John Smith.

A description of New England : or observations and discoveries in the north of America in the year of Our Lord 1614 : with the success of six ships that went the next year, 1615 online

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New England.

1614— 15.



jQOs, ^ /.H ys


HE "Description of New England," by Captain
John Smith, is one of the most important
works to be found relating to the history of
this part of the country. It is the first book
in which the country described by him, pre-
viously called North Virginia, is styled Neiv
England. The edition here given is an exact
reprint — though not intended as a facsimile — of the original
tract, a copy of which the publisher had the privilege of using while
the work was going through the press.

Smith's map of New England was first published in this tract.
It was subsequently re-issued in other works of Smith ; additions
being made on the engraved copper-plate, from time to time, to
indicate the more recent discoveries and settlements. The map
is thus found in nine different conditions, the latest having been
issued four years after the death of Smith (which took place in
163 1), in a work by another author.

The map as at first published was, of course, in its simplest form,
and copies in this condition are now rarely to be met with. The
only one known to Mr. Charles Deane, who, with Mr. James
Lenox of New York, some years since, collated many copies of
the map, is in the Prince Library of the Old South Church, in
Boston. It is in a copy of the Description of Nezv England, which
contains, in Prince's autograph, the following : " T. Prince, Sud-

vi Publishers Preface.

bitjy, ill England, yime i, 1713." That this impression of the map
was struck from the plate in its original condition is also shown
by the fact that the transcript published by Hulsius the next year,
in his translation of Smith's tract, corresponds to this, except that
the names of the engraver and printer, in the lower corners, are
omitted, and Smith's title, the verses below the portrait, and some
of the explanations, are in German.

The reprint of the map here published is an exact facsimile of
Prince's copy, re-engraved on copper.

It is interesting to notice that many of the names which our
towns and cities now bear are given on the map to prominent
places on the coast ; but Plymojith and Cape Anna are the only
places which have retained them. Smith gave the name Charles
River to the water that he saw coming out of Boston harbor, which
he never entered ; but that name was subsequently transferred to
one of the streams running into this harbor.

This tract was reprinted, with some variations, in Smith's larger
work, the Generall Historie, first published in 1624. This latter
work also embraced the most of Smith's tracts issued up to that
time. The Descriptioji has been reprinted by the Massachusetts
Historical Society, in vol. vi., third series, of their Collections,
1837 ; and is also included in the second volume of Force's tracts,

It is quite unnecessary to enter here into a detailed account of
Captain Smith's career, as his biography is easily accessible to all,
and we have nothing new to add to it. After leaving Virginia
(where he had spent about two years and a half) in the autumn
of 1609, we lose sight of him till 1614. On the 3d of March of that
year, he left the Downs with two vessels, fitted out at the joint
charge of four London merchants and himself, for Nciv England,
where he arrived the last of April. He was absent on this voyage
about six months. His adventures and discoveries here are best
told by himself in the ensuing narrative. It will be seen that he
made two unsuccessful attempts to reach these shores the next
year. In consideration of his labors in the cause of New-England

Publisher s Preface. vii

colonization, and of the interest he continued to feel in this object,
the Plymouth Company conferred upon him the title of Admiral of
New England. It was doubtless expected that he would soon re-
turn to the country, which he desired to do ; but he met with many
obstacles, and never again visited Nciv England. Nothing appears
to have been directly effected by his agency in the way of perma-
nent colonization here ; though he continued to favor emigration,
and distributed thousands of his books and maps, which doubtless
stimulated the pursuit of fishing upon the coast, by which a better
knowledge of the country may have been gained, and spread abroad.
The settlement of Ply month in 1620 — the first permanent colony
in New England — was, as is well known, accidental. The destina-
tion of the Mayjlozvcr^'sjs, not the shores of New England, although
the Pilgrims were familiar with Smith's map of our coast.

We give below, in an abridged form, the titles of Smith's differ-
ent works ; viz. : —

A True Relation, %LC. London, 1608.

A Map of Virgijiia, &c. Oxford, 161 2.

A Description of Neiv England, &c. London, 16 16.

New Englands Trials, &c. London, 1620. Second ed., 1622.

The Generall Historic, Sec. London, 1624. Also re-issued (not
reprinted) in 1626, 1627, and twice in 1632, the year after Smith's
death ; the date on the titlepage being altered to correspond to
those years.

A71 Accidence, or the Pathway to Experience, &c. London, 1626.

A Sea Grammar, &c. London, 1627. Other editions, 1653 and

The True Travels, &c. London, 1630.

Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New-England,
&c. London, 1631.

The Publisher would express his acknowledgments to Mr. Deane
for the bibliographical and hiftorical information contained in this
prefatory note.

Boston, May i, 1865.



of New- England :



Difcoueries of Captain lohn. Smith ( Admirall

of that Country) in the North oi America, in the year

of our Lord 1614: with the fucceffe of fixe Ships,

that went the next yeare 161 5 ; a7id the

accidents befell him among the

French men of warre :

With the proofe of the prefent benefit this

Countrey affoords : whither this prefent yeare,

1616, eight voluntary Ships are gone

to make further try all.


Printed by Humfrey Low^ies, for Robert Gierke ; and

are to be fould at his houfe called the Lodge,

in Chancery lane, ouer againft Lin-

colnes Inne. 16 16.


HOPEFVL Charles,

Prince of Great Britaine.

fauourable was your mofl renowned and memorable
Brother, Prince Henry, to all generous defignes ;
that in my difcouery of Virginia, I prefumed to
call two nameleffe Headlands after my Soueraignes
heires, Cape Henry and Cape Chajdes. Since then,
it beeing my chance to range fome other parts of America, where-
of I heere prefent your Highnefs the defcription in a Map ; my
humble fute is, you would pleafe to change their Barbarous names,
for fuch EngliJJi, as Pofterity may fay. Prince Charles was their
Godfather. What here in this relation I promife my Countrey, let
mee Hue or die the flaue of fcorne and infamy, if (hauing meanes) I
make it not apparent ; pleafe God to bleffe me but from fuch acci-
dents as are beyond my power and reafon to preuent. For my
labours, I defire but fuch conditions as were promifed me
out of the gaines ; and that your Highneffe
would daigne to grace this Work, by
your Princely and fauourable
refpe6l vnto it, and
know mee
to be

Your HigJineff true

and faitJifnl fernant,

lohn Smith.


able and worthy Lords, Knights,
and Gentlemen, of his Ma-

iefties Councell, for all Planta-
tions and difcoueries ; efpecially,
of New England.

Eeing the deedes of the moft iuft, and the writings of
the moft wife, not onely of men, but of God himfelfe,
haue beene diuerOy traduced by variable iudgments
of the Times opinionifts ; what fhall fuch an ignorant
as I expe6t ? Yet repofing myfelfe on your fauours,
I prefent this rude difcourfe, to the worldes conftruction ; though I
am perfwaded, that few do think there may be had from New Eng-
land Staple commodities, well worth 3 or 400000 pound a yeare,
with fo fmall charge, and fuch facilitie, as this difcourfe will ac-
quaint you. But, left your Honours, that know mee not, fhould
thinke I goe by hearefay or affections ; I intreat your pardons to
fay thus much of myfelfe : Neere twice nine yeares, I haue beene
taught by lamentable experience, as well in Europe and Afia, as
Affrick and America, fuch honeft aduentures as the chance of
warre doth caft vpon poor fouldiers. So that, if I bee not able


to iudge of what I haue feene, contriued, and done ; it is not the

fault either of my eyes, or foure quarters. And thefe nine yeares,

I haue bent my endeauours to finde a fure foundation to begin

thefe enfuing proie6ls : which though I neuer fo plainely and fe-

rioufly propound ; yet it refteth in God, and you, ftill to difpofe

of Not doubting but your goodneffe will pardon my rude-

neffe, and ponder errours in the balance of good will ;

No more : but facring all my beft abilities to

the good of my Prince, and Countrey,

and fubmitting my felfe to the ex-

quifit iudgements of your

renowned vertue, I

euer reft

Your Honours, in

all hojiejl feniice,
I. S.

To the right Worihiplull Aduenturers

for the Countrey of NewEngland, in the

Cities of London, Brijloiu, Exceter, Plytnoidh,

Dartmouth, Bajlable, Totneys, &€.

and in all other Cities and Ports,

in the Kingdome

of Ens:la?id.

F the little Ant, and the fillie Bee feek by their dili-
gence the good of their Commonwealth ; much more
ought Man. If they punifh the drones and fting them
fteales their labour ; then blame not Man. Little hony
hath that hiue, where there are more Drones then Bees : and mif-
erable is that Land, where more are idle then well imployed. If
the indeauours of thofe vermin be acceptable, I hope mine may be
excufeable ; Though I confeffe it were more proper for mee, To
be doing what I fay, then writing what I knowe. Had I returned
rich, I could not haue erred : Now hauing onely fuch fifli as came
to my net, I muft be taxed. But, I would my taxers were as ready
to adventure their purfes, as I, purfe, life, and all I haue : or as
diligent to furnifli the charge, as I know they are vigilant to crop
the fruits of my labours. Then would I not doubt (did God pleafe
I might fafely arriue in New England, and fafely returne) but to
performe fomewhat more then I haue promifed, and approue my
words by deeds, according to proportion.

I am not the firft hath beene betrayed by Pirats : And foure


men of warre, prouided as they were, had beene fufficient to haiie
taken Sampson, Hercules, and Alexander the great, no other way
furnifht then I was. I knowe not what affurance any haue do paffe
the Seas, Not to be fubie6l to cafualty as well as my felfe : but leaft
this difafter may hinder my proceedings, or ill will (by rumour) the
behoofefull worke I pretend ; I haue writ this little : which I did
think to haue concealed from any publike vfe, till I had made my
returnes fpeake as much, as my pen now doth.

But becaufe I fpeak fo much of fifhing, if any take mee for fuch
a denote fifher, as I dreame of nought elfe, they miftake mee. I
know a ring of golde from a graine of barley, as well as a golde-
fmith : and nothing is there to bee had which fifhing doth hinder,
but furder vs to obtaine. Now for that I haue made knowne vnto
you a fit place for plantation, limited within the bounds of your
Patent and Commiffion ; hauing alfo receiued meanes, power, and
authority by your direftions to plant there a Colony, and make
further fearch and difcouery in thofe parts there yet vnknowne :
Confidering, withall, firft thofe of his Maiefties Councell, then
thofe Cities aboue named, and diuerfe others that haue beene
moued to lend their affiftance to fo great a work, do expeft (ef-
pecially the aduenturers) the true relation or euent of my proceed-
ings which I heare are fo abufed ; I am inforced for all thefe
refpe6ts, rather to expofe my imbecillitie to contempt, by
the teftimonie of thefe rude lines then all fliould
condemne me for fo bad a Factor, as could
neither giue reafon nor account
of my a6lions and

Yours to command,

lohn Smith.

In the deserued Honour of the Author,

Captaiiie lohu Smith, and his Worke.

J '\Amnd Eniiie is afp'rite, that euer haunts
^—^ Bcajis, inif-iiamd ineii ; Cowards, or Ignorants.
But, onely fiicJi JJiee followes, wJiofe deere WORTH
(Maugre her malice ) fets their glorie forth.

If this faire Ouerture, then, take not ; It

Is Y,w\x\€ s, fpight (dear friend) in men-of-wit ;
Or Feare, Icfl morfels, which our mouthes poffcffe,
MigJit fall from thence ; or elfe, tis Scottiflineffe.

If either ; ( I hope neithet;) thee they raife ;

Thy* Letters are as Letters in thy praife ;
Who, by their vice, improue (when they reprooue)
Thy vertue ; fo, in hate, procure thee Loue.

Then, Oti firme Worth : this Monument I frame ;

Scorning for any Smith to iorge fuch fame.

*Hind^rers. Jq . Dauics, Hevef :

To his worthy Captaine the Author.

'"7 ^Hat ivhich wee call thefubiecl of all Storie,
-*- Is Truth : which in this Worke of thine giues glorie
To all that thou hafi done. Then, fcorne the fpigJit
Of Enuie ; which doth no mans merits right.
My fcvord may help the refl: my pen no more
Can doe, but this ; Tauefaid enough before.
Your fometime fouldier,

I. Codrinton, now Templer.

To my Worthy friend and Coufen,

Captaine lohn Smith.

IT 07ier-ioyes my heart, when as thy Words
Of tJiefe dejignes, with deeds I doe compare.
Weere is a Booke,fiich worthy truth affords,
"^one JJioidd the due defert thereof imp are ;
Sith thou, the man, defeniing of thefe Ages,
yitich paine hajl tden for this our Kingdoms good,
In Climes vnknotvne, Mongfl Turks and Salnages,
T'inlarge onr bounds ; though with thy loffe of blood.
Hence damiid Detraction : Jland not in our way,
Y.nuie, it/elfe, will not the TrutJi gainefay.

N. Smith.

To that worthy and generous Gentle-
man, my verie good friend, Captaine Smith.

![ jf Ay Fate thy Profpe£l profper, that thy name
1 VI May be eternifed with Iming fame :

Though foide Detraction Honoiir zvould peruert,

And Enuie euer waits vpon defert :
In fpight of Pelias, wJien his hate lies colde,
Returne as lafon with a fleece of Golde.

Then after-ages fltall record thy praife,

That a New England to this lie didfi raife :
And when thou dyfl (as all that Hue mufl die)
Thy fame Hue heere ; thou, with Eternitie.

R: Gunnell.

To his friend Cap : Smith vpon his

defcription of New England.

Sir ; your Relations I haue read: wJiicJi JJiewe
Theirs reafon I JJioiild Jionoiir them ajid you ;
And if their meaning I haue vnderjiood,
I dare to eenfure, thus : Your Proie6l's good ;
And may (if follozvd) doubtleffe quit the paine,
With hono7ir, pleafure and a treeble gaine ;
Bcfide the benefit that fJiall arife
To make more happie our Pofierities.

For ivoiild we daigne to fpare, though Uwere no more
Then what dre-filles, and firfets vs in ftore,
To order Nature's fruitfulneffe a while
In that rude Garden, j(??/ New England flile ;
With prefent good, thers hope in after- dales
Thence to repaire tvhat Time and Pride decaies
In this rich kingdome. And the fpatioics Weft
Being flill more with Englifh blood poffefl,
The Pro7id Iberians fliall not rule thofe Seas,
To checke our fJiips from fay ling zuhere they pleaje ;
Nor future times make any forraine power
Become fo great to force a bound to Our.

Much good my Dtinde fore-tels would follow hence
With little labour, and with leffe expence.
Thriue therefore thy Defigne, who ere enuie :
England may ioy in England's Colony,
Virginia feeke her Virgine flflers good.
Be bleffed infuch happie neighbourhood :

Or, whatfoere Fate pleafeth to permit,

Be thou flill Jionor d for firfl moouing it.

George Wither,

e focietate Lincols.

In the deferued honour of my honeft

and worthie Captaine, lohn Smith,
and his Worke.

CAptaine and friends when I pertife thy booke
(With ludgements eyes) into thy heart I looke :
And tJiei'e I finde (what fometimes-AVoyon knew)
A Souldier, to his Countries-honour, true.

Some fight for wealth ; and fome for emptie praife ;
• Bnt thoti alone thy Countries Fame to raife.
With due difcretion, ajid vndanted heart,
/ (oft) fo ivell hauefeene thee a£l thy Part
In deepefl plnnge of hard extreamitie,
As forct the troiips of prondefl foes to flie.
Though men of greater Ranke and leffe defert
Woidd Viih-atuay thy Praife, it can notfiart

From the true Owner ; for, all good-mens tongues
Shall keepe the fame. To them that Part belongs.
If then, Wit, Courage, a7id Succeffe fiiou Id get
Thee Fame ; the Mufefor that is in thy debt :
A part whereof (leafi able though I bee)
Thus heere I doe difburfe, to honor Thee.

Rawly Croshaw.

Michael Phettiplace, William Phettiplace, &

Richard Wiffing, Gentleme7i, and

Souldiers vnder Captaine Smiths

Command : In his defer ued

honor for his Worke,

and 7vorth.

1 J /^y i^tiiy f^ot we in this Worke haue our Mite,
' ' That had oicrJJiare in each black day and night,
When tJion Y\rgini2Lfoild'Jl, yet kepfjl vnjlained ;
And held'Jl the King of Pafpeheh enchained.
Thon all alone in Ssluage ^erne didfi take.

Pamunkes kiiig weefaw thee captiue make
Among feaiien hundred of Jiis floiitefl men.
To innrther thee and vs refolued ; when
Fafl by the hand thon ledfi this Salnage grim,
Thy Pifloll at his breaft to goncrne him :
Which did infnfe fuch awe in all the refl
( SitJi their drad Soueraigne thon had'fifo diftreft)
That thon and wee (poore fixteene) fafe retird
Vnto onr Jielpleffe fhips. TJion (thus admird)
Didfi make prond Powhatan, his fnbic^s fend
To lames his Towne, thy cenfnre to attend:
And all Virginia's Lords, and Pettie Kings,
Awd by thy verttce, croncJi,- and Prefents brings
To gaine thy grace ; fo dreaded thon hafl beene:
And yet a Jieart more milde is feldome feene ;
So, making Valour Vertue, really;
WJio haft nought in thee coimtcrfct, orflie :
If in tJieflcigJit bee not the trnefl art.
That makes men famonfed for faire defert.


W/iO faith of thee, tJiis faiiors of vaine-glorie,
Miftakes both thee and vs, and this trneflorie.
If it bee ill in Thee, fo tvell to doe ;
Then, is it ill in Vs, to praife tJiee too.
But, if the firfl bee well done ; it is well.
To fay it doth (if fo it doth) excel !
Praife is the guerdon of each deere defert.
Making the praifed a6l the praifed part
With more alacritie : Honours Square is Praife ;
Without which, it ( rcgardleffe ) foone decaies.

And for tJiis paines of thine tvee praife tJiee rather.
That future times may know who was the father
Of this rare Worke (New England) which may bring
Praise to thy God, and pjvft to thy King.

Because the Booke was printed ere

the Prince his Highnefie had altered the names, I intreate

the Reader, perufe this fchcdule ; which will

plainely fhew him the correfpondence

of the old names to the new.

The old names.

The new.

The old names.

The new.

Cape Cod

Cape lames



Milford hauai








Aucocifcos Mount

Shooters hill




The Bafe

Maffachiifets Mount

Cheuit hill

A umoughcawgen


Maffachufets Riuer

Charles Riuer







A Country not difcouerd Brijlozv


S. Johns towne




Barties lies

Cape Trabigzanda

Cape Anne






Willowbys Pes

Smiths lies

Smiths lies


Hoghto7i^s Pes









Sajfanowes Mount

Snodon hill




New-England, by Captaine

lohn Smith,

N the moneth of Aprill, 1614. with My first voyage
two Ships from London, of a few ^^ ^'''"-^'^si-nd
Marchants, I chanced to ariue in New-Eng-
land, a parte of Anicryca, at the He oi Mo7ia-
higgan, in 432 of Northerly latitude: our plot was there
to take Whales and make tryalls of a Myne of Gold and
Copper. If thofe failed, Fifli and Furres was then our
refuge, to make our felues fauers howfoeuer: we found
this Whalefifliing a coflly conclufion : we faw many, and
fpent much time in chafmg them ; but could not kill any :
They beeing a kinde of lubartes, and not the Whale that
yeeldes Finnes and Oyle as wee expelled. For our Golde,
it was rather the Maflers deuice to get a voyage that pro-
ie6led it, then any knowledge hee had at all of any fuch
matter. Fifli and Furres was now our guard : and by
our late arriual, and long lingring about the Whale, the
prime of both thofe feafons were paft ere wee perceiued it;
* we

20 The defcriptio7i of New England,

we thinkino; that their feafons ferued at all times : but wee
found it otherwife ; for by the midfl of lune, the fifliing
failed. Yet in luly and Auguft fome was taken, but not
fufficient to defray fo great a charge as our flay required.
Of dry fifli we made about 40000. of Cor fifli about 7000.
Whilefl the failers fiflied, my felfe with eight or nine others
of them might befl bee fpared ; Ranging the coaft in a fmall
boat, wee got for trifles neer iioo Beuer fkinnes, 100 Mar-
tins, and neer as many Otters ; and the moft of them within
the diftance of twenty leagues. We ranged the Coaft both
Eaft and Wefl much furder ; but Eaftwards our commodi-
ties were not efteemed, they were fo neare the French who
affords them better : and right againfl vs in the Main was a
Ship of Sir Frances Popphames, that had there fuch acquain-
tance, hauing many yeares vfed onely that porte, that the
mofl parte there was had by him. And 40 leagues wefl-
wards were two French Ships, that had made there a great
voyage by trade, during the time wee tryed thofe conclu-
fions, not knowing the Coaft, nor Saluages habitation.
With thefe Furres, the Traine, and Cor-fifli I returned for
Eiigland in the Bark : where within fix monthes after our
departure from the Downes, we fafe arriued back. The
befl of this fifh was folde for flue pound the hundreth, the
reft by ill vfage betwixt three pound and fifty fliillings.
The other Ship ftaied to fit herfelfe for Spaine with the dry
fifli which was fould, by the Sailers reporte that returned,


by Captaine loliii Smith. 2 1

at forty ryalls the quintall, each hundred weighing two
quintalls and a halfe.

New England is that part (di America in the rhe sihutnon 0/
Ocean Sea oppofite to Nona Albyon in the South ^'''" '^'•s''^'"^-
Sea ; difcouered by the moft memorable Sir Fra^icis Drake
in his voyage about the worlde. In regarde whereto this
is ftiled New England, beeing in the fame latitude. New
France, off it, is Northward : Southwardes is Virginia, and
all the adioyning Continent, with New Granado, New Spain,
New A7idoloJia and the Wejl Indies. Now becaufe I haue
been fo oft afked fuch flrange queflions, of the goodneffe
and greatneffe of thofe fpatious Tra6ls of land, how they
can bee thus long vnknown, or not poffeffed by the Span-
iard, and many fuch like demands ; I intreat your pardons,
if I chance to be too plaine, or tedious in relating my
knowledge for plaine mens fatiffaction.

Florida is the next adioyning to the Indies,

, Notes of Florida.

which vnprofperoufly was attempted to bee
planted by the French. A Country farre bigger then Eng-
land, Scotland, France and Ireland, yet little knowne to any
Chriftian, but by the wonderful endeuours of Ferdinando de
Soto a valiant Spaniard: whofe writings in this age is the
befl guide knowne to fearch thofe parts.

Virginia is no He (as many doe imagine) but ,v^/„ ^y r/r-
part of the Continent adioyning to Florida; ^"""■
whofe bounds may be ftreched to the magnitude thereof
without offence to any Chriftian inhabitant. For from the


2 2 The defcription of New England^

1 3 4 5 6

Online LibraryJohn SmithA description of New England : or observations and discoveries in the north of America in the year of Our Lord 1614 : with the success of six ships that went the next year, 1615 → online text (page 1 of 6)