THE BUCCANEERS IN THE WEST INDIES IN THE XVII CENTURY

By C.H. Haring

CHAPTER III


THE CONQUEST OF JAMAICA

 

Jamaica

The capture of Jamaica by the expedition sent out by Cromwell in 1655 was the blundering beginning of a new era in West Indian history. It was the first permanent annexation by another European power of an integral part of Spanish America. Before 1655 the island had already been twice visited by English forces. The first occasion was in January 1597, when Sir Anthony Shirley, with little opposition, took and plundered St. Jago de la Vega. The second was in 1643, when William Jackson repeated the same exploit with 500 men from the Windward Islands. Cromwell's expedition, consisting of 2500 men and a considerable fleet, set sail from England in December 1654, with the secret object of "gaining an interest" in that part of the West Indies in possession of the Spaniards. Admiral Penn commanded the fleet, and General Venables the land forces.119 The expedition reached Barbadoes at the end of January, where some 4000 additional troops were raised,  besides about 1200 from Nevis, St. Kitts, and neighbouring islands. The commanders having resolved to direct their first attempt against Hispaniola, on 13th April a landing was effected at a point to the west of San Domingo, and the army, suffering terribly from a tropical sun and lack of water, marched thirty miles through woods and savannahs to attack the city. The English received two shameful defeats from a handful of Spaniards on 17th and 25th April, and General Venables, complaining loudly of the cowardice of his men and of Admiral Penn's failure to co-operate with him, finally gave up the attempt and sailed for Jamaica. On 11th May, in the splendid harbour on which Kingston now stands, the English fleet dropped anchor. Three small forts on the western side were battered by the guns from the ships, and as soon as the troops began to land the garrisons evacuated their posts. St. Jago, six miles inland, was occupied next day. The terms offered by Venables to the Spaniards (the same as those exacted from the English settlers on Providence Island in 1641—emigration within ten days on pain of death, and forfeiture of all their property) were accepted on the 17th; but the Spaniards were soon discovered to have entered into negotiations merely to gain time and retire with their families and goods to the woods and mountains, whence they continued their resistance. Meanwhile the army, wretchedly equipped with provisions and other necessities, was decimated by sickness. On the 19th two long-expected store-ships arrived, but the supplies brought by them were limited, and an appeal for assistance was sent to New England. Admiral Penn, disgusted with the fiasco in Hispaniola and on bad terms with Venables, sailed for England with part of his fleet on 25th June; and Venables, so ill that his life was despaired of, and also anxious to clear himself of the responsibility for the initial failure of the expedition, followed in the  "Marston Moor" nine days later. On 20th September both commanders appeared before the Council of State to answer the charge of having deserted their posts, and together they shared the disgrace of a month in the Tower.120

San Domingo

The army of General Venables was composed of very inferior and undisciplined troops, mostly the rejected of English regiments or the offscourings of the West Indian colonies; yet the chief reasons for the miscarriage before San Domingo were the failure of Venables to command the confidence of his officers and men, his inexcusable errors in the management of the attack, and the lack of cordial co-operation between him and the Admiral. The difficulties with which he had to struggle were, of course, very great. On the other hand, he seems to have been deficient both in strength of character and in military capacity; and his ill-health made still more difficult a task for which he was fundamentally incompetent. The comparative failure of this, Cromwell's pet enterprise, was a bitter blow to the Protector. For a whole day he shut himself up in his room, brooding over the disaster for which he, more than any other, was responsible. He had aimed not merely to plant one more colony in America, but to make himself master of such parts of the West Indian islands and Spanish Main as would enable him to dominate the route of the Spanish-American treasure fleets. To this end Jamaica contributed few advantages beyond those possessed by Barbadoes and St. Kitts, and it was too early for him to realize that island for island Jamaica was much more suitable than Hispaniola as the seat of an English colony.121

Religious and economic motives form the key to Cromwell's foreign policy, and it is difficult to discover  which, the religious or the economic, was uppermost in his mind when he planned this expedition. He inherited from the Puritans of Elizabeth's time the traditional religious hatred of Spain as the bulwark of Rome, and in his mind as in theirs the overthrow of the Spaniards in the West Indies was a blow at antichrist and an extension of the true religion. The religious ends of the expedition were fully impressed upon Venables and his successors in Jamaica.122 Second only, however, to Oliver's desire to protect "the people of God," was his ambition to extend England's empire beyond the seas. He desired the unquestioned supremacy of England over the other nations of Europe, and that supremacy, as he probably foresaw, was to be commercial and colonial. Since the discovery of America the world's commerce had enormously increased, and its control brought with it national power. America had become the treasure-house of Europe. If England was to be set at the head of the world's commerce and navigation, she must break through Spain's monopoly of the Indies and gain a control in Spanish America. San Domingo was to be but a preliminary step, after which the rest of the Spanish dominions in the New World would be gradually absorbed.123

The immediate excuse for the attack on Hispaniola and Jamaica was the Spaniards' practice of seizing English ships and ill-treating English crews merely because they were found in some part of the Caribbean Sea, and even though bound for a plantation actually in possession of English colonists. It was the old question of effective occupation versus papal donation, and both  Cromwell and Venables convinced themselves that Spanish assaults in the past on English ships and colonies supplied a sufficient casus belli.124 There was no justification, however, for a secret attack upon Spain. She had been the first to recognize the young republic, and was willing and even anxious to league herself with England. There had been actual negotiations for an alliance, and Cromwell's offers, though rejected, had never been really withdrawn. Without a declaration of war or formal notice of any sort, a fleet was fitted out and sent in utmost secrecy to fall unawares upon the colonies of a friendly nation. The whole aspect of the exploit was Elizabethan. It was inspired by Drake and Raleigh, a reversion to the Elizabethan gold-hunt. It was the first of the great buccaneering expeditions.125

 

Cromwell was doubtless influenced, too, by the representations of Thomas Gage. Gage was an Englishman who had joined the Dominicans and had been sent by his Order out to Spanish America. In 1641 he returned to England, announced his conversion to Protestantism, took the side of Parliament and became a minister. His experiences in the West Indies and Mexico he published in 1648 under the name of "The English-American, or a New Survey of the West Indies," a most entertaining book, which aimed to arouse Englishmen against Romish "idolatries," to show how valuable the Spanish-American provinces might be to England in trade and bullion and how easily they might be seized. In the summer of 1654, moreover, Gage had laid before the Protector a memorial in which he recapitulated the conclusions of his book, assuring Cromwell that the Spanish colonies were sparsely peopled and that the few whites were unwarlike and scantily provided with arms and ammunition. He asserted that the conquest of Hispaniola and Cuba would be a matter of no difficulty, and that even Central America was too weak to oppose a long resistance.126 All this was true, and had Cromwell but sent a respectable force under an efficient leader the result would have been different. The exploits of the buccaneers a few years later proved it.

It was fortunate, considering the distracted state of affairs in Jamaica in 1655-56, that the Spaniards were in no condition to attempt to regain the island. Cuba, the nearest Spanish territory to Jamaica, was being ravaged by the most terrible pestilence known there in years, and the inhabitants, alarmed for their own safety, instead of trying to dispossess the English, were  busy providing for the defence of their own coasts.127 In 1657, however, some troops under command of the old Spanish governor of Jamaica, D. Christopher Sasi Arnoldo, crossed from St. Jago de Cuba and entrenched themselves on the northern shore as the advance post of a greater force expected from the mainland. Papers of instructions relating to the enterprise were intercepted by Colonel Doyley, then acting-governor of Jamaica; and he with 500 picked men embarked for the north side, attacked the Spaniards in their entrenchments and utterly routed them.128 The next year about 1000 men, the long-expected corps of regular Spanish infantry, landed and erected a fort at Rio Nuevo. Doyley, displaying the same energy, set out again on 11th June with 750 men, landed under fire on the 22nd, and next day captured the fort in a brilliant attack in which about 300 Spaniards were killed and 100 more, with many officers and flags, captured. The English lost about sixty in killed and wounded.129 After the failure of a similar, though weaker, attempt in 1660, the Spaniards despaired of regaining Jamaica, and most of those still upon the island embraced the first opportunity to retire to Cuba and other Spanish settlements.

As colonists the troops in Jamaica proved to be very discouraging material, and the army was soon in a wretched state. The officers and soldiers plundered and mutinied instead of working and planting. Their wastefulness led to scarcity of food, and scarcity of food brought disease and death.130 They wished to force the  Protector to recall them, or to employ them in assaulting the opulent Spanish towns on the Main, an occupation far more lucrative than that of planting corn and provisions for sustenance. Cromwell, however, set himself to develop and strengthen his new colony. He issued a proclamation encouraging trade and settlement in the island by exempting the inhabitants from taxes, and the Council voted that 1000 young men and an equal number of girls be shipped over from Ireland. The Scotch government was instructed to apprehend and transport idlers and vagabonds, and commissioners were sent into New England and to the Windward and Leeward Islands to try and attract settlers.131 Bermudians, Jews, Quakers from Barbadoes and criminals from Newgate, helped to swell the population of the new colony, and in 1658 the island is said to have contained 4500 whites, besides 1500 or more negro slaves.132

To dominate the Spanish trade routes was one of the principal objects of English policy in the West Indies. This purpose is reflected in all of Cromwell's instructions to the leaders of the Jamaican design, and it appears again in his instructions of 10th October 1655 to Major-General Fortescue and Vice-Admiral Goodson. Fortescue was given power and authority to land men upon territory claimed by the Spaniards, to take their forts, castles and places of strength, and to pursue, kill and destroy all who opposed him. The Vice-Admiral was to assist him with his sea-forces, and to use his best endeavours to seize all  ships belonging to the King of Spain or his subjects in America.133 The soldiers, as has been said, were more eager to fight the Spaniards than to plant, and opportunities were soon given them to try their hand. Admiral Penn had left twelve ships under Goodson's charge, and of these, six were at sea picking up a few scattered Spanish prizes which helped to pay for the victuals supplied out of New England.134 Goodson, however, was after larger prey, no less than the galleons or a Spanish town upon the mainland. He did not know where the galleons were, but at the end of July he seems to have been lying with eight vessels before Cartagena and Porto Bello, and on 22nd November he sent Captain Blake with nine ships to the same coast to intercept all vessels going thither from Spain or elsewhere. The fleet was broken up by foul weather, however, and part returned on 14th December to refit, leaving a few small frigates to lie in wait for some merchantmen reported to be in that region.135 The first town on the Main to feel the presence of this new power in the Indies was Santa Marta, close to Cartagena on the shores of what is now the U.S. of Columbia. In the latter part of October, just a month before the departure of Blake, Goodson sailed with a fleet of eight vessels to ravage the Spanish coasts. According to one account his original design had been against Rio de la Hacha near the pearl fisheries, "but having missed his aim" he sailed for Santa Marta. He landed 400 sailors and soldiers under the protection of his guns, took and demolished the two forts which barred his way, and entered the town. Finding that the inhabitants had already fled with as much of their belongings as they could carry, he pursued  them some twelve miles up into the country; and on his return plundered and burnt their houses, embarked with thirty pieces of cannon and other booty, and sailed for Jamaica.136 It was a gallant performance with a handful of men, but the profits were much less than had been expected. It had been agreed that the seamen and soldiers should receive half the spoil, but on counting the proceeds it was found that their share amounted to no more than £400, to balance which the State took the thirty pieces of ordnance and some powder, shot, hides, salt and Indian corn.137 Sedgwick wrote to Thurloe that "reckoning all got there on the State's share, it did not pay for the powder and shot spent in that service."138 Sedgwick was one of the civil commissioners appointed for the government of Jamaica. A brave, pious soldier with a long experience and honourable military record in the Massachusetts colony, he did not approve of this type of warfare against the Spaniards. "This kind of marooning cruising West India trade of plundering and burning towns," he writes, "though it hath been long practised in these parts, yet is not honourable for a princely navy, neither was it, I think, the work designed, though perhaps it may be tolerated at present." If Cromwell was to accomplish his original purpose of blocking up the Spanish treasure route, he wrote again, permanent foothold must be gained in some important Spanish fortress, either Cartagena or Havana, places strongly garrisoned, however, and requiring for their reduction a considerable army and fleet, such as Jamaica did not then possess. But to waste and burn towns of inferior rank without retaining them merely dragged on the war indefinitely and effected little advantage or profit to anybody.139 Captain Nuberry  visited Santa Marta several weeks after Goodson's descent, and, going on shore, found that about a hundred people had made bold to return and rebuild their devastated homes. Upon sight of the English the poor people again fled incontinently to the woods, and Nuberry and his men destroyed their houses a second time.140

On 5th April 1656 Goodson, with ten of his best ships, set sail again and steered eastward along the coast of Hispaniola as far as Alta Vela, hoping to meet with some Spanish ships reported in that region. Encountering none, he stood for the Main, and landed on 4th May with about 450 men at Rio de la Hacha. The story of the exploit is merely a repetition of what happened at Santa Marta. The people had sight of the English fleet six hours before it could drop anchor, and fled from the town to the hills and surrounding woods. Only twelve men were left behind to hold the fort, which the English stormed and took within half an hour. Four large brass cannon were carried to the ships and the fort partly demolished. The Spaniards pretended to parley for the ransom of their town, but when after a day's delay they gave no sign of complying with the admiral's demands, he burned the place on 8th May and sailed away.141 Goodson called again at Santa Marta on the 11th to get water, and on the 14th stood before Cartagena to view the harbour. Leaving three vessels to ply there, he returned to Jamaica, bringing back with him only two small prizes, one laden with wine, the other with cocoa.

The seamen of the fleet, however, were restless and eager for further enterprises of this nature, and Goodson by the middle of June had fourteen of his vessels lying off the Cuban coast near Cape S. Antonio in wait for the galleons or the Flota, both of which fleets were then expected at Havana. His ambition to repeat the achievement  of Piet Heyn was fated never to be realised. The fleet of Terra-Firma, he soon learned, had sailed into Havana on 15th May, and on 13th June, three days before his arrival on that coast, had departed for Spain.142 Meanwhile, one of his own vessels, the "Arms of Holland," was blown up, with the loss of all on board but three men and the captain, and two other ships were disabled. Five of the fleet returned to England on 23rd August, and with the rest Goodson remained on the Cuban coast until the end of the month, watching in vain for the fleet from Vera Cruz which never sailed.143

Colonel Edward Doyley, the officer who so promptly defeated the attempts of the Spaniards in 1657-58 to re-conquer Jamaica, was now governor of the island. He had sailed with the expedition to the West Indies as lieutenant-colonel in the regiment of General Venables, and on the death of Major-General Fortescue in November 1655 had been chosen by Cromwell's commissioners in Jamaica as commander-in-chief of the land forces. In May 1656 he was superseded by Robert Sedgwick, but the latter died within a few days, and Doyley petitioned the Protector to appoint him to the post. William Brayne, however, arrived from England in December 1656 to take chief command; and when he, like his two predecessors, was stricken down by disease nine months later, the place devolved permanently upon Doyley. Doyley was a very efficient governor, and although he has been accused of showing little regard or respect for planting and trade, the  charge appears to be unjust.144 He firmly maintained order among men disheartened and averse to settlement, and at the end of his service delivered up the colony a comparatively well-ordered and thriving community. He was confirmed in his post by Charles II. at the Restoration, but superseded by Lord Windsor in August 1661. Doyley's claim to distinction rests mainly upon his vigorous policy against the Spaniards, not only in defending Jamaica, but by encouraging privateers and carrying the war into the enemies' quarters. In July 1658, on learning from some prisoners that the galleons were in Porto Bello awaiting the plate from Panama, Doyley embarked 300 men on a fleet of five vessels and sent it to lie in an obscure bay between that port and Cartagena to intercept the Spanish ships. On 20th October the galleons were espied, twenty-nine vessels in all, fifteen galleons and fourteen stout merchantmen. Unfortunately, all the English vessels except the "Hector" and the "Marston Moor" were at that moment absent to obtain fresh water. Those two alone could do nothing, but passing helplessly through the Spaniards, hung on their rear and tried without success to scatter them. The English fleet later attacked and burnt the town of Tolu on the Main, capturing two Spanish ships in the road; and afterwards paid another visit to the unfortunate Santa Marta, where they remained three days, marching several miles into the country and burning and destroying everything in their path.145

On 23rd April 1659, however, there returned to Port Royal another expedition whose success realised the wildest dreams of avarice. Three frigates under command  of Captain Christopher Myngs,146 with 300 soldiers on board, had been sent by Doyley to harry the South American coast. They first entered and destroyed Cumana, and then ranging along the coast westward, landed again at Puerto Cabello and at Coro. At the latter town they followed the inhabitants into the woods, where besides other plunder they came upon twenty-two chests of royal treasure intended for the King of Spain, each chest containing 400 pounds of silver.147 Embarking this money and other spoil in the shape of plate, jewels and cocoa, they returned to Port Royal with the richest prize that ever entered Jamaica. The whole pillage was estimated at between £200,000 and £300,000.148 The abundance of new wealth introduced into Jamaica did much to raise the spirits of the colonists, and set the island well upon the road to more prosperous times. The sequel to this brilliant exploit, however, was in some ways unfortunate. Disputes were engendered between the officers of the expedition and the governor and other authorities on shore over the disposal of the booty, and in the early part of June 1659 Captain Myngs was sent home in the "Marston Moor," suspended for disobeying orders and plundering the hold of one of the prizes to the value of 12,000 pieces of eight. Myngs was an active, intrepid commander, but apparently avaricious and impatient of  control. He seems to have endeavoured to divert most of the prize money into the pockets of his officers and men, by disposing of the booty on his own initiative before giving a strict account of it to the governor or steward-general of the island. Doyley writes that there was a constant market aboard the "Marston Moor," and that Myngs and his officers, alleging it to be customary to break and plunder the holds, permitted the twenty-two chests of the King of Spain's silver to be divided among the men without any provision whatever for the claims of the State.149 There was also some friction over the disposal of six Dutch prizes which Doyley had picked up for illegal trading at Barbadoes on his way out from England. These, too, had been plundered before they reached Jamaica, and when Myngs found that there was no power in the colony to try and condemn ships taken by virtue of the Navigation Laws, it only added fuel to his dissatisfaction. When Myngs reached England he lodged counter-complaints against Governor Doyley, Burough, the steward-general, and Vice-Admiral Goodson, alleging that they received more than their share of the prize money; and a war of mutual recrimination followed.150 Amid the distractions of the Restoration, however, little seems ever to have been made of the matter in England. The insubordination of officers in 1659-60 was a constant source of difficulty and impediment to the governor in his efforts to establish peace and order in the colony. In England nobody was sure where the powers of government actually resided. As Burough wrote from Jamaica on 19th January 1660, "We are here just like you at home; when we heard of the Lord-Protector's  death we proclaimed his son, and when we heard of his being turned out we proclaimed a Parliament and now own a Committee of safety."151 The effect of this uncertainty was bound to be prejudicial in Jamaica, a new colony filled with adventurers, for it loosened the reins of authority and encouraged lawless spirits to set the governor at defiance.

On 8th May 1660 Charles II. was proclaimed King of England, and entered London on 29th May. The war which Cromwell had begun with Spain was essentially a war of the Commonwealth. The Spanish court was therefore on friendly terms with the exiled prince, and when he returned into possession of his kingdom a cessation of hostilities with Spain naturally followed. Charles wrote a note to Don Luis de Haro on 2nd June 1660, proposing an armistice in Europe and America which was to lead to a permanent peace and a re-establishment of commercial relations between the two kingdoms.152 At the same time Sir Henry Bennett, the English resident in Madrid, made similar proposals to the Spanish king. A favourable answer was received in July, and the cessation of arms, including a revival of the treaty of 1630 was proclaimed on 10th-20th September 1660. Preliminary negotiations for a new treaty were entered upon at Madrid, but the marriage of Charles to Catherine of Braganza in 1662, and the consequent alliance with Portugal, with whom Spain was then at war, put a damper upon all such designs. The armistice with Spain was not published in Jamaica until 5th February of the following year. On 4th February Colonel Doyley received from the governor of St. Jago de Cuba a letter enclosing an order from Sir Henry Bennett for the cessation of arms, and this order Doyley immediately made public.153  About thirty English prisoners were also returned by the Spaniards with the letter. Doyley was confirmed in his command of Jamaica by Charles II., but his commission was not issued till 8th February 1661.154 He was very desirous, however, of returning to England to look after his private affairs, and on 2nd August another commission was issued to Lord Windsor, appointing him as Doyley's successor.155 Just a year later, in August 1662, Windsor arrived at Port Royal, fortified with instructions "to endeavour to obtain and preserve a good correspondence and free commerce with the plantations belonging to the King of Spain," even resorting to force if necessary.156

The question of English trade with the Spanish colonies in the Indies had first come to the surface in the negotiations for the treaty of 1604, after the long wars between Elizabeth and Philip II. The endeavour of the Spaniards to obtain an explicit prohibition of commerce was met by the English demand for entire freedom. The Spaniards protested that it had never been granted in former treaties or to other nations, or even without restriction to Spanish subjects, and clamoured for at least a private article on the subject; but the English commissioners steadfastly refused, and offered to forbid trade only with ports actually under Spanish authority. Finally a compromise was reached in the words "in quibus ante bellum fuit commercium, juxta et secundum usum et observantiam."157 This article was renewed in Cottington's  Treaty of 1630. The Spaniards themselves, indeed, in 1630, were willing to concede a free navigation in the American seas, and even offered to recognise the English colony of Virginia if Charles I. would admit articles prohibiting trade and navigation in certain harbours and bays. Cottington, however, was too far-sighted, and wrote to Lord Dorchester: "For my own part, I shall ever be far from advising His Majesty to think of such restrictions, for certainly a little more time will open the navigation to those parts so long as there are no negative capitulations or articles to hinder it."158 The monopolistic pretensions of the Spanish government were evidently relaxing, for in 1634 the Conde de Humanes confided to the English agent, Taylor, that there had been talk in the Council of the Indies of admitting the English to a share in the freight of ships sent to the West Indies, and even of granting them a limited permission to go to those regions on their own account. And in 1637 the Conde de Linhares, recently appointed governor of Brazil, told the English ambassador, Lord Aston, that he was very anxious that English ships should do the carrying between Lisbon and Brazilian ports.

The settlement of the Windward and Leeward Islands and the conquest of Jamaica had given a new impetus to contraband trade. The commercial nations were setting up shop, as it were, at the very doors of the Spanish Indies. The French and English Antilles, condemned by the Navigation Laws to confine themselves to agriculture and a passive trade with the home country, had no recourse but to traffic with their Spanish neighbours.  Factors of the Assiento established at Cartagena, Porto Bello and Vera Cruz every year supplied European merchants with detailed news of the nature and quantity of the goods which might be imported with advantage; while the buccaneers, by dominating the whole Caribbean Sea, hindered frequent communication between Spain and her colonies. It is not surprising, therefore, that the commerce of Seville, which had hitherto held its own, decreased with surprising rapidity, that the sailings of the galleons and the Flota were separated by several years, and that the fairs of Porto Bello and Vera Cruz were almost deserted. To put an effective restraint, moreover, upon this contraband trade was impossible on either side. The West Indian dependencies were situated far from the centre of authority, while the home governments generally had their hands too full of other matters to adequately control their subjects in America. The Spanish viceroys, meanwhile, and the governors in the West Indian Islands, connived at a practice which lined their own pockets with the gold of bribery, and at the same time contributed to the public interest and prosperity of their respective colonies. It was this illicit commerce with Spanish America which Charles II., by negotiation at Madrid and by instructions to his governors in the West Indies, tried to get within his own control. At the Spanish court, Fanshaw, Sandwich and Godolphin in turn were instructed to sue for a free trade with the Colonies. The Assiento of negroes was at this time held by two Genoese named Grillo and Lomelin, and with them the English ambassadors several times entered into negotiation for the privilege of supplying blacks from the English islands. By the treaty of 1670 the English colonies in America were for the first time formally recognised by the Spanish Crown. Freedom of commerce, however, was as far as ever from realisation, and after this date Charles  seems to have given up hope of ever obtaining it through diplomatic channels.

The peace of 1660 between England and Spain was supposed to extend to both sides of the "Line." The Council in Jamaica, however, were of the opinion that it applied only to Europe,159 and from the tenor of Lord Windsor's instructions it may be inferred that the English Court at that time meant to interpret it with the same limitations. Windsor, indeed, was not only instructed to force the Spanish colonies to a free trade, but was empowered to call upon the governor of Barbadoes for aid "in case of any considerable attempt by the Spaniards against Jamaica."160 The efforts of the Governor, however, to come to a good correspondence with the Spanish colonies were fruitless. In the minutes of the Council of Jamaica of 20th August 1662, we read: "Resolved that the letters from the Governors of Porto Rico and San Domingo are an absolute denial of trade, and that according to His Majesty's instructions to Lord Windsor a trade by force or otherwise be endeavoured;"161 and under 12th September we find another resolution "that men be enlisted for a design by sea with the 'Centurion' and other vessels."162 This "design" was an expedition to capture and destroy St. Jago de Cuba, the Spanish port nearest to Jamaican shores. An attack upon St. Jago had been projected by Goodson as far back as 1655. "The Admiral," wrote Major Sedgwick to Thurloe just after his arrival in Jamaica, "was intended before our coming in to have taken some few soldiers and gone over to St. Jago de Cuba, a town upon Cuba, but our coming hindered him without whom we could not well tell how to do anything."163 In January 1656 the plan was definitely abandoned, because  the colony could not spare a sufficient number of soldiers for the enterprise.164 It was to St. Jago that the Spaniards, driven from Jamaica, mostly betook themselves, and from St. Jago as a starting-point had come the expedition of 1658 to reconquer the island. The instructions of Lord Windsor afforded a convenient opportunity to avenge past attacks and secure Jamaica from molestation in that quarter for the future. The command of the expedition was entrusted to Myngs, who in 1662 was again in the Indies on the frigate "Centurion." Myngs sailed from Port Royal on 21st September with eleven ships and 1300 men,165 but, kept back by unfavourable winds, did not sight the castle of St. Jago until 5th October. Although he had intended to force the entrance of the harbour, he was prevented by the prevailing land breeze; so he disembarked his men to windward, on a rocky coast, where the path up the bluffs was so narrow that but one man could march at a time. Night had fallen before all were landed, and "the way (was) soe difficult and the night soe dark that they were forced to make stands and fires, and their guides with brands in their hands, to beat the path."166 At daybreak they reached a plantation by a river's side, some six miles from the place of landing and three from St. Jago. There they refreshed themselves, and advancing upon the town surprised the enemy, who knew of the late landing and the badness of the way and did not expect them so soon. They found 200 Spaniards at the entrance to the town, drawn up under their governor, Don Pedro de Moralis, and supported by Don Christopher de Sasi Arnoldo, the former Spanish governor of Jamaica, with a reserve of 500 more. The Spaniards fled before the first charge of the Jamaicans, and the place was easily mastered.

 

The next day parties were despatched into the country to pursue the enemy, and orders sent to the fleet to attack the forts at the mouth of the harbour. This was successfully done, the Spaniards deserting the great castle after firing but two muskets. Between scouring the country for hidden riches, most of which had been carried far inland beyond their reach, and dismantling and demolishing the forts, the English forces occupied their time until October 19th. Thirty-four guns were found in the fortifications and 1000 barrels of powder. Some of the guns were carried to the ships and the rest flung over the precipice into the sea; while the powder was used to blow up the castle and the neighbouring country houses.167 The expedition returned to Jamaica on 22nd October.168 Only six men had been killed by the Spaniards, twenty more being lost by other "accidents." Of these twenty some must have been captured by the enemy, for when Sir Richard Fanshaw was appointed ambassador to Spain in January 1664, he was instructed among other things to negotiate for an exchange of prisoners taken in the Indies. In July we find him treating for the release of Captain Myngs' men from the prisons of Seville and Cadiz,169 and on 7th November an order to this effect was obtained from the King of Spain.170

The instructions of Lord Windsor gave him leave, as soon as he had settled the government in Jamaica, to appoint a deputy and return to England to confer with the King on colonial affairs. Windsor sailed for England on 28th October, and on the same day Sir Charles Lyttleton's commission as deputy-governor was read in the Jamaican Council.171 During his short sojourn of three months the  Governor had made considerable progress toward establishing an ordered constitution in the island. He disbanded the old army, and reorganised the military under a stricter discipline and better officers. He systematised legal procedure and the rules for the conveyance of property. He erected an Admiralty Court at Port Royal, and above all, probably in pursuance of the recommendation of Colonel Doyley,172 had called in all the privateering commissions issued by previous governors, and tried to submit the captains to orderly rules by giving them new commissions, with instructions to bring their Spanish prizes to Jamaica for judicature.173

The departure of Windsor did not put a stop to the efforts of the Jamaicans to "force a trade" with the Spanish plantations, and we find the Council, on 11th December 1662, passing a motion that to this end an attempt should be made to leeward on the coasts of Cuba, Honduras and the Gulf of Campeache. On 9th and 10th January between 1500 and 1600 soldiers, many of them doubtless buccaneers, were embarked on a fleet of twelve ships and sailed two days later under command of the redoubtable Myngs. About ninety leagues this side of Campeache the fleet ran into a great storm, in which one of the vessels foundered and three others were separated from their fellows. The English reached the coast of Campeache, however, in the early morning of Friday, 9th February, and landing a league and a half from the town, marched without being seen along an Indian path with "such speed and good fortune" that by ten o'clock in the morning they were already masters of the city and of all the forts save one, the Castle of Santa Cruz. At the second fort Myngs was wounded by a gun in three places. The town itself, Myngs reported, might have been defended like a fortress, for the houses  were contiguous and strongly built of stone with flat roofs.174 The forts were partly demolished, a portion of the town was destroyed by fire, and the fourteen sail lying in the harbour were seized by the invaders. Altogether the booty must have been considerable. The Spanish licentiate, Maldonado de Aldana, placed it at 150,000 pieces of eight,175 and the general damage to the city in the destruction of houses and munitions by the enemy, and in the expenditure of treasure for purposes of defence, at half a million more. Myngs and his fleet sailed away on 23rd February, but the "Centurion" did not reach Port Royal until 13th April, and the rest of the fleet followed a few days later. The number of casualties on each side was surprisingly small. The invaders lost only thirty men killed, and the Spaniards between fifty and sixty, but among the latter were the two alcaldes and many other officers and prominent citizens of the town.176

To satisfactorily explain at Madrid these two presumptuous assaults upon Spanish territory in America  was an embarrassing problem for the English Government, especially as Myngs' men imprisoned at Seville and Cadiz were said to have produced commissions to justify their actions.177 The Spanish king instructed his resident in London to demand whether Charles accepted responsibility for the attack upon St. Jago, and the proceedings of English cases in the Spanish courts arising from the depredations of Galician corsairs were indefinitely suspended.178 When, however, there followed upon this, in May 1663, the news of the sack and burning of Campeache, it stirred up the greatest excitement in Madrid.179 Orders and, what was rarer in Spain, money were immediately sent to Cadiz to the Duke of Albuquerque to hasten the work on the royal Armada for despatch to the Indies; and efforts were made to resuscitate the defunct Armada de Barlovento, a small fleet which had formerly been used to catch interlopers and protect the coasts of Terra-Firma. In one way the capture of Campeache had touched Spain in her most vulnerable spot. The Mexican Flota, which was scheduled to sail from Havana in June 1663, refused to stir from its retreat at Vera Cruz until the galleons from Porto Bello came to convoy it. The arrival of the American treasure in Spain was thus delayed for two months, and the bankrupt government put to sore straits for money.

The activity of the Spaniards, however, was merely a blind to hide their own impotence, and their clamours were eventually satisfied by the King of England's writing to Deputy-Governor Lyttleton a letter forbidding all such undertakings for the future. The text of the letter is as follows: "Understanding with what jealousy and offence the Spaniards look upon our island of Jamaica, and how disposed they are to make some attempt upon it, and  knowing how disabled it will remain in its own defence if encouragement be given to such undertakings as have lately been set on foot, and are yet pursued, and which divert the inhabitants from that industry which alone can render the island considerable, the king signifies his dislike of all such undertakings, and commands that no such be pursued for the future, but that they unitedly apply themselves to the improvement of the plantation and keeping the force in proper condition."180 The original draft of the letter was much milder in tone, and betrays the real attitude of Charles II. toward these half-piratical enterprises: "His Majesty has heard of the success of the undertaking upon Cuba, in which he cannot choose but please himself in the vigour and resolution wherein it was performed ... but because His Majesty cannot foresee any utility likely to arise thereby ... he has thought fit hereby to command him to give no encouragement to such undertakings unless they may be performed by the frigates or men-of-war attending that place without any addition from the soldiers or inhabitants."181 Other letters were subsequently sent to Jamaica, which made it clear that the war of the privateers was not intended to be called off by the king's instructions; and Sir Charles Lyttleton, therefore, did not recall their commissions. Nevertheless, in the early part of 1664, the assembly in Jamaica passed an act prohibiting public levies of men upon foreign designs, and forbidding any person to leave the island on any such design without first obtaining leave from the governor, council and assembly.182

When the instructions of the authorities at home were so ambiguous, and the incentives to corsairing so alluring, it was natural that this game of baiting the Spaniards  should suffer little interruption. English freebooters who had formerly made Hispaniola and Tortuga their headquarters now resorted to Jamaica, where they found a cordial welcome and a better market for their plunder. Thus in June 1663 a certain Captain Barnard sailed from Port Royal to the Orinoco, took and plundered the town of Santo Tomas and returned in the following March.183 On 19th October another privateer named Captain Cooper brought into Port Royal two Spanish prizes, the larger of which, the "Maria" of Seville, was a royal azogue and carried 1000 quintals of quicksilver for the King of Spain's mines in Mexico, besides oil, wine and olives.184 Cooper in his fight with the smaller vessel so disabled his own ship that he was forced to abandon it and enter the prize; and it was while cruising off Hispaniola in this prize that he fell in with the "Maria," and captured her after a four hours' combat. There were seventy prisoners, among them a number of friars going to Campeache and Vera Cruz. Some of the prize goods were carried to England, and Don Patricio Moledi, the Spanish resident in London, importuned the English government for its restoration.185 Sir Charles Lyttleton had sailed for England on 2nd May 1664, leaving the government of Jamaica in the hands of the Council with Colonel Thomas Lynch as president;186 and on his arrival in England he made formal answer to the complaints of Moledi. His excuse was that Captain Cooper's commission had been derived not from the deputy-governor himself but from Lord Windsor; and that the deputy-governor had never received any order from the king for recalling commissions, or for the cessation of hostilities against the Spaniards.187 Lyttleton  and the English government were evidently attempting the rather difficult circus feat of riding two mounts at the same time. The instructions from England, as Lyttleton himself acknowledged in his letter of 15th October 1663, distinctly forbade further hostilities against the Spanish plantations; on the other hand, there were no specific orders that privateers should be recalled. Lyttleton was from first to last in sympathy with the freebooters, and probably believed with many others of his time that "the Spaniard is most pliable when best beaten." In August 1664 he presented to the Lord Chancellor his reasons for advocating a continuance of the privateers in Jamaica. They are sufficiently interesting to merit a résumé of the principal points advanced. 1st. Privateering maintained a great number of seamen by whom the island was protected without the immediate necessity of a naval force. 2nd. If privateering were forbidden, the king would lose many men who, in case of a war in the West Indies, would be of incalculable service, being acquainted, as they were, with the coasts, shoals, currents, winds, etc., of the Spanish dominions. 3rd. Without the privateers, the Jamaicans would have no intelligence of Spanish designs against them, or of the size or neighbourhood of their fleets, or of the strength of their resources. 4th. If prize-goods were no longer brought into Port Royal, few merchants would resort to Jamaica and prices would become excessively high. 5th. To reduce the privateers would require a large number of frigates at considerable trouble and expense; English seamen, moreover, generally had the privateering spirit and would be more ready to join with them than oppose them, as previous experience had shown. Finally, the privateers, if denied the freedom of Jamaican ports, would not take to planting, but would resort to the islands of other nations, and perhaps prey upon English commerce.188


Footnote 119: (return)

Venables was not bound by his instructions to any definite plan. It had been proposed, he was told, to seize Hispaniola or Porto Rico or both, after which either Cartagena or Havana might be taken, and the Spanish revenue-fleets obstructed. An alternative scheme was to make the first attempt on the mainland at some point between the mouth of the Orinoco and Porto Bello, with the ultimate object of securing Cartagena. It was left to Venables, however, to consult with Admiral Penn and three commissioners, Edward Winslow (former governor of Plymouth colony in New England), Daniel Searle (governor of Barbadoes), and Gregory Butler, as to which, if any, of these schemes should be carried out. Not until some time after the arrival of the fleet at Barbadoes was it resolved to attack Hispaniola. (Narrative of Gen. Venables, edition 1900, pp. x, 112-3.)

Footnote 120: (return)

Gardiner: Hist. of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, vol. iii. ch. xlv.; Narrative of Gen. Venables.

Footnote 121: (return)

Gardiner: op. cit., iii. p. 368.

Footnote 122: (return)

Cf. the "Commission of the Commissioners for the West Indian Expedition." (Narrative of Gen. Venables, p. 109.)

Footnote 123: (return)

Cf. American Hist. Review, vol. iv. p. 228; "Instructions unto Gen. Robt. Venables." (Narrative of Gen. Venables, p. 111.)

Footnote 124: (return)

Cf. Narrative of Gen. Venables, pp. 3, 90; "Instructions unto Generall Penn," etc., ibid., p. 107.

After the outbreak of the Spanish war, Cromwell was anxious to clear his government of the charges of treachery and violation of international duties. The task was entrusted to the Latin Secretary, John Milton, who on 26th October 1655 published a manifesto defending the actions of the Commonwealth. He gave two principal reasons for the attempt upon the West Indies:—(1) the cruelties of the Spaniards toward the English in America and their depredations on English colonies and trade; (2) the outrageous treatment and extermination of the Indians. He denied the Spanish claims to all of America, either as a papal gift, or by right of discovery alone, or even by right of settlement, and insisted upon both the natural and treaty rights of Englishmen to trade in Spanish seas.

Footnote 125: (return)

The memory of the exploits of Drake and his contemporaries was not allowed to die in the first half of the seventeenth century. Books like "Sir Francis Drake Revived," and "The World encompassed by Sir Francis Drake," were printed time and time again. The former was published in 1626 and again two years later; "The World Encompassed" first appeared in 1628 and was reprinted in 1635 and 1653. A quotation from the title-page of the latter may serve to illustrate the temper of the times:—

Drake, Sir Francis. The world encompassed. Being his next voyage to that to Nombre de Dios, formerly imprinted ... offered ... especially for the stirring up of heroick spirits, to benefit their country and eternize their names by like bold attempts. Lon. 1628.

Cf. also Gardiner, op. cit., iii. pp. 343-44.

Footnote 126: (return)

Gardiner, op. cit., iii. p. 346; cf. also "Present State of Jamaica, 1683."

Footnote 127: (return)

Long: "History of Jamaica," i. p. 260; C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76. Addenda, No. 274.

Footnote 128: (return)

Long, op. cit., i. p. 272 ff.

Footnote 129: (return)

Ibid.; Thurloe Papers, VI. p. 540; vii. p. 260; "Present State of Jamaica, 1683"; C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76. Addenda, Nos. 303-308.

Footnote 130: (return)

Long, op. cit., i. p. 245; C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76. Addenda, Nos. 236, 261, 276, etc.

The conditions in Jamaica directly after its capture are in remarkable contrast to what might have been expected after reading the enthusiastic descriptions of the island, its climate, soil and products, left us by Englishmen who visited it. Jackson in 1643 compared it with the Arcadian plains and Thessalien Tempe, and many of his men wanted to remain and live with the Spaniards. See also the description of Jamaica contained in the Rawlinson MSS. and written just after the arrival of the English army:—"As for the country ... more than this." (Narrative of Gen. Venables, pp. 138-9.)

Footnote 131: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76. Addenda, Nos. 229, 232; Lucas: Historical Geography of the British Colonies, ii. p. 101, and note.

Footnote 132: (return)

Lucas, op. cit., ii. p. 109.

Footnote 133: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76. Addenda, Nos. 230, 231. Fortescue was Gen. Venables' successor in Jamaica.

Footnote 134: (return)

Ibid., No. 218; Long, op. cit., i. p. 262.

Footnote 135: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76. Addenda, Nos. 218, 252; Thurloe Papers, IV. pp. 451, 457.

Footnote 136: (return)

Thurloe Papers, IV. pp. 152, 493.

Footnote 137: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76. Addenda, No. 236.

Footnote 138: (return)

Thurloe Papers, IV. p. 604.

Footnote 139: (return)

Ibid., pp. 454-5, 604.

Footnote 140: (return)

Thurloe Papers, IV. p. 452.

Footnote 141: (return)

Ibid., v. pp. 96, 151.

Footnote 142: (return)

This was the treasure fleet which Captain Stayner's ship and two other frigates captured off Cadiz on 9th September. Six galleons were captured, sunk or burnt, with no less than £600,000 of gold and silver. The galleons which Blake burnt in the harbour of Santa Cruz, on 20th April 1657, were doubtless the Mexican fleet for which Admiral Goodson vainly waited before Havana in the previous summer.

Footnote 143: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76, Addenda, Nos. 260, 263, 266, 270, 275; Thurloe Papers, V. p. 340.

Footnote 144: (return)

Cf. Brit. Mus., Add. MSS., 12,430: Journal of Col. Beeston. Col. Beeston seems to have harboured a peculiar spite against Doyley. For the contrary view of Doyley, cf. Long, op. cit., i. p. 284.

Footnote 145: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76. Addenda., Nos. 309, 310. In these letters the towns are called "Tralo" and "St. Mark." Cf. also Thurloe Papers, VII. p. 340.

Footnote 146: (return)

Captain Christopher Myngs had been appointed to the "Marston Moor," a frigate of fifty-four guns, in October 1654, and had seen two years' service in the West Indies under Goodson in 1656 and 1657. In May 1656 he took part in the sack of Rio de la Hacha. In July 1657 the "Marston Moor" returned to England and was ordered to be refitted, but by 20th February 1658 Myngs and his frigate were again at Port Royal (C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76, Addenda, Nos. 295, 297). After Admiral Goodson's return to England (Ibid., No. 1202) Myngs seems to have been the chief naval officer in the West Indies, and greatly distinguished himself in his naval actions against the Spaniards.

Footnote 147: (return)

Tanner MSS., LI. 82.

Footnote 148: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76, Addenda, Nos. 315, 316. Some figures put it as high as £500,000.

Footnote 149: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76, Addenda, Nos. 315, 318. Captain Wm. Dalyson wrote home, on 23rd January 1659/60, that he verily believed if the General (Doyley) were at home to answer for himself, Captain Myngs would be found no better than he is, a proud-speaking vain fool, and a knave in cheating the State and robbing merchants. Ibid., No. 328.

Footnote 150: (return)

Ibid., Nos. 327, 331.

Footnote 151: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1675-76, Addenda, No. 326.

Footnote 152: (return)

S.P. Spain, vol. 44, f. 318.

Footnote 153: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1661-68, Nos. 17, 61.

Footnote 154: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1661-68, No. 20.

Footnote 155: (return)

Ibid., No. 145.

Footnote 156: (return)

Ibid., Nos. 259, 278. In Lord Windsor's original instructions of 21st March 1662 he was empowered to search ships suspected of trading with the Spaniards and to adjudicate the same in the Admiralty Court. A fortnight later, however, the King and Council seem to have completely changed their point of view, and this too in spite of the Navigation Laws which prohibited the colonies from trading with any but the mother-country.

Footnote 157: (return)

Art. ix. of the treaty. Cf. Dumont: Corps diplomatique, T.V., pt. ii. p. 625. Cf. also C.S.P. Venetian, 1604, p. 189:—"I wished to hear from His Majesty's own lips" (wrote the Venetian ambassador in November 1604), "how he read the clause about the India navigation, and I said, 'Sire, your subjects may trade with Spain and Flanders but not with the Indies.' 'Why not?' said the King. 'Because,' I replied, 'the clause is read in that sense.' 'They are making a great error, whoever they are that hold this view,' said His Majesty; 'the meaning is quite clear.'"

Footnote 158: (return)

S.P. Spain, vol. 35.

Footnote 159: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1661-68, No. 61.

Footnote 160: (return)

Ibid., No. 259.

Footnote 161: (return)

Ibid., No. 355.

Footnote 162: (return)

Ibid., No. 364.

Footnote 163: (return)

Thurloe Papers, IV. p. 154.

Footnote 164: (return)

Thurloe Papers, IV. p. 457.

Footnote 165: (return)

Beeston's Journal.

Footnote 166: (return)

Calendar of the Heathcote MSS. (pr. by Hist. MSS. Commiss.), p. 34.

Footnote 167: (return)

Calendar of the Heathcote MSS., p. 34. Cf. also C.S.P. Colon., 1661-68, No. 384:—"An act for the sale of five copper guns taken at St. Jago de Cuba."

Footnote 168: (return)

Beeston's Journal.

Footnote 169: (return)

S.P. Spain, vol. 46.

Footnote 170: (return)

Ibid., vol. 47.

Footnote 171: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1661-68, Nos. 294, 375.

Footnote 172: (return)

Brit. Mus., Add. MSS., 11,410, f. 16.

Footnote 173: (return)

Ibid., f. 6.

Footnote 174: (return)

Dampier also says of Campeache that "it makes a fine show, being built all with good stone ... the roofs flattish after the Spanish fashion, and covered with pantile."—Ed. 1906, ii. p. 147.

Footnote 175: (return)

However, the writer of the "Present State of Jamaica" says (p. 39) that Myngs got no great plunder, neither at Campeache nor at St. Jago.

Footnote 176: (return)

Beeston's Journal; Brit. Mus., Add. MSS., 13,964, f. 16:—"Original letter from the Licentiate Maldonado de Aldana to Don Francisco Calderon y Romero, giving him an account of the taking of Campeache in 1663"; dated Campeache, March 1663.

According to the Spanish relation there were fourteen vessels in the English fleet, one large ship of forty-four guns (the "Centurion"?) and thirteen smaller ones. The discrepancy in the numbers of the fleet may be explained by the probability that other Jamaican privateering vessels joined it after its departure from Port Royal. Beeston writes in his Journal that the privateer "Blessing," Captain Mitchell, commander, brought news on 28th February that the Spaniards in Campeache had notice from St. Jago of the English design and made elaborate preparations for the defence of the town. This is contradicted by the Spanish report, in which it appears that the authorities in Campeache had been culpably negligent in not maintaining the defences with men, powder or provisions.

Footnote 177: (return)

S.P. Spain, vol. 46. Fanshaw to Sec. Bennet, 13th-23rd July 1664.

Footnote 178: (return)

Ibid., vol. 45. Letter of Consul Rumbold, 31st March 1663.

Footnote 179: (return)

Ibid., 4th May 1663.

Footnote 180: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1661-68, No. 443. Dated 28th April 1663.

Footnote 181: (return)

Ibid., Nos. 441, 442.

Footnote 182: (return)

Rawlinson MSS., A. 347, f. 62.

Footnote 183: (return)

Beeston's Journal.

Footnote 184: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1661-68, No. 571; Beeston's Journal.

Footnote 185: (return)

S.P. Spain, vol. 46, ff. 94, 96, 108, 121, 123, 127, 309 (April-August 1664).

Footnote 186: (return)

C.S.P. Colon., 1661-68, Nos. 697, 744, 812.

Footnote 187: (return)

S.P. Spain, vol. 46, f. 280.

Footnote 188: (return)

S.P. Spain, vol. 46, f. 311.


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