THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 169.
A Report to the Council of the Indies on the Island of Trinidad.
Source :-British Museum. Additional Mss. 36320.
Published by the courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
Translated from the Spanish.
7th October, 1614.
The Lieutenant-Governor of the Island of Trinidad by
letter of I6th of June 1614 reports a great want of arms
and munitions for defence. He asks for 50 muskets, Io cwt.
of powder with six of gun matches and as many of lead.
The Council of War has approved and has issued orders
to the Director of Artillery to deliver these at the same price
as they cost His Majesty.
JUAN RUIZ DE CONTRERAS.
Enclosures in this file of documents.
No. I.-Don Bernardo de Vargas, Governor of Margarita,
in a letter to His Majesty of ioth July, 1613, reported that
he had information (confirmed by another from an inhabitant
of Trinidad of which he sent the original) that in the country
of the friendly Aruacas not far from Margarita on the coast
of the Mainland, some of the enemy had settled by favour
of the Caribs with the intention of cultivating tobacco. He
begged leave from His Majesty to allow him to leave a
Lieutenant in his place while he went to subdue the Caribs
and drive the enemy from their settlement.
No. 2.-In a letter of 12th July of the same year,
Don Bernardo de Vargas gave information of the settlements
which are being made by the enemy in the Island of Trinidad
and on the coast of Guayana where with the friendship of
the Caribs they are cultivating tobacco extensively. He
recommends that they should be driven out before they make
fortifications on account of the danger to the surrounding
districts. For this reason it would be well if the galleons on
their journey out in 1614, were to go to this Island and leave
there 50 soldiers with arms and munitions. With 50 others
used to the climate and acquainted with the coast, these men
could attack the enemy under the command of the Governor
who should be made aware of these plans. These said soldiers
should be paid by the inhabitants of the two towns. If this
matter be delayed, more expense and preparation will be
necessary to drive them out.
No. 3.-The Cabildo of Trinidad in a letter of
30th June, 1613, having given His Majesty an account of the
state of affairs in that Island where they are always persecuted
by enemies, declares further that at that time a privateer was
in the port attempting to anchor and threatening them
that when other ships they were now expecting, should
arrive they would lay waste the City.
The Cabildo also reports that at that time Antonio
de Muxica, Lieutenant-Governor of Guayana, in a letter
of 25th June asked their assistance in ejecting the enemy
who were making settlements in the rivers in union with the
Caribs and sowing tobacco. Because of the damage they do,
the Aruac Chiefs had come with a letter from the said
Lieutenant (which is herein enclosed) asking for help since the
Flemish and Caribs steal the friendly Indians and carry them
off to their settlements to employ them in cultivating tobacco.
The Cabildo also reports that in the Florentines (Corentyn)
are more than fifty married Dutch who commit insolent
robberies which must be ended. There being but few people
in the Island they had despatched Captain Andres Garcia
Pardo to get arms and munitions from Margarita.
No. 4.-Antonio de Muxica Buitron, Lieutenant-Governor
of Guayana, in the absence of Sancho de Alquiza, in a letter
of 30th May, 1614, reports that the insolence and ill treatment
suffered by the Aruacas from the Flemish and Caribs was
so great that he proceeded to a River called Corcntyn,
200 leagues from that town where the Flemish and Caribs
had a fort with artillery and swivel guns. He took with
him 34 musketeers and 300 friendly Indians and arriving
nearly at midnight, he called on them to surrender several
times. They only replied with jeers and ridicule so the
Spaniards set fire to this fort so that not one of the Flemish
escaped alive and all were burned.
He reported that it would be well to free the coast of
them entirely, for from the River Maranon to the Orinoco
there were three or four more of their plantations which
were very considerable. They had possessed themselves
of the mouths of these two rivers and are making themselves
masters of the produce and trade of the Indians. This is
a serious matter and makes it necessary that the City of
Guayana should have sufficient men, artillery and munitions
for its defence.
No. 5.-In another letter of the same date, Antonio
de Muxica sent the plan of the fort which the Flemish had
In the Council of the 24th July, 16 14, it was ordered
that the letters relating to these enemy settlements on these
coasts should be laid before the next Council of War.
In the Council of the gth September, 1614, it was decided
that this matter should be laid at once before the Council
of War so far as concerned the provision of arms.
No. 6.--Don Juan Tostado who in the absence of Sancho
de Alquiza governs the Island of Trinidad, in a letter of the
i6th June, 1614, relates that he hanged several Flemish whom
he had captured in a small vessel having delivered one of
them alive to Don Gcronimo de Portugal in 1613. He reports
that he has persecuted and given such ill welcome to those
who have attempted to come to the port that they have
never returned. For this reason trade with the enemy has
been ousted from all parts of the Island. About 60 leagues
from Trinidad on the mainland at San Thome on the River
Orinoco in Guayana, is now the centre of this traffic and
the resort of foreign ships. The Lieutenant of that place
should be called upon to give an account of the state of
In June, 1613, the Lieutenant of Guayana while without
arms and sailing along the coast found the Flemings and
Caribs settled there. He therefore sent to ask assistance
from the Cabildo of Trinidad to go and destroy this settlement
of the Flemings who had fortified themselves and were
growing tobacco on one of the rivers. On receiving notice
thereof Don Juan Tostado assisted him by sending 12 soldiers
under a Captain without any expense to His Majesty. With
22 more whom the Lieutenant of Guayana took with him,
they burnt the fort of the Flemings and destroyed it. For
this reason the 50 men asked for by the Governor of
Margarita for this undertaking were not necessary and it
would seem that he asked for them more on account of the
profit which might accrue to himself than for any other
Juan Tostado also reported that about 20 days ago some
Indians of this Island brought the news that they had seen
a number of Carib pirogucs on the southern coast of the
Island in company with some Flemish ships. These are
the ships which the Flemish in the fort were expecting to
load their tobacco. They are now seeking revenge and it
is feared that they have evil intentions on the City of San
Josef and there are neither arms nor ammunition in the
City for its defence nor for that of the Island.
Don Juan Tostado beseeched Your Majesty to send
directly 50 muskets, r1 cwts of powder and an equal quantity
of lead and gun matches which will be sufficient for some time.
For these supplies a ship is sent to fetch them without delay.
This ship is being loaded with produce in Trinidad, the
returns from which are to provide the inhabitants with
It is proved by witnesses that the Island of Trinidad is
surrounded by the Flemings and Caribs both by sea and
land so that the inhabitants live in constant want of many
things which they cannot go to fetch for fear of the enemy.
The Caribs even come as far as the City to rob and illtreat
them. This is the result of their strong alliance with the
Flemish who always go together in attacking the Aruacas,
taking many of them prisoners and carrying off their wives.
With the help of the soldiers sent to the Lieutenant of
Guayana, their fort was burned and all perished except
two who were distant from the fort. These gave information
that they were waiting for ships to load the tobacco and other
produce which they had prepared. These are the ships
which the Indians have reported off the south coast with
the Caribs. In consequence the City is in a tumult and in
great danger of being taken by the enemy unless His Majesty
commands them to be assisted with guns, gunpowder, matches
and lead so that the inhabitants and passing soldiers may
be provided when occasion demands.
In the Council of War on the 29th August, Don Francisco
de Tajada was instructed to enquire into the contents of these
papers and particularly those from Francisco de Verrio.
He was to enquire whether Sancho de Alquiza was charged
with the duty of ejecting the enemy from those parts.
No. 7.-Juan Diaz de Mansilla, Parish Priest and Vicar
of the Island of Trinidad, in a letter of 3oth June, 1614,
advises that he has been informed for certain that between
the river called Guayapoco and the River Orinoco, a distance
of 200 leagues, there are four Flemish settlements which
should be destroyed.
He states that Don Juan Tostado is not well looked
upon in the Island because of the vexations and molestation
he has caused the inhabitants. There are many more worthy
to be Governor and entire credit should not be given to
his reports. To gain the goodwill of several who have
praised him, he has allowed them to keep some of the Indian
women like prisoners in their houses for two or three years
which prevents them from receiving instruction in Our
Holy Faith, an evil which ought to be remedied.
No. 8.-In a letter of the 2nd September, 1614, the
Casa de Contratacion made known what had been brought
by a ship which came from that Island and forwarded the
declaration. This stated that the Lieutenant writes that
there are no longer any Flemish ships to be seen as they
have been frightened by his treatment of them and also
there is nothing in the Island but tobacco. The port is
open and undefended and the inhabitants fear that the
Flemish would come before a ship could come from Spain.
They therefore determined to prepare and send this ship
laden with tobacco to bring back to them linen and clothing
as well as arms and munitions.
It is thought fitting that this ship should be sent back
with all speed carrying the things for which they ask.
In pursuance of the decision in Council of the
9th September, the Casa was instructed to despatch the ship
with all possible speed so that being provided with what
is wanted, it may sail when ordered. This matter is to be laid
before the Council of War.
No. 9.-The Casa de Contratacion in a letter of
20th September, 1614, say that in conformity with the order
of the Council they have sent 50 muskets, o1 cwt. of powder,
6 cwt. of gun matches and the same of lead to this Island.
It was agreed to take the necessary funds from the deposits
for the making of artillery. The purchase and dispatch was
entrusted to Don Philipe de Manrrique. With these arms
this ship should sail with the Fleet to the Main and he should
therefore arrange accordingly. A Royal Order was sent
to the Governor of the Island of Trinidad to remit this money
for these supplies at the risk of the Royal Exchequer with
freightage and costs for the satisfaction of this debt to the