RCC Honors History Project

Excerpt From Discourse of Western Planting

Posted by steel13 on September 29, 2009

_____RICHARD HAKLUYT___1584_____

A particular discourse concerning the great necessity and manifold commodities

that are like to grow to this Realm of England by the Western discoveries

lately attempted, Written in the year 1584 *

known as



1. That this western discovery will be greatly for the enlargement of the gospel of

Christ whereunto the princes of the reformed religion are chiefly bound among whom

her Majesty is principal.

* Excerpted, spelling and some wording modernized, and images & footnotes added by the National Humanities Center, 2006:

http://www.nhc.rtp.nc.us/pds/pds.htm. Complete image credits at http://www.nhc.rtp.nc.us/pds/amerbegin/imagecredits.htm. Original text and

cited footnotes from David B. Quinn & Allison M. Quinn, eds. Discourse of Western Planting (London: Hakluyt Society, 1993).

Hakluyt (pronounced Hak-loot) wrote the Discourse to urge English investors to support the planting of a colony in Virginia and to

convince Queen Elizabeth that their efforts would enhance the social and economic welfare of the commonwealth.

. . . Then it is necessary for the salvation of those

poor people who have sat so long in darkness and

in the shadow of death that preachers should be

sent unto them: But by whom should these

preachers be sent? By them no doubt who have

taken upon them the protection and defense of the

Christian faith: now the Kings and Queens of

England have the name of defenders of the faith:

By which title I think they are not only charged to

maintain and patronize the faith of Christ, but also

to enlarge and advance the same. . . . Now the

means to send such as shall labor effectually in

this business is by planting one or two colonies of

our nation upon that firm [land], where they may

remain in safety, and first learn the language of

the people near adjoining (the gift of tongues

being now taken away) and by little and little

acquaint themselves with their manner and so with

discretion and mildness distill into their purged

minds the sweet and lively lines of the gospel:

Otherwise for preachers to run unto them rashly

without some such preparation for their safety, it

were nothing else but to run to their apparent and

certain destruction, as it happened to those

Spanish friars that before any planting without

strength and company landed in Florida, where

they were miserably massacred by the Savages . . .


2. That all other English trades are grown beggarly or dangerous especially in all the

king of Spain his dominions, where our men are driven to fling their Bibles and prayer

books into the sea, and to forswear and renounce their religion and conscience, and

consequently their obedience to her majesty.

We are now to consider the quality and condition

of all the trades which at this day are frequented

by our nation . . . . If any of our ships trading there

[Barbary coast of north Africa] be driven upon the

coast of Spain, and that proof may be made that

we have been there, they make it a very sufficient

cause of confiscation of ship and goods, and so

they thrust our men into the Inquisition, charging

them that they bring armor, munition, and forbidden

merchandise to strengthen the Infidels against

these parts of Christendom. . . . As for all Flanders

and the Low Countries, these eighteen years most

cruel civil wars have so spoiled the traffic there,

that there is nothing but poverty and peril, and that

which is worse, there is no hope of any speedy

amendment. . . . And now after long hope of gain,

the Hollanders as also the men of Depe are

entered into their trade by the Emperor’s

permission, yea whereas at the first our men paid

no custom, of late years contrary to their first

privilege they have been urged to pay it . . . . [I]t

behooves us to seek some new and better trade of

less danger and more security, of less damage, and

of more advantage…


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