One of the fruits of college life is the fervor it instills in youths, transplanted from their homes, to seek a new security in a larger environment, by forming new friendships. These bonds of adolescent comradeship are frequently carried into mature life as links with tried and trusted friends to whom appeal may be made in time of need. It is not surprising, therefore, that when Bartholomew Gosnold made his decision to be the first Englishman to sail directly ot Norumbega or New England across the ill-charted waters of the North Atlantic, he called to his side two who had been his associates at the University of Cambridge: John Brereton and Gabriel Archer.
Bothe Brereton and Archer wrote narratives of his voyage, which on comparison -- each sometimes confirming, sometimes suplementing, the other -- furinsh an integrated whole, a detailed account of all that Gosnold saw and experienced, together with each writer's own impressionon of the new lands discovered. Unfortunately neither of them had anything to say about the occasion for the voyage or its aftermath.
Beginning with these two recorders of the voyage, it is appropriate here to introduce the half-dozen members of Gosnold's company whose names are known. John Brereton was the third son of a prosperous Norwich mercer, holder of the high office of sheriff in that city, then the second largest in England. A year or so younger than Bartholomew Gosnold, Brereton continued his studies at Cambridge until he attained his Master of Arts degree in 1596, and then entered the ministry. His first appointment was to the curacy of Lawshall, a village six miles south of Bartholomew's home in Bury St. Edmunds.
It is altogether probable that Richard Hakluyt, whose parish at Wetheringsett was less than twenty miles by country lanes from Lawshall, knew this young curate, meeting him at whatever gatherings were held in those years for the clergy of the diocese of archdeaconry. Hakluyt, with missionary zeal expressed to the Queen in the opening chapter of his Discourse of Western Planting, would seize on every opportunity to tell his brother clergy, particularly the more youthful of them, that colonization among the savages of America would lead to "the gaining of the souls of millions of those wretched people, the reducing of them from darkness to light, from falsehood to truth, from dumb idols to the living God, from the deep pit of Hell to the highest of Heavens."
Brereton wrote of the voyage as one accustomed to the making of fine phrases and well-rounded sentences. He could write the resounding words, "We found ourselves embayed with a mighty headland", and was able to dismiss a bewildering bit of navigation with the crisp comment, "We sailed round about this headland, almost all the points of the compass." His style has the smoothness of a present-day copy writer extolling the delights of a new real-estate development, or of a health-resort. Of a place on the mainland, he wrote, "We stood awhile like men ravished at the beauty and delicacy of this sweet soil."
His Briefe and true Relation of the Discoverie of the North part of Virginia, "Written by M. John Brereton, on of the voyage", appeared in a tract forming part of a twenty-four page pamphlet which included also a paragraph on the voyage of Samuel Mace (sent out in that same year by Sir Walter Ralegh to search for the people of the lost colony of 1587) and the Treatise of "M. Edward Hayes, containing important inducements for the planting in those parts . . . "
This first edition was published in October, 1602, three months after the return of the expedition. A second edition followed quickly -- doubled in size by the addition of five brief documents the origin of which will be discussed later. It is a historical misfortune that no copy of either edition appears to have reached, or survived in, America, and the first American historian to make a study of Bartholomew Gosnold's voyage did not have access to a copy. This was Jeremy Belknap, who in 1798 published an account of Gosnold's course among the islands south of Cape Cod based entirely on Archer's Relation (available in Purchas' Pilgrimes), a study containing errors of interpretation which could have been avoided had Belknap known Brereton's supplementary data. Several of Belknap's misconceptions have come down in works of history to the present day and will be difficulot to displace.
Turning now to the next companion, Gabriel Archer was admitted to Gray's Inn after leaving Cambridge and there studied law. He has been identified in the records of this seat of learning as "of Mountnessing, Essex, Gentleman." That he was trained as a lawyer is confirmed by his recorded activities in the Jamestown colony, where he became more famous than he was as the obscure author of a Relation of Gosnold's voyage.
Archer's account of what happened in 1602 is maily a straightforward day-by-day journal of the voyage. One might think that he had made use of the official log of the Concord (not extant, if it ever existed), except that he had little or nothing to say about occurrences in which he did not personally participate. For instance, when the ship was anchored in the southern part of Cape Cod Bay, Archer stayed on board to fish, while a landing party went ashore. Archer mentioned this landing, but information as to what happened on shore comes intirely from John Brereton. Again, when Gosnold made his first landing on Martha's Vineyard, the incident is related only by Brereton; Archer had evidently again stayed on board the ship, and therefore had nothing to tell of the landing party's stroll about the place. On the other hand, when Archer stayed at the "fort" (which served also as a hibitation), while Gosnold went crusing around Buzzards Bay, Archer's story tells of the shore-party's privations and their worry about the delayed return of the ship, but nothing of Gosnold's experiences while away from the island.
Arche had a wry sense of humor, expressed in his penchant for giving quaint names to places. He named a little islet where a canoe was found "Hill's Hap", obviously because someone named Hill had the "hap" (luck) to find the canoe there. Then he found it amusing to reverse the name when another islet was found consisting of a hill crowned with a growth of tall cedars. This islet he called "Hap's Hill." Archer devised serval more names of this sort, none of which were mentioned by Brereton, who named only the chief islands discovered Martha's Vineyard and Elizabeth's Isle.
Archer's lively interest in everything that he observed in the course of the voyage, and his usually clear reporting, give on the whole the most useful information for a study of Gosnold's course and discoveries. The measurements reported in the narrative, and the relative position of places are remarkably accurate when properly lined up on a modern chart. Those historians who have impugned Archer's accuracy have done so because of errors in their own basic assumptions, making it appear that Archer was giving measurements for places far removed from those he actually had in mind.
It should be noted here, nevertheless, that both the narratives are characterized by strange and obvious omissions, with out doubt the result of editorial work done in London when the two narratives were being prepared for publication. The intent of the omissions or deletions was plainly to prevent later voyagers from following Gosnold to his Martha's Vineyard.
The three most important physical features inexplicably missing from the narratives are these:
(1) Nantucket Sound, which the explorers must have seen from "the highest hills" they climbed on Cape Cod. (2) The dangerous shoals east of Cape Cod, through which they must have passed as they "trended the coast southerly". (3) The large island now known as Martha's Vineyard (twenty-five miles long, with high hills), which the explorers must have passed on their way from Cape Cod to Buzzards Bay.
These and other incidental omissions make it almost impossible for the uninstructed reader of the narratives to obtain a clear picture of Gosnold's discovery of Martha's Vineyard and its Sounds.
Arche's manuscript, evidently prepared for publication in 1602, was not printed then. It finally came into the hands of Samuel Purchas, Hakluyt's successor in the publication of mariners' narratives -- he acquired many from Hakluyt's heirs -- who published it in 1625. In 1625, also, less than a hundred folio pages father on, a brief letter written by Archer on August 31, 1609, was published by Purchas. The former is Archer's first appearance in print, the latter his last. In a marginal note, Purchas melates that Archer died during the following winter, the "starving time" of 1609-1610, when the Virginia colony was almost wiped out.
There is reason to believe that Archer's 1602 manuscript, or a copy of it , was used a year or so after he died, and in any event before mid-March, 1611, in the making of a map for King James. The original of this map is not extant, but somehow don alonso de Velasco, Spanish Ambassador at King James' Court, had it redrawn for his own use. This version of it, now commonly called the Valesco Map, was found in the archives at Simancas, Spain, in the 1880's.
Each section of the "Virginia" coast on this map was drawn according to reports of the English explorers who visited that particular region. That Gosnold's discoveries were drawn solely at Gabriel Archer described them in his Relation is evident from the map's peculiarities. The word "penguin" is placed across the arm of Cape Cod (between modern Sandwich, Hyannis, and Flamouth) to show where birds of this species, the great auk, were shot by the expedition -- an incident related only by Archer. The island named "Elizabeth's Ile" shows an "Increeke" or Viniard", in closer accord with Archer's description than with the facts.
A most curious feature of the map is that the cartographer drew two great indentations in the shore of the mainland -- great bays or sounds -- where there should be only one, that which is now known as Buzzards Bay. This is plainly the cartographer's attempt to portray the two sounds mentioned by Archer in a phrase ("from Sound to Sound") which is not supported elsewhere in the narrative. Actually, Archer may have had in mind Vineyard Sound, lying between the long string of the Elizabeth Islands, as they are known today, and the equally long shore of Martha's Vineyard; but as both the true size of the Vineyard and the plurality of "Elizabeth's Ile", and the existence of the sound, had not been accurately known (or had been expunged from the first part of Archer's narrative), the map-maker did the best he could with the phase implying the existence of two sounds. These and other interesting features show that the cartographer had the use of Archer's Relation, but no other source of information about Gosnold's discoveries.
Another interesting member of Gosnold's company was Robert Salterne of Bristol, not mentioned in either of the narratives of Gosnold's voyage, but named by John Smith and Samuel Purchas in their chronicle of a voyage made a year later under Captain Martin Pring (a young mariner, born a matter of months after John Smith, on his first command). Smith's account is patently a condensation of the fuller document printed in Purchas His Pilgrimes, which states that Master Richard Hakluyt, "after divers meetings and due consultation", persuaded the merchants of Bristol, where he was Pre bendary of the Cathedral, to "set forth a Voyage for the farther Discoverie of the North part of Virginia." Hakluyt then visited Sir Walter Ralegh to obtain permission for the voyage -- Ralegh "had a most ample Patent of all those parts from Queene Elizabeth" -- and took with him a John Angell "and Master Robert Salterne (which had beene in the said Discoverie the yeere before with Captaine Bartholomew Gosnold)".
Pring and Salterne in tow small ships, made, like Gosnold, a landfall off the coast of Maine, in 1603. But they then coasted south inshore, instead of cutting across the "great gulf" of Massachusetts Bay as Gosnold had done. Passing to the south side of Boston Harbor, and still following the shore, they came to a harbor where they found sassafras in abundance. This was the place later called New Plymouth by Captain John Smith, and still late occupied by the Pilgrims. Smith, in his brief version of the Salterne story which purports to be by Salterne himself, wrote that Salterne werved as Pring's pilot. Fortunately, it was not necessary for Salterne to pilot the ships over the Nantucket shoals and to the islands south of Cape Cod.
The name Robert Salterne of Bristol recalls the fact that in 1583 Richard Hakluyt had been sent to Bristol by the Secretary of State, Sir Francis Walshingham, to enlist the support of the merchant adventures of Bristol for an expedition to be sent along with or following Sir Humphrey Gilbert, under the command of Walshingham's son-in-law, Captain Christopher Carleill. Hakluyt's dealings at that time were with Master William Salterne, "deputy of the merchant adventures." Hakluyt was successful in his pleas, and Master Salterne produced promises of the necessary vessels and cash, although he was never called upon to fulfil them.
Clearly young Robert Salterne must have been a near relative of the deputy, that is, either a son or a nephew, or possibly a grandson -- we know he was still alive in 1625. Hakluyt had probably watched this youth grow up in the course of his occasional visits to Bristol as Prebendary. It may also be taken for granted that it was Hakluyt who placed Robert Salterne on board Gosnold's ship, and sent him out again the next year under Pring.
Samuel Purchas in a marginal note to Pring's Relation relates that Robert Salterne become a clergyman and was a minister of a church at the time Purchas consulted him with minister of a church at the time Purchas consulted him with reference to Pring's voyage. Possibly the Rev. John Brereton as well as the Rev. Richard Hakluyt had something to do with Salterne's decision to enter the ministry. Possibly also Bartholomew Gosnold himself was not without influence on the young man, as Gosnold was eulogized after his death as a "worthy and religious gentleman."
In contrast ot lawyers Gosnold and Archer, clergyman Brereton and subsequent-clergyman Salterne, Captain Bartholomew Gilbert stands out strikingly. Captain Gilbert appears on the tiltle page of Brereton's Relation as a captain ranking equally with Captain Bartholomew Gosnold. But if Gosnold was the "here" of the piece, the villain was certainly Gilbert. Archer, no saint himself, mentions Gilbert disparagingly. Others undoubtedly called him a rascal.
The first thing to be said about Captain Bartholomew Gilbert is that, contrary to some previous opinion, he was not a relative of the half-brothers, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Ralegh. Extensive search of the pedigrees of Sir Humphrey's family shows that there was no Bartholomew Gilbert amongst them. Also, the famous letter of Sir Walter Ralegh about the cargo of the Concord shows that Bartholomew Gilbert was introduced to him as a complete stranger. He was certainly given no recognition as a kinsman of one of Ralegh's half-brothers.
In Ralegh's letter, Gilbert is identified as he "that had the great diamonde." The allusion is to an old scandal. As the papers in the case are quite unknown to students of Gosnold's voyage, it seems appropriate to present the gist of them, along with verbatim extracts. First there is a document endorsed by Sir Robert Cecil, Secretary of State, as from "Mr. Ashley": "information of the fraudulent transactions of Rowland Branford, Bartholomew Gilbert, How, and others, relative to the sale of certain diamonds and other jewls obtained by them from Josias Hooper, mariner, and others, which jewels were taken at sea and bought for little, and offered to the Queen at high price."
Another document from Sir Anthony Ashley to Sir Robert Cecil, dated December 223, 1597, reported: "Since the writing of our letters this day delivered your honor I have by good chance taken hold of Bartholomew Gilbert, who was wonderfully appalled upon the questions which I administered unto him and hath betrayed some further matter than was known before. Howbeit he refuseth to answer particularly to the matter of the great diamond by reason of his bond to his partners, How and [Terrell], but prayeth he may be spared till the bond be had in by commandment of her Majesty or otherwise. Then he promiseth not only to disclose everything yet unknown concerning the great diamond, but other matters also as yet little thought on. I have him at the present in my house till your further directions. It is needful that some others that cannot yet become by, be prsently sent for by warrant, especially one William Wyles of Ratcliffe, mariner."
In a letter dated May 6, 1598, Sir Anthony Ashley wrote Cecil: "Now that your honor is disburdened of your importunate negotiations I pray your ear to what has fared touching the diamond and my poor self. Upon sundry examinations at last it falleth out that Terrell, one of the parties pretending interest therein, never laid out one penny, but that most part of the 600 pounds was disbursed by B. Gilbert and the rest by [How] . . . The Queen being herewith justly indigant, commanded them to Marshalsea; but upon submission has released them.
It was quite the custom in those days for high officials of the state to send out privateering expeditions for their own profit, which is perhaps why no mention is made of whom the common seamon Josias Hooper defrauded by concealing jewels on his person. As for Gilbert's part in the diamond scandal, he probably evaded long imprisonment by surrendeing all rights to the jewels -- and it may be guessed that they came without price into the hands of Queen Elizabeth, or of her Treasurer.
The second xount in the indictment against Captain Bartholomew Gilbert is that culpably, through parsimony and perhaps because of sinister motives, as the commissary officer of Gosnold's expedition he failed to supply enough food for the intended settlement. The gentle Brereton reports that Gosnold found himself faced with a situation where he was to remain in a settlement with but twelve men "and they but meanly provided." The forthright and censorious Gabriel Archer, in rather involved language, hints that Captain Gilbert intended to sell the cargo on his return to England for his own benefit and not to return with a further supply, leaving the settlers to become another lost Virginia colony. Gosnold himself, after the safe return of the voyagers to England, wrote to his father in bitterness but without personal recrimination: "When we came to anchor before Portsmouth, which was some four days after we made the land, we had not one cake of bread, nor any drink but a little vinegar left."
The third bit of evidence showing Gilbert's unprincipled character came to light when Sir Walter Ralegh purposed to ask for the procesution of the voyagers on a charge of evading customs duties, when they brought their valuable cargo back to England, allegedly without Ralegh's permission. Gilbert promptly offered to become a customs "informer", promising to tell the appointed officials where his recent companions on the voyage had taken the valuable bags of sassafras.
Bartholomew Gilbert died horribly the next year on a voyage to "the south part" of Virginia (that is, Virginia as known today), sent out by Ralegh, when Indians overwhelmed a landing party ashore for wood and water and killed all but one of them. Ordinarily such parties were not attacked by Indians unless the Englishmen through foolhardiness exposed themselves in weakness, or showed signs of fear and cowardice. Gilbert possibly brought his fate upon himself.
Nothing in the records suggest Bartholomew Gosnold's reasons for the selection of Bartholomew Gilbert as his co-captain. No personal point of contact has been found, either through family relationship or other connections. The best guess seems to be that Captain Gilbert came, as it were, with the ship. The old Concord had probably been turned over to Captain Gilbert to run on shares, Gilbert to find a profit wherever he could, and few questions asked; therefore, Gosnold in chartering the Concord had to take Gilbert because Gilbert was already in command of the vessel. It seems reasonably clear that Gilbert was to sail the ship back to England, returning immediately to the new settlement with fresh supplies and probably with more colonists. There was perhaps divine providence in the turn of events which relieved Gosnold of further dependance upon the good will and assumed integrity of Bartholomew Gilbert.
Another member of Gosnold's company whose name is known was one Master Robert Meriton, mentioned along with the list of "commodities" published with Brereton's Relation as "the finder of our sassafras in these parts." Meriton was presumably a botanist-pharmacist taken along for the specific purpose of identifying plants useful as the source of drugs. In a document written by the older Richard Hykluyt, the lawyer, published in the appendix of the second edition of Brereton's Relation, there is a long list of persons with particular skills to be taken along on an expedition planning to make a settlement, in which second place is accorded to "men skillful in all kinds of drugs."
One man of the greatest importance among the ship's company is mentioned but once -- where Archer notes that no current was preceived by "William Strete the master" in the open sea one hundred leagues west of the Azores. A ship's sailing master was necessarily an experienced seaman, responsible for the particular navigation of the vessel. If this William Strete was a comparatively young man, it is possible that he was the same as the "William Streets, mariner," who on November 16, 1626, took part in a conveyance in the Virginia colony as agent for Daniel Gookin, reqarding a retiring manager of Gookin's plantation at Newport News.
There were thirty-two persons in all on board the Concord. Twelve of these including eight seamen, Archer reported, had intended from the beginning to return to England when the ship was sailed home by Captain Gilbert and Master William Strete. Twenty, including Bartholomew Gosnold, had intended to stay as settlers.
Besides the six already named, the names of two others of the company are known because they were butts of Archer's little jokes in the naming of places. Theere was a man named Tucker, who was so vociferous in proclaiming his fears on an occasion when the ship almost grounded that Archer named the place Tucker's Terror. Also, to repeat, there was presumably a man named Hill, who had the luck to find a canoe on the little island, leading Archer to suggest Hill's Hap as an appropriate name for the place.
It would douobtless add to the sum of knowledge about Gosnold if the names of more of the "gentlemen of the voyage" could be learned. A number of them may have accompanied Gosnold to Jamestown four years later and died with him there.