Richard Whitbourne’s 1622 Discourse on Newfoundland

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Richard Whitbourne’s 1622 Discourse on Newfoundland.

A discourse containing a loving invitation both honorable and profitable to all such as shall be adventurers, either in person or purse for the advancement of His Majesties most hopeful plantation in the New-found-land, lately undertaken. Published 1622. Author: Whitbourne, Richard, fl. 1579-1626.

Transcribed and contributed by David Anstey, September, 2021. While I have endeavored to be as correct as humanly possible, there may be errors.

*This file was created from the following book by Thomas Whitburn. And not the 1622 Discourse itself. Westward hoe for Avalon in the New-found-land. As described by Captain Richard Whitbourne of Exmouth, Devon, 1622. Edited and illustrated by T. Whitburn, 1870. Published: 1870.
Author" Whitbourne, Richard, Sir, fl. 1579-1626. Whitburn, Thomas.

Page 14.

Richard Whitbourne, having shortly after his ( 1616 Newfoundland voyage, and return to England, from Lisbon ), came to an arrangement with "a gentleman" [William Vaughan] to whom certain patentees had transferred their right to settle people in Newfoundland. Richard Whitbourne received from him "a conveyance under his hand and seal for the term of his life, with full power to govern within his circuit upon that coast." So he Richard Whitbourne, once more sailed to his well beloved island in a ship of his own, victualled by a joint stock company, in which he had a share...

*Richard Whitbourne governed Gentleman William Vaughan's Plantation at Renews, 1618-1620. He had moved the Colony from Aquaforte.

Page 22/23.

Richard Whitbourne in pointing out that a plantation with proper rule would prevent many migratory Fishery abuses, proposed that a proportion of 6 out of 30 men ( passengers who aided in the vessel’s Lading of codfish ) should be left in Newfoundland. A procedure which "will soon raise many people to be settled in every Harbour where our Nation use, to fish, and in other Harbours there also in time".

"The allowance of victual to maintain every six men, to carry and recarry them outwards bound and homewards, is six hogsheads of beer, and six hundred weight of bread, besides beef and other provision; which men, when they sail to and fro ( as now they use ) do little good or any service at all, but pester the ship in which they are, with their bread, beer, water, wood, victual, fish, chests, and diverse other trumperies, that every such six men do cumber the ship with-all yearly from thence: which men, when the voyage is made, may be accounted unnecessary persons returning yearly from thence."

See how much more fish the ships would hold, when not "pestered" with "such unprofitable things", "whilst the men left in the country may if industrious", gain twice as much in the absence of the ships that leave them there." Hitherto, the class of settler had not been of good report.

Page 23.

"For certainly I [Richard Whitbourne] have already seen and known by experience, that the desired Plantation can never be made beneficial by such idle persons, as I found there in the year 1618 when I was there with power, by virtue of a grant from the Patentees, which people had remained there a whole year, before I came near, or knew any of them; and never applied themselves to any commendable thing, no not so much as to make themselves an house to lodge in, but lay in such cold and simple rooms all the winter, as the Fishermen had formerly built there for their necessary occasions, the year before those men arrived there."

The next paragraph indicates Richard Whitbourne actually left 6 individuals in Newfoundland, and directed them to build a house and employ themselves. Until they heard from the gentlemen that had sent them there. And they lived there pleasantly all the winter. ( Winter of 1619).

Page 24.

Mention is made of the Harbours and Roads in Newfoundland so beautiful and excellent for ships to ride safe in, at anchor. Also, of "the exceeding great stones" used by the fishermen "to press their dry fish in their ships", being thrown in the Harbour.

Page 41.

Richard Whitbourne expresses that his first voyage to Newfoundland, was about 1580. In a ship of 300 Tons, owner Master [Edward] Cotton of Southampton. The intended voyage to Grand Bay on the North East Coast of Newfoundland, to trade with the Savages for whom the ship carried commodities, for whaling and Train Oil, was overthrown by the captain's indiscretion, and faint-heartedness of some gentlemen of the company. Hence the vessel voyaged to Trinity Bay instead, made a voyage of fish, bears, beavers, seals, otters, sea fowl, etc., and returned to Southampton.

Page 44.

Yet I may truly say, that hitherto little hath been performed to any purpose, by such as therein were employed, worthy the name of a Plantation, or answerable to the expectation and desert of the Undertakers; neither have such good effects followed, as may be expected from a thorough performance hereafter. And seeing that no man hath yet published any fit motives or inducements, whereby to persuade men to adventure, or plant there [Newfoundland]; I have presumed plainly to lay down these following reasons, which is the principal end I aim at, whereby to further that work so worthily intended, by prescribing fit means how a Plantation might be settled there; and have therefore undertaken it, as well to discharge my conscience, which hath often prompted me thereunto, as hoping thereby to stir up many of your Majesties good and religious Subjects duly to weigh the piety, honour and benefit that will arise from such a work, considering how your Majesties Kingdoms do abound and overflow with people.



*Page 24 as above. Newfoundland Harbours and Roads. Hawser's and Hawsepipes.

*Anthony Varder's Ledger, 1702/1703.

To: Paid for a Hawser & a road, 5 Pounds, & 17 Shillings. ( Moorage at Bristol?, for a ship. )

*( Other wooden ship building terms include: Keelson, apron, clamps, plank, iron timber, shaft hole, pot auger/barefoot auger, etc. )

*Page 41 as above.

It would require some time, manpower and effort, to load a 300 Ton vessel with codfish. At 20 Quintals per Ton, that's 6000 Quintals, for an all-dried Codfish cargo. Consider Edward Cotton's 300 Ton vessel of circa 1580. And the 300 Ton "Fortune" of Bristol, at Musketta, Carbonier; in 1645.

100 passengers along with a ship's crew of 15 men, might have effected the Lading of a cargo of codfish, if a good fishery year.

*British Record Society Publication. Volume 6. 1935. The Deposition Books of Bristol. Volume 1. 1643-1647. Edited by: Miss H. E. Nott. Pages 142/143. John Gonning, Bristol Mayor. September, 1645. A 300 Ton Bristol ship named the "Fortune", Master Simon Wells, at Musketta/Bristol's Hope, Newfoundland.

*Per the web page addressed below here it is seen that approximately 60 inhabitant boats were required to catch 6000 Quintals of dried cod, at Carbonear and Bonavista per 1720 stats. At 3 men in each boat, that's 180 men for a season. And 2 men per boat ashore, for drying purposes = 120 more. Giving 300 men in total.

Looking at Bonavista for 1731, it appears that circa 90 Men in the boats and 60 Men ashore, dried 6000 Quintals. For 150 Men in total.

At Trinity Bay in 1731, circa 27 boats dried 6000 Quintals. 81 men in boats and 54 ashore. 135 Men total. ( This representing a better fishery year, for that harbour.)

*Page 44 as above provides that as of 1622, little had been effected at either the 1610 Cupids Cove Colony, or the later Bristol's Hope Colony. Including at William Vaughan's Colony at Aquaforte/Renews. ( With the exception of the few shiploads of codfish, which were taken to market.)

The "hangashores" or Planter/Settlers, would have been very few in number, until after the era of 1700 -1720. The 1699 King William III Act, acknowledged the ownership of existing property in Newfoundland, and gave permission for settlements to exist in Newfoundland, as long as residents did not interfere with the English migratory fishery. Further to this the French intrusions of this era interrupted English settlement. With some folk not returning to their earlier communities from Carbonier Island, etc., until long after the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. In some cases, more than a decade later. Post this period of French invasions and the associated risk, British settlement increased in the harbors and creeks, along the coasts of Newfoundland.

Richard Whitbourne's conscience, after 40 plus years experience in Newfoundland, effected him to write his discourse on the Plantation effort in Newfoundland. Post being responsible for Law and Order at Newfoundland. He wrote he was indifferent as to whether other folk reaped the economic benefit of such a Plantation. And pointed out, that a growing Plantation would assist Law and Order at Newfoundland. Something un-effected, up to the time of his Discourse.

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