I ---- I
THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 61.
Letter from Don Juan de Eulate, Governor of Margarita to the
King of Spain.
Source : Additional Mss. 36322. British Museum. Published
by the courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
Translated from the Spanish.
In November of the past year 1632, I learnt that at
Punta de la Galera which is at the top of the Island of Trinidad
at the east and 80 leagues to windward of this Island, there
was a settlement of the enemy.
This news came to me from the people on a frigate which
coming from Havana was in great want of water and put in
to take it at the place where the enemy had settled who
prevented them and wounded several. The frigate was
obliged to put to sea and arrived at this Island and left
Juan Leonardo de Vertiz, one of the wounded who was unfit
to continue the voyage. This frigate was taking despatches
from the Governor of Havana to that of Cartagena.
In the month of February of this year there arrived at the
Punta del Tirano of this Island, some Portuguese who state
that at the said Punta de la Galera there are the said enemy
who have a piece of artillery mounted on shore and a ship
in the port and who are actively fortifying the place.
The Portuguese went there to take water and food for
which they had much need ; they were given a little cassava
and some water and the enemy ordered them to put to sea
with many threats of letting off a small cannon, by which
they were forced to proceed on their journey to this Island
in an ill conditioned chalupa with great danger of drowning.
From these reports and knowing how troublesome these
new neighbours can lbe to this Island as they have been at
Cumana and other places along the coast and how easily they
could settle on Tierra Firme at Maracapana and other places
to the great danger to the interests of Your Majesty, I decided
on an attack with the object of destroying this settlement and
arranged to go myself personally on the expedition and
attack, as experience has shown me that success in such
affairs depends more on the good arrangements and resolute
decision than on the number of men.
However no one in the Council agreed with this and the
Procurator General required me not to leave the Island but
to remain and continue in charge of the administration
committed to me.
I therefore resolved to send in my stead Don Juan Alvarez
de Eulate my eldest son, appointing him Captain in charge
of three companies of Spanish soldiers and fifty Guayquerie
Indian archers. They embarked in a small fleet of three
pirogues with necessary supplies, all at my expense, and I
gave them instructions and orders how to proceed during the
voyage as will be seen by Your Majesty in the reports and
autos of all that happened on this expedition.
The said Don Juan Alvarez de Eulate departed on the
12th March of this year and proceeding in accordance with
instructions, arrived at the leeward of the Island of Trinidad ;
from here they proceeded along the north coast which is
regarded as very wonderful since no one goes by this way
along the said Island because of the strong currents and
I gave the orders to go by the north coast because along
the south coast of this Island are villages of the Indians wiho
are united with the said enemies and had the expedition gone
by this coast, the said Indians would have seen the little
fleet and given warning to the enemy and the satisfactory
result would not have been achieved.
Without being seen, he arrived with all the men in good
order at the port of the enemy settlement and the Captain
with two soldiers went into the forest to reconnoitre the
settlement and its fortifications and to decide whence to
attack. At the break ofday they attacked with such persistence
and resolute determination that the enemy yielded; one
soldier had been killed and a few wounded.
The fortifications were dismantled, the houses burnt and
the ship scuttled and on the I2th April they returned to this
Island with 1 prisoners among them Captain Enrico Colto
who said that he was a Knight of the Golden Spur of the
King of England; and also the artillery, guns, arms and
warlike supplies as is stated in the accompanying report
which also discloses the object of these said enemies, the
settlements which they have in these parts and the produce
Those who distinguished themselves in this expcditicn
were Bias de Heredia and Juan de Brito, Captains of two
pirogues ; also Pedro de Ayerra and Luis Rolon de Arnmas,
a soldier who had a curious experience during the attack,
being knocked over by a musket ball in the thigh which
entered the body although Armas was protected by a shield ;
in spite of this he got up with great courage and attacked
the enemy being one of the first to close with them. Also
Pedro de Ayerra, although only occupied in office work yet
he offered readily to go on this expedition and was among
the first to reach the fort by the side of his Captain completing
in every way the duties of an experienced soldier.
To Your Majesty I commend these soldiers as worthy of
honour and I consider their services of great value.
Moreover the said Blas de Heredia, Juan de Brito and
Luis Rolon de Armas when Boduini Enrrico came to this
Island with the fleet which took Porto Rico,
distinguished themselves in the strong resistance made to the
landing of the said Boduino ; especially Bias de Heredia
deserved great reward on that occasion.
As nothing was then awarded to any of them I beseech
Your Majesty to award three commissions as Captains to
honour them as a reward, so that in future they may continue
to exert themselves in the service of Your Majesty as hitherto
and that others in the hope of similar reward may be
stimulated to imitate them.
The LicenciadoJuan de Rivas, a man of sound character,
has for ten years with general satisfaction carried on a school
in this Island where there is no other teacher. As soon as
he learnt that it was decided to send this expedition, he
voluntarily offered to go as chaplain and his services were
much needed as this expedition was made during Lent and
The said Juan de Rivas carried out all the duties rcquircd
by the Church, administering the Holy Sacrament and at the
attack with great charity gave spiritual help to the wounded.
For this service to Your Majesty I recommend as an act of
Grace to this ecclesiastic who is the poorest in the Island,
a gift of 300 reales. I beg Your Majesty also to honour him
with the first vacancy as a Canon in Porto Rico, San Domingo
or Venezuela and I assure Your Majesty that the reward
thus given will be a great incentive to others to offer themselves
for the service of Your Majesty.
I beg Your Majesty to submit to the Councils for War
and for the Indies for very careful consideration, the deposition
of Enrrique Colto and the report which I send with them
since I consider it certain that unless the enemy which is
reported to be in Velbis (Berbice) is at once evicted, this
settlement will greatly increase as at present they send each
year a ship with supplies, as the said Enrrico deposes.
Also be it remembered that if they increase they will soon
make themselves masters of the navigation of the River
Orinoco and assisted by the Indians (who are very numerous
and united with the enemy) will go up to the New Kingdom
Thus it is clear that the interests of Your Majesty require
the destruction of this settlement without delay.
I could accomplish this if Your Majesty would be pleased
to send me orders to take the Indians which appear to me
necessary from Paria and from the Island of Trinidad and
to compel the vecinos to supply necessary articles and to go
at the rate of pay usually allowed by Your Majesty in these
parts to soldiers on service.
This is the least they could do as nothing will come from
the Royal Treasury as, subject to the approval of Your
Majesty, I will do this at my own cost as I did the expedition
to Punta de la Galera and also the reconnoitring of the
Island of Tortuga.
Also as Don Juan Alvarez de Eulate has performed
efficiently the duties committed to his charge and with such
good success in the service of Your Majesty ; he may be put
in command of this one and so that he may serve Your
Majesty with greater renown than at present, I beg that
Your Majesty may grant him a distinction in the Military
Order and after destroying tile settlement at Velbis, the
command of a company in the galleons de la guardia de
May Our Lord preserve Your Majesty as Christendom
JUAN DE EULATE.
aoth July, 1633.
Addendum to the above.
I learnt that in the Island of Trinidad there was great
want of wine, clothes and other supplies which are brought
from Spain to maintain human life and that they were in
such want that they could not celebrate mass for want of wine
and that because of the lack of supplies the vecinos were
thinking of abandoning the place.
Thereupon collecting what supplies I could to help them,
these were sent with Juan de Mendieta who took to that
Island the wine, clothes oil and other things that have been
brought here in the register ship to maintain this land.
He pointed out the dangers and many risks of this voyage
by sea such as the Caribs and other enemies so that I sent
Don Juan my son with some soldiers as an escort to protect
the vessel containing the wine and other articles which
Juan de Mendieta was taking and which were to succour the
vecinos of the Island of Trinidad and which were so urgently
needed as witnesses declare in the report herewith.
Also attached is a report from Don Benito Arias Montana,
Governor of Cumana. He reports that the Dutch had made
a fort at Unare where they were lading io urcas with salt.
He had attacked them with 120 Spaniards and 200 Indians
in 16 pirogues. They killed Ioo men and took the fort with
io pieces of artillery.
The Dutch were also at Tortuga loading 18 ships with
salt. I sent my son, Don Juan Alvarez with 3 pirogues, some
Spaniards and 60 Indians to evict them. They defeated the
Dutch, killing the Captain, 17 men and taking one vessel.
JUAN DE EULATE.