Item of the Day: A Briefe Narration of the Originall Undertakings of the Advancement of Plantations Into the Parts of America (1658)

Full Title: A Briefe Narration of the Originall Undertakings of the Advancement of Plantations Into the parts of America. Especially, Shewing the begining, progress and continuance of that of New-England. Written by the right Worshipfull, Sir Ferdinando Gorges Knight and Governour of the Fort and Island of Plymouth in Devonshire. London: Printed by E. Brundenell, for Nath. Brook at the Angell in Corn-hill, 1658.

Chapter I.

Of the First Seisin Possession and Name of VIRGINIA.

That Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and Sir Richard Grenvile, and many others, Noble spirits of our Nation attempted to settle a Plantation in the parts of America, in the Reigne of Queen Elizabeth is sufficiently published in the painfull collections of Mr. Hackluit, together with the variable successes, of those undertakers of whose labour and charge there remained no other fruit then the Primor seisin and royal possession taken thereof, as of right belonging to the Crown of England, giving it the name of Virginia, in the memory and Honour of the virgin Queen, the wonder of her Sex; by whose authority those attempts took their first life, and dyed not till the actors ended their daies, and their cheife supporters, and advancers tryed with so many fruitless attempts and endless charge without hope of profit to follow for many ages to come; so that, that attempt had its end, as many others since that of greater hopes and better grounded, but what shall we say? As nothing is done but according to the time some decreed by God’s sacred Providence, so doth he provide wherewith to accomplish the same in the fulness of it, but the mirror of Queens being summoned to the possession of a more Glorious Reigne, left her terrestriall Crown to her Successor James, the Sixth of Scotland, to whom of right it did belong.

Chapter II.

The Reasons and meanes of renewing the undertakings of Plantations in America.

This great Monarch gloriously ascending his Throne, being borne to greatnesse above his Ancestors, to whom all submitted as to another Salemon, for wisedome and justice, as well as for that he brought with him another Crown, whereby those Kingdomes that had so long contended for rights and liberties, perhaps oft times pretended rather to satisfie their present purposes, then that justice required it; but such is the frailty of humane nature as not to be content with what we possesse, but strives by all meanes to enthrall the weaker that is necessistated to prevent the worst, though by such meanes sometimes to their greater ruine; With this Union there was also a generall peace concluded between the State, and the King of Spaine, the then onely enemy of our Nation and Religion, whereby our men of war by Sea and land were left destitute of all hope of imployment under their owne Prince; And therefore there was liberty given to them (for preventing other evils) to be entertained as Mercenaries under what Prince or State they pleased; A liberty granted upon shew of reason, yet of dangerous consequence, when our friends and Allyes that had long travelled with us in one and the same quarrell, should now finde our swords sharpned as well against, as for them; Howsoever reason of State approved thereof, the World forbore not to censure it as their affections led them, others grew jealous what might be the issuees, especially when it was found that by such liberty the sword was put into their hands, the Law had prohibited them the use; Some there were not liking to be servants to forreigne States, thought it better became them to put in practice the reviving resolution of those free Spirits, that rather chose to spend themselves in seeking a new World, then servilely to be hired by as Slaughterers in the Quarrels of Strangers; This resolution being stronger then their meanes to put it into execution, they were forced to let it rest as a dreame, till God should give the meanes to stir up the inclination of such a power able to bring it to life; And so it pleased our great God that there hapned to come into the harbour of Plymouth (where I then commanded) one Captain Waymouth that had been imployed by the Lord Arundell of Warder for the discovery of the North-west passage.

But falling short of is Course, hapned into a River on the Coast of America, called Pemmaquid, from whence he brought five of the Natives, three of whose names were Manida, Skettwarroes, and Tasquantum, whom I seized upon; they were all of one Nation, but of severall parts, and severall Families; This accident must be acknowledged the meanes under God of putting on foote, and giving life to all our Plantations, as by the ensuing discourse will manifestly appeare.

Chapter III.

Of the use I made of the Natives.

After I had those people sometimes in my custody, I observed in them an inclination to follow the example of the better sort; And in all their carriages manifest shewes of great civility farre from the rudenesse of our common people; And the longer I conversed with them, the better hope they gave me of those parts where they did inhabit, as proper for our uses, especially when I found what goodly Rivers, stately Islands, and safe harbours those parts abounded with, being the speciall marks I levelled at as the onely want our Nation met with in all their Navigations along that Coast, and having kept them full three yearses, I made them able to set me downe what great Rivers ran up into the Land, what Men of note were seated on them, what power they were of, how allyed, what enemies they had, and the like of which in his proper place.


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Filed under 1650's, American Indians, History, Legal, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

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