THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 32.
Pedro de Viednma, Governor, to the King of S/air.
20th March, 1662.
Source :-Additional Mss. 36330. British Museum. Published
by courtesy of the Truslees of the British Musezxm
Translated from the Spanish.
In five duplicates I have given Your Majesty an
account of the miserable state of this Government and how
harassed it is by the foreign nations, Dutch and English wh(i h
are settled on the coast of Terra Firma in different places and
sites which they have chosen for their greater convenience ;
the nearest called Vauruma and Moruga being distant from
the Orinoco, 25 leagues.
Of this I have already informed Your Majesty and of the
people in the first named settlement to the number of 600 men
between Dutch and Indian and I,ooo negros. And to-day
from the inquiries I have made, I find the number to be more
than I,ooo men with 400 Indians and a great number of
negros founding a new Brazil. These are protected by the
forces ofEsquivo and Berbis whose Governor is Adrian Arnoto,
And in like manner I find there are on the said coast
36 settlements with a great number of English which extend
a distance of 200 leagues to windward in different places
with a great number of negros.
These are composed of companies and many of them
with permission of the States of Holland and from the way
they divide these lands they appear to be theirs.
To this is to be added the Windward Islands that are
settled by these nations who with their traffic and trade
infest these coasts every day causing this poor Government
a thousand difficulties and misfortunes being kept the whole
year under arms, leaving their families and farms without
being able to assist them,
Although the Dutch of Esquivo and Berbis have treaties
of peace with Your Royal Crown, they neither keep nor
observe them as they should. Indeed quite the contrary for
they have arrived in schooners in the Island of Trinidad and
by fraud they have frequently carried off a number of natives
co.nmissioncd to be sold in the Windward Islandsashappened
this present year in the month of January.
Matters being thus, Sire, I have already conquered the
Island of Trinidad and pacified the natives under many
difficulties reducing some by kindness and the rebellious by
force of arms which none of my predecessors had been able
to accomplish. I do not on this occasion transmit the proofs
thereof as I am absent from the said Island in the town
These foreign nations hold at their disposal, all the Indian
natives of this Windward Coast so that they cause me the
greatest anxieties fearing complete ruin ; this Government
has such a very small number of men that in this town and
the Island of Trinidad they do not reach 140 vecinos both
young and old, 1oo of them capable of using arms. The
greatest misfortune is not to be able to fulfil my obligations
as a loyal subject of Your Royal Majesty. All I can do is
to die in the discharge thereof as my obligation demands.
I also profit by this occasion to give Your Majesty an
account of how in August of the past year, 1660, I was
informed by adespatch from the Sergeant Mayor, Lucas Brabo
de Leon and Don Geronimo de Vibero, the ordinary Alcaldes
(for on the death of the Sergeant Mayor Pedro de Padilla who
at the time was the one in office whilst the said Lucas Brabo
was the Ordinary Alcalde, I granted the latter the said title
of Sergeant Mayor) who at the time was governing the town
of St. Thome de Guayana in my absence, in which they
report to me to the Island of Trinidad, distant from the town
more than Ioo leagues how there had arrived at their port
in the River Orinoco a ship, Captain and owner John Hooft
of the Dutch nation, representing that he was in want
When I saw this I sent express orders by the same vessel
which the Ordinary Alcalde sent, that they should not admit
nor allow the said ship in the said town and its port nor
trade with the crew in any way whatever under pain of
death and being declared traitors to Your Royal Majesty.
Concerning these orders 1 transmitted, there again arose
new troubles in the said town as well on the part of the vecinos
as on that of the soldiers in that by forming public meetings
at the request of the Procurador General they agreed in this
Junta that it would be well that the said ship should be
received, thus setting aside my orders which had already been
given upon the case and making for this purpose a new
despatch to the Island of Trinidad appointing another
Procurador as they did in the said open meeting.
He presented himself before my tribunal in the said
Island of Trinidad in the name of both the vecinos and
soldiers stating that the town entreated me to set aside the
before mentioned order on account of their great poverty. It
was more than 30 years since a ship from Spain had entered
that port so they had not the wherewithal to clothe themselves
nor any knives, hatchets, cutlasses and other necessary articles
for the use of their tillage and to give the Indians who for
want thereof render them very indifferent service so that they
suffer great necessities and that if this were not done they
requested permission to leave and serve Your Majesty in
some other part.
Notwithstanding all this, in fulfilment of the orders of
Your Majesty, I did not admit these allegations but issued a
new decree and commanded that the said ship should not be
admitted but that the orders should be duly observed offering
to remedy part of their necessities with my own salary and
telling them that I would send Don Juan Pacheco, a resident
merchant of the Island of Trinidad who happened at that
time to have some merchandise from Castile.
This was not accepted by the said Procurador as is all
proved by the autos which I have decreed in this matter.
With these orders the aforesaid Procurador was sent to
Not having received any news for more than three months
I proceeded to make an expedition to pacify the Indians of
this Island of Trinidad who were in rebellion and did not
wish to serve the Spaniards.
I carried out this duty with the few Spaniards of the
Island and some friendly Indians and received those who
warned by the punishment I inflict upon the bad ones in
my power, came and submitted peacefully and promised to
give service to the Spaniards and compelled them for their
subjection and instruction to settle on the outskirts of the
town and those parts which appeared most convenient.
In the month of April, 1661, I learnt from a passing
traveller who went from that town to the Island of Trinidad
that my orders had not been complied with. This obliged me
to go in person to the town of Guayana where on my arrival
I began punishing the disobedient. I therefore seized the
said ship as well as the merchandise on board.
By judicial process I condemned her adjudicating all to
Your Majesty and she was sold by public auction. Owing to
the great volume of the autos and the hurry of the journey
I have not been able to draw them up properly but will
transmit them later,
Thesegoods,Sire, were sold to MarcosMadroncro, vecino
of the town of San Miguel del Castillo and as there are not
any rich sureties in this town for the amount, he gave as
surety Captain Miguel de Ochagavia, a rich man of the town
of Barinas. The said merchandise was left intact with
two persons of the town of Guayana where they are at present
with my authority and that of Your Royal Officer granting
a term of five months in which to bring the money.
It happened that while I was in the Island of Trinidad
recovering from a grave attack of fever contracted in Guayana
that I was obliged to return there. Whilst some vessels were
going from Guayana to that of Barinas by the river, the
Carib Indians of the Caura encomendado to the vccinos of
the town, Guavqueries, Nepoies and others revolted in general
and killed all the people that were among them, more than
3 p 'rson3 including vecinos and strangers. The cause of this
rebellion was the incitement which the Dutch of the new
settlements have produced through the secret communication
which they hold with them.
I had no information of what had happened while in the
Island of Trinidad and came to Guavana to take the necessary
measures to punish the Indians. For this object I have sent
to the Governors of Venezuela, Cumana and Barinas to
request help in men besides what I have brought from
Trinidad in order not to leave the place without men at a
time when so many enemies surround me both Indians and
D.tch without having any friends save the Indians of the
village of San Pedro.
From this Your Majesty may gather the miserable state of
this Government so that regarding with the eyes of your
accustomed clemency you may command the remedy to be
applied wlhichl necessity demands and is most advantageous
to Your Royal Service. From what I see, it is otherwise an
impossibility for this town to last in the midst of so many
difficulties which threaten it ; it is in such a state that those
who live there are compelled to do so because 1 do not grant
them licences to go and now more so because the Indians who
had served them somewhat are revolted and there is no one to
make bread, bring water or cultivate the fields. It must be
abandoned if some remedy does not come within a year for
they are in despair. Although I may deny them permission
they will fly to some other part where they may find something
to cat and leave me alone. I encourage them so that it may
not be entirely abandoned solely in the hope of a remedy
suitable to the powerful and royal hand of Your Majesty.
PEDRO DE VIEDMA.