I i I
THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 188.
A Report by Juan Tostado, Lieutenant Governor of Trinidad.
Source :-British Museum. Additional Mss. 36320.
Published by the authority of the Trustees of the British Museum.
Translated from the Spanish.
SAN JOSEF, TRINIDAD,
i6th February, 1614.
In this City of San Josef de Oruna in the Island of Trinidad
on the i6th of February, 1614, Don Juan Tostado Lieutenant
Governor in this Island for the Governor Sancho de Alquiza
for the King, Our Lord declared that :
Forasmuch as in the month of August in the year 1613,
he sent to the Corentin River twelve soldiers under Captain
Melchor Cortes whom he appointed in command,
to go on His Majesty's service to the assistance of the
Lieutenant Governor of Guayana in whose district certain
Dutch Lutherans, rebels aga nst the Royal Crown, were
settled so as to make war upon them and to dislodge them.
For from this beginning of a settlement, if it be not
interrupted, very serious mischief might well arise seeing
that it is on the mainland.
And God, Our Lord, was pleased to grant that the
assistance and aid sent, was of such avail that this Dutch fort
was taken and burnt with all who were in it ; they also took
from them a patache and a launch and destroyed many
plantations of tobacco which had been sown so that the entire
settlement was completely devastated and destroyed.
Whereas it is fitting to render due account to His Majesty
of what is contained herein, I have ordered and do hereby
order the Captain and the soldiers who were sent for this said
purpose to re!ate and declare all that occurred in full detail.
And this I provide, order and sign.
By his command
JHOAN DE ANDRADA,
Notary Public to the Cabildo.
DEPOSITION OF CAPTAIN MELCHOR CORTES.
Forthwith on the day, month and year aforesaid, for the
purpose of these depositions and before me the present Notary,
the said Lieutenant caused to appear before him, Captain
Melchor Cortes, citizen of this said City, who took and was
admitted upon his oath in due legal foim by the sign of the
Cross which he made with his right hand; having taken
the oath he promised to tell the truth in what he might know
and might be questioned and being examined according
to the tenour of the foregoing, he declared as follows.
That it is true that he went from this City by order of
the said Don Juan Tostado, Lieutenant, as Captain and
Commander of twelve soldiers whom lie took under his orders
from the said City with arms and munitions and all else
necessary to an undertaking so arduous as that on
which they were proceeding in the service of His Majesty.
He went from this City in the month of August last with the
men and the soldiers and everything else requisite and embarked
in the port of this City to go on a voyage of notorious danger
from the sea, the Caribs and other enemies.
That he spent in this voyage about 60 days, the distance
being so great and the sea so boisterous ; that when this
witness reached the said rivers, the Captain and Lieutenant,
Antonio de Muxica had not yet arrived so he waited for
him in the mouth of the Vauruma where he arrived at the
end of 40 days ; that they went from there together taking
the aforesaid 22 soldiers with everything necessary and a
Father ; that they spent about two months in going from
there to the place where the Dutch were settled for those
coasts are very dangerous and difficult to navigate.
That when they reached the place where the Dutch were
posted, they obtained from the Indians information about
the condition of the settlement and the fort which they had
built for their defence; that taking suitable guides for
the purpose including an Indian woman who had fled from
the service of these Dutch, they arrived at the place by night
having landed half a league from the fort so as not to be seen ;
that they tried at several points to enter unperceived but
found it guarded by too large a force so that being
discovered they began to fight with one another.
That they admonished them to surrender peaceably
but they would not submit on any conditions but defended
themselves courageously with the assistance of the Caribs
who likewise fought stubbornly until it became evident that
the were doing great damage to the Spanish soldiers and it
was necessary to set fire to the fort which as its roof was of
straw or palm, burnt fiercely and all in it perished.
That this fort had four swivel guns and two small bronze
pieces with which and their muskets the Dutch had defended
themselves; that in the fort they found six men dead and
burnt and whether there were more is difficult to determine
as everything was completely destroyed and all had perished.
That amongst the burnt ruins was found a great quantity
of booty, axes, knives, cutlasses and other things which they
keep to trade with the Caribs whose daughters they marry;
that likewise two Dutchmen were captured who had been
away from this fort on another river four days away ; these
Captain Muxica took away as prisoners.
That it was found that they had sown a great quantity
of tobacco which seems to have been their principal object;
that a patache and launch belonging to the Dutch were
taken and burnt.
That in this fight, eight of the men whom he had taken
with him, were wounded as he was also; of those under
Captain Muxica he does not remember more than that
they were the more severely wounded as they had opposed
the Caribs who had been so valiant and numerous; that
the Caribs had come to help the Dutch on account of the
great advantages they gain from them.
That from the Dutch that were captured it was learnt
that ships were expected to take the tobacco which had been
sown and also that which they hoped to get by trading with
That from their departure to their return to this said City
five months and two days was spent; for his part he considers
that a very great service was rendered to God, Our Lord and
to His Majesty. For if the Dutch had settled there permanently
as they had resolved to do, it would have been a great danger
to the Aruacs with the Dutch and Caribs so close on
That this is the truth of what took place as far as he can
remember under the obligation of the oath which he has
taken ; that this is well known to the soldiers who were in his
company; that having heard this read over to him, he affirmed
and ratified it and signed it with his name saying that he is
about 32 years of age and that he has made this statement
to the best of his recollection and therefore signed it.
JHOAN DE ANDRADA,
In the City of San Josef de Oruna,
Island of Trinidad.
16th February, 1614.