S8/ 7/1595. |
THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 20.
Despalch from Simon de Bolivar. Contador of Margarita to the
King of Spain.
So'rcx : -Aiditional Mss. 36316 ff. 168-165. British Museum.
Published by courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
and of the Argonaut Press (Discoverie of Guiana, by
Dr. V. T. Harlow).
8th July, 1595.
Domingo de Vera writes to the Council on some matters
of importance to the service of Your Majesty which concerns
my duties, such as the frequent raids by the privateers on this
Island, and the events in Trinidad, and I desire not to fail
to inform Your Majesty of certain particulars about them
and especially the Trinidad affair which is important and
concerns Your Majesty's interests.
There came to that Island four English ships over three
months ago the name cf whose General was a gentleman
named Guaterral who is said to be Governor of the County
of Cornwall and Captain of the Queen's Guard and either
by treachery or some other means they seized the Governor
Captain Antonio de Berrio and killed 22 soldiers; after
this they were for over two months up the River Orinoco
with three boats obtaining a quantity of metal.
Of all this we were informed by three or four pirogues
which came to this Island to inform us and as nine more
ships belonging to this General were expected, they were
determined to come to this Island and to Cumana and even
to Caracas and to all the coast of the main. They were
not in search of money but to do all the harm and damage
possible in order to gain a reputation.
Those who came from there gave us this news. They also
told of the cruel slaughter of the soldiers all of which caused
us here much concern.
The Royal Chest and account books were in the open
country for more than two months and nothing could be done.
Nor could I le .'n anything of my official business although
the Roya! Officials of this Island sent me some convicts
from San Domingo who arrived here about April.
There was nothing but war and preparations for war;
Day and night we had arms by our side. But it pleased
God at this time to send here as Governor of the Island,
Captain Pedro de Salazar, a man of wide experience in the
affairs of war and no less prudent. He set to work to make
great preparations and entrenchments around the town
only leaving one opening. This he did with great
determine: tion to fight the enemy to the last man or until
the enemy should be exterminated.
The Governor frequently sent pirogues to Trinidad
with Juan Gallego to find out what the enemy were doing
and they always brought news gathered from the Indians
who although friendly to the enemy and incited ours to
disobedience were induced by gifts and bribes to tell that
they were waiting for the boats which had gone to explore
the River Orinoco and the other ships which they were
Among those who came fleeing from the enemy were
Captain Diego Velasco, Captain Felipe de Santiago
and the priest Fray Domingo who by great good fortune
were able to escape.
In the midst of this anxiety it pleased the Lord that,
the nine vessels dhey awaited should pass around the north
side of Trinidad without falling in with this General and came
in sight of this Island off the port of Panpata on Monday
night, the 29th May ; and as we were vigilant here the
guards gave notice that they had seen the enemy from the
fort of this town.
They approached this said port by moonlight and sent
a launcla to reconnoitre the harbour. Then Ensign Major
Jorge Gomez, who was busy there on the fort which was
being built by the Governor on the hill above the artillery
platform, ordered two guns to be fired and when those in
the lancha perceived that they were discovered and that
there were people and soldiers guarding the place, they made
off and anchored in Punta de Piedras where they remained
some days without attempting a landing and departed thence
without daring to land a single man.
We believed that these boats were not the same as those
which had been at Trinidad as they were more numerous nor
had they with them a kind of galley which they had made
in Trinidad from a vessel they had captured and from negros
We remained as watchful as before and we decided to
despatch another pirogue to Trinidad to ascertain if the
enemy were still there and also to make known the extreme
anxiety from which the people of this Island were suffering
with so much labour, setting of sentinels and keeping
watch and to seek means of alleviating it.
The pirogue returned bringing the news that the enemy
were still there at anchor and several days passed.
Then one day there appeared off the same port
of Manpatare three big ships which passed by without
anchoring. There can be no doubt that they belong to the
After the lapse of about 20 days there appeared four
vessels with some lanchas which came towards the port of
Manpatare. On their being seen and suspected of being
those of Trinidad, the Governor despatched to the port
50 mounted arquebusiers who proceeded to its defence.
Tile enemy seeing so many people in the place, passed
on and anchored at Punta de Mosquitos where there was a
settlement and although the pirogues, having been warned,
had hidden in the River Cabras, the enemy here put shore
Captain Alvaro Jorge, Juan Lopez, and two others whiom
they held prisoners with Captain Antonio de Berrio, who
had written many letters to this town.
I was present when we were asked for the ransom of
one thousand four hundred ducats, at which sum they had
fixed the value of his person and that of Captain Alvaro Jorge
who brought these letters. He made appeals with the result
that the money was found and handed to him by Francisco
Gonzales de Lugo. But the Governor would not on any
account consent to the proposed arrangement as he considered
the conditions had not been fulfilled. The promise
concerning him had not been kept and they had broken
Thus it followed that after a stay of two days they
sailed away taking with them the said Antonio de Berrio.
They went to the Cumana River where on the eve of St. John
they landed 210 men and marched against the town where
they met with such resistance that 75 of them were killed.
A separate report goes along with this which Your
Majesty will see is taken from a letter sent to me by Francisco
de Vides describing what happened to the enemy ; a copy
of which was sent to the Council. It describes how some
soldiers had been taken prisoner in order that they might
be exchanged for Antonio de Berrio ; how they sent him
ashore without ransom ; how he is the guest of Francisco
de Vides and is being entertained at this house and is hourly
expected here in this town. A prisoner with a leg broken
by a bullet wound has been restored to liberty at the request
of Antonio de Bcrrio.
This is what has happened here this year as Your Majesty
I wrote to the Council and to Dr. Pedro Gutierrez that
it would be aiding the service of God and Your Majesty and
to the benefit of this Island and of the neighboring ports
that this Island of Trinidad should be populated because
the enemy has departed with the design of returning within
six months to colonise it.
This is believed by all who have been there; if it is
hoped to colonise, Francisco de Vides is not at all suitable
nor any other person here.
I said that Your Majesty as a man of experience having
so much knowledge of all these lands could effect it by
ordering that 300 men shall be brought here, fifty of them
being married. They would do well here and would defend
the place against enemies who might come and endeavour
to settle it. With fewer people it cannot be done in a
satisfactory manner because should it be attempted with
fewer any passing enemy who might appear could devastate it.
I suggest that Your Majesty should use all means that
may appear proper to impress upon theCouncil the importance
of this settlement to Your Majesty.
I have also written to Francisco de Vides that he on
his part should write to the Council that Your Majesty be
pleased to entertain this project and I am given to understand
that all is well and it shall be done.
Please God that they who landed at Cumana may come
to land in this Island here for 1 believe in view of the excellent
order existing here now that not one of them would be able
to l ve the place again ; public feeling in this town is at a
high pitci on having such good fortune.
There is nothing further to say except may God preserve
Your Majesty for this service for many years.
Island of Margarita, SIMON de BOLIVAR.
8th July, 1595.