Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 1, 1574-1660. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1860.

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'Preface', in Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 1, 1574-1660, ed. W Noel Sainsbury( London, 1860), British History Online [accessed 18 July 2024].

'Preface', in Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 1, 1574-1660. Edited by W Noel Sainsbury( London, 1860), British History Online, accessed July 18, 2024,

"Preface". Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 1, 1574-1660. Ed. W Noel Sainsbury(London, 1860), , British History Online. Web. 18 July 2024.


THE papers in the State Paper Office are arranged upon principles which are extremely simple. Derived from the offices of the Secretaries of State, they fall, almost as of course, into three great branches or divisions, corresponding with the offices whence they are transmitted. Those from the office of the Home Secretary constitute one principal division or series of volumes, technically termed the Domestic, with a subdivision for Ireland; the papers from the office of the Foreign Secretary form a second or Foreign division or series; whilst those from the Colonial Office are arranged in a third division or series, named the Colonial. The present volume is a Calendar of the last-named series of papers only, from the year 1574, the date of the earliest paper, down to the year 1660. The period of time embraced, from Elizabeth to the restoration of Charles II., or nearly a century, will at once suggest that it must contain papers upon many topics of deep and general interest; and, indeed, it may be said, that upon nearly every subject of moment in our colonial history, during that period, the student will find something to gratify his curiosity or reward his research in this great mine of historical treasure. The names of the several colonies, islands, or plantations in the Index (fn. 1) at once open up the comprehensiveness and interest of the contents of this volume. Some of them seen here in their infancy have now risen into colonies; they might almost be termed independent states of the very highest importance; whilst others have combined into a mighty republic, whose power and influence extend throughout the world.

The history of NEW ENGLAND and of VIRGINIA, the parents of the northern and the southern States of America, is largely illustrated in this volume; the first possession of CANADA and its restitution to the French; the settling of BERMUDAS or SOMERS ISLANDS; the first grants of BARBADOES, ST. CHRISTOPHER'S, ANTIGUA, NEVIS, and other islands in the WEST INDIES, of NEWFOUNDLAND and NOVA SCOTIA, will also be found, together with an account of the efforts of the grantees to colonize them; also a complete record of proceedings of the Company for the BAHAMAS, incorporated in 1629; and an account of the taking possession of JAMAICA by the forces of the Commonwealth, and the means adopted to secure and render that island serviceable to England.

Previous to the decision of the Master of the Rolls to have a Calendar of the Colonial papers prepared for publication, upon the same principles as those already published of the Domestic series, the former were arranged under two distinct heads, viz., "America and West Indies," or the correspondence appertaining to the Colonial Office, and containing letters to and from the several Governors and the Secretary of State; and "Board of Trade," being the correspondence with that department, and each colony was arranged by itself chronologically. It has been found, however, more convenient for the simplification of a printed Calendar to alter this arrangement as regards the papers down to 1688, and to adopt one chronological arrangement of the whole; at the same time all the papers relating to each particular colony may be seen at a glance by reference to the Index.

The correspondence to 1688 consists of 71 portfolios, to be hereafter bound in volumes; besides 109 entry books, which contain entries of letters sent to the colonies, of charters, commissions and instructions, minutes and proceedings of the companies and proprietaries that in the first instance governed several of the colonies, journals of the Board of Trade, &c. &c. These have been arranged alphabetically as regards every colony to which they relate.

During this early period a separation of the Colonial from the Domestic or other series, and a classification of the former, upon the principles adopted in the correspondence of a later date, has been found to be extremely difficult. Papers received from or addressed to a Governor, commander, or other person in a colony or plantation are of course strictly Colonial, as well as those from the Secretary of State to and from a company of adventurers incorporated for plantation purposes; but when letters pass between the King and the Privy Council, Attorney General, or other officers resident in England, wholly relating to colonial subjects, the proper location is somewhat difficult to decide. If the principles above alluded to had been strictly carried out, this Calendar would have certainly been diminished one-half and historically speaking have become comparatively useless as a Calendar of State Papers relating to the Colonies. Three of the many instances which occur throughout the volume will be sufficient to explain this circumstance very forcibly. In 1621 will be found the "Answer of the Virginia Company to the request of the Walloons and French to plant in Virginia" (p. 26, No. 55). This paper is clearly Colonial. The request to which the above is an answer was, however, discovered in the French Correspondence (too late to be inserted in its proper order of date), because made to the English Ambassador in France; yet surely it would be unwise to separate these two papers. Again, Secretary Calvert writes to Secretary Conway in May 1623 (p. 46), conveying the King's directions with respect to the election of new officers of the Virginia Company, and incloses a letter to the Treasurer of the same date. The letter has been placed in the Domestic, the inclosure in the Colonial series; the same has also been done with a letter from Secretary Conway to Lord President Mandeville, and the answer (p. 49.)

This has caused the necessity of a careful examination of more than 350 volumes and bundles of correspondence, and the result is, that upwards of 250 papers have been removed to the Colonial series, and more than 800 abstracted from entry or other books already bound or calendared. Hence the frequent reference to papers in this Calendar neither numbered nor forming part of the "Colonial Papers."

It will be seen that during the first thirty years here calendared, or down to the accession of James I., there are but ten papers. The reason is obvious; with but one exception, it can scarcely be said that England planted any colony during Elizabeth's reign, though, as every one knows, many voyages were undertaken at that early period for purposes of colonization, and a copy of the well-known patent of incorporation to the Marquis of Winchester and others, merchant adventurers of England, for "discovery" of lands unknown and not before frequented," of which Sebastian Cabot was to be the first Governor, is to be found in the collection of State Papers.

This, however, as well as many other papers, containing accounts of the voyages of discovery of Frobisher and Hawkins, of Gylberte and of Drake, to Africa, America, and the West Indies, will not be found in this volume. They belong to and are placed in the Domestic series; yet the perusal of such papers would not be an inapt introduction to the history contained in this Calendar.

The two first papers calendared are of singular interest; they most probably relate to Sir Humphrey Gylberte's patent "to discover and take possession of all remote and "barbarous lands unoccupied by any Christian Prince or "people." Gylberte appears to have assigned his patent to others, and the "fragment of report of certain persons," p. 1, No. 2, with whom he subsequently conferred in person, is so marvellous as to baffle every idea of credibility. Under the encouragement of Elizabeth, and by the enterprise of Raleigh, the first English colony was attempted to be planted in America, and the account of Sir Richard Grenville, the General of the fleet sent out in 1585, of "the "success of his voyage" (p. 4), with the letters of Ralph Lane (pp. 2–4), give several details of the earliest effort of English energy applied in a direction in which it has since been so richly rewarded. Although Raleigh's colony did not meet with the anticipated success, it caused others to undertake similar adventures, and they finally attained the desired object.

As our earliest and in all respects a most interesting settlement, VIRGINIA claims our first attention, and it is not too much to say that the history of this province can no where be so fully and so authentically illustrated as in these rarely consulted historical State Papers. There is Captain Newport's Journal of his early discoveries (p. 6, No. 15); among other things he alludes to the narrow escape of the first President of the colony, Edward Maria Wingfield, who, in a skirmish with some 200 savages, "had a shot clean" through his beard, yet escaped unhurt." Newport's description of the country and the people should not be passed over; in the latter occurs, for the first time, the name of Pawatan, "the Great Powhatan" about whom and his daughter Pocahuntas so much has been written. With reference to the latter we glean some curious particulars. Chamberlain writes to Carleton in June 1616 (p. 17), that Sir Thomas Dale has brought from Virginia some ten or twelve of that country—to be educated in England adds Lord Carew in his Journal (p. 18) —among whom the most remarkable person is Pocahuntas, daughter to Powhatan, a King or Cacique there, married to one Rolfe, an Englishman. She and her father Counsellor were afterwards presented to James I., by whom they were graciously used, both being "well placed at the mask," and soon after was upon her return home, sorely against her will; but, adds Chamberlain, on 29th March 1617 (p. 18), who had previously sent her picture to Carleton, "she died last week at Gravesend."

A letter from the second President, Captain "John" Radclyeffe, comenly called," gives an interesting account of the proceedings of the colony up to October 1609 (p. 8), wherein it appears that Captain John Smith, "the father of" Virginia," who reigned sole Governor, "is now sent home" to answer some misdemeanors." The letters of Lord De la Warr and Sir Geo. Somers, written the following year (pp. 9, 10), contain a vivid account of the storm which separated the fleet sent over by the Company in England to strengthen the settlement, the happy arrival of which decided the fate of the tottering colony; of the shifts the emigrants were put to, and the lamentable state in which they found the country, "a noisome and unwholesome place, occasioned" much by the mortality of the people." Then we have a touching letter from Lord De la Warr to Salisbury, written upon his return to England in June 1611 (p. 11), weak from the effects of his long sickness, but confident that the efforts of the Company to establish a colony will meet with an honourable and profitable end. Seven years later we are told that he died on his voyage to Virginia, "but the sickness and death of him, and of most of them that landed, "make it suspected that they had ill measure." (p. 19).

Lotteries were resorted to in 1612 to further the advancement of the colony (p. 12), and notwithstanding the jealousy of the Spaniards, their ridicule of the whole business, "for" which the undertakers were fain obliged to make a general "kind of begging," and their preparations to destroy the plantation, the Spanish Ambassador thinking it would be an easy matter "to remove these people" (p. 13), the settlement continued steadily to increase. Means of all kinds were used to ensure success; the Privy Council wrote to the Mayor and Alderman of Canterbury (p. 17), commending "that worthy and Christian enterprise" to their care; maidens were pressed (p. 19); children "from the super-" fluous multitude "of the City of London appointed to be transported to Virginia, there to be bound apprentices; and vessel after vessel was despatched with men and provisions. Four years later, in June 1616, Sir Thomas Dale informed Secretary Winwood that he left the colony in prosperity and peace (p. 17); and Governor Wyatt, in a letter to the King in 1622, says that "many cities of great rumour in the "West Indies, established more than sixty years, were not "to be compared to Virginia" (p. 38).

The first Assembly convened in Virginia met on 30th July 1619, at James City, and a full report of their proceedings is preserved (p. 22). In 1621 more than 200 Walloons and French promised, on certain conditions, to emigrate to Virginia (pp. 498, 499), and this document is perhaps one of the most curious in the volume. It is written upon a large sheet of paper in the form of a round robin, and in the outer circle, the person signing states whether he is married, and if he be a father, the number of his children. The total number 227, included persons of all classes and estates, from an apothecary and surgeon, a marrying man, to a labourer with a wife and a numerous family; musicians, weavers, locksmiths, shoemakers, a printer, dyers, and vinedressers were among the number. The answer of the Virginia Company will be found at page 26. These vinedressers or "Vinerouns," as they were called, were of most essential service in the productive industry of the colony. Most of the planters were cultivating tobacco, but the King recommended to them to breed silkworms and set up silk works, "a rich and solid commodity, and preferable to tobacco" (p. 31). The Vinerouns acted upon the royal recommendation. Placed together at Elizabeth City, they were busily employed in rearing silkworms (p. 43), and a present of silk from the colony is said to have been worn by Charles I. in a manufactured state at his coronation. Our papers prove that a quantity of silk made in the country was sent to the King through Secretary Windebank in 1639 (p. 288).

The Virginia colonists long lived on friendly terms with the native Indians, and felt perfectly secure in their adopted country, but "through their own supine negligence in "living in scattered and straggling houses" (p. 31), they were suddenly surprised on 22 March 1622, and scores of families were brutally massacred. Chamberlain writes about 350, Sir Thos. Wilson at least 300 or 400, and, "but for an" accident that gave warning, man, mother, and child, had "all been slain" (p. 31).

This horrible catastrophe was followed by a still more fatal mortality, "more having died since than were slain in the massacre"; "God has cast a heavy hand upon us, and" we cry for mercy for our sins," exclaims an ancient planter in a mournful letter to a relative in England (p. 36). The double calamity had well nigh caused the utter annihilation of the colony. The Governor and Council inform the King soon after (pp. 38, 39) that until then, vines and mulberry trees were being planted throughout the country, iron and glass works were in great forwardness, but, they continue, all were interrupted, and the people forced to cultivate tobacco only to support themselves and maintain their continual wars with the Indians. The sufferings of the colony at this time are forcibly depicted in a document signed by the Governor and 15 of the principal residents in the colony, "eye witnesses" (pp. 39, 40). In this paper, and in a "brief declaration" by the planters themselves, will be found an account of the history of the colony from 1606, when the first patent was granted.

The alarming accounts received from Virginia, and the imminent danger of the loss of the colony, caused the Government at home to take steps for its support. Com-missioners were appointed to examine into its condition, and the Company was ordered by the King to adopt measures without delay for the relief of the colony (p. 44). Rules were agreed upon by the Privy Council for bettering its government (p. 48), large supplies were despatched (p. 51), and the law officers of the Crown recommended the King to resume the government and to command the forbearance of the execution of the letters patent which had been granted to the original adventurers (p. 51). After many proceedings touching the surrender of the Company's charter, it was finally overthrown upon a quo warranto on the last day of [Trinity] Term [22 June] 1624 (p. 63), and a proclamation was issued on 13th May 1625, in which it was declared that the territory of Virginia should form part of the King's empire, and the government thereof immediately depend upon His Majesty (p. 73).

Attention should also be given to the "List of Names" of the living and dead in Virginia" (p. 57); the muster of the inhabitants, with names of the ships in which the people arrived in the colony, and a list of the provisions brought by each, also a list of the dead in the several plantations, a document of 116 pages (p. 72); and a list of the number of men, women, and children inhabiting the several counties of Virginia (p. 201); to the petition of Captain Bargrave to the House of Commons on behalf of the absent planters in Virginia, the answer of Sir Thomas Smythe and Alderman Johnson, and King James's letter to the Speaker, desiring the Commons not to trouble themselves with the petition, as the subject was in course of settlement by His Majesty and his Council (p. 60); this was assented to by a general silence, writes Sir Francis Nethersole (p. 62), "but" not without soft muttering that any other business might "in the same way be taken out of the hands of Par-" liament."

Turn a few pages and we have Governor Wyatt's account of the wars with the Indians; he describes a battle with an army of the Pamunkeys, numbering 800 bowmen, as having lasted two days (p. 71). A "Note of all lands granted" in Virginia" (p. 81) gives the names of the grantees and the number of their acres. The answer of the Governor, Council, and Burgesses of Virginia to the King's letter concerns tobacco and other commodities (p. 89), but the flourishing state of the Colony, the richness of the country and its products, are fully described. Even then it seems that the discovery of gold and silver was not despaired of.

After a brief interval, we pass on to the proposals for setting up iron works (p. 90), to Capt. Harvey's propositions for the benefit of the plantation (p. 99), and it will be seen that the country was steadily increasing in prosperity and rising into importance. Sir John Harvey arrives as Governor and describes the state of the colony: wars with the Indians had exhausted all their powder, and so he petitions that more may be sent by the next ships (p. 113); a fort called Point Comfort, at the entrance of James River, is undertaken, and measures are adopted to secure the inhabitants from the incursions of the crafty Indians.

We next find Dr. John Pott accused of wilful murder, but reinvested in his estate after a legal condemnation, because he was the only physician in the colony, and skilled in epidemical diseases (pp. 117, 118).

Commissioners, the chief public men of the day, were again appointed to establish the advancement of the colony, and make proposals to encourage adventurers to plant there, (p. 130); the result of their consultations may be seen at page 136. While the Government at home was thus active in settling upon a permanent footing a colony that had been instituted with so much life, money, and labour, the Executive in Virginia were no less zealous to further that object; an "Accord between the Governor and Council "there" (p. 138), was concluded, which put a period to all unhappy differences. Thenceforward shipbuilding and trade generally, the planting of English grain and vines (p. 151), were subjects to which attention became more particularly directed; the planting of tobacco was lessened, and the duty upon it recommended by Governor Harvey to be trebled; potashes, saltpetre, and other commodities, more useful in commerce, were the object of care (p. 160), and "some better fruit than tobacco and smoke returned from "thence," which King Charles declares to be dangerous to the bodies and manners of the English people (p. 125). In 1634, corn was so plentiful that although about 1,200 new comers arrived that year (p. 175), 10,000 bushels were exported for the relief of New England, and Virginia became "the granary of all His Majesty's northern Colonies" (p. 184).

A letter from Richard Kemp, the Secretary of Virginia, (p. 207), gives "a true and perfect relation of distempers," caused by the people complaining of a tax imposed upon them by Governor Harvey, and of his general government; Harvey's declaration (p. 212), and other documents of considerable interest, will be found on this subject (pp. 208, 214, 216, 217). To this end Francis Pott, "the incendiary" of these broils" (p. 207), with others, was sent to England, and petitioned the King, as a close prisoner in the Fleet (p. 218).

Sir John Harvey seems to have met with numerous obstacles in returning to Virginia, to resume the government, by the King's command; for although so many came daily from London, to accompany him, that it was feared "an ill" [the plague] would be taken to Portsmouth, which as yet they were clear of (p. 240), and the King had lent a ship for their transportation, she proved so leaky, that they were all forced to return. One hundred passengers, more than 20 being gentlemen of quality, were left behind, Governor Harvey alone taking his passage in a small ship (p. 241).

The petition for the custody of an idiot, Benoni Buck, son of a minister there, and the first in Virginia, and the orders thereon (pp. 251, 252), have an interest of a painful character.

In 1638 the Secretary gives a most encouraging account of the prosperity of the colony; good buildings, he says, had been erected, a State House was being built, and scarce any inhabitant but had his garden and orchard planted (p. 268). The Secretary had built for himself a house of brick "the fairest ever known in this country for substance" and uniformity" (p. 288). Soon after this Sir Fras. Wyatt arrives as Governor, and dissensions ensue through the change of government. Secretary Kemp desires leave to return to England (p. 309), and Sir John Harvey requests the King's warrant for a similar purpose; he complains that he is so narrowly watched that he has "scarce time of "privacy to write," that his estate has been taken from him, and his passage to England denied (p. 311).

The King's instructions to Sir William Berkeley, appointed Governor of Virginia in August 1641, must not be overlooked; nor the last letter of Charles I. to the Government of Virginia, in 1642 (p. 324), signifying his approbation, in accordance with their desire, of their protest against a petition in their names to the House of Commons, for restoring the Letters Patent of the late Company.

It is obvious that, although the correspondence of this early period is not voluminous, what it lacks in quantity is made up in the interest and importance of the papers pre-served; and the same remark will hold good with respect to other plantations, the history of which is illustrated in this Calendar.

From 1642 to 1649 the correspondence is exceedingly scanty, the whole being comprised in four pages; the reason is obvious. The State Paper Office, as Mr. Bruce observes in the preface to his first volume of Domestic Calendars to Charles I., was the King's repository, and those who transmitted papers thither were his servants. When the quarrel broke out between the King and the Parliament, and Charles I. retired to York, to Oxford, and elsewhere, his papers were deposited in other places, and few found their way into the State Paper Office.

It was one of the earliest measures of the Republican Government to establish its authority over the colonies. Commissioners were appointed for reducing Virginia to obedience (p. 361). Copies of the articles of surrender will be found at p. 376; but, although the last to surrender, the terms they obtained were more favourable than those granted to any other colony. An order of the Council of State was made in August 1658 (p. 468), upon a petition setting forth the distracted state of Virginia and the dangers likely to ensue because of the unsettled state of the government, and a letter was in consequence prepared, but vacated by reason of the death of Cromwell. Almost immediately after the restoration of Charles II. a commission was granted, appointing Sir William Berkeley Governor for the third time (p. 486), which brings the history of the colony down to 1660, the year with which this Calendar closes.

The papers relating to Virginia have been thus largely dwelt upon, not only because it was the first colony undertaken by English enterprise, but because the ultimate success which favoured the design was the cause of other similar efforts. Many grants which were subsequently obtained, and many plantations and settlements which were successfully undertaken, would never have been commenced had the colony of Virginia been suffered to die out.

The patent for NEW ENGLAND, which was the foundation of the first settlement there, is dated 3rd November 1620 (p. 24), fourteen years after the first grant to Virginia. From New England were derived all the other northern provinces in America. Lord Baltimore's patent for MARYLAND is dated 20th June 1632 (p. 152); all other grants or patents for settlements on the main land of America have a subsequent date. A grant of "all that entire portion of "land, situate within our country of NEWFOUNDLAND," was made to Sir Geo. Calvert, Secretary of State to James I., in April 1623 (p. 42), Henry Earl of Northampton, Sir Francis Bacon, and others, having obtained a previous patent in 1610 (p. 21). No grant of any of the West India Islands passed before 1625 (p. 75), with the exception of the BERMUDAS charter, which bears date 29th June 1615 (p. 17). The Earl of Carlisle's grant of the CARIBBEE ISLANDS, entitled "the first grant," was made 2nd July 1627 (p. 85); the patent for the BAHAMAS on 4th December 1630 (p. 123).

There are several papers relating to the history of NEW ENGLAND, to which the attention of the reader should be directed. For example, an early letter from Sir Ferdinando Gorges (p. 6), showing that five savages were brought from thence in 1607; the Minutes of the Council for New England from May 1622 to June 1623 (pp. 30 et seq.) and from November 1631 to November 1638 (pp. 135 et seq.), containing an interesting record of the progress of the plantation; a list of 20 patents for plantations in New England (p. 35).

The letter from the King in 1623 to the Lords Lieutenant of Cornwall, Somerset, and Devon, and to the cities of Bristol and Exeter (p. 54), urging them to move ther persons of quality to join in the advancement of the plantation of New England, "a work in which the public take "great interest;" and the subsequent grant for a general and free contribution for the maintenance of the plantation (p. 87), are worthy of remark, as also the narrative of Sec. Coke, the letter of Richard Sandes (p. 111), and the names of the principal undertakers for the plantation of the Massachusetts Bay (p. 112).

"NEW ENGLAND'S PLANTATION," a curious pamphlet, unfortunately imperfect (p. 123); the letters of the first Governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop (pp. 154, 156); of Thomas Wiggin (pp. 155, 156); Emanuel Downing (p. 158); and Henry Dade (p. 174); the papers of John White, of Dorchester (pp. 155, 214); of Edward Winslow (p. 157); and Dr. Stoughton (pp. 179, 194); have all an interest of a peculiar character. Lists of the names of passengers (pp. 192, 209, 272, 275), have also their value, as well as the Declaration of the Council for New England, for resignation of their charter (p. 204).

Any allusion to the name of Henry Vane, the youthful Governor of MASSACHUSETTS, possesses interest. Our readers will remember he was but 30 when chosen to govern that colony. Let us turn, therefore, to a letter written to his father (p. 211), wherein he refers to the reasons for leaving his native country. In like manner occur other subjects of more or less interest, illustrative of the history of this great northern settlement.

An examination of the two copies of the MARYLAND patents (p. 152) will exhibit a remarkable instance of the different construction that may be put upon the same document, if written in full or with contractions; the disputes with Virginia about boundaries form the frequent topic of discussion in these papers.

Before dismissing the subject of the AMERICAN COLONIES we would not omit to refer to two instances in which the papers are presumed to illustrate events comparatively, if not wholly unknown in the early history of America. We allude to a design by the English to settle NEW YORK in 1623, and to an attempted colonization of SOUTH CAROLINA, 30 years before the actual settlement took place.

Secretary Conway's letter to the Lord President of York (p. 47), has reference to the first. The design of settling a plantation in New England, and building a city there to be called York, originated as it seems with one Christopher Levett: it was strongly recommended by the English Government, the President of York being desired to "win "assistance from the country in a work so honourable to "the nation and to the city of York;" the grant for a general and free contribution to be paid to Christopher Levett (p. 87), appointed Governor, has probably reference to this design.

The first allusion to the early attempt to colonize SOUTH CAROLINA is in the proposals for settling a colony in Florida in 1629 (p. 99). These proposals, made by, if not originating with Mons. Bellavene, were, in October of the same year, "communicated" to the Baron de Sancé, and "note" of articles was agreed upon with the King" (p. 102), concerning the planting of Carolina. The "articles demanded of the Attorney General by De Sancé to be "inserted in his grant;" De Sancé's regulations to be observed by all French Protestants wishing to settle in Carolina (p. 109); his propositions to carry over 100 men to plant there (p. 110); and an estimate of the expense of carrying them over, with the apparel, victuals, arms, tools, and household implements necessary for one person or for a family, are all minutely particularized. From the contents of a petition from Edward Kingswell (p. 190), we gather how "the plantation was hindered, and the voyage frus-"trated;" additional particulars will be found in other papers (pp. 194, 197, 207). It may be worthy of remark that it appears from other papers in the Domestic and Foreign Correspondence, that De Sancé came to England in 1627, and acted in the capacity of Secretary to Mons. de Soubise, Duke de Fontenay, then also in England, whose doings at Rochelle and exertions in favour of the distressed French Protestants are so well known; that when Soubise had been again defeated by the French king's fleet, he fled to England with the remnant of his followers, and it is supposed that many went over to the Spaniards, the West Indies, and elsewhere. It is, I think, pretty evident that the intended settlers, the French Protestants above mentioned, were a portion of the followers of Soubise, perhaps the companions in arms of De Sancé himself.

As regards NEWFOUNDLAND many curious and interesting papers may be referred to. For example, the disputes with respect to the fishing trade there (pp. 20, 21); the difficulties which Lord Baltimore, the Governor of the plantation, had to contend with, "no longer to be resisted," not only on account of the climate, which he describes as most severe from October to May, both land and sea being frozen the greatest part of the time, and the excessive mortality (p. 100), but because of the hostilities which continually prevailed (p. 93). At length the King, "weighing that "men of Lord Baltimore's condition and breeding are "fitter for other employment than the framing of new "plantations, which commonly have rugged and laborious "beginnings," advised him to return to his native country (p. 104).

NOVA SCOTIA is the frequent subject of illustration in these papers, as well as the endeavours to make a settlement upon the AMAZON river in GUIANA.

The capture of CANADA in July 1629, by Sir David Kirke, and its subsequent restitution to France, through the treaty of St. Germain, in August 1632, is an event of importance, upon which considerable information may be derived from the documents in this volume. As regards the restitution, a reference must be made to the French correspondence; the negotiation for the treaty necessarily fell into the hands of the English Ambassador resident in Paris. In this transaction, we think, considerable light is thrown upon the concluding days of a most worthy and notable character of King Charles' reign, Sir Isaac Wake himself, the Ambassador above mentioned; and especial attention is invited to Sec. Coke's letter to Wake (p. 142, No. 45). This letter is dated 19th April 1632, and Wake, who had long been in a precarious state, died on the 31st of the following month.

With reference to the BAHAMAS, or the plantation of PROVIDENCE, as the principal island was then called, and the islands of Association, otherwise Tortuga, Henrietta, and Fonseca, we have a complete and unbroken record of the proceedings of the Company to whom the patent was granted (p. 123), from its establishment in 1630 to 1641, when the entries are abruptly discontinued. This valuable history (for so it has now become) is written in two large folio volumes, most probably between 1640 and 1650, but unfortunately no letters from those islands have found their way into the State Paper Office; the reason is obvious, the Company governed those islands absolutely and without any reference to the King or his ministers. A glance at the names of the incorporated body gives additional interest to the letters they wrote. The Earl of Warwick, Lord Say and Sele, Lord Brooke, Sir Gilbert Gerrard, Oliver St. John, and John Pym, figured too conspicuously in subsequent events not to attach to their previous actions a peculiar significance; we will instance three or four documents in illustration of this.

The minuteness of their instructions to the Governor and Council of Providence Island is strongly evidenced in one of their early letters (pp. 147–149); the original entry occupies no less than 24 closely written pages. A few days later (p. 150), the Governor is directed to send back or burn all cards, dice, and tables, which it is understood have been received in the Island, at the same time it is stated that the Company "mislike not lawful recreations such as chess, "shooting, &c.;" the Governor's proclamation "for preventing mixed dancing and other vanity" in the island is very much approved, and the ministers are directed to second his authority (p. 187). In the same letter a rather significant phrase occurs; the Governor is twitted for having grounded his authority "upon a supposed privilege which you call prerogative as annexed to your "place ...;" and it was added "neither do we like the" use of that word." The charges against Mr. Rous, a minister in the island, are somewhat curious (p. 181); he was accused of being insufficient, of not being able to pray extemporarily, that he would soldierlike beat his men, and that he was fitter for a buff coat than a cassock. Mr. Ditloff, another minister, also accuses Rous of teaching Ditloff songs called catches, "the meaning of which word" he understood not, the matter of which was the motion "of creatures as the nightingale and the like." Before leaving this subject we would draw attention to a curious ballad relating to New England (p. 180). It is "to the" tune of the Townsman's Cap." Although unable myself to discover any allusion to the tune elsewhere, I have little doubt that it will be recognized by some reader learned in our ballad and musical literature.

The rival claims of the Earls of Carlisle and Montgomery, of Lord Marlborough, and of Sir William Courteen to the island of BARBADOES may be readily understood by a reference to the papers herein calendared. The "first grant" to Lord Carlisle is dated 2nd July 1627 (p. 85), but in the following February, Charles I. also granted to his Lord Chamberlain, then Lord Montgomery, certain islands between 8 and 13 degrees of N.L., and among them "Barbudos." The letters from the King and the opinion of Lord Keeper Coventry (pp. 96–98) give a sufficient explanation of this business. The King, in a letter to the Governor of Barbadoes (p. 98), says that the controversy had arisen "chiefly in the ambiguity of names "of near sound, and thereby subject to mistaking in so "remote parts;" the other island alluded to is Barbuda, an island of insignificance as compared with Barbadoes. Upon these grounds, although Barbudos is in another place said to mean Barbadoes, I have added [Barbuda] thus in Montgomery's grant. The petition of Henry, 2nd Earl of Marl-borough (p. 242) explains the grounds of his claims; the minutes of depositions and examinations (pp. 488, 489) those of Sir William Courteen.

Of ANTIGUA, ST. CHRISTOPHER'S, and others of the CARIBBEE ISLANDS, many interesting particulars will be found. Colonel Christopher Kaynell, the Governor of Antigua, during the Interregnum, represents the condition of the island and its resources; his proposals to preserve it "from present ruin "and destruction" (p. 439) would lead us to believe that Cromwell did not attach so much importance to this island as the inhabitants wished; and a debate in 1656, how the transportation of persons from Nevis, St. Christopher's, and other places to Jamaica may be managed with most convenience (p. 450), tends rather to confirm this impression. In July 1656 we find, however, that the representations of Governor Kaynell had met with some consideration, for by an Order of the Council of State, 300 men out of Scotland were allowed to be transported thence at their own charge (p. 446). As regards St. Christopher's, there are many important references; the commission to Sir Thomas Warner in September 1625, reciting the discovery of that island and other of the Caribbees, "until then inhabited only "by savages," and granting him the custody as the King's Lieutenant (p. 75); the disputes and hostilities with the French, arising from the island being inhabited by both nations; the aggressions of the Spaniards, who, after fighting a day and a half with a fleet of 38 galleons against nine English vessels, took both Nevis and St. Christopher's, and burnt all the houses there. Seven hundred men and boys were carried from thence to Carthagena, besides the English, who were taken to the Havanna, and 400 others who fled to the mountains, and were succoured by the Indians (pp. 102, 118)

In fact, it may be said that upon almost every topic of moment in our colonial history some particulars may be found. The description of the several tribes of the Indians; their treatment of and by the English; their education, conversion, habits, manners, and customs, are all more or less the subject of comment or debate in these papers. Of their fellow-sufferers, the negroes, much may also be learnt. The Company of Providence Island, some of whose names have already been quoted, assert it to be "a groundless opinion that Christians may not lawfully" keep such persons in a state of servitude during their "strangeness from Christianity" (p. 202). This will perhaps be thought a singular qualification of opinion in the present day, but we must not forget that these sentiments were expressed more than 225 years ago. It is, however, scarcely probable that when the Privy Council made stay in 1637 of a cargo of "nigers" from Guinea, because the King's patent for sole traffic in them had been infringed upon (p. 260), the above qualification had much weight with their Lordships. The trade in and employment of them, we find, was carried on in those days to a great extent, and some having escaped to England from Bermudas, were speedily recaptured by order of the Council of State, and kept in custody until restored to their former servitude.

On the history of BERMUDAS or the SOMERS ISLANDS this volume is by no means silent. Perhaps one of the most interesting letters in the Calendar is from Sir George Somers (p. 9), "the good old gentleman," as the kind-hearted Lord De la Warr calls him. By a petition from the House of Commons to the King, in 1628 (p. 92), protesting against the heavy taxes that were levied upon goods imported by the planters from thence, which they assert is contrary to law and directly against an express grant in their patent, we see that the island at that time had a population of about 2,000, which in less than 30 years increased to 3,000 (according to the last return, in 1839, the population was about 9,000), 1,500 being able to bear arms; the charges of government amounted to 500l.a year, and the duties upon tobacco alone yielded 800l. per annum; this may be seen in a report of the Committee for America to the Council of State (p. 449).

We must not omit to draw attention to the EXPEDITION TO THE WEST INDIES, undertaken by Cromwell. The original design, the capture of Hispaniola, was not, as is well known, successful; but to it England owes the acquisition of JAMAICA, and the extraordinary care taken by Cromwell to keep possession of the island, and fortify it against any attack from Spain or her possessions in the West Indies, will not remain unobserved. The English took possession of Jamaica on 10th May 1655, the inhabitants, to the number of 1,400, having fled to the hills, except some Negroes and Portuguese, who surrendered. In about four months nearly 8,000 men, well armed and well provisioned, had been sent over from England, to defend the place against all attempts. A variety of inducements were held out to those of New England and other plantations to remove "to a land of "plenty," and the English Government soon after issued a proclamation "for the encouragement of persons who "will transport themselves to Jamaica" (pp. 429, 431). The account by Francis Hodges, Treasurer of the land forces in Jamaica, of arrears due to those who returned from that island, and to those who died in the expedition (p. 469), will satisfy inquiry as to who were engaged in that service. The proceedings against Generals Penn and Venables, the Commanders, for having returned to England "without licence, contrary to their trust,"should not be passed over. Soon after King Charles' restoration, we find that considerations, proposals, and reports were addressed to His Majesty (pp. 491, 492), pointing out the advantages to be derived from Jamaica, and the encouragements that should be given to send over servants and goods, and urging upon the King the necessity of fortifying the island and settling the Government. The number of inhabitants had then fallen to about 4,500, half of them being the relics of the army; and it was proposed that women for planters' wives should be sent over, Newgate and Bridewell spared as much as may be, and poor maids transported instead, "with which few parishes in England are unbur-" dened," the custom of the planter being to give, not to require anything with his wife.

I have thus, in some measure, endeavoured to show the varied character of the papers contained in this volume, and their great interest and value to all students of our colonial history. Before concluding my remarks, I would call attention to the number of papers without date. There is scarcely a page in the first half of the volume without an undated paper, which may easily be distinguished by the bracket or the? after the supposed date. In every instance great care has been taken and much time bestowed in assigning an approximative date to the document; and although in some case a more correct date may probably be assigned by those more intimately acquainted with the particular history to which the document refers, I have made use of all the knowledge accessible to me, and especially to that invaluable source of knowledge upon historical contemporary subjects, the State Papers themselves.

With regard to the spelling of names, the orthography of the writer, when his signature could be found, has invariably been adopted, in other cases considerable difficulty has been experienced, and in some instances it has been found next to impossible to decide how a name should be spelt. One example is sufficient to illustrate this point. Of the various spellings Sir Charles Wolseley, Wolsley, Woolseley, or Woolsley, which is correct? (fn. 2) With many of the old Indian names a similar difficulty has been experienced; Patowmack, Patomack, Potowmac, Potomac, and in a variety of other ways has this magnificent river been spelt. It is hoped, however, that by cross references in the Index, the inquirer will be readily directed to the object of his search.

Although this volume embraces a period of nearly a century, it is highly probable that the remaining 28 years, that is, down to the Revolution of 1688, will occupy five volumes. After the restoration of Charles II. the plantations became more settled; they had for the most part greatly increased in importance; the correspondence becomes, therefore, more consecutive, and consequently more voluminous.

I cannot conclude without acknowledging, in the most public manner, the kind assistance that I have received throughout my labours from my valued friend, John Bruce, Esq.


State Paper Office,

21st November 1860.


  • 1. During the period embraced by the present volume charters were granted by the English Crown for settlements in the following places:—
    Acadia or Nova Scotia. Florida. New Hampshire.
    Africa. Fonseca. New York.
    Amazon River. Grenada. Nova Scotia.
    Anguilla. Guadaloupe. Providence Island.
    Antigua. Guiana. Quebec.
    Association or Tortuga. Guinea. Redendo.
    Bahamas. Henrietta. Rhode Island.
    Barbadoes. Jamaica. St. Bartholomew.
    Barbuda. Long Island. St. Brandon.
    Bermudas or Somers Maine. St. Christopher's.
    Islands. Marigalante. St. Eustache.
    Canada. Maryland. St. Lucia.
    Cape Gratia de Dios. Metalina. St. Martin.
    Carolina. Montserrat. St. Vincent.
    Darien, Bay of. Narragansetts Bay. Sembrera.
    Delaware Bay. Nevis. Surinam.
    Deseada. New England, i.e., New Tadousae.
    Dominiea. Plymouth, Massachu- Tobago.
    Eleuthera. setts, Connecticut, Todosantes.
    Enegada. and New Haven. Trinidad.
    Fernando de Noronho. Newfoundland. Virginia.
  • 2. The name of Raleigh has, we believe, been found in 39 different ways. A gentleman of the name of Leighton has lately published a curious illustration of the different ways in which he found his own name spelt in various documents; they were no less than 55. [Notes and Queries, 2nd S., Vol. x., p. 257.]