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This webpage reproduces an article in
Hutchings' California magazine
No. 39 (Sept. 1859), pp116‑122
and No. 40 (Oct. 1859), pp161‑167

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

 p116  Memorials of Juan de Fucaa
Discoverer of Oregon


by Alex. S. Taylor


The character and veracity of this great navigator, after whom the straits that separate the American continent from Vancouver's Island is called, has been one of the most contested questions in the history of maritime discovery. The fact of there have even lived such a man as Juan de Fuca, has been denied and affirmed over and over again for two hundred and sixty-eight years, without writers or governments having ever seemed to have taken the small trouble to endeavor to verify the plain record, in the country where direct reference was made by the first chronicler of his meritorious services had to Spain and to mankind. Moreover, that chronicler was a highly respectable English consul, and evidently a capable, intelligent and educated man.

It is not a little singular that so many of the first discoverers of the California countries should have had such unfortunate ends. Cortez was always in hot water and disputes, and died, as historians say, of broken hopes and spirits, in Spain, in 1547. Of Francisco de Ulloa, an officer of Cortez, who first completely explored the Gulf of California, and who discovered the ocean coast of Lower California as far up as Cedros Island in 1540, nothing certain is known whether he died at sea or returned to Mexico, or what became of him. Of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who discovered and coasted the shores of Alta California from the Coronados Islands to Cape Mendocino, (died of fatigue and exhaustion, as some say, at the Island of San Bernardino, or Juan Rodriguez, called now San Miguel, in February, 1543; or, others affirm, returned to Mexico), nothing certain is known of his death or of his family. Sir Francis Drake, who discovered the Puente de los Reyes, or New Albion country, in 1579, died of fatigue, etc., and was buried at sea, while attacking one of the towns of the Spanish Main, in the wars of the Great Armada, about 1590. Sebastian Viscaino, who explored and mapped the coasts of California, (as some suppose to the Columbia River), in 1602, died in the city of Mexico of disappointment and long waiting on Viceroys, about 1610. This list might be greatly added to, from 1610 to 1859 — particularly as touching our old California pioneers, mountaineers, sailors and first emigrants. They all, who have died, seemed to have died in the prime of life — the prize they grasped turned to Dead Sea Applies. Now, they can neither hear our praises, nor heed (of latter) our curses for the fine lands and monies some of them acquired with years of toil, danger and strife.

The following memorials of the old Greek pilot, Juan de Fuca, for the first time in American history, verify and identify beyond a doubt, the life and actions, and the final death of the ancient navigator in his own native island of Cephalonia, where his descendants, as will be seen, still live as sailors.

To make the whole matter understandable by California and Pacific Anglo-Saxon readers, the account of Juan de Fuca, taken down by his friend Locke, and published in Purchas' Pilgrims a few years after de Fuca's death, is herewith appended, together with other matter connected with the countries of the Straits which bear his now well known name, (all of which are but little known to general readers), and are brought down in a condensed, magazine form, to the year 1859.

The English have had, during the last few years, very warm discussions with their protected Greek islands of the United States of the Ionian Republic. The feeling seems very pungent against John Bull, particularly at Cephalonia,  p117 the finest island of the group. Mr. B.,b in the latter part of 1858, sent one of his most celebrated scholars and statesmen to enquire into the whys and wherefores of the growls of these modern children of Homer; of whose progenitors said scholar had lately published a critical and famous book. Now as Mr. B. has much wild land on the Straits of Juan Fuca, and many of the Foccas, descendants of John, still live on Cephalonia and "follow the seas," could not the rich, mighty, pussy, plethoric old man, in conjunction with the cute U. S. Jonathan, Esq., give these Greek sailors, in return for their great-grandfather's sixty thousand gold ducats and his discoveries, lands to make farms, build vessels and sail on the north Pacific waters and build up probably again their impoverished families.

Cephalonia, 7th September, '53.

Mr. Alex. S. Taylor,
Monterey, California,

Sir: Yours of the 15th May, I have with pleasure received, the contents of which I have with much care and attention perused. I will not fail to do anything in my power to make the necessary inquiries about the Greek pilot, Juan de Fuca, and to remit them to you as soon as possible. I have already several documents in my hand regarding this individual, which I am translating into English for you. His autography and portrait it is impossible to find; but I will probably send you a landscape of the village of Elio at Cephalonia, where he and his ancestors lived.

Several writers, as Eyriès, Gaspari, Hume, Camas, Fleurieu, Purchas, Ross, and others, I think mention his name. Mr. Vancouver also was ordered by the English Admiralty to examine the straits discovered by Fuca, where he arrived on the 29th April, 1792. (See Gaspari's Geography, page 112, year 1790.)

A genealogical catalogue of Fuca's family still exists here, which I have seen and examined. There are hundreds of Foccas still existing in Cephalonia, all descending, as I have observed in the genealogical catalogue, from John's family. Every information relative to this individual, I shall willingly remit you as soon as I will be able to select them; but about Michael Locke, the English consul at Aleppo, in 1596, I am sorry to say I can do nothing.

J. de Fuca died, I presume, before entering Queen Elizabeth's service. All these informations you will have by next mail.

Sir, I shall always feel very happy and highly honored to do anything for the welfare of a government and of a nation which is evidently to exercise so great an influence for good on the destinies of Europe and of the world.

I remain, sir, with due respect,

Your obedient servant,

A. S. York

Argostoli, 6th February, 1854.

My dear Sir: I hasten to answer your enquiries about De Focca, which I am sorry do not answer my expectations to meet your wishes.

There are in this place many families bearing the surname, but those who claim themselves as descendants of the bold navigator, live at present in the village of Mavrata, district Eleo. I possess lands there and have been able to ascertain certain traditional facts.

Three old men of the advanced age of eighty years, and upwards, assured me of having heard from their fathers and grand-fathers that the descendants of De Focca are the various families bearing this name and residing at the village of Mavrata.

The total want of regular church registers in the country at that epoch, hinders me from ascertaining the birth, baptism and death of De Focca.

With the highest consideration, I remain, my dear sir,

Yours, very truly,

(Signed,)   G. Count Metaxa

I certify that this is a true and faithful copy of the original.

A. S. Y.

U. S. Consul

Zante, 10th October, 1854.

Alexius in Cristo Rex et Imperator Grecorum Comneni.c

Per infinita et immensa misericordia d' Iddio et Salvator nr. Gesù Cristo, della santissima Vergine sua Madre et dello Spirito Santo vivifante.º Jo potente sopra la terra Re di tutto l'Universo Mondo dell'  p118 inclita Constantinopoli dominante di tutte le cittá da Dio custodita, et difessa, padre et capo delli Artodoxi Cristiani, che onorarono et credono la veneranda et consostantiale Trinitá che confessano un Dio Trino, che venerano i Dogmi del Santo et Ecumenico pmo. Consiglio convocato, et Composto p. opera degli santissimi et amantissimi di Gesù Cristo nostri Re et conjugali che Apostoli Costantino et Elena et delli rimanenti santi consilij Alexio Comeninoº cognominato Porfirogenito Re di Costantinopoli, Nuova Roma et leggitimo suo successore dei beati Re di Giordano di tutto Egito, Arabia, Frigia, Asia, Mesopotamia, et di là del Mar Eusino, insino alle Isole di Bertognia, di Europa, di tutta l' Armenia, Cicilia, Grecia, e di tutto l' Universo dall' Oriente insino all' Occidente, et dal Merigio insino al Settentrione.

Fautori del santissimo sepolcro di Gesù Cristo nostro Salvator della veneranda et vivifica Croce delli rimanenti santi luoghi di Gerusaleme, et diffensor dei fedeli et Ortodoxi Cristiani et propegnitor contro li aversary della nostra santa et Ortodoxa Fede.

Scrivo a voi popoli Candiotti habbitanti nella ns. Isola di Candia, che come stolti, et sfortunati, che di propria vostra volontá vi costituite, come che i vs. progenitori habitanti nella medma Isola si fecero del ns. Imperio li quali furono distrutti dal potente Capno Belissario spedito dal ns. Precesantissimoº Re Basilio Porfirogenito et poi dal fortissimo et Costantissimo nella guerra darda il Thobosinoº Patricio et vicegerente del ns. Ortodoxo Re Romano Argiropulo per causa della prevaricazne et ribellion loro come che voi facciate al presente disubbidendo al ns. Imperio, dominando detta ns. Isola di Candia non dando i tributi, et gabelle Reggie, et che non accetaste li rapresentanti da me mandati, anzi con gran vituperio et disprezzo et li mandaste indietro. Per ció col consiglio sinodico delli santissimi ns. Patriarchi et Arcivescovi con parer di tutto l' Ordine Senatorio si risolve la total distruzione di voi che abitate nell' Isola di Candia d' uomini Donne et figli; et della sostanza vs. Spediamo perció una piccola parte delle potenze del ns. Imperio cioé Navigli Galere cento, et principalmente la Gallera Reggia nella quale mando p. Re et vice mio Gerente come la ns. propria miaº persona l' amatissimo ns. figlio Isachio assieme con li presenti dodici nobili senatori del ns. Imperio in forma risoluta et con determinato estermenio di guerra perché un tal sorte di forza la qual ne li progenitori vs. ne voi la videro né p. voi l' udiste et vinceranno tutti voi, con le forze ns. et finché siete puniti con morti crudeli et totale distruzione, essendo voi medmi la causa p. l' inconsideratezza della vs. ribellione. Di tutte queste cose v' amonisco imperoché se vi umilierete subito che giungerano ad ogni estremitá dell' Isola avrete qualche picol perdono ma se farete altrimente sarete distrutti affatto con sentenza del presente che é innalterabile. Nell' Anno 1182.

In Cristo Re il mi amatissmo figlio et nostro Ve. gerente Isachio et Alessio di lui Padre.

Li Benevaliº nostri Nobili

Soani Focea,d
Leon Massuro,
Thoma Arcole
Eustathio Cartuzzi,
Marino Scordilli,
Filippo Gavalá,
Demetrio Vlasto il Coregite,
Matteo Costato,
Constantno Voraea,
Andrea Melissino,
Luceaº Littino,
Nicosoro Agrirepuloº detto Arginostifaniti.

In tutti No. 12.

I certify that this is a true and faithful copy of the original, found among the family papers of George Focca, from Argostoli, Cephalonia.

A. S. York,

U. S. Consul

Translation of the above from the Italian

Alexisº by the Grace of God King and Emperor of the Greeks Comneni.

By the infinite and endless mercy of God, our Savior Jesus Christ, of the holy Virgin, his Mother, and of the Holy Ghost. I, powerful on the earth, King of the whole universal world of the renowned Constantinople, Dominator of all the cities protected and defended by God, Father and Head of the orthodox christians, who honor and believe the venerable and consubstantial Trinity, who confess one God in three, who venerate the Dogmas of the holy and (aecumenical) universal first Council convoked and composed, by the most holy and most loving of Jesus Christ our Kings and (conjugali che?) Apostles Constantine and Helen and of the other holy councils Alexis Comeninoº (cognominato) surnamed Porfirogenito King of Constantinople New Rome and his legitimate successor of the blessed Kings of Jordan, of all Egypt, Arabia, Frigia,º Asia, Mesopotamia, and beyond the Euxine sea to the Islands of Betogniaº (Britain?), of all Europe, of all Armenia, Cicilia,e Greece and of the whole Universe of the Orient to the West and from the North to the South.

 p119  Followers of the most holy sepulcher of Jesus Christ our Savior, of the venerable and vivifying cross of the other holy places of Jerusalem, protector of the faithful and orthodox christians and propaguerº against the adversaries of our holy and orthodox Faith.

I write to you people of Candia, inhabitants of our Island of Candia, who foolish and unfortunate, with your own free will constitute yourselves as your forefathers inhabiting the same Island of our Empire did who were destroyed by the valiant Captain Belisariumf sent by our most holy Predecessor King Basilio Porfirogenito and since by the powerful and constant in the (darda) war Thobosino Patricio and vicegerent of our orthodox King Romano Argiropulo in consequence of their prevarication and rebellion even as you are doing now, thereby disobeying our Empire, governing said our Island of Candia, not paying the royal tributes and taxes, and not accepting the representatives (deputies) sent by me, on the contrary sending them back with dishonor and contempt. Therefore with the synodical advice of our most holy Patriarchs and Archbishops with the opinion of the whole Senatorial body the total destruction is resolved of you who dwell on the Island of Candia, of men, women and children and of your property. For that purpose we send a small portion of our imperial strength, viz.: One hundred war boats (galleys) and more especially the royal galley in which I send as King and my vicegerent, as my own person, our most beloved son Isaac together with the present twelve noble Senators of our Empire, with firm resolve and with a predetermined design of a war of extermination with such power that neither your forefathers nor you yourselves ever saw or heard of and they shall vanquish you all with our strength and that you may be punished with cruel death and with total destruction, you yourselves being the cause of it by the imprudence of your rebellion. Of all these things I admonish you for if you shall humble yourselves as soon as they shall arrive at each extremity of the Island, you shall obtain some pardon but if you shall act differently you will be destroyed entirely by the present sentence which is immutable. In the year 1182.

In Christ King, my most beloved son our vicegerent Isaac and Alexis his father.

Our good Noblemen

Soani Focca,
Leon Massuro,
Thoma Arcole,
Eustathio Cartuzzi,
Marino Scordilli,
Fillippoº Gavala,º
Demetrio Vlasteº, (il Coregite),
Matteo Costato,
Luccaº Littino,
Costantno Voraea,
Andrea Melissino,
Nicosoro Agrirepuloº detto Arginostifaniti.

In all No. 12.

Account of John Focca, partly from manuscripts and from Rev. A. Masarachi's Biographia Cephalonia, Venice, 1843.1

John Focca, the navigator, was born in the island of Cephalonia about the beginning of the 16th century, towards the close of which he distinguished himself for his daring voyages in the Pacific ocean, as well as for his discoveries on the northwestern coast of America.

The ancestors of this intrepid navigator were among the number of those who, to preserve their liberty, fled from Constantinople, and south refuge, some in the Peloponesus, and others in the Ionian Islands.

The brothers, Emanuel and Andronicus Focca, were among those who proceeded to the Peloponesus, whereat Andronicus remained and became the progenitor of the family Focca in that place; whilst Emanuel passed over to Cephalonia about the middle of the 15th century, and settled there in a delightful spot called Eleon. Thus originated the present numerous families of Focca in Cephalonia, from which, at different periods, emanated learned and skillful men, lawyers and intrepid sailors.

According to the genealogical catalogue of his family, (which is, and I have seen, in the possession of Mr. John Focca, of Angelo), the after this Emanuel had four sons, Stephen, Emanuel, Hector, and James the father of John Focca, the subject of this narrative, and from his residing at Valeriano, in the neighborhood of Eleon, he was surnamed Focca Valerianato, probably to distinguish him from the other Foccas residing at the town of Argostoli.

The extension of the Spanish dominion on the neighboring shores of Italy, and the consequent commercial intercourse carried on with the Ionian Islands by Spanish vessels, offered opportunities to  p120 the Ionian sailors to enter the Spanish ships as part of their crew. Focca, urged by the same motive, sailed for Spain, and thence in Spanish ships for the Ocean, where, in a short time, he acquired such a perfect knowledge of navigation, and commanded his ship sailing on the those boisterous seas with such skill, that he attracted the notice of the King of Spain, who shortly after appointed him Pilot to his fleet at the West Indies, which trust he held for upwards of forty years.

In order to condense this narrative into as small a space as possible, we shall omit much of the fortunes and misfortunes of Focca — which are so intimately united with the historical part of the Spanish conquest in America — and state nothing but that which is strictly essential to be known: the origin, life and death of this navigator.

The discovery of the Straits of Anian, or rather the communication of the two Oceans, and the exploration of the northwestern parts of America, till then unknown, was offered by the Viceroy of Mexico to Focca. The unsuccess and shipwrecks attending all those who had previously undertaken voyages to those parts; the imperfect mode of navigation, owing to the little progress that had been made in nautical instruments and a astronomy at that time, and, in short, the want of that assistance which is absolutely necessary to the navigator on those seas, rendered the accomplishment of this daring voyage very dangerous and uncertain.

Notwithstanding all these difficulties, Focca courageously accepted the offer, and taking three ships, equipped for the occasion by the Viceroy, sailed for the great Pacific Ocean. He intrepidly faced all the dangers and difficulties which he met with, but the incapacity of the Captains under his command, and the little courage of his crew, gave him great anxiety. Their ignorance of the places towards which they were sailing, and the fear of being taken to regions from which former explorers never returned, intimidated them to such a degree that their excited fancies represented the undertaking in the worst light — fraught with all imaginary dangers. The daring character of Focca, and his nautical skill, encouraged them for a time, but at last they mutinied, and he was obliged to return to Mexico, but with the fixed intention of attempting the voyage once more.

Not discouraged by these disasters, he after a while prepared a second expedition of two vessels, which he manned with a more efficient and experienced crew, and again set sail. He left the harbor of Acapulco in 1592, and intrepidly continued his voyage to the 47th and 48th degree north latitude, and there observed that the land extended towards the northeast and presented a wide opening, which he entered. He sailed up this unknown strait for upwards of twenty days, and observed that the land in some parts diverged from the northeast towards the northwest, that the strait from its mouth became gradually wider, and studded at intervals with small islands.

He landed at different parts, and noticed that the natives, who were very numerous, were all dressed with skins of beasts, and everywhere the soil appeared to him as fertile as that of New Spain, and rich with gold, silver and pearls; he had also observed that this strait, in all its length, was wide enough for vessels to beat through, and the entrance by which he had come appeared to him from thirty to forty leagues wide. Continuing to advance, he reached the end of the strait, which led into the Atlantic. Focca would have continued his voyage across the Atlantic ocean, but he was obliged to return by the same route for two reasons: first, because he had fulfilled the object for which he was sent by the Viceroy of Mexico, that is to say, he had discovered the famous Straits of Anian, had made on it the necessary observations, and had found the communication of the two oceans by means of a passage across the continent; secondly, he was afraid of being attacked by the natives, while he was not strong enough to make the least resistance; for these two reasons he determined to retrace his course. On his homeward voyage, he observed that the cape, which extended towards the north, was very lofty, and had on its summit a very high rock, in shape resembling a pillar.

He arrived safely at Acapulco and communicated his discoveries to the Viceroy, from whom he expected to receive a reward suitable to his services. But Focca was not more fortunate, in this respect, than Columbus had been before him, to whom the Spanish court had shown such ingratitude.

Two years had elapsed, and he had not received the slightest recompense from  p121 the Viceroy, when, flattering himself that by returning to Spain, and representing to the Court his long services, the voyages he had undertaken in her behalf, and the discoveries which he had made of the communication between the two oceans, he should receive a just reward for his labors, leaving Mexico he departed for Spain; but experience taught him that the Spanish Viceroy had exactly imitated the policy of the Capital. The Colonial minister, with golden promises, kept him for a long time in Madrid without ever fulfilling any of them. Thoroughly disgusted at the ingratitude of Spain, and being now very far advanced in years, he determined to return to his native country, there to end the period of his laborious existence, and alleviate in some way the sorrows of his heart in the embraces of his family.

Deprived of his estate of money, thro' being captured by Cavendish, whilst returning from the Phillippine Islands, worn both in body and mind, neglect, ingratitude and hardships laid him low, and he died in misery a few years after his arrival at Cephalonia — another victim added to those before him and to come.

A. S. York,

Consul U. S. A.

Zante, 10th October, 1854

Mr. Alex. S. Taylor,

Monterey,

Sir: Your most esteemed favor of the 25th Nov., 1853, duly came to hand; contents of same noticed with thanks.

I am extremely obliged to you for your work on the discovery of California. This I have not yet received from Mr. Miller, the U. S. Dispatch Agent, in London, for it is too bulky to be forwarded by post. The "San Francisco Weekly Herald" I have received, for which accept my best thanks.

According to promise, I herewith enclose a synoptical sketch of J. Focca's biography, which I have extracted partly from old manuscripts and partly from a work published at Venice, in the year of our Lord 1843, by Rev. A. Macharachi,º from Cephalonia, biographer of all the eminent men of his country. Annexed you will also find a copy of a letter forwarded to me, previous to my visiting Cephalonia on this effect, by Count Metaxa, M. P., which is in perfect unison with my sentiments. Also a copy of a letter addressed by the Greek Emperor, Alexius Comneni, surnamed Porfirojenitoº to the Candiots, who, in the year 1182, revolted against his government. In this you will perceive that a certain John Focca was one of the twelve Senators then sent by the Emperor Comneni to punish the insurgents; and whose descendant, Emanuel, and progenitor to J. Focca the navigator, about the middle of the 15th century, fled from Constantinople to Cephalonia to preserve his life and liberty.

Eleon is a beautiful valley at the southwestg of the Island of Cephalonia, covered with beautiful olive groves and currant plantations, defying the burning sun and the parched earth to deprive them of their rich, soft verdure. Almost in the midst of this valley lies the neighborhood of Valeriano, the birth-place of J. Focca, where, on a little elevation, rises a very old building, commanding a fine view of the circumjacent country, as far as the eye can reach. This, as I have been informed by the inhabitants of the place, is supposed to have been the abode of J. Focca, where he, after his toilsome life, retired to enjoy the comforts of domestic peace and happiness.

Half a mile distant lies the village of Mavrata, where the descendants of J. Focca reside; the most part of whom are still pursuing the profession of their old progenitor.

According to the informations given to me by the Primate of the village, and several other authorities, it seems that the true and only descendants, in a direct line, of J. Focca, are the following:

Elia, son of quondam John,
Gerasimo, " " Battista,
Nicholi, " " Caralambo,
Nicholi, " " Constantini,
Spiridione, " " Panajotti,
Nicholi, " " Luke,
Panajotu, " " Antonio,
Luke, " " John,

(All very poor.)

I have not been able, in spite of all my endeavors, for the reason cited in Co. Metaxa's letter, to find his autograph or portrait.

About Mr. Locke, nothing more is known here but that he was an intimate to J. Focca.

This is all, my dear sir, I have been able, after many troubles and expenses, to do for you regarding this interesting  p122 subject, and I hope it will prove satisfactory.

I have the honor to be, sir,

Your most humble servant,

A. S. York,

Consul of the U. S. A.

Cefalonia, June 20th, 1855

Esteemed Sir: I have the pleasure to enclose the bill of expenses incurred on your account in Cefalonia about the business of J. Focca and paid by your order.

The total amount of this debt of yours I place in a separate account, not including it in your general one.

Always ready at your commands, I have the honor to be

Your humble servant,

(Signed,)   G. Tomopolos

Three voyages from Zante to Cefalonia, $12 00
Two carriages hired to Eleon, 4 00
Compensation to the different families Focca, for the permission to examine their private papers, 10 00
To the person who was occupied 20 days in examining the archives of Cefalonia. 15 00
Sundry other small expenses and letter postage, 4 33
$45 33

Zante, 26th July, 1855

Alex S. Taylor, Esq.,

Monterey,

My Dear Sir: Yours of the 25th November, 1854, duly came to hand. Cabriella's Voyage I have not yet received. This, I understand, still remains at London, at the hands of Mr. Miller, the U. S. Dispatch Agent. The documents forwarded to you through my brother, John York, of Charlestown, Massachusetts, I understand you have received, and hope they prove satisfactory.

Enclosed herewith you will find a copy of the account of expenses incurred by my agent at Cephalonia; for which sum, I to‑day take the liberty to draw upon you, order Messrs. P. Van Lennep & Co., at five days' sight, and I hope you will be pleased to honor my draft.

I have the honor to be, sir,

Most respectfully yours,

A. S. York,

Consul U. S.


 p161  Original account of the Voyage of the Greek Pilot, Juan de Fuca, along the northwest coast of America, in 1592. Extracted from the Pilgrims of Samuel Purchas, page 849, Vol. third, London, 1625. Vide Greenhow's California and Oregon, 4th edition, on page 408.h

"A note made by me, Michael Lock the elder, touching the strait of sea called Fretum Anian in the South Sea, through the North West passage of Meta Incognita.

"When I was at Venice in April 1596, happily arrived there an old man, about sixty years of age, called commonly Juan de Fuca, but named properly Apostolos Valerianus, of nation a Greek, born in Cephalonia, of profession a mariner and an ancient pilot of ships. This man being come lately out of Spain, arrived first at Leghorn, and went thence to Florence, where he found one John Douglas, an Englishman, a famous mariner, ready coming for Venice, to be pilot for a Venetian ship for England, in whose company they came both together to Venice. And John Douglas being acquainted with me before, he gave me knowledge of this Greek pilot, and brought him to my speech, and in long talks and conference between us, in presence of John Douglas, this Greek pilot declared in the Italian and Spanish languages, thus much in effect as followeth: — First he said that he had been in the West Indies of Spain forty years, and had sailed to and from many places thereof, in the service of the Spaniards. Also he said that he was in the Spanish ship which, in returning from the Islands Phillipinas, towards Nova Spania, was robbed and taken at the Cape California by Captain Candish [Cavendish], Englishman, whereby he lost sixty thousand ducats of his own goods. Also he said that he was pilot of three small ships which the Viceroy of Mexico sent from Mexico, armed with one hundred men, under a captain, Spaniards, to discover the Straits of Anian, along the coast of the South Sea, and to fortify in that strait, to resist the passage and proceedings of the English nation which were feared to pass through those straits into the South Sea; and by reason of a mutiny which happened among the soldiers for the misconduct of their captain, that voyage was overthrown, and the ship returned from California to Nova Spania without anything done in that voyage; and that after their return, the captain was at Mexico punished by Justice.

"Also he said that shortly after the said voyage was so ill ended, the said Viceroy of Mexico sent him out again in 1592, with a small caraval and a pinnace, armed with mariners only, to follow the said Voyage for the discovery of the straits of Annian, and the passage thereof into the Sea, which they call the North Sea, all along the coast of Nova Spania and California, and the Indies, now called North America, (all which voyage he signified to me in a great map, and a sea card of mine own, which I laid before him) until he came to the latitude of 47 degrees; and that there finding that the land tended north and northeast, with a broad inlet of sea, between forty-seven and forty-eight degrees of latitude, he entered thereinto, sailing therein more than twenty days, and finding that land trending still sometime northwest, and northeast, and north and also east and south eastward, and very much broader sea than was at the said entrance, and that he passed by divers islands in that sailing; and that at the entrance of this said strait, there is on the northwest coast thereof, a great headland or island, with an exceeding high pinnacle, or spired rock, like a pillar thereupon.

"Also, he said that he went on land in divers places, and that he saw some people on land clad in beasts' skins; and that the land is very fruitful, and rich of gold, silver, pearls, and other things, like Nova Spania. And also he said that he being entered thus far into the said strait and being come into the North Sea already, and finding the sea wide enough everywhere, and to be about thirty or forty leagues wide in the mouth of the straits where he entered, he thought he had now well discharged his office; and that not being armed to resist the force of the savage people that might happen, he therefore set sail, and returned homewards again towards Nova Spania, where he arrived at Acapulco anno 1592, hoping to be rewarded by the Viceroy for  p162 this service done in the said voyage. Also he said that, after coming to Mexico, he was greatly welcomed by the Viceroy, and had promises of great reward; but that, having sued there two years, and obtained nothing to his content, the Viceroy told him that he should be rewarded in Spain, of the King himself, very greatly, and willed him therefore to go to Spain which voyage he did perform. Also he said that when he was come into Spain, he was welcomed there at the King's Court; but, after a long suit there, also, he could not get any reward there to his content; and therefore, at length he stole away out of Spain, and came into Italy, to go home again and live among his own kindred and countrymen, he being very old. Also, he said that he thought the cause of his ill reward had of the Spaniards, to be for that they did understand very well that the English nation had now given over all their voyages for discovery of the northwest passage; wherefore they need not fear them any more to come that way into the South Sea, and therefore they needed not his services therein any more. Also he said that, understanding the noble mind of the Queen of England [Queen Elizabeth] and of her wars against the Spaniards, and hoping that her Majesty would do him justice for his goods lost by Captain Candish, he would be content to go into England, and serve her majesty in that voyage for the discovery perfectly of the northwest passage into the South Sea, if she would furnish him with only one ship of forty tons burden, and a pinnace, and that he would perform it in thirty days' time from one end to the other of the strait, and he willed me so to write to England. And, upon conference had twice with the said Greek pilot, I did write thereof, accordingly to England unto the Right honorable the old Lord treasurer Cecil, and to Sir Walter Raleigh, and to Master Richard Hakluyt, that famous cosmographer, certifying them hereof. And I prayed them to disburse one hundred pounds, to bring the said Greek pilot into England with myself, for that my own purse would not stretch so wide at that time. And I had answer that this action was well liked and greatly desired in England; but the money was not ready, and therefore this action died at that time, though the said Greek pilot perchance liveth still in his own country, in Cephalonia, towards which place he went within a fortnight after this conference had at Venice.

"And in the meantime, while I followed my own business in Venice, being in a lawsuit against the company of merchants of Turkey, to recover my pension due for being their consul at Aleppo, which they held from me wrongfully, and when I was in readiness to return to England, I thought I should be able of my own purse to take with me the said Greek pilot; and therefore I wrote unto him from Venice a letter, dated July, 1596, which is copied here under:

" 'To the magnificent Captain Juan de Fuca, pilot of the Indies, my most dear friend in Cephalonia. Most honored Sir, being about to return to England in a few months, and recollecting what passed between you and myself at Venice, respecting the Voyage to the Indies, I have thought proper to write you this letter, so that, if you have a mind to go with me, you can write me word directly how you wish to arrange. You may send me your letter by this English vessel, which is at Zante, (if you should find no better opportunity) directed to the care of Mr. Elezar Hyckman, an English merchant, St. Thomas street,i Venice. God preserve you, sir,

Your friend,

Michael Lock, of England

Venice, July 1st, 1596.'

"And I sent the said letter from Venice to Zante in the ship Cherubim; and shortly after, I sent a copy thereof in the ship Minion, and also a third copy thereof by Manea Orlando, patron de Nave Venetian. And unto my said letters he wrote me answer to Venice by one letter, which came not to my hands, and also by another letter, which came to my hands, which is copied here under:

" 'To the illustrious Michael Lock, Englishman at the house of Mr. Lazaro, English merchant, in St. Thomas street, Venice.

'Most illustrious Sir, Your letter was received by me on the 20th September, by which I am informed of what you communicate. I have a mind to comply with my promise to you, and have not only myself, but twenty men, brave men, too, whom I can carry with me; so I am waiting for an answer to another letter which I wrote you, about the money  p163 which I asked you to send me. For you know well, sir, have been I became poor in consequence of Captain Candish's having taken from me more than sixty thousand ducats, as you well know. If you will send me what I asked, I will go with you, as well as all my companions. I ask no more from your kindness, as shown by your letter. God preserve you, most illustrious Sir, for many years.

Your friend and servant,

Juan Fuca

Cephalonia, September 24th, 1596.'

"And the said letter came into my hands in Venice, the 16th day of November, 1596; but my lawsuit with the company of Turkey was not ended, by reason of Sir John Spencer's suit, made in England, and at the Queen's Court, to the company, seeking only to have his money discharged which I had attached in Venice for my said pension, and thereby my own purse was not yet ready for the Greek pilot.

"And nevertheless, hoping that my said suit would have shortly a good end, I wrote another letter to this Greek pilot from Venice, dated the 20th of November, 1596, which came not to his hands, and also another letter dated the 24th of January, 1596, [1597? — A. S. T.] which came to his hands. And thereof he wrote me answer, dated the 28th of May, 1597, which I received the first of August, 1597, by Thomas Norden an English merchant, yet living in London, wherein he promised still to go with me unto England, to perform the said Voyage for discovery of the northwest passage into the South Sea, if I would send him money for his charges, according to his former writing, without which money he said he could not go, for that as he was undone utterly when he was in the ship Santa Anna, which came from China and was robbed at California.j And yet again, afterwards, I wrote him another letter from Venice, whereunto he wrote me answer by a letter written in his Greek language, dated the 20th October, 1598, the which I have still by me, wherein he promised still to go with me into England, and perform the said voyage of discovery of the northwest passage into the South Sea by the said straits, which he calleth the Strait of Nova Spania, which he saith is but thirty days' voyage in the straits, if I will send him the money I could not yet send him, for that I had not yet recovered my pension owing me by the company of Turkey aforesaid; and so of long time I stayed any further proceedings with him in this matter.

"And yet, lastly, when I myself was at Zante, in the month of June, 1602, minding to pass from thence for England by sea, for that I had then recovered a little money from the company of Turkey, by an order of the Lords of the Privy Council of England, I wrote another letter to this Greek pilot, to Cephalonia, and requested him to come to me to Zante, and go with me into England, but I had no answer thereof from him; for that, as I heard afterward at Zante, he was then dead, or very likely to die of sickness. Whereupon I returned myself, by sea, from Zante to Venice, and from thence I went, by land, through France, into England, where I arrived at Christmas, anno 1602, safely, I thank God, after my absence from thence ten years time, with great troubles had for the Company of Turkey's business, which hath cost me a great sum of money, for which I am not yet satisfied of them."

Greenhow notes in his aforesaid work, on page 86, that Michael Locke was, for some time, English consul at Aleppo, and was an intimate friend of Richard Hakluyt, for whom he translated the Decades of Pedro Martir, [a work on the early history of America, etc., written by Columbus' friend, sometimes known in American and English books as Pedro Martyr de Anghiera. — A. S. T.] and furnished other papers published in Hakluyt's Collection of Voyages. Hakluyt was, at one time, Chaplain to the English embassy at Paris. In Greenhow will be found, also, the letters of Juan de Fuca in the original lingua Franca, as well as their translation inserted herein. Humboldt says, in his Essay on New Spain, that the Straits of Anian were so named from one of the brothers on board of Gaspar de Cortereal's vessel, in Cortereal's voyage of 1499 to Labrador.

The question of the discovery of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, is not only one of the most curious and celebrated in cosmography, commerce, and maritime  p164 discoveries, but entered, with great effect, into the political discussions on the Oregon Question between Great Britain and the United States, from 1840 to 1846, ending only on the 15th of June, 1846, at the conclusion of the treaty of Washington. It has been a vexed question in history, geography, biography, policy, lying, cheating, etc., etc., for 268 years, and won't be ended for 268 years more.

No doubt Sebastian Viscaino's expedition of 1602 was made to verify the statements of Juan de Fuca, as well as other Spanish expeditions, prior to 1600, of some of which and of subsequent voyages thereaway, we have faint printed records, while others are either lost or may be found in manuscripts in Spain, Mexico, Manilla, or, as would seem from Mr. York's notes and Masarachi's biography, are still to be found in Cephalonia.

The Straits of Juan de Fuca were specially searched for by Heceta, from Mexico, in 1775, and by Cook, from England, in 1778, without result. It was finally found and re‑discovered by Capt. Berkley, in 1787, in the ship Imperial Eagle, under the flag of the Austrian East India Company. This re‑discovery was afterwards claimed by Capt. Meares, in his voyages published in London in 1790, as made by him before Berkley. It was entered by Capt. Robert Gray, of Boston, in 1789, in the trading sloop Washington,k who sailed into it fifty miles in "an east southeast direction and returned southward, from whence, in the ship Columbia, he departed with a cargo of furs for China and exchanged for a cargo of tea, with which he entered the U. S., Boston, in 1790, having for the first time carried the flag of the United States round the world." His partner, Capt. John Kendrick, also of Boston, afterwards in the same trading sloop Washington, sailed in August of the same year of 1789, through the Straits of Juan de Fuca, in its entire length; being the first vessel (after Juan de Fuca's) which had proved the truth of the geographical facts disputed since 1593. It was afterwards surveyed by Capt. George Vancouver, in 1792, under special orders from the government of Great Britain; the survey having been made by Lieuts. Cayetano Valdez and Dionisio Galiano in conjunction with Vancouver; these officers having been sent by the government of Spain, on a voyage from Mexico in the Sutil and Mejicana, to ascertain the existence and, if found, the extent of the aforesaid Strait of the Greek pilot.

The country of the Straits of Juan de Fuca was the great field of the American sea fur traders, who drove all other competitors out, till the Hudson's Bay Company and the American Fur Company eat them up. The fur trade made the fortunes of the richest mercantile houses of Boston, Salem, New York, and other American towns, and which has produced again, in our days, vast political and commercial results. These facts will be found related more at large, and in well digested compilation and collation, in Greenhow's work, before mentioned, and in the voyages of the different fur traders.

The discussion of the Oregon Question, between the American and the British governments, from 1843 to 1846, brought the Straits of De Fuca again into prominent notice, and then it turned on the pivot of the discovery and the possession for Spain, by Spanish navigators, of the countries of the straits, and so by sale of Louisiana, under Jefferson, to the United States, and by subsequent treaties with Mexico of limits and boundaries, and also the discoveries of Gray, Ingraham, and Kendrick, as American citizens; and on the part of the English by the re‑survey of Vancouver, the hoisting of the British flag in various parts, and the claims raised by Meares, Colnett, et al., and the Hudson's Bay Company. This  p165 was finally settled by the Oregon treaty in Washington City, of 1846.

In the beginning of this discussion, Capt. Charles Wilkes arrived in the United States, in June, 1842, with his exploring squadron, which had performed the circuit of the globe. He made careful surveys and explorations, in 1841, of the Straits of Juan de Fuca — the Puget Sound, and the Columbia River country — at least, as careful as his instructions and his circumstances allowed; and much did this vilified navigator accomplish for his countrymen, too. His lawsuits were only ended about 1854.

Fremont was also in the Oregon country, in 1841, by order of the United States government, to connect his surveys with those of Wilkes in the Straits of Fuca, etc.; he also has had an agreeable time! which wrung out of him, four years ago, "My youth and prime were spent in toil and care." Neither are his lawsuits ended in 1859. Governments, all of them, seem to be queer things — intangible nonentities, "with no bodies to be crushed, and no souls for perdition."

After the golden epoch of 1848, everything corporeal and spiritual floated Californiawards, (as now, since 1848, everything physical and mental is pregnated with California,) and Juan de Fuca came to be known as a California household word. The United States Government sent coast surveyors, land surveyors, light-house surveyors, etc., who made more careful, special and detailed examinations of the islands, shores, sounds, rivers, bays, lands, etc., of the Juan de Fuca country; the continental part of which is now known as Washington territory. The account of these matters may be found at large in the five volumes of the Reports of the Coast Survey office, from 1852 to 1857, made by Prof. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.A. D. Bache, Superintendent, and the Land Office Reports. The country is found to be of the very first importance to the United States, and of the utmost value to our naval, commercial and political influence and preponderance in the Pacific Ocean — because it has the best harbors and natural dock-yards in the world, a highly salubrious climate, immense quantities of fine agricultural lands, close to tranquil navigable waters, and no end of timber for ships and houses, and more fish than the Cape Cod people can ever catch, if they all turned sailors and fishermen, and cast nets and lines from now to eternity. It can contain millions of people, and supply all the deserts, valleys, and mines of California and Arizona with wood, and cover them with houses; and if burnt down twenty times, build them up again.

Finally, in the summer of 1858, to further confirm the simple account of the old Greek sailor in 1592, "that the land is very fruitful and rich of gold, silver, pearls and other things, like Nova Spania," a great rush of events took 30,000 people, in ninety days, "passing by divers islands in that sailing," to find the gold of Frazer River, which comes into the Northern Seas at the termination of the Straits of Juan de Fuca.2 They found the gold and they will always find it in abundance, and be a great help to California in ten thousand ways, never mind what scribes think, pro or con, or who it makes, or who it unmakes. The result of which was, that two new Colonies and one Sovereign State were made, by people of our own race and language — the one, Vancouver's Island, the other, British Columbia, and the State of Oregon. And of great extent and value are the North Pacific  p166 Countries to our race; much greater than we or our children, for two generations, can have any idea of — peradventure to unravel the mystic net of human destinies and hopes — mayhap to subdue the shores of Eastern Asia; but certainly to govern the vast territorial and aqueous domain of the great Pacific Ocean; whereof, we may say with the poet, so strange has nature worked hereaway, continental and insular —

"Art, nature, earth itself Ito change is doomed;

Earthquakes have raised to heaven the humble vale,

And gulfs the mountain's mighty mass entombed;

And where the ocean rolls, wide continents have bloomed."

Finally, the governments of Great Britain and the United States, always misunderstanding and then, suddenly, understanding each other, formed a joint commission of civil and scientific officers, in 1858, to run the line west, through from Lake Superior, on the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, until it touches "the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island, and thence southerly, through the middle of the said channel, and of the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific Ocean." So the English language, in 1860, completely encircles and embraces the maritime commerce of the globe.

And, as Frazer River turned out, it seems to be designed that the aforesaid commission may find a country fit to build a continental railroad, so that people may have the choice of a northern line thro' a wilderness of woods and rivers, or by a southern route, through deserts, sheep pastures and silver mines. Certainly, the joint survey will add greatly to every department of human knowledge.

The further discussion of this subject, is beyond the limits prescribed by the necessities of a California Magazine. The matter of Juan de Fuca and the Straits which bear his name, and the noble, beautiful countries they invest, may be found discussed in the Voyage of the Sutil and Mejicana — in Humboldt's New Spain, and his other works — in Vancouver's Voyage — in the Voyages of Meares, Colnett, Gray, Kendrick, Ingraham, et al. — in Wilkes' United States Expedition — in Greenhow's work on Oregon and California — in the U. S. Coast Surveys and Land Office Reports — in many French and Russian works, and in other books of the California Bibliography. Doubtless interesting matters relating to Michael Lock and De Fuca, may be found in the public and old corporation offices, and in the records of great families, in London, of Queen Elizabeth's time, which would well reward the industry of competent critics and writers.

Humboldt, in his essay on New Spain, vol. 2, page 359, London edition,l says, in 1804: "We do not allude to the apocryphal voyages of Maldonado, Juan de Fuca, and Bartolome Font, to which, for a long time, only too much importance was given. The most part of the impostures published under the names of these three navigators, were destroyed by the laborious and learned discussions of several officers of the Spanish Marine!! Notwithstanding all my enquiries, I could never discover in New Spain a single document in which the pilot De Fuca or the Admiral Fonte were named." And yet, the learned author seems to have ignored the force of the evidently truthful, honest note of Lock, in Purchas, of 1625, which would have led him and the learned Spaniards to the very spot of his birthplace and death, to verify, in the main, the relations of the old Greek pilot. Probably for some political or personal spite, all record of De Fuca had been destroyed in the archives of Mexico and Spain, after the fact was discovered of his services being offered to Queen Elizabeth, who desperately hated the Spaniards, for more than ten thousand good reasons. Martinez de Navarrete, in his introduction to the Voyage of the Sutil and  p167 Mejicana, (made in 1792, under Galiano and Valdez), and published at Madrid in 1802, by order of the King of Spain, says that the most diligent and thorough search was made by his friends, Ciriaco Cerallos and Cean Bermudy, in the archives of Seville, and other places in Spain, without being able to find the least trace of the name of De Fuca. Similar researches were made in Mexico, among the archives of that country, under express orders from the King's Government in Spain, with the same result. It is a pity, indeed, these officers did not take the pains to send a few hundred miles off to the east, to Cephalonia, to prevent history something them down as incompetent for the task of careful and impartial critical writers.

The moral of this cosmopolitan affair of Juan de Fuca, may be wound up here, by showing, after two hundred and sixty-eight years of literary and scientific disputes, in the lawyers' motto, that "Justice is slow but sure." He is in his grave in the old Greek island now, but if he had have known, like some other long-headed sailors, ancient and modern, the value of the other cunning law axiom — well ascertained every day in California — that "To the vigilant belong the benefits of the law," he might have left his sixty thousand gold ducats in Manilla, and so worked his way to wealth and station, and not been robbed by the filibusters nor ended his days in care and poverty, with not even a secure place in the history of men's actions. But 268 years is a long time to do justice to a man's memory. And yet, with the California lights after 1848, and the information from our friend, Mr. York, who can doubt the facts of the evidently honest, carefully punctuated, and detailed note of Michael Lock, the English consul at Aleppo, in 1596, of the London Company of Merchants to the Levant; and how he conferred with such world-renowned Englishmen as the Great Lord Cecil and the Great Sir Walter Raleigh, names so well known in the history of America?

Monterey, April, 1859.


The Author's Notes:

1 Note. Masarachi's Cephalonia Biography seems to be entirely unknown to all the writers I have consulted. — A. S. T.

Thayer's Note: Vol. I of the Vite degli uomini illustri dell' isola di Cefalonia (tip. Gio. Cecchini, Venice, 1843, 80pp + xvi) by Fr. Antimo Masarachi, who taught at the Graeco-Venetian Collegio Flanginiano. Several copies are online, e.g. at Psifiothiki (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki); in which Giovanni Foca's is the first biography (pp3‑22), extending over two PDF files, 02 and 03.

Strictly speaking, Fr. Masarachi's book is in Greek (Βιογραφίαι τῶν ἐνδόξων ἀνδρῶν τῆς Νήσου Κεφαλληνίας συγγραφείσαι ὑπὸ Ἀνθίμου Μαζαρακη Ἱερέος καὶ διδασκάλου τοῦ Φλαγγινιανοῦ Φροντιστηρίου, 96pp). The Italian version is a translation by N. Tommaseo; they were simultaneously published. I haven't found the Greek version online anywhere.

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2 The Spanish navigators of 1780‑92 mention the existence of veins of lead, copper, and other minerals, on the northern coast. Species of the Monterey Haliotas, or Aulon, are found in the waters of the Straits of Fuca, and also Muscles, (Mytilus), and Clams, (Lutrarias); some of the two latter said to be of very large size. These, and other Mollusca, are often found in California, containing large numbers of coarse pearls; and it may be the same occurs in those of the north coast, straits and sounds, of Vancouver and Washington, whence, probably, De Fuca's assertion, though seemingly, before 1848, an extravagant one of his times. — A. S. T.


Thayer's Notes:

a Hubert Howe Bancroft, while regarding the story of Juan de Fuca's voyage as fiction and treating it for that reason under Chapter III, "Apocryphal Voyages to the Northwest 1596‑1609", Vol. I of History of the Northwest Coast, admits that many intelligent writers "believe it to be in the main true"; he thus devoted pp70‑81 of that chapter to his views on Juan de Fuca's voyage. As regards the above article, he says this (footnote on p73):

In 1854 Alex. S. Taylor had inquiries made in Cephalonia through a United States consul. The most definite statement obtained was one from a biographical work of Masarachi, published in Venice in 1843, evidently made up, so far as Fuca was concerned, from the story to Lok, and proving nothing; yet there were other items that seemed to show that Focca was the name of an old family there; that a branch of the family lived near Valeriano, thus partly accounting for the name 'Apostolos Valerianus';º and that Juan himself was remembered traditionally as a great navigator. Hutchings' Magazine, IV.116‑22, 161‑7.

For my part, I would summarize Taylor's article as very weak. Setting aside the obvious irrelevant padding and some general sloppiness, the bulk of it merely reproduces the unsubstantiated account by Lok and the equally unsubstantiated secondary work by Masarachi, which leans on biographical material by the French geographer Jean-Baptiste Eyriès, mentioned by Consul York in his letter above: as far as I can tell, Masarachi clearly draws on his predecessors and adds nothing; and they in turn ultimately all draw on Michael Lok's account.

What new material is contained in Taylor's paper, though not negligible since it goes a fair way toward proving at least the existence of Juan de Fuca as a real person, that very existence having long been considered suspect, boils down to

1. a single name on an otherwise irrelevant document of the twelfth century (and see my further note on that name, below), and

2. the existence in 1854 of a family by the name of Φωκάς (Phocas, which in the Italian-influenced Greek islands may be transliterated Foca, or, less well, Focca) that seemed to remember an ancestor of theirs as a famous mariner — without any clue as to what he might have accomplished in his seafaring career; and bearing in mind that memories may well have been influenced by the publication of Masarachi's book a decade earlier, or by the way in which the American consul asked his questions: until recently, in Mediterranean countries often people responded according to what they thought the questioner wanted to hear, as is still the case in many parts of the world.

Taylor's paper is further vitiated, or at least our confidence in it is much diminished, by elementary mistakes and incomprehension in the translation of the 12c document (irrelevant though it be); e.g., the various garbles of Porphyrogenitus, the apparent failure to recognize Comnenus as a dynastic name, and so forth. Taken all together, it is not this article which can give us any reason to modify Humboldt's judgment: considerably better evidence would need to surface.

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b I've been unable so far to identify Mr. B, his celebrated scholar, and U. S. Jonathan; if you have a clue, I'd be interested in hearing from you, of course.

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c Alexius Comnenus was the name of two Emperors; Alexius I sat on the Byzantine throne from 1081 to 1118, in whose reign there was a major revolt on the island of Crete; but the date 1182 at the end of the document points to Alexius II, who reigned from 1169 to 1183.

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d Sic. This one line — the mention of a man apparently surnamed Focca — is the only thing of importance to Taylor's thesis in the entire medieval document: and it has been garbled. Focea seems merely to be an error by the magazine printer, since the English translation (q.v.) gets the name right; but *Soani, given in the translation as well, is neither a Greek nor an Italian name, and is almost certainly a mistranscription of Ioani, itself an Italian rendering of Ioannis (Ιωάννης), "John", Spanish Juan. I suspect the garble is Taylor's misreading or another printer's error; but if it's in the original document, it even casts doubt on the surname, which may equally well be garbled.

It should further be noted that there is no indication that this *Ioannis Focca was any relation to the explorer four hundred years later, nor that he had anything to do with the island of Cephalonia.

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e On the surface, this looks like Sicily is meant. Not only would that be a very odd spelling, however, for either an Italian or an English-speaker to introduce, but the country is listed immediately after Armenia: I think Cilicia is meant, seat of an Armenian kingdom at the time of Emperor Alexis' minatory letter. Cilicia was not under Byzantine control: this amounts to a claim on his part. (Sicily was even less under Byzantine rule, having been lost three centuries earlier.)

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f A solecism, mistranslation, or printer's error for Belisarius — but that's the least of our troubles. The famous Byzantine general Belisarius was an officer under Emperor Justinian in the sixth century; Basil Porphyrogenitus reigned 976‑1025, several centuries later. I've been unable to find any other significant Belisarius. At any rate, we can't lay the historical hash to the account of the transcribers, translator, or printers: it has to be attributed to whoever wrote this purported letter of Alexius.

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g A mistake. Eleon (various spellings, old and modern) is in the far southeastern tip of the island, with its villages Mavrata and Valerianos.

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h What follows is a transcription of Michael Lok's account, the spelling modernized to 1859, repunctuated, and very occasionally omitting a detail or making other slight redactions; the account includes Lok's transcription of Juan de Fuca's letters, which have been rather well translated from the latter's (somewhat Italianized) Spanish.

I haven't marked the omissions: for complete accuracy therefore, see the text as printed in Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas His Pilgrimes Contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells by Englishmen and others by Samuel Purchas, B. D., Vol. IV (1625): Chapter XX, as reprinted in 1906 in Vol. XIV of their reissue, pp415‑421; and if we don't trust that reissue, the Library of Congress has a complete facsimile of the 1625 edition of Purchas, in which the Lok account starts on Vol. IV, p849.

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i A quibble here from me: De Fuca's letter has "al tragetto, de San Thomas"; not a street by that name — there does not appear to have been any — but the boat-landing (mod. Italian traghetto) near the church of S. Tommaso. A mail-delivery point, indicating that he was lodged in the immediate neighborhood.

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j The Manila galleon Santa Ana (also Santa Anna) was captured by Cavendish on November 4, 1587 off Cabo San Lucas on the California coast. It was the exploit for which he was knighted. The ship was despoiled, set afire, and abandoned by the English; but the flaming hulk was salvaged by the Spanish. Assuming Juan de Fuca had anything at all to do with this ship, Lok's account is so unclear that the "robbery" of the sixty thousand ducats' worth of goods might have been in another incident altogether.

But although Lok gives no date, Cavendish's movements are known, and he had left the Pacific Ocean by early 1588, never to return. If that's the case, we have two inconsistencies: (1) the Santa Ana was coming from the Philippines, not China (although one might argue if so inclined that "China" is loose speech, or that the galleon had been there before going on to the Philippines then California); and (2) 1592 could not be considered "shortly after" that. Taken together, and adding the fact that despite diligent searches, no contemporary Spanish record has ever been found of Juan de Fuca under any of his names, Bancroft's arguments seem unassailable.

My own conclusion, for what it's worth, is that Ioannis Focas was a real person, very likely a Greek sailor from Cephalonia — no reason to deny that — but that he was a sharpster who, armed with information available to the public, used his imagination to tried to get a free ship out of the English government by practicing an imposture on the gullible Michael Lok: unsuccessfully. When that failed, at least to get a hundred pounds out of him personally — but Lok wasn't as gullible when it came to his own money: the scheme fell apart, and Focas slunk back to obscurity.

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k Properly, the Lady Washington; the shorter name is often seen. The expedition to China of the Columbia and the Lady Washington is interestingly told by Foster Rhea Dulles in The Old China Trade, pp53‑55.

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l Online, I find only the 1814 London edition; the passage appears in it, although the last sentence is in a footnote: Vol. II, p312 f.


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Page updated: 19 Jun 17