A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, Volume 4, Sept 1655 - May 1656. Originally published by Fletcher Gyles, London, 1742.
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March (3 of 8)
Col. Barkstead, lieutenant of the Tower, to secretary Thurloe.
This evening there came to me one mr. William Walsh, (formerly of the late king's party,) who about 3 weeks since gave me security as others. He faith, that the occasion of his coming to me was only to let me know, that he hath cause to suspect, that several of that party have some designe now on foote, but is not at present able to give me an account of any of the particulers, but hath engaged to make it his businesse to doe it. I pressing him to let me know the grounds of his suspicion, he said it was from the more then ordinary whispering and frolick carriages of some of that party, in whose company he hath accidentally happened to be twice this last weeke. I prest him to know the partys; he replied, that he desired me to excuse it for the present, for that he was not willing to it, till he could say more; and faithfully promised he would industriously make it his businesse. Yet as he departed he said, though he could not at present say more, yet he did in himselfe more then suspect it. Sir, though I lay not much weight on what is yet said by him, yet I thought it my duty to give you an account of it, for that he doth constantly converse with such persons, and that he hath earnestly intreated his name may be concealed. Sir, this is all at present from
Secretary Thurloe to monsieur Barriere, the prince of Condé's agent.
His highnesse haveinge receved your letter desireinge some longer tyme for your staye in England, hath comaunded me to signifie unto you, that the former resolution taken for your departure beinge grounded upon the treatie made with France, (which his highnesse holds hymselfe obliged to execute on his part) noe alteration can be made therin; and therefore desires, that you will conforme yourselfe thereunto; which is all I have to trouble you with more then to assure you, that I am and shall remayne
Major general Lilburne to secretary Thurloe.
I Will not trouble you with many lines, but referre you to the inclosed, wherein you will understand something of the fruites of sending the Portsmouth friggot into these coasts. I intend to send a party of horse to conduct the prisoners from Bridlington to Scarborough, conceiveing that a better place for their security and accomodation, then the other, untill further order from above; which is all at present from
General Mountagu to secretary Thurloe (fn. 1).
Havinge the opportunitye of mr. Turner's comminge from hence to London, I adventure this little trouble to you. I have not much to write, only that wee have parted with the lieftenant of the Resolution, who did as good as confesse the words I mentioned in my last (as I thinke) though he prosessed his desire to goe in this service; yett owninge such an expression (as that 607 did well, and if he had beene in his case, though he was not worth a groate, he would have done as he did;) and withall tellinge us, he had rather leave the fleete, then not have preferment accordinge to his desert as others had, wee could not be satisfied to preferr him, nor indeed to employ him, and soe he is (I thinke) gone ashoare. Nothinge is omitted by us, that may hasten our voyage; and I have desired mr. Turner to waite upon you, and from him you may receive satisfaction of all thinges, that have passed here since our first comminge on board; in which regard I shall at present cease your further trouble, and remaine
Commissioners for Oxfordshire to the protector.
May it please your highness,
We whose names are subscribed being appointed commissioners, (together with others) by your highness authority for securing the peace of the commonwealth within the county of Oxford; and having duly considered the powers, wherewith we are entrusted, and the publick management of affairs, (so far as we are able to judge of them) must with all thankfulness acknowledge, that by your highness care and vigilancy we are not only protected in our outward government, (which alone were sufficient to encourage us in our actings under you and for you) but likewise, that the Lord hath upheld your spirit in the midst of jealousies and contradictions, to appear for that righteous cause, wherein the people of God in these nations, and your highness in particular, have been deeply engaged; and to discountenance and disable those, who do still harden their hearts against it, and the work of reformation intended by it; which although it hath been with much prudence sweetned and accommodated to the several interests and consciences of such, as are not wilfully obstinate; yet we are sensible of the dangers and discouragements, which must inevitably attend your highness in the prosecution thereof, (besides your other almost insupportable cares and burthens.) And do therefore conceive it our duty to contribute what lies in us towards the strengthning of your hands in this way and work, by presenting your highness with this publick testimony of our thanksulness, and with the tender of our unanimous and cheerful obedience to your commands, in discharge of the trust reposed in us. Not doubting but the same providence, which hath begun to build the temple in trouble som times, will at length carry it on to a full establishment of peace and righteousness; which is and shall be the prayer of
Your highness's most humble servants,
Major general Worsley to secretary Thurloe.
We began our meetinge att Preston for this county of Lancaster one the 5th of this instant, where wee remained divers dayes. Wee have aded some litle to the exterordinary tax; wee have also examined the witnesses in the behalse of the commonwelth against mr. George Midleton, and have given him a coppy of his chardg, and given hime time till the next to answere for himselfe. I know not what hee can say to the witnesses; but to my apprehentions they speake very pat to the bussinese. And I am much of opinion, that his defence wil be of little use to hime; but more of that you shall have hereafter. If hee be found guilty, there's divers others alsoe, that will fall into the same guilt. Wee have likewise this meettinge gote upon the ordinanc for ejectinge scandelouse ministers and schoolmasters, and have cast out some five or six ministers for scandall. Wee had divers others to have try'd, but they were not redy at that time. Wee have alsoe receiv'd some more articles against others. Wee are in a very good condition in this county. This worke stirs up the good people to informe us of the conversation of all men, their carridge and behaviour; soe that truly I thinke the good sober people never were in better hart then now, and soe much owned; nethere was more cordiall to present proceedings then att this time. I find noe man of what sperit soever, that apears in word or action against our present worke; some out of feare, and some by reason of the encouragement they receive, makes all quiet. I besech you remember the examinations of Booth and the rest. I have noe more worthy your trouble; therefore i'le onely subscribe myselfe
Mr. Bradshaw, resident at Hamburg, to secretary Thurloe.
I Hope theise will find you well recovered of that indisposition of health, which mr. Firbanck writes me was upon you at the comminge fourth of this post. The ship which should transport mr. Rolt appeares not yet, though the wynde hath beene good theise 4 daies, which hath brought the 4 ambassadors from the states generall I mentioned in my last, 2 goeinge to the king of Sweden, and 2 to the elector of Brandenburgh. They have eight principall merchants with them, to assist with their council in their importinge negotiation. I presume ere longe we shall heare of the lord Whitlock's goeinge to that kinge upon the English interrest, which hath been a report amongst the merchants heere for some dayes past. If you please to peruse th'inclosed abstract of a letter this night from Danzick, it will give you an accounte of the state of affaires there, if it may be of use. I shall not further detayne you, but to subscribe my selfe
Mr. Ed. Rolt to secretary Thurloe.
In a letter by your command writen to resident Bradshaw I have received advertisement, that a ship hath bin order'd for my returne into England; but how long since is not expressed, soe that my expectation to returne homewards may reasonably be presumed to be the more tedious, by reason that during my abode heere, which hath bin uppon the point of 3 weekes, I cannot heare the least tydings or newes of him at all. I hope all things are well, and I shall heartylie pray to God, they may proove soe; yett I must confesse, I have some cause to seare, for of late there hath bin much stormy weather uppon these coasts. Since my last to your honor I have received little newes worthy of your knowledg; only that the towne and castle of Marienburg in Prussia was surrendered to the king of Swede before the succors sent out by the towne of Dantzick could come to their reliese, though being on their way for that purpose. The king goeth on still victoriously in Poland, having since the defeat given to Chertnetsky taken the towne of Zamoscie in Russia, (some 12 miles from Lublin) the strongest towne by art and nature in the whole kingdome; soe that by this time hee is judged to be neere Leopolis, where it is given out the king of Pole intends to abide him. What hath bin done between them is not yet knowne. Satterday last arrived in this towne 4 embassadors from the states of the united provinces, 2 of them being to goe to the king of Sweden, and 2 to the elector of Brandenburg. How soone they sett forwards towards them, I cannot learne. Thus leaving farther to trouble your honor at present in your sick and crazy estate of body, which with much sorrow of heart I heare from mr. Bradshaw, with my praiers to God for your speedy and happy recovery, I am bold to subscribe my selfe, sir,
Letters of intelligence.
From his majesty of Sweden nothing is come in since my last, but a confirmation of his being upon the pursuit of the king of Poland for Caminiec Podolsky; the issue of which business we may expect hereafter. From these parts nothing of news at present, but of the surrendering of the considerable castle of Marienburg to the Swedes. The Dantzickers had made a plot with the lords Weyhers (of whom we understand one is dead since) to have relieved the said castle before it was surrendred, and for that purpose sent 800 foot and 700 horse thither; but their said plot was discovered by the Swedes, who took the trumpeter, which should have brought the news of the coming of the said succour to the castle, and kept him prisoner, whereby these of the castle being not only disappointed of an answer from the senate of Dantzick at the limited time, but also frustrated in their hope of succour thence, yielded up the castle to the Swedes, who knowing that the said Dantzick forces were to come, lay very carefully in watch for them, but they had timely notice of the discovery of their plot and surrendring of the castle; and therefore, before they were altogether come in sight of the Swedes retreated with all possible speed towards the city, and were pursued by some Swedish troopers, which yet could not reach them except a small party, whereof they kill'd some and took some few prisoners. It's to be feared, that this hostile and unadvised action of the Dantzickers will acquire little good unto them; but rather maturate the siege of their city; which is already very firmly concluded amongst the Swedes army.
There hath been a strong report this good while here in town, as if a strict league were concluded between the two northern crowns Sweden and Denmark, but we know now for certain, that there is nothing of it as yet; however it is true, that such a thing is in earnest agitation at present, there being yet lately a Danish agent past through this city to his majesty of Sweden for that purpose, but what effect his legation may take is to be expected. Letters from Warsaw and other places in Poland speak of a second conslict and total defeat of king Casimir's army by his majesty of Sweden near Reushlemberg, and that thereupon the king of Poland, (who from a high hill beheld the battle) when he saw that all was lost again, fled out of Poland; the confirmation whereof you may expect by the next.
Lord Broghill to secretary Thurloe.
I am not a little pleased, that you doe consider my poore endeavors heere soe favorably, as I finde you doe in the honnor of your last of the 4th instant, in that affaire relatinge to the ministry of this nation. I could gladly wish his highnes would honnor me with a worde therupon of his sense in it, or a letter to thos leadinge men I mentioned; which might give new vigour to their actinges. If his highnes shall thinke it fit, I beleeve I could engage one of their number forthwith privatly to waite upon him, that he might the more cleerly and certaynly speak again to his brethren heere, and my lord protector might the more evidently understand their intensions and harts towards him, which they are dayly laboringe to make all the ministry heere in this nation to correspond in. I beg a worde from you in this particular. I hartily wish he you have imployed to Spayne may serve you advantagiously. I cannot but wounder at the unworthiness of Lyon and Hill, to sell their country as much as in them lyes for a little money. But such sort of people, as you say thes are, I feare will alwayse shew such like trikes. I did acquaint our honnest gentlemen with itt. I humbly thanke you for the favor in promesinge me his highnes answer to that concernment of myne, which my sister Ranelagh sollicits: if verry pressing motives did not cause it, you should not have bin therin troubled by, sir,
Lord Broghill to secretary Thurloe.
When mr. Saltonstall went from hence, I tooke the considence to accompany him with a letter of myne unto you; by which he wrote me worde he received much of your favor, and tho' 1 cannot have the vanity to creddit, that such a production had only that cause, but that his piety only procured your respect towards him; yet since in meere honesty and in affection to the publike he has layd doune his employment heere, rather then any longer by his absence about his privat affaires receive a sallary, for which he did not the duty of the place, I could not but (haveinge first humbly acknowledged with much thankfulness what you have alredy proposed for him) humbly beg you to perfect what you have begun; and this I am the rather forced unto, because I know both his principle and practice will make him declyne seekeinge for himselfe; and therfore unless another doe appeere for him, his vertue may proove his prejudice, if not his ruin; from which I am confident he wil be preserved, if you undertake his business; which therfore is earnestly beg'd of you by, honored sir,
Mr. P. Meadowe, envoy to Portugal, to secretary Thurloe.
Friday last in the evening we reached Plimouth. My next care was to put al things in readines in order to our speedy going aboard. I found heere 4 frigats in harbor belonging to the fleet, viz. the Fairfax, the Phœnix, the Forefight, and the Jersey. The Fairfax being a 3d rate frigat I thought too big for my design, and first communicating my orders to capt. Hatsel commissioner heer, made choice of the Phœnix, whereof capt. Whitstone is commander. I went aboard him on satterday morning, who immediately losed his topsaile to give notice to his men to come aboard, and be in readines for their voiage. Had our goods been heer, we had set saile yesterday; however we shal doe it to day, God willing. My thoughts dwel upon my buisines, longing to be upon the place; and yet my stay heer hath given me the advantage of preparing and fitting my self, so that upon my arrival I shal forthwith demand audience. I heare the fleet is hastning out, but yet I hope and doe not much doubt, but that our frigat wil salute king John at his palace royal before our fleet be out of the Channel. Commissioner Hatsel entends, that we should convoy some Newfoundland men as far as the Scillies, and some other merchants bound for the coasts of Portugal. I shal willingly comply therewith, so be it they can keep company with us; but I have told the captain, that we cannot spare any of our saile, but must with al speed make for the port mentioned in his highnes warrant. I wrot to your honour on satterday, thinking to have sent it by the expres, which capt. Hatsel was to send to his highnes; but I was disappointed through misinformation. I beleeve we shal go on board within this houre or two, goods and baggage being now att length come, and al things in readines. Wherefore I shal humbly take leave to kiss your hand, and remain
A letter of information to the protector.
May it please your highnes,
Upon the first notice that I had from Grantham of the meeting at Rusford, I sent word of it to col. Hacker, major generall's horse at Doncaster, and the high sheriffe of Yorkshire, and thereupon divers parties were sent to examine the truth of it, but we could not learne nothing; but upon the receit of your highnes letter and information, we acted more sucessfully, and march'd that night towards the place, where captain Needham with two troopes of col. Hacker's regiment coming first, made a good entrance into the busines, and seized divers gentlemen, a list whereof you will see here; and upon examination, we got some farther light into the bussines, the substance whereof is inclosed. We expect col. Hacker here presently, and we shall use our utmost endeavour to perfect this search to the utmost. We have here two troopes of major generall, two of colonel Hacker's, and my owne, and for what we heare of in Yorkshire, we acquaint major Goodrige at Doncaster with it, and leave it to his care. Sir George Savill is not at home; we have detained one mr. Coventry, who is the lady Savill's brother, until sir George shall appeare to your highnes. He is said to be in London at his house in Lincoln's–inn field, at the corner of Queene–street, called Carlisle–house, or Savill–house. We can find nothing in his house, that gives any light; only we heare that one of his family, mr. Davison, who is tutor to sir George, was at the meeteinge and stayed in the house 'till after dinner on fryday, and then went away. We cannot gett him. Both sir Roger Coop's sons are absent; one is said to be in London, viz. Cis, and the other in Darbyshire. We hope col. Hacker hath sent to seeke him. Tomson of Newark is at London, but expected home suddenly. We hope e're this goe away, to give you an account of the pistolls. A party is gone to the place, where they were left. The carter hath at last confessed somewhat fully, and we have promised to befriend him, being a poor fellow. As we get intelligence, we intend to move, but shall always have one at Newarke to hast your orders to us. We are now at Thurgington.
A letter of intelligence.
It is not to be exprest, what those, who are ill affected Swedish, do report with us concerning the last fight between Samoise and Russish Lemberg, so much, that each one amongst us began to let the courage fall. But now we are again comforted, forasmuch as just when the post was going away, the Governour of Peterkaw col. Cruse was certified the 7th ditto by an express, that his majesty of Sweden once more by Samoise had fortunately got the field, and totally ruined general Pototsky and Landskronsky, strong 18000, killed 1600, and taken 3000 prisoners, among whom is Landskronsky himself, whom his majesty is resolved to punish for his perjury, as an example unto others. But Pototsky seeing how earnestly our people pursued him, that he might not come into his majesty's hands, whom he hath so highly offended, cast himself and his horse desperately from the high bank into the river Bugad, and so gave up his ghost in the water. After this victory obtained, his majesty caused those 22 colours taken from the enemy to be brought together, and Te deum to be sung in the open field, and is not yet resolved to pursue king Casimir any further, fearing, that in those parts fodder is not to be found. The Cossacks to this day have done no hostility against his majesty, but pretend good friendship, which is not to be believed in all things; so that our enemies reports once more by the grace of God are come to nothing.
From the Dutch embassadors.
After we went to sea from the Vlie on tuesday the 15th instant at sun rising, we arrived the day following with a favourable wind and a very speedy passage towards the evening before the river Elbe, where we cast anchor; the day following, the wind proving contrary, we tack'd about with the flood into the river, and came on sunday following near the city, but could not disimbark our coaches and horses. That day, for the said reason as well as also because of the hard weather, we were obliged to stay on board. On monday we arrived with our coaches in the city, and tho' we had given no notification, yet the Burgomasters and senate having got information of our arrival, their honours were resolved to pay their compliments to us by a deputation; but it being too late that night, it was put off, however the day following mess. Pauli the Syndick, and the senator Schrodering waited on us for and in the name of their honours, and pay'd their compliments with much civility and respect, staying with us at dinner and the whole day with a handsome entertainment in every respect. The discourses of those gentlemen shewed constantly the respect and particular affection, which this city bears towards the state and laudable government of your high mightinesses. We received the compliments of a Danish minister, who resides here, and is qualified with the character of agent, who inform'd us that mr. Juel being appointed by his royal majesty of Denmark to go to the king of Sweden in the character of resident, was set out for Stettin, with an intent to wait for us there, and to go in company with us. Our horses being somewhat refreshed, we hope to morrow to proceed on our journey for Lubeck, and afterwards to continue the same with all diligence and without intermission.
A paper of the Swedish resident to the states general.
The underwritten resident of Sweden doth find himself obliged by express order to declare unto their high and mighty lordships herewith, how that the commissioners of the West India company of this country in the new Netherlands now the last summer did unexpectedly assault by force of arms the Swedish colony there, taking from them their forts, and drove away the inhabitants, and wholly dispossessed the Swedish com pany of their district. It is true, and without dispute, that the Swedish company did acquire optimo titulo juris that part, which they possessed, and did buy it of the natives, and consequently have had possession of it for several years; without that the West India company of these countries did ever pretend any thing. Wherefore the said resident doth not doubt, but these hostilities will very much displease their high and mighty lordships; and doth desire in the name of his most gracious king and lord, that their high and mighty lordship would be pleased to take some speedy order for the redressing of such unlawful proceedings, as the justice, the mutual amity between both nations, and the consequence of the business require, and is expected from their high wisdoms, whereby the Swedish company may be restored undamnified.
A letter of intelligence.
A letter hath since been brought hither from Cadiz of the 2d instant st. no. bearing, that a pattache was arrived there the same day, which was come with their fleet parted from the Havanna the first of January, and reports to have lest the said fleet but at 15 days journey from the said town, so that it was thought she would arrive there the 10th or 12th present. But every body believes not this, by reason that they know, that the Spaniards do often publish the arrival of their fleet for the maintaining of their credit.
The pope sendeth here post upon post for to hasten the general peace; and that it may the sooner be obtained, the king hath few days since written a circular letter to all the parliaments, for to make use of their prayers with those of the jubilee now published in this kingdom, whilst the cardinal ordereth all things for the next campaign, and for the embassador de Bordeaux's return into England, who is to take leave this day of his majesty for to depart hence this week.
The whole court is at the Chasteau de Vincennes since saturday last, where the prince of Conti is arrived since last week. I am informed, that an express from mr. de Lyonne their embassador at Rome brought again a letter yesterday, whereby the said embassador tells them, that the pope useth all possible means to make a league between the emperor and all the princes of Italy for to fall upon those that shall refuse the said general peace, who shall also be excommunicated, of what quality or condition soever they be.
This absence of the king hath hindred the remonstrance this parliament is to make him upon the coin, whereof the disorder is such, that his majesty seeing the difficulty that the Lis received, hath caused the course thereof to be stopped for three months, and ordered by a decree of this council, that the louis of gold shall in the interim pass and be received for eleven livres, under a pretence that the gold is not at a rate proportionable unto the silver.
Major Sedgwicke, and vice–admiral Goodsonn, to the protector.
May it please your highness,
Your affairs and our duty oblige us frequently as we can to give you an exact account of our proceedings and all occurrences here, which not to presume too much upon the liberty your highness hath been pleased to give us, we shall relate as briesly as we can, and to that end we now send home the Grantham frigat, she being almost unserviceable, yet we doubt not, with God's blessing able to accomplish the voyage with safety.
The Marston Moore arriving in this harbour on the 15th of January last, by which we received your highness's letters and instructions, on the 24th of the same month we dispatched away the Wildeman, being one of the ships least useful, with a packet, the duplicates whereof, that we may not trouble you with repetitions, are here inclosed, which we hope may have so satisfied you concerning the state of things here till then, that we shall now only add what hath been transacted since the present condition of this island, fleet and army, and our opinions, so far as we are able to judge, of your highness's affairs in these parts.
We may with sincerity of heart call God to witness, that since we had the honour to be imployed by you, we have, as redounding to his glory, chiefly, and solely intended the interest of your highness, and the commonwealth, which we could not carry on with such vigor as we desired, because, under favour, we conceived there was some defect in our power, through want of a formal commission; but that difficulty, by the arrival of the Marston Moore, being removed, and having a clearer understanding of your highness's intentions in carrying on your design here, we have faithfully endeavoured, as much as in us lay, to comply therewith.
Col. D'oyley being established commander in chief of the army, we in the first place jointly together ordered, that a fort begun on the careening point, at the entrance of the harbour, should with all expedition be finished, which is now near completed with 21 pieces of ordinance already mounted therein, among which are those battering pieces of brass sent over by the first fleet. But whereas we appointed col. Humfry's regiment to be drawn down thither to help on the work, to man the fort, and to keep watches and guards in necessary and eminent places at the mouth of the harbour, they proved altogether, notwithstanding any encouragement we could give them, useless; and then sending them back to quarters, we carried on that work only by the help of the seamen; besides which there was another to be raised about the magazine of provisions at the common landing place, by soldiers of other regiments; but it is not yet finished, though it would have been a great satisfaction to us, if the stores had been in some measure secured; however the commander in chief assures us, he hath put his army into good posture for action, having reduced two companies in every regiment, and drawn them closer together, left any attempt should be made upon them by the enemy; lying as they did, scattered and divided.
The 27th of January the Cardiffe arrived here, and on the 2d of February we sent a brigantine and a hoy, with a party of 100 land soldiers, to leeward, where formerly some Spaniards and negroes had been discovered: they effected not much, only took some prisoners, whose examinations with capt. Sybada's, the commander of the brigantine's, journal are here inclosed, that your highness may fully understand so much as we know, and how we are informed of the state of the enemy, we mean of the Spaniards, and Mulattoes; for of the Negroes we have no certain intelligence, only this, that they are separated from the Spaniards, and live scattered in parties in the woods and mountains, as we have reason to believe, very near our quarters; for of late we find some of our men daily killed by them, and they were so bold one night not long since to fire a house in the head quarters at St. Jago de la Vega.
February the 8th came into harbour the Indian; the 18th the Falmouth returned from surrounding the island, on the North side whereof she landed some men, and took 15 prisoners, whose examinations were agreeing with the former: and the 26th ditto arrived a small vessel from Anguilla, the master whereof going on shore at the Tortagoes found there no people, but the fortifications demolished, and two papers, the one in Spanish, the other in sorry English, which is also here inclosed as it was found. Upon the 27th instant arrived with us the Lion and the Success.
In obedience to your highness's commands, we have given the best orders we could for horse, whereupon some few are taken, and we have as much as we could animated our soldiers to planting; something they do, but not much; however to give them good example, we are now making a common plantation for the fleet, which is undertaken with chearfulness by the seamen. We have also dispatched a ship, the Hope fly–boat, for New England to fetch masts and such necessaries as are wanting for the fleet, with letters to captain Gookin, promising our best assistance of shipping, if he give us notice of any considerable number, that desire to be transported hither. She is ordered likewise in her return to touch at Barbados and Nevis, with letters to the governours there to the same effect, and to desire them to signify so much to all their neighbour plantations, as Mountserrat, Antigua, &c. Not to omit our duty in the least, we have this day sent duplicates of those dispatches by a shallop bound for the windward islands.
For the condition of the army, it is, God be praised, much mended since our last: the soldiers are far more healthful, and as they are put upon it, may we hope prove more apt for action; but they are reduced to so small a number (for they are not above 2500,) that all can be expected from them is the defence of this island, and the expelling or reducement of the remnant of the inhabitants, without which there can be no security for planters that shall come to us, and of which we find not any have yet appeared. But as there cannot be more expected from them, so if they effect so much, considering the dejection of their spirits, the many yet weak amongst them, and their averseness hitherto to any action, it will be a great work: for to deal plainly, according to our duty, with your highness, though God be praised, they enjoy health in a reasonable measure, yet they have generally an averseness to this place, which is rather fomented, than endeavoured to be removed, by the officers, who it is apparent, in the most part, missing the mountain of treasure they aimed at, do nothing but compelled by necessity; for upon this ship's going home, and upon all or any the like occasions, they express fond desires to return to England, without regarding either the honour of their nation, publick interest, or the vast expence your highness hath made in the acquisition of this remote island. On the contrary the fleet (consisting of 23 frigats, ships, and victuallers) is not only in a prosperous condition, but ready to embrace any action they shall be put upon. Indeed they are something too forward e're that, for not considering any motives, as the want of men to attack any place of consequence, the keeping the fleet united, if an armado should come from Spain, and the necessity laid upon us by your highness instructions to secure this place, they do begin to murmur, that they lye so long at harbour; neither are many in the army, though they will do nothing here, less importunate to be carried upon some design abroad. Wherefore to quiet all discontents, and to satisfy all humors, we your highness's commissioners appointed a meeting on board the Torrington, and there called to advise with us 12 the principal commanders either of fleet or army, six of each, who being accordingly assembled, we declared to them, that the reason we had called them thither was to acquaint them what orders we had received from your highness in relation to the settlement of this island, as also for the annoying and infesting the enemy; and since we perceived they all cried out for action, to advise and consult with them, what with a due regard had of your highness's commands laid upon us, and in the conjuncture of time, as affairs now stand, was best to be done, that as there was a consent in our counsels, so there might be an union of hearts in carrying on the work. The result of which consultation was this, first in order to the settlement of the island, that the soldiers, to enhearten them by being every man assured of his portion, should have their lands forthwith set out to them at 30 acres per head, room being left for new comers, such as are best able, to settle among them. And secondly, that six or eight ships being left here to secure the harbour, and to countenance the army, the rest with the admiral should go to sea; but some of the ships being upon the careen then, as the admiral is now, so that the whole fleet cannot sail in 12 or 14 days, having some regard to the information given us by the prisoners, we have thought it fit in the mean while to send six ships out to spy abroad, if they can, to bring us intelligence of the Spanish armado, and to prevent the succours expected from Carthagena by the enemy; to which end the Dover and the Selby are gone over to the main as far as Carthagena, to view the harbour and see what ships are there. The Armes of Holland and the Cardiffe are gone to the leeward of this island to ply between cape Megril and point Pedro, and the Paul with the Brigantine are gone on the North side, to discover if there be any shipping or intercourse between Cuba and this island; which ships are entered to return by that time the fleet can be fitted for service, when we shall fully determine what design, upon which we beseech the Lord to assist us in with his counsel, so as may be to your highness's content and the publick benefit.
To conclude (for we have already trenched too far upon your highness's patience) in so
much as concerns the state of your affairs here, our humble opinion is, that if the soldiers
would contribute their endeavours to the settlement of this island, and attend the issue
with patience, it might in a little time answer all their hopes and publick charge; for if
it be once well peopled it would afford great plenty of the best commodities, and the
situation of it, with the harbour, is so advantageous, being in the midst of the Spaniard's
country, that having a considerable force here to make inroads upon the enemy, and a
fleet to secure the seas, it might become the magazine of all the wealth in the Indies. But
to effect this we must have a considerable recruit of seamen and landmen, with some commanders, who may give life and vigour to the action; besides which we must also hope for
another good supply of provisions, it being not to be expected those we have should last
above four months longer. In short, if your highness continues your resolutions to proceed in this great design, you must in a manner begin the work again, which we beseech
God to guide you in, to direct your counsels, and to prosper your undertakings, assuring you,
whilst we are thought worthy of your trust, you shall find us in the discharge of our
Your highness's most faithful and most humble servants,
Col. D'oyley to secretary Thurloe.
I did by the Wildman (the last that went from us) give you the trouble of the relation of our then condition, which though it were sad, yet it had hopes of amendment: since which time the Lord hath been graciously pleased to smile on us, and to send healing amongst us. So that at this present, our condition (as to health) is very good, considering where we are, and that our private soldiers drink nothing but water: our numbers are indeed few, considering the business we have to do: our soldiers are fully employed either in fortifying, planting or guarding, of which planting is the most grievous, and performed with so much unwillingness, that it is exceeding troublesom to the officers, mean, who are willing to plant, for some (yea indeed most) of the officers are very averse to plantation, nay though they are convinced of an absolute necessity. I hope (that having received my former) you will be pleased to quicken his highness, for a command concerning officers going off; for the sollicitations of such, as like not the hardship, are a very great burthen to me. Colonel Humfries hath not let me rest these two days for a pass, or furlow, but I have denied him, as being firm to the resolution of doing nothing, till I receive his highness's punctual directions and commands therein; however I believe he will send over his family. Our officers are much discouraged to hear from their relations, that the fourth part is not paid, which makes many lay their wives and families at my door, and say, that I detain them as prisoners and slaves, and will not suffer them to return and provide for their families, who are disappointed. We are much amazed to see in the last invoyce of stores no manner of liquors for us, that are at land, and desire humbly, to lay it before his highness, how we shall subsist without that or money; the water of the country, and continual drinking of it, breeding dropsies, and other distempers, and nothing to be bought of the seamen but at treble rates, and that in clothes, at their own rates; by which our officers and soldiers have had their late subsistence, and truly had not so many died, and left that they had to others, I know not how they would have lived, that are now remaining. The admiral will send you a more particular account, than I do. We are much troubled at land and sea, that we cannot give report of some service to our nation (it being much expected) but the alarm of the Spanish fleet from his highness, seconded here by intelligence of prisoners, and some relief with incouragement being brought hither, hath put us rather to defence, than to think of annoying the enemy with a handful; yet we have determined of adventuring, with some part of our fleet abroad. I humbly desire your best assistance in the representing and amending our condition here. And if your zeal to this expedition (of which we are assured) hath added to your trouble, who have the management of the greatest affairs, you may thank your self, and not blame us, who are glad (like drowning men) to lay hold fast on that we hope may preserve us. And indeed your care of us will be as well an high obligation to a great many gentlemen, who look upon themselves as lost, without a special interposition of providence, as an honour and satisfaction to yourself. For my own particular, I only wait his highness's commands, and shall be very well pleased in that he shall appoint me for either soldering or planting, being resolved to make it appear, I am devoted to his highness's service, as I desire you to believe that I am
Jamaica, March 12, 1655.
Stokes, governor of Nevis, to major Sedgwick.
Sir, his highnes undeserved and unexpected favours, he hath bin pleased to throw some of them uppon my self, wherein hee hath in some particulars declared his highnes designe concerning Jamaica, and made mee an instrument to declaire it to the people of this colloni; so likewise I have declaired it to my adjacent nighbours, and caused his proclamations to bee published; and I find in this island the greatest part of the inhabitants, with their wives, children and servants, are willing and ready to accept his highnes termes, laid downe in his highnes proclamation. There is onely wanting transportation for them and theires. What provission his highnes intends to make when his fleete comes (which wee are informed wee may daily expect) I know not; but in case there bee not, if by you and the others, that are intrusted in those great affaires of his highnes, to send them shipping for theire transportation, and such provisions as they intend to carry with them may effect it, the which I leave to your grave considerations.
Sir, the number of men in a moneth's time, which is of this place, may arrise neere to one thousand, besides women, children and slaves. Sir, other islands are forward, if they may but have a convenient transport, and some man impowered to treat with the governours about them, concerninge some small debts, or other small engagements, which paradventure may bee some cause of stoppidge to them therein, which to further his highnes designe may bee composed with his power.
Sir, bee pleased to give mee leave, to publish to your self, I am in my hart his highnes faithfull servant, yours and all his. Sir, I pray God direct you in all your highnes designes, and bee your wisdome and directions, and all God's people in theire lawfull imployes. Sir,