The Spaniards Raid on Mousehole in the year 1595

As reported in the state papers of the Reign of Elizabeth 1st of England. Vol.CCLIII.

Monday 9pm July 21. 1595

26. Thos. Lukie and Wm. Psakowe to Sir Fras.Godolphin: We hear from Mr. Killigrew, that 60 sail are in our bay in the Manacles, which have been turning off and on all day. We will give you advertisement of any discovery of their pretence; we are keeping sufficient ward. There were two pinnaces at the harbour’s mouth, but they returned towards the said fleet.

Tuesday July 22. 1595 Falmouth

27. Thos. Lukie to Sir Frau. Godolphin: Upwards  20 sail were about the harbour last night, and Rich. Pesres affirms there are divers great ships and shallops amongst them. I have sent out a boat to descry them, and when she returns will advertise you.

Wednesday July 23 1595. Plymouth

29. Sir Frau. Drake and Sir John Hawkins to Sir Robt. Cecil: We have not written earlier, having nothing of importance to tell. We are hastening our despatch, so  to avoid charge. Now our men are together; with gentlemen, soldiers, and mariners they are (two lines missing at bottom of the page) honour and good liking only we wish fair weather to labour in, and a fair wind to send us away in haste.

Wednesday July 23 1595. St Mawes Fort.

30. Hanibal Vyvyan to Sir Frau. Drake and Sir John Hawkins, Generals of the fleet at Plymouth:  I think you are informed of the Spaniards landing this day in the western parts; they have burned Penzance, Newlyn, Mousehole, Poole Church, and Church Town, and other villages adjoining without resistance; I speak it to the disgrace of those people. The only ships there are four galleys, but there are 40 sail seen to seaward. There is great want of leaders; the Spaniards’ conquest without resistance may give them greater encouragement to land along the coast as well to the east as north. I beg you, if your ships are not fit to fight, to send into these part. some of their leaders who have commanded in war, as they are greatly needed now, and will be more so if the Spaniards should land. If you lack mariners, I think 100 could he pro­cured in 10 hours in Falmouth harbour.

 Noted by Sir Fras. Drake and Sir John Hawkins that this letter came to hand as the post was ready to take his horse, and that some captains are getting ready to go westward. Endorsed (by Cecil), “Hannibal Vyvyan, from the fort of Falmouth, to Sir Fras. Godoiphin, advertising the burning of divers towns.”

Wednesday July 23. 1 o’clock On the Green beyond Penzance 

31. Sir Frau. Godolphin and Thos. Chiverton to Sir Frau. Drake and Sir John Hawkins, generals of the forces now at Plymouth 

“Four galleys are at anchor before Mousehole, their men landed, and the town and other houses in the country thereabouts are fired. No more of the fleet are in sight; 50 or 60 were seen Monday evening and yesterday, athwart of Falmouth. Pray consider what is to be done both for safety and defence.

P.S About 200 men have assembled; we attend the coming of more, so as to make head towards the enemy.

  The English court had its spies abroad keeping an eye on the Spaniards. One of these was Edmond Palmer who reported to the Lord High Admiral.

July 23. / Aug. 2.

32.  Edm. Palmer to the Lord High Admiral. I wrote you 18 July, and intended to have waited upon you personally, but have since altered my mind, and shall not leave until the departure of the King’s ships to the Passage. Subiacoe came back from Bluett 28 July, having landed such monies and provisions as he carried, and brought back some horses, pigs, &c., as also general Don Diego Brochero, who was in the galleys there, and who landed in the Passage Road, and went post to the Court at Madrid; when he returns, he will go as general of six sail and four pinnaces, now in the Passage, and bound for Lisbon to join those there.

Their pretences are to follow Sir Frau. Drake, who they understand has gone to sea; when they are gone, the coast will he clear of men-of­war, till other ships of the King are built. ‘They go but weakly provided, and have stayed 14 large merchantmen bound for Seville, to keep them company till they arrive, at Lisbon, when those there....... (again there are three lines missing from the bottom of the page).

...........grief to them. Shatteo Martin was beheaded 20 July; his body lay on the scaffold 24 hours, when it was buried; his head stands most honourebly on one of the gates of the city where he should have brought in the Spaniards, and the rest of his mates’ heads and quarters in the like order; they used him royally, bare­headed, he with the hangmen were in a cart, and a rope about his neck, and so was carried through all the chief streets in the city, with 300 or 400 arquebusiers waiting on him. A great quantity of letters were found in his house, from the Viceroy of Navarre and Don Juan d’Idiaques, the Kings chief secretary, as from the Cardinal; some were in plain writing and others in cipher, and he had burnt many. He and his mates had laid their plots for betraying the city. He was the means that brought me in disgrace with the Lord Treasurer and Mr. Vice Chamberlain, although I have always served my Prince loyally. There are more consorts of Shatteo Martin’s who are not yet taken, and some have fled.

On 19 July, Joseph Jackson went to the frontiers of Spain, with letters out of England to Rollestone, who met him on the French shore, where they were both taken prisoners by a gentleman of the country, but were set at liberty two or three days after. I understand they both much depend on my Lord of Essex, by Mr. Bacon’s means, but if his Lordship knew what knaves they are, he would not trust them. Rollestone has spoken villainous words of Her Majesty. He has a stipend out of England, which Jackson pays him. I have never had anything, and am grieved to see strangers and traitors made so much of, and receiving such large stipends; but a friend In the Court is better than a pound in a man’s purse. I hope Her Majesty’s favour; I intend to see her shortly, and will leave as soon as the ships have left the Passage. The Prince of Ascole has not as yet found his accusers, and in the end all will be nothing for Don Pedro de Medeles and other nobles are in the dance. Nothing passes in England but the Spaniards have intelligence of it, which is sent by some Dutchmen in London to Middleburg, and thence to Antwerp as merchants’ letters. All speed is used for despatching the King’s ships lying in the Passage, as well as those at Lisbon.

Following the raid by the Spaniards they put on shore English prisoners that they had taken on their voyage over.  


Friday July 25 1595.

88. Examinations of Englishmen, taken by the Spaniards, and landed in Mounts Bay, out of the four galleys of Bluett, before Sir Fras. Godolphin and Thomas Saint Aubin, viz., -

Barnaby. Loe, of Ipswich, mariner. Was taken with his ship three weeks since near Brittany, by Peter Seviore, and carried into Bluett. Seviore’s fleet then consisted of seven ships, the admiral being a galleon with 32 cast pieces. The vice-admiral was a ship of 140 tons, and carried 20 pieces pf brass ordnance; he had brought 500 soldiers, with a store of treasure for the soldiers’ pay, &n, from Passage to Bluett, and then returned with his fleet, to be general of a navy of 100 sail bound for Lisbon, but where else he knows not.

The shipping at Bluett consists of four galleys, whereof Charles de Messe is general, and three or four other men-of-war, of 100 to 100 tons burden, which carry but small ordnance, but are full of soldiers and mariners. Each of these galleys carries five pieces in its prow, and 590 men, and for this voyage had 400 soldiers out of Don John's regiment, besides 200 others; they can land 150 men at a time with their eight pinnaces and gondells, and can row 10 leagues a day, against a good gale of wind.

The intention in employing these galleys was to have gone to Scilly, Guernsey, and Jersey, but the wind was contrary; they would have stayed longer to do more spoil to this country, had they not stood in fear of Sir Fras. Drake’s fleet. There is a good store of treasure in the galleys, which was to be employed for pay, and for corrupting of some, and they had 3,000 crowns from the town of Penmark, to save them from spoil. In coming hither, they took a French bark, laden by an Englishman, which they sunk to avoid Intelligence of their coming. After they had burned Penzance and other villages, they had mass the next day on the Western Hill by a friar, where they vowed to build a friary when they had conquered England.

Their vice-admiral sprung a leak, and they were distressed for want of water, and had a mind to venture to land for some, if the wind had not come good for their departure; if it change so as to serve them, they will assuredly bear for Scilly or for Guernsey or Jersey.

They have an Englishman, Capt. Burley of Weymouth, with them, whom they esteem ; he sits next the captain. He said that if Her Majesty was not at extraordinary charge in keeping good forces, the King of Spain, who by his treasure is so strong, would land such a power as should overcome the land; that those four galleys, with two others, would be yearly sent to spoil the weak places of this realm, and the isles adjoining, and that they might return again this summer. The charge of. the new fortifications being built by Fountenella, a Frenchman, at Doer Nenys, in Poldavy Bay, is supported by the King of Spain, for these galleys bring the victuals for the building thereof, and Fountenella has lately cruelly murdered 800 peasants of that country, alleging he will first so weaken them that they shall not grow again too strong for him, and will afterwards hang them by their purses. Also,

Examination of Robert Kettell, sailor, and bark master of Liverpool. Has been compelled to serve in these galleys as pilot for 14 weeks, so as to bring them into Scilly. They have four or five pinnaces at Bluett, which they often send forth with Englishmen in them, to get intelligence from England, and by this means have continual advice. Care should be taken for the defence of Scilly; they have determined to take Surlingham; they intended to have gone to St. Ives and Padstow, and so further into the North Channel ; they have wanted fresh water these two days, and would have adventured for it had not the wind come northerly, and so allowed them to depart. Thinks they will return shortly, and next year with a stronger fleet, but they first intend to take Scilly.

With note by Sir F. Godolphin. These prisoners further confessed that these galleys stopped an Irish bark, but only took one butt of wine from her, which they paid for, and used the men very favourably, so that it appears there is a mutual affection between them and the Irish. I gather by the desire these Spaniards have to Scilly, that if they can possess it, they will keep their galleys there under the fort; from their present attempt I observe that the principal want is two good pieces to beat them from the road, and a better store of powder. bullets and match, with some skilfill and valiant leaders, which will be needful in all places where the Spaniards may do hurt in their landing.

July 25.

34. Copy of the exainination of Barnaby Loe. [1 3/4 pages .)

Sunday July 27 1595.

36. Examination of John Ashley of Dartmouth, merchant, before Robert Martin, mayor. Came from Roscoe, 26 July. A French bark arrived there reports 200 Spanish ships and galleys to be riding at anchor at Ferrol, bound for England, where they intend landing 2,200 men; three other Spanish ships also arrived at Ferrol from Ireland, and delivered munition, powder, shot &c. to the enemy; they would all be ready to sail within 15 days.  

Monday July 28 1595. Plymouth

41. Sir Thos. Baskerville ,to the Council.  Notwithstanding the enemy has retired, and their numbers were so small that there was no occasion for assembling the forces of Devon and Cornwall in camp’ yet I will not fail to follow your commands, in going thither to see how the country is armed, to view the towns upon the sea coasts, to see what number of able men they are furnished with to resist the like attempts, and to advise them as to their better defence.

If any captain of judgment had been there to conduct the people, with only 200 men, and had accosted the enemy in flank, the country would have been saved from spoil and fire, and without any loss; had they attempted it whilst the enemy followed the spoil in the sacking of the towns, their disorder would have undoubtedly overthrown them.

Tuesday July 29 1595. Plymouth:

42. Sir Fras. Drake to Lord Burghley. Thanks for your letter. Sir Thos Gorges desires to come up, to inform Her Majesty and your Lordship of the late accidents, and of our state in particular; we are more forward than some have advertized. I beg full directions for our proceedings; having at such great charge, we wish to make all haste away.  Sir John Hawkins sends remembrances and thanks.