Black Tudors: John Anthony’s Story
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Black Tudors: The Untold Story
“no promontory, town or haven, in Christendom, is so placed by nature and situation, both to gratify friends, and annoy enemies, as this town of Dover’. Its harbour, well-fortified against those enemies, was always busy with travellers and merchants.”
The Cliffs of Dover, Wenceslaus Hollar 1607-77, © Public Domain
“the most uncivil and barbarous seamen…by constant severity…(he) kept them all in a short time in so good obedience, and conformity… that (they) never had any outrageous offence, but had them all aboard my ships in as good civility and order”
The Silver Falcon was granted a warrant to travel to Virginia on 15 February 1619 by Lord Zouche, setting sail from Dover on 2 March. There were twenty-five men on board, including John Anthony. Early English Settlers in the Virginia Colony What were conditions like in the colony of Virginia in 1619, and what might John Anthony have seen there? The Virginia colony had been set up just 12 years earlier in 1607 when Jamestown was founded. Living conditions for settlers were dangerous and precarious. Many of the first settlers in Virginia were from the gentry and skilled craftsman classes They were often completely unprepared for the hard labour required to plant and harvest corn. Periods of famine and starvation were common. During what became known as the ‘Starving Time’ in the winter of 1609–10, it’s thought that up to three quarters of the early settlers died of starvation or related diseases. It was claimed that those who survived resorted to eating snakes, rats and dogs. As well as hunger, there were constant threats of disease such as dysentery and malaria. Conclusion of the Voyage In the end the Silver Falcon never reached Virginia, after an exchange of goods for 20,000 lb weight of tobacco with a West Indies Frigate near Bermuda. There were later accusations that the exchange of goods amounted to theft rather than trade.“discover and trade with the savages for furs” and to “fish upon the coast of Canada, and carry the said fish being salted into Virginia”
Vlissingen or Flushing in the Netherlands where the Silver Falcon docked in 1619 © Public Domain The Silver Falcon then returned towards England, but docked unexpectedly at Flushing in the Netherlands, a port controlling access to Antwerp. This raised the suspicion that the Silver Falcon was attempting to evade accusations of piracy and sell pirated goods with the unplanned stop in Flushing. The traders involved clearly hoped to sell tobacco to Amsterdam merchants for a good profit. Lord Zouche and other backers were displeased. They intercepted the ship and confiscated a large proportion of the tobacco. The Amsterdam merchants pulled out and the venture collapsed amidst accusations of piracy, with the tobacco left to rot. The Dispute and John Anthony’s wages Like several of the other stories we have seen, it all ended in a dispute. However the unfortunate case of the voyage of the Silver Falcon has provided us with vivid evidence of the story of John Anthony. Due to the disagreements, John Anthony’s wages were severely delayed and he was forced to petition Lord Zouche for payment. Like the records of John Blanke, these documents provide evidence that John Anthony was a skilled waged free sailor earning a living just like others working on board the Silver Falcon. You’ll have an opportunity to look at the petition records yourself in the final step of this activity What Happened Next? John Anthony disappears from the records after the court case and we don’t know exactly what happened to him. But there are some intriguing references to a John Anthony in the Dover records. Records in Dover provide evidence of the marriage and children of one John Anthony, but without any further clues which would allow us to identify him. And there is one tantalising record from Lisbon. A ‘John Anthony of the town and port of Dover in the county of Kent, shipwright’, who had a wife called Elizabeth and a son called Richard, made his will in Lisbon in 1650, having sailed on voyages to Bahia, Brazil, and Luna, northern Italy. But none of the records mention ethnicity, so we cannot be sure that this was the same man who went to sea on board the Silver Falcon.
Black Tudors: The Untold Story
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