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In the year 1849 the Hakluyt Society published Strachey's work entitled “ The Historie of Travaile unto Virginia Britannia,” edited by R. H. Major, Esq. Chapters VIII., IX., and X. contained an account of the Popham Colony, planted in the year 1607, at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Prior to the appearance of that work, but few of the details respecting the colony were known. In 1852 the portion of Strachey’s “ Historie which included the story of the colony was reprinted, with additional notes, in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (4th ser. vol. i. p. 219). The following year four chapters of the same part of the “ Historie ” were printed with new notes in the Collections of the Maine Historical Society (vol. iii. p. 286). In 1862 the Maine Society held a celebration on the site of the ancient colony, publishing the proceedings, during the following year,
in “Memorial Volume.” Subsequently, certain features of the undertaking were discussed by several writers in the Boston daily press. In 1866 a number of the articles thus given to the public were reprinted, and a bibliography of the subject was added. No essentially new facts, however, were laid before the public.
This manuscript was found by the writer in the summer of 1875, while engaged in a careful search for historical material. It is now given to the public entire for the first time. By a comparison of the narrative with Strachey’s, it will be seen that the manuscript, or at least a tolerable copy, must have passed through his hands, forming indeed the principal source of his knowledge respecting the Popham Colony. Portions of the manuscript were copied by him almost verbatim, though other portions were either epitomized or omitted.
Upon the titlepage of the manuscript, subsequently prefixed to it, the author's name is wanting, but we incline to the opinion, upon the evidence given below, that it was written by James Davies, one of the Council of the colony. The account partially covers the voyage of two
ships, the “ Gift of God” and the “ Mary and John,” to the Kennebec in 1607, together with a relation of many events which immediately followed. Unfortunately, the closing portion of the manuscript has disappeared. This mutilation must have occurred since Strachey wrote, as a continuation of the narrative is found in that writer's “ Historie.” Concerning Strachey himself, comparatively little is known, though he was Secretary to the Virginia Colony in 1609-10. Besides his work on the “ Laws of Virginia,” published at Oxford, in 1612, he wrote the very interesting account, in Purchas, of the shipwreck of Gates at Bermuda, and narrated subsequent events in Virginia. Of his “ Historie of Travaile,” he left two copies in manuscript, both referred to by Mr. Major, one of which is preserved in the British Museum, and the other in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. The latter copy lacks the intercalated sketches made on the coast of Maine. From the Oxford manuscript we have drawn the portion corresponding with the lost pages of the narrative, which forms the conclusion of Strachey's "Historie," at pp. 176-180 of the printed volume.
This interesting narrative of "A Voyage unto New England” is now preserved among the treasures of Lambeth Palace Library, London, bound up in the middle of a quarto volume of man
anuscripts that bear no special relation to the subject of the voyage. The manuscript, however, may be traced very easily in the catalogue. It is numbered 806. The writer was very agreeably surprised one day, when, in the course of searching for material, he came upon the narrative. Application was at once made for permission to copy it for publication, the request being very kindly granted by Dr. Tait, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose authorization is essential before works of this kind can be thus used. A sort of titlepage has been prefixed to the manuscript, in an early hand, by a former possessor, reciting that it was found among the papers of Sir Ferdinando Gorges by one William Griffith. Gorges died in 1647, and we can hardly suppose that his papers would have been subject to overhauling before that event took place.
The manuscript was difficult to decipher, owing to the peculiarity of the chirography, but there is every reason to suppose that the work has been performed faithfully, as it was done by a copyist selected by the obliging Librarian, Mr. S. W. Kershaw.
As to the authorship of the narrative, Strachey, in his "Historie" (p. 165) relates that, on a certain occasion “ The pilot, Captain R. Davies, with twelve others, rowed into the bay,” &c. In our manuscript, however, which Strachey used, the author at this place says,
Myself was with 12 others,” &c. This shows that the name, “ Captain R. Davies,” was here inserted by Strachey, on his supposition that Robert Davies was the author of the narrative, and was here describing these incidents. Yet Purchas (vol. v. p. 830), who had this manuscript, and quotes briefly from it, as well as from those of other Sagadahoc colonists, places the name of “ James Davies” in the margin, as the author of it. Here is apparently conflicting evidence.
Again, the writer of the narrative frequently speaks of himself, as he did in the above instance, in the first person, as “myself,” and we might fairly infer that he adhered to method. Under the date of September , in describing another incident, he introduces the names of “ Captain Gilbert, James Davies, and Captain Best,” which would seem to show that “ James Davies,” one of the persons named, was not “myself,” the author. It should be added, that the writer, while giving their titles to Gilbert and Best, simply gives the name James Davies” without any title, as one writing his own name might do.
Robert Davies and James Davies are both spoken of by Strachey and by Smith as Captains,” and as members of the colonial Council; and, so far as we know of the relative character and position of the two men, and we know but little, one would be as likely to have written the narrative as the other. If we had full evidence that Robert Davies 'was the author, we should not be surprised to find no detailed account of the colony by him during the winter, or during the period of his absence from Sagadahoc, — namely, from the 15th of December, when he re-embarked in the “ Mary and John,” as its commander, for England, till his return in the following spring, with fresh supplies, when all the remaining colonists went back to England. The brief account we have in the concluding part of the narrative, as shown by what Strachey has preserved, might well have been gathered up by Captain Robert Davies on his return to the colony, in 1608, and added to the previous account.
Of course it will be understood that Strachey did not derive from our narrative the statement, on page 178 of his “ Historie,” that Captain Robert Davies was despatched away to England in the “ Mary and John,” soon after their first arrival.” The colony arrived in the early part of August, and the “ Mary and John ” sailed for home December 15 following, more than four months after their arrival, bearing the letter of Captain Popham to the king.
Whoever the author may have been, it would appear, from his own account, at least, that he was a man of some importance ; for as the “ Mary and John," on the voyage hither, was approaching Gratiosa, he opposed the opinion of the master and his mates, who thought the island was Flores: 66 Myself withstood them and reproved them.” Possibly the “master” of the “Mary and John on her voyage hither was Robert Davies, whom Strachey calls “the pilot," the commander or captain being Raleigh Gilbert. The opinion of Purchas, that James Davies was the author of our manuscript, is entitled to great weight, and should perhaps control the evidence.
Strachey must have known both these persons, subsequently, in the southern colony of Virginia. One of the vessels which accompanied the fleet hither in 1609, on which voyage Gates and Somers were wrecked at Bermuda, was the “ “ Virginia,' which was built in the North Colony,” in which“ Captain Davies ” and “ Master Davies ” were the chief officers. Surely these can be no other than our Sagadahoc acquaintances. Strachey embarked in the “ Sea-Adventure," with Gates and Somers. We find “ Captain James Davies ” mentioned
in a letter of Strachey, written from Virginia in the following year, as commander of “ Algernoone Fort,” upon Point Comfort.*
Concerning the value of the manuscript in Lambeth Palace Library there can be no question ; and it shows very distinctly that Strachey had good authority for the principal part of his narrative relating to the Sagadahoc Colony. He used other authorities also, perhaps one or more of those cited by Purchas in his brief abstract before mentioned. Strachey's whole book, “Historie of Travaile,” which embraces an account of the Southern Colony as well, is a compilation, though he probably drew somewhat upon his own experience in his narrative of the latter.
Strachey made some blunders in his summary of our manuscript, but his errors were certainly unintentional. He used the work of Davies without credit, as he did the journals of Gosnold, Pring, and Rosier, but this was in accordance with the custom of the time.
This manuscript we now print is also of value, for the reason that it gives new facts of considerable interest, and leads to a better understanding of the enterprise.
In giving this narrative to the press, it has been thought best to modernize the orthography in those instances where it differed from that of our own day, inasmuch as it often represented the spelling of no particular period. Proper names have been allowed to stand as written.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, voyagers to the New England coast were still indulging in golden dreams, while at the same time searching for a short passage to the Indies in a region where the breadth of an entire continent barred the way. In the order of Provi. dence, however, these shores were destined to become the field of a nobler quest; and, among scenes hitherto frequented only by maritime adventurers, English colonists were destined to find a home, and lay the foundations of a prosperous commonwealth. The attempt to establish the colony at Sagadahoc pointed to this conclusion.
The first known voyage to New England in the seventeenth century was that of Gosnold, who named Cape Cod, and spent some weeks at Cuttyhunk, on the southern coast of Massachusetts.f In 1603 Martin Pring, with two vessels, lay for several weeks in Plymouth Harbor. I
On Easter Sunday, May 15, 1605, Captain Waymouth sailed from Dartmouth, England, with intentions that have never been sufficiently explained, sighting land in latitude 41° 20' N. The coast of Cape Cod appearing dangerous, and having a head wind, he did not attempt the southern course. He was also in need of wood and water, and, moreover, being of an irresolute disposition, he concluded to sail with the wind. · As the result, on the 18th he found the island now known
* Purchas, vol. iv. pp. 1733, 1748; Neill, Virginia Company of London, pp. 30, 37, 49.
† Historical and Genealogical Register, for Jan. 1878, p. 76. | Ibid. p. 79.
as Monhegan, under which he anchored, hoping that it would prove the most fortunate ever discovered.” Afterward he reached a harbor which he called “ Pentecost” and explored a great distance the river which, in the opinion of the writer, was that now known as the Kennebec, where he set up a cross and took possession in the name of King James.
The advantages derived from Monhegan certainly proved considerable, but Sir Ferdinando Gorges lays the stress upon another point, and affirms that the savages captured by Waymouth and carried to England, and trained for future service, were the means “under God, of putting on foot and giving life to all our plantations." What he learned from them encouraged him to use his influence with Sir John Popham; and, finally, by their joint efforts, the king was induced to grant two patents, one for the London Company and one for the Plymouth Company; both being under a general governing body composed of thirteen persons, called the “ Council of Virginia.” The territory of the London Company included the regions between 34° and 41° N., and that of Plymouth 38° and 45° N. They were entitled to coin money, impose taxes and duties, and exercise a general government for twenty-one years.* The value of Waymouth's voyage, therefore, cannot be questioned, and in no inferior sense may he be regarded as one of the founders of New England. It was under this patent that the Popham Colony was undertaken at the mouth of the Kennebec, then known as Sagadahoc.
It is true that the men who undertook the enterprise did not possess the deliberate purpose essential to immediate success. Nevertheless this may be viewed as preparatory to the scheme afterward unfolded on the New England coast. The enterprise was inaugurated in 1606. Some of the notices of this event, however, are contradictory. Strachey says that Sir John Popham “prepared a tall ship well furnished," which set sail from Plymouth under one “ Haines, Maister," who took
Captaine ” one Martin Prin,” and that the ship was captured by the Spaniards at the Azores. But the ship was not captured there, neither was Pring on board. Sir Ferdinando Gorges states that he himself sent out a ship under Captain Challons, with orders to keep to the northward as far as Cape Breton, and then sail southward to Sagadahoc; but that, when the vessel reached the Azores, Challons fell sick, and his subordinates took the responsibility of sailing by the way of the West Indies, where they were captured by the Spaniards and carried to Spain. The account of Stoneman the Pilot indicates that they were carried southward by the wind, and so captured and sent to Spain. Stoneman reached England September 18, and reported to Sir Ferdinando.
* Hazard, vol. i. p. 50.
I “Brief Narration of the Original Undertakings of the Advancement of Plantations,” in 3 Mass. Hist. Coll. vol. vi. pp. 51, 52, and “Brief Relation ” of President and Council, in 2 Mass. Hist. Coll. vol. ix. p. 3.
§ Stoneman gives a revolting picture of the barbarities of the Spaniards.