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John Guy to John Slany and the Newfoundland Company, July 29, 1612

In this letter John Guy describes the actions of the pirate Peter Easton.

To Master John Slany, Treasurer, and others of the Council and Company of the Newfoundland Plantation, the twenty nine of July 1612.

Right Worshipful,

By my last of the seventeenth of June I wrote you of the estate then of all matters here by the Holland Ship which (I hope) is long since safely arrived together with Master Colston who hath (I doubt not) made by word of mouth full relation of all matters. Because the proceedings of one Captain Peter Easton, a Pirate, and his company since are most fit to be known, before I touch [on] our Plantation business, you shall understand what they have been unto this time.

Until the seventeenth of this present [month] the said Captaine Easton remained in Harbor de Grace there trimming and repairing his shipping and commanding not only the Carpenters of each Ship to do his business but [he] hath taken victuals, munitions and necessaries from every Ship together with about one hundred men out of the Bay to man his Ships, being now in number six. He proposed to have before he goeth, as is said, out of the land five hundred men.

While he remained there [in Harbour Grace], two several Companies, to the number of about one hundred and eightie persons to each company, being discontented, stole away from him in a Shallop and took two Ships that were fishing in Trinitie Bay, one belonging to Barnstable and the other to Plimmouth, and so intend to begin to be new heads of that damnable course of life. As I sailed from hence towards Renoose in a small Barke, I fell into one of their hands and one of my company was hurt with a Musket. There was one of their crew that wintered with me here the first yeare by whose meanes, and because I was in the Barke, they made shew that they were sorry that they had meddled with us and so they departed from us without comming aboord. That which they sought after was men to increase their number.

Before the said Captain Eastons departure, he sent three Ships into Trinitie Bay to store himselfe with vituals, munitions and men who are said to be worse used then [were] the Ships here. He taketh much ordnance from them. The said Easton was lately at Saint Jones [i.e. St. John s] and is now, as far as I can learn, at Feriland, where he taketh his pleasure, and thereabouts the rest are to meet him.

It is given out that we will send one Captaine Harvy in a Ship to Ireland to understand newes about his [i.e. Easton s] pardon which, if he can obtaine [it] in that large and ample manner as he expecteth, then he giveth out that he will come in. Otherwise, it is thought that he will get Protection of the Duke of Florence and that, in his course herehence, he will hover about Westward of the Islands of the Azores to see whether he can light upon any of the Plate fleete or any other riche booty before his comming in.

Albeit, he hath so prevailed here to the strengthening of himself and encouraging of others to attempt the like hereafter: yet, were there that course taken, as I hope shall be, it is a most easie matter to repress them. 

From Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumus (XIX [1907], 110 -116)


This letter was first published by Samuel Purchas in his Hakluytus Posthumus; or Purchas his Pilgrims: Contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells by Englishmen and others in 1625. Purchas his Pilgrims was reprinted by James MacLehose and Sons, Glasgow in 1907. The letter was also published by D.B. Quinn in 1979 in Newfoundland from Fishery to Colony. Northwest Passages Searches. Vol 4 of New American World: A Documentary History of North America to 1612 (New York: Arno Press and Hector Bye) pp. 150-151. While every attempt has been made to present this document as originally written, certain changes have been made to render it more comprehensible to present day readers. In some cases the original punctuation has been altered and the spellings modernized. The text has also been broken down into paragraphs and, where deemed necessary, a word or two has been inserted within square brackets to clarify what is being said.