Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 1872 pg. 117
THE SPANISH RESISTANCE TO THE ENGLISH OCCUPATION OF JAMAICA, 1655-1660
By Irene A. Wright, B.A., F.R.Hist.S.
FELLOW OF THE DUTCH ROYAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY (UTRECHT)
Read 8 May, 1930
The story of Cromwell’s seizure of Jamaica (May, 1655) has been told in detail drawn from English and from Spanish sources. Far less has been written of the hard fighting, by sea and land, which the invaders found necessary during the next five years because of the Spaniards’ resistance to the English occupation. It is the purpose of this contribution to describe that resistance, especially from March, 1656, when the Jamaicans took the offensive (after receipt of some small relief from Cartagena de Indias), to May, 1660, when Don Cristobal Ysassi Arnaldo, last Spanish governor of the island, withdrew to Cuba, undone by the disaffection of the negroes who had been his chief support. 1
1 This account is written from original documents (Spanish) existing in the General Archives of the Indies, at Seville, Spain, of which transcripts are on file in the West India Reference Room of the Institute of Jamaica, at Kingston. These have been compared with English sources to be found in the British Museum Reading Room and Manuscript Department. While much else was seen, most help was found in A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, London, 1742; Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, Addenda, 1574 – 1674, London, 1893; D’oyley’s Journal, Additional MSS 12423.
The quantity of original material (Spanish) available at Seville and bearing on Jamaica at the period under consideration is overwhelming. Fortunately for the investigator, it lies almost entirely in two legajos (packages), numbered 54-3-29 and 17-4-6. The documents are well preserved original communications and copies (certified, authenticated (end page 117)
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It will be recalled that the Spaniards who remained in the bush when Governor don Juan Ramirez de Orellano went into the English camp, not to return, violated the existing truce and repudiated the articles of capitulation which Don Geronimo Tello brought them at Bunducu, where they assembled to consider the English terms (May, 1655). This policy was inspired by Campmaster don Francisco de Proenza, who succeeded to leadership upon the governor’s departure, a policy in which Proenza, old and infirm, was supported by younger relatives, 1 among them Sargento Mayor don Cristobal Ysassi Arnaldo.
and simple) of communications interchanged between the crown (king and councils) in Spain and its ministers (especially governors in Jamaica and adjacent islands). Furthermore – advanced as evidence in subsequent legal proceedings – there are valuable communications exchanged between these ministers and their subordinates. It has not been possible to cite in the footnotes more than a few of the many papers handled in preparation of this contribution.
1 The Spaniards concerned in Jamaica’s defence were confusingly intermarried. Don Francisco de Proenza
and Don Cristobal Ysassi Arnaldo were related either by blood or marriage, or by both. Don Francisco’s wife was Dona Ynez de Leiva y Espinoza. Don Francisco de Leiva was Leiva Ysassi and his wife was Dona Lorrena Ysassi, sister to Don Cristobal. Don Fancisco de Leiva’s only son was Cristobal de Leiva Ysassi and Don Cristobal Ysassi’s nephew as well as his second in command. Just as Don Fancisco de Proenza was the most influential man in Jamaica at the time of the English seizure, so was Don Francisco de Leiva the richest. Among its members (including the Cartegena) this one family had become accustomed to divide what few offices and scanty honours the island afforded. Similarly, they now made the war against the English a family affair. It is interesting to observe that with the departure from them of the governor (an official named by the Duke de Veragua, and imposed from Spain) the defence of Jamaica early devolved upon its native sons.
The Ysassi were a distinguished family, with roots running back to the north coast of Spain. An ancestor of Don Cristobal’s had come to the island as a warden of a fort on the north coast. This must have been at the time of Jamaica’s earliest settlement since after that period not even the semblance of a fort existed upon that side of the island. Cf. Long, Edward, The History of Jamaica, British Museum, Add. MSS. 144?5, p. (illegible)
Ysassi’s father was Captain don Cristobal Sanchez Ysassi, and Don Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, governor’s lieutenant at Santiago de Cuba, was but one of Don Cristobal’s numerous brothers. Another seems to have been Sebastian de Ysassi Proenza A. de I., 54 – 3 – 29, his letter to Don Blas, from Havana, July 8, 1661). Still another brother was Don Francisco (end page 118)
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Nothing has been seen to show in what Don Cristobal was engaged between May, 1655, and March, 1656, but presumably, as sargento mayor, he had his share in skirmishes which occurred and in the Spaniards’ general retreat northward during that period. It is possible that he crossed to Cuba and returned to the headquarters at Santa Ana (Saint Ann’s?), where Proenza was, when he learned that the first relief to reach the island, sent by Governor don Pedro Zapata from Cartagena, had reached Pozo de Ayron, a port on the southern coast. At all events, upon receipt of news that this relief had been landed, Proenza promoted Ysassi from sargento mayor to lieutenant-campmaster in command of military operations, and sent him south in early March, 1656.
Arrived on the southern coast, Ysassi found that the arms (lances and machetes) which Governor Zapata had sent, had been distributed and the subsistence (salt, wine, vinegar, maize, casaba) consumed. He cached the powder, balls and fuse which were left and, so encouraged, opened an offensive campaign. Ysassi’s strength at this time was
Arnaldo Ysassi, bishop of Porto Rico (Leguia to the bishop-elect, November 6(?), 1656, in A. de I., 54-3-29). Nevertheless, in studying his papers the editor has come to the conclusion that Don Cristobal was not all white, although no conclusive proof could be cited on which to base assertion that he was in some degree of blood related to the negroes who fought under him, whose support he referred, whose sympathy he held, upon whose valour he relied, whose desertion, only, convinced him of defeat.
His letters, preserved in the Archives of the Indies, show that Don Cristobal was not an educated man. The involved style of his writing is complicated by the use of curious expressions and unusual words, which should interest a philologist. His spelling would doubtless be found to throw light upon the accent with which he spoke. Just as his literary shortcomings obtrude through his despatches, so also does Don Cristobal’s character – his pride, not devoid of vanity, his voluble patriotism and religious ardour, his inability to co-operate, his resilient courage. While he felt it necessary to explain when he killed his prisoners because he considered it unsafe to keep them, he did not apologise for his delight in a tine watch, a dainty pistol, a curious seal, a handsome sword, and good clothing, of which he relieved the dead. Some of these momentoes of his valour he kept and some he sent to his friends, and to the governors at Santiago and at Cartagena. He paid his men in loot and, as their leader, took the leaders share. (end page 119)
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45 men, of whom he says 1 30 were white and 15 were negroes he had drawn to his support from a stockade where they maintained themselves in isolation and independence from their former masters. 2
Until now, neither the Spaniards nor the negroes had been giving the English much trouble, though they continued to kill stragglers, and Sedgwicke and Goodson felt, and feared, the proximity of a considerable body of enemies. 3 Now, however, Don Cristobal’s attacks and ambuscades incommoded the intruders and affected their prospects, inasmuch as news went abroad that “skulking Negroes and Spaniards” 4 made any peaceable settler’s life a hazard and so worked to frustrate the Protector’s efforts to procure the colony support in agriculturists immigrating from other English possessions. Therefore, both to secure their immediate safety and also to assure their ultimate preservation, through the year 1656 the English in Jamaica continued to wage war by sea and land upon the Spaniards and their former slaves, enemies whom, when Ysassi went into action ,5 Sedgwicke described as having become “bold and bloody: a people that know not what the laws and customs of civil nations mean,” with whom he was unable either to “capitulate or discourse”.
1 A. de I, 54 -3 -29, Ysassi to Don Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Manatines, April 3, 1656.
2 Cf. Sabada’s Journal, Thurloe, IV, p. 543.
3 Sedgwicke to the Protector, Jamaica, November 5, 1655; Goodson and Sedgwicke to Thurloe, January 24. March 12, 1656; Sedgwicke to id., January 24. March 12, in Thurloe, IV. pp. ??1, 454, 455, 600, 604.
4 Long, Edward. History of Jamaica, B.M. MSS, 12404. p.258.
5 The Castilla narrative (Camden Miscellany, XIII, 1?24) furnishes an outline of the situation of the Spaniards in Jamaica from May, 1655, to July, 1656. For events up to March, 1656, it is the best Spanish source. Ysassi’s letters of April and June, 1656 (cited ibid., p. 22 note 2) are colourful pictures of his opening campaign (March – June) which carried him to the very doors of English headquarters, where he showed himself in the light of houses he had set on fire. For English accounts of his first offensive, see Sedgwicke and Goodson to the Protector, Jamaica, March 12; Sedgwicke to Thurloe, same date; id. To id. April 30, 1656, in Thurloe, IV, pp. 600, 604, 748; D’oyleys journal, p. 10, minutes of council of war, March 19, 1656; Godfrey to Blackborne, April 30, 1656, Calendar of State Papers, Addenda, p. 109, No. 257. (end page 120)
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If that general is successful who carries through his design, then in 1656 Don Cristobal was a successful general, no matter how petty his operations or with what mean forces executed, for during that year he achieved his purpose. He and his king agreed that for the time being his immediate purpose must necessarily be merely to maintain a Spanish force in the island to harass the intruders and to co-operate with any other Spanish force, naval or military, which might be sent in. This much Ysassi accomplished. On the other hand, the English purpose – to pacify the country and to bring its natives into recognition of the English State and Church – was not then attained, though toward it, with his re-formed army, Colonel Edward D’oyley worked with staunch determination.
In Spain, the king in his council for the Indies was informed 1 concerning Ysassi by his brother, Licenciate don Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, governor’s lieutenant at Santiago de Cuba, who forwarded to the crown letters which Don Cristobal wrote to him from the Jamaican bush. The first 2 of these to reach his majesty breathed so much of loyalty, religious zeal and bellicose energy, that the crown forthwith made 3 Son Cristobal Ysassi Arnaldo governor of Jamaica, to succeed Don Juan Ramirez, deceased. Don Francisco de Proenza, whose subordinate so superseded him, was disposed of by a subsequent cedula, 4 full of verbose thanks and empty promises.
Multitudinous orders 5 were now issued to assemble men, munitions, money and subsistence, from Porto Rico,
1 A. de I., 54-3-29. the council for Indies to the crown, October 12, 1656.
2 Ysassi’s of April 3, 1656, which Don Blas forwarded in copy with his of May 22 following, preserved in A. de I., 54-3-29.
3 His commission (A. de I., 79-4-6, f. 25 reverse copy) was issued from San Lorenzo on October 12, 1656, and made him governor of Jamaica, to command all reinforcements to be sent, until such a time as his majesty might otherwise provide.
4 A. de I., 79-4-6. f. 54 reverse.
5 A. de I., 79-4-6, ff. 23, 28, 30 reverse, 32, 37, 41, 42, 42 reverse, 43, 56-66 reverse, inclusive, etc. (end page 121)
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Santo Domingo, Cuba and Mexico, these to be concentrated in Santiago de Cuba for transportation thence to Jamaica. War in Europe had so reduced Spain that no other policy seemed possible. The Duke de Albuquerque, active viceroy of Mexico, was charged 1 with the responsibility of recovering Jamaica with what means could thus be rallied in the Indies. 2
It became increasingly evident that it was important to Spain to recover the island, not because of Jamaica itself, for Spain had not developed the land, but because of its strategical position with respect to other Spanish colonies in and around the Caribbean, and with respect to the trade routes to and from these. In 1656 from Jamaica as a base, Goodson’s squadron raided the Main and hung off Cuba, hardly distinguishable among the pirates who seemed thicker than ever off the west end of that island, where they waited in ambush for his catholic majesty’s fleets and treasure galleons. The Spanish king’s worst fear seemed on the point of realization, in that the safety of his revenues in transit from the continents of America to Seville was indeed in jeopardy!
Cromwell was supporting his Jamaican enterprise. Sedgwicke brought men. Shortly after Brane had arrived to succeed Sedgwicke, there came Scottish and Irish troops. Luke Stokes led a considerable body of settlers into the country from Nevis, but these new arrivals died like flies. Sedgwicke himself succumbed.
Brayne, soon to follow him, acted vigorously on the Protector’s orders to fortify the harbour and to work the land. The town of Cagway began to grow at the expense of Santiago de la Vega, and at Liguani and at Morant the fertile earth rewarded men, who cultivated it, no matter
1 A. de I., 79-4-6, f. 40, cedula, San Lorenzo, October 30, 1656; f. 48, cedula, Buen Retiro, June 8, 1657.
2 “ . . . circumstances do not permit the dispatch of a regular fleet, with forces of the regular army, to disembark and operate by land, and so attempt the resoration by regular methods . . .” – The king to the Duke de Alburquerque, cedula of October 30, above cited. (end page 122)
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how unwillingly. Meanwhile, Goodson’s subordinates, patrolling the northern shore, burned huts and canoes which the Spaniards had constructed there, while in the south and south-west D’oyley’s army harried them from their coverts negroes and mulattoes in whom the English seem not to have recognized the main body of the Spanish resistance.
Undoubtedly it was from Merida 1 that the Duke de Alburquerque had his earliest information concerning events in Jamaica. He was indignant 2 that he had not been directly advised. The viceroy appreciated the magnitude of the menace which the enemy’s occupation of that island constituted and in January, 1657, dispatched 3 Captain Domingo Rodriguez de Vera to inspect Porto Rico, Santo Domingo, Cuba and Jamaica, and to report to him upon their military strength, i.e., upon their ability to resist further aggression. Captain Rodriguez de Vera arrived in Santiago de Cuba the last of April, 1657, immediately sought communication with the governor of Jamaica (Ysassi), visited the Spanish camp upon the northern coast in early July, and reported 4 to the viceroy from Vera Cruz at the end of that month, giving him not only the details to be expected under his commission but also the welcome news that the first real relief 5 expedition
1 In August, 1655, with Goodson’s consent, Sedgwicke deported 70 Spaniards. The vessel he provided them reached Campeche in early September, and Governor don Francisco de Bazan reported in the matter to the crown (A. de I., 54-3-29, his dispatch, Merida, September 29, 1655, with enclosures, among them copy of Sedgwicke’s passport to the Acostas, to whom he furnished the ship). Bazan would, surely, have informed the viceroy at about the same time.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29. Alburquerque to Ysassi, Mexico, March 9, 1657.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29. Alburquerque to the crown, Mexico, July 20, 1657.
4 His report has been preserved, in A. de I., 54-3-29.
5 “ Although in the papers which Don Pedro (Zapata) has sent (to Spain) it is set forth that in April of 1656 he attempted to send 600 men, reinforcements to Jamaica, and says that to that end he asked these troops of the presidents of the Audiencias of the New Kingdom and of Panama, it does not appear that he carried into effect more than the dispatch of a single frigate with munitions and stores, which left Cartagena on the 24th of the said month of April. . . .” – The council for Indies to his majesty, Madrid, May 17, 1657, in A. de I., 54-3-29. Other papers in (end page 123)
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the Spanish had undertaken had arrived safely at Santa Ana.
The royal order 1 which laid upon the Duke de Alburquerque the responsibility of recovering Jamaica had been delayed in transit but reached him on March 8, 1657. Seven days later there cleared from Vera Cruz four vessels bearing 120 foot in command of Captain don Francisco de Salinas, with biscuit, lead, and 20,000 pesos, for Jamaica. 2 These vessels put in at Havana.
By letter the viceroy ordered 3 Don Joseph de Aguirre, military governor there, to send these men and the money by land from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, the viceroy’s idea being to avoid encounters with pirates; the munitions and commissary supplies were to go by sea, the usual route. Accordingly, 4 the men set out by land and seem to have arrived as far as Matanzas, whither it became necessary for Aguirre to send vessels to pick them up and carry them on, by water. The money continued overland, under escort. This so delayed Captain Salinas’ company that it did not reach Santiago in time to clear for Jamaica with the other troops assembling there. When it did arrive, Governor Bayona Villanueva appropriated 5 what was left of it for his own garrison. The captain himself, however, having preceded his men by a few days, crossed to Jamaica to deliver dispatches from the viceroy to Ysassi.
Meanwhile, having duly received a royal cedula 6 so ordering, on April 3 Aguirre had dispatched to Santiago
The same legajo show that this vessel was thrown off its course, either by bad weather or by malice of its owners. Not until December, 1656, did Don Cristobal receive this relief, at Lobato. It was not considerable.
1 See note No. 1, p. 122 ante.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, Alburquerque to the crown, Mexico, July 20, 1657. Captain Salinas’ orders, dated March 9, are to be found in the same legajo.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Alburquerque to Aguirre, Mexico, March 9, 1657.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, Aguirre to the crown, Havana, May 24, 1657; Memorial of charges, Santiago de Cuba, September 8, 1658.
5 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, July 19, 1657.
6 A. de I., 79-4-6 f?, 32, October 25, 1656. (end page 124)
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a company of about 100 men under Captain don Cristobal Anues. 1 It was later charged that these men were not properly armed. 2 They arrived in Santiago on April 23 – the first of the contingents which the crown sought to assemble, to make its appearance at that point of concentration.
At about the same time came Captain don Juan de los Reyes, 3 with less than 30 men from Porto Rico, and Captain don Domingo de Silva, 4 with almost 100 from Santo Domingo. These latter were presently said 5 to be unfit, inexperienced and ill-clad. Of the refugee Jamaicans in Santiago, two companies (not quite 200 men) were formed, under Captains don Francisco Cartagena de Leiva and Lucas Borrero Vardesi. On the 3rd or 4th of July, 1657, these reinforcements (over 400 men in all) embarked for Jamaica. They cleared on the night of July 6.
The crown had specified 6 that the governor at Santiago should deliver this relief at whatever port Ysassi might indicate; this, too, was the viceroy’s order to Bayona Villanueva. To facilitate operations against English headquarters, which were on that side of the island, Ysassi preferred 7 a port on the southern coast. Further, in that
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Aguirre to the crown, Havana, April 2 and June 1, 1657; Anues to the Duke de Alburquerque, Jamaica, July 7, 1657.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to the Duke de Alburquerque, Jamaica, July 9 and 16, 1657.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, De los Reyes to the Duke de Alburquerque, La Managua (Jamaica), July 8, 1657.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, De Silva to the Duke de Alburquerque, Santiago de Cuba, July 8, 1657.
5 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to the Duke de Alburquerque, Jamaica, July 9 and 16, 1657.
6 In the consulta de consejo of October 12, 1656, it was recommended that Bayona Villanueva be instructed to forward the relief “from Santiago to Jamaica, to Don Cristobal de Ysassi, by way of the safe port and landing places which Don Cristobal names in his letter,” i.e., of April 3, to Don Blas. Resultant cedulas accurately reflected this intention that Ysassi should select the point of debarkation of the expedition; and Bayona Villanueva was clearly told (cedula, October 25, 1656) to send it to any port that Ysassi might designate at the time.
7 Ysassi gives his reasons as early as his letter of April 3, 1656, to Don Blas; he repeats them in his dispatches to the viceroy of July 9 and 16, 1657. (end page 125)
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same district (St. Elizabeth? Westmoreland?) he had, up to this time, possessed hidden retreats, cattle and faithful following of blacks and mulattoes.
The governor at Santiago was at some pains to inquire of Ysassi at what place he desired the expedition to land; yet when Ysassi designated a southern port Bayona Villanueva overruled 1 his judgment. Ysassi appeared to acquiesce, and the relief cleared for Santa Ana, a port on the northern coast readily accessible from Santiago. It arrived entirely unperceived by the enemy, early on the morning of July 7, 1657. 2
The landing of unseasoned men and stores in a northern port greatly handicapped Ysassi, for it necessitated the transportation over long distances and bad trails of all the supplies received. Not all the men sent to Ysassi’s support were equal to the hard service expected of them. Not all were suitably clad and shod, armed or equipped. Further, the subsistence landed was in part spoiled – had perhaps been unfit for consumption even before it was embarked for Jamaica. 2 The weather was hot, and sickness ensued.
Ill as all this augured for the outcome of the enterprise, even surer sources of certain failure lay in the petty jealousies existing among the Spanish officials, civil and military alike. At Havana, Don Joseph de Aguirre had merely to obey orders to delay the viceroy’s troops, disorganize them, and, indeed, prevent them from reaching Jamaica at all; meanwhile, he bragged that his own contingent appeared first at Santiago. There Governor Pedro de Bayona Villanueva had early expressed 4 contempt
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, July 18, 1657.
2 The troops were landed at Santa Ana alias La Maguana. The munitions were landed at Las Chorreras, sometimes called Las Chorreras de Santa Ana. Long identified this – Cheirreras (?) Bay – with Ocho Rios.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica, July 21, 1657.
4 His opinion of Ysassi shows through all his correspondence. That it was not shared by the council for Indies is evident in the consulta of March 12, 1658 (A. de I., 54-3-29) and resultant cedulas. (end page 126)
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for Ysassi, a criollo (creole), doubtless a good guide but certainly not a trained officer. Bayona Villanueva said 1 that Ysassi considered himself a greater soldier than Julius Caesar; one might retort that his dispatches suggest that Bayona Villanueva thought as much of himself. There can be no doubt that the governor at Santiago envied the opportunity for service, for recompense (conceivably, even for profit) which had unexpectedly opened to Ysassi. Without authority so to do he made 2 the captain from Porto Rico, Don Juan de los Reyes, sargento mayor of Ysassi’s little army – an important post Ysassi already filled to his satisfaction with a nephew. Ysassi’s refusal 3 to recognise Juan de los Reyes as sargento mayor augmented the spirit of insubordination which had never been entirely absent from his camp. In their despicable jealousies the Spanish now waged a disastrous war upon themselves.
Meanwhile, the English (busy in the south in the new town of Cagway and around Morant), although they had known 4 almost as soon as the Spanish in the Indies that his catholic majesty was assembling relief in the Antilles, were as yet unaware that it had reached Jamaica. They had been two months in the island and their strength was dissipated before D’oyley learned 5 that these reinforcements had landed.
With scarce 50 men (blacks and whites), Ysassi had been waging war on D’oyley in the south and south-west, “after
1 A. de I., 54-3-29. Bayona Villanueva to Zapata, from Santiago de Cuba, August 11, 1657, embodied in a testimonio, September, 1657, accompanying Zapata’s to the crown, Caragena, October 12, 1657.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, July 18, 1657.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, De los Reyes to the Duke de Alburquerque, La Maguana (Jamaica), July 8; Ysassi to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica, July 17; Blas Ysassi Arnaldo to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, November 26(?), 1657, etc., etc.
4 Thurloe, VI, p. 130, deposition Pedro de Salas, March 20, 1657. Cf. Long, f. 90 reverse.
5 B.M., Egerton 2395, p. 144, D’oyley to Commissioners of the Admiralty (?), “Letter upon the death of Coll. Brayne” (September, 1657). (end page 127)
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the usage of the Indies,” harassing the intruders as he might, attacking them when he dared, burning their buildings, destroying their plantations, and in St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland preventing them from accomplishing such development as was proceeding in St. Andrew and St. Thomas parishes, where he found himself unable to interfere. 1 But D’oyley, with his reorganised army into which courage had returned, had pressed the Spaniard hard, and lack of consistent support had so diminished Ysassi’s strength that now, in the summer of 1657, far from remaining penned within their defences in the town, as he had described 2 them in the spring of 1656, the English were reported 3 to sleep abroad tranquilly, even in the parties pursuing him, their hoses picketed – so great was their confidence in Ysassi’s inability to disturb.
From the southern coast, where he had just received certain stores (a third small relief) from Cartagena, Ysassi came 4 up to the northern coast to welcome the important expedition from Santiago de Cuba. No sooner had he left Oristan (Bluefields?) than the enemy made 5 a successful raid there, running off those pack animals upon which Ysassi had counted heavily. This proved to be an irreparable calamity.
Nevertheless, the governor remained determined to take the offensive. After a council of war, about July 11 from Las Chorreras he started the regulars southward for Bermejales (Vera Ma Hallis, in Upper Clarendon); they marched under Captains Juan de los Reyes and Domingo
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to the Duke de Alburquerque, Jamaica, July 9, 1657.
2 In his letter to his brother Blas, written in April, 1656, previously cited.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, July 18, 1657.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica. July 17 (?), 1657.
5 Ibid.; Ysassi to the Duke de Alburquerque, Jamaica, August 29, 1657, etc., etc. (end page 128)
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de Silva. Having carefully buried his reserve powder, Ysassi himself followed after them in a few days, presumably with the territorials. What stores could not be carried along on the few horses available were left at Las Chorreras under Captain Pavon with a guard of about 50 men. 1
The effects of poor selection and equipment, of rotten beef, mosquitoes, heat, and – above all – of jealous dissension, became immediately evident in that, having arrived at Los Bermejales, the troops became mutinous, alleging a shortage in food. They were not discouraged in this attitude by their officers. A council of war was held, after which Ysassi was obliged to permit a very considerable body to turn back to Los Chorreras. They retired under Captain de los Reyes, who superseded Captain Pavon in command there.
His orders, 2 issued to him on August 1, 1657 (presumably the day on which he left Los Bermejales at dawn), bade Captain Reyes remove himself, his men and stores from Las Chorreras to a place not far distant called Baycani, which Ysassi deemed defensible. Although these orders were repeated to him half a dozen times, Reyes determinedly resisted them. 3 It would appear that far from obeying, he permitted 4 his men to busy themselves in building small vessels in which, presumably, all were to return to Santiago, to which city consignments of the sick were dispatched along with gloomy and unfair reports upon the situation in Jamaica and especially upon Ysassi’s capacity as a leader. 5
1 These matters are fully set forth in A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica, August 31; and in the papers accumulated in the course of subsequent proceedings against Reyes. See especially his own deposition, made at Santiago de Cuba, November 10, 1657. See also Captain Mendez’s.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Blas Ysassi Arnaldo to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, November 16, 1657.
4 Ibid. This charge is stressed in certain papers belonging to the ?f…al [illegible word] (crown prosecutor) preserved in this same legajo.
5 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to Zapata, Santiago de Cuba, August 11; to the crown, September 2, 1657.
TRANS. 4th S. – VOL. XII. (end page 129)
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Meanwhile, from Los Bermejales, Ysassi pressed on, accompanied by what men had the courage to follow him, these being perhaps 170 territorials and the major portion of the company from Havana under its captain, Don Cristobal de Anues. They routed a small squadron of English and by the end of August would seem to have overrun the Guatibacoa region (general vicinity of Old Harbour) where was to be had an adequate supply of meat. Again, Ysassi was a successful general. 1
At this juncture Brayne died and Colonel D’oyley succeeded to the chief command of the English by land and sea. Against the Spanish he now dispatched a cavalry company (60 or 80 horse) which encountered Ysassi and his forces at a place the Spanish called Santa Ana gully. 2 The English were defeated and lost heavily in men. The victorious Spaniards lost more heavily yet, because, far from putting life into them, as D’oyley says, 3 “this Sudden Surprise rather put life than feare” into the English, it disheartened Ysassi’s men, as nothing of the sort could discourage their leader. When, a few days later, the English killed most of a small party he had sent out to discover the town and harbour, his troups began to desert shamelessly. 4 By mid-October Ysassi’s following was reduced from say 170, to 60; by the end of October it numbered 20.
While Ysassi was so engaged in the south, on the northern coast Captain Juan de los Reyes was occupied in furnishing history 5 with a fine example of what envy
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to the Duke de Alburquerque, Jamaica, August 29, 1657; to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, August 31.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica, September 13, 1657; to the Duke de Alburquerque, same date.
3 B.M. 2395, p. 244. “Letter upon the death of Coll. Brayne”
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica, September 27, 1657. Cf. Captain Mendez’ deposition, among the fiscal’s papers, in the same legajo.
5 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica, October 12, 1657, forwarding “shameful papers,” i.e., communications between Reyes and Silva and Ysassi, demands of the infantry on Ysassi, etc., etc., showing the mutinous state of the troops and officers, from October 4 forward. (end page 130)
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and personal animosity can accomplish toward defeating a cause; and in Santiago de Cuba Governor don Pedro de Bayona Villanueva was ably abetting him in that work. No sooner had he arrived at Las Chorreras than Captain Reyes unearthed the powder Ysassi had hidden. He quarreled 1 through a month with his immediate superior, Ysassi’s lieutenant-governor, Don Francisco Leiva Ysassi, who was in command at Bermejales while the governor was fighting English cavalry further south. Reyes permitted open mutiny in his men, transmitted their communications to Ysassi, perhaps actually encouraged Captain Anues and those regulars who had remained faithful to desert the governor, and certainly received such deserters at Las Chorreras, there facilitating their departure to Cuba, where they were not called to any accounting. However, his dues were upon him.
From a prisoner he had captured D’oyley 2 learned that the Jamaicans had indeed received the reinforcements he knew they expected. Inasmuch as he understood that a large portion of these troops were acclimated territorials, he resolved not to leave them to the “alteration of the Clime, “ as he would otherwise have done, but, instead, “determined to pursue these with might and main.” Before the end of October he had driven Ysassi from Guatibacoa 3 to Los Bermejales where, in the negro stockade, 4 the Spaniard supposed himself safe. And, having acquired still further and fairly accurate intelligence
1 Their correspondence is preserved in A. de I., 54-3-29.
2 B.M., Egerton 2395, p. 144. “Letter upon the death of Coll. Brayne.”
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Blas Ysassi Arnaldo to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, November 16, 1657.
4 “ I, brother, am making my headquarters in the negro stockade, since it is the strongest situation in all the island, where with 100 men, though 1,000 attack, I can defend it. In order not to be beaten off by the enemy, I want to make the king’s munitions safe. Then, from there I will set out on the campaign. . . .” – Ysassi to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica, July 17 (?), 1657. In other documents this headquarters from which the Spanish operated as a safe base is named: Bermejales (Vera Ma Hallis). (end page 131)
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concerning the existence and strength of the Spanish camp on the northern coast, from Cagway D’oyley dispatched 1 an expedition by sea, probably commanded by Major-General Stevens, who landed about 300 men in two parties and advanced upon the Spanish camp at Las Chorreras from two directions simultaneously. It is possible that the number of Spanish present there when the English attacked (on November 2, 1657) was less than 300, for many men were absent, engaged, especially at Rio Nuevo, in building small craft in which, as has been said, all were to cross to Cuba.
Those who were present at Chorreras offered no effective resistance to the English landing. Captain don Domingo de Silva was sent forward with a small force which fired a single volley and fell back upon the stockade, a picket enclosure, which was all the defensive work the Spanish had provided for themselves in more than three months’ occupation of the position. Panic seized upon the defenders of this enclosure and casualties seem to have been heaviest among those who stampeded in attempting to escape from it. The English took the place, stores, munitions and prisoners, among them was Campmaster Proenza. He was treated with consideration. The English loss was about 20 killed; the Spanish loss, somewhat heavier. 2
Upon learning that mutiny had come to a head in early October, Governor Bayona Villanueva cleared 3 a launch
1 Among English primary sources examined the writer has seen no reference to this expedition, although its results were of enough importance that D’oyley must have reported it. See Thurloe, VII, p. 55, Downing to Goodson, The Hague, April 16, 1658.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, November 16; Blas Ysassi Arnaldo to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, November 16; id. to id., November 20; Ysassi Arnaldo to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica, November 25; Francisco Cartegena de Leiva to Julian de Castilla, Jamaica, November 26; Ysassi Arnaldo to Bayona Villanueva, Jamaica, November 28; Francisco de Leiva Ysassi to Bayona Villanueva, December 17, 1657. Depositions made by Captains Juan de Los Reyes, Domingo de Silva, Chaplain Mathias Velazquez, and others who were present at the rout, have been preserved in the same legajo.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to the crown. Santiago de Cuba. November 16, 1657. (end page 132)
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for Jamaica, ostensibly to persuade the infantry to obedience to its officers. This craft arrived shortly after the rout at Las Chorreras and in it Captain Juan de los Reyes made off to Santiago de Cuba, accompanied by Captain de Silva (badly wounded) and by as many other persons as the small vessel could carry. Reyes delegated command to Captain Anues, promising him and what men assembled about him, to send from Santiago to fetch them off at once.
Ysassi (himself defeated in the south) was in no position to render any assistance to his discomfited infantry on the northern coast. As a matter of fact, Ysassi had his first news 1 of the rout from an Englishman whom he took prisoner three weeks after it occurred.
Instead of rejoining his superior officer at Bermejales, as Ysassi at least affected to desire him to do, Captain Anues also departed for Cuba, where he arrived before the middle of December, 1657. His men went after him as quickly as they could. Ysassi and his immediate following remained “in the bush,” befriended still by the negroes. They seem to have moved into the south again almost immediately.
In Santiago de Cuba his enemies made the most of the governor’s unhappy situation. 2 Only the viceroy of Mexico could perceive that Ysassi was making a fight. 3 His majesty was informed that the affairs of Jamaica were in a state of utter confusion – as indeed they were! The first serious attempt to relieve the island had come to worse than naught.
Meantime, the Duke de Alburquerque had at Vera Cruz assembled still more men for Jamaica. 4 Constituting what
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi Arnaldo to Blas Ysassi Arnaldo, Jamaica, November 25, 1657.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, January 19, 1658; id. To id., January 27.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, the Duke de Alburquerque to the crown, Mexico, March 20, 1658.
4 Ibid. (end page 133)
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was known as the Mexican tercio, in command of Captain don Alvaro de la Raspuru, they cleared on October 18, 1657, for Havana, where they arrived on November 9, and delayed to careen their transports.
Informed of their approach, Governor Bayona Villanueva from Santiago communicated 1 with Ysassi, bidding him prepare to receive these men and the stores sent with them. Against Ysassi’s reiterated opinion that it was most unwise to do so, Bayona Villanueva remained determined to land this expedition also upon the northern shore of Jamaica. This determination, in the shape of the unanimous opinion 2 of a council of war held at Santiago de Cuba on January 20, 1658, was conveyed to Ysassi by his young nephew, Don Cristobal Ysassi y Proenza, who found Ysassi’s lieutenant-general, Don Francisco de Leiva, near Baycani, on the northern coast, and Ysassi himself on the southern coast, at Santa Cruz.
Again overborne by the governor at Santiago, Ysassi agreed 3 to meet this second formidable relief expedition on the northern coast, “between the fort and La Mauna”; but hardly had he in consultation with his officers so decided, than the English came down upon him at Oristan, by land and sea (February 11, 1658). Among prisoners they captured was Captain don Francisco de Cartagena. 4 Inasmuch as this officer had been present at the council, knew of the relief and where it was to be expected, Ysassi considered it advisable immediately to change the plan, and in a communication addressed to Bayona Villanueva indicated Baycani as the port to which the expedition should come, if it must, but he made it plain that
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Cristobal Ysassi y Proenza, deposition, Santiago de Cuba, January 28, 1658.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, minutes of the council of war, Santiago de Cuba, January 20, 1658.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to Bayona Villanueva, Jamaica, February 12, 1658; Blas Ysassi Arnaldo to the Duke de Alburquerque, Santiago de Cuba, March 5, 1658.
4 Thurloe, VI, p. 834. D’oyley to Thurloe, Jamaica, February 28, 1658. (end page 134)
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he was not at the moment in any condition to receive more men.
Don Cristobal de Ysassi y Proenza returned to Santiago with this information, and with about 40 refuges who occupied his vessel and crossed with him in it, despite his more or less nominal opposition. Don Francisco de Leiva was unable to prevent their desertion. 1
On January 30, 1658, the Mexican tercio arrived in Santiago. It consisted of 557 foot, described 2 as negroes, mulattos and Indians, inexperienced boys, poorly equipped. Their commanding officer was already helpless with the illness, which was soon to prove fatal to him, and the tercio’s too numerous captains seem early to have become insubordinate and mutinous. 3
Don Pedro de Bayona fomented unrest among them and presently became anxious to be rid of them all. He sent two messengers into Jamaica to find Ysassi and with him to agree definitely upon the expedition’s clearance; and on May 15-16, 1658, despite the fact that the enemy was even then off the port of Santiago, 4 the tercio set out for its destination in three of the four ships which had brought it from Vera Cruz. They went without escort.
The port of Rio Nuevo had been selected, finally, as the landing-place, and seemingly Ysassi made some commencement there on shelters to receive the stores, etc. It would appear that the enemy also had been active in the immediate neighborhood, for the expedition, landing safely on May 18 (despite the risks it had run), found a camp of Ysassi’s negro supporters partially destroyed, and
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi y Proenza’s deposition, Santiago, January 28, 1658.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to the Duke de Alburquerque, Santiago de Cuba, March 8, 1658, enclosing certificate of a muster held March 6; Ysassi to Gregorio de Leuia, Jamaica, August 16, 1658. Cf. D’oyley to Povey, Cagway, July 12, 1658, in Egerton 2395, B.M. MSS., p. 169.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Alvaro de la Raspuru to the Duke de Alburquerque, Jamaica, June 21, 1658.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to Bayona Villanueva, Rio Nuevo (?), Jamaica, June 21, 1658. (end page 135)
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the governor himself nowhere in sight. The advance notice of the expedition’s clearance, for which he asked, had not been sent to him. 1
However, Ysassi appeared. The stores were housed as quickly as possible with as little loss as might be, considering the untoward circumstances, and the persistent rain then falling. Six pieces of srtillery were landed from the ships, and the Spaniards proceeded to “fortify” themselves upon a “vast height” in the port of Rio Nuevo. Their strength was now about 650 men.
The very day after their arrival, 2 the expedition’s vessels were discovered in Rio Nuevo bay by an enemy scoutship, which seems to have entered and opened fire. It was driven off and summoned other vessels to its support. Again (may 28) the English attempted the Spaniards and were driven off. 3 That night Ysassi compelled his vessels to make away. The English reappeared, apparently still further strengthened, being now five ships, and prepared to land men under cover of their artillery. Once more they were driven off, and disappeared from the neighborhood.
Word had been sent to Colonel D’oyley. After a council of war had seriously considered the situation, an expedition against Rio Nuevo cleared from Cagway on June 11, D’oyley himself in command. 4
Arrived at Rio Nuevo, the English effected a landing despite Spanish resistance, and on June 26, 1658, Ysassi
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Memorial of Charges, etc.; Ysassi to the Duke de Alburquerque, Rio Nuevo, May 28, 1658.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, Alvaro de la Raspuru to the Duke de Alburquerque, Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion de Rio Nuevo, May 26, 1658.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Alvaro de la Raspuru to the Duke de Alburquerque, Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion de Rio Nuevo, May 29, 1658; Ysassi to Bayona Villanueva, June 21, 1658.
4 D’oyley to ____, from Cagway in Jamaica, July 12, 1658, in Thurloe, VI, p. 260; Clarke to II. [?] Cromwell, Whitehall, October 5, 1658, ibid., p. 424; Fleetwood to id., ibid., p, 423; Dalyson to Blackborne, Cagway, July 16, 1658, in Calendar State Papers, Addenda, p. 123, No. 304; Burough to id., same date, ibid., p. 123, No. 305. Cf. Long, Add. MSS, 12404, p. 273 et seq. (end page 136)
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was besieged in his camp Real de la Concepcion de Rio Nuevo. D’oyley demanded 1 that he surrender, offering “good quarter . . . and transport.” The Spaniard refused with spirit. On the 27th the English stormed and took the fort, 2 after a sharp fight. 3 The rout he suffered cost Ysassi about 300 men, killed. The English took the place, the ordnance, munitions and stores, and departed after destroying everything they could not carry off.
Ysassi sought to rally the scattered survivors. At a council held on July 17, 1658, at Rio Cayaus, it was decided 4 to ship back to Santiago de Cuba all but 50 men, with whom Ysassi would continue to obey the crown’s command to maintain a foothold in the island until such a time as his catholic majesty might provide what was universally demanded as the only eans to recuperate Jamaica – the royal fleet, the armada of Spain.
Meanwhile, in his council for Indies and for war in Indies his majesty had news of the rout at Las Chorreras. An armada was being made ready, the Marques de Villa Rubia commanding, to escort the Mainland and Mexican merchant fleets to their destinations and, especially, to bring back to Spain “the plate,” i.e., private and, particularly, government revenues, the outpourings of which had accumulated in Cartagena, Nombre de Dios and Vera Cruz, and were there awaiting safe convoy across the Atlantic. These councils
1 His demand, in translation, dated June 26, 1658, is preserved in A. de I., 54-3-29.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, minutes of council of war held at Cayaus, Jamaica, July 17, 1658; Ysassi to the crown, July 19; id. To Gregorio Leguia, same date.
3 Long, ibid., p. 277. remarked that the fighting upon this occasion was so severe and the victory so credible . . that “this gallant action repaired the honour of the army, which had sustained some injury at St. Domingo.” Long states that at the first onset the Spanish taunted the English with their defeat there, “which inflamed the English troops with rage,” which must account for the ferocity with which they pursued the vanquished (ibid., p. 276) along the seashore and through the woods. It will be observed that the Spanish loss of life was very heavy.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, the minutes of this council. (end page 137)
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exerted themselves to persuade his majesty to order this armada to expel the English from Jamaica.
Again they represented 1 the economic and political danger involved in the enemy’s presence in that island. In extremity, they appealed to the “ardent zeal” which burned in his majesty’s “catholic breast” by reminding him that the heretic’s presence also jeopardized the souls of his western subjects and to save these through the holy faith was his prime duty, according to the bull of partition upon which as a foundation his imperial authority in the New World was based. From every quarter, by every person who addressed him in the matter, the king was informed of the importance of the issue – that nothing less than his American empire was at stake! – and all were agreed that the only effective means to recover Jamaica and so remove the peril by ejecting the English, was the royal armada: the Spanish navy.
At the suggestion of the council for Indies, seconded by the council for war in Indies, the Marques de Villa Rubia and other such naval and military authorities as the Duke de Medinaceli could lay hand upon in Cadiz, were summoned to consultation at Puerto de Santa Maria on March 22, 1658. 2 The problem laid before them was whether, without in the least delaying the armada’s immediate clearance, an effort should be made to use it to recover Jamaica, or whether the Spaniards there should be relieved; if so, how? The one point upon which all present at the council agreed, was that the armada should not be delayed in its departure, or delayed in its return, by any considera-
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, the council for Indies to the king, Madrid, March 11, 1658; the council for war in Indies to the king, Madrid, March 12, 1658.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, the Duke de Medinaceli to the king, Puerto de Santa Maria, March 23, 1658; minutes of the council, held on the 22nd; opinion of Don Manuel de Banuelos, Cadiz, March 23; opinion of the Marques de Villa Rubia, Puerto de Santa Maria (Cadiz), March 22; opinion of Don Juan de Urbina, Cadiz, March 24; opinion of Don Pablo Fernandez de Contreras, Puerto de Santa Maria (Cadiz), March 23; opinion of Conde de Villaumbrosa, Sevilla, March 28. (end page 138)
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tion for Jamaica. It was obvious that without delay, and some danger, the English could not be dislodged. There were some who considered that, to eject them, there would be necessary such an expedition as Spain was at the moment in no position to undertake. In the end, the armada sailed with its convoyed merchantmen, unembarrassed by any engagement whatsoever with respect to Jamaica.
Surprised at its appearance in American waters, for they had Cromwell’s assurance that no armada would clear, the English hurried 1 out from Cagway in hopes to capture a treasure ship, as they were taking what coastwise traffic they encountered. They inspected those great “galleons of the guard” and as hurriedly returned to their port. There, contrary to their enemy’s expectations, since news of Cromwell’s death had reached the Indies, they began to “dig themselves in” with characteristic determination.
It is not too much to say that the council held at Puerto de Santa Maria on March 22, 1658, decided the future of Jamaica. In American waters the Spanish armada was always formidable. Had it been “embarrassed” with the mission of attacking the English at Cagway in 1658 there can be little doubt that the Spanish would have carried the day.
The wisdom of the policy which, to the domination of Jamaica, preferred the immediate delivery even of three years’ “plate” from Peru plus one year’s profit from Mexico must be judged in the light of European, rather than American history. The relative 2 importance of
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, deposition, Juan de Figueredo y Fuertu, Santiago de Cuba, January 18, 1659.
2 The council for Indies was not reconciled to his majesty’s decision not to hamper the armada with “any sort of an engagement with respect to Jamaica.” “The council cannot refrain from calling your majesty’s royal consideration to the great importance of the island of Jamaica and to the imperative necessity of recovering it, no matter what the effort entailed; for if the English hold Jamaica, in addition to the risk and prime danger which menaces religion (and religion invariably holds first (end page 139)
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these alternatives does not appear to the student who confines his consideration to the Jamaican enterprise alone.
Meanwhile, having failed to accomplish the one necessary thing, i.e., to divert the armada to Jamaica, the councils for Indies and for war in Indies busied themselves in a multitude of fruitless activities. 1 Don Pedro de Bayona Villanueva was removed from the governorship of Santiago de Cuba and its district. Don Pedro de Morales succeeded him, with special instructions to co-operate with Ysassi. 2 Captain don Juan de los Reyes was imprisoned 3 in Cadiz. Captain don Juan de Tobar was commissioned sargento mayor for Jamaica with attributes of a military governor. 4 Yet he was to recognise Ysassi as his superior! Their equivocal relation to each other and to the new governor at Santiago was pregnant with further trouble. From Spain more troops – 100 foot – were sent. Arms and necessary equipment could not be provided in Andalucia. Governors adjacent to Jamaica were instructed to furnish subsistence as they might be able; none responded but
place in the royal, Christian, merciful breast of your majesty), all the neighboring islands are wholly exposed and endangered, as are also the coastal provinces of Tierra Firme and Mexico, matters which must be regarded not as remote future contingencies which will probably never present themselves, but as imminent menaces, from which prudence must anticipate immediate loss – menaces which augment every day that the enemy’s forces stricke deeper root in that island while we leisurely let time pass without applying any remedy. This remedy, through God’s mercy, is to be the strength of the armada, and therefore the council with the greatest reverence and efficacy possible, entreats your majesty effectively to order that strength exerted between the ending of this year and the beginning of 1659.” – Thw council fo Indies to his majesty, Madrid, April 12, 1658, in A. de I., 54-3-29. These pleas were vain.
1 Resultant cedulas will be found in A. de I., 79-4-6, ff. 75 reverse and forward.
2 Memorandum of the decree removing Bayona Villanueva is preserved in 54-3-29; see also A. de I., 79-4-6, f. 84, cedula of April 21, 1658, to Morales.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, very numerous papers in his case; 79-4-6, ff. 102 reverse, 104 reverse, 105, 105 reverse, 106, etc.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, the council for war in Indies to his majesty, Madrid, March 12, 1658; the council for Indies to his majesty, of same date; id. to id., May 7; 79-4-6, f. 75, cedula to Ysassi, advising him. (end page 140)
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the Duke de Alburquerque, again charged 1 with bringing the Jamaican muddle to a triumphant issue.
The Mexican fleet’s guard of two galleons dropped Governor Morales and Sargento Mayor don Juan de Tobar with his company at Santiago de Cuba in July, 1658, precisely as news reached that city of the defeat D’oyley had inflicted upon the Mexican tercio at Rio Nuevo in late June. After he had talked with survivors of that disaster, whom Ysassi had shipped back to Cuba in accordance with the resolutions of the council of war held at Cayaus, the new sargento mayor reported to Spain that under no circumstances did he consider it advisable for him and his infantry to cross to Jamaica. He informed Ysassi of his appointment and presence, solicited promotion of the crown, and sat down in Santiago to await further orders. 2
In Jamaica, Ysassi necessarily confined himself to obtaining what intelligence he could of the enemies intentions. He transmitted 3 alarming news of English designs on the towns of the northern coast of South America, upon Santiago, and of the enemy’s projects to establish himself in Florida. 4 He supplied details of the fortifications at Cagway and of the general building going on there. The town was growing.
Meanwhile, in Mexico, the Duke de Alburquerque, encouraged by a pretty picture 5 furnished him of the tercio’s
1 A. de I., 79-4-6, f. 75 reverse, cedula, April 21, 1658.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, Tobar to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, July 25, 1658.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to the crown, Jamaica, August 16, 1658; to Morales, January 11, 1659.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, Don Juan de Salamanca to the crown, Havana, November 1, 1658.
5 This coloured sketch is indeed pretty – done in blues, greens and gold. With so charming a work of art laid before him, the viceroy could foresee only “credit and reputation” for his Mexican tercio. The messenger who brought the duke this map left Rio Nuevo at the end of May aboard the three transports which Ysassi forced to clear while the English were off the port, so that here we have a contemporary representation of these three vessels and of the English who attacked and were driven off. Preserved in A. de I., map portfolio (West Indies). (end page 141)
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fort at Rio Nuevo, rejoiced 1 in the happy arrival of those troops – rejoicing that was ill-timed indeed, since a month previous D’oyley had so utterly routed them. The duke sent more money, arms and powder 2 ; and when he heard of the tercio’s withdrawal from Jamaica he ordered 3 it, the sargento mayor, his company – officers and men – to get themselves back into that island at once. They made haste to recross in the summer of 1659. Regulars, territorials – red, white and black – their return raised the Spanish strength in Jamaica to about 600 men, as that year drew to its end. 4
The Spanish camp was now established some little distance inland from the north coast. Mismanagement, dissatisfaction and want prevailed, despite the fact that Governor Morales sent subsistence (of a sort) with creditable regularity. The malcontents asserted that nothing was attempted against the enemy from this bush; yet D’oyley presently lamented that his own not enviable condition encouraged the blacks to do him at this time more than usual damage. 5 The English realized 6 that immigration was still discouraged by the fact that they could not make the country safe for agriculturists.
Protests against the futility of their situation and the misery of it, reached the Spanish crown in communications from persons who purported to represent the tercio’s officers and the territorials. 7 It is probable there was
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, the Duke de Alburquerque to the crown, Mexico, July 29, 1658.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, the Duke de Alburquerque to the crown, Mexico, July 29, 1658.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Morales to the Duke de Alburquerque, Santiago de Cuba, August 29, 1659; the duke to the crown, Mexico, October 29, 1659.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, Morales to the Duke de Alburquerque, Santiago de Cuba, August 29, 1659.
5 D’oyley to Commissioners of the Admiralty, Jamaica, February 1, 1660, in Calendar State Papers, Addenda, p. 133, No. 332.
6 Dalyson to Blackborne, Port Cagway, Jamaica, January 31, 1660, in Calendar State Papers, Addenda, p. 132, No. 331.
7 A. de I., 54-3-29, Jamaicans to the crown, from the bush, September 16, 1659 (four signatures only); captains of the Mexican tercio to the crown, Jamaica, November 3, 1659.
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discord between Ysassi and his “natives,” and Tobar and his regulars. The governors at Santiago and Havana continued to insist 1 that no means available in the Indies would suffice to drive the English home. They declared that Ysassi’s policy of guerilla warfare was discreditable to his majesty’s arms, as well as useless – if the armada was not to be employed against the enemy (and it was not), then it were better to withdraw from Jamaica altogether. 2 Only the hardy governor of that island, repeating that he had proffered his life to the king, declined to consider retreat. 3 Naked and hungry in the bush, he upheld his immediate following and the negroes, with promises of that king’s certain gratitude. In immediate expression of it he wanted money and clothing. In vain, however, the Duke de Alburquerque ordered money be sent t him; equally in vain did Ysassi ask that some part of the funds the viceroy furnished be expended upon clothes he had promised the blacks. 4
February of 1660 found Ysassi, his territorials, Sargento Mayor don Juan de Tobar and the regulars, encamped in the immediate vicinity of Las Chorreras. Here, on the 22nd of that month, the governor received alarming intelligence that Englishmen accompanied by negroes of one of the three stockades which former slaves of the island inhabited, had attacked another of these pallisaded settlements. Investigation confirmed this report. Colonel Tyson and Juan Lubolo, who was Captain or Governor Juan
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Bayona Villanueva to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, November 18, 1658; Morales to Leguia, Santiago de Cuba, March 20, 1659; Salamanca to the crown, Havana, September 30, 1659; etc., etc.
2 The Spanish considered sounding the English with an offer to pay them to abandon Jamaica. See A. de I., 54-3-29, Salamanco to the crown, Havana, March 18, 1659; Leyba Ysassi’s deposition, Madrid, July 12, 1659, 10th question.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to the crown, Jamaica, August 16, 1658; id. To to Morales, Jamaica, January 11, 1659.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, Morales to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, November 6, 1659; Ysassi to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, June 2 (August 10), 1660; id. To his brother, Santiago de Cuba, January 8, 1661. (end page 143)
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Bolas to the English, had destroyed the stockade in question. 1
About a month previous this negroe and his following, discouraged by Ysassi’s inability to relieve their direst necessities, had approached the enemy with proffers of peace so unexpected they seemed miraculous. 2 These blacks gave hostages, admitted the English to their own stockade, and betrayed the location of others. In four years D’oyley had been unable to learn where these secret strongholds were. And finally, Lubolo (Bolas) led Colonel Tyson and his men against Ysassi himself in a new camp to which the governor had at once removed on learning of the negroes’ defection.
Despite his appreciation of the obvious and imminent danger which this defection constituted, Ysassi’s military precautions were inadequate, for in his new camp Tyson and the negroes surprised 3 him on February 26. The Spanish loss was heavy. Don Juan de Tobar was among the killed. The enemy took a supply of casaba which was all the food Ysassi had. The governor and about 175 other persons survived, of whom perhaps 100 were effectives. Some saved their arms and the English did not discover the cached munitions.
After this defeat, Tyson left letters 4 for Ysassi, apparently attached to trees on the scene of the rout, in which he offered the Spaniards quarter and transportation out of the island. Even before he received this proffer Ysassi himself had written 5 to the English, asking terms – so quickly had the desertion of his blacks reduced this man.
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, certificate, council of war held at Las Chorreras, February 22, 1660.
2 Burrough to Blackborne, Port Cagway, February 22, 1660, in Calendar State Papers, Addenda, p. 134, No. 334; id. to id., Jamaica, April 10, 1660. ibid., p. 134. No. 335. Cf. Long, p. 108 et seq.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, Morales to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, May 30, 1660; Ysassi to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, June 6 (August 10), 1660.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, Tyson to Ysassi (translation), Las Chorreras, February 27, 1660.
5 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to D’oyley, Jamaica, March 24, 1660. (end page 144)
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with whom, despite Cromwell’s urging and their own best efforts, the invaders had not hitherto been able to reach an understanding.
Ysassi reassembled his men and moved eastward, keeping close to the sea. 1 He was within the region where he might hope to continue to receive the relief in subsistence which was now being sent him with considerable regularity from Santiago. He had reason to believe a consignment to be due, and one week to a day after his defeat at Las Chorreras the relief appeared. The vessel coasted the shore on which the Spaniards waited. The English had sent out a small launch, and it pursued the Spanish craft. This paid no attention to the prearranged signals Ysassi now made, which should have brought it immediately to land. Instead, running foolishly, it entered Chorrera port and fell into the hands of the English, waiting there for the very purpose.
Inasmuch as this was the third and last small vessel Governor Morales possessed in which to send subsistence to Jamaica, Ysassi realized that his situation was desperate. Tyson, evidently as well aware of that fact, returned to Cagway. Thither Ysassi’s emissary, Captain de la Mora, followed him, requesting an opportunity to capitulate. 2
In the interim two Englishmen had approached the negroes of Los Bermejales stockade with offers of terms. Evidently these blacks were still loyal to Ysassi, for one at least of these emissaries was killed under circumstances the English considered to constitute treachery. 3 Therefore Captain de la Mora was sent back to Ysassi with a demand for reparation. Ysassi was as unable as he was unwilling 4 to furnish it. Again Captain de la Mora traveled to
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, June 6 (August 10), 1660.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, D’oyley to Ysassi (translation), Cagway, March, 1660.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, the council for Indies to his majesty, Madrid, March 13, 1660.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, minutes of council of war held in Jamaica, March 24, 1660.
TRANS. 4th S. – VOL. XIII. (end page 145)
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Cagway, now with a written statement 1 of the terms of capitulation Ysassi desired. Under these, the English would have furnished him and all his following with food and transportation for an honourable withdrawal to Cuba. Presumably D’oyley did not think it necessary, now, to grant them any terms at all.
In any event, while negotiations were permitted to drag along or discontinue, Ysassi and his party, unmolested on the northern coast, starved in the bush while they waited in vain for further assistance from Cuba. Though Governor Morales sent vessels to look for them, these returned to report that not a sign of the governor or his following was to be seen in their familiar haunts. Since no relief reached him during two months after his final defeat, in late April Ysassi proceeded to build two canoes and in one of them with all of his men whom these not too commodious craft could carry, on May 3, 1660, he departed 2 from Jamaica where through four long years he had maintained a foothold for Spain, as his catholic majesty had commanded him to do.
Arrived safely in Santiago de Cuba at the end of that month, there Ysassi received the welcome usually accorded those who fail, no matter how creditably. He became involved in recriminations against Governor Morales and his communications were ungraciously dismissed when they reached Spain.
Diplomatic negotiations had effected a cessation of hostilities with England. The colonists of both powers were duly informed of that fact. 3 So, as some of his councilors had foreseen 4 that he might be, his majesty of
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Ysassi to D’oyley, Jamaica, March 24, 1660, and its enclosure.
2 A. de I., 54-3-29, certificate, drawn up in Jamaica, May 3, 1660, setting forth Ysassi’s reasons for abandoning the island.
3 A. de I., 54-3-29, the council for Indies to his majesty, Madrid, August 13, 1660; id. to id., September 6, 1660.
4 A. de I., 54-3-29, Conde de Villaumbrosa to the crown, Seville, March 28, 1658. (end page 146)
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Spain was relieved of the necessity of pondering further the problem of Jamaica.
It had become an English colony. For many days now, its settlers had been living on crops raised by their own labour. 1 Appropriately, Colonel D’oyley had been commissioned its first English governor. 2 In April, 1660 (while Ysassi worked on his canoes!), from Cagway the English would write 3 : “God hath blessed our design. . .” 4
1 A. de I., 54-3-29, Morales to the crown, Santiago de Cuba, May 30, 1660.
2 February 8, 1660.
3 Dalyson to Blackborne, Cagway, April 11, 1660, in Calendar State Papers, p. 135, No. 337.
4 The author of this Paper has informed the Council that 116 of the most important documents mentioned in note 1 on pp. 117-118 of this volume have been translated by her into English, with an introductory study and explanatory notes. These transcripts have been temporarily deposited in the Library of the Society for the assistance of any Fellows who may wish for further particulars of any incidents mentioned in this Paper. It is also to be hoped that this valuable collection of materials for the history of the Spanish Main may by some means or other be made permanently available for the information of English-speaking students of the period by means of publication in a suitable form.
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