Volume 8, Chapter 10 -- Early Voyages of the English to India, after the Establishment of the East India Company: *section index*

Volume 8, Chapter 10, Section 7 -- Voyage of Captain David Middleton, in 1607, to Bantam and the Moluccas.[263]


Captain David Middleton in the Consent, appears to have been intended to accompany the fleet under Captain Keeling. But setting out on the 12th March, 1607, from Tilbury Hope, while Captain Keeling did not reach the Downs till the 1st April, Middleton either missed the other ships at the appointed rendezvous, or purposely went on alone. The latter is more probable, as Purchas observes that the Consent kept no concent with her consorts. By the title in Purchas, we learn that the Consent was a vessel of 115 tons burden. This short narrative appears to have been written by some person on board, but his name is not mentioned. It has evidently suffered the pruning knife of Purchas, as it commences abruptly at Saldanha bay, and breaks off in a similar manner at Bantam. Yet, in the present version, it has been a little farther curtailed, by omitting several uninteresting circumstances of weather and other log-book notices.--E.

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We anchored in Saldanha roads on the 16th July, 1607, with all our men in good health; only that Peter Lambert fell from the top-mast head the day before, of which he died. The 21st, the captain and master went to Penguin island, three leagues from the road. This island does not exceed three miles long by two in breadth; yet, in my opinion, no island in the world is more frequented by seals and fowls than this, which abounds with penguins, wild geese, ducks, pelicans, and various other fowls. You may drive 500 penguins together in a flock, and the seals are in thousands together on the shore. Having well refreshed our men, and bought some cattle, we weighed anchor about four in the morning of the 29th July, and came out of the roads with very little wind, all our men in perfect health, yet loth to depart without the company of our other two ships. But all our business being ended, and being quite uncertain as to their arrival,[264] we made no farther stay, and directed our course for the island of St. Lawrence or Madagascar.

The 30th was calm all day, till three in the afternoon, when we had a fresh gale at S.W. with which we passed the Cape of Good Hope by ten at night. The 1st August we were off Cape Aguillas; and on the 27th we saw the island of Madagascar, some six leagues off. In the afternoon of the 30th we anchored in the bay of St. Augustine, in six and a half fathoms on coarse gravel. In consequence of a great ledge of rocks off the mouth of the bay, we fell to room-wards [leeward] of the road, and had to get in upon a tack, having seven, six and a half, and five fathoms all the way, and on coming to anchor had the ledge and two islands to windward of us.

The 31st, our captain and Mr. Davis went in the longboat to view the islands, and I myself as we went sounded close by the ledge, and had six fathoms. One of the islands is very small, as it were a mere bank of sand with nothing on it. The other is about a mile long, and half a mile broad, and has nothing upon it but some small store of wood. The 1st September, we weighed from our first anchorage, the ground being foul, so that our cable broke, and we lost an anchor in weighing, and came within two miles of the mouth of the river, where we anchored in five and a half fathoms fast ground, about three leagues from oar former anchorage. We got here plenty of sheep and beeves for little money, and having taken in wood and water, we weighed anchor on the 7th, taking to sea with us four goats, three sheep, and a heifer. We had an observation three miles from the island, before the bay of St Augustine, which we made to be in lat. 23° 48' S.[265]

The 12th November in the morning we saw an island, which we found to be Engano, or the Isle of Deceit, and came to its north side. This island is about five leagues in length, trending E. by S. and W. by N. the easter end is the highest, and the wester is full of trees. It is in lat. 5° 30' S. and the variation is 4° 13'. Having the wind at W.N.W. we steered away for the main of Sumatra E. by S. and E.S.E. with a pleasant gale but much rain, and next day had sight of Sumatra about four leagues from us. We anchored on the 14th in Bantam roads about four p.m. when we found all the merchants in good health, and all things in good order. Next day our captain went on shore to speak with Mr. Towerson respecting the business of the ship, and it was agreed to send ashore the lead and iron we brought with us. This being effected, and having fitted our ship in good order, and taken in our merchants and goods for the Moluccas, we took leave of the factory, and set sail for these islands on the 6th December.

"In the beginning of January, 1608, they arrived at the Moluccas. The rest of that month and the whole of February, was spent in compliments between them and the Spaniards and the Moluccan princes: the Spaniards not daring to allow them to trade without leave from their camp-master; and as he was embroiled with the Hollanders, he refused, unless they would aid him, or at least accompany their ships for shew of service against the Hollanders; which Captain Middleton refused, as contrary to his commission and instructions. In the mean time, they traded privately with the natives by night, and were jovial with the Spaniards by day, who both gave and received hearty welcome. In the beginning of March they had leave to trade, but this licence was revoked again in a few days, and they were commanded to be gone. Thus they spent their time till the 14th March, when they weighed anchor and set sail, having some little trade by the way. This part of the journal is long, and I have omitted it, as also in some other parts where I thought it might be tedious."[266]

The 23d March, we entered the Straits of Bangaya,[267] where the captain proposed to seek for water. While uncertain where to seek it, there came off a praw from the island, by which we learnt that good water might be had on the east shore, where we anchored in 60 fathoms in a most cruel current. Our long-boat was then sent for water, conducted by the Indian who came in the praw, from whom our people procured some fresh fish at a cheap rate in exchange for china dishes. In the morning of the 24th we went for another boat-load of water; and this morning by daybreak the natives came off to us in above 100 praws, carrying men, women, and children, and brought us great quantities of fish, both dried and fresh, which they sold very cheap. They brought us also hogs, both great and small, with plenty of poultry, which they sold very reasonably for coarse white cloth and china dishes; likewise plantains, cassathoe roots, and various kinds of fruit. The natives remained on board the whole day in such numbers, that we could sometimes hardly get from one part of the deck to another for them. In the afternoon the King of Bottone, or Booton, sent some plantains to our captain, and a kind of liquor for drinking called Irea-pote, in return for which the captain sent back a rich painted calico. About ten at night we weighed anchor, in doing which we broke the flukes of both our starboard anchors, for which reason we had to man our long-boat, and tow the ship all night against the current, which otherwise would have carried us farther to leewards than we could have made up again in three days, unless we had got a fresh gale of wind, so strong is the current at this place.

The 19th April the King of Booton sent one of his brothers again on board,[268] to know if he might come to see the ship, of which he was very desirous, having often heard of Englishmen, but had never seen any; on which our captain sent him word that he should think himself much honoured by a visit. The king came immediately off in his caracol, rowed by at least an hundred oars or paddles, having in her besides about 400 armed men, and six pieces of brass cannon; being attended by five other caracols, which had at the least 1000 armed men in them. On coming up, our captain sent our surgeon, Francis Kelly, as an hostage for the king's safety; when he came on board, and was kindly welcomed by our captain, who invited him to partake of a banquet of sweetmeats, which he readily accepted. Captain Middleton then made enquiry as to what commodities the king had for sale in his dominions. He made answer, that they had pearls, tortoise-shell, and some cloth of their own manufacture, which we supposed might be of striped cotton. The king said farther, as we were unacquainted with the place, he would send a pilot to conduct us. Captain Middleton then requested to see some of the pearls; but he said he had not brought any with him, meaning only a jaunt of pleasure, but if we would come to Booton, which was only a day and night's sail from thence, we should see great store of pearls, and such other things as he had for sale. The captain and factor, considering that this was very little out of the way to Bantam, thought best to agree to this offer, and presented the king with a musket, a sword, and a pintado, thanking him for his kindness. The king replied, that he had not now any thing worth giving, but promised to repay these civilities before we left Booton, giving at the same time two pieces of their country cloth.

About three p.m. the king took his leave, promising to send a pilot in all speed to carry us to the town of Booton, and by the time we weighed anchor the pilot came on board. At night the king sent one of his caracols to us, to see if we wanted any thing, and to accompany us to Booton; sending at the same time a goat to the captain. We stood for Booton with a small gale, which at night died away, so that we had to drop anchor in 22 fathoms, not willing to drift to leeward with the current; and next morning we again weighed and stood for Booton.

The 22d, about ten a.m. our purser came on board, having been sent on shore the night before, and brought with him some cocks and hens. He told us that the Indians had carried him to a king, who was glad to see him, having never before seen any Englishmen.[269] At his first coming to the king's house, he was carousing and drinking with his nobles, all round where he sat being hung with human heads, whom he had recently slain in war. After some little stay, the purser took his leave, and lay all night on board the caracol. This night we anchored in 20 fathoms, in a strait or passage not half a mile wide. The 23d, in the morning, we again weighed, and, having very little wind, our long-boat towed us through the straits, and as the tide was with us we went ahead a-main; so that by eleven o'clock a.m. we were in sight of the town of Booton, and came to anchor in 25 fathoms, about a mile and a half from the town, where we waited for the king to come on board, but he came not that night. We sent, however, our boat on shore, and bought fresh fish for our company.

The king came up under our stern about one p.m. of the 24th, having with him some forty caracols, and rowed round us very gallantly, hoisting his colours and pendants; after which they rowed back to the town, and our captain saluted them with a volley of small arms and all his great guns. He then caused [the crew to] man our long-boat, and went ashore to the town of Booton, accompanied by Mr. Siddal and others. The king saluted our captain on landing, both with small arms and ordnance, saying that his heart was now contented, as he had seen the English nation, promising to shew our captain all the kindness in his power. The captain humbly thanked him, and took his leave for the present, coming again on board.

Next morning, the 25th April, we weighed anchor and stood farther into the road, anchoring again in 27 fathoms within half a mile of the shore. This morning there came on board a Javan nakhada, or ship-master, who had a junk in the roads laden with cloves, which he had brought from Amboina, with whom Mr. Siddal our factor talked, as the Javan offered to sell all his cloves to our captain.

This day the king invited our captain to dine with him, begging him to excuse the homely fashion of their country. The meat was served up in great wooden chargers, closely covered up with cloths, and the king with our captain and Mr Siddal dined together, where we had great cheer, our drink being Irea-pote, which was sweet-tasted and very pleasant, the king being very merry. After dinner we had some talk about the cloves which we proposed to purchase; and the king promised to come next day on board himself or to send some of his attendants, to examine our cloth. The captain then gave the king great thanks for his kindness, and went on board.

The 26th, the king's uncle came off to see our ship, and was kindly entertained by the captain. The king's brother came afterwards on board, and remained to dinner with the captain, and after took leave. We expected the king, but he came not that day, sending his son and the pilot to view our cloth, which they liked very well. The king and his son came on board on the 27th, and dined with the captain, who gave them good cheer; and the king being very merry, wished to see some of our people dance, which several of them did before him, when he was much pleased both with our dancing and music. At night the king's uncle sent our captain four fat hogs.

The 28th, the king of another island near Booton came in his caracol, accompanied by his wife, to view our ship, but could not be prevailed on to come aboard. Our ship being now laden with cloves bought of the Javans, our captain bought some slaves from the king; and while we were very busy this night, one of them stole out from the cabin and leapt into the sea to swim ashore, so that we never heard of him more. Next morning the captain sent Augustine Spalding, our Jurabossa, to inform the king of the slave having made his escape, who presently gave him another.

May 3rd, we proceeded for Bantam, saluting the town of Booton at our departure with three guns. The 3rd, we had sight of the Straits of Celebes, for which we made all sail, but could not get into them that night. The 23rd May, we anchored in the road of Bantam, where we did not find a single Christian ship, and only four junks from China, having taffaties, damasks, satins, and various other commodities. Having finished all our business here, the captain and merchants took leave on the 15th July, 1608, when we presently made sail from the road of Bantam, bound home for our native England.

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Note.--At this place Purchas observes, "To avoid tiring the readers, the rest of this voyage homewards is omitted; instead of which we have set down a table of the journal of this ship from the Lizard to Bantam, as set forth by John Davis." --On this paragraph of Purchas, the editor of Astley's Collection remarks, I. 335. c. "But we meet with no such table in Purchas, neither is any reason assigned why it is omitted, so that many may believe these copies of Purchas imperfect. This Davis was probably the same who went with Sir Edward Michelburne, and who published some nautical directions, as already observed."

It is singular that the editor of Astley's Collection, with Purchas his Pilgrims before him, and perfectly aware of the Directions by John Davis "For ready sailing to the East Indies, digested into a plain Method, upon Experience of Five Voyages thither and Home again," should not have discovered or conjectured, that the promised table is actually published by Purchas in the first volume of his Pilgrims, p. 444-455.--E.

[Footnote 263: Purch. Pilgr. I. 226. Astl. I. 332.]
[Footnote 264: The other two ships under Keeling did not arrive at Saldanha bay till the 17th December, five months afterwards.--E.]
[Footnote 265: The tropic of Capricorn runs through the bay of St Augustine, being 23° 30' S. rather nearer the south point of the bay; so that the latitude in the text must err at least 16' in excess.--E.]
[Footnote 266: This paragraph is by Purchas, by whom it is placed as here in the text.--E.]
[Footnote 267: From circumstances in the sequel, these Straits of Bangaya appear to have been between the island of Booton, in about lat. 5° S. and long. 123° 20' E., and the south-east leg or peninsula of the island of Celebes.--E.]
[Footnote 268: Something has probably been here omitted by Purchas, as we hear nothing of their transactions between the 24th March and 19th April.--E.]
[Footnote 269: There is some strange obscurity in the text about this new king, called in the margin by Purchas the king of Cobina.--E.]


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