THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 23.
Despatch from Licenciado Pedro de Liano to the King of Spain.
Source :--,Additional Mss. 36317 ff. 61 et. seq. British Museum.
Published by courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum
and of the Argonaut Press (Discoveric of Guiana, by
Dr. V. T. Harlow).
I5th March, 1596.
Antonio de Berrio went to people the Island of Trinidad
towards the close of the year 1591. He took 28 men with
him and 52 more were afterwards sent. With these he
founded a town called St. Joseph close to the River Caroni,
three leagues inland, from the port they call Port-of-Spain
and where an Indian Cacique Guanaguanare had his settle-
ment. He was the chief of that country and the settlement
is the best in the Island because pirogues can sail up the
river as far as half a league distant from the town.
This Indian Guanaguanare withdrew with his men to
another part of the Island and Antonio de Berrio and his
people remained four years in this place where they built
houses, a large Church and a Franciscan Convent.
When this place was thus inhabited, the Count Milor
Guaterral arrived in the Port-of-Spain on the 4th of April
of last year, 1595. He was Governor of Cornwall and
Captain of the Guard of the Queen of England. He brought
with him three ships of considerable tonnage, well equipped
and with seven barges and about 300 men.
Whilst he was in the port he sent a message to Antonio de
Bzrrio saying that he came with peaceful intentions, that he
was a friend and wished very much to see him and as a token
of friendship he sent him a gold ring with a letter in which
he said that he needed men or ammunition or anything
else to pacify the country he would give them to him and that
his men were conquerors of the Indies. He also said that
he had founded a town in Canaveral on the coast of Florida
and that he only came to the port to get water and wood
which he needed and to carry weapons and ammunition
tp the English who were in Canaveral.
Antonio de Berrio sent him some fowls, venison and
fruits of the country by Rodrigo de la Hoz, his nephew and
four soldiers whom he sent with him. The Englishmen
received the gift and detained Rodrigo and the soldiers during
three days. On the fourth day-a Thursday afternoon and
the 7th day of the month of April of the year 1595, they
killed Don Roderigo and the other soldiers who had
Soon afterwards 200 Englishmen landed and marched
into the Island and they passed that same Thursday night
in the settlement of the Indian Cacique Guanaguanare and
on Friday at four in the morning some of the said Indian
Cacique joined the Englishmen and they all marched to
the place where tlhe arrived at sunrise.
Antonio de Berrio all this time received no information
of this design nor of what the Englishmen nor Indians were
doing for although he had sent two sentinels, the Englishmen
and Indians killed them and were thus enabled to enter
the place crying out with a loud voice Peace, Peace "
and saying these words, they went on killing and wounding
those whom they met.
They killed 17 of the soldiers of Antonio de Berrio in the
town; they seized him and Captain Alvaro Jorge; the
rest of the soldiers fled and hid themselves in the marshes
and left the Island as best they could.
Milor Guaterral remained in the town during two days
and carried away the cloth and goods that were in it, burnt
all the houses and the church without sparing anything. He
embarked at the end of two days, taking Antonio de Berrio
and Captain Alvaro Jorge with him and after being three
(lays in the port he set sail and went to Punto del Gallo in
that Island, where lie anchored with the ships.
He built a fort there on the shore and landed a piece
of artillery. All the Indians of the Island came to his
assistance by bringing provisions and other goods from the
country and after he had been there 15 days, he equipped
five boats and sailed with them and some of his soldiers up
the River Orinoco which is situated on the mainland at a
distance of 21-3 leagues from the Island.
He sailed up the River with the boats as far as the town
of a Cacique called Moriquita which stands at a distance
of more than eighty leagues from the mouth of the river. He
spent 30 days in this voyage because they sailed by day only.
When he arrived at that settlement, he sent an Indian
whom he had brought with him from England, and another
whom he took in the Island of Trinidad, to the Cacique
Moriquita to inform him how matters stood there.
The Cacique arrived at the end of four days accompanied
by three or four hundred Indians, bringing him many articles
of food and offering him friendship and declaring to him
that there was a large quantity of gold to be found in the
country, that he should land and that he would go with him
to show him the mine which was a league inland.
He went there and they carried away three or four tons
of earth from a mountain and put it on board to carry it
to England as a specimen.
The Cacique Moriquito gave Guaterral three or four
ingots of gold, telling him that all that country was his and
that they would be happy if he would come and settle there
and he would surrender it to him.
Guaterral gave the Cacique and the Indians some curious
things which he had brought from England and they remained
in fast friendship and shook hands ; the Cacique promising
to give up the country to him and that all should serve him.
Guaterral promised to return in the month of March
of the following year with a thousand men to settle down
there and as a proof that he should do so, he left two
Englishmen under his charge (one was 25 years of age and
the other was 16) in order that they might learn the language,
acquaint themselves with the country and be able to act
as interpreters on his return.
The Cacique Moriquito gave Guaterral one of his sons
who was 18 or 20 years of age and three other Indians whom
he took away with him. They then took leave and the two
Englishmen remained among the Indians, to whom the
Cacique and everyone behaved most kindly, they gave them
presents and respected them.
In the month of July of the year 1595, the younger of
the two Englishmen going out into the country in English
dress was attacked by four tigers who tore him to pieces.
The other Englishman when sailing one day down the
river was seized by four Spaniards who brought him to the
Island of Margarita on the 25th of February of this year
where his declaration was taken. He related most of what
has been narrated here.
Guaterral came with his men and Indians to the Punto
del Gallo in the Island of Trinidad where he had left his
vessels and Berrio as a prisoner in the Admiral's ship.
Thence he set sail and went towards Cumana where
he arrived on 22nd June in the year 1595. On the 23rd of
the same month at daybreak, he landed 200 men in order
to seize and plunder the town. They continued their march
until they arrived at the town where they were met by 15 or
16 men who were without discipline and had no Captain to
lead them. They compelled the English to retire very quickly
and followed close upon them as far as the coast and killed
80 men. The rest escaped by swimming and as best they
could. Seeing this loss, the Englishman landed Berrio
in order that lie might send him the wounded that were
Berrio remained there, where lie was little favoured and
badly received by the Governor, Francisco de Vide.
Another day Guaterral landed at a distance of one league
from the town and dined and held close friendship with
Lucas Fajardo who holds the forces there. It is he who is
on good terms and gives shelter to the English who pass by.
He also barters with them and conceals them. For this
reason proceedings are now being taken against him and lie
has absented himself. Guaterral sent him certain gifts and
presents and the said Fajardo did likewise to him.
Guaterral went to England whence a vessel has come
which is one of those that used to come to trade in these parts.
It brought news that Guaterral was making preparations
to come to these parts with twelve war vessels and a large
number of English.
Antonio de Berrio has gone to the River Orinoco with
ten men whom he took from the Island of Margarita and
has settled in the town of the Cacique Moriquito, a distance
of 80 leagues from the mouth of the River Orinoco and 30 men
have been sent to him from the New Kingdom of Granada.
While Berrio was there and the Island of Trinidad lay
unprotected Francisco de Bide Governor of Cumana sent
Felipe de Santiago with 28 men so that they might settle
there. They quitted this expedition and went to look for
Berrio either by order of Francisco de Bide or of Felipe
de Santiago. They sailed up the River to the point where
Antonio de Berrio was stationed and there they had some
disputes among themselves, the alarm was sounded and two
men were killed on both sides.
Felipe de Santiago came to the Island of Trinidad and
made a settlement with the few men that he had and in the
same part where Antonio de Berrio had previously had settled.
He is there awaiting for Francisco de Bide to send him
Both these parts are of considerable importance. The
Island of Trinidad is one of the most fertile and richest of
the Windward Islands. It is 50 leagues long and 20 leagues
broad in the widest part and 8 in the narrowest part. It
contains many fresh water streams where sugar cane mills
could be set up. The ground is fertile and possesses every
advantage for cultivating fruit and as pasture for cattle. There
is some gold to be found chiefly in the river called Santiago.
It holds more than Io,ooo working Indians. There
are six principal ports on the south coast and in all of them
streams of fresh water flow into the sea. They can sail up some
of the fresh water rivers a distance of a league or a league
and a half in pirogues and shallops and other vessels of
There is a port on the north coast which they call Del
Penol. It is a splendid harbour with three streams of fresh
water which flow into the sea.There are other ports and they
all contain large and fine fresh water streams.
He then goes on to describe Guayana and its importance
as a gateway to Caracas and New Granada. He urges the
occupation of Trinidad and Guayana early. He considers
that Vides is promoting only his own interests and not those
of His Majesty and is doing little in this respect. Berrio is
aged and poor and cannot do it.
After what had happened in Trinidad respecting Berrio
a soldier, called Juan de Mumpabila, who was a Frenchman
escaped from there. He arrived and took shelter at Caracas
and went up to the city of Santiago de Leon where he reported
what had happened to him in the Island of Trinidad and how
the Englishman, Guaterral was coming with a large force
with the purpose of burning and destroying all the ports
on the coast and that he would go up to the city of Santiago
de Leon to plunder it.
But it possesses so many natural fortifications by reason
of the difficult passages and roads through which it is reached,
they paid little heed to what the soldier said as they held it
impossible for the Corsair to reach the city. Thus they took
little care to defend it.
It happened that Ames Preston, an Englishman who
left England with a squadron of nine vessels in pursuit of
Guaterral got ahead of him while Guaterral was detained in
the Island of Trinidad and in the River Orinoco.
He went to the port of Cumana where he received
information that some English who were anchored there,
were trading their merchandise with the people of Cumana
and that Guaterral was coming to destroy and burn the town.
On account of this, he left that capture to him and went
to the port of Guayra in the province of Venezuela where
he landed 300 men with their flags.
He goes on to report how Santiago de Leon secure in
their physical advantages made no preparation for defence.
The English found the way very difficult but the General
sent them help and urged them to go on. They entered
Santiago de Leon on Thursday, 8th June, 1596, without any
opposition. They found little property as the inhabitants
had fled taking everything with them.
The English remained there from Thursday the 8th till
Monday the 12th June, being undisturbed as in their
own home". On Monday, 30 soldiers reconnoitred the
district, burnt the cattle ranches and took the horses and
mules. They fired the city burning a part of the principal
church and some houses.
They left an English youth in the city under the pretext
of desertation. This was really done so that he could learn
the Indian language and acquaint himself with the country.
The English embarked safely, taking with them
1oo quintals of sarsaparilla and 500 hides. They then went
on to Coro and plundered and burnt it.
This carelessness and neglect of the inhabitants deserves
due punishment so that in future they may be compelled
to live with greater precaution."
He then reports that Francis Drake had been repulsed
at Puerto Rico; that he then went to Puerto Agueda,
12 leagues from' San Juan, took water and wood and then
anchored at Cuiracoa. There is no further news of him.
The Spanish fleet under Bernardino Gonzalez de
Avalleneda which left Lisbon on the 4th December arrived
at Puerto Rico on the i8th January, 1596. It left there on
the 20th February and its further movements are unknown.
He has learned that Drake has plundered Rio de la
Hacha and S.inta Marta.
He reports that Domingo de Vera had arrived in Trinidad
in the last days of March, 1596 with his men in six fly boats.
He had landed them all there.