First Issued: 25 June 2006
Reissued: 21 August 2012
Revised (substantive): n/a
Part I: Editor’s Introduction to Maguel’s Report on Virginia
HE Report of Francis Maguel (also Francisco Miguel, Manuel, Maguer) to the Spanish council of state “touching Virginia” is dated 21 June 1610, and was originally delivered in English. It was then “faithfully translated into the Spanish Language” by Don Fray Florencio Conryo, Archbishop of Tuam, and formally filed in Madrid by Father Conryo on 1 July 1610.
The king of Spain was impressed enough with Maguel’s report to send it to his ambassador in London, Don Alonso de Velasco, on 21 July (possibly 24 or 26; the last figure is not distinct) of 1610. This letter of transmittal has not survived, but Velasco mentions having received it and Maguel’s report in a letter to the Spanish court dated London, 30 September 1610:
Sire, — On the first of September [August 22, English style] I received Y[our]. M[ajesty].’s letter of July 21, with the report which the Irishman made touching Virginia, and a little later there came here Captain “Neoporto” in two small vessels, which he made out of his ship in Bermuda, where it broke to pieces....
(repr. in Brown, Genesis of the United States, i. 418)
Almost three centuries later, a copy of Maguel’s report was found among the Simancas papers, translated back into English, and reproduced by Alexander Brown as item CXXXI in vol. 1 of his Genesis of the United States. It is this translation of a translation, as printed in Brown, that I have digitalized here.
Maguel’s report is intended as a companion piece to she-philosopher.com’s GALLERY exhibits on Robert Tindall’s 1608 chart of the James River, the “Zuñiga Chart” of 1608, Powhatan’s mantle with shell-bead map (c.1608), and the “Velasco Map” of 1610/11, all four of which include quotations from it:
... For the same reason they have tried in that Fort of theirs at Jamestown an English Captain, a Catholic, called Captain “Tindol,” because they [learned/knew] that he had tried to get to Spain, in order to reveal to His Majesty all about this country and many plans of the English, which he knew, but which the Narrator does not know....
(Brown, i. 399; qtd. in the Gallery exhibit, “Robert Tindall’s Chart of James River, 1608”)
... And the anxiety they feel that the secrets of this country shall not become known, is so great that they have issued orders prohibiting anyone from taking letters with him beyond the frontiers, and also from sending any, especially to private individuals, without their being first seen and read by the Governor....
(Brown, i. 398–9; qtd. in the Gallery exhibit, “The ‘Zuñiga Chart’ of Virginia, 1608”)
... The Emperor [Powhatan] sends every year some men by land to West India and to Newfoundland and other countries, to bring him news of what is going on there....
(Brown, i. 396; qtd. in the Gallery exhibits, “Powhatan’s Deerskin Mantle with Shell Map, ca. 1608” and “Map of Atlantic Coast of North America, 1610”)
As discussed elsewhere, Maguel’s intelligence concerning Robert Tindall was incorrect, and there are other errors in his report as well, one of which was pointed out by Velasco, who wrote the Spanish king on 12 March 1611 that
They say also that it is impossible to pass to the South Sea by the river on which they have erected their two forts. By land it is more than 400 leagues off and many high mountains are there and vast deserts which the Indians themselves never yet have explored. Thus no credit can be given to what the Irishman Francisco Manuel says in the report which Y. M. commanded to be sent to me.
(repr. in Brown, i. 457)
As Brown remarks:
There is really a good deal in the report; but the Irishman was possibly acting as a spy ... or more probably seeking a very remunerative employment, and he was evidently not carefully accurate. His statements are mixed.
(Brown, i. 396n1)
Regarding Maguel’s biography, not a great deal is known. Brown believes that the author of this report was probably the same Francis Maguer
mentioned in the following abstract from “English State Papers, Domestic,” vol. viii. No. 79: —
“December 16, 1610. Examination of Francis Maguer, sailor of Ratcliffe, near London. His meeting with Father Patrick, who tried to persuade him to join some troops to be sent by the King of Spain, to persuade the Irish to rebel. Plots to seize Dublin Castle and to send the Irish regiment from Flanders to Ireland. Met the Earl of Tyrone and Sir William Stanley at the Spanish court.”
Francis Maguel, Maguer, or Maguire (?) was probably an adventurer or a spy. Tyrone and Stanley were both regarded in England as traitors (one Irish, the other English) to England at the court of Spain, and both were kept informed regarding affairs in England by correspondents.
(Brown, ii. 940)
NOTE: The digital edition of Maguel’s text (in Part II) has not yet been updated. It retains the original format and styling of an earlier reissue of the HTML monograph in September 2009. To learn more about 2012 changes to e-publication formats, visit She-philosopher.com’s “A Note on Site Design” page.
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