THE ,TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 100.
Diego Lopez, de Escobar to the Audiencia.
SIth April 1637. St. Thome, Guayana.
Source : Additional MSS. 36324. British Museum. Published
by courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
Translated from the Spanish.
SIRE-On the 20th June I landed in the Island of Trinidad
to administer this Island and Guayana with all that appertains
to its government. I found the Governor, Christopval de
Aranda, my predecessor in the Island, and the whole place
in great danger through two settlements of Dutch being
therein and all the Indians in revolt and united witl them.
They had taken ad\ intage of the Island of Tabaco close
to this where the Dutch were fortified and possessed
28 pieces of artillery in one fortification and 7-8 in another,
with a considerable settlement of people and soldiers.
If Your Highness may be pleased to command those
reports to be inspected, do so for by favour of God with but
8o men we have obtained such great victories and all at
my own cost by bringing soldiers from wherever I could
obtain them, for there is not a real in the Treasury or in
that of Guayana as will be shown by the certificate of the
When I saw that affairs were so desperate and that the
enemy wanted to attack us in September last I felt obliged
to go forth since while making the official enquiries about
my predecessor, I had received news from various sources;
without waiting an instant I began the attack being
present at everything in person.
I have also received advice that the Dutch are fortified
in Essequibo in union with the Indians their confederates
who are many. They are collecting all the nations of those
parts, all the coast of Guayana and the River Orinoco and
propose to come and attack this said town which is quite
unprovidec with men, arms and ammunition and everything
for there is not one that has a shirt as it is many years since
a vessel came from Spain and the inhabitants have no one
to whom they can sell the products of the country.
The enemy is strongly fortified on an islet formed by the
River Essequibo ; they have a quantity of artillery and a
number of people and the constant assistance of 4-b ships
from Holland and they have often had 12 together, for the
trade and traffic arc very great and the Indians frequent
them willingly for the sake of the considerable articles of
barter they give them.
That trade grows still more and is increasing daily and
the Dutch arc extending their settlements for in another river
which is called Bervis, they have another fortification
and are making every cflort to extend further. The remedy
must be very speedy so that by the help of God they may be
ejected from their present position and their designs may be
prevented, for il they attain their object in possessing themscl es
of the Orinoco and destroying Guayana, they will become
masters of the best land in the Indies for their merchandise
and trade and the most fruitful in all kinds of provisions.
They will obtain anything easily for there are only 30-40
men in this town capable of bearing arms and those arms
have been supplied by myself. The munitions are so few
that they will not be able to fight for even one day against
a powerful enemy who is confederated with the Indians.
These enemies will be at the rear of the New Kingdom and
on the safest and best provisioned road thereto as Your
Highness has been fully informed in the reports I have sent.
With 300 men well provided with munitions and with
a quantity of Indians whom I can secure by gifts and with
the money which Your Highness may be pleased to grant
for supplies and ships, with the help of God I would undertake
this expedition, trusting in His Divine Majesty to give me the
same good success as on former occasions. Thle same thing
might be attempted in Berbis which is a journey of a day
and a half frorr Essequibo. In this way all these coasts would
be made secure and Your Highness would be well served.
I beseech Your Highness to order an abundant supply of
munitions and whatever may further conduce to the Royal
Don Pedro de Bivero is a gentleman of responsibility and
experience, and inhabitant of this town and he is bearing
this despatch at my own cost since the Treasury has no funds.
I beg Your Highness to be pleased to order the payment
of the cost of this journey as it has been made in the service
of Your Highness.
From the reports that I have received stating that there
are quicksilver mines near this town and having seen samples
highly purified, I have ordered Captain Cristoval de Vera,
my Lieutenant in this town, to take with him Captain Pedro
de Vargas and Juan de Penaluer, persons who understand
such mines, to obtain further quantities ; may Your Highness
command the metal to be inspected and order what may
conduce to your service and send the necessary instructions.
I do not discuss the matter further because it is one of such
danger and so open to covetousness and the enemy is so close
I do this with all possible secrecy as I ai in such want
of men and so unprovided with everything. I amn writing
to our Lord the King to the same effect informing him of the
advice I have sent to Your Highness, having caused the ore
to be smelted and found it produced quicksilver and in good
quantity as shown by the certificate sent herewith and as
Your Highness will command to be seen in the metal now
The mine occupies a considerable area and shows richness
even without working for the quicksilver. In causing it to
be smelted in order to ascertain the purity I have incurred
great expense as there is no apparatus for this purpose in
this country nor a maravedi in the Royal Treasury as shown
by the certificate of the Royal Officials. I pray Your Highness
to order money to be sent so that I may be paid or some
grant given for since I entered this government, great expenses
have fallen upon me in the attacks which I decided to make,
as it was in so desperate a condition.
Some gold is likewise found here; all this and the fact
that it is a land well provisioned and also that the Governor
of Margarita, Don Juan de Olate, contrary to agreement
has hanged the people from Tabaco, cause us greatly to
fear the coming of the enemy and I am advised of this very
point by Francisco Nunez Melian who obtained the news
from a Dutch prisoner of Curacoa, that the people of Brazil
in case they relinquish that post or are ejected from it, are
desirous of coming to settle in this government.
I am informed that the Dutch continue to approach
nearer to this town and that some of them have settled among
the Caribs, their allies and that they have three other settle-
ments and forts further on and that from our river they
obtain a quantity of silver ; there is almost a province of
As we are in this condition and danger I have resolved
to begin a fort and put therein some artillery I have purchased
so as to have some kind of defence. I do all this at my own
expense as well as the discovery of tile mines which I assure
Your Highness give such a great show of metal; for want
of apparatus and some one skilled to manage it, the smelting
was ill done and much was wasted so there is difficulty in
appreciating the value; the Indians collect it in tubes.
I am sending to Your Highness the confession made by
the son of the Governor of Tabaco and by some other
prisoners so that Your Highness may be more fully acquainted
with the strength of the enemy.
May God preserve Your Highness for many years.
DIEGO LOPEZ DE ESCOBAR.
Guayana IIth April, 1637.