THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 17.
Letter from Licenciado Luxan Asparren to the King of Spain.
Source: -Additional Mss. 36315. British Museum.
Published by courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
Translated from the Spanish.
Miguel de Azparan in the name of Francisco de Vides,
Governor and Captain-General of the province of Cumana
in this case against Captain Antonio de Berrio and the others
who claim to be parties in this affair, replies to the petition
on behalf of Berrio which claims and requires that Your
Highness should order that the Island of Trinidad belongs
to the conquest and agreement of the said Antonio de Berrio ;
we say that notwithstanding all alleged on his behalf Your
Highness should order that a royal cedula be issued by which
the said Captain Antonio de Berrio should leave the said
Island of Trinidad as ordered and we claim this because.
Firstly in general the reports made by the other side
are by no means accurate nor true and we deny them in
so far as they are opposed to us.
Again there is no justification for claiming that we should
leave the Island on the grounds that it is included in his
agreement since in all the said agreement there is no reference
nor mention of the said Island; he is only granted the
licence to conquer El Dorado, the same licence as was granted
to his predecessor and there are no grounds for claiming
that on account of a petition presented by Don Gonzalo
Ximinez de Quesada the district granted in the agreement
extended 400 leagues between the two rivers Pauto and
Papamene notwithstanding that the two rivers meet; and
that all lands along the rivers that run into this district and
that all provinces and any places along rivers falling into
it whether given to any Government or to any other person
however far the government may be, that all these lands
were granted to him without prejudice by Your Highness.
Thirdly this Island of Trinidad never was included nor
intended to be included in this district and this is clear
because in many parts of the process the said Antonio de Berrio
confesses that he has sent begging Your Highness to settle
the Island ; it is certain that if he had the right to do so he
would not have sought this; he contradicts his own case
and shows clearly that lie could never have thought in any
case that this Island was included in his agreement because
by begging Your Highness to order its settlement he would
thereby have ceded and given up his right.
Further we say that the conquest, settlement and
government of the said Island is definitely given to us by
the explicit wording of our agreement and it is unjust to
allege false statements against us since Your Highness ordered
us to do this as is shown by the agreement itself; this we do
not discuss as we are obliged to keep to it and complete it
Further we have to state that the said Antonio de Berrio
entered the said Island of Trinidad more than a year ago
and is there now-and as the agreement with him was made
in March of the past year 1593. and the settlement of the said
Island was made in the month of May of the year before that,
as appears from his own statements ; from this he may take
what credit may be due to those who oppose such obvious
claims as we have.
Further in conformity with our agreement we obtained
a cedula from Your Highness ordering the said Antonio
de Berrio to leave to us the said Island and although he was
duly notified and we actually went to the said Island to take
it over, he did not attempt to obey or comply and although
we could have forced him to so do by virtue of the authority
we carried and of reports of his dealings with the enemy,
we did not proceed to extremities in any way, never exceeding
the dignity and courtesy which is expected in affairs of much
less importance; to these reports we could not give any
credit but Your Highness will find that the very persons
who sent these letters to Your Council are those who give
sworn witness to the above.
Further so that no blame may be attached to us for not
having collected men in our government for the Island of
Trinidad we claim that it would be bad government knowing
of English enemies, to collect soldiers from here to conquer
and settle Trinidad and so weaken and open both places
to capture; Your Highness has not instructed the
neighboring Governors to give us the necessary help for this.
Further it is not correct to represent that we refused
permission to buy munitions in Cumana from a foreign
ship which they say was in this port since the contrary appears
from the depositions of these self same Captains who were
at Cumana and who state that we required them to give
security not to collect men in this said town and it is a fact
that they could have had all the munitions available as they
had no mind to accept or obey our authority.
Further no importance can be attached to the letter
which the said Antonio de Berrio alleged he wrote to us in
which he offered to hand over the said Island if we would
give him Ioo soldiers and ten or twelve thousand ducats
which he claimed to have spent in conquering and settling
it because we deny that such a letter was sent or that it came
into our hands, however granting that it may have been
sent, the proposal could not be entertained because the money
and men which lie claimed to have spent could not have
been expended in acquiring the said Island since there appears
never to have been any resistance but a mere simple unopposed
occupation when lie entered the Island of Trinidad and this
we can do with much more facility, making friends of the
Indians and winning their confidence since from Cumana,
Trinidad can be easily reached without any trouble.
Further the said Antonio de Berrio when all is said and
done, cannot keep nor maintain the said Island because when
he goes to his conquest, he will have to leave it deserted which
is even worse than having settled this small area for
three years without proceeding to that which his agreement
required namely the conquest of El Dorado
Further the settlement of the town of SanJosephe de Oruna
which is said to be settled, cannot maintain itself because
from none of the reports presented does there appear to be
more than 30 Spaniards, all loose men and not subjects of
matrimony and whatever they may be, none of them have
proper wives nor can it be expected that such men should
have them whose object and duty is to go to war panoplied
in arms; from which it is unavoidable that the present
settlement must diminish and fail.
Further it is better for Your Highness's interests that
we should be Governor and Captain-General in the said
Island because being united with the other parts of ours
government, it is better maintained and defended against
the enemy ; in this respect these places should act in harmony
and cooperation which cannot be done were they made
Further no notice should be taken of the witnesses who
have appeared in this case since Your Highness will find
that they have testified with such fervour and imagination
that they declare that our acts are imaginary ; this is alone
enough to discredit any adverse evidence which anyone
so heated may have sought to allege against us especially
as Your Council is fully informed of our affairs when in this
court we were cleared honourably of all the calumnies and
distortions advanced by our enemies against the agreement
made with us and no one being our declared enemy
could fairly allege anything against us.
We beseech Your Highness to order a denial to the parts
contrary to what we seek and to give us Your Royal Cedula
ordering the said Antonio de Berrio or any other person
whatsoever who may be in this said Island to give and deliver
it to us in the condition in which it is.
We seek justice and costs in our favour, etc.,