RCC Honors History Project

Sir Francis Drake’s Rescue of Roanoke

Posted by sethrd23 on October 5, 2009

http://ezproxy.rcc.edu:2083/NuHistory/default.asp?ItemID=WE52&NewItemID=True “Account of the First Roanoke Colony” by Ralph Lane (Overseer of the colony at the time that Drake Arrived)

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One Response to “Sir Francis Drake’s Rescue of Roanoke”

  1. sethrd23 said

    Here is the actual text:
    The second part touching the conspiracie of Pemisapan, the discovery of the same, and at the last, of our request to depart with Sir Francis Drake for England.

    Ensenore a Savage father to Pemisapan being the only friend to our nation that we had amongst them, and about the King, died the 20 of April 1586. He alone had before opposed himself in their consultations against all matters proposed against us, which both the King and all the rest of them after Grangemoes death, were very willing to have preferred. And he was not only by the mere providence of God during his life, a means to save us from hurt, as poisonings and such like, but also to do us very great good, and singularly in this.

    The King was advised and of himself disposed, as a ready means to have assuredly brought us to ruin in the month of March 1586 himself also with all his Savages to have run away from us, and to have left his ground in the Island unsowed: which if he had done, there had been no possibility in common reason, (but by the immediate hand of God) that we could have been preserved from starving out of hand . For at that time we had no weirs for fish, neither could our men skill of the making of them, neither had we one grain of Corn for seed to put into the ground.

    In mine absence on my voyage that I had made against the Chaonists, and Mangoaks, they had raised a rumor among themselves, that I and my company were part slain , and part starved by the Chaonists, and Mangoaks. One part of this tale was too true, that I and mine were like to be starved, but the other false.

    Nevertheless until my return it took such effect in Pemisapans breast, and in those against us, that they grew not only into contempt of us, but also (contrary to their former reverend opinion in show , of the Almighty God of heaven, and Jesus Christ whom we serve and worship, whom before they would acknowledge and confess the only God) now they began to blaspheme, and flatly to say, that our Lord God was not God, since he suffered us to sustain much hunger, and also to be killed of the Renapoaks, for so they call by that general name all the inhabitants of the whole main , of what province soever. Insomuch as old Ensenore , neither any of his fellows , could for his sake have no more credit for us: and it came so far that the king was resolved to have presently gone away as is aforesaid.

    But even in the beginning of this rumor I returned, which when he saw contrary to his expectation, and the advertisement that he had received: that not only my self , and my company were all safe, but also by report of his own 3. Savages which had been with me besides Manteo in that voyage, that is to say, Tetepano , his sisters husband Eracano , and Cossine , that the Chanoists and Mangoaks (whose name and multitude besides their valor is terrible to all the rest of the provinces) durst not for the most part of them abide us, and that those that did abide us were killed, and that we had taken Menatonon prisoner, and brought his son that he best loved to Roanoke with me , it did not a little assuage all devices against us: on the other side, it made Ensenores opinions to be received again with greater respects. For he had often before told them, and then renewed those his former speeches, both to the king and the rest, that we were the servants of God, and that we were not subject to be destroyed by them: but contrarywise, that they amongst them that sought our destruction, should find their own , and not be able to work ours, and that we being dead men were able to do them more hurt, then now we could do being alive: an opinion very confidently at this day holden by the wisest amongst them, and of their old men, as also, that they have been in the night, being 100. miles from any of us, in the air shot at, and struck by some men of ours, that by sickness had died among them: and many of them hold opinion, that we be dead men returned into the world again , and that we do not remain dead but for a certain time, and that then we return again .

    All these speeches then again grew in full credit with them, the King, and all, touching us, when he saw the small troop returned again, and in that sort from those whose very names were terrible unto them: But that which made up the matter on our side for that time was an accident, yea rather (as all the rest was) the good providence of the Almighty for the saving of us, which was this.

    Within certain days after my return from the said journey, Menatonon sent a messenger to visit his son the prisoner with me, and sent me certain pearls for a present, or rather, as Pemisapan told me , for the ransom of his son , and therefore I refused them: but the greatest cause of his sending then, was to signify unto me , that he had commanded Okisko King of Weopomiok, to yield himself servant, and vassal to the great Weroanza of England, and after her to Sir Walter Raleigh : to perform which commandment received from Menatonon , the said Okisko jointly with this Menatonons messenger sent four and twenty of his principal men to Roanoak to Pemisapan , to signify that they were ready to perform the same, and so had sent those his men to let me know that from that time forward , he , and his successors were to acknowledge her Majesty their only Sovereign , and next unto her, as is aforesaid .

    All which being done, and acknowledged by them all, in the presence of Pemisapan his father, and all his Savages in counsel then with him, it did for the time thoroughly (as it seemed) change him in disposition toward us: Insomuch as forthwith Ensenore won this resolution of him, that out of hand he should go about, and withal , to cause his men to set up weirs forthwith for us: both which he at that present went in hand withall, and did so labor the expedition of it, that in the end of April he had sowed a good quantity of ground, so much as had been sufficient, to have fed our whole company (God blessing the growth ) and that by the belly, for a whole year : besides that he gave us a certain plot of ground for our selves to sow . All which put us in marvelous comfort, if we could pass from April until the beginning of July, (which was to have been the beginning of their harvest,) that then a new supply out of England or else our own store would well enough maintain us: All our fear was of the two months betwixt, in which mean space if the Savages should not help us with Cassavi, and China , and that our weirs should fail us, (as often they did,) we might very well starve, notwithstanding the growing corn , like the starving horse in the stable, with the growing grass , as the proverb is: which we very hardly had escaped but only by the hand of God, as it pleased him to try us. For within few days after, as before is said , Ensenore our friend died, who was no sooner dead, but certain of our great enemies about Pemisapan, as Osacan a Werowance, Tanaquiny and Wanchese most principally, were in hand again to put their old practices in use against us, which were readily embraced , and all their former devices against us renewed , and new brought in question. But that of starving us, by their forbearing to sow, was broken by Ensenore in his life, by having made the King all at one instant to sow his ground, not only in the Island , but also at Dasamonquepeio in the main , within two leagues over against us. Nevertheless there wanted no store of mischievous practices among them, and of all they resolved principally of this following.

    First that Okisko king of Weopomeiok with the Mandoages should be moved , and with great quantity of copper entertained to the number of 7. or 8. hundred bows , to enterprise the matter thus to be ordered. They of Weopomeiok should be invite to a certain kind of months mind which they do use to solemnize in their Savage manner for any great personage dead, and should have been for Ensenore . At this instant also should the Mandoaks, who were a great people, with the Chesepians & their friends to the number of 700. of them, be armed at a day appointed to the main of Dasamonquepeio, and there lying close at the sign of fires , which should interchangeably be made on both sides, when Pemisapan with his troop above named should have executed me, and some of our Weroances (as they called all our principal officers,) the main forces of the rest should have come over into the Island , where they meant to have dispatched the rest of the company, whom they did imagine to find both dismayed and dispersed abroad in the Island, seeking of crabs and fish to live withal . The manner of their enterprise was this.

    Tarraquine and Andacon two principal men about Pemisapan , and very lusty fellows , with twenty more appointed to them had the charge of my person to see an order taken for the same, which they meant should in this sort have been executed. In the dead time of the night they would have beset my house, and put fire in the reeds that the same was covered with: meaning (as it was likely) that my self would have come running out of a sudden amazed in my shirt without arms , upon the instant whereof they would have knocked out my brains .

    The same order was given to certain of his fellows , for M. Heriots : so for all the rest of our better sort, all our houses at one instant being set on fire as afore is said , and that as well for them of the fort, as for us at the town . Now to the end that we might be the fewer in number together, and so be the more easily dealt withal (for in deed ten of us with our arms prepared, were a terror to a hundred of the best sort of them,) they agreed and did immediately put it in practice , that they should not for any copper sell us any victuals whatsoever: besides that in the night they should send to have our weirs robbed, and also to cause them to be broken, and once being broken never to be repaired again by them. By this means the King stood assured, that I must be enforced for lack of sustenance there, to disband my company into sundry places to live upon shell fish, for so the Savages themselves do , going to Hatorask, Croatoan, and other places, fishing and hunting, while their grounds be in sowing, and their corn growing: which failed not his expectation. For the famine grew so extreme among us, or weirs failing us of fish, that I was enforced to send Captain Stafford with 20. with him to Croatoan my Lord Admirals Island to serve two turns in one, that is to say, to feed himself and his company, and also to keep watch if any shipping came upon the coast to warn us of the same. I sent M. Pridiox with the pinnesse to Hatorask, and ten with him, with the Provost Marshal to live there, and also to wait for shipping: also I sent every week 16. or 20. of the rest of the company to the main over against us, to live of Casada and oysters.

    In the mean while Pemisapan went of purpose to Dasaonquepeio for three causes: The one to see his grounds there broken up, and sowed for a second crop: the other to withdraw himself from my daily sending to him for supply of victual for my company, for he was afraid to deny me any thing, neither durst he in my presence but my color and with excuses, which I was content to accept for the time, meaning in the end as I had reason, to give him the jump once for all: but in the mean whiles, as I had ever done before, I and mine bare all wrongs, and accepted of all excuses.

    My purpose was to have relied my self with Menatonon , and the Chaonists, who in truth as they are more valiant people and in greater number then the rest, so are they more faithful in their promises, and since my late being there had given many tokens of earnest desire they had to join in perfect league with us, and therefore were greatly offended with Pemisapan and Weopomeiok for making him believe such tales of us.

    The third cause of this going to Dasamonquepeio was to dispatch his messengers to Weopomeiok, and to the Mandoages as aforesaid: all which he did with great loan of copper in hand, making large promises to them of greater spoil .

    The answer within few days after came from Weopomeiok, which was divided into two parts. First for the King Okisko , who denied to be of the party for himself , or any of his special followers, and therefore did immediately retire himself with his force into the main : the other was concerning the rest of the said province who accepted of it: and in like sort the Mandoags received the .

    The day of their assembly aforesaid at Roanoke was appointed the 10. of June: all which the premises were discovered by Skyco , the King Menatonon his son my prisoner, who having once attempted to run away, I laid him in the shackles , threatening to cut off his head, whom I remitted at Pemisapans request: whereupon he being persuaded that he was our enemy to the death, he did not only feed him with himself , but also made him acquainted with all his practices . On the other side, the young man finding himself as well used at my hand , as I had means to show , and that all my company made much of him, he flatly discovered all unto me, which also afterwards was revealed unto me by one of Pemisapans own men, that night before he was slain .

    These mischiefs being all instantly upon me and my company to be put in execution, it stood me in hand to study how to prevent them, and also to save all others, which were at that time as aforesaid so far from me: whereupon I sent to Pemisapan to put suspicion out of his head, that I meant presently to go to Croatoan, for that I had heard of the arrival of our fleet , (though I in truth had neither heard nor hoped for so good adventure,) and that I meant to come by him, to borrow of his men to fish for my company, & to hunt for me at Croatoan, as also to buy some four days provision to serve for my voyage.

    He sent me word that he would himself come over to Roanoke , but from day to day he deferred, only to bring the Weopomeioks with him & the Mandoags, whose time appointed was within eight days after. It was the last of May 1586 when all his own Savages began to make their assembly at Roanoke , at his commandment sent abroad unto them, and I resolved not to stay longer upon his coming over, since he meant to come with so good company, but thought good to go and visit him with such as I had, which I resolved to do the next day: but that night I meant by the way to give them in the Island a sudden attack , and at the instant to seize upon all the canoes about the Island, to keep him from advertisements.

    But the town took the alarm before I meant it to them: the occasion was this. I had sent the Master of the light horseman, with a few with him, to gather up all the canoes in the setting of the Sun, & to take as many as were going from us to Dasamonquepeio, but to suffer any that came from thence, to land. He met with a Canoe going from the shore, and overthrew the Canoe , and cut off two Savages heads: this was not done so secretly but he was discovered from the shore; whereupon the cry arose: for in truth they, privy to their own villainous purposes against us, held as good spy upon us, both day and night, as we did upon them.

    The alarm given, they took themselves to their bows , and we to our arms : some three or four of them at the first were slain with our shot: the rest fled into the woods. The next morning with the light horsemen & one Canoe taking 25 with the Colonel of the Chesepians, and the Sergeant major, I went to Dasamonquepeio: and being landed, sent Pemisapan word by one of his own Savages that met me at the shore, that I was going to Croatoan, and meant to take him in the way to complain unto him of Osocon , who the night past was conveying away my prisoner, whom I had there present tied in an handlock . Hereupon the king did abide my coming to him, and finding my self amidst seven or eight of his principal Weroances and followers, (not regarding any of the common sort) I gave the watch-word agreed upon, (which was, Christ our victory) and immediately those his chief men and himself had by the mercy of God for our deliverance, that which they had purposed for us. The king himself being shot thorow by the Colonel with a pistol , lying on the ground for dead, & I looking as watchfully for the saving of Manteos friends, as others were busy that none of the rest should escape, suddenly he started up, and ran away as though he had not been touched, insomuch as he overran all the company, being by the way shot through the buttocks by mine Irish boy with my petronell. In the end an Irish man serving me, one Nugent , and the deputy provost, undertook him; and following him in the woods, overtook him: and I in some doubt least we had lost both the king & my man by our own negligence to have been intercepted by the Savages, we met him returning out of the woods with Pemisapans head in his hand.

    This fell out the first of June 1586, and the eight of the same advertisement to me from captain Stafford, lying at my lord Admirals Island, that he had discovered a great fleet of three and twenty sails : but whether they were friends or foes, he could not yet discern . He advised me to stand upon as good guard as I could.

    The ninth of the said month he himself came unto me, having that night before, & that same day travelled by land twenty miles: and I must truly report of him from the first to the last; he was the gentleman that never spared labor or peril by land or water, fair weather or foul , to perform any service committed unto him.

    He brought me a letter from the General Sir Francis Drake, with a most bountiful and honorable offer for the supply of our necessities to the performance of the action we were entered into; and that not only of victuals, munition, and clothing, but also of barks, pinnesses, and boats; they also by him to be victualled, manned, and furnished to my contentment .

    The tenth day he arrived in the road of our bad harbor : and coming there to an anchor , the eleventh day I came to him, whom I found in deeds most honorably to perform that which in writing and message he had most courteously offered, he having aforehand propounded the matter to all the captains of his fleet, and got their liking and consent thereto.

    With such thanks unto him and his captains for his care both of us and of our action, not as the matter deserved, but as I could both for my company and my self , I (being aforehand prepared what I would desire) craved at his hands that it would please him to take with him into England a number of weak and unfit men for my good action, which I would deliver to him; and in place of them to supply me of his company with oar -men, artificers, and others.

    That he would leave us so much shipping and victual , as about August then next following would carry me and all my company into England, when we had discovered somewhat, that for lack of needful provision in time left with us as yet remained undone.

    That it would please him withal to leave some sufficient Masters not only to carry us into England, when time should be, but also to search the coast for some better harbor , if there were any, and especially to help us to some small boats and oar -men.

    Also for a supply of muskets , hand weapons, match and lead, tools , apparel , and such like.

    He having received these my requests, according to his usual commendable manner of government (as it was told me) calling his captains to counsel ; the resolution was that I should send such of my officers of my company as I used in such matters, with their notes, to go aboard with him; which were the Master of the victuals, The Keeper of the store, and the Vicetreasurer: to whom he appointed forthwith for me The Francis, being a very proper barke of 70 tons , and took present order for bringing of victual aboard her for 100 men for four months , with all my other demands whatsoever, to the uttermost.

    And further, he appointed for me two pinnesses, and four small boats: and that which was to perform all his former liberality towards us, was that he had gotten the full assents of two of as sufficient experimented Masters as were any in his fleet, by judgement of them that knew them, with very sufficient troops to tarry with me, and to employ themselves most earnestly in the action, as I should appoint them, until the term which I promised of our return into England again . The names of one of those Masters was Abraham Kendall , the other Griffith Herne .

    While these things were in hand, the provision aforesaid being brought, and in bringing aboard , my said Masters being also gone aboard , my said barks having accepted of their charge, and mine own officers, with others in like sort of my company with them (all which was dispatched by the said General the 12 of the said month ) the 13 of the same there arose such an unwonted storm , and continued four days , that had like to have driven all on shore, if the Lord had not held his holy hand over them, and the General very providently foreseen the worst himself , then about my dispatch putting himself aboard : but in the end having driven sundry of the fleet to put to Sea the Francis also with all my provisions, my two Masters, and my company aboard , she was seen to be free from the same, and to put clear to Sea.

    This storm having continued from the 13 to the 16 of the month , and thus my bark put away as aforesaid , the General coming ashore made a new proffer unto me; which was a ship of 170 tons , called the Barke Bonner, with a sufficient Master and guide to tarry’ with me the time appointed, and victualled sufficiently to carry me and my company into England, with all provisions as before: but he told me that he would not for any thing undertake to have her brought into our harbour, and therefore he was to leave her in the road, and to leave the care of the rest unto my self , and advised me to consider with my company of our case, and to deliver presently unto him in writing what I would require him to do for us: which being within his power, he did assure me as well for his Captains as for himself , should be most willingly performed.

    Hereupon calling such Captains and gentlemen of my company as then were at hand, who were all as privy as my self to the Generals offer: their whole request was to me, that considering the case that we stood in, the weakness of our company, the small number of the same, the carrying away of our first appointed bark , with those two especial Masters, with our principal provisions in the same, by the very hand of God as it seemed, stretched out to take us from thence; considering also, that his second offer, though most honorable of his part, yet of ours not to be taken, insomuch as there was no possibility for her with any safety to be brought into the harbor : seeing furthermore, our hope for supply with Sir Richard Greenvill , so undoubtedly promised us before Easter, not yet come, neither then likely to come this year , considering the doings in England for Flanders, and also for America, that therefore I would resolve my self with my company to go into England in that fleet, and accordingly to make request to the General in all our names, that he would be pleased to give us present passage with him. Which request of ours by my self delivered unto him, he most readily assented unto: and so he sending immediately his pinnesses unto our Island for the fetching away of a few that there were left with our baggage, the weather was so boisterous, & the pinnesses so often on ground, that the most of all we had, with all our Cards, Books and writings were by the Sailors cast overboard , the greater number of the fleet being much aggrieved with their long and dangerous abode in that miserable road.

    From whence the General in the name of the Almighty, weighing his anchors (having bestowed us among his fleet) for the relief of whom he had in that storm sustained more peril of wreck then in all his former most honorable actions against the Spaniards , with praises unto God for all, set sail the nineteenth of June 1586, and arrived in Portsmouth the seven and twentieth of July the same year .

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