Letter of Marque
About Henry Morgan 1669
This Letter of Marque is from the English Governor of Jamaica to Henry Morgan; who he is making the commander-in-chief of all land and naval forces in that part of the world, initially to stop the Spanish in Cuba from invading Jamaica. The Spanish Queen had declared war on the English in the Caribbean, Central, and South America’s. They were based on the Island of Cuba and had already invaded the north coast of Jamaica where they burnt everything they could; and now they were planning a full invasion. All the other Spanish governors in those parts were to gather in St Jago, Cuba (Santiago) where all their munitions and supplies were stored and from there to launch the invasion of Jamaica (which was a major money maker for the English).
Morgan’s mission was to protect Jamaica and her merchant fleet and to eliminate the Spanish as a threat. He was also to invade Cuba; and to capture any munitions and supplies that the Spanish had gathered for the invasion; and to “kill, and disperse the said Forces” wherever he finds them.
Morgan did all he was ordered to do; and more. He kicked butt. The most famous of these raids was his sacking of the city of Panama in Central America–which he burnt to the ground.
This Letter of Marque gave him that authority. The second part of this document is the detailed Instructions for Admiral Henry Morgan, Esq. in the Admiralty Reports list.
Below is the text of Henry Morgan 1669.
Letter of Marque
Sir Thomas Modyford, Baronet, Governor of His Majesty’s Island of Jamaica, Commander in Chief of all His Majesty’s Forces within the said Island and the Islands adjacent, Vice-Admiral to His Royal Highness the Duke of York in the American Seas.
To Admiral Henry Morgan, Esq. Greeting.
Whereas the Mariana, Queen Regent of Spain hath by her Royal Shadula, dated at Madrid the 20th of April, 1669, Commanded her respective Governors in the Indies to publish and make War against our Sovereign Lord the King in these Parts.
And Whereas Don Pedro Bayona de Villa Nueva, Captain General of the Province of Paraguay and Governor of the City of St. Jago de Cuba and its Provinces, hath executed the same, and lately in the most hostile and barbarous manner landed his men on the north side of the Island, and entered a small way into the country, firing all the Houses they came at, killing or taking Prisoners all the inhabitants they could meet with; and where as the rest of the Governours in these Parts have granted Commissions for executing the like Hostility against us, and are diligently gathering Forces together to be sent to St. Jago de Cuba, their General Rendezvous and place of Magazine, and from thence as the most opportune place to be transported for a thoro’ Invasion and final conquest (as they hope) of this Island.
In discharge of the great trust which His Gracious Majesty hath placed in me, I do by virtue of full Power and Authority of such cases from His Royal Highness, James Duke of York, His Majesties Lord High Admiral, derived unto me, and out of the great confidence I have in the good conduct, courage, and fidelity of you the said Henry Morgan to be Admiral and Commander in chief of all the Ships, Barques, and other Vessels now fitted, or which hereafter shall be fitted for the publick Service and defence of this Island, and also of the Officers, Souldiers, and Seamen, which are, or shall be put upon the same, requiring you to use your best endeavours to get the vessels into one Body or Fleet, and to cause them to be well mann’d, fitted, arm’d, an victualled, and by the first opportunity, wind and weather permitting, to put to Sea for the Guard and Defence of this Island, and of all vessels trading to or about the same; and in order thereunto to use your best endeavours to surprise, take, sink, disperse, and destroy all the enemies ships or vessels which shall come within your view.
And also for preventing the intended Invasion against this place, you are hereby further authorized and required, in the case that you and your Officers in your Judgement find it possible, or feasable to land and attain the said Town of St. Jago de Cuba, or any other place belonging to the Enemies, where you shall be informed that Magazines and Stores for this War are laid up, or where any Rendezvous for their Forces to Imbody are appointed and there to use your best endeavours for the seizing the said Stores, and to take, kill, and disperse the said Forces.
And all Officers, Souldiers, and Seaman, who are or shall be belonging to or embarqued upon the said vessels are hereby strictly enjoyned both by Sea and Land, to obey you as their Admiral and Commander in chief of in all things as be cometh there and you yourself are to observe and follow all such Orders as you shall from time to time receive from His most excellent Majesty, His Royal Highness, or myself.