Thursday, 24 September 2009

eskimos in Bristol

John Lee has been putting interesting stuff about Elizabethan Bristol onto a Google map, and I've been looking out for things to add to it too.

Here is the map...

View Elizabethan and Jacobean Bristol in a larger map

I was impressed with the story of how the people who were burning the Protestant martyrs, during the reign of Bloody Mary, trekked up the hill to Redland to get green timber for the fire, so that the men they were burning would die more slowly and painfully, rather than use the more readily-to-hand seasoned timber available.

And I discovered what was almost certainly the very first kayak to ply the waters of Bristol Harbour, paddled by an Eskimo who was brought here by Martin Frobisher after his failed attempt to find the North West Passage.

“In (b) the year 1578 a great ship of our Queen’s called the Aid, al’ the Ann of 2OO tons [with a small barque, R’ R’] came into Kingroad from Cattaie, Martin Forbisher being captain of her, after having attempted to find the North-west passage to the East-Indies, China, and Cattay. She brought certain ore, which was esteemed to be very rich and full of gold; heavy and so hard that it would strike fire like a flint. Some of it was tried in our castle, and the rest sent to London, where it was esteemed not worth the charges in refining. They brought with them a man of that country called Callicho [al’ Cally Chough] with his wife, called lgnorth, and a child. They were savage people, clothed in Stag’s skins, having no linen nor woollen at all, and fed only upon raw flesh: she suckled her child, casting her breasts over her shoulders. Oct’ 9th, he rowed up and down the river at the Back of Bristol, it being high tide of sea, in a boat, the which was about fourteen feet long, made of skins, in form like unto a large barge or trow, but sharp at both ends, having but one round place for him to sit in; and as he rowed up and down he killed a couple of ducks with his dart; and when he had done he carried away the boat through the Marsh on his back. The like he did at the Weare, and at other places. Within one month they all three died. [These were Greenlanders or Eskimaux.) Also on May 31st, the said captain Forbisher set out on another voyage to Cathay; but he returned without success.”

quoted in Memoirs Historical and Topographical of Bristol and its Neighbourhood, Rev. Samuel Sayer, 1823

(this story is continued here)