Concerning That Part of America which We Call New England

Right Honorable,


Concerning that part of America which we call New England, the French claim that as being first discovered by them,


First Note[1]

for about one hundred years since, one Jacques Cartier[2], a Frenchman, discovered that country and called it Nova Francia but never attempted to plant the same until

Second Note[3]

the year of Our Lord 1603, the French king granted a patent to Monsieur de Monts,[4] one his gentlemen in ordinance of his chamber, of so much of that country, as lieth between the degrees of 40 and 46, which containeth all the country from Hudson River, where the Dutch are, to the great river of Canada, where the French are


In March 1604, Monsieur de Monts began his voyage with two ships and, having landed his men at Port Royal the same year, coasted southward, purposing to discover the bay of the Massachusetts, (where the English are now planted and coming near to the mouth of the bay that seemed to him very dangerous for rocks and shoals, so went not in, but sent his boat to the shore with kettle for fresh water, which an Indian stole away; one of the French, running after him to recover his kettles, was killed by the Natives, so the ship returned to Port Royal,[5]


In about 1605 Monsieur de Pont[6] persecuted the same discovery (purposing to plant in the said Bay), were twice driven back, and the third time the ship split upon the rocks at the entry of the port.


Monsieur De Pontrincourt[7] persecuted the same discovery and coming near to the bay, their rudder brake, so they could not enter the bay, (yet made to shore near thereunto where they mended the rudder and built an oven to bake some biscuit, but the Indians

Third note[8]

came suddenly on them and slew some of them and forced the rest to fly to their ship and so they returned, calling the bay by the name of Mallebarre, which is the common name thereof among the French to this day.          



About sixteen years past, another Frenchman, being near the Massachusetts upon a fishing voyage and to discover the bay, was cast away, one old man[9] escaped to shore, whom the Indians preserved alive and after a year or two, he, having obtained some knowledge in their language, perceiving how they worshipped the devil, he used all the means he could, to persuade them from this horrible idolatry, to the worship of the true God, whereupon the sagamore called all his[10] people to him, to know if they would follow the advice and counsel of this good old man, but all answered with one consent, that they would not change their God and mocked and laughed at the French man and his God.  Then, said he, I fear that God in his anger will destroy you.  Then said the sagamore your God hath not thus many people, neither is he able to destroy us, whereupon the Frenchman said that he did verily fear his God would destroy them and plant a better people in the land, but they contravened, still mocking him and his God, until the plague came, which was the year following and continued for three years until it had swept almost all the people out of that country for about sixty miles together upon the sea-coast;[11]


The year after this great plague,[12] which was about 1623, there went a ship hence with about one hundred and twenty men, women, and children to plant in Delaware Bay, who being near to Massachusetts, met with such crosswinds that in a fortnights space the ship could make no way forwards, but every day in danger to perish, so they were forced to make to the next shore, which is about twenty-five miles to the south of the Massachusetts, where they landed all safe, where they presently raised some small fortification with trees, bushes, and earth to defend themselves against the natives, but after a while perceiving none to approach, they sent some to discover the country, who returned saying they found many dead bones and places where people had been, but saw no man.  At length, two Indians came to them and told them how the people were dead, and if they would inhabit there, they might, and desired leave to live by them.  Shortly after some few other Indians came also to them, who like manner desired their protection against their enemies and to settle by them.  This plantation through many difficulties and losses are now creeping forwards and do begin to thrive, being increased to about five hundred people.[13]


This year there went thence six ships with one thousand people[14] in them to the Massachusetts, having sent two years before, between three and four servants to provide houses and corn against their coming to the charge of at least ten thousand pounds, these servants through idleness and ill government[15] neglected both their building and planting of corn, so that if these six ships had not arrived the plantation had been broke and dissolved.  Now so soon as Mr. Winthrop [16] was landed, perceiving what misery was like to ensue through their idleness, he presently fell to work with his own hands, and thereby so much encouraged the rest that there was not an idle person then to be found in the whole plantation, and whereas the Indians said they would shortly return, as fast as they came, now they admired to see in what short time they had all housed themselves and planted corn sufficient for their subsistence.[17]

In three things the providence of God is here worthy of observation:  First, the French attempts to plant this land and their discouragements through shipwrecks and other ways. Second, how the English, sithence this plantation began, have had all their ships (employed thither) well arrived and safe returned again.  Third, the destruction of the Indians above sixty miles along the coast and almost as much into the land, whereby way was made for the peaceable plantings of our people


After 1629


CO 1/5:77, 1630


[1] Marginal note in original textAs Boteris noteth in his Description of New France.

[2] Jacques Cartier (1491-1557) was a navigator from St. Malo, France, who was reportedly the first European to discover the St. Lawrence River.  DCB

[3] Marginal note in original textThe French patent bears of November 20, 1603.

[4] Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts (c. 1558 – 1628) was a merchant, adventurer, and explorer from Royan, Saint Onge, France, who made several voyages to Canada.   DCB

[5] In the summer of 1604, de Monts with Samuel de Champlain sailed from the Kennebec River to Casco Bay and then to Boston Harbor.  One July 17th, they navigated the Gurnet and grounded the ship at Plymouth Harbor, which Champlain named St. Louis Harbor.  Two days later, they sailed into Nauset Harbor, which he named Mallebarre.  On the 21st, a party landed to explore further.  At Nauset, when a number of Indians tried to steal one of the iron kettles brought to fetch water, a fight broke out in which one Frenchman was killed.  In turn, De Monts took captive one of the Indians who came on to his ship but later returned him when the Indians came to apologize. H. Roger King, Cape Cod and Plymouth Colony in the Seventeenth Century (Landham, MD: University Press of America, 1994), 5.

[6] François Gravé Du Pont (1554 - after 1629) was a Breton merchant and navigator.  In 1599, he and Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit founded a fur trading station at Tadoussac, Canada.  He returned in 1603 with his nephew, Samuel de Champlain and two Montagnais, who had gone to France.  The following year, Du Pont sailed with Pierre Duga to the Bay of Fundy.  The following year, he explored the New England coast as far as Cape Cod in search for a suitable site for settlement.  DCB.

[7] Baron Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt (1557–1615) was the governor of Méry-sur-Seine, lieutenant-governor of Acadia, and commander of the first permanent settlement established in Acadia.  In 1603, he accompanied De Monts in the exploration of Canada.  Three years later, he tried to enter Nauset Harbor (Mallebarre), not in a barke, but in a shallop, because of the difficulty in navigating the entrance.  DCB. For more on Poutrincourt's visit to Cape Cod, see Samuel Purchasem  Hakluytus Posthumus, Or, Purchas His Pilgrimes, Vol. 18 (New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1906), 269-271.

[8] Marginal note in original textThese three unfortunate attempts are largely set down in a book translated out of French and dedicated to Prince Henry by P. Erondelli.

[9] Deleted textbeing a prisoner

[10] Note in original text: Captain Smith mentioneth this in his book called the pathway to plantations but I had the most certain relation thereof from Mr. Oldham, who went to New England presently after this plague.

[11] In 1614, after a French ship stranded off Cape Cod, several of its crew came ashore, to be later killed by the Nausets.   Only three or four survived to become servants of the Indians.  At least one became the husband of a Nauset woman and fathered a child.  Another castaway, after living there for a couple of years, prophesized a coming disaster.  Years later, the prediction was remembered by Pecksuot:  'They weept much...One of them [the surviving Frenchmen] had a book he would often read in.  We asked him what his book said.  He answered, "It saith, there will be a people, like French men, come into this Country and drive you all away."'  Jack Dempsey, ed., Good News from New England and Other Writings on the Killings at Weymouth Colony (Scituate, Mass. : Digital Scanning, 2001),  pp. xliv, l.

[12] Footnote in original textThe Indians affirm there was never such a sickness there before

[13] The date should be 1620, as this is the landing of the Mayflower from Leyden and the start of Plymouth Colony.

[14] Footnote in original textMr. Winthrop and divers other gentlemen went in these six ships.

[15] Footnote in original textThis was the cause of their sending home for corn

[16] John Winthrop, Sr. (Massachusetts governor)

[17] In June of 1628, Capt. John Endicott with about fifty men sailed on the Abigail to prepare a settlement at Naumkeag, which would become Salem, Massachusetts. In the spring of the following year, three ships with 400 colonists with 140 head of cattle with several ministers. In 1630, twelve ships carrying 1,500 people arrived to populate the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Edward M. Hartwell and Edward W. McGlenen, Boston and Its Story, 1630-1915 (Boston, MA: City of Boston, 1916),13-16.