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1587 Journal of John White

by Scott Dawson


Scott Dawson transcribed the 1587 Journal of John White and contributed it for the Lost Colony website:

The 9. day of April, in the year above said we departed Plymouth, our Fleet consisting of the number of seven sails , to wit, the Tiger , of the burden of seven score tons, a Flie- boat called the Roe-bucke, of the like burden, the Lion of a hundred tons or thereabouts, the Elizabeth, of fifty tons, and the Dorothie, a small barke: whereunto were also adjoined for speedy services, two small pinnesses. The principal Gentlemen of our company, were these, M. Ralph Lane, M. Tomas Candish, M. John Arundell, M. Raymund, M. Stukeley, M. Bremige, M. Vincent, and M. John Clarke, and diverse others, whereof some were Captains, and other some Assistants for counsel, and good directions in the voyage. 

    The 14. day of April we fell with Lancerota and Forteventura, Isles of the Canaries, and from thence we continued our course for Dominica, one of the Antilles of the West India, wherewith we fell the 7. day of May, and the 10. day following we came to an anchor at Cotesa, a little Island situated near to the Island of S. John, where we landed, and refreshed our selves all that day. 

    The 12. day of May we came to an anchor in the Bay of Mosquito, in the Island of S. John, within a Falcon shot of the shore: where our General Sir Richard Greenevil, and the most part of our company landed, and began to fortify very near to the Sea side: the river ran by the one side of our fort , and the other two sides were environed with woods. 

    The 13. day we began to build a new pinnesse within the Fort, with the timber that we then felled in the country , some part whereof we fetched three miles up in the land, and brought it to our Fort upon trucks, the Spaniard not daring to make or offer resistance. 

    The 16. day there appeared unto us out of the woods eight horsemen of the Spaniards, about a quarter of a mile from our Fort, staying about half an hour in viewing our forces: but as soon as they saw ten of our shot marching towards them, they presently retired into the woods. 

    The 19. day Master Candish , who had been separated from our fleet in a storm in the Bay of Portugal, arrived at Cotesa, within the sight of the Tiger: we thinking him a far off to have been either a Spaniard or Frenchman of war , thought it good to weigh anchors , and to go room with him, which the Tiger did, and discerned him at last to be one of our consorts, for joy of whose coming our ships discharged their ordinance, and saluted him according to the manner of the Seas. 

    The 22. day twenty other Spanish horsemen showed themselves to us upon the other side of the river: who being seen , our General dispatched 20. footmen towards them, and two horsemen of ours, mounted upon Spanish horses, which we before had taken in the time of our being on the Island : they showed to our men a flag of truce, and made signs to have a parley with us: whereupon two of our men went half of the way upon the sands, and two of theirs came and met them: the two Spaniards offered very great salutations to our men, but began according to their Spanish proud humors, to expostulate with them about their arrival and fortifying in their country , who notwithstanding by our mens discreet answers were so cooled, that (whereas they were told, that our principal intention was only to furnish ourselves with water and victuals , and other necessaries, whereof we stood in need , which we craved might be yielded us with fair and friendly means , otherwise our resolution was to practice force, and to relieve ourselves by the sword )the Spaniards in conclusion seeing our men so resolute, yielded to our requests with large promises of all courtesy, and great favor , and so our men and theirs departed. 

    The 23. day our pinnesse was finishd, and launched : which being done, our General with his Captains and Gentlemen, marched up into the Country about the space of 4. miles, where in a plain marsh they stayed expecting the coming of the Spaniards according to their promise, to furnish us with victuals: who keeping their old custom for perjury and breach of promise, came not, whereupon our General fired the woods thereabout, and so retired to our Fort, which the same day was fired also, and each man came aboard to be ready to set sail the next morning. 

    The 29. day we set sail from Saint Johns, being many of us stung before upon shore with the Mosquitose: but the same night we took a Spanish Frigate, which was forsaken by the Spaniards upon the sight of us, and the next day in the morning very early we took another Frigate , with good and rich freight , and diverse Spaniards of account in her, which afterwards wee ransomed for good round sums , and landed them in S. Johns. 

    The 26. day our Lieutenant Master Ralph Lane went in one of the Frigates which we had taken, to Roxo bay upon the Southwest side of Saint Johns, to fetch salt, being thither conducted by a Spanish Pilot: as soon as he arrived there, he landed with his men to the number of 20. and entrenched himself upon the sands immediately, compassing one of their salt hills within the trench: who being seen of the Spaniards, there came down towards him two or three troops of horsemen and footmen, who gave him the looking, and gazing on, but dared not come near him to offer any resistance, so that Master Lane in spite of their troops , carried their salt aboard and loaded his Frigate , and so returned again to our fleet the 29. day, which rode at S. Germans Bay. The same day we all departed, and the next day arrived in the Island of Hispaniola.

part "2"


    The 1. day of June we anchored at Isabella, on the North side of Hispaniola. 

    The 3. day of June, the Governor of Isabella, and Captain of the Port de Plata, being certified by the reports of sundry Spaniards, who had been well entertained aboard our ships by our General , that in our fleet were many brave and gallant Gentlemen, who greatly desired to see the Governor aforesaid , he thereupon sent gentle commendations to our General , promising within few days to come to him in person, which he performed accordingly. 

    The 5. day the aforesaid Governor accompanied with a lusty Friar , and twenty other Spaniards, with their servants, and Negroes, came down to the Sea side, where our ships rode at anchor , who being seen , our General manned immediately the most part of his boats with the chief men of our Fleet , every man appointed, and furnished in the best sort: at the landing of our General , the Spanish governor received him very courteously, and the Spanish Gentlemen saluted our English Gentlemen, and their inferior sort did also salute our Soldiers and Sea men, liking our men, and likewise their qualities, although at first they seemed to stand in fear of us, and of so many of our boats , whereof they desired that all might not land their men, yet in the end, the courtesies that passed on both sides were so great, that all fear and mistrust on the Spaniards part was abandoned.

    In the mean time while our English General and the Spanish Governor discoursed between them of diverse matters, as of the state of the Country , the multitude of the Towns and people, and the commodities of the Island , our men provided two banqueting houses covered with green boughs , the one for the Gentlemen, the other for the servants , and a sumptuous banquet was brought in served by us all in plate, with the sound of trumpets, and consort of music , wherewith the Spaniards were more than delighted. Which banquet being ended, the Spaniards in recompense of our courtesy , caused a great herd of white bulls , and cows to be brought together from the mountains , and appointed for every Gentleman and Captain that would ride, a horse ready saddled , and then singled out three of the best of them to be hunted by horsemen after their manner , so that the pastime grew very pleasant for the space of three hours , wherein all three of the beasts were killed, whereof one took the Sea, and there was slain with a musket. After this sport, many rare presents and gifts were given and bestowed on both parts, and the next day we played the Merchants in bargaining with them by way of truck and exchange of diverse of their commodities, as horses, mares, cows , bulls , goats , swine, sheep , bull-hides, sugar, ginger, pearl , tobacco , and such like commodities of the Island .

    The 7. day we departed with great good will from the Spaniards from the Island of Hispaniola: but the wiser sort do impute this great show of friendship, and courtesy used towards us by the Spaniards rather to the force that we were of, and the vigilance , and watchfulness that was amongst us, then to any hearty good will, or sure friendly entertainment : for doubtless if they had been stronger than we , we might have looked for no better courtesy at their hands , then Master John Haukins received at Saint John de Ullua, or John Oxnam near the straights of Dariene, and diverse others of our Countrymen in other places.

    The 8. day we anchored at a small Island to take Seals , which in that place we understood to have been in great quantity , where the General and certain others with him in the pinnesse were in very great danger to have been all cast away, but by the help of God they escaped the hazard , and returned aboard the Admiral in safety .

    The 9. day we arrived and landed in the Isle of Caycos, in which Island we searched for salt-ponds , upon the advertisement and information of a Portugese : who in deed abused our General and us, deserving a halter for his hire, if it had so pleased us.

    The 12. we anchored at Guanima, and landed.

    The 15. and 16. we anchored and landed at Cyguateo.

    The 20. we fell with the main of Florida.

    The 23. we were in great danger of a wreck on a breach called the Cape of Fear .

    The 24. we came to anchor in a harbour, where we caught in one tide so much fish as would have yielded us twenty pounds in London: this was our first landing in Florida.

    The 26. we came to anchor in Wocokon.

    The 29. we weighed anchor to bring the Tyger into the harbor , where through the unskilfulness of the Master whose name was Fernando , the Admiral struck on ground, and sunk .

    The 3. we sent word of our arriving to Wococon, to Wingina at Roanoak.

    The 6. M. John Arundel was sent to the main , and Manteo with him: and Captaine Aubry and Captain Boniten the same day were sent to Croatoan, where they found two of our men left there with 30. other by Captain Reymond, some 20. days before. 

    The 8 Captain Aubry and Captain Boniten returned, with two of our men found by them, to us at Wocokon. 


    The 11. day the General accompanied in his Tilt boat with Master John Arundell , Master Stukeley , and diverse other Gentlemen, Master Lane , Master Candish , Master Hariot , and twenty others in the new pinnesse, Captain Amadas , Captain Clarke , with ten others in a shipboat, Francis Brooke , and John White in another ship- boat , passed over the water from Wococon to the main land victualled for eight days , in which voyage we first discovered the towns of Pomejok, Aquascogoc and Secotan, and also the great lake called by the Savages Paquipe, with diverse other places, and so returned with that discovery to our Fleet .

    The 12. we came to the Town of Pomeiok.

    The 13. we passed by water to Aquascogok.

    The 15. we came to Secotan, and were well entertained there of the Savages.

    The 16. we returned thence, and one of our boats with the Admiral was sent to Aquascogok, to demand a silver cup which one of the Savages had stolen from us, and not receiving it according to his promise, we burnt, and spoiled their corn , and Town , all the people being fled.

    The 18. we returned from the discovery of Secotan, and the same day came aboard our Fleet riding at Wococon. 

    The 21. our Fleet anchoring at Wococon, we weighed anchor for Hatoraske.

    The 27. our Fleet anchored at Hatorask, and there we rested. 

    The 29. Grangino brother to king Wingina came aboard the Admiral , and Manteo with him. 

    The 2. the Admiral was sent to Weapomeiok.

    The 5. M. John Arundell was sent for England.

    The 25. our General weighed anchor , and set sail for England. 

    About the 31. He took a Spanish ship of 300 tons richly loaded , boarding her with a boat made with boards of chests, which fell asunder, and sunk at the ships side, as soon as ever he and his men were out of it. 

    The 10. Of September, by foul weather the General then shipped in the prize, lost sight of the Tiger . 

    The 6. The Tiger fell with the Lands end, and the same day came to anchor at Falmouth. 

    The 18. the General came with the prize to Plymouth , and was courteously received by diverse of his worshipful friends.



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