Sir Francis Drake (California)
DESCRIPTION OF NOUA ALBION [CALIFORNIA]
[Published in 1628 from notes prepared by Francis Fletcher]
Account by Sir Francis Drake held from the haven of Guatulco, in the South Sea, on the east side of Nueva Espanna, to the Northwest of California, as far as fourtie three degrees: and his returne back along the said Coast to thirty eight degrees: where, finding a faire and goodly hauen, he landed, and staying there many weekes, and discouering many excellent things in the countrey, and great shewe of rich minerall matter, and being offered the dominion of the countrey by the Lord of the same, hee tooke possession thereof in the behalfe of her Maiestie, and named it Noua Albion. pp. 219-226 (in) Sir Francis Drake. 1628. The World Encompassed. Being His Next Voyage to That to Nombre de Dios Formerly Imprinted; Carefully Collected Out of the Notes of Master Francis Fletcher, Preacher in This Imployment, and Diuers Others His Followers in the Same; Offered Now at Last to Publique View, Both for the Honour of the Sactor, but Especially for the Stirring up of Heroick Spirits, to Benefit Their Countrie, and Eternize Their Names by like Noble Attempts. London: Nicholas Bourne.
Wee … set saile, and sayled 800 leagues at the least for a good winde, and thus much we sayled from the 16th of Aprill, after our olde stile, till the third of June (p. 221).
[Arriving just north of San Francisco] The fift day of June, being in fortie-three degrees towardes the pole Arcticke, being speedily come out of the extreame heate, wee found the ayre so colde, that our men being pinched with the same, complayned of the extremetie thereof, and the further we went the more the colde increased upon us; whereupon we thought it best for that time to seeke land, and did so, finding it not mountainous, but low plaine land … In which height, it pleased God to send us into a faire and good bay, with a good winde to enter the same. In this bay we ankered the seuenteenth of June, and the people of the countery, having their houses close by the waters side, shewed themselues unto us, and sent a present to our Generall (p. 221).
[First description of California Native Americans in English literature] When they came unto us, they greatly wondered at the things which we brought; but our Generall … curteously intreated them, and liberally bestowed on them necessarie things to couer their nakedness; whereupon they supposed us to be gods, and would not be perswaded to the contrarie: the presentes which they sent unto our Generall were feathers, and cals of net worke (p. 221).
[Native American material culture] Their houses are digged round about with earth, and haue from the uttermost brimmes of the circle clifts of wood set upon them, ioyning close together at the toppe like a spire steeple, which by reason of that closeness are very warme. Their bed is the ground with rushes strawed on it, and (p. 221) lying about the house; they haue the fire in the middest. The men goe naked; the women take bulrushes and kembe them after the manner of hempe, and thereof make their loose garments, which, being knit about their middles, hang downe about their hippes, hauing also about their shoulders a skin of deere, with the haire upon it. These women are very obedient and seruiceable to their husbands (p. 222).
[Drake trades with Native Americans] After they were departed from us, they came and visited us the second time, and brought with them feathers and bags of tabacco for presents: and when they came to the toppe of the hil … they stayed themselves, where one appointed for speaker wearied himself with making a long oration; which done, they left their bowes upn the hill and came downe with their presents (p. 222).
[Exchange of medicines] They shewed unto us their wounds, and craued helpe of them at our handes, whereupon wee gaue them lotions, plaisters, and ointments agreeing to the state of their griefes, beseeching God to cure their diseases (p. 225).
[English march inland] Our necessarie businesse being ended, our Generall with his companie traueiled up into the countrey to their villages, where we found heardes of deere by a thousand in a companie, being most large and fat of body (p. 225).
[Description of the land, animals, and food] We found the whold countrey to bee a warren of a strange kind of conies, their bodyes in bignes as be the Barbary conies, their heads as the heades of ours, the feet of a want, and the taile of a rat, being of great length: under her chinne on either side a bagge, into the which shee gathereth her meate when she hath filled her belly abroad. The peole eate their bodies, and make grat account of their skinnes, for their kings coate was made of them (p. 225).
[Drake names the land – Albion being the 17th century name for England] Our Generall called this countrey Noua Albion, and that for two causes: the one, in respect of the white bankes and cliffes, which ly towardes the sea: and the other, because it might haue some affinitie with our countrey in name, which sometime was so called (p. 225).
[Prospects for precious metal] There is no part of earth here to bee taken up, wherein there is not some speciall likelihood of gold or siluer (p. 225).
[Drake’s plate] At our departure hence our Generall set up a monument of our being there; as also of her Maiesties right and title to the same, namely, a plate nailed upon a faire great poste, whereupon was ingrauen her Maiesties name, the day and yeere of our arriual there, with the free giuing up of the prouince and the people into her Maiesties hands, together with her highness picture and armes, in a piece of sixe pence of cufrent English money under the plate, where under was also written the name of our Generall (pp. 225-226).