THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 22.
Despatch from Domingo de Vera to the King of Spain.
Source :-Additional Mss. 36317 IL. 385, et seq. British Museum.
Published by courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
About September, 1595.
Domingo de Vera y lbargoien, Maestro de Campo
of El Dorado, reminds Your Majesty how well known are
the great and long continued services of the Governor,
Antonio de Berrio and how he has spent of his private estate
200,000 pesos of good gold and has laboured for 13 years,
settled the Island of Trinidad and made the discovery of
those immense provinces so long desired and having seen
them, made the entry but for want of men could not complete
the entry by settling towns ; lie made a post with a sergento
mayor and some soldiers at Carapana and Muriquite
preserving the friendship which I confirmed by barter.
The Governor has sent me to beseech Your Majesty to
grant me licences to collect a thousand men from Spain and
supplies as referred to in my application.
Now it has come to my knowledge that the English,
exasperated by the said Governor, Antonio de Berrio for
having killed some of them at times when they have gone
to the Island and taken others, have sent vecinos of the
town of San Joseph de Oruna and burnt it and taken prisoner
the person of the said Governor.
So that Your Majesty may be informed how important
it is to your royal service that this Island should be settled,
I declare that the Island of Trinidad is a fertile land with
abundance of provisions and Indians who number about
4,0ooo and the French and English stop there and the Indians
supply them with fowls, deer, morrocoys, lapas and other
meats and with maize, cassava, potatoes, plantains and other
fruits in return for knives and trinkets. There are English who
traffic in tobacco who go to this Island and take Indians
to England to learn the language and then return them.
There is in this Island the greatest quantity of cedar
that I have ever seen in my life as well as wood of other
kinds and has suitable ports where one can land to make
lanchas, careen vessels and learn where the pearling fleets
are and take guides to go and rob and attack; the said
Governor, Antonio de Berrio has attacked and prevented
this and that is the cause of the depopulation of the said
Island as has been done.
And as the remedy for this I beseech Your Majesty
with all the humility possible, to be pleased in the meanwhile
until it is known whether this news is true and certain that
he is taken to England, to order the retention of all English
people who may be prisoners in Peru, Abana, Lisbon and
other places so that they can be held for exchange and ransom
because it is important to your royal service that he with
his great skill should plant the Evangel in these provinces
so worthy of him, and may Your Majesty pity him and
Further I beg Your Majesty that all that the said Governor,
Antonio de Berrio has done and arranged in repartimiento
of the lands and ecnomiendas as also all else that he has done
shall be valid for always so as to avoid action at law which
may occur later on when taken over by the sons and nephews
and other descendants henceforth.
Further I beg Your Majesty t,) declare that the
government of the said Antonio de Berrio comprises all the
land between the Orinoco and the Maranon and in so far
as Trinidad is concerned, please refer at once to the conditions
of the agreement entered into with the Adelantado Don
Goncalo Ximinez de Quesada and that with the said Antonio
de Berrio which states that he could settle any part whatever
of any land on either side of these two rivers and in
conformity with this as a matter obviously clear and plain
decide that this island is in the government of Antonio
As the neighboring Governors either themselves or
through their Captains may as I believe they are now, seeing
that the said Antonio de Berrio and I myself arc out of the
Island, have entered and settled and taken possession of this:
land, I beg Your Majesty to declare that all thus done and
accomplished may be of no effect and that the Island will
be included in the government of Antonio de Berrio who is
to be Governor of it or his son Fernando de Berrio or the son
who may succeed him in the government because it is not fair
that he who has worked so hard and spent so much at such
a risk should lose all and another should receive and enjoy it ;
and that nine children so noble and worthy to be honoured
and rewarded should lose all and another be granted
I seek justice,
DOMINGO DE VERA Y YBARGOIEN.