have the act disavowed and promise of the execution of the parties, without they may have caution deposited for the performance, for that would be but to mock the world until time may have put it out of remembrance, their own people in Amboyna, especially Tunis Johnson, to whom the bill of debt was made by Towerson, in private confessing that it was a mere trick put upon the English to drive them out of the country. Neither are these proceedings (save only for the torture and blood which make a greater cry) worse than the best they show the English, using them rather like slaves than men, as by a journal this day given Abbott, being a particularity of Banda only; in all other places pulling down the Company's houses, taking away their goods violently and watching all their actions to spy where they may take advantage to ruin the English, so that it shall not stand with the conscience of a Christian to expose factors knowingly to such danger of their lives. Carleton's motion for an accommodation, with "three good cautions, would not be misliked if there were any hope to have them performed, but a lawless nation is hardly to be bounded by laws. Meantime the King being in progress, the Company hear of nothing but encouragements for them to go forward with the trade, which they constantly refuse to yield unto, until they may see some action either from the States or the King. Let the Company's action in the Indies speak for them whether they may be judged friends to the Spaniards or no, and let their moderation plead for them against the Hollanders, having now this eight months sought redress by Mr. Misselden and Mr. Barlow, without acquainting their own state therewith, that by their means no difference might arise between the two States; but all prevaileth not, and therefore they will now leave the two States to tug together, and accordingly shall dispose of themselves. Tunis Johnson is determined to come home next year, and therefore knows not whether it be fitting his name should be known. Sends herewith the King's answer to their desires, and their reply [see ante Nos. 511, 541], which the Lords have sent down to his Majesty after long debate with the Company, wherein the Lords much insisted upon Carleton's proposition of accommodation rather than rupture. A Dutch ship, now arrived from Surat in company of one of ours, hath been much relieved at the Cape by our shipping, her people having mutinied. [One page and three quarters. Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 7.545. Christopher Clitherow, Deputy Governor (of the East India Company), Alderman James Cambell, William Stone, Robert Bateman, and Anthony Abdi, Committees of the East India Company, to Carleton. Since sealing up the enclosed [? the preceding letter] they have received a letter from the mayors in justification of their people's fact at Amboyna, and therein desire the Company patience, good construction, &c. Barlow advises them to send Carleton the relation of the whipping of one of their men at Jacatra, which they send herewith accordingly. Perceive the mayors have printed the book of their people's proceedings in Amboyna, for some are sent to England, but so newly come to our hands as yet not perused. For their parts, they have forborne to publish anything in print. [Three quarters of a page. Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 7.
546. Chamberlain to Carleton. Our East Indian merchants were somewhat revived last week by the arrival of the Dolphin, a ship of good burthen, laden with silks, indigo, calicoes, and other commodities. Seizure of the St. George at Naples. The Dunkirkers rifle our ships at sea as familiarly as if open war were proclaimed, while we protect theirs in the Downs. [Extract from Domestic Jac. I., Vol. CLXXI., No. 25, Cal., p. 323.]
Aug. 7.
The Hague.
547. Carleton to Sec. Conway. The sudden departure of this bearer, Mr. Cunningham, will not give him time to relate what has passed between himself and the States, since his last of July 28, in the East Indian business, but as he does not fail in a business of so great importance of his duty here with the States in remonstrance, he will within a day or two acquit himself towards his Majesty in advertisement. [Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 7/17.548. Proposition of Sir Dudley Carleton, Ambassador from the King of Great Britain, made in the Assembly of the States General. Since the time is gliding away, and the day approaches for which the King has waited for the declarations of justice and vengeance for the execrable death of his subjects at Amboyna, and Carleton has already treated three times with five of the deputies of the States General; he now complains to them in full assembly, being driven or rather dragged by the hair to do so by a libel, which some enemy to the common good, like the enemy in Holy Writ, has sown through the world like tares. This libel [see No. 537 I.], printed at Amsterdam, though falsely dated from the Hague, is in the form of a manifesto touching the infamous deed of Amboyna, and consists of three parts: the first historic, touching the affairs of the Indies in general; the second narrative, touching the deed of Amboyna in particular; and the third disputative, touching the right of that deed. Describes the first as a relation of the discontents of the people of Ternate, Tidore, and other islands, with which the English have had nothing to do. The second is the narration of the pretended treason against the castle of Amboyna, which is consistent with the fact, but in such general terms that he refers himself for particulars of the questions, confessions upon the gehenne [rack], recantations, and protestations of innocence of the English inhumanly tortured and massacred, to a relation which he has himself presented to them, confirmed by six witnesses who were present and suffered the same cruelties (death excepted). Will observe one point, which is most important for understanding the truth of the matter; it is inserted in this libel touching the confession of the first Englishman, Abel Price, a prisoner for another offence, in the same terms (verbatim) as in the relation which their deputies gave to Carleton, the confession of which man, on the interrogatories here mentioned, being the only cord which served the Governor of Amboyna and his associates for dragging all the other English to ruin. Arguments on the third part of this libel, which treats of the right of the fact, as to the practice of nations and what the law requires. The forced confessions of the Japanese (for nothing was voluntary) were only remarkable for search and inquisition into the fact, so as to have more pretext for dragging the English to torture; they commence with this Abel Price, proceed with bar barous and frightful tortures, and end by a bloody execution of one half of all the English trading in those islands. Endeavour of the libeller to render this affair less execrable by the example of like proceedings in those provinces. But suppose the English in their discontent had spoken of their deliverance by a surprise of the castle of Amboyna, ought they to have been tormented and put to death for vain language impossible of execution ? The treaty of 1619 obliges them by the 30th article to send such disputes to the Council of Defence without proceeding against one another, and if any disputes cannot be terminated by this Council, they must be remitted into England. The libeller proceeds to draw a parallel between the tortures of Amboyna and the punishment called "pressing" in England, which he explains in terms full of atrocity and cruelty, but more full of falsity and malice. To all appearance he who so boldly publishes the defence of such a cause has had a hand in the ordering of the proceedings. For to suppose that the English would have been guilty of such a treason without the knowledge of any of their principals is a folly, and the letters from the English at Batavia, which were intercepted by the Governor at Amboyna, is a sufficient indication of their innocence. It is equally folly to believe that the Governor and his blody council would have proceeded to such an execution without encouragement from elsewhere. Carleton cannot suspect the whole College of Administrators of a deed so abominable, but not to believe that some of them have instigated it would be too much blind good nature or voluntary ignorance, after seeing such a libel, which could come from no other workshop. He demands justice against the author and printer, satisfaction for the outrage done to the King in the persons of his subjects, and declares that the Dutch Ambassadors have heard from his Majesty's own mouth, and that Carleton himself has more than once told their deputies, that in case his Majesty shall not have a firm, clear, and full declaration of the ways and means when and how the States will administer severe and exemplary justice between his crown and this State, and that before the 12th of August current, his Majesty will set himself to do himself justice, to free his honour, and assure his merchants of his powerful protection for the future. These two things must then be considered: a publication against this libel, and a public act by which to assure his Majesty of the certainty of justice. If persuaded to delay, they must remember that they have quite anough from which to ascertain the truth and sufficient time for doing so, and in default of their resolution that it is already taken by the King's Council, and will undoubtedly be put in execution. (See also No. 556). French. [Eight pages. Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 8.
The Hague.
549. Carleton to Sec. Conway. Has had since his despatch of the 28th last many messages from the States to have patience and allow time for translating and "collationing" their papers, copies of which he at length sends herewith. In exchange has delivered to the Deputies translations of "our men's relation" and of the heads of their grievances as presented to the King. They promised to deliberate what course to take for his Majesty's satisfaction, but mean while prayed Carleton to do good offices in mitigating his Majesty's displeasure, to which effect they said they had written a letter to his Majesty. Told them they might well forbear sending a complimental letter until they might substantially satisfy his Majesty, and that this must be done before the 12th of August, or they must expect that his Majesty will apply himself to do himself justice for what is past, and assure his subjects by his powerful protection for the future. They desired Carleton to consider the constitution of this State, which gave no way to celerity of proceeding in cases of such consequence and the distance of place where that justice must be done which is required; and prayed him to make known to the King that they would not fail to do for his Majesty's satisfaction as much as these considerations will suffer. Carleton replied their resolution would now be expected, but the King would allow such time as is necessary, and in conclusion wished them to weigh all the circumstances in favour of the innocency of the English; that there was no imaginable ground of suspition nor any accusation but the confession of one Japanese, who led the way to the rest of that nation, all forced by torture; and that the first Englishman, Abel Price, who was examined, (and whose confession the rest were forced by torture to aver), had the place, persons, and time for treating with said Japanese and the English dictated to him, which was an undue proceeding and merited punishment though the English were guilty, much more they being innocent. The Deputies did not defend their men's action, but parted with a promise to set all other business aside, and take the cause into new consideration; and this they have done, but cannot come to conclusion till they hear again from the Bewinthebbers. Has received from Amsterdam a newly printed pamphlet in Dutch about Amboyna, without name of author or printer, and intends to present to the States General his discourse to them in writing, finding it is but beating the air till they have somewhat before them in paper to resolve upon. [Three pages. Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 8.550. Sir Noel de Caron to Sec. Conway. If his indisposition had permitted, he would have waited on his Majesty in person, for the States have sent a despatch concerning the fact of Amboyna, hoping that his Majesty would receive their answer, as some re paration for the offence he may have received by the report made to his Majesty at Wanstead and elsewhere. As for finishing the matter, it is not possible for them to do more, as may be seen from their letter to his Majesty, which he sends by his man Jacques. The States confide much in Conway to assist and aid them, for they protest that they have nothing more at heart, than to honour and serve his Majesty in everything. [One page. Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 8/18.
The Hague.
551. Carleton to Barlow. Acknowledges his letter of the 6th, which he received yesterday at the very instant he was going to the States to complain of the pamphlet he sent to him, in which are many particularities which could come out of no other forge than the Bewinthebbers' being in the self same words as the informations set down by them, touching that foul fact of Amboyna, which to make it fairer is paralleled in the pamphlet, with pressing to death in England. "And that being a calumniation of the justice of our land (as if that which is ultimum supplicium, after a delinquent is convicted and condemned, were applied like their fire and water to extort confessions whereby to convict and condemn a prisoner)," Carleton made the chief subject of his complaint, desiring to have the pamphlet declared a libel according to their own law, for being without name of printer or author and both printer and author enquired into and punished. The States showed much dislike of the calumniation of the laws of England. Cannot say what course they will take, but is sure the author will have no thanks, because he has thereby given Carleton subject to lay open the whole matter in full assembly of the States, which hitherto hath rested betwixt him and five of their Deputies. The relation received from England was read the day before in the Assembly, and yesterday or to-day is to be sent to the Bewinthebbers, to know what they can say to it; and though by this sending to and fro which cannot be altered in this. State composed of so many several colleges and bodies of Assemblies, time is drawn out in length, Carleton is very much deceived, but in conclusion, the committers of this bloody fact will be brought to justice, and the supporters of it both blame and shame. Thinks he looked upon the right man as the author of the pamphlet, and the States are the more quickened because they hear it cast upon their clerks, as Carleton told them it was. Prays him to send two or three more copies; it is necessary he send one to his Majesty. [Two pages and a half. Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 9.
The Hague.
552. Francois D'Aerssen to Sec. Conway. What has happened in the Indies, they (Joachimi and himself) have, according to the King's commands, reported to their Sovereigns, who have neglected nothing for ascertaining the truth of the action; being determined, if it appear that their people have without cause committed excesses against his Majesty's subjects, to inflict a punishment so severe, that he shall have occasion to praise their justice. Hopes the King will not permit anything to be undertaken or precipitated to the disadvantage of the States, for it is not his Majesty's intention that they should proceed without a perfect knowledge of the matter (que nous façions droict sur l'etiquette du saq) they being bound to search into the truth and to do justice thereon. If their people should be found to have inhumanly treated his Majesty's subjects, still they must examine what satisfaction they would desire, and in any case, it would be a personal crime, chastisable in the person who had committed it, which would need time and dexterity, so as not to excite a rebellion. Dares assure him, that the States are deliberating how to proceed roundly in the matter, desiring to do justice, and to preserve the good graces of his Majesty, and have written in such a manner as he hopes will leave them a competent time, for satisfying his Majesty's just desires; to which end also he prays for Conway's favour and support. French. [Three pages. Holland Corresp.]
Aug. 10.
553. Barlow to Carleton. Is glad to hear that his own letter of the 6th came to hand so seasonably, and hopes that by the course Carleton has taken, some good issue will come of the business so that the Bewinthebbers will not carry away the credit they expected, and Carleton will get the pamphlet proclaimed for a libel. These stand stiff to it, that it is none of their act, but having had speech with some of them apart, they see their error and wish it had not been done. His demand in the Assembly for payment of the 23,906 ryals of eight, is to have an answer in writing. Sends three more of the books, which now grow somewhat scant. Arrival of the Dolphin from Surat, richly laden, in company with a small Dutch ship; more ships are daily expected. It is referred to Barlow whether to have the protest and relation concerning Amboyna translated and put into print; requests Carleton's opinion, whether it were fit considering how things do still depend betwixt his Majesty and the States. Incloses,
553. I. Invoice of the Dolphin's cargo, viz.:—cotton yarn, indigo, gumlac, raw silk, benjamin, aloes, pepper, spikenard, calicoes, and other stuffs. [One page and a half. Holland Corresp.]