Of certain corsairs who had come to these parts and Indies, and of what ensued from their evil intentions.
Translated by Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert
In the year 1527, an English corsair, sailing under a discoverer’s flag, came to this city of Santo Domingo in a large ship after having explored the coast of Brazil on the Mainland, arriving near the mouth of the port; and it sent a boat with some of its people to ask for license to enter, saying it was carrying merchandise and wanted to trade, and at that instant the Alcaide Francisco de Tapia had a shot of gunpowder fired at the ship, which was sailing straight into the port. And as soon as the English saw this they sailed away and those on the boat turned back and returned to the ship. And the truth is that the Alcaide made a mistake in what he did, because if the ship had entered the port armed, it would not have been able to leave without the consent of this city and its fortress. So seeing the reception they had received, they retreated to the island of San Juan, and entering the Bay of San Germán they parlayed with the people of that town and asked for supplies, complaining about this city, saying that they had not come to do any harm but to trade with their moneys and merchandise if they had been well received; and they were given some supplies, which were paid for with marcasite tableware and other things, and they left on their return voyage to Europe, which it is believed they never reached since nothing else was heard about this ship.
Another French corsair, shortly thereafter or during the following year, sailing under the pretense of coming to trade in the Pearl Island, reached it guided by an evil Spaniard, native to the town of Cartaya, named Diego Ingenio, who guided the French as their pilot; but he wasn’t able to give them advice about the measures provided by his Imperial Majesty for the protection of His Indies, or of the gracious efforts of his enterprising Spanish and natives, and it went like this. An hidalgo living on that island, called Captain Pero Ortiz de Matienzo, and other hidalgos and neighbors of Nueva Cáliz, learned from another neighbor who was coming from Margarita Island in a canoe that he had been in conversation with this small armada, which consisted of a large ship and a simple Portuguese caravel that had been taken off the Brazilian coast, and a dispatch-boat; and upon being asked which ship it was the French said that it was the Zarco coming from Seville. But the Zarco had arrived eight or fifteen days previously, so the ones in the canoe could tell right away that this was false and that the ship was probably armed, and they were inviting the Spaniards to come on board and have a meal with them so they could apprehend them and have information about the lay of the land; but they did not accept but rather changed course very diligently and went to the city to bring news of this and place it under alert. And then on another day the corsair ship was seen at dawn parallel to the coast, its dinghies ready, ready to jump onto land with its people; but they were resisted courageously in such a way that they could not accomplish their purpose and they started to fire their lombards against the city, and the city to fire back at the enemy; and our people gave such a good account of themselves that they armed their brigs and boats, amounting to thirty or more, and with Carib Indians provided with that deadly herb they have here and some shots of gunpowder, they went to fight against the caravel, and although they had a lot of artillery and many rounds of tar, they put such pressure upon them than two of our men were killed from the caravel while the French lost thirteen men. And then the combat ceased for the moment, the enemy never ceasing to propose treaties, plotting to trick the Spaniards; but three or four Spaniards from Biscay that they had held against their will escaped, and they made it to land and brought word that the French were thieves and their plan was to take control of the island. That understood, those in the city agreed to sink the ship or die trying, and set sail very diligently in their brigs and dinghies and they took over the dispatch boat by force of arms, with its load of fifteen hundred ducados of clothing and with their first prisoners. All in all, thirty-five of the enemy’s men were killed or imprisoned. This done, the ship did not dare wait, and they followed it until they lost sight of it. It went to the island of San Juan and burned down the town of San Germán and from there it went to the islet of Mona to make repairs and there it let go of the Portuguese caravel, which sailed to this city of Santo Domingo and brought news of what has been told. And here they armed a ship and a caravel and went to look for the thieves and they fought against them for two days in a row and chased them for two continuous days and although it escaped because of the weather and the time of night, it is believed that it had been damaged and sunk at sea. In this way these corsairs were lost as will be any others like them who cross this way, and especially at present, since precautions have been set in a different way, with greater care and vigilance.