The Straits of Anian
In the seventeenth century, the term 'Straits of Anian' identified a mythical body of ocean at the Arctic North Pole between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, where a new trading route to the Orient was widely thought to exist. Marco Polo originally named and described this region in his travel journal (book 3, chapter 5 p164 of Marsden’s translation) giving its location at the Gulf of Kienan, in the borderland between east and west. Polo said it was dotted with islands, “This gulf is so extensive and the inhabitants so numerous that it appears like another world.”
The idea of a dividing strait in the northern pacific persisted for 200 years and can be traced on the 1542 map of John Rotz, alongside other maps of the period held in the American Geographical Society’s library. In addition, cartographer Giacopo Gastaldi referred to it following a personal discovery by Juan Griego, who sailed from Acapulco around Mexico from the west and around the coastal mountain ranges of California. Here he entered a north eastern opening and explored the region for 20 days, reporting that this strait united the two oceans at the north between the 47th and 48th parallels.
This idea peaked the interest of an experienced and ambitious sailor from Hull, who had grown up in the company of many earlier Arctic explorers and served under John Knight. Luke Fox sought permission from the monarch to captain the King's own ship in a fresh search for the NW Passage. However, by doing so he alerted a formidable rival in the aristocratic Thomas James, previously a Lord Mayor of Bristol. Poor weather and Tom's considerable influence delayed Luke's expedition, enabling the acquisition of a similar vessel. Thus, within days of one another, two tall ships left Great Britain for the Arctic in 1631 and their genuine records of adventure and adversity were later published in journals by order of King Charles 1st.
Character of Captain Luke Fox
Captain Luke Fox is married and in the prime of his life. An ambitious Yorkshire man, he has tremendous energy, perseverance and personal ability. Strongly religious and quaintly humorous, he is a competent and experienced seaman. His much criticised journal contains remarkable naturalist observation and his map of the Arctic region is thought important.
Screenplay synopsis of logs
On May 2nd 1631 Captain Tom James hosts a party on board his ship, The Henrietta Maria, moored in the Severn Channel, for his benefactors, the Bristol Merchant Adventurers. The Rev Tom Palmer preaches a sermon to the crew and they sail from Bristol the following day.
Captain Luke Fox in his ship, The Charles, follows with less ceremony from Deptford on 5th May 1631, discharging her ordinance of 7 guns when approaching the Royal Court at Greenwich. At Buchan Ness, near Aberdeen lighthouse in Scotland, sharp winds snap the rotten main yard mast and they have run out of money to buy fresh provisions. They see a basking whale and a drifting tree, but the log is no use, so the carpenter fashions repairs. They sail on amongst shoals of killer whales and dodge large and small icebergs, one shaped like a church and steeple. Luke concentrates on his navigation, using an azimuth compass and almucantar staff and notices a fierce magnetic reaction at Cape Farewell. Unfortunately, his Master is becoming disagreeable and argumentative. He disputes the rigging preference and nautical findings.
Meanwhile, a month from departure, Henrietta Maria reaches Greenland in freezing conditions and is struck by icebergs in a storm. The poles used to stave off ice all break and the shallop is smashed, though they try to rebuild it. The crew take in the sails and pump out water. At Cape Farewell, the long boat, being towed, breaks away and during its rescue two men are injured. Struggling through ice, fog and walruses, the compass becomes inactive and Henrietta Maria is caught up in turbulent currents. Waves dashing against an ice bank make a hideous and frightening noise. A violent storm whips up and causes considerable damage to the ship, shrouds and cables. They navigate rocks in the shallop, trying to recover lost parts.
Captain Tom goes onshore ahead at Resolution Island. He builds a cross and great stone beacon at its highest point and names the place ‘The Harbour of God’s Providence,’ but the next day their ship is endangered by an enormous piece of ice half-mast high,. Tom goes onshore again to observe their position from a hill and returns in alarm after witnessing the berg break into four vast pieces with an appalling noise. Fearing the worst, Tom is relieved to find his ship safe. He sends the boat to a cove he has found, but they have a difficult journey and return, They sail the ship there instead and make fast on rocks before exploring the land, finding only frozen ponds and debris from savages and foxes. From the hilltops some see Sir Thomas Button’s Islands on the south side, others unsuccessfully try fishing.
On 23rd June, The Charles reaches Cape Resolution and smoke from Tom's camp fires is noticed. Knowing that The Henrietta Maria is in harbour, Luke sounds his cherished foghorn in salute. The Charles gets stuck in ice and damages her anchor. The Master shoots seabirds for stew from the cockboat, but the crew become peevish when their request for an increased allowance is refused. The Henrietta Maria’s crew are on rations and two get sick. At Mansell Island they go onshore and a kill a bird where there are freshwater ponds but no vegetation. Sailing west, they get stuck in ice and inspect the ship, only to find its damage irreparable. After a week in thick fog they venture onto the ice and toast His Majesty to cheer themselves up. Fuel for cabin fires is rationed and they have no luck fishing. In a fierce gale they strike rocks inflicting further damage and two days later they break a cable and lose an anchor.
The Charles is having a better time of it! Luke makes observations on the peculiar nature of different types of ice and records these in his log. On 25th June he sees a rainbow and imagines it an omen. The carpenter repairs slight damage to the rudder and crawfish are seen in the sand. All marvel at luminous protozoa slime in the sea. Luke draws up rules for shore exploration and observation of the flood tides. He advises wariness of natives and expresses worry about danger from collision with melting ice blocks during faulty watches. His disloyal Master and Mate grumble behind his back. They are East India men and his friend the mathematician John Briggs had warned against employing them, but he has had no choice. Exasperated by their discontented and insolent behaviour, he fears mutiny.
In mid-July a weather gall (cloud halo) predicts storms and the Master continues to hinder Luke by arguing with his instructions. Taking advantage of the Captain’s nap to steer his own course, he gives disheartening speeches of contempt to the crew. Near Salisbury Island, on 12th July. The Charles breaks her cutwater (at the prow) and the carpenter takes 7 hours to mend it, while Master mocks and blames the Captain. His own early interference with Fox’s list of requirements has resulted in an omission of oars amongst other essentials, which exacerbates the argument between them.
A creature with a 6’ black horn is thrown on deck from a shoal of 20. They call it a sea unicorn and Luke quaintly thinks it and the mountains are responsible for needle shake in the compass, although this is caused by electrical disturbance. He takes the boat out and finds seals. A polar bear is spotted on the ice where The Charles is moored, so their dogs are sent to chase him, though he dives away. The Master pursues and kills it with a lance, making 12 gallons of oil from it. They enjoy boiled and roasted meat under a sky of exhilarating Northern Lights, but at full moon their compass loses power. 300lbs of bread are soaked from a leak in the store. They see leaping fish amongst islands, one thought to be a sepulchre, which they explore, exploiting the graves of some 500 four foot tall natives for firewood and artefacts. They find whale fins and oil, copper darts, knives and needles and take souvenirs.
Sailing at Baker Foreland they see graves and pyramids and a white quartz beach at Marble Island, naming the area Sir Thomas Roe Welcome. Both captains are generating names to mark their exploration. The Charles' crew bring aboard two swans and a sand-hill whooping crane, but within days the unfortunate crane breaks its legs and dies. On land, dogs chase a stag cutting their feet on the terrain. Pursued by the quarter master with no weapon to kill it, the man is moved by its tears. A pod of 40 whales is seen at Hudson’s Bay where The Henrietta will spend the winter. There are sea pigeons and walruses they call sea-horses, but attempting to lance them is unsuccessful, due to the thickness of their blubber.
Towards the end of July Luke goes ashore for the first time and captures a live fox at Hope’s Check where he has been picking scurvy grass. This will be juiced and served for health in morning pints of beer. He sees a walrus in a waterfall and in hot daisy grassland there are deer, elks. geese and partridges. He comes across the relics of a Canadian birch canoe and finds carved toys in graves, but is sorely pestered by midges and mosquitoes. The Charles' company see cliffs at Churchill River where The Henrietta Maria went aground and she is now headed for the muddy waters of the estuary they have named the New Severn River. In August there is a tidal bore at Port Nelson and Luke anchors here to carry out ship repairs and assemble the pinnace, which has been stored in pieces. They clean guns, gather fresh water and hunt venison, observing Beluga white whales and porpoises in the rain.
At Seal Island they find a man’s footprint. There is evidence of camps but no natives are seen. They gather wild strawberries and gooseberries, hunt a stag which escapes. Under a sky ribboned with vivid colours, the carpenter fells five trees chosen by the Master for a replacement mast, but all are rotten. They kill a polar bear and discover more artefacts, mostly guns and ammunition. Luke finds half of a board bearing Captain Button’s Kings Arms with an inscription on it. He names this place New Yorkshire, but later concedes the title of New Wales, chosen by Tom.
Near the ship, three deer are swimming in the sea five miles from land and these are killed by the Master from the pinnace. Luke thinks of his wife and what she would be doing. He dozes on his watch to be later alert and observe the Master’s turn. He sees the cook giving out cans of beer against orders and questions the ship’s boy, overheard by the Master who complains to the crew. The boatswain confronts the boy and calls him a long-tongued rascal. In heavy rain the Master defies orders to pull up anchor and sends the men to dinner instead, which causes conflict and an argument with Urin, the Mate. Seeking solitude and peace, Captain Fox goes out alone in the boat. He sees geese and sea pigeons flying above dangerous rocks and reflects on feeling homesick, praying for the quarrelling to stop.
On 20th August sighting the coast, Captain James and his crew toast Prince Charles with their best liquor and name this area, The New Principality of South Wales. About nine that night, fearing they have lost the anchor and heaving in the cable, a sudden hitch in choppy seas throws the men from the capstan. In the dark a small rope had become entangled in the cable and around the master's leg, which was sorely bruised before he could clear it. One mate was hurt in the head, another injured his arm. Their strongest man was sent sprawling after being hit in the chest with a crowbar, one, with his head beside the cable, only just escaped, while the rest of the crew were severely flung about and bruised. But the gunner's leg was between the capstan and the cable, which took off his foot, tore the flesh from his leg and crushed the bones, bruising his whole body badly. In all, eight men were hurt and tended by the surgeon, who by midnight performed further amputation on the gunner's ruined limb.
A week later, on 27th August, Tom sends the boat, well manned and armed, to high land with written instructions and told to return by sunset. When they don't appear, the company worries about some disaster or attack, especially since no answer is made to their shot or false fires (blue lights that burn for several minutes, usually used at sea as night signals). When fire is noticed ashore they imagine it has been made by triumphant savages with everybody lost! Eventually onboard again, they say a sandbank, uncovered by the tide, prevented their timely return and this excuse pacifies Tom. No natives have been sighted and a storm follows. They manage their sails, exchanging a pair of courses for a main course, but travel backwards up to 18 leagues, when they see a ship to leeward, about four leagues ahead. It is, of course, The Charles!
29th August is a very cold day with a high wind and The Henrietta is sighted by The Charles. Tom sends a shallop the following day to invite Luke, with his Master and Mate, to dinner and their encounter is described on pages 36/37 of Luke’s log and page 4 of Tom’s log. Luke learns that The Henrietta has been almost lost. twice! Tom has not explored beyond Seahorse Point and he intends to over-winter.
Back at The Charles, the options ahead are discussed and Luke considers wintering, but concludes he is against it. After days of heavy frost, the Master and boatswain fall ill. A violent storm on 6th September soaks the coal.
Tom experiences similar and fears his ship will sink. He moves his coal and his boatswain falls ill, fainting several times and apparently at death’s door. The weather changes to fog. Some crew anchor to explore land in the long boat and Tom goes out himself, recording much driftwood but little vegetation. His men find nothing useful either, but are becoming argumentative and divided in their opinions. There follows another disaster when the ship is run aground navigating the rocky shores, which is blamed on the crew’s carelessness and conceit. “The first blow stroke me out of a dead sleep and I, running out of my cabin, thought no other at first but I had been wakened, when I saw our danger, to prepare myself for another world! After I had controlled a little passion in myself and had checked some bad counsel than was given me to revenge myself upon those who had committed this error, I ordered what should be done to get off these rocks and stones.” With trial, error and hard work manipulating the sails, first putting them aback then furling them away, they pump out water in the hold to locate any leaks and an angry Tom considers letting out the beer, but orders the crew to throw out the coal instead.
As the ship beats, he is further alarmed to see some damaged outer sheathing float by when they coil cable into the long boat and, alas, it breaks at the capstan under the strain of men heaving, losing the anchor. Another is quickly cast out and they prepare for evacuation by loading the long boat with the carpentry tools, a barrel of bread, a barrel of powder, six muskets with some match (slow burning rope used to fire matchlock guns) and a tinderbox, fish hooks and lines, pitch and okum and anything else thought suitable to prolong life. The panic has lasted five hours and the sea has remained calm, although after prayers of thankfulness that evening, the wind increases. With the ship at anchor, those in the boat explore the rocky coast a little, but claim they can go no further. Being thoroughly exhausted, all simply rest aboard.
More men have fallen sick on The Charles, leaving it shorthanded. Coming on deck, Luke grabs the helm in the nick of time and narrowly averts disaster. It is too deep to anchor. The sky is magically alight with vivid colour while the crew struggle with the sails. Then chain plates break on the foremast. The ship’s company fear ice will prevent them from going home. More quarrels develop about navigation and tacking, but Urin (the Mate) is compliant. They sail through smashed ice observing the tides and hopeful of finding the NW Passage here, as suggested by Button. Some seek fresh water in a cove populated by seamors. A mother tries to make her cub dive and then attacks the boat, only to be wounded by a lance.
Crew are still becoming sick, so Luke organises a party with pancakes and beer to lift spirits. He suspects the Master has been feigning sickness to burden him by avoiding his watch. Lightening and the flashing Aurora Borealis illuminate the sky. Damage occurs to the anchor and cable. The ship’s carpenter falls ill. The hold has been broken into with beer, aqua vita and sack stolen. The Master appoints four beef and sack days and Mate Urin frequently appears drunk. The cook is now sick and Luke steers for home in snow. To raise morale he increases the crew’s provision allowance.
There is a violent storm. Arguments arise over the route and the ship is managed by a skeleton crew. The lazy, unpleasant Master stays in his cosy cabin and only gets up when they arrive on October 31st. All are safely home and the sick men ail recover.
The Henrietta Maria, however, continues her hapless adventure. The shallop towed at stern upends and breaks away. They explore in the long boat but misjudge the tide and get into difficulty, having to be hauled in. Perils and distress are described and converted to poetry by a sentimental and emotional Captain, who also leaves a letter at Charlton Island. Romantic poet Samuel Coleridge, two centuries later, borrows these ship- logs from Bristol library and discussing them with his friend and fellow poet, William Wordsworth, finds sufficient inspiration to write his most famous Rime, clearly drawn from these original ancient mariners’ extraordinary first hand accounts of their strange and dangerous voyages in the historical past.
Heavy snow and choppy weather create lofty waves and unearthly sounds. Tom moors the ship by an island and they collect firewood, but the increasingly fierce coldness makes the men sick and weak. The sails are useless clogged with ice so they thaw and fold them by the hearth. Led by the carpenter, a gang construct a wooden shelter on-land and use the mainsail to cover it. With a pair of greyhounds another group go on a deer hunt and rejoice in killing one. A scouting party travel about the island in deep snow but lose the gunner’s mate who falls through ice crossing a pond and drowns. At the end of October there is an eclipse of the moon and Tom takes readings with his advanced nautical equipment. Congealed ice at the shore means the men have to wade and carry each other to land provisions from the ship. They sink a well near the house, trap pied foxes hoping for a valuable black pelt and the carpenter builds a boat from boards. The dwelling is accidentally set alight by its own fire, so they set up a watch.
The amputee gunner dies in his cabin on-board at the end of November. Henrietta Maria is driven towards the shore to dock but veers towards dangerous rocks, eventually beaching in deep sand during a sudden storm. Tom calls a management meeting and shares his intentions. The carpenter is instructed to make a breach near the keel and a hole in the hold to sink her and the men must evacuate. He is the last to leave. All are miserable and disguised by frost and snow clinging to their faces. The account of their wintering is the most interesting part of Captain James’ journal (from pages 18-49) and it proved a gigantic mistake, being a time of great hardship, with all suffering from exhaustion and starvation. Tom's map of the region has little historical worth and they were absent from England three times as long as Luke in The Charles, yet achieved less geographical discovery. There were accidents, injury, misfortunes and deaths.
The aristocratic and affluent Captain Tom James was nevertheless applauded and welcomed home. He continued his successful naval career pursuing pirates, while Captain Luke Fox, for certain the greater hero, was unfairly denied promised payment and subsequently died in poverty.
Lulu Press Release 2019
Van Fox Lloyd’s ‘Anian Straits’ gets new marketing push! This historical book chronicles the earliest expeditions in search of the Arctic Northwest Passage from Britain. First released in October 2018, debuting author Van Fox Lloyd’s “Anian Straits” (published by Lulu) is set to receive a new marketing campaign for schools in 2019. The book contains two authentic 17th century journals from the very first voyages in search of an Arctic trading route from Great Britain.
“Anian Straits” was a mythical body of ocean at the North Pole where a new trading route to the Orient was widely thought to exist. The temptation to become a pioneer discoverer attracted an experienced and bold sea captain from Hull, who knew personally many of the earlier Arctic explorers. The efforts of Luke Fox to gain permission from King Charles alerted a rival, previously the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Thomas James, who exerted his influence to delay the expedition. Sailing within a day or two of one another, these twin voyages departed Great Britain in 1632 and this work documents their adventures and background; the original logs thought later inspiration for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
While entertaining a reader with fast-moving, perilous marine adventures, this modern history book includes illustrations and rare maps. Its theme is also relevant across the subjects of geography, English romantic poets and linguistics. Furthermore, it addresses the gap in exploratory maritime recording, since these intrepid ancient mariners have been overlooked, despite being the most relevant roots to modern literature and discovery. This is an important work that will appeal to secondary and university students alike, with free primary sourcing as an aid to tutors.
“No other work of this topic and era is available in such an accessible format,” Lloyd says, adding, “These colourful characters are as human, inspirational and approachable — even endearing — equally now as then, several centuries in the past.”
“Anian Straits” By Van Fox Lloyd
Softcover | 6 x 9in | 216 pages | ISBN 9781483487410
E-Book | 216 pages | ISBN 9781483487403
Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
The letter by Captain James left fastened to the cross
at Charlton 1st July 1632.
“Be it known to any that shall happen to arrive here on the Island of Charlton, that whereas Our Sovereign Lord Charles 1st King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith etc. having a desire to be certified, whether there were any passage or not by the north west or north westward through these territories into the south sea, some of the better-minded merchants of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of Bristol to satisfy His Majesty therein, did voluntarily offer to set forth a convenient ship for that purpose, well-manned, victualled and furnished with other necessaries. This free offer of theirs was not only commended but graciously accepted of His Majesty. Whereupon they fitted and furnished forth a ship called The Henrietta Maria of the burden of seventy tons, victualled or 18 months. A number thought convenient to manage such a business was 22, whereof 19 were choice able men, two yonkers (boys) and my unworthy self, their Commander, all which the Bristol Merchants did most judiciously and bountifully accommodate and had in readiness the 1st May 1631. 3rd May we began our voyage out of the road of Bristol, commonly called Kings Road. Passing about the Cape Cleere of Ireland, upon many courses but reduced to a west north-west, we sailed along and upon the 4th June we made the land of Greenland to the northward of Cape Farewell, where, for the space of two days we were dangerously engaged amongst the ice. Being clear of it, we doubled Cape Farewell to the southward and so continued our course to the westward, continually sailing and thrusting our ship through much ice. The 19th of June we made the Island of Resolution and endeavouring to pass about it to the southward, we were taken with a strong westerly wind, which drove the ice and us upon the shore. In that distress (seeing it was broken grounds and main inlets into it) I sent the shallop to seek and sound a place for our refuge, but when she was departed she was in as great danger as we and could not return to us by reason of the ice. We being now driven very near the rocks, had to set our sails and force the ship into an opening, adventuring her amongst unknown dangers to avoid apparent, before we could moor her in a place, as we thought, safe from danger,
“22nd June this inlet being full of ice, that ice upon the ebb so slammed one piece into another that it altered the ordinary course of it and it came upon the ship and put her against the rocks, notwithstanding our utmost resistance. As the water ebbed away, the ship hung by the keel upon a rock and held to it. As soon as we perceived this we made fast some hawsers to her masts and to the rocks to hold her upright. But all in vain, she sunk still, as the water ebbed away, so that she was so turned over that we could not stand in her. Hereupon we got all up on to a piece of ice, looking upon her and praying to God to be merciful to us. The rock that she hung upon was a little abaft of the main mast, which made her hang after the head and she sunk over so much that the portal of the forecastle was in the water. At length it pleased God the flood came, before it had ebbed so low as the tide before and after by a foot and the ship rose and was safe and sound and thus were we miraculously delivered. With the first wind we proceeded to the westward, continually being pestered with so much ice that it was about the middle of July before we could reach Sir Dudley Digges Island and here I was put to my consideration, for whereas by my directions I was to search especially two places, one from Digges Island and to the northward and failing there, to go to the Checks (named by Button, Hope’s Check) and Hubert’s Hope and so to search it to the southward. I now finding the sea much pestered with ice in the latitude of 64.00 and as far as we could see to the northward and that the time was so far spent as that before I could do anything, it would be August, and then as much trouble to return again with Digges Island. Also, that by that time, the year would be so far spent, the nights so long and cold, that I feared I should be forced with shame to return to England again that year. Wherefore, I took my way to the westward by Mansfield Island on which I landed twice, still hindered and encumbered with ice. Thence I proceeded to the westward, hoping for an open sea in the bay.
“We were there more troubled with ice than in any place before, so that it was the 11th August before we had sight of the western land, which we made in latitude 59.30 something to the southward of the Checks. We were not able to go further by reason of the contrary winds and ice, but were observant of the current of the tides, which after, by experience, we found to come from the northward. We coasted along the shore in sight of land and in ten fathoms of water to the southward and entered that inlet heretofore was called Hubert’s Hope, which was the very place the passage should be, as it was thought by the understanding of the most learned intelligence of this business in England. We sailed to the very bottom of it into three fathoms of water and found it to be a bay of some 18–19 leagues deep.” Christy suggests Tom is referring to Henry Briggs, since he hoped to find a Passage through Hubert’s Hope, now called Churchill Bay. Although marking it on his chart as Briggs His Bay, he never mentions naming it himself.
“From hence, we proceeded to the southward in sight of land for the most part and although I was careful to keep the lead always going, it blowing a fresh gale of wind and a pretty big sea, our depth between eight and ten fathoms, yet before the lead was up, the ship struck upon a flat rock, she then being under the foresail, fore topsail, main topsail and spritsail and gave three sore knocks and got over it. Being past this danger, we proceeded and passed by Port Nelson. Finding the land trending to the eastwards, we began our discovery of it more carefully, because no man that ever I could hear or read of did ever see this land before. We stood into six and five fathoms, for it is very low land, and trends for the most part east southeast and east by south. The 27th August I entered upon it and in the name of the Merchants’ Adventurers of Bristol, took possession of it to His Majesty’s use, naming it The New South West Principality of Wales. I brought from the land some small trees and herbs and killed diverse sorts of fowl in sign of seizure, which I brought aboard.
“Not long after, being put back to the westwards with contrary winds, we spoke with Captain Fox in a ship of His Majesty’s set forth for the same purpose that we were. I invited him aboard and entertained him with such fare as we had taken in this newly discovered land and made him relation of all our endeavours. The like did he to us and withal told us that he had been in Port Nelson, where he had put up a shallop and found there many things which Sir Thomas Button had left. The next day he departed from us and stood to the westward and we never saw him since. His ship, he and all his company were very well. We continued our discovery to the eastward and came to the eastern point, which is in latitude 55.06, which we named Cape Henrietta Maria. There the land trends to the southward and we followed it in sight, but were put off with the foul weather, which being overblown, we stood to again for the western shore, that we might leave no part unseen and followed it again to latitude 54.40. The second time we also put off with the foul weather, which made up stand to the eastward. In this way we passed by some islands and happened amongst broken grounds and rocks, in latitude 53.30 where we came to an anchor and sheltered ourselves some few days shifting roads. Now the winter begins to come on and the nights to be as long and cold that, amongst these dangerous places, we were forced to spend the day to look for security at night. Here, by misfortune, our ship came aground and that amongst great stones, as big as a man’s head, where she did beat for the space of five hours most fearfully. In this time we lightened her and carried some of our things ashore, so that by the great favour of God we got her off again, whereupon we named this Island the Island of God’s Favour. After that, again amongst those rocks, we were put to many extremities. At length, having a gentle southerly wind, we stood along the eastern shore to the northward, now looking for a convenient place to winter in and here again we were assaulted with a violent storm, in which we lost our shallop and were driven amongst diverse dangers. Seeing an opening between two islands, we ventured to go in, in very foul weather, and found it to be a very good sound, so there we came to an anchor. We landed on one of them, which we named the Lord Weston’s Land and manned out our old ship’s boat upon it.
“The other island we named My Lord of Bristol’s Island (not mentioned in his log). Parting from hence we stood to the southward to look for a wintering place, because the time of discovery was passed for this year. Many were our troubles amongst these islands, shoals and broken grounds, which made us strain our ground tackle for life many times. The 6th October we arrived in this bay, it seeming a very likely place to find a harbour in, but searching the likeliest places, we find it all shallow flats and rocks and stony by the beach, that we could by no means bring our ship near the shore. We were forced to ride a league off, in three and a half fathoms of water. The winter came on apace, the weather proved tempestuous and the cold so multiplied, that our sails froze in lumps to the yards, unmanageable. Neither could our only boat go from the ship by reason of the weather. About the middle of October I caused a house to be made ashore, where our sick men might the better recover, but always with the intent to take it down if we found another harbour. I sent likewise men on foot, seeing the boat could not go, to discover the island and to see if they could find some creek or cove, but all in vain. We spent the time with hope of fairer weather, until now the cables began to freeze in the house and the ship to be frozen over with the spew of the sea, so that we had to shovel the snow off our decks. Moreover, the water began to so congeal by the beach that the boat could hardly get ashore. Yet for all that, if the wind blew north-west there went a very great surf on the shore and such a great sea in the bay that there was no bringing our ship aground. Besides this, she would have then lain open to the east and south-east and south and indeed the nearest land all about that way was two leagues off. Hereupon, we continued to endure the extremity at anchor.
“The 29th November the ice came about us on all sides and put us from our ground tackle and would have driven us out of the bay upon rocks and shelves, where undoubtedly we had perished, but that, by God’s great goodness, it proved so warm a day (the wind at south) that suddenly we brought up some sail and hoist it up with ropes and so forced her ashore, where the ship beat sorely all night. She being now grounded and quiet, we considered what was best to do with her and resolved to sink her, but the next tide, before we had any of our provisions ashore, the wind came north-west, so that the ship beat most fearfully. We got all our dry provision up to the upper decks and made a hole to sink her, but before she was sunk she beat so extraordinarily that we all thought she had been foundered. Being sunk down so low that the water came on the upper deck, we took our boat and all went ashore in such pitiful cold weather that we were all so white frozen that some sick men that were ashore before did not know us from one another. The next day we fell to land our provisions, first our bread, fish and dry things, the men driven to wade in the water up to their middles, most lamentable to behold. Within two days, what with great flat pieces that stuck about us and that which froze, it was become firm ice between the ship and the shore, so that then we had to carry all things on our backs a mile from the ship to the house. Within a few days the hold became so frozen that we could not get all our things out of it, but had to leave it frozen until the next year. Then we made two other houses. Our first house was our mansion wherein we did all lie together, our other was to dress our food and the third was for a store-house, which we built a pretty distance off, for fear of fire and now we considered of the estate we were in. We all thought our ship was foundered, especially the carpenter, but suppose she was sound, yet was it a question whether we could get her off in the summer when the tides are low. Moreover, she might be spoiled lying in the tide’s way when the ice broke up and then we should be destitute of any vessel to bring us home.
“The carpenter undertook to build a pinnace, of the burden of ten or twelve ton, that should be ready by the spring, that if we found the ship unserviceable we might tear her up and plank her with the ship’s plank. Upon this we resolved and by May brought it to that pass that she was ready to be joined together to receive the plank. But God mercifully provided otherwise for us. We endured a bitter cold winter, in which it pleased God to visit us with sickness, so that in the beginning of May there was but myself and the master and surgeon perfectly sound and he began to find some defect also. About the beginning of April we began to dig the ice out of our ship which, by the middle of May, we had affected. The 24th May, the ice began to break up between the ship and the shore and about the middle of June we had off our ship and found her to be staunch and sound, contrary to all our expectations. Before this time, about the middle of May, our carpenter died and with him the hope of our pinnace. Mr Wardon died on 6th May, our gunner Richard Edwards had his leg broken (which was cut off) at the capstan in August 1631 and languished until the 22nd November, on which day he died. These three men lay buried here under the tombs of stones. We lost another man, one John Barton, our quarter-master, who miscarried in the little bay that is due west from the cross three miles, the ice breaking under him, so that he sunk down and we never saw him again.
“The two pictures, which are wrapped in lead and fastened uppermost on this cross are the lively pictures of our Sovereign Lord and Lady, Charles the first and Queen Mary, his wife, King and Queen of England, Scotland, France and Ireland etc. The next under that is His Majesty’s Royal Arms; the lowermost is the Arms of the City of Bristol. Now we are in readiness to depart this day and I intend to prosecute our discovery to the westward to this latitude of 52.03 and to the southward also, although with little hope. Failing there, I mean to hasten to Digges Island and endeavour to discover to the northward. Thus, having had some experience of the dangers of the ice, shoals and rocks of unknown places, I thought it necessary to leave this testimony of us and our endeavours, if God should take us into his Heavenly Kingdom and frustrate our return to our native country. Wherefore, I desire any noble-minded traveller that shall take this down or come to the knowledge of it, that he will make relation of it to our Sovereign Lord the King’s Majesty and to certify to His Grace that we cannot, as yet, find any hope of a passage this way and that I do faithfully persevere in my service, accounting it but my duty to spend my life to give His Majesty contentment, when I beseech God to bless with all happiness and that they would likewise advertise our Worshipful Adventurers of all our fortunes and that if, as aforesaid, we perish, it was not by any want or defect n the ship or victual or other necessaries, all of which we have in abundance for four months and above, which, if occasion be, we can prolong to six months. Thus, being at present unable to express a grateful mind otherwise, but in my prayers to God, I heartily beseech him to power out his bountiful blessing upon all their honest endeavours and to continue their noble dispositions in actions of this kind and I faithfully promise that, if I shall come where the like letters and tokens shall be left, to make me a relation of it, as it shall be desired. So, desiring the happiness of all mankind, in our general saviour Christ Jesus, I end.
Charlton, 2nd July 1632, Thomas James.