Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX B: Edward Montagu's notes on the Debates in the Protector's Council concerning the last Indian Expedition 1 - The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 3
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APPENDIX B: Edward Montagu’s notes on the Debates in the Protector’s Council concerning the last Indian Expedition 1 - Sir William Clarke, The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 3 
The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, Secretary to the Council of the Army, 1647-1649, and to General Monck and the Commanders of the Army in Scotland, 1651-1660, ed. C.H. Firth (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1899). 4 vols.
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Edward Montagu’s notes on the Debates in the Protector’s Council concerning the last Indian Expedition1
The Grounds of the undertakinge the Designe of Attemptinge the Kinge of Spaine in the West Indies
April 20, 1654.—
Upon the peace concluded with the Dutch wee found 160 sayle of brave shipps well appointed swimminge at sea & store of land forces, all which required either to be lessend and layd downe, or to be imployed in some advantageous designe.
1. The designes considerable to us were either to attempt upon France, whereto the Spaniard would have beene considerably helpfull;
2. Or to attempt upon Spaine with the helpe of France; or to have had freindshipp with both, supposinge wee might have had good summs of money from both soe to doe.
The attempt upon France was apprehended difficult and unprofitable, the Spaniard’s aims beinge but to sett us two together by the eares, and then, if he had failed us in point of assistance, yett wee should not have found it easye to be disengaged againe. Also the weakening the French and greatening the Spaniard beinge the greatest prejudice to the Protestant cause all over Europ, the Spaniard beinge the greatest enemy to the Protestants in the world, and a nation of greate councell, and harder to be disposessed of any accesse of greatnesse: the French not soe bitter against the Protestants; a people not to be kept from intestine divisions, and easilyer disturbed and distracted then the other at any tyme.
2. The attemptinge the Spaniard; the most profitable of any in the world. The assistance of the French more sure then the other. The bodies of men more scarse with him, and soe not soe difficult either to be attempted, nor soe much to be feared in offendinge us: his territories very greate and may well admitt a sound losse: the greatest enemye to the Protestant cause in the world; an old enemie to this nation when it prospered best; and the feasibilitye of gaininge the West Indies from him. All which invites us both to action and that in this particular designe.
Now then for the attemptinge him in the West Indies wee considered his present posture and possessions there, and the manner of his bringing home into Europe his treasure.
His possessions there are Hispaniola & Cuba, Mexico and Peru, the Quarraccas,1 and other parts adjoyning. The posture he is in is this, he hath some garrisons and forts there, principalye (in Hispaniola) Santo Domingo, a towne well fortified towards the sea, but not soe to the landward; in it 300 soldiers, besides the inhabitants. (In Cuba) the Havana, a stronge fort but weakest to the landward. In the continent, Portabell upon the North sea, and Panama upon the South sea about 40 miles distant, and not soe stronge to the landward. Breifly he hath very few bodies of men, viz. soe many as will man his garrisons and kepe his slaves to worke, but the country very inconsiderably planted. The manner of his gettinge his treasure is thus: The cheife of his plate mines is in Peru, though there be some in Mexico and the Quarraccas. Now he keepes 4 or 5 gallioones in the South Sea constantly, and these receive the oare and carry it to Panama, from Panama they carry it by land to Portabell, where the Spanish plate fleet receives it and bringes it unto Europe. The Spanish fleete comes to the Havana by the Summer Islands, and soe on betweene Hispaniola and the Quaraccas, all which way they have a very stronge current round about the bay of Mexico and a trade wind, by reason whereof it is impossible for a shipp to returne that way backe againe, soe that when they have received theire loadinge from Portabell by the helpe of smalle vessells they goe on with the current and passe into the ocean from the Havana, which is the only way they can returne by; betweene Cuba and la Florida, and soe they come away for Spaine.2
Now towards this attempt, it was considered (1) whether wee should make a partiall worke of it this yeare, an entrance for a future carrienge the whole; (2) or to make a thorough worke and putt for all this summer.
Capt. Hatsell and Capt. Lymerye (both which have lived and traded in Hispaniola) inclined to a beginninge of the worke only this yeare, which they propounded thus viz: to possesse Hispaniola and the Havana only, which they apprehend very feasible, and that being done wee have command of the Spaniard’s fleete, that he cann neither goe nor come, and soe he hath absolutely lost the benefitt of the Indies. Then we have the advantage of Hispaniola (a country beyond compare as they describe it) for the transplantinge as much of our people from New England, Virginia, the Barbadoes, the Summer Islands, or from Europe, as we see requisite. Wee have the advantage of the wind to fall upon him where we will in the continent; and in short have (without much scruple) opportunity to carry the whole. Others thinke the whole worke to be attempted, upon these grounds: The advantage of it, the greatest that can be thought upon in the whole world: the Spaniard’s plate fleete may be taken; our preparations sufficient; the Spaniard engaged in a warr with France, and very weake every where at the present, in soe much as he knew not where to gett 2000 men to releive Catalonia this last summer.
General matters, as our settlement at home, Scotland beinge not in our view to be setled without a transplantation of 8 or 10000 bodies of men every yeere, or else to maintaine a chargeable warr or force to secure them, and soe in England a considerable vent of men is necessary.
The worke is like to be more acceptable to the people of all sorts and the Parliament then any can be.
And if this opportunitye be omitted, it is to be doubted whether ever we shall be soe well fitted for it, or get the consent of a Parliament to doe it.
The inconveniences in our view.
1. The losse of the Spanish Trade, whereby much of all the cloath and stuffs are vented, and Spanish woolls imported, and our fishinge trade to Newfoundland lost, whereby only we import yearely from Spaine 150,000li in peeces of 8.
This is thus answered; first that notwithstandinge our warr with the Spaniard in America, it is possible, if not reasonable to expect that wee may have peace and trade in Europe, for his necessitye of our trade will require it, but especially his interest in Flanders, which he hath no way either to releive with forces or monyes but through our Channell, which if hee have warr in Europe he will certainly be debarred of.
Secondly it is said that a full trade with Portugall (which wee can have as wee will) will be neere as good as the other. The importation of bullion will not be considerable to be answered if this designe succeeds.
2. Our other trade in the Streights will be carried on with greater difficultye.
Respt that that will not proove soe, for haveing peace with the French (which must be supposed upon this war) we shall have the benefitt of their freindshipp and harbours upon the Meditterranean sea, which are much more usefull for us then the Spaniards’.
3. The Dutch gaini[n]ge the Spanish trade wholly and encreasinge in theire riches by all their other trade may be invited to a revenge.
Respt. Deus providebitt.1
France esteeme[s] Holland a people not to be trusted, of noe faith because in the peace of Munster with the Spaniard, and also in the peace with England, they did not comprehend the Kinge of France, which by theire alliance with France they were bound to doe. Upon the conclusion of the peace with England the State of Holland did give a secret article they would never give theire consent to choose the present Prince of Orange or any that shall descend from him Generall of their forces or Stateholder. Which article hath bred a greate and harty division amonge all the states which hath noe support soe considerable as France, and upon this account their interest as to France seemes to be much changed.
The advantages of a Peace between France and England.
1. The hinderinge of a peace betweene the two great crownes.
2. Countenance and justification to the Protestant cause and partye.
3. Discountenance to our rebells in Scotland and fugitives.
[A Debate in the Protector’s Council]1
July 20, 1654.—
Wee cannot have peace with Spain out of conscience to suffer our people to goe thither and be idolators. They have denied you commerce unlesse you be of theire religion.
1. The work improbable.
2. To farr off, haveing greater concernements of setli[n]ge at home.
3. Not like to advance the Protestant cause; or gaine riches to us or vent [for] troublesome people in England, Ireland, or Scotland.
4. The case at first wrong stated. The chardge not well considered. The regulation of our lawe and other concernements not well taken care of it.
The setlement of Ireland in its government. Transplantation or not transplantation? Better wayes of vent for our people may be found then it.
Wee consider this attempt, because wee thinke God has not brought us hither where wee are but to consider the worke that wee may doe in the world as well as at home, and to stay from attemptinge untill you have superfluitye is to putt it off for ever, our expenses beinge such as will in probabilitye never admitt that.
Now Providence seemed to lead us hither, haveinge 160 ships swimminge: most of Europe our enemyes except Holland, and that would be well considered also: we thinke our best consideration had to keep up this reputation and improve it to some good, and not lay them up by the walls. Thence wee came to consider the two greate crownes, and the particular arguments weighed, we found our opportunitye point this way.
It was told us that this designe would cost little more then laying by the shipps, and that with hope of greate profitt.
Our armye in Scotland and armye and inhabitants in Ireland must quit the countrye, or you must find more treasure; or else the West India designe must be lett fall, and if any of these fall upon us what account shall wee give to Parliaments for it?
The probabilitye of the good of the designe, both for the Protestants’ cause and utilitye to the undertakers, and the cost noe more for one twelve month then would disband the shipps.
Denyes the feasibilitye, and the sendinge away these shipps to require noe supply for a twelve months; besides casualtyes of diseases and warrs that men are subject to, New England and the Barbadoes will not flocke to you in Hisp[aniola], unlesse you be settled there in peace. Spaniard will certainly struggle as much as he can to preserve it. Whenever you doe lay downe your shipps the chardge will be much encreased and must be paid.
Its hoped the designe will quitt cost. Six frigotts nimble [?] shall range up and downe the bay of Mexico to gett prey.1
[1 ]From the Papers of the Earl of Sandwich at Hinchingbrooke, vol. i. p. 49. Both are written in Edward Montagu’s hand.
[2 ]On the question of the route taken by the Spanish fleets to and from America, see Corbett, Drake and the Tudor Navy, ii. 356, and Thomas Gage’s New Survey of the West Indies, ed. 1655, pp. 15-32, 196-202.
[1 ]The following passage, though occurring in the text here, was evidently added later, and is therefore printed as a footnote:
The rest layd up and paid off.’
[1 ]The heading to this paper is not in the MS., but added by the editor.
[1 ]Papers of the Earl of Sandwich at Hinchingbrooke, vol. i. p. 55. All in Edward Montague’s hand.