In October 1568/9, French fishing vessel the Gargaryne, sited off Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, was approached by the striking sight of three Englishmen in a First Nations canoe. One of the three, a David Ingram of Barking, would later regale many a tavern congregation in the manner of a salty old sea dog, eventually bringing him to the attention of Elizabeth I's shadowy spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, to whom Ingram related his alleged experiences during a torrid journey across the vast North American continent, which, in 1582, Sir Francis recorded for posterity.
The Relation first appeared in the first volume of Richard Hakluyt's Principall Nauigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English nation, published seven years after Ingram's meeting with Walsingham, though Hakluyt declined to include it in his second edition of 1599.
Ingram's account, which might otherwise have been lost to the dustbin of historical tall tales of derring do, reappeared in 1856, in an anthology, Documents Connected with the History of South Carolina, curated by Plowden Charles Jennett Weston. Though this particular source was meant only for private distribution, a digital copy is available online, and it is from this exemplar that I take this text.
Please note that I have, for the most part, maintained the original Early Modern English of what is presumably Walsingham's text - as such, I apologise for any difficulty readers may have in understanding it.
NB stations on Ingram & friends' itinerary are given in bold.
The Relacon of Davyd Ingram of Barkinge in the Com̃ of Essex Saylor, being nowe abowt the age of fortye yeares, of sundrye thinges which he with others did see in Travelinge by lande for the moste northerlie parte of the Baye of Mezico where he with many others weare sett on shoare by Mr. Hawkyns throughe a greate parte of Ameryca untill they came within fivetye leagues or theraboutes of Cape Britton which he reported unto Sir. Ffrauncys Walsinghm̃ Knight her Ma'ties principall Secretarye and to Sir. George Peckhm̃ Knight and dyvers others of good judgment and Creditt in August and Septembar A°. Dñi 1582.
Aboute the beginninge of Octobar Anno Dñi 1568 Davyd Ingram with the reste of his Company beinge an C. persons in all weare sett on lande by Mr. John Hawkyns about sixe leagues to the weste of the Ryvar Camina or Rio de Mynas which standethe about 140 leagues weste and by northe from the Cape of floryda he hathe travayled in those Countryes from beyonde terra florida extendinge towardes the Cape Britton about eleaven monethes in the whole, and aboute seaven monethes thereof in those Countryes which lye towardes the northe of the Ryũ of Maii. In which tyme as the saide Ingram thincketh he travayled by land 2000 myles at the leaste, and never contynued in any one place above 3 or 4. daies savinge onlye at the Cyttie of Balma where he stayed VI or VII. daies.
There are in those partes (saieth he) very many Kinges comonlie within 100 and 120 myles one from another whoe are at contynuall warres together. The firste Kinge that they came before dwelte in a Countrye called Gizicka whoe caused them to be stripped naked and woundringe greatlie at the whitness of there Skynnes lett them departe without further harme.
The Kinges in those Countryes are clothed with paynted or colloured garmentes, thereby you may know them, and they weare great pretyous stones which comonly are Rubyes beinge sixe ynches longe and twoe ynches broade, and yf the same be taken from them ether by force or sleighte they are presently depryved of there Kingdomes.
When they doe meane to speake with any person publiquelie they are alwayes caryed by men in Sumptuous Chayer of Sylver or Christall garnished aboute with sundrye sortes of pretyous stones.
And yf you will speake with the Kinge, at your firste approchinge neare him you muste kneele downe on boathe your knees and then aryse agayne and come somwhat nearer him within your length. Then kneele downe agayne as you did before. then take of the earthe or grasse betwene boath your handes kissinge the backsydes of eache of them and put the earth or grasse on the Crowne of your heade and soe come and kisse the Kinges feete which circumstuñces being performed you maye then aryse and stande upp and talke with him.
The noble men and suche as be in specyall favor with the Kynge do comonlye weare feathers in the heare of there heades for the moste parte of a Birde as bigge as a goose, of Russett colloure, And this ys the beste marke that this Ext cane give, to knowe them by.
All the people generally doe weare manylions or Bracelettes as bigge as a mans fynger uppon eache of there Armes and the like on the small of eache of there legges whereof comonlye one is goulde and twoe sylver.
And many of the woemen alsoe doe weare great plates of goulde coũringe there bodyes in manñ of a payer of Currettes and many Bracelettes and Chaynes of great Pearle.
The people comonlye are of good favor feture and shape of bodye, of growthe aboute five foote highe, somwhat thicke, with there faces and skynnes of colloure like an Ollive and towarde the Northe somwhat Tawnye, but some of them are paynted with dyvers colloures, they are very swyfte of foote, the heare of there heades is shaven in sundrye places and the reste of there heddes is traced.
In the Soute partes of those Countryes they goe all naked, savinge that the mens privetyes are coũed with the necke of a goarde, and the woemans priveyes with the heare or leafe of the Palme tree, but in the Northe partes they are clothed with beastes skynnes the heare syde beinge next to there bodyes in wynter.
They are soe brutyshe and beastlie that they will not forbeare the use of there wyves in open presence.
They are naturallie very curteous yf you doe not abuse them eyther in there persons or goodes but use them curteouslye, the killinge or takinge of there Beastes, birdes, fyshes or fruictes cannot offende them, excepte yt be of there Cattell, which they kepe aboute there howses as Kyne, Ginnihennes, and suche like.
Yf any of them doe holde upp boathe there handes at lengthe together and kisse the backes of them on boath sydes, then you maye undowbtedly truste them, for yt is the greateste token of frendshippe that maye be.
Yf any of them shall come unto you with an horse Tayle in his hande, then you maye assure your selfe that he is a messenger from the Kinge, and to him you may saflie comitte your person or goe to the Kinge or any wheare elles, or by him sende any thinge or message to the Kinge for those men are alwayes ether Ensigne bearers in the warres or the Kinges messengers whoe will never betraye you.
To allure the people to speache yf you will have any of the people to come aboarde your Shippe, hange out some white cloathe uppon a Staffe for yt is a signe of Amitye.
Yf you will bargayne for ware with them leave the thinge that you will sell uppon the ground, and goe from it a pretye waye off, then they will come and take yt, and sett downe suche wares as they will give for yt, in the place, and yf you thincke yt not sufficyent, leave the wares with signes that you like yt not, and they will bringe more until ether they or you be satysfyed or will give noe more, otherwayes you maye hange your wares uppon a longe poles ende and soe put more or lesse on yt untill they have agreed on the bargayne.
When they goe to the Warres they marche in Battayle Raye twoe and three in a Rancke.
There Trumpettes they doe make of Eliphantes teethe, they have a kynde of drombe which they make of beastes skynnes, they make Sheildes and Targettes of the Skynnes of Beastes compassed with willowe twigges and being dryed they are stronnge and defensible.
There weapons are dartes headed with Iron, the heades are twoe fyngars broade and half a foote longe which are fastened within a Sockett.
They have alsoe shoarte Bowes stronge with the barke of trees beinge half an ynche broade and the Arrowes are above a yarde longe, nocked and headed with sylver and bone, there Arrowes are of small force within a stones Caste of them and you maye put them by with a Staffe a pretye waye of.
They have shoarte broade swordes of black Iron of the lengthe of a yarde or very neare an ell bearinge edges thicker than the backes of our knives somwhat like the foyles in our fence schole.
They have croked kindes of Iron somwhat like a wodknife or Hanger wherwith they will karve exelent boathe in woodde and bone.
There Ensigne is a Horse tayle with a glasse or Christall in some of them beinge dyed in sundrye collours as redd, yellowe, grene &c.
The people in those Countryes are professed Enimyes to the Caniballes or men eaters. The Caniballes doe moste inhabyte betwene Norumbege and Bariniashe they have teethe like dogges teethe and therby you maye knowe them.
In the warres they doe pitche there Campe as neare as they maye unto some woodd of Palme trees which yealdethe them meate drincke and presente remedye against poysoned Arrowes.
There buildinges are weake and of small force, there howses are made rounde like dove howses, and they dwell together in Townes and villages, and some of them have banquettinge howses in the toppe of them, made like the lovar of an Hall builded with Pillers of massive sylver and Christall framed square, whereof many of them are as bigge as a boyes legge of XVI yeares of age, and some lesse.
This Ext did alsoe see dyvars Townes and villages as Gunda a Towne a flighte shoate in lengthe.
Ochala a great Towne a myle long.
Balma a Ritche Cyttie a myle and a halfe longe.
Bega a Countrye and a Towne of that name, three quarters of a myle longe.
there are good store of Ox hydes.
Sagnanathe a Towne almost a myle in lengthe.
Bariniathe a Cyttie a myle and a quarter longe.
Alsoe there is a Ryvar and a Towne of that name but lesse than the first above mencyoned.
Gunda a small Towne and a Ryvar boathe of that name, and this is the moste northerlie parte that this Ext was att.
They have in every howse Scoupes, Buckettes, and dyvers other vesselles of massive sylver wherwith they doe throwe out water and duste and otherwyse doe ymploye them to there ne&ctilde;&ctilde;ie uses in there howses. All which this Ext did see comon and usuall in some of those Countryes especyallie where he founde the greate Pearles.
There are alsoe greate Ryvars at the heades wherof this Ext and his Companyons did fynde sundrye peeces of goulde some as bigge as a mans fyste the earthe beinge washed awaye with the water.
And in other places they did see great Rockes of Christall which growe att the heades of great and many Ryvars beinge in quantytie sufficyent to loade Shippes.
There are alsoe in those partes great plentye of fyne furres unknowen to this Ext dressed after the manñ of the Countrye.
The people there doe burne a kynde of whyte Turfe or earthe which they digge owt of the marishes a fatham deepe in the grounde. Yt burnethe very cleare and smellethe as sweete as muske, and that earthe is holesome sweete and comfortable to smell unto as any Pomaundar. They doe make there fyar of this earthe for the sweetnes therof, havinge great abundance of woodde.
When they want fyar, they take Bryars and rubbe them very harde together betwene there fystes and soe with harde and often rubbinge they kindell and make fyar.
They have great plentye of Iron, and there is alsoe great plentye of myñall salte in the marshe grounde which lokethe Reddishe, a thinge ne&ctilde;&ctilde;ie for the great fyshinge neare the Sea shoare which are there abundunte and the fyshe very lardge and huge.
The grounde and Countrye is moste exelent fertill and pleasunte, and specyallie towards the Ryvar of Maii, for the grasse of the reste is not soe grene as yt is in those partes, for the othere is brent awaye with the heate of the sonne,
And as all the countrye is good and most delycate havinge greate playnes as large as the fayer in many places and maye be sene, beinge as playne as a boarde.
And then great and huge wooddes of sundrye kynde of trees, as Ceadre, date trees, Lign&ulong; vite, bumbasse, plantens, and bushes and alsoe great abundaunce of those trees which carrye a thicke barke that bytethe like pepper, of which kynde younge Mr. Wynter broughte home parte from the Streight of Magillane with the fruictfull Palme tree and great plentye of other sweete Trees to this Ext unknowen.
And after that Playnes againe and in other places great Closes invyroned with moste delicate trees in steade of Hedges, they being as yt weare sett by the handes of men. Yet the beste grasse for the moste parte is in the highe Countryes somwhat farre from the Sea syde and great Ryvars, by reason that the lowe growndes there be soe rancke, that the grasse growethe faster than yt canne be eaten, wherby the olde grasse lyethe whithered thicke, and the newe grasse growinge throwghe yt, wheras in the upper partes the grasse and grounde is moste exelent and grene, the grounde not being o&ulong;chardged with any oulde whithered grasse as is afore specyfied.
The Palme tree aforesaid caryethe heares on the leaves therof, which reache to the grounde, wherov the Indyans doe make Ropes and Coardes for there Cotten beddes and doe use the same to many other purposes.
The which tree if you doe pricke with your knife aboute twoe foote from the Roote, it will yealde a wyne in colloure like wheat but in taste stronge and somwhat like bastarde, which is moste exelent drincke but will distemper boathe your headde and bodye, yf you drincke to muche therof as you strounge wynes will doe in these partes.
The braunches of the toppe of the tree are moste exelent meate Rawe, after you hav pared awaye the barke.
And there is a redd oyle that comethe out of the roote of this tree which is moste exelent against poysened Arrowes and weapons, for by yt they doe recovar them selves of there poysoned woundes.
There is a Tree called a Planten with a fruicte growinge on yt like a puddinge which is moste exelent meate Rawe.
They have alsoe a Redd Berrye like a Pescodd called guiathos two or three ynches longe which groweth on shoarte bushes full of prickles like the Slowe or thorne tree, and the fruicte eatethe like a greene Reson, but sharp somwhat, they stampe this Berrye and make wyne therof, which they keepe in vesselles made of woodde.
They have alsoe in many places Vynes which beare grapes as bigge as a mans Thombe.
There is alsoe great plentye of Hearbes and of all kynde of flowers as Roses and gelliflowers like ours in England and many other which he knewe not.
Alsoe they have a kynde of grayne the eare wherof is as bigge as a mans wriste of his arme, the grayne is like a flatte pease. yt maketh very good bredde and white.
They doe alsoe make bredd of the Roote of a Cassada tree which they doe drye and beate yt as small as they canne and temper yt with water and soe bake yt in Cakes on a stone.
There is alsoe great plentye of Buffes, beares, horses, kyne, wolves, foxes, deare, goates, sheepe, hares, and conyes. alsoe other Cattell like ours and very many unlike ours to this Ext unknowen, the moste parte beinge wylde, the Hydes and Skinnes of them are good merchaundize.
There is a very great store of those Buffes which are Beastes as bigge as twoe Oxen in lengthe almost twentye foote havinge longe eares like a bludde hownde, with long heares about there eares, there hornes be Crooked like Rames hornes, ther eyes blacke, there heares longe, blacke, roughe and hagged as a Goate, the Hydes of these beastes are solde verye deare, these Beastes doe keepe Company only by couples a male and a female and doe alwayes fighte with others of the same kynde.
There is alsoe great plentye of Deare boathe redde, white, and speckled which laste sorte this Ext knoweth not.
There is alsoe great plentye of another kynde of Sheepe which carrye a kynde of course woll. this Sheepe is very good meate, althoughe the fleshe be very redd, they are excedinge fatte and of nature loathe to ryse when they are layed. which is alwayes from five of the Clocke at night, untill five a Clocke in the morninge, betwene which tyme you maye easylie kill them, but after they be on foote they are very wylde and reste not in one place, but live together in Heardes in some 500. as yt happenethe more or lesse, and these redd Sheepe are moste about the Baye of St. Mary, as this Ext gessethe.
There are Beares boathe blacke and white. There are wolves. The ffoxes have there Skynnes more grissilde than ours in Englande. There are Conyes boathe whyte, redd, and grey. in every place great plentye.
This Ext did alsoe see in those Countryes a Monstruous Beaste twyse as bigge as a Horse and in every proportyon like unto a Horse bothe in mayne, hoofe, heare, and neighinge, savinge yt was small towardes the hinder partes like a Greyhounde: these Beastes have twoe teethe or hornes of a foote longe growinge streight furthe of there nostrelles, they are naturall Enimyes to the horse.
He did alsoe see in that Countrye boath Eliphantes and Uunces.
He did alsoe see one other straunge Beaste bigger than a Beare. yt had nether heade nor necke, his eyes and mouthe weare in his brest. this Beaste is verye ouglie to beholde and Cowardlie of kynde, yt bearethe a very fyne skynne like a Ratte, full of sylver heare.
There are in those Countryes abundunce of Russett Parrettes but very fewe grene.
There are alsoe birdes of all sortes as we have and many strange birdes to this Ext unknowen.
There is great plentye of Ginihennes which are tame birdes and ppar to the inhabytauntes, as bigge as geese, very blacke of colloure, havinge feathers like downe.
There is alsoe a birde called a flaminge, whose feathers are very redd, and is bigger then a goose, billed like a Showeler and is very good meate.
There is alsoe another kynde of fowle in that Countrye which hauntethe the Ry&ulong;s neare unto the Islandes, they are of the shape and of a goose, but there wynges are covered with small callowe feathers and cannot flye. you maye dryve them before you like Sheepe, they are excedinge fatte, and very delicate meate. they have white heades, and therfore the Countrye men call them Penguins, which semethe to be (a Welch name) and they have alsoe in use dyvers other Welche wordes.
A matter worthie the notinge.
There is alsoe a very straunge Birde thrise as bigge as an Eagle, very bewtyfull to behoulde, his feathers are more oryente than a Peacockes feathers, his eyes are as glistringe as any Hawkes eyes, but as great as a mans eyes, his heade and thighe as bigge as a mans heade and thighe. Yt hath a Creste or tufte of feathers of sundrye colloures on the toppe of the heade like a lapwinge, hanginge backwardes. his beak and Tallentes in proportyon like unto an Eagle, but very huge and lardge.
Touchinge Tempestes and other straunge monstrous thinges in those partes, this Ext saieth that he hath sene yt lighten and thunder in somer season by the space of 24 howres together. the cause whereof he iudgethe to be the heate of the Clymate.
He further saiethe that there is a Clowde somtyme of the yeare sene in the Ayer which comonlye turnethe to great tempestes. And that sometymes of the yeare there are great wyndes in manner of hurlewyndes.
Touchinge there Religion he saiethe that they doe honnor for there god a devell which they call Collochio, whoe speakethe unto them somtymes in the liknes of a black dogge, and somtymes in the liknes of a blacke Calfe. And some doe honnor the Sonne the Mone and the Starres.
He saiethe that the people in those Countryes are allowed many wyves, some five, some tenne, and a Kinge somtyme a hundered. And that adultery is very severelie punished in manner followinge, that is to saye, the woeman taken in adultery muste with her owne handes Cutt the throate of the Adulterer, and the next of his kindred doethe likwyse Cutt the throate of the Adulteresse, and beinge asked in what manner they take these execucons, he saieth that they are brought to execuc&olong;n by certen magistrates which doe delyver unto the woeman the knyfe wherewith shee Cuttethe the throate of the Adulterer. Then appearethe there Collochio or Devell in the liknes aforesaide and speakethe unto them, and to that Devell they partyes brought to execuc&olong;n doe great reverence and with many prayers to yt doe take there deathe.
He saiethe that suche persons as are put to deathe in suche sorte have not any of there frendes buryed with them, but suche as dye naturallye have alwayes buryed with them quicke one of there deareste frendes to keepe them Company and to provide ne&ctilde;&ctilde;ies and victualles for them, whoe doe willinglie consent therto, beinge therto perswaded by there Collochio or Devell whom they doe worshippe.
He saiethe further that he and his twoe fellowes, namelye Richard Browne and Richard Twyde wente to a poore mans howse and there they did see the saide Collochio or Devell, with very great eyes like a blacke Calfe, uppon the sighte therof Browne saide, there is the Devell, and theruppon he blessed him selfe in the name of the father the sonne and the holie ghoste, and Twyde saide very vehementlie I defye thee and all thy workes, and presentlye the Collochio shrancke awaye in a stelinge manner furthe of the doers, and was sene noe more unto them.
Alsoe they passed ovar many great Ryvars in those Countryes in Canoes or Boates, some IIII. some VI. some VIII. sone X. myles over, wherof one was soe large that they colde scarce crosse the same in XXIIII. howers.
Alsoe he saiethe that in the same Countryes the people have Instrumentes of Musicke made of a peece of Cane almoste a foote longe, beinge open at boathe endes which fittinge downe they smighte uppon there thighes and one of there handes, makinge a pleasunte kynde of sownde. And they doe use another kynde of Instrumentes like a Tabbar covered with a white skynne somwhat like parchement. This Ext canne very discribe there gesture, dauncinge, and songes.
After longe travayle the foresaid Davyd Ingram with his twoe Companions Browne and Twyde came to the head of a Ryvar called [...] which is 60 leagues weste from Cape Britton where they understode by the people of that Countrye, of the arryvall of a Christyan, wheruppon they made there repayer to the Sea syde, and there founde a frenche Capitaine named Mounsr. Champaine whoe toke them into his Shippe and brought them unto Newhaven, and from thence they weare transported into England A°. Dñi 1569.
This Mounsr. Champaine with dyvers of his Company was brought into the village of Baryniathe aboute twentye myles upp into the Countrye by the saide Ext and his twoe Companions by whose meanes he had a trade with the people, of dyvers sortes of fyne furres and of great redde leaves of Trees almoste a yard longe and aboute a foote broade which he thincketh are good for dyenge.
Alsoe the saide Mounsr. Champaine had there for exchunge of tryflinge wares a good quantytie of rude and unwrought sylver.
He saieth furthar that dyvers of the saide frenche men which weare in the said Shippe called the Gargayne, are yet lyving in [...] uppon the Coaste of ffraunce as he thincketh, for he did speace with some of them within these three yeares.
Aboute a fortnight after there cominge from Newhaven into England this Ext and his twoe Companyons came to Mr. John Hawkyns whoe had sett them on shoare uppon the Baye of Mezico, and unto eache of them he gave a Rewarde.
Richard Browne his Companyon was slayne about five yeares paste in the Elizabeth of Mr. Cockens of London, and Richard Twyde his other Companyon dyed at Ratclif in John Sherwoodes howse there aboute three yeares paste.
Grando is a word of salutacon, as amonge us good morrowe good even god save you, and suche like.
Garriccona a Kinge.
Garraccona a Lorde.
Carningnaz, the p̃vyties.
Kerrucca the sonne.
Alsoe the saide Davyd Ingram travelinge towardes the northe founde the mayne Sea uppon the northe syde of Ameryca, and travayled in the sighte therof the space of twoe whole dayes, where the people signifyed unto him that they had seene Shipes on that Coaste and did drawe uppon the grounde the Shape and signe of Shippes and of there Sales and flagges which thinge especyallye provethe the passage of the northe weste and is agreable to the experyence of the Spanishe Captaine Vasques de Coronado. founde a Shippe of China or Caytaia uppon the northe weste of Ameryca.
Alsoe the saide Ext saiethe that there is an Islande called Corrasan, and there are in yt five or sixe thousande Indyans at the leaste, and all these are govned by one onlye Negro whoe is but a Slave to a Spanyarde, and moreover the Spanyardes will sende but one of there Slaves with an 100. or 200. Indyans, when they goe to gather goulde in the Ryvars discendinge from the mountaynes. And when they shalbe absente by the space of XXtie or XXXtie dayes at the leaste everye one of the Indyans will neverthelesse obaye all the Slaves comundments with as great reverence as yf they weare there naturall Kinge, althoughe there be never a Christyan neare them by the space of 100. or 200. myles, which argueth that great obedyence of these people, and howe easylie they maye be governed when they be once conquered.