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Bartholomew Pearson to Sir Percival Willoughby, April 1613

Bartholomew Pearson was a yeoman from Sir Percival Willoughby's estates in Wollaton, Nottingham. He was sent to Newfoundland by Sir Percival and, like Henry Crout, arrived at Renews in the spring of 1612, where the danger posed by piracy forced him to stay until August of that year. Pearson was one of the crew of the shallop that accompanied the Indeavour into Trinity Bay in 1612 and, like his crew mates, was wrecked at Bay de Verde during the homeward voyage.

Pearson probably left Newfoundland in the summer of 1613 and, although he may have returned, we know he was back in Nottingham by 1617 because he married Elizabeth Baguleughe there that year. He seems to have lived out the rest of his days in Nottingham where he leased land and coal-pits from Sir Percival. 

To the Right Worshipfull Syr Percival Willoughby at London in Lambeth Marsh at Carlisle House over against Westminister [let] this be Delivered I pray so.

Aprill the ijth 1613

My humble dutie Remembered vnto Your Worship, hopinge for your health which I heartily Doe pray for.

I received your letter the xxixth of March for, by reason of contrarie winds, the ship [the Hope] was so longe before she kame at Us. In the middle of Ianuary we put the connies Vpon an Island where the sea goeth rounde about it and I cannot certify as yet what is become of them till such time as we shall go acoasting that way.

I brought all the fowls which you sent over unto Renews, which was our first landing place, and from thence to cupides kove. After they came thither there was no convenient place to Keepe them dry and [as for] the pigeons, the governor commanded that they should be Killed because he did say that he Did not care for anything that could not live of itself. All [were killed] except one pair of the red crappers, which I Did preserve till winter [and] which bred. And, for the turkeys, some of them was taken Away with the fox and the rest was killed. Now, [of] the Ducks which you sent over, one of them was killed with a [fowling] piece, being mistaken, and the other two was taken away with the foxes, as they said.

The [fowling] piece which Oliver brought was laid up in the smiths' shop to lie dry and he, unknown to me, did take it away. And, [as for] the net which Master Slany said was here, we can have no command of it if it came from ...the ... Company, [not] unless it came from yourself. Also, I did write unto you for lead to make shot but I hear nothing of that. There is lead come over in the ship. I know not whether it came from the Company or from you [but] only [that] We can have none of it.

In the month of November the Governor, with some of our companie, went a coasting in a bark, which he caused to be made a purpose, unto the savages and, by means of contrarie winds and weather, it was almost 2 months before our return. And, as we were coming [home], I, with 3 others, was, by extraordinarie weather, cast off from the Barke in great Danger. There in Green Bay [Bay de Verde] we lost our boat to our great grief and no little Danger of our lives, ... [the distance] home being 14 leagues by water and god doth know how far by land. Yet, by god's providence, in the end we got home by land ... [though] with great famine and much hunger, [we] were like to be starved for we were ten Days traveling without any food but what we found by fortune at [fishing] stages of rotten, stinking fish and...mussels upon the beaches and such as we could find.

Now, at Green Bay there is deer [which is] in your lot, for we saw a Dozen stags in a company as we came ... . And where the Deer do use [there] is much open ground for, by reason of their great horns, they cannot well goe in the woods. [Also] a kind of partridge there is which are Rough-footed like a Dove [and] they be white in the winter and brown-speckled in the summer. [They be] somewhat bigger than the partridges be in England but much like unto them. They be very innocent and easy to be killed for one may come easily near them and shoot once or twice at them before they will rise.

Also, I killed two foxes, one a black and the other a grey. The governor Did take the skins from me after I had cast them. And there be many [foxes] but, because I could not have them for you nor myself, [it] did make me [such] that I had noe mind nor desire to shoot ... at them, nor any other wild beasts. He [John Guy] Doth bring them with him now unto England with the rest that have been taken or killed with traps or otherwise. They be easy to be known by the shooting for the skins be very bloody if you [do] please to call for them.

If I had but leisure, I would take some of the partridges when they be young and send [them] unto you for they live upon berries and such like.

As for the trees you sent over, I have set them in the best ground we have but they be so galled and bruised by means of the long voyage of the ship that it is in danger of their withering. [For] gardens we have not made any as yet for the ground is either too dry or too wet. ... We have had much ado to get mould to set the trees.

Now, to certify you more of wild beasts, we did see in your lot five Beavers going to one house.

...I would Desire that I might come home at Michaelmas to certify you of some things that I have seen although I do go [to Newfoundland] again. And I Do Intreat you that, if I shall come [home], to write unto Bristol to the Governor [John Guy] for I have spent my time [here] I cannot tell how, availing me nothing at all. I have asked leave of the Governor for to come home at Michaelmas and he doth grant me leave. I would have written more unto you but, by reason of the sudden departure away of the ship, I could not.

So, desiring to hear an answer from your worship so soon as conveniently you can, in hast I end.

Your Worship's to command,
Bartholomew Pearson

(Middleton Manuscript, Mi x 1/21, University of Nottingham)

This transcription is based on my reading of a microfilm copy of the original document. Microfilm copies of this letter and the rest of the Willoughby Papers are housed at both the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Centre for Newfoundland Studies, Memorial University. While every attempt has been made to present this document as originally written, certain changes have been made to render it more comprehensible to present-day readers. In some cases the original punctuation has been altered and the spellings modernized. The text has also been broken down into paragraphs and, where deemed necessary, a word or two has been inserted within square brackets to clarify what is being said.