HEIC Early Voyages

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History

The early expeditions of the East India Company were called the Separate Voyages as separate capital was raised for each. The object of the expeditions was to establish trade with the spice islands of the East Indies. See East India Company Factories for details of where the trading posts were set up.

First Voyage (1601-03)

Captain James Lancaster was appointed "General" of the fleet and sailed in the 'Red Dragon'. John Middleton was 'Vice-Admiral' in command of the 'Hector'. Other ships were the 'Susan' commanded by John Hayward, the 'Ascension' commanded by William Brand and the 'Guest'. The fleet captured a Portuguese vessel off the coast of Guinea and took her cargo of wine, oil and meal. After calling at Saldanha at the Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar and Nicobar, they reached Achin on the northern tip of Sumatra where they were able to secure a cargo of pepper, cinamon and spices. The 'Susan' went to Priaman on the coast of Sumatra where she obtained a cargo and sailed for home. Lancaster sent the 'Ascension' back with despatches and proceeded to Bantam where he was able to establish a factory. He then sent a pinnace to trade in the Moluccas while he turned for home. An account of the voyage is given in A general history and collection of voyages and travels Vol 8 page 107 (Google Books).

Second Voyage (1604-06)

Captain Henry Middleton, who had sailed on the first voyage with his brother John, led the expedition in the 'Red Dragon' again with the 'Hector' (Capt Surfleet), 'Ascension' (Capt Colthurst), and 'Susan'. Arriving at Bantam, the 'Hector' and 'Susan' loaded pepper and set out for home but 'Susan' was lost on the way. The 'Red Dragon' and 'Ascension' proceeded to Amboyna hoping to establish a factory. They were unable to do so however due to opposition from the Dutch. The 'Ascension' then went to Banda while Middleton took the 'Red Dragon' to Ternate and Tidore where trading was permitted and a cargo of pepper obtained. He called at Makian but Dutch objections prevented him from establishing a factory at Ternate though he obtained some cloves. The' Red Dragon' and 'Ascension' set sail for home but became separated en route. Middleton found the 'Hector' at Saldanha and the two ships arrived in England at the same time with 'Ascension' following later. The profit on first two voyages was reported as 95% on the capital. An account of the voyage is given in A general history and collection of voyages and travels Vol 8 page 191 (Google Books).

Third Voyage (1607-10)

The third expedition comprised the 'Dragon' under Capt William Keeling, the 'Hector' under Capt William Hawkins and the 'Consent' under Capt David Middleton. They departed Tilbury on 17 March 1607 and reached St Augustine's Bay, Madagascar, via Sierra Leone where the fleet split up. The 'Dragon' took on a cargo and returned reaching England in September 1609. Capt Keeling took a pinnace to Banda where his attempt to establish a factory was frustrated by the Dutch. He visited Pulau Aye and Pulau Run before returning to Bantam via Jakarta with such spices as he could obtain. He left Bantam with a cargo of pepper and arrived in England on 10 May 1610. The 'Hector' took Capt Hawkins to Surat where she remained. The 'Consent' went from Bantam to Bouton in the Celebes where he loaded a cargo of spices returning via Bantam to England in early January 1609. An account of the voyage is given in Letters received by the East India Company Vol I (1602-13).

Fourth Voyage (1608-11)

The fourth expedition ended in disaster. Captain Alexander Sharpeigh commanded the 'Ascension' with Captain Richard Rowles in the 'Union'. They set out on 14 March 1609 before the return of the first ship on the third voyage. On leaving Saldanha they were split up by a storm. The 'Ascension' proceeded via Comoros and Aden where Capt Sharpeigh was briefly detained by the governor. Thence to Mocha and Socotra before making for Surat. Lacking a pilot the ship went aground on the Malacca Banks in the Gulf of Khambhat. The crew got ashore and reached Surat. The Union sailed to Achin and Priaman securing a cargo of pepper. A short distance from home she ran aground on the Brittany coast off Audierne and was looted. An account of the voyage is given in Letters received by the East India Company Vol I (1602-13).

Fifth Voyage (1609-10)

The 'Expedition' commanded by Captain David Middleton was the only vessel to make the fifth voyage. After landing cargo at Bantam, the ship proceeded to the Moluccas where the Dutch once again tried to obstruct trade. Returning to Bantam with some spices, a rich cargo was loaded and a safe passage made back to England.

Sixth Voyage (1610-15)

For the sixth expedition the Company built two new vessels. Sir Henry Middleton in the 'Trades Increase' commanded the fleet, Nicholas Downton was captain of the pinnace 'Peppercorn' and Robert Larkyn captain of the 'Darling'. They left London on 1 April 1610 and arrived in Aden on 7 November. On proceeding to Mocha they were made prisoner but escaped and left again on 9 August 1911. They reached Surat on 26 September but were opposed by the Portuguese and did little trade. The fleet went south to Dabul and captured two vessels from Cochin whose cargoes they removed. From Dabul the fleet went back to Aden which they reached on 1 April 1912. Several vessels were captured in the Bab el Mandeb entrance to the Red Sea and they met Captain John Saris of the 8th expedition with the Company ships 'Clove', 'Hector' and 'Thomas'. On 19 May 1612 the 'Darling' and the 'Thomas' were despatched to Tiku. The 'Trades Increase' and 'Peppercorn' left Aden on 16 August arriving at Tiku on 19 October. They proceeded to Bantam where the 'Trades Increase' was leaking badly and had to be beached. Shortly after she was destroyed by fire. The 'Peppercorn' left Bantam on 20 December 1612 and reached Waterford on 13 September 1613 where Captain Downton was arrested for piracy. He was released however and reached London on 19 November. The 'Peppercorn was the only vessel to return. Sir Henry Middleton died at Bantam on 24 May 1613. On 10 March 1614 the 'Darling' left Bantam calling at Succadana and Sambas on the Borneo coast. She became past repair however and had to be abandoned with her cargo at Patani on the east Malay coast in June 1615. Captain Larkyn took a junk from Succadana to Banjermassin where he secure a good cargo which he took to Bantam. Despite all the losses a good profit was made on the expedition.A general history and collection of voyages and travels Vol 8 page 361 (Google Books).

Seventh Voyage (1611-15)

The seventh expedition was undertaken by the ship 'Globe' with Captain Anthony Hippon in command. Leaving London on 3 January 1611 they had an uneventful passage to the Cape. After very severe weather past Madagascar, they sighted land at Ceylon and arrived at Negapatam on 6 August. They were unable to negotiate permission to trade however so proceeded north to Masulipatam. There some trade was effected but they had trouble getting paid. They made passage to Bantam in Java and from there to Patani on the east coat of Thailand. This was their base for over a year during which time Captain Hippon died and Thomas Essington was appointed in his place. An excursion was made to Bangkok and the 'Globe' left Patani on 22 October 1613. Passing through the Singapore Strait they reached Masulipatam on 19 December 1613. They passed nearly a year there during which Capt Essington died and Thomas Skinner became captain. Again there was trouble getting paid for the trade and this was only resolved when the son of the governor was kidnapped and held to ransom. A final visit was made to Bantam before the 'Globe' returned home. She reached the Lizard on 20 August 1615. an account of the seventh voyage can be read in A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Vol 8 page 436 (Google Books)

Eighth Voyage (1611-14)

The eighth expedition was the first to reach Japan. John Saris was "Chief Captain and Commander" of three ships: the 'Clove' under James Foster, the 'Hector' under Thomas Fuller and the 'Thomas' under Richard Dawes. The passage to the Cape was uneventful and Saris called at the Comoros before reaching Socotra on 17 February 1612. His instructions were to pursue trade at Surat but the wind would not be suitable for that voyage for six months. In the meantime he was ordered to trade with Mocha. However, he was warned off by Henry Middleton of the Sixth Expedition who had been imprisoned at Mocha and was bent on revenge. Nevertheless Saris went to Mocha and found the situation more amenable. Middleton however returned from a rebuff at Surat and captured some Indian vessels which piratical action put and end to the possibility of trade. Saris determined to sail direct to Bantam and his three ships made the port by the middle of November 1612. Letters from William Adams, the first Englishman to reach and reside in Japan, decided Saris to head further east. The 'Hector' and the 'Thomas' loaded cargoes of pepper and set sail for home. Saris left Bantam in the 'Clove' on 15 January 1613. He made a number of calls in the Moluccas and finally reached Hirado on 12 June 1613 to a friendly reception. Adams facilitated relations with the Japanese and Saris made a journey to Yedo during which he met the Shogun Ieyasu. Having concluded a trade agreement with the ruler, Saris left Hirado on 16 December 1613 and reached Plymouth on 27 September 1614.

External Links

Historical books on-line

  • Letters Received by the East India Company from Its Servants in the East: transcribed from India Office Records Archive.org
Volume 1 1602-1613 1896 Volume 2 1613-1615 1897 Volume 3 1615 1899 Volume 4 1616 1900 Volume 5 1617 January to June 1901 Volume 6, 1617 July-December 1902