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of the sayde cittye of London, beinge of the burthen of 100 tonne, to have, possesse, and enjoye, and to be partaker with me and my fleete, and I with them, of all such lawfull pryse and pryses as shalbe taken by me or them, or any of us, xxxiv. jointelie or severally, in sighte or oute of sighte; tunne for
1592. tunne, and man for man ; from the daye of the date hereof July-Oct. untill the tenth daye of September next." 1 The agreement bears date the 28th of July.
On the day immediately following, whilst Borough in The Roebuck was lying close to Flores, a great Portuguese carrack, and a ship of the Earl of Cumberland's fleet which had her in brisk chase, came in sight, bearing directly for the land. All three anchored. Both The Roebuck and the Earl's ship were on the point of attacking, when carrack and cruisers were scattered to sea by a sudden storm. When the opportunity recurred, the commander of the Santa Cruz obeyed the King of Spain's orders by setting fire to her, as soon as he saw escape to be impossible. But Borough learnt, from one of her crew, the welcome news that other and still more richly-laden carracks were also steering towards Flores, in the expectation of meeting there with their appointed escort of Spanish men-ofwar. It was expressly to cut off this escort that Ralegh had placed Frobisher's squadron on the coast of Spain; and the plan had succeeded. Borough's hopes rose high. In the ships of London he had acquired a possibly needful accession of strength. By the junction with the Earl of Cumberland's cruiser, and her expected consorts, the partners in the game came, it seems, to be more than were wished for.
On the 3rd of August the Madre de Dios hove in sight. She was an enormous ship, of 1600 tons' burthen, and (all counted) of seven decks. Her length, over all, was 165 feet. She was, in fact, a floating castle, with nearly 800 inhabitants Amongst them were several eminent Spanish governors and functionaries; and many wealthy merchants, going homeward
1 Casar Papers, in MS. Lansdowne, lxx. $ 20 (British Museum).
PREFA- with the fruits of their toil and enterprise in the Indies. Her TORY
commander was Don Fernan de Mendoza. Sir John Borough NOTE TO LETTERS told Lord Burghley that the fight lasted from ten of the clock XXVIII. TO XXXIV. in the morning until one or two o'clock “at night.” But on this
point, as on some others, the accounts of eye-witnesses vary. 1592. July-Oct. On the respective parts taken in the capture by the ships of the
Queen and Ralegh and by those of the Earl, there was, not unnaturally, a very sharp conflict afterwards. The Carrack, says Borough in his despatch, “is very rytche, but mutch spoyled by the sodiers being entred by force ; to which yt was not possible for me to geive order, not of a long tyme ; for that the Erle of Cumberland's men stood uppon theyr Lord's commyssion, and therby challendged as great a commandement as I, notwithstanding that I mayde yt knowen to the chiefe of them that I was joined in her Majestye's commission with Sir Martyn Furbyssher.” The commission here spoken of is one which would seem to have been issued after the discovery of what Ralegh calls “my great treasons." From other passages in the despatches it might have been inferred that both Frobisher and Borough were simply to be regarded as Ralegh's lieutenants. “I have nowe,” adds Sir John Borough, “taken possession of the carrack in her Majestye's name and ryght, and I hope, for all the spoyle that has beene mayde, her Majestye shall receyve more proffyt by her then by any shipp that ever came into England.”
Lord Cumberland's captains varied the story considerably. According to them, both the flagship (Ralegh's Roebuck) and the Queen's ship, Foresight, were disabled, more or less, during the fight. The Earl's ships, they said, at length “ laid the carricke aboord, on both sides, and entred three hundred and sixty men at the least, and after some fight and losse of men, not only surprised and tooke her, but also rescued the Foresight."
The Madre de Dios had as stormy a passage to England as her captors had had in the voyage outward. She reached Dartmouth on the 8th of September. And then the liberal
self-help" of the captors was resumed. It had gone very far PREFAduring the brief interval between the taking of the ship and Borough's arrival on board her, to take possession for the LETTERS Queen. But at sea it was easier to plunder than to turn the xxxiv. plunder to account. The news of the theretofore unheard-of
1592. wealth of a single ship had spread far and wide in England. July—Oct. The Queen's Commissioners made eager haste to the coast. Spanish
Prizes Yet they were anticipated, not only by keen-witted Devonians, and but by speculative shopkeepers from London.. The ports of English
Privateers. arrival looked for many days, says an eye-witness, “like Bartholomew fair.” Even the clerk to the Queen's Commissioners expresses compassion for the sailors, on hearing of the unequal encounters between them and the traffickers on shore. He testifies that some of the precious commodities were sold by the buyers, before nightfall and without quitting the town, for five times the price given to those who had made the spoil at peril of life and limb.
"Pillage” within certain limits was, at this period, a recognised privilege of captors. What the proper limits were was a question on which sailors and statesmen widely differed. And they differed not less widely as to the time when it should be made. The sailors deemed the moment of victory the right moment for pillage. On this occasion, it was notified by a royal proclamation that no pillage at all was lawful “until the whole lading was brought into port." The proclamation was accompanied by warrants addressed to the bailiffs of the several hundreds adjacent to the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, in which they were directed to see that “all passengers should be stopped, and that all trunks, carriers' packs, hampers, cloakbags, portmanteaus, and fardells, that are likely to have in them any part of the goods lately arrived in the ports of Dartmouth or Plymouth in a Spanish carrocke, ... should be stayed and searched.”
Among the earliest witnesses examined by the Commissioners at Dartmouth, was a Portuguese officer, named Vincent de Fontesecco, who had been purser of that carrack—the Santa
PREFA. Cruz—which its crew had burnt at Flores, to avoid capture. TRY
Fontesecco deposed to his belief that the Madre de Dios conXL TE TO LETTERS tained, in precious stones, pearls, amber, and musk, “to the XVIIL TO XXXI. value of 400,000 crusados," and that, amongst these, were 1592
"two great crosses and one other great jewel of diamonds July=Oct which the Viceroy sent for a present to the King." Of such
precious merchandise as this, only a very small proportion was recovered, notwithstanding the most stringent measures. “ For jewels, pearls, and amber, I fear that the birds be flown," wrote Robert Cecil to Lord Burghley, almost at the instant of his arrival at Dartmouth, on the 19th of September. But there was a large store of rich commodities less easily disposable. Of spices alone, according to Fontesecco, the Madre de Dios, at her sailing, contained no less than 537 tons;' and of ebony wood, 15 tons. The tapestries, silk stuffs, and satins of the rich carrick' seem to have been in fit companionship with the spices and the hardwoods. There is no need for further details, to explain the widespread anxiety-in high and low—to have at least a finger, if not a fist, in the prize. Several months after the arrival of the carrack, the Countess of Bath, wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, had occasion to thank the Judge of the Admiralty, Dr. Julius Cæsar, for some act of courtesy in relation to quite another matter, and she falls incidentally into this naïve reflection : “I send your wife a small token, in show of thankful remembrance; but, had I had anything by this rich carrick, she should have perceived it by my token. But my Lord's house is far off, and so lighted of nothing." 3
Captain Crosse (afterwards knighted at Cadiz, and to be
Namely, 8,500 quintals, or hundredweights, of pepper ; 900 quintals of cloves ; 700 quintals of cinnamon ; 500 quintals of anneal ; 50 quintal of mace; 50 quintals of nutmegs, and 50 quintals of benjamin. A note on this deposition, in the hand of Lord Burghley, estimates the pepper as being then worth £12 a quintal, or £102,000 in the whole (C Papers, in MS. Lansdowne, lxx. $ 36.)
· Tawstock, near Barnstaple.
met with elsewhere in these volumes as ‘Sir Robert Crosse') PREFAcarried the Queen's ship, Foresight, into Portsmouth Harbour, NOTE TO and enjoyed a quiet and pleasant little interval of five days, LETTERS between his arrival and the official search of the ship, by order xxxiv. from the Council in London. The search was not very pro
1592. ductive. Afterwards, Crosse acknowledged that he had taken July-Oct. out of the carrack spoils to the value of £2,000. Of the examination of Sir John Borough's own chests a curious account will be found in Letter XXXII.
The captain of another ship—the Dainty-found it convenient to “come about to Harwich.” The Council had not thought it needful to take any such precautions on the coast of Essex and Suffolk as had been taken in Devon and Hants. Certain "verie greate bagges of greate cynamon” found their way, from Ipswich to Lombard Street, just at the time that Sir John Hawkins—to whom the Dainty belonged-had explained to Lord Burghley the elaborate measures he had adopted to secure the total abstinence of his own captain and crew from the prevalent offence. When this captain came under examination, he narrated a conversation between himself and Admiral Borough. The Dainty, it seems, had lost her mast just after the capture of the carrack, and was driven out to sea. When he was able to rejoin his admiral, he applied for a share in the good things that had been going. Sir John answered: “Proclamation is made; and I am for the Queen." "So am I, too,” said Captain Thomson, “as I hope ; but is there never a chain of gold, nor apparel ?” “I have kept something for you," rejoined Borough, “because you were away.” But, to Thomson's disgust, the something was “a common sailor's chest, which had been broken up before.” Presently, however, he found means to console himself. The Commissioners, in their letters to Burghley, complain bitterly of the difficulty they found in knowing what and whom to believe or disbelieve. When some unwilling witnesses were reproached with disregarding the sacred obligations of their oath, one of them answered : “Nay, by my troth, we had rather be in the VOL. II.