THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 136.
Letter from the Cabildo of Trinidad to the King.
27TH DECEMBER, 1637.
Source :-Additional Mss. 36324. British Museum. Published
by courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum. Translated
from the Spanish.
We are advised from the town of Santo Thome of Guayana
by the Governor of these Provinces, Don Diego de Escobar,
that the said town has been taken, burnt and plundered by
the enemy ; the Dutch with Indian Caribs from the River
Bervis and other tribes from the Orinoco, Amacuro and
The Dutch threaten this Island of Trinidad with a powerful
fleet and are in league with the numerous tribes and with
the very Indians of this Island who have all risen in rebellion,
the Dutch being so mixed with the Indians that they marry
with the Carib women as well as with those of other tribes.
This is a most efficacious and important means of attaining
their end which is to make themselves masters of all these
parts both of the Orinoco and of this Island putting us all
to the sword. They have always wished to found settlements
in all these parts to extend their dominion if possible to the
confines of the New Kingdom of Granada.
We have to inform Your Majesty that every possible
measure was taken to put this town in a state of defence
with the small number of soldiers at our command but on
the 14th of October of this year 1637, the Governor Don Diego
de Escobar being in Guayana, the Dutch with the Indian
tribes of Aruacs, Caribs, Tibitibes and Nepuyos came in
great numbers to this Island of Trinidad and made their
entrance by the port and river Caroni. They took prisoner
the watchman kept at the mouth of the Caroni, by stratagem
as they had brought with them two guides taken in the assault
on Guayana when they sacked that town. With everything
thus in their favour they began their attack on us three
quarters of an hour before daybreak.
They were resisted by the guard stationed at the Church
door, assisted by all those who had taken alarm, special
care being taken to remove the Blessed Sacrament. We
were powerless to prevent them burning the Church as also
all the ornaments and articles of Divine Service to be found
therein, nothing escaping. In the same way all the houses
of the town were burnt.
The enemy made every effort to take the Negro slaves
of the inhabitants as well as the few Indians in our employ,
being about 50 in number. In their retreat we pursued
them to the port where they embarked with much loss both
of Flemings and Indians. They succeeded in taking with
them some of the Negro slaves who had assisted them in
burning and sacking the town and who had made known
to them the small force at our command. It pleased God
to help us and to prevent them from establishing themselves here
and it so happened that they retreated with the loss oflife reported.
We now have recent information despatched by our
Governor, Don Diego de Escobar, from the said town of
Guayana that the enemy not content with what they have
accomplished in that town and this, have the intention of
returning to complete the work of our destruction. This
news is confirmed by the declaration of an Indian, taken
prisoner at the sacking of Guayana and who was captured
by them in the aforesaid retreat. This man reports that
the Dutch have the intention of settling in this Island as also
The enemy are aware of our inability to resist them and
that being so few we must necessarily fall into their hands.
We have therefore decided to beseech Your Majesty to come
to our assistance by sending soldiers, arms, supplies and
clothing to bring relief to our destitution and that of
our wives and children and particularly the destruction of
the Holy Church which we have reported.
We beseech Your Majestythat this relief maybe despatched
as speedily as possible taking pity on the serious and harassed
state of this poor community, destitute of all help but that
from God and Your Majesty. If relief does not speedily
arrive there is no doubt that the enemy will possess themselves
of the two places aforesaid. This would be to the great
disadvantage of Your Majesty as this Island is situated to
windward of all the mainland of Cumana, Caracas and
Margarita. As to ourselves, we should migrate to other
places to serve Your Majesty where we should be more able
to defend ourselves and where there are fortifications.
All this trouble has been caused because the enemy have
heard of the quick-silver mines of Guayana and also of the
benefit to be obtained from the fertility o' this Island and
the commerce with Indians and the woods for dyeing which
could be done here and of which great profit may be made.
May God grant the Catholic person of Your Majesty,
so necessary to the Christian world, many years of life.
AGUSTIN SANTIAGO. GASPAR SANCHEZ.
MIGUEL DE MORILLA. FRANCISCO Ruiz MONS.
AGUSTIN DE CANAS. JACINTO DE MENDOZA.
Island of Trinidad,
December 27th, 1637.
By Order of the Cabildo,
JUAN DE PENALUER,