|Letter No. I
Hauing so good occasion, by hearing that certaine English marchants lye in the island of Iaua, although by name vnknowen, I haue ymboldened my selfe to wryte these few lines, desiring the Worshipfull Companie being vnknowen to me, to pardon my stowtnes. My reason that I doe wryte, is first as conscience doth binde me with loue to my countrymen, and country. Your Worships, to whom this present wryting shall come, is to geve you to vnderstand that I am a Kentish man, borne in a towne called Gillingam, two English miles from Rochester, one mile from Chattam, where the Kings ships doe lye : and that from the age of twelue yeares olde, I was brought vp in Limehouse neere London, being Apprentice twelue yeares to Master Nicholas Diggines; and my selfe haue serued for Master and Pilott in her Maiesties ships; and about eleuen or twelue yeares haue serued the Worshipfull Companie of the Barbarie Marchants, vntill the Indish traffick from Holland [began], in which Indish traffick I was desirous to make a littel experience of the small knowledg which God had geven me. So, in the yeare of our Lord 1598, I was hired for Pilot Maior of a fleete of five sayle, which was made readie by the Indish Companie: Peeter Vander Hay and Hance Vander Veek. The Generall of this fleet, was a marchatt called Iaques Maihore, in which ship, being Admirall, I was Pilott. So being the three and twentieth or foure and twentieth of Iune ere we sett sayle, it was too late ere we came to the line, to passe it without contrarie windes. So it was about the middest of September, at which time we fownde much southerly windes, and our men were many sick, so that we were forsed to goe to the coast of Guinney to Cape Gonsalves, where wee set our sicke men a lande, of which many dyed: and of the sicknesse few bettered, hauing little or no refreshing, beinge an vnhealthfull place. So that to fulfill our voyage, wee set our course for the coast of Brasill, beinge determined to passe the Streightes of Magilanus; and by the way cam to an Iland called Annabona, which island we landed at, and tooke the towne, in which was about eightie houses. In which Iland we refreshed ourselues, hauing oxen, oranges, and diuers fruites, etc. But the vnwholesomenesse of the aire was very bad, that as one bettered, an other fell sicke : spending vpon the coast vp the cape Gonsalues, and vp Annabona, a two moneths tyme, till the twelfth or thirteenth Nouember. At which time, wee set sayle from Annabona, finding the windes still at the south and south by east, and south south-east, till wee got into foure degrees to the southwards of the line : at which time the winde did fauour vs comming to the south-east, and east south-east, and so that we were vp betweene the Iland of Annabona, and the Streightes of Magilano, about a fiue monethes. One of our fiue sayle hir maine mast fell over bord, by which we were much hindred ; for in the sea with much troubell we set a new mast. So that the nine and twentieth of March, we saw the lande in lattetude of fiftie degrees, hauing the winde a two or three daies contrarie: so, in the ende, hauinge the windes good, came to the Streightes of Magilano, the sixt of Aprill, 1599, at which time, the winter came, so that there was much snowe : and with colde on the one side, and hunger on the other, our men grew weake. Hauing at that time the wind at the north-east, six or seven dayes, in which time wee might haue past through the Streightes. But, for refreshing of our men we waited, watering and taking in of wood, and setting vp of a pynnas of fifteene or twentie tonnes in burthen. So at length, wee would haue passed through, but could not by reason of the southerly windes : the weather being very cold, with aboundance of snowe and yce. Wherefore, we were forced to winter and to stay in the Streightes from the sixt of Aprill, till the foure and twentieth of September, in which time our victualles was for the most part of spent, and for lacke of the same, many of our men dyed of hunger. So, hauinge passed through the Streightes, and comming in the South Sea, wee found many hard stormes, being driuen to the southward in fiftie foure degrees, being very cold.
At length we found reasonable windes and weather, with which wee followed our pretended voyage towards the coast of Perow : but in long traves 2 we lost our whole fleet, being separated the one from the other. Yet wee had appointed before the dispersing of our fleet by stormes and foule weather, that if wee lost one another, that in Chili in the lattetude of fortie sixe degrees, wee should stay the one for the other the space of thirtie dayes. In which height according to agreement, I went in sixe and fortie degrees, and stayed eight and twentie dayes where we refreshed our selues, findinge the people of the countrey of a good nature : but by reason of the Spaniardes, the people would not trade with vs. At first, they brought vs sheepe and potatoes, for which we gaue them bills and kniues, whereof they were very glad : but in the end, the people went vp from their houses into the countrey, and came no more to vs. Wee stayed there eight and twentie dayes, and set vp a pynnas which we had in our ship in foure partes, and in the end departed and came to the mouth of Baldiuia, yet by reason of the much wind it was at that present, we entred not, but directed our course out of the bay, for the iland of Much [Mocha], vnto the which the next day wee came ; and finding none of our fleet there, directed our course for St. Maria, and the next day cam by the Cape, which is but a league and an halfe from the Iland, and seeing many people luffed about the cape, and finding good grownde, anchored in a faire sandy bay in fifteene fathom; and went with our boats hard by the water side, to parle with the people of the lande, but they would not suffer vs to come a lande, shooting great store of arrowes at vs. Neuerthelesse, hauing no victualls in our ship, and hoping to find refreshing by force, wee landed some seuen and twentie or thirtie of our men, and droue the wilde people from the water side, most of our men being hurt with their arrowes. And being on land, we made signes of friendship, and in the end came to parle with signes and tokens of friendship, the which the people in the end did vnderstand. So wee made signes, that our desire was for victualls, shewing them iron, siluer, and cloth, which we would give them in exchange for the same. Wherefore they gaue our folke wine, with potatoes to eate, and drinke with other fruits, and bid our men by signes and tokens to goe aboord, and the next day to come againe, and then they would bring vs good store of refreshing : so, being late, our men came aboord, very glad that we had come to a parle with them, hoping that we should get refreshing. The next day, being the ninth of Nouember 1599, our capten, with all our officers, prepared to goe a lande, hauing taken counsell to goe to the water side, but not to lande more then two or three at the most; for there were people in aboundance vnknowen to us : wilde, therefore not to be trusted ; which counsell being concluded vpon, the capten himselfe did goe in one of our boats, with all the force that we could make ; and being by the shore side, the people of the countrie made signes that they should come a lande ; but that did not well like our capten. In the end, the people not comming neere vnto our boats, our capten, with the rest, resolved to land, contrary to that which was concluded abord our shipp, before their going a lande. At length, three and twentie men landed with muskets, and marched vpwardes towardes foure or fiue houses, and when they were about a musket shot from the boates, more then a thousand Indians, which lay in ambush, immediately fell vpon our men with such weapons as they had, and slewe them all to our knowledge. So our boats did long wait to see if any of them did come agen; but being all slaine, our boates returned : which sorrowfull newes of all our mens deaths was very much lamented of vs all ; for we had scarce so many men left as could winde vp our anker. The next day wee weighed, and went ouer to the Iland of St. Maria, where we found our Admiral, who had ariued there foure daies before vs, and departed from the Iland of Much the day before we came from thence, hauing the Generall, Master, and all his Officers, murthered a lande ; so that all our officers were slaine, the one bemoning the other : neuerthelesse, both glad to see the one the other, and that we were so well met together. My good friend Timothy Shotten was Pilott in that ship.
Being at the island of St. Maria, which lieth in the lattetude to the s°ward of the line of thirtie seuen degrees twelue minutes on the cost of Chili, wee tooke counsell to take all things out of one ship, and to burne the other; but that the captens that were made newe, the one nor the other, would not, so that we could not agree to leave the one or the other; and having much cloth in our ships, it was agreed that wee should leaue the coast of Perow, and direct our course for Iapon, having understood that cloth was good marchandiz there ; and also how vpon that coast of Perow, the king's ships were out seeking vs, hauing knowledge of our being there, vnderstanding that wee were weake of men, which was certaine; for one of our fleet, for hunger, was forced to seeke reliefe at the enemies hand in Saint Ago. For which reason, hauing refreshed ourselues in this Iland of St. Maria, more by policie then by force, we departed the twentie seuen of Nouember, from the Iland of St. Maria, with our two ships ; and for the rest of our fleete we had no newes of them. So we stood away directly for Iapan, and passed the equinoctiall line together, vntill we came in twentie-eight degrees to the northward of the line: in which lattetude we were about the twentie third of February 1600. Wee had a wonderous storme of wind, as euer I was in, with much raine, in which storme wee lost our consort, whereof we were very sorry: nevertheless, with hope that in Iapon we should meet the one the other, we proceeded on our former intention for Iapon, and in the height of thirtie degrees, sought the northermost [?] Cape of the forenamed Hand ; but found it not, by reason that it lieth faulce in all cardes, and maps, and globes ; for the Cape lieth in thirtie-fiue degrees 1/2 which is a great difference. In the end, in thirtie-two degrees 1/2, wee cam in sight of the lande, being the nineteenth day of April. So that betweene the Cape of St. Maria and Iapon, we were foure moneths and twentie-two daies; at which time there were no more then sixe besides my selfe that could stand vpon his feet. So we in safetie let fall our anchor about a league from a place called Bungo. At which time cam to vs many boats, and we suffred them to come abord, being not able to resist them, which people did vs no harme ; neither of vs vnderstanding the one the other. Within a 2 or 3 daies after our arivall, ther cam a Iesuit from a place called Langasacke, to which place the Carake of Amakau is yeerely wont to come, which with other Iaponers that were Christians, were our interpreters, which was not to our good, our mortal ennemies being our Truchmen. Neuerthelesse, the King of Bungo, the place where we arriued, shewed vs great friendship. For he gaue vs an house a lande, where we landed our sicke men, and had all refreshing that was needfull. We had when we cam to anker in Bungo, sicke and whole, foure and twentie men, of which number the next day three dyed. The rest for the most part recouered, sauing three, which lay a long time sicke, and in the end also died. In the which time of our being here, the Emperour hearing of vs, sent presently fiue gallies, or friggates, to vs, to bring mee to the Court, where his Highnes was, which was distant from Bungo about an eightie English leagues. Soe that as soon as I came before him, he demanded of me, of what countrey we were ; so I answered him in all points ; for there was nothing that he demanded not, both conserning warre and peace betweene countrey and countrey: so that the particulars here to wryte would be too tedious. And for that time I was commanded to prisson, being well vsed, with one of our mariners that cam with me to serue me. A two dayes after, the Emperour called me agein, demaunding the reason of our comming so farre. I aunswered : We were a people that sought all friendship with all nations, and to haue trade in all countries, bringing such merchandiz as our countrey did afford into strange landes, in the way of traffick. He demaunded also as conserning the warres betweene the Spaniard or Portingall and our countrey, and the reasons ; the which I gaue him to vnderstand of all things, which he was glad to heare, as it seemed to me. In the end, I was commaunded to prisson agein, but my lodging was bettered in an other place.
So that 39 dayes I was in prisson, hearing no more newes, neither of our ship, nor capten, whether he were recouered of his sickenesse or not, nor of the rest of the company : in which time, I looked euery day to die : to be crossed, as the custome of iustice is in Iapon, as hanging is in our land. In which long time of imprissonment, the Iesuites and the Portingalls gaue many euidences against me and the rest to the Emperour, that wee were theeues and robbers of all nations, and were we suffered to liue, it should be ageinst the profit of his Highnes, and the land : for no nation should come there without robbing : his Highnes iustice being executed, the rest of our nation with out doubt should feare and not come here any more : thus dayly making axcess to the Emperour, and procuring friendes to hasten my death. But God that is always merciful at need, shewed mercy vnto vs, and would not suffer them to haue their willes of vs. In the end, the Emperour gave them aunswer that we as yet had not doen to him nor to none of his lande any harme or dammage : therfore against Reason and Iustice to put vs to death. If our countreys had warres the one with the other, that was no cause that he should put vs to death : with which they were out of hart, that their cruell pretence failed them. For which God be for evermore praised. Now in this time that I was in prisson, the ship was commaunded to be brought so neere to the citie where the Emperour was, as she might be (for grownding hir) ; the which was done. 41 daies being expired, the Emperour caused me to be brought before him agein, demanding of mee many questions more, which were too long to write. In conclusion, he asked me whether I were desirous to goe to the ship to see my countreymen. I answered very gladly : the which he bade me doe. So I departed, and was freed from imprissonment. And this was the first newes that I had, that the ship and company were come to the citie. So that, with a reioicing hart I tooke a boat, and went to our ship, where I found the capten and the rest, recouered of their sickenesse ; and when I cam abord with weeping eyes was received for it was given them to vnderstand that I was executed long since. Thus, God be praised, all we that were left aliue, came together againe. From the ship all things were taken out : so that the clothes which I took with me on my back I only had. All my instruments and books were taken. Not only I lost what I had in the ship, but from the capten and the company, generally, what was good or worth the taking, was carried away. All which was doen unknowen to the Emperour. So in processe of time hauing knowledg of it, he commaunded that they which had taken our goods, should restore it to vs back again ; but it was here and there so taken, that we could not get it again : sauinge 50000 Rs in reddy money was commaunded to be geven vs; and in his presence brought, and delivered in the hands of one that was made our gouernour, who kept them in his hands to distribute them vnto vs as wee had neede, for the buying of victualls for our men, with other particular charges. So in the end of thirtie dayes, our ship lying before the city called Sakay, two leagues 1/2 or three leagues, from Ozaca, where the Emperour at that time did lye, commaundement cam from the Emperour, that our ship should be carried to the eastermost part of the land, called Quanta, whither according to his commaundement we were carried, the distance being about an hundred and twenty leagues. Our passage thither was long, by reason of contrarie windes, so that the Emperour was there long before vs. Comming to the land of Quanto, and neere to the citie Eddo, where the Emperour was : being arriued, I sought all meanes by supplications, to get our ship cleare, and to seeke our best meanes to come where the Hollanders had their trade : in which suit we spent much of the mony geven vs. Also, in this time, three or foure of our men rebelled against the capten, and my selfe, and made a mutinie with the rest of our men, so that we had much trouble with them. For they would not abide noe longer in the ship, but euery one would be a commander : and perforce would haue euery one part of the money that was geven by the Emperour. It would bee too long to wryte the particu lars. In the end, the money was devided according to euery man's place ; but this was about two yeeres that we had been in Iapon ; and when we had a deniall that we should not haue our ship, but to abyde in Iapon. So that the part of every one being devided, every one tooke his way where he thought best. In the end, the Emperour gaue euery man, to liue vpon, two pounds of rice a day, daily, and yeerely so much as was worth eleuen or twelue ducats a yeare, yearely : my selfe, the capten, and mariners all alike.
So in processe of four or fiue yeeres the Emperour called me, as diuers times he had done before. So one time aboue the rest he would haue me to make him a small ship. I aunswered that I was no carpenter, and had no knowledg thereof. Well, doe your endeavour, saith he: if it be not good, it is no matter. Wherefore at his commaund I buylt him a ship of the burthen of eightie tunnes, or there about : which ship being made in all respects as our manner is, he comming aboord to see it, liked it very well ; by which meanes I came in more fauour with him, so that I came often in his presence, who from time to time gaue me presents, and at length a yearely stypend to liue vpon, much about seuentie ducats by the yeare, with two pounds of rice a day, daily. Now beeing in such grace and fauour, by reason I learned him some points of jeometry , and vnderstanding of the art of mathematickes, with other things : I pleased him so, that what I said he would not contrarie. At which my former ennemies did wonder ; and at this time must intreat me to do them a friendship, which to both Spaniards and Portingals have I doen recompencing them good for euill. So, to passe my time to get my liuing, it hath cost mee great labour and trouble at the first; but God hath blessed my labour. In the ende of fiue yeeres, I made supplication to the king to goe out of this land, desiring to see my poore wife and children according to conscience and nature. With the which request, the emperour was not well pleased, and would not let me goe any more for my countrey, but to byde in his land. Yet in processe of time, being in great fauour with the Emperour, I made supplication agein, by reason we had newes that the Hollanders were in Shian? and Patania ; which reioyced vs much, with hope that God should bring us to our countrey againe, by one meanes or other. So I made supplication agein, and boldly spake my selfe with him, at which he gaue me no aunswer. I told him, if he would permit me to depart, I would bee a meanes, that both the English and Hollanders should come and traffick there. But by no means he would let mee goe. I asked him leave for the capten, the which he presently granted mee. So by that meanes my capten got leave ; and in a Iapon iunk sailed to Pattan ; and in a yeares space cam no Hollanders. In the end, he went from Patane to Ior, where he found a fleet of nine saile : of which fleet Matleef was General, and in this fleet he was made Master againe, which fleet sailed to Malacca, and fought with an armado of Portingalls : in which battel he was shot, and presently died : so that as yet, I think, no certain newes is knownen, whether I be liuing or dead.
Therefore I do pray and intreate you in the name of Jesus Christ to doe so much as to make my being here in Iapon, knowen to my poor wife : in a manner a widdow, and my two children fatherlesse : which thing only is my greatest griefe of heart, and conscience. I am a man not vnknowen in Ratcliffe and Limehouse, by name to my good Master Nicholas Diggines, and M. Thomas Best, and M. Nicholas Isaac, and William Isaac, brothers, with many others ; also to M. William Iones, and M. Becket. Therefore may this letter come to any of their hands, or the copy : I doe know that compassion and mercy is so, that my friends and kindred shall haue newes, that I doe as yet liue in this vale of my sorrowfull pilgrimage : the which thing agein and agein I do desire for Iesus Christ his sake. You shall vnderstand, that the first ship that I did make, I did make a voyage or two in, and then the King commaunded me to make an other, the which I did, being of the burthen of an hundred and twentie tunnes. In this ship I have made a voyage from Meaco to Eddo, being as far as from London to the Lizarde or the Lands end of England : which in the yeere of our Lord 1609, the King lent to the Gouernour of Manilla, to goe with eightie of his men, to saile to Acapulca. In the yeere 1609 was cast away a great ship called the S. Francisco, beeing about a thousand tunnes, vpon the coast of Iapon, in the lattetude of thirty flue degrees and fiftie minutes. By distresse of weather she cut ouer-boord her maine mast, and bore vp for Iapon, and in the night vnawares, the ship ranne vpon the shore and was cast away : in the which thirtie and sixe men were drowned, and three hundred fortie, or three hundred fiftie saued : in which ship the Gouernour of Manilla as a passenger, was to returne to Nona Spania. But this Gouernour was sent in the bigger ship which I made, in ann. 1610, to Acapulca. And in ann. 1611, this Gouernour returned another ship in her roome, with a great present, and with an Embassadour to the Emperour, giuing him thankes for his great friendship : and also sent the worth of the Emperours ship in goods and money : which shippe the Spaniards haue now in the Philippinas. Now for my seruice which I haue doen and daily doe, being employed in the Emperours seruice, he hath given me a liuing, like vnto a lordship in England, with eightie or ninetie husbandmen, that be as my slaues or seruants : which, or the like president, was neuer here before geven to any stranger. Thus God hath prouided for mee after my great miserie ; and to him only be all honnor and praise, power and glory, both now and for euer, worlde without ende.
Now, whether I shall come out of this land, I know not. Vntill this present there hath been no meanes; but now, through the trade of the Hollanders, there is meanes. In the yeere of our Lord 1609, two Holland ships came to Iapon. Their intention was to take the Caracke, that yeerly cam from Macao, being a fiue or six dayes too late. Neuerthelesse, they cam to Firando, and cam to the Court to the Emperour, where they were in great friendship receiued, making condition with the Emperour yearely to send a ship or two ; and so with the Emperour' s passe they departed. Now, this yeare 1611, there is a small ship arriued, with cloth, lead, elephants teeth, dammaske, and blacke taffities, raw silke, pepper, and other commodities ; and they haue shewed cause why they cam not in the former yeare 1610, according to promise yearely to come. This ship was wonderously well receiued. You shall vnderstand that the Hollanders haue here an Indies of money ; for out of Holland there is no need of siluer to come into the East Indies. For in Iapan, there is much siluer and gold to serue for the Hollanders to handell wher they will in the Est Indies. But the merchandiz, which is here vendible for readie money, is raw silke, damaske, blacke taffities, blacke and red cloth of the best, lead, and such like goods. So, now vnderstanding by this Holland ship lately arriued here, that there is a settled trade by my countreymen in the Est Indies, I presume that amongst them, some, either merchants, masters, or mariners, must needs know mee. Therefore I haue ymboldened my selfe to write these few lines in breife ; being desirous not to be ouer-tedious to the reader. This Iland of Iapon is a great land, and lyeth to the north wards, in the lattetude of eight and fortie degrees, and the souther-most part of it in fiue and thirtie degrees, and it lyeth east by north, and west by south or west south west, two hundred and twentie English leagues. The people of this Iland of Iapon are good of nature, curteous aboue measure, and valiant in warre : their iustice is seuerely excecuted without any partialitie vpon transgressors of the law. They are gouerned in great ciuilitie. I meane, not a land better gouerned in the world by ciuill policie. The people be verie superstitious in their religion, and are of diuers opinions. There be many Iesuites and Franciscan friars in this land, and they haue conuerted many to be Christians, and haue many churches in the Iland. Thus, in breife, I am constrained to write, hoping that by one meanes or other, in processe of time, I shall heare of my wife and children : and so with pacience I wait the good will and pleasure of Allmighty God. Therfor I do pray all them, or euery one of them, that if this my letter shall com to their hands to doe the best, that my wife and children, and my good acquaintance may heere of mee; by whose good meanes I may in processe of time, before my death heare newes, or see som of my freindes agein. The which thinge God turn it to his glory. Amen.
Dated in Iapan the two and twentieth of October 1611.
By your vnworthy friend and seruant, to command in what I can, William Adams.