Primary Resource

The Deliverance and the Patience; an excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight by William Strachey (1625)

In this excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight, William Strachey describes how the English colonists marooned on Bermuda built two new pinnaces, or small boats, in order to save themselves. After the Sea Venture, the flagship of a resupply fleet en route to Jamestown, nearly sank in a fierce storm, the colonists, including Governor Sir Thomas Gates, Admiral Sir George Somers, and Captain Christopher Newport, spent ten months, from 1609 to 1610, in Bermuda. Addressed to an unknown "Lady," Strachey's account is believed to have been important source material for William Shakespeare's play The Tempest (ca. 1610–1611). Strachey's account was not published until 1625 but likely circulated years before that.

Transcription from Original

Wee had brought our Pinnasse so forward by this time, as the eight and twentieth of August we having laid her Keele. The sixe and twentieth of February, we now began to calke: old Cables we had preserved unto us, which affoorded Ocam enough: and one barrell of Pitch, and another of Tarre, we likewise saved, which served our use some little way upon the Bilg. wee breamed her otherwise with Lime made of Wilke-shels, and an hard white stone which we bur-

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ned in a Kill, slaked with fresh water, and tempered with Tortoyses Oyle. The thirtieth of March being Friday, we towed her out in the morning Spring-tyde, from the Wharfe where she was built, boying her with foure Caske in her runne only: which opened into the North-west, and into which when the Breeze stood North and by West with any stiffe gale, and upon the Spring-tydes, the Sea would increase with that violence, especially twice it did so, as at the first time (before our Governour had caused a solid Causey of an hundred load of stone to bee brought from the Hils and Neighbour Rockes, and round about her ribs from stemme to stemme, where it made a pointed Baulke, and thereby brake the violence of the Flowe and Billowe) it indangered her overthrow and ruine, beeing greene as it were upon the Stockes. With much difficultie, diligence, and labour, we saved her at the first, all her Bases, Shores, and Piles, which under-set her, being almost carried from her, which was the second of January, when her knees were not set to, nor one joynt firme: We launched her unrigged, to carrie her to a little round the Iland, lying West North-west, and close aboord to the backe side of our Iland, both neerer the Ponds and Wels of some fresh water, as also from thence to make our way to the Sea the better: the Channell being there sufficient and deepe enough to leade her forth, when her Masts, Sayles, and all her Trimme should bee about her. Shee was fortie foot by the Keele, and nineteene foot broad at the Beame, sixe foote floore, her Rake forward was fourteene foot, her Rake aft from the top of her Post (which was twelve foot long) was three foot, shee was eight foot deepe under her Beame, betweene her Deckes she was foure foot and an halfe, with a rising of halfe a foot more under her fore Castle, of purpose to scowre the Decke with small shot, if at any time wee should bee boarded by the Enemie. Shee had a fall of eighteene inches aft, to make her sterage and her great Cabbin the more large: her sterage was five foote long, and sixe foote high, with a close Gallerie right aft, with a window on each side, and two right aft. The most part of her timber was Cedar, which we found to be bad for shipping, for that it is wonderous false inward, and besides it is so spault or brickle, that it will make no good plankes, her Beames were all Oke of our ruine ship, and some plankes in her Bow of Oke, and all the rest as if aforesaid. When shee began to swimme (upon her launching) our Governour called her The Deliverance, and shee might be some eighty tunnes of burthen.

Before we quitted our old quarter, and dislodged to the fresh water with our Pinnasse, our Governour set up in Sir George Summers Garden a faire Mnemosynon in figure of a Crosse, made of some of the timber of our ruined shippe, which was scrued in with strong and great trunnels to a mightie Cedar, which grew in the middest of the said Garden, and whose top and upper branches he caused to be lopped, that the violence of the winde and weather might have the lesse power over her.

In the middest of the Crosse, our Governour fastened the Picture of his Majestie in a piece of Silver of twelve pence, and on each side of the Crosse, hee set an Inscription graven in Copper, in the Latine and English to this purpose.

In memory of our great Deliverance, both from a mightie storme and leake: wee have set up this to the honour of God. It is the spoyle of an English ship (of three hundred tunne) called the Sea Venture, bound with seven ships more (from which the storme divided us) to Virginia, or Nova Britania, in America. In it were two Knights, Sir Thomas Gates Knight, Governour of the English Forces and Colonie there: and Sir George Summers Knight, Admirall of the Seas. Her Captaine was Christopher Newport, Passengers and Mariners shee had beside (which came all safe to Land) one hundred and fiftie. We were forced to runne her ashore (by reason of her leake) under a Point that bore South-east from the Northerne Point of the Iland, which wee discovered first the eight and twentieth of July 1609.

About the last of Aprill, Sir George Summers launched his Pinnasse, and brought her from his building Bay, in the Mayne Iland, into the Channell where ours did ride, and shee was by the Keele nine and twentie foot: at the Beame fifteene foot and an halfe: at the Loose fourteene, at the Transam nine, and she was eight foot deepe, and drew sixe foote water, and hee called her the Patience.