The said captain [Gosnold] did set sail from Falmouth the day and year above written accompanied with thirty-two persons, whereof eight mariners and sailors, twelve purposing upon the discovery to return with the ship for England, the rest remain there for population. The fourteenth of April following, we had sight of Saint Mary's, an island of the Azores. . . .

The fifteenth day of May we had again sight of the land, which made ahead, being as we thought an island, by reason of a large sound that appeared westward between it and the main, for coming to the west end thereof, we did perceive a large opening, we called it Shoal Hope. Near this cape we came to anchor in fifteen fathoms, where we took great store of codfish, for which we altered the name, and called it Cape Cod. Here we saw sculls of herring, mackerel, and other small fish, in great abundance. This is a low sandy shoal, but without danger, also we came to anchor again in sixteen fathoms, fair by the land in the latitude of 42 degrees. This cape is well near a mile broad, and lieth north-east by east. The captain went here ashore and found the ground to be full of pease, strawberries, whortleberries, &c., as then unripe, the sand also by the shore somewhat deep, the firewood there by us taken in was of cypress, birch, witch-hazel and beech. A young Indian came here to the captain, armed with his bow and arrows, and had certain plates of copper hanging at his ears; he showed a willingness to help us in our occasions.

The sixteenth, we trended the coast southerly, which was all champaign and full of grass, but the island somewhat woody. Twelve leagues from Cape Cod, we descried a point with some breach, a good distance off, and keeping our luff to double it, we came on the sudden into shoal water, yet well quitted ourselves thereof. This breach we called Tucker's Terror, upon his exprest fear. The point we named Point Care; having passed it we bore up again with the land, and in the night came with it anchoring in eight fathoms, the ground good.

The seventeenth, appeared many breaches round about us, so as we continued that day without remove. The eighteenth, being fair we sent forth the boat, to sound over a breach, that in our course lay of another point, by us called Gilbert's Point, who returned us four, five, six, and seven fathoms over. Also, a discovery of divers islands which after proved to be hills and hammocks, distinct within the land. This day there came unto the ship's side divers canoes, the Indians apparelled as aforesaid, with tobacco and pipes steeled with copper, skins, artificial strings and other trifles to barter; one had hanging about his neck a plate of rich copper, in length a foot, in breadth half a foot for a breastplate, the ears of all the rest had pendants of copper. Also, one of them had his face painted over, and head stuck with feathers in manner of a turkey-cock's train. These are more timorous than those of the Savage Rock, yet very thievish.

The nineteenth, we passed over the breach of Gilbert's Point in four or five fathoms, and anchored a league or somewhat more beyond it; between the last two points are two leagues, the interim, along shoal water, the latitude here is 41 degrees two third parts.

The twentieth, by the ship's side, we there killed penguins, and saw many sculls of fish. The coast from Gilbert's Point to the supposed isles lieth east and by south. Here also we discovered two inlets which might promise fresh water, inwardly whereof we perceived much smoke, as though some population had there been. This coast is very full of people, for that as we trended the same savages still run along the shore, as men much admiring at us.

The one-and-twentieth, we went coasting from Gilbert's Point to the supposed isles, in ten, nine, eight, seven, and six fathoms, close aboard the shore, and that depth lieth a league off. A little from the supposed isles, appeared unto us an opening, with which we stood, judging it to be the end of that which Captain Gosnold descried from Cape Cod, and as he thought to extend some thirty or more miles in length, and finding there but three fathoms a league off, we omitted to make further discovery of the same, calling it Shoal Hope.

From this opening the main lieth southwest, which coasting along we saw a disinhabited island, which so afterward appeared unto us: we bore with it, and named it Martha's Vineyard; from Shoal Hope it is eight leagues in circuit, the island is five miles, and hath 41 degrees and one quarter of latitude. The place most pleasant; for the two-and-twentieth, we went ashore, and found it full of wood, vines, gooseberry bushes, whortleberries, raspberries, eglantines, &c. Here we had cranes, stearnes, shoulers, geese, and divers other birds which there at that time upon the cliffs being sandy with some rocky stones, did breed and had young. In this place we saw deer: here we rode in eight fathoms near the shore where we took great store of cod,--as before at Cape Cod, but much better.

The three-and-twentieth we weighed, and toward night came to anchor at the northwest part of this island, where the next morning offered unto us fast running thirteen savages apparelled as aforesaid, and armed with bows and arrows without any fear. They brought tobacco, deer-skins, and some sodden fish. These offered themselves unto us in great familiarity, who seemed to be well-conditioned. They came more rich in copper than any before. This island is sound, and hath no danger about it.

The four-and-twentieth, we set sail and doubled the Cape of another island next unto it, which we called Dover Cliff, and then came into a fair sound2, where we rode all night; the next morning we sent off one boat to discover another cape, that lay between us and the main, from which were a ledge of rocks a mile into the sea, but all above water, and without danger; we went about them, and came to anchor in eight fathoms, a quarter of a mile from the shore, in one of the stateliest sounds that ever I was in. This called we Gosnold's Hope; the north bank whereof is the main, which stretcheth east and west. This island Captain Gosnold called Elizabeth's isle, where we determined our abode; the distance between every one of these islands is, viz. from Martha's Vineyard to Dover Cliff, half a league over the sound, thence to Elizabeth's isle3, one league distant. From Elizabeth's island unto the main is four leagues. On the north side, near adjoining unto the island Elizabeth, is an islet in compass half a mile, full of cedars, by me called Hill's Hap, to the northward of which, in the mouth of an opening on the main, appeareth another the like, that I called Hap's Hill, for that I hope much hap may be expected from it.

The eight-and-twentieth we entered counsel about our abode and plantation, which was concluded to be in the west part of Elizabeth's island. The north-east thereof running from out our ken. The south and north standeth in an equal parallel. . . .

The one-and-thirtieth, Captain Gosnold, desirous to see the main because of the distance, he set sail over; where coming to anchor, went ashore with certain of his company, and immediately there presented unto him men, women, and children, who, with all courteous kindness entertained him, giving him certain skins of wild beasts, which may be rich furs, tobacco, turtles, hemp, artificial strings colored, chains, and such like things as at the instant they had about them. These are a fair-conditioned people. On all the sea-coast along we found mussel shells that in color did represent mother-of-pearl, but not having means to dredge, could not apprehend further knowledge thereof. This main is the goodliest continent that ever we saw, promising more by far than we any way did expect; for it is replenished with fair fields, and in them fragrant flowers, also meadows, and hedged in with stately groves, being furnished also with pleasant brooks, and beautified with two main rivers that, (as we judge) may haply become good harbors, and conduct us to the hopes men so greedily do thirst after. . . .

The first of June we employed ourselves in getting sassafras, and the building of our fort. The second, third, and fourth, we wrought hard to make ready our house for the provision to be had ashore to sustain us till our ship's return. This day from the main came to our ship's side a canoe, with their lord or chief commander, for that they made little stay only pointing to the sun, as in sign that the next day he would come and visit us, which he did accordingly.

The fifth, we continued our labor, when there came unto us ashore from the main fifty savages, stout and lusty men with their bows and arrows; amongst them there seemed to be one of authority, because the rest made an inclining respect unto him. The ship was at their coming a league off, and Captain Gosnold aboard, and so likewise Captain Gilbert, who almost never went ashore, the company with me only eight persons. These Indians in hasty manner came toward us, so as we thought fit to make a stand at an angle between the sea and a fresh water; I moved myself toward him seven or eight steps, and clapt my hands first on the sides of mine head, then on my breast, and after presented my musket with a threatening countenance, thereby to signify unto them, either a choice of peace or war, whereupon he using me with mine own signs of peace, I stept forth and embraced him; his company then all sat down in manner like greyhounds upon their heels, with whom my company fell a bartering. By this time Captain Gosnold was come with twelve men more from aboard, and to show the savage seignior that he was our Captain, we received him in a guard, which he passing through, saluted the seignior with ceremonies of our salutations, whereat he nothing moved or altered himself. Our Captain gave him a straw hat and a pair of knives; the hat awhile he wore, but the knives he beheld with great marveling, being very bright and sharp; this our courtesy made them all in love with us. . . .

The eighth we divided the victuals, namely, the ship's store for England, and that of the planters, which by Captain Gilbert's allowance could be but six weeks for six months, whereby there fell out a controversy, the rather, for that some seemed secretly to understand of a purpose Captain Gilbert had not to return with supply of the issue, those goods should make by him to be carried home. Besides, there wanted not ambitious conceits in the minds of some wrangling and ill-disposed persons who overthrew the stay there at that time, which upon consultation thereof had, about five days after was fully resolved all for England again. There came in this interim aboard unto us, that stayed all night, an Indian, whom we used kindly; and the next day sent ashore; he showed himself the most sober of all the rest, we held him sent as a spy. In the morning, he filched away our pothooks, thinking he had not done any ill therein; being ashore we bid him strike fire, which with an emerald stone (such as the glaziers use to cut glass) he did. I take it to be the very same that in Latin is called smiris, for striking therewith upon touch-wood that of purpose he had, by means of a mineral stone used therein, sparkles proceeded and forthwith kindled with making of flame. The ninth, we continued working on our storehouse, for as yet remained in us a desired resolution of making stay. The tenth, Captain Gosnold fell down with the ship to the little islet of cedars, called Hill's Hap, to take in cedar wood, leaving me and nine more in the fort, only with three meals meat, upon promise to return the next day. . . .

The thirteenth, began some of our company that before vowed to stay, to make revolt: whereupon the planters diminishing, all was given over. The fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth, we spent in getting sassafras and fire-wood of cedar, leaving house and little fort, by ten men in nineteen days sufficient made to harbor twenty persons at least with their necessary provisions.

The seventeenth, we set sail, doubling the rocks of Elizabeth's island, and passing by Dover Cliff, came to anchor at Martha's Vineyard, being five leagues distant from our fort, where we went ashore, and had young cranes, herneshowes, and geese, which now were grown to pretty bigness.

The eighteenth, we set sail and bore for England, cutting off our shallop, that was well able to land five and twenty men or more, a boat very necessary for the like occasions. The winds do range most commonly upon this coast in the summer time, westerly. In our homeward course we observed the foresaid floating weeds to continue till we came within two hundred leagues of Europe. The three-and-twentieth of July we came to anchor before Exmouth.4

1Gosnold sailed from Falmouth, England, in 1602, Raleigh being interested in the expedition. He reached the New England coast in May of the same year, and discovered Cape Cod, to which, because of the abundance of codfish in neighboring waters he gave the name it bears. He afterward discovered Martha's Vineyard, and on the neighboring island of Cuttyhunk founded a settlement called Elizabeth, the first ever made in New England by Englishmen. This settlement lasted only a few weeks, the settlers returning to England. The entire group of islands, of which Cuttyhunk is one, are now known as the Elizabeth Islands. The township which these islands comprize bears Gosnold's name. Gosnold became active afterward in promoting the expedition which in 1607 resulted in the settlement of Jamestown. The report of the expedition to Cape Cod, from which this account is taken, is known as "The Relation of Captain Gosnold's Voyage." It was "delivered by Gabriel Archer, a gentleman in the said voyage." Archer's account is printed in "Old South Leaflets."
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2Vineyard Sound.
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3Now Cuttyhunk, the westermost of the chain of islands called the Elizabeth Islands, which separate Buzzards' Bay from Vineyard Sound.
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4From Exmouth the ship sailed for Portsmouth, her real destination.
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© 2002 by Lynn Waterman