The Life and Death
The timeline version - Life and Death Story - of what follows seeks to add information about the life of Nicholas in historical context is at .
To contemplate the more than ordinary providences of God is a proper work for every serious Christian. To preserve the memory of an eminent servant of God may be of good use to his Church: and to communicate things laudable in a deceased intimate, is no less than may be expected from a faithful friend. All these considerations have put me upon transcribing my thoughts and the impressions made upon my mind by the memorable passages of this good man's life. Besides I have observed a great delight taken by many in hearing the narrative of these matters which encourages me to think my labour herein will in like sort be acceptable to others. I am heartily sorry that this work was not begun when I had a far better opportunity to perform it: when I had all his journal papers for a quarter of a year together in mine own keeping when I might have satisfied myself from his own mouth in anything that was doubtful or when I lived in those parts where divers friends of us both could help my memory who knew many of the particulars: and often have received the relation of the rest from himself. But now since that time was and will no more be, lest nothing should be done I will do what I can, and shall only promise this for myself that I shall write nothing else but what in my present apprehensions is very truth.
Mr. Nicholas Leverton was born about the year 1600 at St. Eval near the north sea shore four miles distant westward from Padstow in the county of Cornwall. His parents were of the middle rank yeoman or farmers, who took care of his education in the country schools till he was fitted for the university. At that time he was observed to be of a robust temper, of an athletic habit of body and by use became skilful in his country exercise, was a good hurler, a notable wrestler. In Oxford he was of Exeter College till he had taken his degree of Bachelor of Arts or sometime after, for which degree he performed the valuable exercise not so much from any great industry as from a good strength of natural parts: for besides a competent measure of school learning and smatch1 of the university he had a facile wit and confidence enough to make good use of both.
This ingenuity with a cheerful spirit, undaunted natural parts in a well limbered body, made him very acceptable company to the young gentlemen of his country, fellow commoners at that time in that and other colleges, so that he was their ordinary comrade in fowling, hunting and visiting warrens, parks and forests or undertaking any suchlike youthful exploits who doubted not to encounter the keepers whilst their Nicks, as they called him, was with them.
From Oxford he is called by his relations into the country as having spent all his portion, and now he must apply himself to some employment whereby to get a livelihood. I cannot say whether at Oxford before his departure, or afterwards at Exeter he was ordained a Minister but in one he was although he did not address himself presently to the Ministry but kept a small school in a country village called St. Endellion about two miles distant eastward from Padstow. This was too narrow a sphere for his activity and there he resolved to go abroad in the world and as they call it try his fortune, getting therefore one of his father's or mother's horses, whether by express consent or no I do not remember, but I am sure with small provision he rides to Plymouth and there selling his horse at an easy rate, he puts himself on board a ship bound for Barbados and there arrives.
At Barbados he is well accepted and soon placed in one of their Churches, any kind of scholars being at that time amongst them a great rarity. There he continues officiating about half a year in which time he got acquaintance if with none of the best yet likely as good as any were then there to be had, for I have heard that in the beginning of that plantation the people there were very debauched, though his mind as yet were not composed to any great seriousness yet the light of nature or of impression of a civil and ingenious education rendered their manners somewhat ingrate and fulsome to him, and made him willing to return from that 'sink of England' as he was won't to call it, of which removal he had this
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occasion offered. A certain Captain of Barbados had got a commission to begin a plantation in the Island of Tobago situated about eighty leagues south from Barbados and near the Island of Trinidad. He had gotten by beat of drum about eighty men volunteers, who like the Tribe of Dan1 sought them an inheritance to dwell in, and Mr. Leverton, a man cut out for expeditions and a Levite2 who went to sojourn where he might find a place, became a father and priest unto them. These adventurers set out from Barbados in an old ship with some small provisions suitable to the shortness of the voyage, either presuming upon the sufficiency of that Island presently to support them, or expecting after supply in a short time. Hither they shortly arrived but being as yet unacquainted with the bays, creeks and harbours of the place they cast anchor about a league from the shore and about forty of them made to the Island upon discovery by the help of their longboat; of number Mr. Leverton is one.
Hitherto this young man had been sowing his wild oats having not yet learnt any serious lesson in the school of affliction but henceforwards a variety of wonderful providences made him better to understand both God and himself. At Tobago the time is cheerfully spent for five or six days in hunting of wild goats, fowling and otherwise making provision of food for themselves, whereby also they ranged a good part of the Island and found no footsteps of the Indians there inhabiting. Only one unhappiness in this time befell them, the losing of their ship's boat, for some of those left in the ship having by disorder in their Captain's absence lost the conduct of themselves, lost thereby the conduct of their boat, for running it upon the rocks the vessel was beaten in pieces and though most if not all of it was saved with difficulty, yet thereby was almost utterly cut off their intercourse with the ship. This drew on more mischief as you will see anon. The men on shore (over against their ship) had built a convenient booth of poles, boughs and palm leaves: this booth had both sides and one end closed, the other end open, before which they usually kept a fire burning: within, by all the sides they had raised stands or bedsteads if you will call them, over which laying boughs, leaves and rushes they had lodging such as served their turn in that warm country.
The Captain having thus fitted their booth, thought more of raising more solid habitation. He therefore discoursing to Mr. Leverton of this matter said that since he resolved there to fix and lay his bones on that Island, he thought it wisdom to make choice of the most convenient place for their first settlement, and for that end determined to walk round the Island by the seashore before he pitched upon the place; for this expedition he chose out half of his land company with whom Mr. Leverton went, leaving the rest at the booth.
Those searchers set out in a morning and had not gone far ere they found a sandy bay with a steep rocky shore about it. The Captain, willing to shorten his way by the help of bushes growing in the sides of the cliff, with two more got down to the sand, but being down and perceiving the danger and difficulty greater than he was before aware of desired Mr. Leverton and the rest who were ready to follow him to forbear, wishing them rather to fetch a compass round the bay and so to meet him at the other foreland. This direction they endeavouring to follow, now much encumbered with bushes, the whole Island being as yet a wood; besides there following a great rain which much discouraged and disabled them from that day's prosecution of their design, wherefore by the consent of most they agreed to find their way back again to their booth hoping their Captain and his two followers would be inclined to the same course; at least if they should take shelter under some rock for that night, those doubted not to find them early in the morning if the weather should prove more favourable. To the booth they came wet and weary, where they found the rest of the company much in their condition, having been abroad with their fowling pieces looking for provisions. The unhappiest thing in this was that all their powder was wetted and spoiled so as they could not discharge one gun, whatever occasion they might have: this was the more unhappy for them for that they know not how to come at more powder from the ship because of the loss of their boat.
Nevertheless the boatswain of the ship, who was the only man of the ship that could swim so far, came that night to visit them. This man brought two bottles tied about his neck, the one of brandy and the other filled with tobacco. And after this refreshment of his companions the boatswain returned again to the
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ship. That night was very wet and all the company lay close in their booth secure of enemies because they saw no token of any. Only Mr. Leverton, who was cold and wet, arose in the morning a little before day to warm himself by the fire that was before the booth and take a pipe of tobacco. When he came to the fire he found two of the company is now come out upon the same occasion To one of them he spoke to go out from the thicket wherein they were, to discover whether it were yet day: in the meantime, sitting on the ground, he was alighting his pipe when suddenly the man that went forth came roaring in a most terrible manner behind him and fell down by him. Mr. Leverton was in a passion, ready to strike at the fellow for affrighting him, thinking it but a mockery, till by the man's stillness and a grievous wound in his head, he perceived he had received a mortal wound. Mr. Leverton hastily apprising that Indian arrows flew thick about him, being all directed in at the open part of the booth, one of which stuck in his head and wounded him in the right temple. The arrow stuck fast and he, endeavouring to pluck it hastily out, broke and left the pieces in the wound. Upon this he and the other that was with him cried out to their companions in the booth and then fled into the woods to save their lives. Some few of those in the booth were roused by the alarm and fled likewise for the security, the rest were all cut off as they lay.
Of the Indians that did this mischief 'tis to be noted that they did not inhabit the Island, only came thither accidentally from Trinidad to fish or hunt as at certain seasons. They used to do that by reason of former injuries received from the Spaniards. They have all an inveterate hatred against the Europeans for their sake and usually destroy all they can light on if they have an opportunity. That they are of a timorous nature and very much dread a gun; so that 'tis observed of them that they will travel a hundred miles secretly to perform some exploit, wherein if they be discovered but by the barking of a dog they will return again without attempting anything. Lastly that this very crew were discovered by those in the ship, making to the land in many canoes the evening before, even at that time when the boatswain was swimming from the ship to the shore. The ship gave warning to those on the land by the discharge of two or three great guns, but the water was in the boatswain's ears and the surface of the sea was so great at the shore that the report was not heard nor the warning taken by any of them.
Now if it had pleased God the enemy had been discovered by this notice given, or their boat had not been lost, whereby they might have had further notice, or that the men had not through security neglected to keep any guard or watch, or that any one gun had been in a capacity to be discharged, in likelihood the unhappiness had been prevented. But Providence had otherwise ordered, and the design of planting the Island at that time was utterly lost1. Mr. Leverton, flying into the woods with those few that followed him, in a bog lost one of his shoes, whereby he was much afflicted with a kind of prickly bush growing abundantly in those parts, but his company in that affright were in too great haste to tarry for him. Being therefore left alone in the woods he endeavoured if he could to find a sight of the ship, but he was so bewildered with the bushes and bad way that when he came, after five or six hours, to the seashore, he could hear nothing thereof. He therefore coasted along the shore as conjecture led him, still hoping that behind the next foreland he came at he should make discovery of it, but still in vain; till towards evening he came to a bay where his fear of the Indians and weariness together made him resolve not to fetch a compass about it, and his hopes to find the ship behind the further foreland encouraged him, being able to swim, to strip himself and so attempt that way to get over by the highest cliff.
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This being performed and mounting the top of the hill he found himself utterly disappointed of his hopes. At which such a sudden consternation seized him that he now gave himself up for a dead man. He was now naked, wounded, without food or company and without the least hopes of ever having more, for his strength so failed him that he durst not attempt to swim back again to his clothes, wherefore he betook himself to a small grass plot without any other design, as he said, but only there to die. It was remarkable that in all the Island he did not observe such another plot of grass as there he now found and had chosen for his deathbed. There he lay that night without any sleep, but his soul was wholly taken up with thoughts of departure from the body, endeavouring to bring together all the former passages of his life, in examining his state of salvation for a change, with his ends in undertaking this voyage, when did occur to his mind that Scripture, 'What makest thou here, Elijah';1 where he lay exceeding cold, but he regarded that not at all, only thus as he thought of it that it should be the means of his death. The next morning the sun arising refreshed one side of his body, whereby he was encouraged to turn the other side till that was also warmed. Thus he seemed a little revived till at last he found the heat increasing to become more intolerable than the cold had been, for now he found his spirits begin more to fail than formerly. And now beginning to faint away he thought that this was it which should end his days.
Whilst he thus lay expecting death but knew not at what door it would enter; while he thus lay with his eyes mostly shut and only sometimes a little opening them to lift them up with his soul towards heaven, in one of these openings he unexpectedly discerned a man not far from him and directly coming towards the place where he lay. This sudden surprise shook up his mind into a confusion of thoughts betwixt hope and fear it might be one of his company, but more probably one of his enemies. Upon his nearer approach he observed he had clothes on, but this was so far from giving him assurance that it rather persuaded him to believe that it was an Indian, because he remembered he had been told that it was their manner when they slew any European to wear their garments two or three days in way of triumph, and then throwing them away to return to their savage nakedness. But all these sad apprehensions soon vanished when he saw that it was in very deed one of his last company. This raised him as it were to a new life and so with cheerfulness he made towards him; the joy on each hand may be most visibly conceived to be very great. How great it was. The first discourse you may well think was, 'where is the ship'. The man told him it was not in all that coast where he had gone and therefore it must be on that way from whence Mr. Leverton had come, and that beyond the place where he had come out of the woods to the shore, or else it was gone back. Again therefore they resolved to go, but across the bay they could not, either for that Mr. Leverton's weakness or the man's inability to swim would not permit it.
The man therefore imparting some of his clothes to Mr. Leverton, they began to foot it about the bay. In this march they found another of their company who also gave him some clothes, so that with the shirt of one and the drawers of the other and some cloth to lie about his head, Mr. Leverton with his two companions travelled all that day, but they found no relief for their hunger and thirst, only crab lemons or limes, an ill-favoured sauce rather than meat and certain shells called calabashes2 that lay in the wood filled with rain water. Besides these little cisterns, of fresh water they could find none. Towards the evening they discerned a smoke in the wood, made them think the Indians were there. But on consideration that in coasting the woods they had found none, nor any token of them, they thought it might be the place where they had formerly lodged, before the Indians did the mischief, at the booth and that the fire was that they left behind them. They resolved therefore secretly to draw as near as they could in the daytime, and in the darkness of the night to probe if it was not as they conjectured: for they knew that if the Indians lodged there they should hear a great noise of them at a distance, as their manner is to make, nor would any of them be straying abroad
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from their company in the night. All fell out as they could desire for they found only the stump of a tree burning and nothing else but the signs that their enemies had been there. This fire served them in two special purposes: the one that it comforted their weak bodies, the other that it helped them to guess where their ship lay, and as a landmark directed them how they might find it. All that night was spent in the fire's cherishing them and their cherishing the fire, for their business was to gather sticks to increase it. This striving, with the fire's warmth, they thought preserved their lives, for that night there was great rain and cold which without this help they could not have born; but in the meantime sleep they could get none. The next morning they travelled towards the sea and near the shore they found another of their company, but he was wounded in the knee so as he could not travel with them. However they carried him nearer to the shore, hid him in a thicket, laid by him some limes and calabashes of water with promise that if they got safe to the ship they would send for him. Not long after, with great joy they espied the ship. This sight made a strange alteration in them, for now, they who before moved fairly slowly and leaning one on another, began to run as it were for their lives, each one shifting as he could, as if all the Indians were at their backs, and on this shore out-running one another they made to the sea, so much did their fear increase together with their hope.
Mr. Leverton and one of the others could swim. The third man was not able so to do, who yet ran as far as he could into the sea, keeping his head only above water, thereby endeavouring to hide himself from an apprehended danger of the Indians. The two swimmers adventured for the ship and although for near three days they obtained neither food, sleep nor rest, yet their strength now put to the utmost stress, held out to reach thereunto. Mr. Leverton was so taken up with giving an account of the difficulties he had passed that he minded not himself till he was ready to faint. In fine1 he was lodged and a most grievous distress followed. By this and his wound, out of which thirteen or fourteen splinters of the arrow were drawn ere it could heal, his life for many days was in greater danger than ever it had been, and he scarcely sensible of anything. Those in the ship had pitched together a little flat-bottomed boat of such boards and materials as they had. By this they sent for the third man who stood up to his ears in the water. They also drew near to the place where they left the man wounded in the knee, but because he answered not when they called him, they were willing to conclude he was dead and that despair had broken his heart, but whether he was so or no, the truth is a panic fear had seized them so as they durst not go to shore to seek for him.
The ship remained where it was six or eight days and several times shot guns to give notice if any were yet remaining alive on the shore, where they might come to it. In which time of passing six or eight returned so that they lost in all near half their company and their Captain. Among the rest, one of those that returned reported that in wandering the coast he found three white naked bodies laid on their faces in a sandy bay at or near the place where they left their Captain; whereby they judged them to be him and his followers who went down the precipice, whom the Indians had slain and stripped as their manner is. So much for Tobago. But whether next back to Barbados they could not, for that it lay to windward as also the other English plantations, and their ship being old and rotten could not sail upon a tack. But if it had been fit to cruise, that kind of sailing would have required much time, and their victuals being far spent they could not hold out. Only one visible hope they had to be preserved, and that was to make for the Isle of Providence which, though it lay at great distance, for it was above 25 degrees longitude, that is 500 leagues or so near the line, yet because it lay to the leeward they hoped to get there before all their victuals were spent. Nor yet was this course void of very great danger, for though they had good charts on board to direct them, yet only one man of the company had been ever there and he only was able to tell them it was the same island if they should happen to strike right upon it; and if they should miss it and fall among the Spaniards they could expect nothing but destruction.
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Now miss it very well they might, considering the smallness of the island and the multitude of other Spanish islands thereabout, besides the Spanish mainland not far off. However there being but this one way open there was no room for deliberation what to choose. They therefore took course committing themselves to merciful providence which failed them not in this great exigency, but safely brought them to their desired port. For they fell directly upon the island, to the great astonishment of themselves and those to whom they arrived. At the Isle of Providence they were made heartily welcome. For how froward1 so ever we are at home among ourselves, Englishmen are kind to Englishmen in remoter parts. They were therefore kindly received by all and severally dispersed of with convenience. But of all the rest Mr. Leverton was most acceptable to the inhabitants for that he was a Minister, and they had before but one other in the whole country.
The Isle called by the Spaniards, Catelina, by the English, Providence, lies in 30 degrees longitude and 57 north latitude2 passed by the English about the year 1619, who found in it neither inhabitants nor any beasts, it not being claimed by the Spaniards in making up the peace. It was granted by patent by Charles 1 to certain noblemen and others who planted and kept it above twenty-five years, till violently possessed by the Spaniards, as shall be shown.
These noble persons (who had the patent) sought others such as were willing to go so far from home, of which number most were persons dissatisfied with the church discipline of England, who had with them one Mr. Sherwood, their only Minister (before mentioned). Of this Minister we shall have often occasion to speak in this story, and therefore shall have to give some brief account of him. He was a man of a mild temper, inclining to melancholy and somewhat less athletic than Mr.Leverton. He went over a single person, but after six or seven years, as I remember it was, he had a mind to change his condition. He could not in that country have the choice of a meet companion, nor could he leave the whole country so long, disliking so as to come into England upon that errand. He therefore wrote unto a Minister, his friend, and of my nearest relation, to wit, my own father, desiring him to send over and recommend to him such a one as he should think for him; adding that he did not remember any person in England unto which he might incline more than another, unless one that at the time of his departure was living with her mother, a widow, either in or near the house of his friend and much at his direction. That party he said could more especially approve of if she were yet living and undisposed of, and inclined to be persuaded to come unto him.
All which things fell out according to his desire. Though beyond expectation, she therefore goes, accompanied with one Mrs. Lane, whose husband was a sea captain and at that time resident in the island and one of the council for the government thereof. They safely arrived and marriage is consummated, and they live comfortably together. Only one little rub lay in the way which may be remembered, namely that when the good woman had been persuaded to go so many thousand miles from her friends and country, Mr. Sherwood was not so easily persuaded this was the same party he had observed in England, so had the length of time altered her person and the idea of her in his mind. However he thankfully accepted her as sent from God and his friend, and by her became father of a son and a daughter while they remained in that island.
Mr. Leverton, before his coming into those parts, had never troubled his head about matters of controversy, nor had in the least considered the reasons of some men's dissatisfaction with the then state of the Church of England. The only impressions of religion in his mind were such as the general custom of his country and his education had made. Except that now he was become very serious, being well awakened by his late dangers and much affected with the more than ordinary providence of God towards him. Add to this that he was a man of a warm, vigorous and bold spirit, whence he became a zealous preacher according to his knowledge. Though the generality of the chief persons of the island were nonconformists and had therefore their religious worship which Mr. Sherwood after that manner celebrated; yet there were divers who inclined to the liturgy and ceremonies who came to Mr.Leverton, and desired and encouraged him to proceed in that way, from whence a great faction was like to arise amongst them; but Mr. Sherwood, in a mild way discussing the matter with Mr. Leverton, so far informed and satisfied him that henceforth
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they agreed very well. The distance begun between them was removed and Mr. Leverton came wholly over to Mr. Sherwood's practice. In this time of their accord the Spaniards made an assault upon the island, which they did in this manner. First they sent a small frigate to pass swiftly near the shore, at which the great guns of the island being discharged, showed the enemy how every place was fortified. When they were thus informed the whole fleet drew nigh and in such a place as they thought fit, landed their men.
Mr. Leverton was engaged at the shore in encouraging the fighting men, while Mr. Sherwood with the women and the weaker people were two or three miles up in the country praying for their success, in which they had a gracious answer, for they expelled the Spaniards and slew a great many with the loss, if I mistake not, of only one person who being drunk, stood on a rock swearing, capering and beating a drum, till he was shot. Sometime after this the Governor of the island, either minded to leave the place, or being called off by business, departed thence, but leaving behind him the ground of an unhappy dissension. For he had constituted one to be his vice regent or successor whom the council there would not admit. Of the reason given for their refusal of him, was that his constitution was contrary to their charter, which provided that no governor should be imposed upon them but such as themselves should choose. Captain Lane was therefore nominated and to all appearance quietly settled in the government.
After some days the aforesaid discontented deputy having privately armed many of the under sort of people, the servants and negroes to his assistance, broke in violently upon the council and apprehended Captain Lane and Mr. Holliard who had formerly been a magistrate and Mayor of Banbury, and the two Ministers, for the Ministers were wont to sit in their council. These, it seems, he thought the greatest obstruction of his preferment.
After a strict imprisonment for some days in the country, he shipped them away for England by one Captain Jackson who was a privateer on those coasts and then in their harbour. Nor would he permit to have with them their families as they desired earnestly. By this Captain he sent a charge against them to the Lords that had the patent, and especially an information to the then Archbishop Laud about their opposition to the liturgies and ceremonies of the Church of England.
As they drew near home, early in the morning, they met a ship upon the coasts of Ireland, that came from England. Old Mr. Holliard was upon the deck and when within call demanded what news in England. He no sooner had their answer but he ran down to his companions in the gun room where they lay and were not yet well awaked, and cried out 'News, news from England - A parliament in England and the Archbishop under the Black Rod'.1 And withal while they were saying 'What, what' he runs up again saying 'I will fetch more'. But his sleepy companions quickly leapt out and followed him, where they found the state of their affairs strangely and unexpectedly altered, for the Captain, who was e'en now their gaoler, was now their humble servant and begs twice their pardon and declares them free, offering them the free command of anything in his ship.
In this free state they landed in a few days at Minehead or Mynyard whence after a little time spent with friends in the country thereabouts, they made for London and came to the Lords patent who received them with great joy and encouraged them to return and gave order for their convenience therein. Mr. Holliard by reason of age, and Mr. Sherwood by reason of his melancholy and softly timorous temper, desired to be excused. But Captain Lane and Mr. Leverton were again for the voyage, and having a good ship, men and ammunition and provisions, with more full commission and authority, away they go, Mr. Sherwood desiring them to convey home his wife and children by the next return.
With much cheerfulness and in good plight after their long voyage, they arrived to the Isle of Providence, But when they drew near the shore they found their hopes suddenly damped, the face of things not appearing as they were wont, for it was usual when a ship came from England to receive them with expressions of joy, sending out boats to them and people flocking to the shore. But now there was no such thing, only they perceived by the smoke there were people in the town, though none appeared. This made them doubt the town and island were possessed by the Spaniards, but they were soon put out of doubt when they saw three men on a rock crying to them in broken English, 'Come to the shore, come to the shore,' and at last holding up a rope, 'Come to the shore, we'll hang you' with other reproaches, as 'English thieves, dogs'; and presently after, the Spanish colours were displayed on the chief fort and armed men everywhere appeared. What was now to be done was the next question.
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The Capesses was the next refuge in view of their thoughts, but Captain Lane and Mr. Leverton being both of good courage and their men also at that time in good health, they resolved not to leave the Spaniards. So saying one to another, 'tis but noon by the watch, and we'll have time enough. Let us drop anchor till four o'clock and brave them, and then we have daylight enough to reach the Capesses before night.
In prosecution of this resolve, they had not long rested, but two shallops full of firelocks appeared and made towards them. Upon this they thought fit to cut cable by the boards and try manhood with them a little further off at sea, but this design failed them for just then was so flat and calm that they could not stir out of the place, therefore they were forced to receive their volleys of small shot and return them as they could. Great guns they had and powder enough, but little shot small or great, for in these things they had furnished themselves according to the wants they knew to have been in the land, and not as might have served on this unexpected occasion.
After a hot dispute for some hours, their shot being spent, they knew not what further to do but expect their boarding, when the gunner told them he had one good murther well charged which if they could bestow to advantage he hoped would do good service. This piece was placed at the steerage where was the most probable place of their entering; and accordingly it fell out, for both the shallops came together at that place and began to prepare for boarding, when suddenly the murther was thrust out and let fly among them to their miserable ruin and destruction. Whereupon with a great shriek they presently fell off and the few of them that where left made to the shore as fast as they could. After this engagement the English found they had some slain and divers wounded. When Mr. Leverton asked the Captain what o'clock it was by his watch, and whether it were not time to steer for the Capesses, 'twas then just four and the time they had before spoken of; and a fresh gale began to blow whereby they arrived to the Capesses before night as they desired.
These Capesses signifying in Spanish 'heads', are a great many little lands or islands, the greatest of them not above an acre, and some of them have fresh water and to most of them a ship may come close on board the shore. Upon one of those they landed their weak and wounded people, for they had women and children on board who were passengers intending for the island. Here having stayed a few days, they made a sail boat for their weak ones and lightened their ship of some guns and some casks of brandy whereof they had a store, with a little provision such as they could spare, and then having furnished themselves with pebbles instead case shot, the rest resolved for the sea, to try if they could find among the Spaniards some provisions for themselves and their poor infirm people they should leave at the Capesses.
This course they were forced unto for that their provisions after so long a voyage would not serve so many mouths while they should be plying to windward to reach any of the English plantations. Here I must bewail the want of Mr. Leverton's papers and the account I might once have had from them. For two years together they roved up and down those seas, of which I can give but a confused relation. Some of the things remarkable are, first that they were detained by I know not what unhappy accident from returning to their weak people, who must have perished for want of food at the Capesses, but that Providence strangely ordered their preservation. For divers canoes of Indians passing accidentally that way, were invited by them to a trade by such signs as amongst them were tokens of love and amity. When they came near, the height of the great guns planted as it were for defence kept them in good awe. And then the brandy was excellent barter for flesh, fish, maize and such other things as they might need for food, for from the day the Indians first tasted that liquor they never forsook that market. Thus were they supplied six weeks, if I forget not, before their ship could again get at them.
'Tis to be noted that there were wont to be divers such French and English privateers that used those seas to get what they could from the Spaniards, for there his hand is against every man and every man's hand against him. Beyond the tropic they make no peace nor will make any trade with any nation. In one of these, a Dutchman who was sailing homewards, they sent away those weak people to some of our plantations from whence they might have an opportunity to return for England, themselves resolving to tarry longer upon these coasts, and here as I remember, they took on board some of those Dutchmen who were willing to abide with them. Sure I am, about twelve of that nation were with them nigh half a year in which time having no bread, only bag-puddings1 made of meal taken from the Spaniard, and getting no considerable purchase, they were willing to go off with some of their own landsmen whom they met. I remember it by this token, that when they were got on board the Dutch ship they called back in merriment to the English 'Farewell, dumpling'.
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In these two years roving they got little or nothing but only victuals to keep them alive. One while they got a little Spanish barque carrying meal or bacon; sometimes hens or turkeys from port to port. Otherwise they went on shore and got some Spanish hogs, which are kept in great herds in pruiagas1 as I think he called them. Once while at sea they fished; another while on shore they turned for tortoises, shot fowl, dug potatoes and gathered fruits, such as they could get, and those provisions were gotten in such short measure and uncertain manner, that he was wont to say they lived like the fowls of the air, after going to sleep at night, when they know not what they should have in the morning for breakfast. One day when they were at some distance from shore and had but one meal of meat to eat, without a visible probability of having a supply, the Captain asked Mr. Leverton what they were best do; either to eat all, as they might well at that time, or to reserve some for another. He replied ' Eat all, eat all, eat all. We'll never want while we have, and when we have not, God that sent this will send more', and accordingly in due time they were supplied. In all this time they had no bread, but instead thereof mostly used the livers of hogs or tortoise boiled and dried.
Sometimes potatoes and now and then Spanish meal made them dumplings, as was said; nor had they any other liquor than of nature's own brewing, unless now and then their Spanish prizes left of somewhat else. Clothes they were not solicitous about in that warm clime, nor cared they for change since there were none nicely to observe how they were dressed on holy days. Besides those difficulties, to support their lives they were sometimes put hardly to it to save them. Twice as I remember, they lost their ship; once cast away upon the rocks and the other time by a leak their vessel sank into the sea. In both of which Providence ordered them a supply from the French or Dutch taking them on board and giving them a Spanish pink2 to get them afloat again. Many other dangers they went through sometimes by skirmishes with the Spanish on land, sometimes by distress at sea.
One passage, I will remember, by a sudden gust their vessel was overset and lay flat on its side. The seamen out of all hopes of life sang as their Cygnia3 Canto Psalm 146. Mr. Leverton professed to me that though the tune were an ordinary one, even that which Playford calls a new tune in his Introduction to Music, yet he never in all his life was so ravished with music. I suppose it was because his whole heart and affections were highly and heavily engaged therein. How they got over this danger I do not remember, but this I do perfectly, that he said it was presently very calm and I think he said they sat on the upper side of the vessel while they sang. Another danger was of his being lost in the woods and being left on the shore by his company, for it was their manner in some desert places to go with fowling pieces after what game they could find. In this sort, one day he was separated from his company and being under the shade of many great trees where he could neither see the sun nor any other sign whereby to direct himself, he fell to hollering after his company, but not hearing any answer, it put him into such a confusion of bewildered thoughts that he runs like a madman, one while one way then another, till he was almost tired, and then sitting down to rest himself. His considering thoughts and reason extricated him better than all his former painstaking, for by observing the breeze in the tops of the trees and some appearance of the sun through the boughs, he reasoned his way back to the ship and in a short time found it.
This danger of the woods was the more considerable and frightful because it hath often fallen out that men have been lost, whereby many doubtless have perished, though some have been heard of afterwards. I shall here relate two passages which I call to mind that he told me, only I cannot say whether the last persons were of his company or of some other at another time.
The one is this: Mr. Leverton's vessel touching at the Cape Florida and therein conversing with the Indians, one of them could speak a little English, who told them that there were two Englishmen amongst them but not then present who had been left, as is said before. The Indian in describing one of them held his tongue between his fingers, saying after a bad fashion, 'no good tongue', whereby they understood it was a stammering fellow which they knew, one who had formerly been an under cook in Jesus College in Oxford at such time as Mr. Leverton was resident. They designed to speak with him and accordingly in two or three days the Indians brought him to them and, as I remember, he joyfully came away with them. Only he told them his comrade was gone further up in the country and had married an Indian woman and continued to live after their manner among.
The other story is this: Two Englishmen were left on the backside of Cuba where they continued above a year and saw no man but each other. Their food was potatoes and fruits and their chief danger was of the cow killers, for it is the custom of the Spaniards who live on the other side of the island to come once or twice a year to hunt wild cattle and they destroy all foreigners they can meet with. Their employment for diversion was planting of tobacco which they mixed and sorted as if they expected a return of their commodity. One of them, when he went to land, had a Bible in his pocket
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and this they read very much. In reading and discoursing about the Lord's Supper they fell into consideration whether one of them might not in their circumstances administer that ordinance. They concluded in the affirmative, and so with water instead of wine and potato instead of bread, they solemnly performed it and, as they affirmed, found much comfort and establishment thereby. Years afterwards when they returned they found a scruple of conscience about this matter and proposed it to divers Ministers and, if I mistake not, to Mr. Leverton himself. After their long stay, and hopeless of ever seeing their friends more, they discovered a sail off at sea which was a Frenchman. To this ship they made a sign by fire and smoke on the top of a rock and it pleased God to put it into their hearts to turn out of their course and so took them in and brought them off.
Among the remarkables which I remember of their abode in those coasts is one of a Spanish friar who being taken, was on board of a Frenchman where Mr. Leverton discoursing with him in Latin as they walked on deck, the friar, though he interchanged discourse with Mr. Leverton about many things, yet all the while was dropping beads, and Mr. Leverton asking him the meaning of it, he replied he had many prayers to say and unless he did redeem that time he should want time for all business 'rediculum caput'.
I noted before that in all this time of their roving they got little except victuals. One plate prize might have made them safer but they were not so happy as to meet with it. Therefore worried with dangers, hardship and vain expectations, after two years wherein Mr. Leverton said he never tasted a bit of bread, they resolved to return and accordingly the company, and by the assistance of a French vessel, they arrived at last safely to the Island of St. Christopher.
From thence Captain Lane returned for England with some of his men. Others of them tarried with Mr. Leverton who was inclined to stay and settle there. But after some four or five months trial he found the desolateness of the place such that he had little hope to do any good amongst them, and therefore he and fourteen or fifteen of his company were willing also to return home. They took the opportunity of a French frigate bound for France, commanded by one Monsieur Devor of Rochelle, and with them put to sea. About a fortnight they had convenient weather but then they had a dead calm which continued so long as they had almost spent all their victuals, when but a little in comparison of their way was dispatched. This distress and danger of being starved in the vast Atlantic ocean was as great as any they had ever met withal. They had nothing left but a few peas and a little fresh water, to husband which they agreed upon an allowance and 'twas a short one; eight spoonfuls of peas and a pint of water a day for each man, wherewith the Captain and Mr. Leverton contented themselves, nor would in the least exceed the stint of the rest.
This was continued till (as Mr. Leverton assured me) they were all even black with famine, till himself having every day shortened and lapped over his waistband, had his belly even shrunk to his back. In this time one of the Englishmen, who was before somewhat sickly, died and gave what he had to Mr. Leverton. The chief thing he left was a good piece of black silk grosgrain. Of this some of the English, though none of them were tailors, undertook to make him a suit which, by ripping up an old garment and making the parts thereof patterns after an odd sort, they performed. 'Twas cut out with a knife and sewed with black thread, and all without lining, for that they had nothing to make it with. This exploit they got about either a little to divert themselves from thinking only of their misery, or that they had a mind if ever they should meet men again to have Mr. Leverton, who was now their Captain, to appear somewhat like; Mr. Leverton in the meantime not regarding what became of his silk. Mr. Leverton was won't, morning and evening, to call together his Englishmen and pray with them and instruct them, which duties were now performed with very earnest and serious affection.
The French, though they understood little of what was said, were wont to draw near about them and with tears and beating their breasts cry out 'Mon Dieu' as if heartily inclined to join with them if they had been able. This gave occasion to the Captain thus to express himself: 'Monsieur Leverton, me Francie be fare boon, be fare boon; man protestant be fare glad to see Monsieur Leverton à Rochelle' with other such like. But the most remarkable passage in all this distress was that Mr. Leverton with his English, I cannot say kept a fast for that they did every day, but kept a solemn day of prayer and preaching the word. The whole company of Frenchmen as they could and as they were wont, joining with them in the end of their duty. The French were greatly transported with joy and hope of deliverance, the Captain saying that doubtless God would hear Mr. Leverton's prayers. Nor was their hope vain, for sending a lad to the main mast top as they had often before done, he descried a sail in that opposition to them and that a little wind which then began to blow did admirably serve to make up to her. Had it been Turk or other enemy they regarded not, for there they must needs die and there they might perhaps live. At her therefore they steer their course with all the sail they could possibly make. By the morning light they found themselves not far from her, only they found she made from them as fast as she could; nevertheless being lighter, less and shaped for speed they soon bore up with her and then, to their excessive joy, found her to be an English merchant somewhat heavy laden.
When they came within call the English hailed her, understood she was bound for Bermuda and desired that they might put three or four of their men aboard to speak with their Captain, which being granted, the French quickly hoisted out their boat
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and Mr. Leverton with some of the English rowed to the ship with one or two of the seamen, and got up to the shipside. They stood to assist Mr. Leverton and upon some occasion saying 'Take heed, Mr. Leverton', his name was taken notice of by them in the ship, whereupon asking his company what he was. They wondered much when they heard he was a Minister of Providence because now he was in a seaman's habit not unlike the rest. They were also very glad to see him of whom they heard so much. The chief man of the ship showed him special respects and upon opening their case he readily complied with their desires, fetching of the English and taking them with him and supplying the French with what 'ere they needed for their voyage home.
The French offered to give powder and shot, for of that they had store, in exchange for their victuals, but it was refused and freely they were dismissed with many thanks for their kindness to Mr. Leverton and his English. They were also invited to go with them to the Isle of Bermuda but they rather chose to return to their country and so with most affectionate adieus they departed. After the French were gone the chief officer took Mr. Leverton into the great cabin and desired him to give a particular account of his adventures from the time he came out of England, for that they had received various reports about it, one while hearing they were lost and that soon after contradicted, but now he saw God had preserved him he desired to know the order of his affairs.
When Mr. Leverton had given him an account down along to the time they met with them, he suddenly brake out with great admiration saying: 'Now I understand the meaning of a very strange providence that happened to us. I am,' said he, 'the Governor of Bermuda. This ship came to us from England and as it was coming into the harbour it lodged between two rocks and we knew not how to get it off. After some considerations it was thought fit to take out her guns and lighten her. Hoping then that the tide would remove her, we fell to this work and had taken out the greatest of her guns, her shot and some of her heavier merchandise; and then, as we expected, the tide with a little change of wind cleared her, only we knew not how well to get her in, for that most of the seamen were then gone to the shore and most of the persons that then were and now are in the ship, were merchants concerned in the cargo and not skilled to conduct a vessel.
While we abode expecting the mariners a sudden storm of wind fell upon us, drove us to the sea and like a vehement hurricane has hurried us out to the place where you have found us, so that now I perceive that it was God's special favour to you that has put us in this great fright. Of all our fears, it was not the least we conceived from the discovery of your vessel, for indeed we took you to be a freebooting piqueroone1, and therefore we endeavoured as we could to get from you but all in vain. When we had supplied the French we refused to accept their offer of ammunition because we would not seem to want it, but in truth as we have but two or three small guns, so neither can we charge one of them whatsoever occasion we should have thus far.'
He, the Governor, could not be more affected with Mr. Leverton's story than he was with the Governor's, and what less impressions than rapture and astonishment could such goodness of the Lord make upon a holy heart.
At Bermuda in a short time they arrived in safety, to the great rejoicing not only of themselves but of all the inhabitants who, having relations on board the ship, had kept solemn and public fasting and prayer most of the time of their absence, and now upon the discovery of the ship were all come to the seashore to embrace and return of their prayers. The company in general landed at the common landing place, but the Governor had a boat of his own which came on board for him, and he and Mr. Leverton landed in his own park where his wife, having only one young gentlewoman in her company, stood ready to receive him. Mr. Leverton was now in his best beseen2, viz3, his silk suit, and as the Captain led his wife towards the house Mr. Leverton led the other gentlewoman who was daughter to a trading planter, one Mr. Reyner, a near relation to Mr. Reyner of Egham; and not long after - see the strange providence of God - became his wife. The pleasure and plenty of the island and the abundant kindness of the people to Mr. Leverton has almost destroyed him for he there soon fell into a dangerous fit of sickness. For his recovery and after preservation he was forced to come to the diet and usage his body had been inured to, namely to sleep upon a table, drink water, eat very sparingly and that of the coarsest viands, and it was a considerable while 'ere he could safely or comfortably lie on a bed.
Here he preached and spent about a year, but finding he could not perfectly recover his health, it was thought meet for him to return to England and try his native air, which accordingly he did. His wife in the meantime choosing to tarry in the country with her father until she should hear of his convenient settlement or see his return. His voyage home had not anything remarkable, as I remember, but success, and safely arriving at the Downs, landed at Sandwich where, taking horse for London, as his foot was in the stirrups the ostler said to him, 'Master, you are something like our Minister. I believe you have lived in hot countries
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as well as he.' This occasioned an enquiry and he found to his great joy and admiration that it was his old friend and colleague Mr. Sherwood, who was settled there. He wondered that the fellow should say that they were anything alike, there being as he expressed it, no more likeness between an apple and an oyster. The only reason that he could give was that they both had sallow and sea-beaten countenances. However this slight ground for his speech was a providential occasion that he met with his old friend so unexpectedly, to whom he forthwith hastens, and you may well imagine was joyfully received by him. Mr. Sherwood was somewhat revived by his company after a long and settled sadness, for that he never yet had heard what had become of the poor people of Providence, and his wife and children among them. He had only heard of the Island's being taken, nor could Mr. Leverton give him any further account thereon.
After about three weeks abode here with his friends, he went for London, where the Lords and other proprietors of Providence received him with great honour and respect. And soon after he had an order of settlement as a Minister of High Heveningham in Suffolk where, finding his health in good measure returning to him, he abode, sending for his wife, who by the next return from Bermuda came safely to him, and there was born his first child whom he named Gershom for the same reason that Moses called his so: Ex: 2 v.22 - for he said ' I have been a stranger in a strange land.' After him they also had a daughter whom they called Marry.
Leaving Mr. Leverton in a comfortable condition, let us return awhile to the disconsolate Mr. Sherwood who, being persuaded that his family was utterly destroyed by the Spaniards, was wholly overcome with melancholy and so grew weary of his abode at Sandwich, though he was very well received there. He thought variety and action would somewhat divert his mind and therefore he resolved for Ireland with Colonel Venables, as I remember, and his regiment and so took commission to be their Chaplain. While these soldiers lay about the Downs expecting a wind, Mr. Sherwood quartered in Dover where some merchant ships drawing near were supposed and discoursed by the inhabitants as straightsmen, upon which discourse Mr. Sherwood was pricked1 forward to take a boat and make out towards them lest they should pass by into the Downs and not touch there.
His desire was, as you may guess, to enquire after the people of Providence now. When they drew near the ships another boat from one of the ships came to meet them which, when it was within call, Mr. Sherwood stood up and asked them if they had any tidings of the people of Providence. At which words a woman in the other boat, rising up and looking towards him, suddenly cried out, 'Oh, my husband, my husband' and indeed it was Mrs. Sherwood herself who so spoke, who had with her both her children and her maid, the whole family that was left in Providence. When the boats were come together the woman was like to tumble into the sea through eagerness to come on board where her husband was, but he dissuaded her haste saying that seeing God had hitherto preserved her she should now take care not to destroy herself.
When he had orderly and safely received them on board, the spectators saw with astonishment an extraordinary pattern of passionate joy, for he sat down with a child on each knee and his wife between them both, all embracing one another and shedding abundance of tears. And now he said to the beholders, 'You see me in the same posture wherein I was drawn from these my dear relations about six years since in the Isle of Providence, to be sent a prisoner into England. Then was also the place a Bochim2 but the tears were of another nature when they were come to land. Mrs. Sherwood related what had passed in their long separation in which were many things remarkable. As, that is, when the Spaniards had forcibly possessed themselves of the island, they presently made enquiry after their priests, as they called them, and when they understood that they were sent away prisoners they reviled the people with great contempt, as worse than heathens that had no regard for their priests and that it was no wonder God had delivered them into the enemy's hands.
That they then sought out Mrs. Sherwood and showed her more respect than any of the rest, giving her double allowance and permitting her to choose one friend to be always with her, which accordingly she did, and chose Captain Lane's wife. That the whole people were carried into the Spanish West Indies on the Main and herself among the rest, but then was unhappily separated from her friend Mrs. Lane whereupon, discovering great grief, some Spanish ladies enquired of her the cause and when they understood it, they took order to have her sought out and restored to her again from where she was never more separated till the time that they that they both came home, as they both went first out together.
When the strange providence was known to the superior officers of the regiment they all congratulated Mr. Sherwood (on) his joyful condition, and upon his desire were very ready to give him a dispensation. So he tarried in England and soon after was settled in a place of good value in Dorsetshire when he continued till he was father of eight children, where for the present we shall leave him, to return again to Mr. Leverton who after some year's abode in Suffolk he was made known to some of his old acquaintance, gentlemen of Cornwall,
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formerly by his comrades in Oxford and now Members of Parliament. Among the rest, Mr. Anthony Nycoll, (one of the famed Members after impeached by the army) would by all means have him with him into the country. And accordingly having begged him of the gentlemen of Suffolk and prevailed with himself, he had him down to Cornwall and settled him in St. Tudy, the parish wherein his house stood. There his wife bore him his third and last child, named Jane, and there I had the happiness of his good acquaintance, Providence casting my lot in Blisland, the next parish to him, where I succeeded Dr. Kendall who called it his terra beata1, howsoever I found it.
There he lived about nine or ten years, of which I was his neighbour, in which time his Ministry was blessed with great success in the getting some that were inclined to fond opinions and wakening many out of their carnal security. By the help of his neighbouring Ministers he held there a weekly lecture on Thursdays which the neighbouring Justices of the Peace did commonly frequent and after sermon used to dispatch a great deal of business while they were together, whereby not only many of the country abroad received benefit but also a very amicable correspondence was maintained between the magistrates and the Ministers and between the Ministers themselves. He used hospitably to receive them that lived at a distance who came to the lecture, and indeed at many other times, so that it was judged as one of the causes why he gathered but little, which appeared when he was removed from his place, although many of the people sent him in provisions who used to come and take port with him.
The house which belonged to his place was in a low valley between hills which hung close over it, which he apprehended did not agree well with his health, and therefore for some time he lived in Padstow, a town near the sea and not far from the place of his birth. In both which respects he thought the air might be more congenial and agreeable unto him.
In this town he would have had his friend Mr. Sherwood settled, who came into the country about that affair, but they met with a disappointment therein. I then had also the happiness to know Mr. Sherwood, who professed that he was desirous to remove from the place where he was, not upon any consideration of means for that indeed it was of considerable value, as I remember, about eight score pounds per annum, but that he had in his parish only five or six shepherds and two bailiff hands and that he had laboured amongst them many years with encouraging success. Wherefore now he was resolved to bestow his pains where he might hope to do more good, and accordingly after the business of Padstow he removed with all his family into Ireland. Mr. Leverton who was generally beloved by most with whom he did converse, yet wanted not some that endeavoured to blast his reputation. Two passages there were from whence they took occasion to report him a drunkard; the one while at St. Tudy, the other after he dwelt at Padstow.
The former occasion was this: Mr. Leverton, upon some uncomfortable passages in his family, took his horse and rode five or six miles from home to a parish called St. Endellion, where he had formerly kept a small grammar school, as was said, before he went into the West Indies. Then he met one Golder, a farmer of that parish and an ancient acquaintance of his, who invited him to take a cup of beer at the Clerk's house. Mr. Leverton, willing to divert himself by talking of old stories of their youth, which kind of discourse he much delighted in at other times, went in with him. To them also came another old acquaintance. It was a summer evening and they sat long a-talking, but they had very little beer and because he had no inclination to return home he thought of tarrying there all night. When it was now night Mr. Leverton, his head aching and not used of late much to watch, leaning his elbow on the table and his head on his hand, he fell asleep, the other two maintaining the discourse in some what Mr. Leverton was not much concerned.
They, observing him to be napping, went away and it seems took the candle with them to light them downstairs, and the man of the house forgot or neglected to carry it up again. The room being quiet, Mr. Leverton slept till midnight, but when he awoke he found himself very cold and was angry that he was left without light. Knocking earnestly for the people of the house and none coming to him, he endeavoured to find the way downstairs, but by the side of the stairs there was a door at that time open, leading into the cellar, where he unhappily fell in, more to his vexation than harm. The woman in the meanwhile alighted a candle and the man also arose to see how it was with him. When he was come up, being much displeased at his being left in the dark and in a sudden passion, struck the fellow a box on the ear, who fearing he should as he deserved meet with more in the same kind, fled out of the house and clamoured to one or two of his neighbours. When one of them came, Mr. Leverton told him of the business, who was well satisfied therewith and blamed the people of the house very much. Soon after the fellow of the house came in, with whom
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Mr. Leverton expostulated the matter more calmly and they soon became friends again. This I must say, that though Mr. Leverton was suddenly apprehensive of an injury, and for a minute or two would speak loud and earnest, yet he was a man whose passions would as soon be laid1 as any that 'ere I knew. In fine2 he told the fellow he was sorry he struck him and when he brought him his horse he gave him a shilling, wherewith he was very well pleased and satisfied. This is one of the stories.
The other was while he lived at Padstow and used to come up to St. Tudy and preach on the Lord's Day. One Monday morning, fasting, he went to a gentleman's house in his parish about some business. The weather being somewhat gathering to rain, he complained to the gentlewoman that the clouds were in his head and that his head ached very much, as indeed it always used to do in such weather, from the time he received his wound in Tobago. He found himself also ill in his stomach, being oppressed with wind, and yet he had no appetite to eat anything although his stomach was empty. The gentlewoman gave him a small draught of strong water or cordial which she had in the house, and so he rode away towards Padstow which was eleven or twelve miles from thence. When he came within six miles of home, the weather being very stormy and wet, he found himself so ill that he could travel no further. He therefore put into an inn and having a cup of ale warmed, he drank a little of it, but the wind in his empty stomach meeting it, flung it up immediately. There he lay that night and in the morning rode home to Padstow. The woman of the house smelling the strong water when he vomited, thought he had drunk much of that liquor, and thereupon a rumour was raised as if that illness proceeded from immoderate drinking, when indeed it was far otherwise.
These were the two stories that made much noise in the country, being heightened by some ill-minded people who maligned the repute he had for his eminent piety. On this occasion one made a libelling song and others reported that at both places he was drunk, and at the former, after he had beaten the man of the house out of doors, he offered incivility to his wife in the coal hole etc. But it gained little credit with any who knew Mr. Leverton well and in short time the stories vanished away. However some of the chief of his people who communicated with him in the Lord's Supper, made it their business to go to the places and satisfy themselves fully from all the persons concerned, from whom, as well as from his own mouth, I had the relations I have given you. The business also was brought before the Ministers in their association, to whom he professed his hearty sorrow for his tarrying so long in the ale house at Endellion, whereby occasion was taken to reproach him and in him the Ministry and religion. Yet he protested at that time he drank very little and not in there. The Ministers were fully satisfied in the matter and after some cautions given suitable to the reverence and esteem they had of so worthy a person, they embraced his society as in former times without the least abatement of his respects.
And indeed he ever was a very useful member amongst them, for whereas divers of them were diversely gifted, some eminent for skill in tongues, others in controversy, some for prudence, others plainness and clearness of speech, it was his excellency to draw from all matters that were before them such savoury and pious observables as left holy impressions upon the hearts of all that heard him. Besides what had been related, a parcel of Quakers used to molest him but he did not lay those things much to heart, only the beginning of them was more troublesome. A gentleman of his parish, who was at that time also Justice of the Peace, took occasion to fall out with him. As I remember, it began about some dues as Minister of the place, but whatsoever it were the feud grew very high so as there was charging of each other and the Justice, as I think, laid to Mr. Leverton's words or actions, against the then ruling powers. However Mr. Anthony Nycoll, before mentioned, being also a Justice of the same parish, stood by Mr. Leverton so that in time the other Justice was struck out of the Commission, after which the gentleman withdrew from hearing Mr. Leverton and for a year or two used to go to other parishes, but at last joined in with the Quakers and was of their profession. Those he entertained, held meetings for them in his house, and sometimes some of them came to make disturbance in the public worship, but Mr. Nycoll so ordered the matter as he kept them from giving very much trouble.
But amongst all his outward afflictions somewhat that was domestic, hinted at before, did not a little sometimes disturb his spirit. His wife, who I hope was in the main a good woman, and indeed generally very friendly to her neighbours and complacent enough in the family, yet at some times would be in a melancholy fit and perhaps by occasion of a hasty word from him or some small intimation of displeasure which was presently over with him, would conceive such an inward distaste as would not so easily pass away till time and the coming of some friends did divert her and wear it out of her mind. Her natural temper was somewhat bent and resolved, an instance or two may be given, very remarkable.
When she was a girl in Bermuda and among the rest of her brothers and sisters, she had a hatchet in her hand, chopping at a block. One of her brothers bid her give over, which she refused. The boy being of a cross, resolute temper, laid his thumb where
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she was chopping. She bid him remove his thumb or she would strike it off. The boy stoutly refusing, she presently was as bad as her word. Another, when she came into England and having never seen snow she greatly admiring it for a very pretty thing, saved it in her apron. But above all she wondered at the ice, that water should be able to bear one's weight, and although she was told it was slippery, which she also found in little pools, yet she could not be persuaded but she must go upon a broad pool and got several falls, though she was then very great with her first child. In like manner being taken much with a horse which before she was a stranger to, she compelled her maid to go with her into the field, and without halter, bridle or saddle (great as she was with child), they both got up on a colt that was easy to be taken because it was wont to be fed by hand, but the colt being unacquainted with the service ran wildly about and soon eased himself of his burden. Though the novelty may in part excuse these frolics, yet it argued a resolute temper and either a will or a fancy not very manageable.
However the good woman was sometimes out of humour and then somewhat sour to her husband and a little sharp in words to her children and servants. Yet truly, in case of sickness or some other occasions, I have not seen anyone more tender than she was wont to be. Mr. Leverton indeed was often sickly, and once there at St. Tudy was dangerously ill. I took then special notice both of the great care and pains of his wife and also the great affection his friend bore towards him, for they appointed a solemn day of prayer in his behalf, in which they desired my assistance. And indeed I could not but be much affected at the plenty of tears shed on that occasion.
It came now to his removal from that place, which was accompanied with great trouble and followed with more. The incumbent who was sequestered1 from the place a year or two before Mr. Leverton came into the country, and was dead before the King came in, yet the place being the presentation of a peer, and that lord would not be persuaded to continue him, he was removed, and the lord's Chaplain placed in his stead. This young successor, I suppose by direction, carried it very harshly towards Mr. Leverton and I know not now by what right or pretences of dilapidations, and indeed they were but pretences, would have seized Mr. Leverton's goods, but that upon a very short warning his loving people in about a day's time bought and removed all he had. In which they took notice of this providence that that was the only fair day they had in a good while before or after, which if it had not been so he must have suffered very much in his corn, whereof then he had presently some store in his barns.
When he was removed and settled his family in Padstow, the lord aforesaid prosecuted him for the main profits of about eleven years which he had been possessed of the place, and although Mr. Leverton, with a friend or two more, went to the said lord and discoursed the unreasonableness of such demands, professing that he laboured for the bread he ate and that he was not at all enriched by his being there; though also he was willing to part with some of the little he had left, yet nothing would satisfy unless he would do impossibles and give them much more than he was worth in all the world. Bailiffs therefore were employed to hunt him and he used his best direction to secure himself.
While he was under this storm he thought good to withdraw himself into Ireland. Thither he went hoping to find his old friend Mr. Sherwood and by his help and direction to get some quiet repose. But after he had spent about a quarter of a year there and could not get tidings of his friend, only heard that he had gone into the north of Ireland but where he could not learn. He returned as much under trouble and danger as he was before. About this time Mr. Oxenbridge, a Minister at London who had formerly lived in the Bermudas and was there acquainted with Mr.Leverton, having heard of Mr.Leverton's troubles in Cornwall, wrote to him that the Lord Willoughby of Parham was about to go over to the plantations of Syrenham2 whereof he was Governor, and that in the meanwhile he was desirous to send over some fit person to be Minister there, for that at that time the colony was wholly destitute of any. Mr. Leverton, upon advice with his friends, was willing to accept of the employment, and signifying so much to Mr. Oxenbridge, the business was in a short time settled. Mr. Leverton received his commission and therewith a protection from arrest, and a time was set for a ship to call for him at Plymouth. Yet notwithstanding, the lord aforesaid left not to prosecute him, and therefore he thought meet rather to keep out of their way than to try the force of his protection.
That which exasperated this great man against him he supposed to be the instigation of the widow of the former incumbent, she also gave out that she would prosecute him for fifths3 for divers years which her husband lived after Mr. Leverton was settled in the place. The case stood thus: Mr. G., the sequestered incumbent, preferred a petition for fifths to some Commissioners appointed for that affair, of which number Mr. Nycoll was one. Mr. Leverton did not much concern himself in the business, only declared that the income of the place was to him a bare maintenance, that he thought his pains amongst them might require a livelihood and if he could not have there what was fit for a Minister, he thought he might be well excused if he did remove to labour and live elsewhere. The people therefore and particularly Mr. Nycoll, out of desire to keep him with them, did endeavour to ward off the declaration of the maintenance.
(End of leaf 15)
Before the Commissioners Mr. G. demanded thirty pounds both as a fifth and also for that the Parliament had allowed so much to every other Minister. To which was answered that thirty pounds was much above the fifth of what Mr. Leverton had from the place: secondly, that the Parliament gave not any fifths to such as had thirty pounds per annum of their own, and that if they had nothing then a portion of the profits was to be allowed provided it exceeded not a fifth, which therefore might be much less than thirty pounds if the place were of small value: thirdly, that Mr. G. had above thirty pounds estate of his own and therefore could demand nothing. This was alleged, but when proof was to be made it appeared that Mr. G. had sold some part of his estate, that it could not be proved to be actually in his possession. The Commissioners, considering what was proved, were willing to give him so much out of the place as with his own would amount to thirty pounds per annum, but Mr. G. refused it and went away saying, 'If you will not give me the whole thirty pounds per annum I will have nothing from you.'
Though Mr. Leverton was thus acquitted, yet he knew not how now he should be dealt withall before other judges, but sure I am, whatsoever they should have awarded, he was altogether unable to give them satisfaction, for the little that he had left was well nigh spent between the time he was out and when he went away. He therefore, as was said, lay for the most part concealed in Plymouth, though there he entered his protection if so be it might do him any good. Long he waited in Plymouth for the ship, beyond the time appointed, and in that time was under great bodily distempers, for besides the stone wherewith he was grievously tormented in his kidneys, he was much oppressed with a melancholy mind and perhaps increased by reflections upon his troubled condition.
His wife, who had formerly gone so many leagues by sea had, I know not how, been so altered in her temper that for some years she did very much fear to go by water and would ride many miles rather than go over a ferry; yet now again was strongly inclined to go this long voyage and earnestly longed for the coming of the ship, so had God frightened their spirits to their condition.
The ship long looked for at last came. His prosecutors took notice of it and said they doubted not but they should yet have him before he should get on board, therefore all care was taken how he might escape their hands, which was effected in this manner. First his servants were put on board, then his goods by degrees in the night, and the evening before the ship's departure his wife and one child, which he carried with him. As for himself, because the ship was to pass out by the forts and he knew not what obstructions he might there meet with, it was ordered that he, with one friend, should ride out into the country six or seven miles off that night, and by boat the next morning meet the ship at sea, where it should be past all dangers of his adversaries. All which was accordingly done. It would be long to recite those expressions of grief which were seen at his departure, and how strangely his best friends were most industrious to help him off, who yet were most unwilling to part from him. He left behind him his son, then at school, and his eldest daughter was taken by Mr. Nycoll's widow. The youngest, being not above six or seven years old, went with him with three men servants and one maid.
They had a safe and short passage, only the very first night they had a very grievous storm, but afterwards as good a voyage as could be desired. When three leagues off at sea I took my last farewell of him. He promised to give me a faithful account of that colony, which accordingly he did, for after he had been there about six weeks he wrote me a large letter of the conveniences and inconveniences of the place, which letter I still keep by me and would here insert if I had time. He therein told me that he was wonderfully recovered of his former distempers and that he was at the writing of it better than he had been of a long time before. Yet for all that the messenger that brought me that letter brought me also the tidings of his death. So do we shine before we set; so do we blaze a little before we are extinguished.
The young man who brought me these tidings was one that went over with him and carried a small adventure1 of which he made a good return, whereby others were encouraged to send over goods again by him, of which the product was nothing to be remembered. I have small pleasure to think further of him or his merchandise, only mention what account he gave of Mr. Leverton. He told us that he was as he wrote, recovered to admiration, that himself having occasion to be at distance from him in some other part of the country, and having been absent about a fortnight, upon his return he found him unexpectedly and newly dead. That it was judged his old distempers returned upon him, that his innards were perished and that his cheerfulness upon his new settlement after so many troubles, did rather make him seem to be well than at all render him so. The letter to me and one or two more, he wrote before he sickened. Some others he had begun and did not finish, yet none of them mentioned anything of his illness. He was suddenly gone and, as I remember, he told us he was not above two or three days in that fit whereof he died.
Two other different accounts were given of his death, but only in some dark hints and intimations, and that form uncertain. Others, the one that he had been too free in drinking hot liquors, by cares and treatments of the country, his intemperance drawn upon him the destruction of his health and life. That he used strong waters from the time he had been a seaman and that he was of a sociable temper, we knew, but that he abused the liquor or himself by them, or that he ceased to be wise by being merry, we knew the contrary. Those who knew him thoroughly will never believe that the change of soil could change the man, but rather that the story proceeded from the same spirit that framed the former wish upon fables of him. The other, third, story is that he was removed not without suspicion
(End of leaf 16)
of poison, by some who had a mind to have his wife after him. 'Tis true that Mrs. Leverton, who was in England thick, fat and unwieldy, was in a short space become active and very beautiful, as the young man affirmed who came from them, and like a maid, as he said, of eighteen years of age. 'Tis strange I say, and yet some reason may be rendered for it, for I have heard Mr. Leverton say that when he first married her in Bermuda, she was so slender that he could with his hands span about her waist, but afterwards in England, by the cold stopping her pores she was, as it were, blown up and troubled with many distempers. But when she came into a warmer air and that congenial to her nature, in Bermuda, it soon unlocked the pores, breathed out those humours and might well make a sudden alteration in her for the better. Add to this also as some ground for surmise, that she was quickly married after her husband's death, to a person of quality in the country, one Mr. Bovell Rowden. But with all of this, of Mrs. Leverton herself I can by no means admit of the least suspicion, for that I know she loved and tended him very dearly and, as was said, she was hoped to be a good woman in the main. And as for others, we have no warrant to entertain such hard thoughts of them, though in many respects they might be faulty enough.
Unless we have better grounds than we have yet heard of, the suddenness of the marriage signifies nothing, upon the consideration of the want of women before intimated, but if there were anything in this surmise, then I would freely cry out upon it as a crime not only black in its own nature, but more abundantly horrid in the circumstances, he being a good man, a friendly affable person, a Minister, an eminent Minister and the only one they had in the whole colony. Whereas were now four thousand souls scattered and dispersed at a great distance, and this good man spared not in his short time his pains to travel up and down and serve them in the Gospel. Now if yet there were any so wicked, (though as was said, I hope the contrary), a day will come when the hidden things of dishonesty shall be revealed, when their consciences shall accuse them to their faces and Abimelech1 shall rise up in judgement against them to condemn them. Upon the news of Mr. Leverton's death his son Gershom, who was designed for a scholar, was by his relations in the country bound out an apprentice to an eminent chyrurgion2 in Plymouth, where he made an excellent progress in his calling until the time of the Dutch wars. His master being chyrurgion to the hospital, he going often among the sick prisoners, got of them a pestilential fever whereof in a few days he died. After his death, then unknown to his mother, if ever it were after known, some of his father's books were sent over to him by his father-in-law3 Mr. Rowden, but what by the trouble about landing them, coming from beyond the seas with their freight, and the saving them in the Fire of London, they turned, to a very small account, to his sister Marry, who yet lived under the care of Mrs. Nycoll, aforesaid.
The Dutch, in the war, won the colony of Surinam, and most of the English removed to Barbados and other adjoining plantations. From Barbados a letter was not long since received by Marry Leverton from her little sister Jane, now grown a woman, informing her that her mother was dead and also her father-in-law Mr. Rowden, who had given her one half of his plantation in Surinam, but what advantage that was like to be to her is not now understood, since that 'tis reported that poor Jane is dead also in Barbados. Thus have I, with what brevity I could, gone through the narrative of God's various and wonderful providences towards this good man and his afflicted family. I shall only add a word or two more of Mr. Oxenbridge, who inclined and persuaded him to this his last voyage.
Mr. Oxenbridge was greatly desirous to promote the Gospel in the West Indies, and published a little treatise to incite good Ministers and people to that work. Himself also, not long after Mr. Leverton, went over to Courantyne4, a river near Surinam, which fell into it and with it into the sea. There, after a very dangerous passage and unhappy dissension on the ship, he settled with a small company, wrote home of great hopes he had of doing good among the natives, sent for his wife and children, among which was one very hopeful young man, a Doctor of Physic, two or three young gentlewomen, as I remember, and a lad or two. But now, good man, we hear he is stripped of all those comforts, they being all dead, to himself alone. He came with the ousted English to Barbados, thence to New England, where at Boston for a while he resided, but is since dead.
Let none think slightly of good designs when they attained not their desired effect. Let none from these worthy men's difficulties be discouraged from any noble undertakings but let us all with holy Job reverence the unsearchable providence of the Most High: Chapters 5:6:7:8:9. Although affliction cometh not from the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground, yet man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upwards. I would seek unto God and unto God would I commit my cause, who doth great things and unsearchable marvellous things without number. So also Chapters 9:10:11:12: Which doth great things past finding out and wonders without number. Lo he goeth by me and I see him not, he passeth on also but I perceive him not, behold he taketh me away. Who can hinder him, who will say unto him, 'What dost thou'.
Finis C M.
Transcribed by me the 21st March 82/3.
Surrynham Guijna1 May 13th 1662
My dear friend,
I have sent you notice of our safe arrival on the 13th day of March by a ship there in the mouth of the river bound for England. Now at this time I am in very good health with all those that went from Plymouth with me, and I felt not the least touch of any of all my former diseases since I parted with you. At our first setting sail, the first night of being at sea, we were very like to end our voyage, by reason of a storm falling on us and having our ship overladen. She carried three cargoes, one for the Cape de Verde Islands, another for Surinam and a third for Guiana. We were over against the Lizard when the storm fell and she lay so long under water as all concluded she would never rise again. But it pleased God to bring every soul in safety to our port, save one seaman who came sick on board in the Thames. We threw him overboard the third day after our coming forth from Plymouth.
In our course we met with ten sail of English bound for Tangiers with soldiers, after a Turkish man of war, as we supposed, and she lay about the Canary Islands, whom we, espying late in the evening steering after us, we changed our course as soon as it was dark and so lost her before it was morning. The next day we made pero ore top the Canary Islands and about two days after in the peep2 of day we found ourselves close aboard the Barbary2 shore, and had we not daylight to friend, we had doubtless been on shore in Barbary. We kept for three or four days along the coasts of Barbary and then steered more westwardly for the Isle of May, but we thought that the unskillfulness of our navigators missed it and all other of the Cape de Verde Islands. Only we spied by chance the leeward most called Tobago, where we stayed the space of a fortnight to take in cattle and water, sailed from thence to Surinam, and in a fortnight's space more we came into the river, so that we were under sail but six weeks between Plymouth and our port, where we are now through God's mercy in a very healthy land but yet among a loose and godless people.
The Governor himself, whom I most suspected, I find to be a man of learning, ingenuity and of great civility, the famous non-conformist beyond all others, and hath procured the assembly at their last meeting to send out a declaration for liberty of conscience to all that shall live peaceably under government in the land. Whereof there are several copies sent into England and I doubt not but you will receive a copy from Mr. Oxenbridge. The land is not only healthful but very fruitful, especially in the inward parts of it, though the most of the settlements as yet are on the face of the river for the space of thirty leagues up. We have in the land already above 1500 head of cattle and expect more daily to come in from the Cape de Verde Islands. We have hogs, turkeys and dunghill fowl. There are also ducks in great plenty, besides those that are wild, of which there are various sorts, even of fowls, birds and beasts. I have as yet killed but three elephants in my plantation, having as yet not gone abroad to look for anything in the woods.
We have milk store in the land. The special commodities at present are sugar, whereof there have been four ships laden since my arrival, special wood and silk grass3. With these they are like to abound, for cotton and tobacco they plant little and that because the cotton they have planted formerly is yet upon their hands. There be such variety of strange creatures, as many men would be much taken up with the admiration of God in them. We find the Governor and some others of eminence to be very civil to us, active for our comfortable settlement. My wife has already a cow by the appointment of the Lord Willoughby, and hath seven turkeys sent to her and expect more daily, besides ducks and fowls for store. We expect also hogs and other necessaries to furnish our plantations. Mr. Blight is likely to make a good voyage and of about twenty five pounds worth of goods to carry, hence above ten thousand weight of sugar, all which would hardly defray his charges had he not lived with us on free cost. I wish him a safe passage to you
(End of leaf 18)
and a speedy and safe return to us again. According to my intention and desires, I purpose to send a parcel of sugar by him, some to Mrs. Elford, and my exceeding dear friend Mrs. Johnson for the adventures they sent by him: and also some for the use of my son Gershom, to dispose of in some particular commodities for us, and hereafter I hope to gratify the rest of my dear friends. Any tradesman is of good use here, especially timbermen. They may at least get £50 per annum merely by their daily labour. Others are of little use, requiring in food and apparel as much cost as their work will come to. Apparel of all sorts, even thick cloth as well as thin, are very useful here; my studying gown stands me in great stead and so also do my cloth clothes and suits. The Governor as well as myself do heartily wish you with us, you would have been thought of more if you were once in these parts.
Our people are now about to build a church for me, though for a while they were much offended with my not using the Common Prayer and the Cross in Baptism. There is work enough for four Ministers at least, but the people till of late have been in a capacity to maintain them, having looked after nothing but the personal provisions all the time of their being there, but only in these past two years. But now they are in a very thriving way and increase continually, and it is like to be in a short time the best plantation in the Indies. Pray communicate my letter to all my friends and acquaintance of the Ministry: as to Mr. Wills, Mr. Flaincough, Mr. Hearn, Mr. Kilby, Mr. Hall, Mr. Tincomb, Mr. Halsey, Mr. Revel, and be sure forget not Mr. Hughs, Mr. Martin, Mr. Austin, not forgetting my dear friend Mr. Tapper and others my Christian friends as you have opportunity to speak with them, especially Mr. Elford and his wife, Mr. Barret, Mr. Tamrily, Mr. Toker, and in a special manner Mrs. Nycoll of Penclose, Mrs. Nycoll, Mrs. Sylly of Hellingham, as also Mrs. Mappowder with other my friends thereabouts. We have sugar, drink of divers sorts which all people have at their pleasure, yea the negroes as well as others, in plentiful manner and so good as England can afford.
My hogshead of strong beer, though very good, was not so well received among them as their own country drink. The heat is as yet very tolerable and the rains also. Although this be the wettest season of the year, from the time of our arrival till now we are having but some few showers in a day and they fall not till the afternoon. The people are of healthful countenances and such as are married abound with children which thrive here very well. Thus have I given you a brief account of a large country. Want of supplies and shipping from England hath retarded the prosperity of the land long, but especially the evil reports from the people of Barbados, who in favour of their own plantation would hinder the growth of this if possibly they could. There are inconveniences, as of tigers, bats, ants, but because they are offensive but in some places, I have forborn to speak much of them. I have now nothing more at present but to present mine and my wife's best respects to you and yours, as also to all those friends mentioned, begging your and their prayers, and also your confidence of our readiness to serve you all in the like manner and in all other ways wherein we may, through such thankfulness as becomes a people under so many engagements1 as are yours and their most real friends and servants
My daughter Jane remembers her to you and so doth my cousin Mary, whom the importunity of men will hardly suffer us to keep from marriage till we have sufficient knowledge of their persons and conditions. Any woman would be of an advantage here to themselves and those that have the disposal of them for marriage and ordering household affairs. I could wish some might be procured on my account and sent to me - - - - -
Notes to the text.
1. Smatch: a slight knowledge, smattering.
1. Tribe of Dan: one of the twelve tribes of Israel. See Judges 18 Verse 1.
2. Levite: of the tribe of Levi: priests in the ancient kingdom of Juda. See Judges 17 Verses 8-10.
1. The Dutch were on Tobago in 1632. It was also at times a Spanish , French and British possession till finally ceded to Britain in 1814 after the Napoleonic Wars.
1. 'What makest thou here, Elijah' See 1 Kings 19 Verse 9.
2. Calabashes: gourds from the calabash tree, native to the West Indies; used as vessels for water etc.
1. In fine: in the end, at last.
1. Froward: reserved
2. The actual position of the Island of Providence is 810 longitude and 130 latitude.
1. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, was impeached by the Long Parliament in 1640 and executed in 1645.
1. Shallop: sloop.
2. Murther: mortar
3. Bagpudding: pudding boiled in a bag, probably like a suet pudding, hence 'dumpling'.
1. Pruiagas: possibly 'piara', meaning 'herd' in Spanish
2. Pink: sailing vessel with a narrow stern, small and flat-bottomed.
3. Cygnia canto: cygnian or cygnean - swan like. The swan was supposed to sing melodiously when about to die.
1. Piqueroone: anglicised to pickeer, pickeering - to practice privateering or piracy.
2. Best beseen or beseem: seemly, becoming , fitting.
3. Viz: namely.
1. Pricked: urged, impelled.
2. Bochim: means 'weeping' - Bochim was the name of the place where the angel rebuked Israel.
See Judges 2 Verses 1-5.
1. Terra beata: blessed land.
1. Laid, alaid: allayed.
2. In fine: in the end, at last.
3. To lay to: To charge, impute, accuse.
1. Sequestered: under the Commonwealth a clergyman could be dispossessed of his living.
2. Syrenham: Surinam, on the north east coast of South America. After the 1665-67 war with the Dutch, it was ceded to them in the Treaty of Breda in exchange for New Amsterdam (New York).
3. For fifths: sequestered clergy could be granted one fifth of the annual income they had formerly enjoyed, as maintenance.
1. A small adventure: a small venture or commercial enterprise.
1. Abimelech: See Genesis 20 and 26.
2. Chyrurgion: surgeon.
3. Father-in-law: stepfather.
4. River Courantyne: on the border between Surinam and Guyana.
1. Surinam, Giuana.
2. Peep of day: first thing in the morning.
3. Barbary: North Africa, Morocco.
4. Silk grass: a lustrous grass native to the West Indies and America; can be used for weaving.
1. Engagements: obligations, ties of duty or gratitude.
Transcribed by Mrs EM Golder, Burgess Browning, London March 1996.