Owing to mismanagement in the preparations and want of funds, it was not
until two years after the Company's subscription books at Edinburgh and
Glasgow had been closed that the first expedition to Darien was ready to
sail from Leith Roads. The Company's fleet consisted of five vessels:—
LEITH HARBOUR, about 1700. From an oil-painting in the Trinity House, Leith.
Sir John Dalrymple's lively and time-honoured description of the
embarkation, as the ships got under way, is well known :—
"On the 26th of July, of the year 1698, the whole city of Edinburgh poured
down upon Leith to see the Colony depart, amidst the tears and prayers and
praises of relations and friends, and of their countrymen. Many seamen and
soldiers whose services had been refused, because more had offered
themselves than were needed, were found hid in the ships, and, when ordered
ashore, clung to the ropes and timbers, imploring to go, without reward,
with their companions. Twelve hundred men sailed in five stout ships."
Besides those who assembled on the pier of Leith to give the emigrants a
hearty send-off, a crowd of interested spectators lined the Castle-Hill of
Edinburgh, and from that "coigne of vantage" they watched the ships as they
sailed clown the estuary of the Forth, until they dwindled away in the
distance, and finally disappeared on the water's edge.
Although Paterson was really the projector of the expedition, and ought to
have been its leader, he was not invited to accompany it in any official
position. Notwithstanding this great slight from the Directors of the
Company, such was his generous nature and his desire to further the objects
of the scheme that he resolved to join the expedition in the private
capacity of a "volunteer." Accordingly he went on board the Unicorn on 16th
July, accompanied by his wife, her maid, and Thomas Fenner, his clerk. With
his usual precaution, he waited on Commodore Pennicuik, commander of the St
Andreiv, and ventured to suggest that an inspection of the stores on board
the fleet should be made, in order that, should any deficiency be found, it
might be reported to the Directors in time and put right before the ships
weighed anchor. In reply, the Commodore told him that he knew his own
After they had been four days at sea, however, the councillors were summoned
on board the St Andrew to hold an inspection of the stores. [Herries, in his
' Tracts (p. 46), states that it was on his suggestion that this inspection
of the provisions took place, and that he was ordered by the Council to make
a report how long the stores would hold out. He reported that he "could not
make above five months and a half of any provisions except stock-fish, of
which there was full eleven months, and that at four days of the week, but
had not above four months' butter and oil to it." In another place (p. 45)
he states that the shortage arose from the fact that a third of the
provisions had been used during the time the ships were lying idle before
sailing.] Reports from the pursers of the various ships were submitted,
when, after scrutiny, it was discovered that in place of nine months'
provisions, as given out by the Directors, the fleet had stores for six
only. In addition, it was found that a large quantity of the bread was made
of "damnified" wheat, and that some of the other provisions were rendered
unusable through bad packing. In consequence of this discovery, all on board
the squadron were forthwith put on short allowance.
The Council designed to put into the Orkneys with a view to sending an
express to the Directors intimating the shortage in the provisions; but
meeting with foggy and bad weather when passing these islands, they were
obliged to proceed without accomplishing this. The ships coasted round the
north of Scotland, the purpose being to make Madeira their place of
rendezvous, where their sealed orders were to be opened. Up to this time the
commanders of the various ships were in ignorance of their precise
destination, having been shipped by the Company ostensibly for Guinea and
the West Indies.
Towards the end of August Madeira was sighted, and on the 29th, after
landing, the Council forwarded letters to the Directors at home by way of
Holland and Lisbon. They advised them of their prosperous voyage so far, and
intimated the unexpected deficiency in the provisions, accompanying this
with a pressing request that the needful supplies be forwarded with all
During their four or five days' rendezvous at Madeira, the Council, with the
various ships' monies, purchased twenty-seven pipes of wine and some
provisions; while the officers and gentlemen - volunteers, in consequence of
their short allowance on board, were glad to exchange their scarlet coats,
cloaks, and swords for extra provisions and wine.
the time of sailing from Leith, Captain "William Veitch, one of the seven
original councillors, although he had taken the oath of office, was
prevented at the last moment from joining the expedition, and the remaining
councillors, on reaching Madeira, took the opportunity of filling up the
vacancy by assuming Paterson in his place. At Madeira also the Council broke
open their sailing orders, which directed them to call first at Crab Island,
in the vicinity of Porto Rico. At Crab Island they consulted their second
sailing orders, which contained instructions to steer for Golden Island, in
the Bay of Acla, near the Gulf of Darien, their ultimate destination. They
proceeded thither, and, after careful soundings, cast anchor in a fine
natural harbour four miles to the east of Golden Island. On 3rd November
they landed and took possession, and shortly thereafter obtained the
sanction of the native chiefs to settle among them.
Central America shewing the route taken by the first Expedition to
DARIEN after leaving me Island of MADEIRA.
The following journal, taken from the 'Darien Papers,' gives an interesting
description of the voyage after leaving Madeira, the arrival at Darien, and
the first settlement of the Colony in the new world. The journal appears to
be the official account of the progress of the expedition from day to day,
and the writer of it, Mr Rose, seems to have occupied the position of
Secretary to the Council in the Colony.
[The "points" denote portions which it was deemed judicious to omit, what is
here given being sufficient for the purpose of the narrative.]
Journal or Diary of the most remarkable things that happened during the
Scots Affrican and Indian fleet, in their voyage from the Island of Madera
to their landing in America, and since that time.
September 2nd, 1698. — We weighed anchor from Madera road, the Governor
having been very civil to us; the Comadore gave him 15 guns, Capt.
Pinker-ton 13, and Capt. Drummond 11, all which he particularly returned
with two less. Wee had a fresh breese at E.N.E., and stood away W.S.W.
Sep. 10. This morning wee passed the Tropick of Cancer with a fresh and fair
gale; the ships performed the usual ceremony of ducking several of the Ships
Crew who had not passed before; they were hoisted to the main yard arm, and
let down 3 several times with a soss into the sea, out over head and ears,
their legs being tyed somewhat closs, which was pretty good sport.
Sep. 30. Moderate gales and fair weather; at 6 in the morning wee made the
Islands of Antigo and Monsirat, at noon the Island of Eedondo, being a small
island, or rather a rock like the Bass; bore S.S.E. halfe a mile distant,
and the Island of Nevis N.W. and B.W. 4 leagues. It is a very pleasant-like
Island; the fort hoisted their flag and wee our Colours.
1 October. Moderate gales and fair weather. At 6 last night the west end of
St Christophers bore N. \ E. distant 4 leagues. This day at noon the S.E.
end of Sta Cruze bore W. £ N. distant 7 leagues.
Yesterday the Council met on board the Comadore, whene it was resolved that
Captain Pinkertoun in the Unicorn, with the Snow, and Mr Paterson, should be
immediately despatched for the Island of St Thomas, being a free port of the
Danes, in order to get pilots for the Main and what intelligence were
possible of the state of Darien. Accordingly, at 6 at night they parted from
us. Wee steered directly for Crab Island, which wee made in the morning,
bearing N.W. distant 5 leagues.
3d. This morning wee went ashoare and took possession of the Island in the
name of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa, &c. Wee left some of our
people ashoare all night, and stood of to sea, it looking like bad weather,
much thunder, lightning, and rain.
In the forenoon our men came on board, and wee bore away to Leeward, where
is the best anchoring. About halfe an hour past 4, in Frenchman's bay, wee
saw a sloop with Danish colours, with a tent on shoare with the same hoisted
on the top of it. Wee imediatly stood in and anchored closs by her. The
Commadore sent to know quhat she was and her business there, who answered,
they were Danes with a Governour and 15 men sent by the Gouernour of St
Thomas, to assert the K. of Denmark's right to that Island, and to protest
against our having any thing to do there. This sloop was dispatched away as
soon as possible after Captain Pinkertoun's arrival there, viz. on Sunday at
2 o'clock, but we landed that morning by 8; so that wee told them they came
too late. However, they offered their protest, as did the Governour of St
Thomas, to Captain Pinkertoun; this they owned was matter of form, and what
they were obliged to do to please the Court; but wished with all their
hearts wee settled there, for then they wold have a bullwark between them
and those of Portorico (a rich and large Island and very populous very near)
who were very troublesome neighbouring. These 24 hours wee have had much
wind, with thunder, lightning, and great rain.
Oct. 5. This day Captain Pinkertoun arrived with the Snow, and brought one
Captain Allison with him, who freely offered to go along with us to Golden
Island. This man is one of the eldest Privateers now alive, and commanded a
small ship with Capt. Sharp when they went into the South Sea over the
Isthmus; he was likewayes at the taking of Panama, Portobello, Chagres, and
Carthagena.2 All the time we stayed here the St
Andrew had a tent on shoare with the Companyes Colours flying on it, and 60
men for a guard when we filled our water.3
This evening came in a Sloop commanded by one Moon. Captain Allison was
concerned in her in 2000 pound. She was loaded with flower, beeffe, and
other goods. Wee endeavoured to drive a bargain with him for some
provisions, but his prices were too high. Much wind, with great rain,
thunder, and lightning.
6 Octr. The
weather continues very bad. The Sloop sailed in the afternoon, being bound
to Corassao, and from thence was for Carthagena with slaves; he designs
afterward for Portobello, and promised to call at us in passing.
At 4 in the morning wee weighed and got under sail, having filled our water,
and got our sick men, tent, and guard off from the shoare. At 8 at night wee
took our departure from the S.E. end of Portorico, bearing W. h N. distant 5
leagues—squaly weather. . . .
28. This day fair but squales of wind and rain in the night. At 6 last night
the Island Fuerte bore E. £ S. distant 2 leagues. This is a low Island about
a mile long, full of trees, which may be seen 7 leagues of; there is good
anchoring on the South side, and very good water.
29. The weather squaly. The other day when at anchor wee tryed the current
and found it set N.E. 36 miles in 24 hours.
30. Fair weather. At 6 at night the St Andrew and Unicom anchored in a fine
sandy bay about 3 leagues to the westward of the gulfe of Darien. There came
2 Canoas with several Indians on board. They were very free and not at all
shey. They spoke some few words of English and indifferent Spanish. Wee gave
them victuals and drink, which they used very freely, especially the last.
In their cups wee endeavoured to pump them, who told they had expected us
these two years; that wee were very welcome, and that all the countrey was
at warr with the Spaniard. They got drunk and lay on board all night. In the
morning when they went away wee gave each an old hat, a few 2 penny glasses,
and knives, with which they seemed extremely pleased.
The Caledonia and Snow stood off to sea all night.
31. These 24 hours with land and sea breezes. This morning we went in Boats
to Carret Bay, which is about 2 leags to the westward of the place where wee
anchored last in, to view the bay and endeavour to get intelligence of
Golden Island; wee being at a loss, for none of us knew the Land. Here wee
met our friends that were aboard, who informed us that Golden Island was
some few leags further to the westward. Fair weather with land and sea
Novr. 1. These 24 hours fair weather with land and sea breezes. In the
forenoon wee anchored within halfe a mile of Golden Island. In the afternoon
wee went in our boats to sound all about Golden Island, which wee did with
great exactness, but found it not convenient for our shipes, there not being
room enough about the point of the main for ships of our length to swing in.
'Tis true there is room enough near the Island, but then wee might be
attacked by the greatest [sic in MS.] either from Eastward or Westward, for
they can come in both wayes, nor is ther a drop of water within a mile of
the point. On the main and all the bay round full of mangrow and swampy
ground, which is very unwholesome. As wee went to sound, wee saw a flag of
truce waved in the bottom of the bay. Wee went thither and found about 20
Indians with bowes and lances, but upon our approaching they unstrung their
bowes in token of friendship. Wee made one of our men swim ashoare (while we
lay off upon our oars) to know their meaning. They desired us to come
ashoare, but we did not think it fit. Then they told us that to-morrow one
of their greatest Captains wold be on board of us—so we parted.
2d. This morning according to what was said, came on board one Captain
Andreas with 10 or a dozen along with him. He inquired the reason of our
coming hither and what wee designed. Wee answeared, our design was to settle
among them if they pleased to receive us as friends, our business was trade,
and that we wold supply them from time to time with such comodities as they
wanted, at much more reasonable rates than either the Spaniard or any other
could do. He inquired if wee were friends to the Spaniard. Wee made answear
that wee had no warr with any Nation; that if the Spaniard did offer us no
affront nor injury, wee had nothing to say to them; but otherwayes wee wold
make open war with them. This they seem'd pleased with all, still beleeving
us to be privateers, and our design upon the South Sea. He began to run out
upon the praises of Captain Swain and Captain Davies, two English
privateers, who he said were his particular friends, and whom he knew in the
South Sea. Wee received it coldly, and assured him wee were upon no design,
beleeving it to be a pump, as wee found by the mens conversation. Wee gave
him a hat braded with broad gold galoo, with some toyes, so wee parted for
that time. He (as generally all the people are) is of a small stature. In
his garb he affects the Spaniard, as also in the gravity of his Cariage. He
had a loose red stuff coat on, with an old hat, a pair of white drawers, but
no shoes nor stockens.
Novr. 2d. Yesterday in the afternoon, wee went in our boats to sound a bay 4
miles to the eastward of Golden Island, and found it a most excellent
harbour.6The harbour is within a great bay lying to
the westward of it, made by Golden Island and a point of land bearing from
thence east about a league. From that eastmost point to the opposite one is
a random cannon shot, and in the middle of the entry lyes a rock about 3
feet above the water, on which the Sea beats furiously, when the wind is out
and blowes hard. This looks terrible (when in the bay) to those who know not
the place well, but in both sides of this rock is a very good and wide
Channel, that to the southward being about 3 cable-lenth breadth, with 7
fathom water closs to the rocks nose, and the other to the northward near 2
cables lenth. There is a small rock under water, a little within the points
bearing off of the southermost S.S.W. and of the northermost S.S.E. and of
the rock without S.E. & B.E. From these two outwardmost
points, the harbour runs away east a good league, and near the middle on the
right hand the land sets out, so that its not a musquet shot over, and thus
farr there is not less than 6 fathom water with a very good easy ground, and
here you ride landlocked every way that no wind can possibly hurt you.
Within this to the bottom of the harbour, till within a cables lenth of the
shoare, wee have not less than 3 fathom water, nor can a hurrycane make the
least sea there. The land on the left hand coming in is a peninsula and
about 3 miles long, very high and steep towards the Sea, where it will be
extremely difficult for any body to land till ye come to the Isthmus, where
is a small sandy bay. Small ships may ride but this by a good ditch and fort
may safely be secured. The westermost point towards the harbour is low and
very fit for a battery to command the entry, which wold be excellently
secured by another on the opposit shoar. The land on the Peninsula is
extraordinary good, and full of stately trees fit for all uses, and full of
pleasant birds, as is also the opposit shoar, and hath several small springs
which wee hope will hold in the dryest season. But on the other side there
are 4 or 5 fine rivers that never do dry. This harbour is capable of
containing 1000 of the best ships in the world, and with no great trouble
wharfs may be run out to which ships of the greatest burthen may lay their
sides and unload. This morning Captain Andreas came on board again with his
traveling wife, having in all four. Polygamy being here allowed, every one
may have as many as he can maintain. He was still on the pump as to our
design, but when he found our account all of a peece, he told us that the
English after they had been very friendly with them, had several times
earyed away their people, and that was the reason that Captain Pedro (whom
he promised to bring aboard with him, when last here) wold not ventur till
he were better assured of our integrity. He like way es told us that there
were some French who lived among the Indians towards the Samballas to the
westward. Fair weather. This day wee landed and took possession.7
Novr. 4. The weather fair, with land and sea breeses. This forenoon wee
weighed and got in to the harbour, but the Unicorn unhappily struck on that
sunken rock within the heads, and beat of some of her sheathing. There were
40 men sent from each ship to clear away and make huts for our sick men.
5. Wee sent all our sick ashoare, and sent 30 men more from each ship to
clear away. The Council met and went to view the most proper place for a
Fort. Fair weather.
6. Fair weather. This morning arrived a canao with one Frenchman, 2
Creolians of Martinico, and 4 Indians; as also a periager with Captain
Ambrosio and Captain Pedro, who live about 16 leagues to the westward.
Novr. 7th. The weather fair, with small breeses. Our people are imployed in
making of huts and clearing away ground.
The wind and weather as above. There hath been a great number of Indians on
board ships, whom wee use very kindly, and who consume a great deal of
9. The weather as above.
10. This day Captain Andreas dined on board the Comadore with his first wife
and his sister; they are generally of a small size as well as the men; their
features are indifferent (bating their colour), only their eyes are somewhat
too small. They had a single cloath wrapt about them in form of a peticoat
made of cotton, with a sort of a linen mantle about their shoulders; a great
many beads about their necks and arms, with large gold rings put through the
gristle that divides their nostrils; they are very submissive to their
husbands, who notwithstanding are very kind to them. They told there had
been a skirmish between the Indians of the Gulph and the Spaniard. That the
last had killed about 20 men, and had taken as many women for slaves. That
they knew of our being here and were exceeding angry with them for making
friendship with us. Fair weather.
11. The people ashoare are imployed in making of huts, clearing way, &c.,
and those on board in ordering their holds, overhauling their rigging,
12. Much rain in the night.
13. Much rain in the morning. Wee saw a ship Saturday to the westward, which
wee beleeved to be Captain Lang in the Rupert prize, who wee heard was in
the Gulph of Uraba.8
14. We had sharp showers of rain with the wind round the compass.
15. It has rained very hard, and gusts of wind. This evening Captain Lang in
his boat came to visit us.
16. Captain Lang dined on board the Comadore. Much rain and thunder, which
hinders our work.
17. Captain Lang dined on board Captain Pinkertoun. In the evening Lang's
boat went to his Sloop which lay at the Isle of Pinas. Much thunder,
lightning, and rain.
18. This morning Captain Lang and Captain Pinkertoun went for the Isle of
19. At 8 o'clock this morning Major Cunninghame, Mr Mackay, and Captain
Pennycuik set out to the westward, and about 4 in the afternoon got on board
Captain Lang, where they with Capt. Pinkertoun stayed all night, it blowing
hard so that our longboats could not thither till next morning. Much rain,
fresh gales of wind, thunder, and lightning but the ship arrived too late on
the scene. Captain Long acted in an unfriendly way towards the colonists. A
copy of his dispatch to the Council of Trade in England concerning the
Scotch Colony, written from Jamaica, was found among the Company's papers.
In it he says : " They [the Scots] are in such a crabbed hold, that it may
be difficult to beat them out of it. ... I saw the settlement and order of
the Scots, which appeared modest, and they declared themselves to me that
they would be no harbourer of pirates, nor invade any man's settled land,
but those that would disturb them they would grant letters of reprisal
against them." Immediately on receipt of Captain Long's information, the
English Government sent secret instructions to the Colonial Governors, which
resulted in proclamations being issued by several of them against the Scots.
Secretary Vernon's first dispatch to the Governor-General of Virginia is
dated from Whitehall as early as 2nd January 1698/9
20. About 8 in the morning our longboats got up, together with Captain Pedro
in his periager. What others have found or may think of Lang wee know, but
he appears to us to be of no great reach; he has a full and ample comission,
his principal design it seems was to find out wrecks and to fish. He own'd
and so did all his people that his boat had not been so much as been ashoare
in any place betuixt the gulfe and the Isle of Pinas, nor had he any
conversation with those people, so that he can have no pretence upon our
settlement. Wee left him about 10 o'clock, he said he was bound for Jamaica.
This night the Councilours lay in a little bay about 2 leagues to the
westward of the river Pinas. In the night time a fresh gale variable and
some small showers.9
Novr. 21. In the morning they weighed and sounded all along the coast, and
about noon found a most excellent harbour about 4 leagues to the westward of
where they lay all night, capable of containing 10,000 sail of ships. It is
made by an elbow of the main to the Eastward, and a range of keys about it,
10 in number, running to the Eastward above 2 leagues. To one of those
called Laurence Key the greatest ship in England may lay her side to. Here
the privateers used to carreen, but the inconveniency of that place is that
ships may not only come in both from the Eastward and Westward, but between
several of the keyes, so that it can not be defended without a great many
forts as wel as men. After they had surveyed this bay they got to the river
Coco. About 4 o'clock they landed and went to Ambrosio's house, which is a
good league from the water side.10 It stands upon
the banks of this river with about 10 or a dozen lesser houses about it.
Their houses are on the sea hand inaccessible in a manner, being so
advantageously situat that no stranger can come at them that way by reason
of the numerous unseen shoalds, small rocks, and banks.
When they came near, Ambrosio advanced about 50 pace with 20 followers, all
cloathed in white loose frocks with fringes round the bottoms, and lances in
their hands. He saluted them very kindly, and gave them a calabash full of
liquor almost like lambswool, which they call Mischlew, being made of Indian
corn and potatoes; this they get drunk with all often. Before the house
about 20 paces it was very smooth and clean; the house was about 90 foot
long 35 in breadth and 30 in hight; it was curiously thatched with palmetto
royal, and over that, Cajan leaves; the floor was of a firm earth like
Tarras, very smooth and clean; the sides were of large canes about the
bigness of a man's leg, and near an inch asunder. In this house lived
Ambrosio and Pedro with their whole familyes, in all about 40 persons. There
was an old woman who was very stirring about the house, she seem'd to be
near 60, but upon asking her age the Frenchman told she was about 120. They
could not beleeve it, and were perswaded they were mistaken in the
computation of time; he assured them not, and as an undeny-able
demonstration shewed the sixt generation of that woman's body in the house,
which indeed was very surprising. She is Pedroe's grandmother; when it was
assured that it was common among them to live to 150 or 160 years age, yet
its observed that those of them that converse often with the Europeans and
drink their strong liquors are of short life.
Novr. 22. In the morning they had some plantans, potatoes, and wild hog
dresst for breakfast, after their fashion. Then Ambrosio and Pedro went out
with their guns to kill some fowl for the strangers. Pedro returned with
some partriges the largest and best ever they saw, being bigger than capons,
and exceedingly sweet. They being afraid it wold be late took leave ere
Ambrosio returned, Pedro and the Frenchman conveying them to the water side.
They lay that night at the eastermost of the keyes mentioned before. Pedro
did climb high cocornut trees and threw doun a great number most delicious
for the juyce and kernel. They are very big. This Pedro is incredibly
dexterous at the bow and arrow, which he show'd them by shooting frequently
in one place; they learn their boys to shoot with blunt arrows.
23. By day light they weighed and got to the Isle of Pinas with their
pinaces by noon, and at night home. Captain Lang, sailed the Sunday before.
24. Much wind and rain.
25. Wind and rain as above.
27. Very much rain and wind.
28. These 24 houres there has fallen a prodigious quantity of rain.
29. Much rain with fresh gales.
30. This being St Andrew's day, the Councilors dined on board the Comadore,
where Captain Andreas was invited, who being inquired at anent his having
any correspondence with the Spaniard as was reported, he ingenuously
confessed that the Spaniards had been friendly to him and had made him a
Captain; that he was obliged for his safty to keep fair with them; and that
they assured him wee were nothing but privateers who had no design to setle,
but to plunder both Spaniard and Indians and be gone in 2 or 3 months time;
and if that he assisted us any way, as soon as wee were gone they should
destroy him and his.
got all possible assurance of the contrar, which he appeared to be fully
satisfyed with, and desired a Comission, and to be taken under the
protection of our Government with his followers, upon which he should give
all his right to this part of the Country which relished wel enough. He went
away and promised to return in 2 or 3 days.
December 1. Much thunder, lightning, and rain.
2. The weather continues very bad which hinders the work much.
3. Great showers of rain with much wind. Captain Andreas came this day on
board the St Andrew where the Counciloris were. He had his Comission read to
him, and expounded in Spanish, whereby the Council made him one of their
Captains to command the Natives in and about his own territories, and
received him and all submitting to him into the protection of their
Government, he being therby obliged with his followers to obey, assist, and
defend them and all their concerns upon all occasions. To all which he
heartily agreed and seemed very wel satisfyed. Then the Preses of the
Council for the time, did in presence of the Councilours and several others
and some of the Andreas people, deliver him his Commission written on
parcement, with the Colonye's Seal and very broad gold stript and flour'd
ribbon appended, joyning hands together he promising to be just and faithful
to us and our interest. He had at that time given him a broad basket hilted
sword and a pair of good pistols, with which he promised to defend us all to
the last drop of his blood against our Enemyes. He presented the Council
with a bow and a bunch of arrows as a token of his kindness and friendship.
Then he and those with him got a hearty glass, and at drinking the Company
at home their health, 7 guns were fired, which he took as a great favour; he
stayed on board all night.
December 4. Much thunder, lightning, and rain.
5. Some wind and rain.
6. Showres of rain with squales of wind.
The sons of Captain Diego and Captain Ambrosio came and stayed with us 4 or
5 days. The natives come evry other day with plantans and yams; the common
people among us buy them from them and give them small trifles for them,
which they are wel satisfyed with.
7. Blustering weather with some showres.
8. Wind and weather as above.
9. Wind Northerly. Sometimes most excellent fish taken here, as also
Tortoises (but very few as yet, not having time nor nets fit for them,) some
of them above 2, others above 3, 00 weight: they are the best of meat. One
of them will serve 100 men of reasonable appetites.
10. There is excellent Cedar trees in great abound-ance, as also Mahoggany,
Yellow Sanders, Lignum vitre, Manchinill excellent for inlaying, and many
others of great use. There are hopes of finding out the Nicoragu the best of
lit for Scarlet, as also Banilcos is here in great quantity, an excellent
perfume and much used in the finest Cocholat, as also in this Countrey
excellent fruits, such as Cocoa nuts wherof Cocholat is made. Vanelias,
Sugar Canes, Mayis, Oranges, Plantans, Bonanos, Yams, Manioc and several
others all very good, the ground very fertile and rich.
11. This morning came on board the Commadore a French longboat, with the
Lieuetenent of the Ship she belonged to, and the purser of a Dutch. The ship
to which the Lievetennent belonged is named the Zan-toigne of 42, (had but
32 mounted,) commanded by Monsieur Vite Thomas. The Dutch ship was one of 22
guns, a trader upon the Coast. The Frenchman reported he came out in company
with those that returned the Church plate to Carthagena. She is a Merchant
ship, but has the King's Comission, and halfe the Company payed by the King;
he was very lakey, so begg'd liberty to stop his lakes in our port which wee
freely granted. The Dutch Ship being afraid of the Barlivento fleet kept him
company, and likewayes desired our protection. She is richly loaded and has
been upon the coast some time, yet has most of her cargo still on board,
being bound to the coast of Carthagena. She must be here till the Barlivento
fleet pass for Porto Bello.
12. This morning the French ship anchored near Golden Island, and the
Dutchman came into the harbour, directly he saluted the Commadore with 7
guns who returned him 5.
the afternoon the French Captain came on board; he told us all the newes on
the Coast, That the President of Panama had given an account to the
Governours of Carthagena and Porto Bello of our arrival and settlement. The
Spaniards along the whole Coast are in a wonderful consternation upon the
matter. He told that 18 dayes ago one Whan Bernardo (a very rich and honest
man) was sent with a longboat and 37 men by the Governour of Carthagena with
a Comission to know what wee were and our design here; he was told there was
nothing heard of him, so the Frenchman concluded the boat was sunk, being so
old and lakey that she could hardly swim. He furder said that there were 4
sail of Ships about 50 guns each newly come from Spain, whereof
the Dartmouth an English man-of-warr of 52 guns taken by the French was one;
that they beleeved our design was upon the river Mescha-sippi, so were gone
into the gulph of Mexico to seek us. That the Barlivento fleet was now at
Carthagena, consisting of 3 sail, viz. the General of 56 guns, one of 36 and
another of 28 guns, the Vice-Admiralof 40 guns being gone with a Dutch Ship
of 32 guns whom they made prize, as also 2 English Sloops, for trading upon
the Coast of Yeracruze.
Decbr. 13. In the afternoon the French ship came in, he saluted the
Commadore with 9 guns who returned (he having the King's Comission and
Colours) the same number, then 3 of thanks; he had also the like return,
then one, and then like to that.
14. This day Captain Lang's boat came into the harbour and told us he sailed
for Jamaica on Sunday last, that he had left 3 men and a woman with Captain
Diego in the gulph, and that the Barlivento fleet consisting of several sail
of great ships and aboundance of small veshels full of souldiers, were lying
at the Burus taking in provisions in order to attack with all their the
e^:ditions to darien :
strength in a few days. This obliges us to make all dispatches with our
battery. The Council have ordered their ships in a line of battle in the
mouth of the harbour. Fair weather.
15. Captain Andreas sent word that the Spaniards were marching from Panama
to Porto Bello, with a great number of men in order to attack us.
16. Several other Indians came in and gave the same account. The battery is
going quickly on; our men are very hearty and seem to long for a visit from
Jaque, that they might have a just pretence to their gold mines not far off.
17. There is a look out made from which ships or vessels within 10 leagues
can be descryed.
18. Fair weather, the fortification near finished.
19. This morning one of the men whom Captain Lang left towards the gulfe,
with a boy and two Indians, came in a canao and told that a Spanish periager
landing where they were, the Indians and they set upon them, and killed 7 of
them ; this was found fault with (by) us, least Lang's men should be thought
ours, and so wee thought to be the first breakers of peace. It was also told
here that Lang had been a dayes journey from his ship among the Spanish
Indians, on purpose to misrepresent us, calling us thieves and robbers and
disbanded souldiers not ouned or protected by the King of England.
This day the battery was finished, 16 twelve pounders being mounted on it,
and wee are now in such a condition as that nothing more is wished than a
visit from Jaque.
20. TheFrench ship came out and anchored by our Ship at the mouth of the
harbour. Fair, and wind at N.B.E.
21. Some sharpe showres of rain, and a fresh gale as above ; Entrenchments
22. The Frenchman warpt out a little without us. Captain Paussigo of Carret
bay, who is hearty and cordial to our interest, came and among other things
told, that close by about 2 miles distant only, there were several gold
mines, which he promised to shew, and did let some of the Councilors see few
parcels of gold which he affirmed he got from thence, which was
23. Fair weather. Captain Ambrosio being upon this place tells that the
Spaniard are marching with 600 of them and 200 of the South sea Indians,
(who can travel through the woods,) to attack us in the night if possible,
but its feared with us they will not come, but whatever be in it, the work
goes wel on, the men working with much vigour and resolution. Ambrosio has
been very kindly and civily used and a present given him.
This day came in a small sloop loaded with flower, beefe, &c. from Jamaica.
The Comander was sent by Captain Moon who is mentioned before, the Cargo was
consigned to Captain Allison.
24. In the morning early the French ship got under sail—the Council not
having ended their dispatches for Scotland which they designed by her.
Captain Penny-cook went in his pinnace to know whether he designed to come
to an anchor at Golden Island or put directly to sea. The Captain had drunk
pretty hard the night before with Pedro, Ambrosio, and some other of the
Samballas Indians, so that he was then asleep. The wind had blown hard at
No. and there came in a great sea, and with all it fell little wind^sothat
she fell away to leeward a great pace, where was nothing but an Iron shoare.
She had certainly been stranded on the first point, had not Captain
Pennycuik made his boat get ahead and tow her. She weathered that point not
twenty fathom, then was obliged to anchor in a little bay. At the Captain's
desire, Captain Pennycuik sent for a long boat, an anchor, and cable, with
all the pinnaces to row them out, but stayed himselfe to assist what was
possible, and at the Captain's earnest desire promised to stay by him as
long as he kept the ship; for the sailors being all hot headed since the
night before, did not mind what their Captain said to them. The ship did
ride about 3 quarters of an hour after they anchored, and then her best
bower cable broke, and in halfe an hour after the small bower gave way, so
ashoare she went upon the rocks, where in halfe an hour she was all to
peeces, no boat daring to come near her. Captain Pennycuik was as good as
his promise and stayed till he saw the Captain (who could not swim) upon a
raft and gone, then took his opportunity and swam ashoare, having received
some small wounds and bruises from the wreck and rocks, the sea beating on
them furiously. There were 22 out of 56 drowned —tis said many of them
occasioned by the weight of gold and money they had about their necks
(having broke up chests) ; others beatt to peeces upon the rocks after they
had swam ashoare. The Captain had in his round house in Gold and Silver to
the value of 60,000 peeces of eight, and in goods not disposed of to the
value of 30,000 Crowns.
25. The French Captain and Lieuetennent went on board the Commadore, being
both extreamly bruised. The men were dispersed into the several ships.
Officers and men were sent to guard the wreck.
26. Fair weather and a good gale at N.B.E.
27. This morning the French Captain went with two divers belonging to the
Ship to see what could be got from the wreck. He gets all possible
assistance to save all that comes ashoare.
The foregoing journal, along with a list of deaths since leaving Scotland,
was forwarded to the Directors in a letter dated 28th December. This was the
Council's first communication to headquarters after landing at Darien, the
delay-arising from their not possessing a small coasting sloop suitable for
conveying dispatches. On this occasion the Council employed a turtling-sloop
(Edward Sands, master) which was returning to Jamaica after her cargo of
provisions had been sold to the colonists. The bearer of the Council's
dispatches—Alexander Hamilton, Accountant-General of the Colony—was deputed
at this time to visit Scotland and represent to the Directors, by word of
mouth, certain matters connected with the Colony which it was not thought
desirable to commit to writing. One of the seven original councillors—Major
Cunningham of Eickett—also took his passage in the same sloop, having
severed his connection with the Colony, contrary both to his engagement with
the Directors and the wishes of his fellow-councillors.
The expedition had been timed to land in Darien in the beginning of
winter,—the " dry season,"—the most healthful time of the year for Europeans
to face the climate of the Isthmus.
the letter referred to, in which the hand of Paterson can be discerned, the
Council represent themselves as being highly pleased with the situation and
climate of their place of settlement, and as hopeful of the ultimate success
of their enterprise. The sequel showed that far too sanguine opinions of the
climate and soil had been formed.
The letter runs as follows :—
New Edinburgh, Caledonia, 28tk December 1698.
Right Honourable,—Our last to you was from the Maderas of the 29th of
August, and sent by the several ways of Holland and Portugal, to the
contents whereof we now refer, and in particular to the State of Provisions
therewith sent, and which we now find doth considerably fall short even of
what was then computed, by reason of the badness of the Cask. The account of
the remaining part of our voyage, together with the most material
transactions since, you may know by the enclosed Journal or Diary of our
now send you our Letters and Dispatches by Mr Alexander Hamilton, Merchant,
who takes the opportunity of passing to you by the way of Jamaica over to
England, to whom we desire you would order Forty shillings Sterling to be
paid Weekly, towards his expences, the time he shall stay with you
negotiating our affairs. [Mr Hamilton arrived in Edinburgh on 25th March
1699, and his personal report of the voyage and settlement of the colonists
gave " abundance of satisfaction " to the Directors. In addition to the 40s.
per week, as desired by the Council, the Directors bestowed on him a
gratuity of £118, 6s. 8d., in consideration of "his coming here express from
their Colony in Caledonia, in America, with the first news of their
settlement there." The Directors also commissioned him to purchase uniforms
to bo presented to the friendly "Captains of the tribes of natives in
Caledonia, in America," for which he paid £86, 10s. 5d.]
The wealth, fruitfulness, health and good situation of the Country proves
for the better, much above our greatest expectations, which God Almighty
seems to have wonderfully reserved for this occasion, and now to have
prepared our way, and disposed the Indies to that purpose. In our passage
hither several of our number have been taken from us by death (whose names
we have herewith sent you) and whereof the loss of our two Ministers is the
most sensible to us. We therefore entreat you would use your utmost
endeavours with the General Assembly, for procuring others to supply that
great want. As to the Country, we find it very healthful; for though we
arrived here in the Rainy season, from which we had little or no shelter for
several weeks together, and many sick among us, yet they are so far
recovered, and in so good a state of health as could hardly anywhere be
expected among such a number of Men together; nor know we anything here of
those several dangerous and mortal distempers so prevalent in the English
and other American Islands.
fruitfulness this Country seems not to give place to any in the world; for
we have several of the fruits as Cocoa-Nuts, whereof Chocolate is made,
Bonellos Sugar-Canes, Maize, Oranges, Plantains, Mangoe, Yams, and several
others, all of them of the best of their kind anywhere found.
Nay, there is hardly a spot of ground here but what may be cultivated; for
even upon the very tops and sides of the hills and mountains, there is
commonly three or four foot deep of rich earth, without so much as a stone
to be found therein. Here is good hunting and fowling, and excellent fishing
in the bays and creeks of the Coast; so that could we improve the season of
the year just now begun, we should soon be able to subsist of ourselves, but
fortifying and building will lose us a whole year's planting.
the want of sloops, or small coasting vessels, we have hitherto had no
opportunity of disposing any part of the Cargo, or doing other needful
Since the loss of the French Ship mentioned in the Journal, we understand
that the Captain had an underhand Correspondence, in tampering with some of
the natives whom he intended to carry away with him, which heightens our
jealousy that the French have a design upon this place, or at least to make
a settlement hereabout. And we heartily wish that our Most Gracious King
were truly informed of what consequence it will be both to his greatness and
security, to countenance and encourage us his loyal and dutiful subjects
here, that our Prince and Country be not only deprived of so valuable a
Jewel, but lest the same should fall a prey to some of our rival neighbours.
This will be the Company's part to notice after these dispatches shall come
You have enclosed a List of several goods and merchandises vendable and
proper for this place; our situation being incomparable for the Trade of the
Coast, where (besides our Inland Trade) there is commonly but 2 or 3, or at
most but 8 or 10 days' sail to the best places of Trade upon the Coast, and
to the outmost considerable islands adjoining. And we desire that particular
merchants in Scotland, and elsewhere, may be encouraged to trade and
correspond hither, in which we hope they will sufficiently find their
have also sent you a state of what supplies of Provisions, Stores and
Merchant goods are absolutely necessary for the present support of the
Colony, referring it to the Company to determine what reasonable
consideration they will have for the sums that shall be advanced for that
purpose; And we entreat that all possible expedition may be used in sending
us these needful supplies; for without that we shall not only be incapable
of making you suitable returns, but this hopeful undertaking, together with
ourselves, will run no small risk of being inevitably lost. But however it
be (by the help of God) we shall not fail to do our utmost in making speedy
and suitable returns; and shall always account it our greatest honour to
expose our persons, and all that's most near and dear to us, in promoting
this hopeful design, as not only promising Profit and Glory to the Company,
and all who are concerned with them, but as being the likeliest means that
ever yet presented towards the enabling our Countrymen to revive, recover,
transmit to posterity, the virtue, lustre, and wonted Glory of their
renowned Ancestors; and to lay a foundation of wealth, security, and
greatness to our Mother Kingdom for the present and succeeding Ages. In
which we can no way doubt of your most hearty concurrence and utmost
support. So praying Almighty God would bless and prosper the Company in all
their undertakings. — We remain, Eight Honourable, you most humble servants,
P.S.—We entreat you to send us a good Engineer, who is extremely wanted
here. This place being capable of being strongly fortified. You'll
understand by our's from Maderas, the Danger as well as the Tediousness of
our Passage North-about, so that if the Ships can conveniently be fitted out
from Clyde, it will save a good deal of time in their passage and be far
The list of deaths accompanying the preceding letter was afterwards printed
1 On the same day—28th December 1698—the Council issued a Proclamation or
Declaration, addressed to the world, from " New Edinburgh," announcing the
principles on which their Colony of Caledonia was to be conducted. They
declared that it was to be a free port, with full liberty of conscience in
matters of religion to all nations. (For full text of the Declaration, see
Appendix B.) and circulated by the Directors in the following form:—
EXACT LIST of the Men, Women, and Boys that Died on Board the Indian and
African Company's Fleet during their Voyage from Scotland to America, and
since their landing in Caledonia. Together with a particular account of
their qualities, the several Days of their Deaths, and the respective
Distempers or Accidents of which they Died.
Note.—By "Volunteers" are meant such young Gentlemen as went in no
particular station, but only in hopes of preferment as opportunity should
This is a true List compared by me,
Secy, to the said Company.
doubt, every one will justly regret the loss of his own nearest friend, but
it's a great and general Mercy that of so many as went crowded in Five
Ships, upon so long and tedious a voyage as they had, so few are dead;
Especially considering, that on their way they had the misfortune of taking
in bad Water upon an uninhabited island, in the beginning of the Rainy
Season, which occasioned general sickness among them; tho' soon after their
Landing in Caledonia (thanks be to God) they recovered their health so much
(even beyond expectation) that, when the Express came away, there were but
five of all our men who were not at work in building of Forts and Houses.
And as even a greater number of so many as went, might have died by this
time, had they all remained at home, so it may be some satisfaction to the
nearest friends of the deceased that their names shall stand upon Record as
being among the first brave Adventurers that went upon the most noble, most
honourable, and most promising undertaking that Scotland ever took in hand.
From the foregoing list it will be noticed that Paterson had the great grief
to lose his wife by fever shortly after landing in Darien. She was buried
with solemn honours, some dropping-guns being fired on the occasion. A few
days previously his clerk, Thomas Fenner, an Englishman, had also died. Yet
in spite of these domestic bereavements, he did not bate a jot of heart or
hope, but with manly fortitude continued his unwearied efforts on behalf of