Her men came amongst us with their Bowes and Arrowes

These fragments come from a description of Sir Walter’s Raleigh’s discovery of Virginia in 1584.

Queene Elizabeth, granted her Letters Patents to Sir Walter Raleigh for the discovering and planting new Lands & Countries, not actually possessed by any Christians. Sir Richard Grenvell the valiant, Mr William Sanderson a great friend, and divers other Gentlemen and Merchants, with all speede provided two small Barkes well furnished with all necessaries, under the command of Captaine Philip Amidas and Captaine Barlow. The 27. of Aprill 1584 they set sayle from the Thames, the tenth of May passed the Canaries, and the tenth of June the West Indies: which unneedfull Southerly course, (but then no better was knowne) occasioned them in that season much sicknesse.

The second of July they fell with the coast of Florida in shallow water, where they felt a most delicate sweete smell, though they saw no land, which ere long they espied, thinking it the Continent: an hundred and twenty myles they sayled not finding any harbor. The first that appeared, with much difficulty they entered, and anchored, and after thankes to God they went to view the next Land adjoyning to take possession of it for the Queenes most excellent Majestie. Which done, they found their first landing place very sandy and low, but so full of grapes that the very surge of the Sea sometimes over-flowed them: of which they found such plenty in all places, both on the sand, the greene soyle and hills, as in the plaines as well on every little shrub, as also climbing towardes the tops of high Cedars, that they did thinke in the world were not the like abundance.

We passed by the Sea-side towards the tops of the next hills being not high: from whence we might see the Sea on both sides, and found it an Isle of twentie myles in length, and six in breadth, the vallyes replenished with goodly tall Cedars. Discharging our Muskets, such a flocke of Cranes, the most white, arose by us, with such a cry as if an Army of men had shouted altogether. This Isle hath many goodly Woods, and Deere, Conies, and Foule in incredible abundance. Till the third day we saw not any of the people, then in a little Boat three of them appeared, one of them went on shore, to whom we rowed, and he attended us without any signe of feare; after he had spoke much though we understood not a word, of his owne accord he came boldly aboard us, we gave him a shirt, a hat, wine and meate, which he liked well, and after he had well viewed the barkes and us, he went away in his owne Boat, and within a quarter of a myle of us in halfe an houre, had loaden his Boat with fish, with which he came againe to the poynt of land, and there divided it in two parts, and so departed.

The next day came divers Boats, and in one of them the Kings Brother, with forty or fifty men, proper people, and their behaviour very civil; his name was Granganamco, the King is called Wingina, the Country Wingandacoa. Leaving his Boats a little from our Ships, he came with his trayne to the poynt: where spreading a Matte he sat downe. Though we came to him well armed, he made signes to us to sit downe without any shew of feare, stroking his head and brest, and also ours, to expresse his love. After he had made a long speech unto us, we presented him with divers toyes, which he kindly accepted. He was greatly regarded by his people, for none of them did sit, nor speake a word, but foure, on whom we bestowed presents also, but he tooke all from them, making signes all things did belong to him.

A day or two after shewing them what we had, Granganamco taking most liking to a Pewter dish, made a hole in it, hung it about his necke for a brest-plate: for which he gave us twenty Deere skins, worth twenty Crownes; and for a Copper Kettell, fiftie skins, worth fiftie Crownes. Much other trucke we had, and after two dayes he came aboord, and did eate and drinke with us very merrily. Not long after he brought his wife and children, they were but of meane stature, but well favoured and very bashfull; she had a long coat of Leather, and about her privities a peece of the same, about her forehead a band of white Corrall, and so had her husband, in her eares were bracelets of pearle, hanging downe to her middle, the bignesse of great Pease; the rest of the women had Pendants of Copper, and the Noblemen five or sixe in an eare; the apparrell as the wives, onely the women weare their haire long on both sides, and the men but on one; they are of colour yellow, but their hayre is blacke, yet we saw children that had very fayre Chesnut coloured hayre.

After that these women had beene here with us, there came downe from all parts great store of people, with Leather, Corrall, and divers kinde of dyes, but when Granganamco was present, none durst trade but himselfe, and them that wore red Copper on their heads, as he did. When ever he came, he would signifie by so many fires he came with so many boats, that we might know his strength. Their Boats are but one great tree, which is but burnt in the forme of a trough with gins and fire, till it be as they would have it. For an armour he would have engaged us a bagge of pearle, but we refused, as not regarding it, that wee might the better learn where it grew. He was very just of his promise, for oft we trusted him, and he would come within his day to keepe his word. He sent us commonly every day a brace of Bucks, Conies, Hares, and fish, sometimes Mellons, Walnuts,Cucumbers. Pease, and divers rootes.

After this acquaintance, my selfe with seaven more went twenty myle into the River Occam, that runneth toward the Cittie Skicoack, and the evening following we came to an Isle called Roanoak from the harbour where we entred 7. leagues. At the North end was 9 houses, builded with Cedar, fortified round with sharpe trees, and the entrance like a Turnpik. When we came towards it, the wife of Granganamco came running out to meete us, (her husband was absent) commanding her people to draw our Boat ashore for beating on the billowes. Others she appoynted to carry us on their backes a land, others to bring our Oars into the house. When we came into the other roome, (for there was five in the house) she caused us to sit downe by a great fire; after tooke off our clothes and washed them, of some our stockings, and some our feete in warme water, and she her selfe tooke much paines to see all things well ordered, and to provide us victuall.

After we had thus dryed our selves, she brought us into an Inner roome, where she set on the bord standing sodden venison, and rosted fish; in like manner mellons raw, boyled rootes and fruites of divers kindes. There drinke is commonly water boyled with Ginger, sometimes with Saxefras, and wholsome herbes, but whilest the grape lasteth they drinke wine. More love she could not expresse to entertaine us; they care but onely to defend themseles from the short winter, and feede on what they finde naturall in sommer. When we were at meate two or three of her men came amongst us with their Bowes and Arrowes, which caused us to take our armes in hand. She perceiving our distrust, caused their Bowes and Arrowes to be broken, and they beaten out of the gate: but the evening approaching we returned to our boate, where at she much grieving brought our supper halfe boyled, pots and all, but when she saw us but put our boat a little off from the shoar and lye at Anchor, perceiving our jelousie, she sent divers men & 30 women to sit all night on the shoare side against us, and sent us five Mats to cover us from the raine, doing all she could to perswade us to her house. Though there was no cause of doubt, we would not adventure: for on our safety depended the voyage: but a more kinde loving people cannot be found.

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  • May 17, 2011 - 6:28 pm | Permalink

    How kind, thank you! So glad you enjoyed it.

  • May 8, 2011 - 12:50 am | Permalink

    Excellent post, thank you. I shall add this post link on my blog.

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