Bibliography Texts

The Seven Manuscripts of
William Ambrosia Cowley

John Woram

This page begins with brief descriptions of the seven Cowley manuscripts listed below, followed by a section in which each manuscript is compared with one or more of the others, and with Cowley's much-abridged account published in William Hacke's 1699 Collection of Original Voyages. The mss. are listed here in what is thought to be their actual chronological order, as determined by an examination of their content. All references to “Section I” and “Section II” refer to the first and second chronological segments of the voyage, and not necessarily to the order in which these sections appear in the manuscripts. Four manuscripts also contain descriptions of other voyages, as indicated. The present location of each manuscript is given below.

Virginia Mss1 T8525a3Miscellanea Curiosa, Vol IV
Lambeth Ms. 642The Voyage of Capt. Cowley. Papist.
Sloane Ms. 1050Cowley's Voyage Round the World
Sloane Ms. 54The Voyage of William Ambrosia Cowley, Marriner
Pepys Ms. 2826Journal of William Ambrosia Cowley
Whitehall Ms. 4Spanish Manuscript — Hack
Morgan Ms. MA 3310William Hacke, Handwritten Journal of Pirate Bartholomew Sharpe
ComparisonsVirginia and Lambeth mss.
Virginia and Sloane mss.
Virginia and subsequent mss.
Lambeth and subsequent mss.
Sloane mss.
Sloane and Pepys mss.
Sloane and subsequent mss.
Whitehall and Morgan mss.
Lambeth and Pepys accounts of the Ship Nicholas.
Dates in all mss.
Text in the Sloane, Pepys and Morgan mss.
Table of Island Names appearing in these mss.
Table of selected incidents, as reported in various mss.


Virginia Mss1 T8525
Miscellanea Curiosa: Collected by Dawson Turner §

§ Dawson Turner (1775-1858) was, among other things, the maternal grandfather of Joseph Dalton Hooker. Hooker mentions this in his introduction to the Journal of the Right Hon. Joseph Banks which he edited, and also points out the “eminent botanist and antiquarian” Turner and Banks were friends.

The manuscripts in the nine volumes listed here were collected and bound by Turner,§ and six of these were sold at auction in June 1859, shortly after his death. The auction records do not account for the three missing volumes. The auctioned volumes have been at the Virginia Historical Society since at least 1901.

Volume Description
I (Not in this collection)
II-III a1-a2 (Various unrelated documents)
IV a3 Account of my Voyage round this terestiall Globe of the World ...
(Other unrelated documents)
V-VI (Not in this collection)
VII-IXa4-a6 (More unrelated documents)
  T8525 plus this “a_” suffix identifies each volume in the collection.

The Cowley manuscript is a seven-page (2,926 words) letter bound with other unrelated manuscripts in Vol IV, and it begins:

“May it please your Grase To Except of a Short Acount of My Voyage Round this terestiall Globe of the world from Virginia to England and through the Great South Sea.”

Cowley signatureThe sixth page is signed “William Ambrosia Cowley” and the letter appears to be an original, written by himself. The ms. displays several distinctive spellings, which are consistent throughout the letter; for example, captaine, bine (been), whare & thare (where & there), ware & one them (were & on them) etc.

On the verso of an otherwise-blank seventh page, “Journal of a pirat” is written near the upper right-hand corner in a different hand.

Cowley arrived in England on 12 October 1686 and this letter is dated 25 October, which makes it the earliest known surviving document in the collection of Cowley manuscripts. There is nothing in its content to help determine the identity of “Your Grace,” who must have been a person of some importance to Cowley to warrant writing such a detailed account within two weeks of his arrival.

About one-third of the letter (895 words) is devoted to the Galápagos Islands, although Cowley does not mention the islands by that name. In another section (p. 5 – 343 words), Cowley describes how his shipmates came to the aid of a Spanish garrison, which otherwise would have lost the island of Guam to the Indians. The rest of the letter simply describes their course and places visited, with only one rather ambiguous allusion to buccaneering activities:

“The captaine & company told me that … they ware bound to the South Seas whare they should get Gold & Silver A Nofe [enough].”

The following two excerpts are of particular interest:

In both examples, Cowley refers to details about the Galápagos Islands, and indicates he is awaiting the arrival of personal items still in Holland. For reasons unknown, it would seem that he left his “book” (journal?) and papers behind when he returned to England after arriving first in Holland.

If no other written evidence were available, it would seem that Cowley had embarked on nothing more than a voyage of discovery, with a little humanitarian relief thrown in to help the cause of Anglo-Spanish relations.

Lambeth Ms. 642
Codex Chartaceus

The manuscript is a collation of documents, including a 23-page account of Cowley's voyage. The first two pages are actually an account of the voyage of the Nicholas, written by an un-named crew member who mentions Cowley in passing (“We came up with the [un-named] ship W. Cowley was Master of …”). The other documents within the ms. are unrelated to Cowley.

Item Pages † Description
1-9     1-439 (Various unrelated documents, 1620-1679)
10 The Voyage of Capt. Cowley. Papist.
441-443 (1-2) Untitled Account of the Nicholas.
445-485 (3-23) Cowley's Account of his Voyage.
11-15 487-806 (More unrelated documents, 1688-1702)
 † Verso pages in item 10 are blank, recto pages originally numbered as indicated in parentheses. Entire ms. re-numbered 1-806 as indicated above, presumably after collation.

The title of the Cowley document is written across the top of the first page in the hand of Thomas Tenison, Rector of St. Martin-in-the-Fields (1680), later Bishop of Lincoln (1691) and Archbishop of Canterbury (1694-1715). The date at which Tenison acquired the Cowley manuscript is unknown, as is his reason for considering it important enough to be added to the Lambeth manuscript collection. Also unknown is Tenison's reason for labeling Cowley a papist, for there is nothing in the manuscript to indicate Cowley's religious sentiments. Cowley did name an island in Galápagos after the Catholic King James II, but this would hardly justify such an accusation.

Based on the following evidence, the manuscript is believed to have been written in 1687.

  1. In the May 1684 entry, Cowley names eight islands in Galápagos, and “ … 7 more which I have named since that I came home.” This indicates the ms. was written after he returned to England in 1686 [p. 457 (9)]. All fifteen of these names appear on Hacke's chart which was drawn in 1687 (Hacke, 1687a).
  2. In the final sentence of the April, 1685 entry, Cowley refers to the Cantonese:
    “They having been conquered 3 yeares before that we were there, which is now two yeares since.”
    The concluding phrase suggests it was written two years after the fact; that is, in 1687 [p. 471 (16)].
  3. Twelve of the 15 documents within Lambeth Ms. 642 are dated between 1620 and 1702 and are collated in chronological order. Of the three undated items, two are supplements to dated documents and appear immediately after those documents. The document immediately following Cowley's account is dated 1688. Presumably, the person (unknown) who collated this volume had evidence on hand that determined the position of Cowley's account in the chronological sequence. It is unlikely that its location immediately before the 1688 document was coincidental.

Sloane Ms. 1050
Cowley's Voyage Round the World

Pages Description
1-27 (Cowley's reconstruction from memory of the first part of his journal.)
28-116 A Journal of our intended voyage … from the Iland of Gorgonia …

There is no introductory description, nor is the author directly identified. However, a note at the beginning of the ms. states See another copy of this voyage around the world in Ms. Sloane 54. The writers name is there given as “William Ambrosia Cowley Marriner.” The ms. pages are numbered 1-116 in the upper right-hand corner. The ms. is divided into two sections here for the purposes of review.

Section I: pp. 1-27

The section begins with a paragraph in which Cowley explains that “The reason wherefore I begin my Journall in this manner is as followeth: …” He writes that although the first part of his journal was left behind when he joined Captain Eaton on the Nicholas, “I will give the best Account I can of what hath been worth observation from the Cape of Virginia to the Iland of Gorgonia where I begin a New Journall.” A ruled header in the middle of the page and the text immediately following it is given here (note capitalization):

In the Month of August the 4th day 1683

“Wee set saile from the Cape of Virginia, … .”

Dampier gives their departure date as August 23rd, but neither writer offers sufficient evidence to determine which date is correct. Since Cowley wrote this entry from memory several years after the fact, it's reasonable to assume here that Dampier's date is more reliable.

The final sentence on the first ms. page is “In the month of september the 4th day …” and begins the description of a hurricane. The heading at the top of the next page is dated September 1683 and continues the description. All subsequent headings within this section give the month and year only, and there are only two more occurences of a specific date within the text—“The 24th of October” (p. 23) and “Octob[e]r 28” (p. 24).

Section II: pp. 28-116

A ruled header at the top of the page is immediately followed by the journal introduction shown here.

December 22 1684

“A Journall of our intended voyage by God's permission from the Iland of Gorgonia, lying in the lat. …”

NOTE: Although the present state of the manuscript places the pages in correct chronological order from the start of the voyage to its conclusion, it is of course well-known that Cowley reconstructed the present Section I from memory long after his Galápagos visit in June, 1684. Cowley refers to the death of King Charles which he learned about in February, 1686, so obviously Section I was written no earlier than that, and more likely, well after his return to England in September of the same year. It is therefore quite possible that the original first page of this ms. is the present page 28, where the “A Journal of our intended voyage …” would make an appropriate first line for a new work. From here to its conclusion, the ms. style resembles a day-to-day account written at the end of each day. By contrast, the style of Section I makes it clear that it was written well after the voyage. It may therefore have originally been placed after the present Section II, and then moved from the rear to the front of the ms. at a later date, and at this time each page was numbered. But even if the present Section I always preceded Section II, the pages appear to have been numbered long after the ms. was completed. This theory is supported by evidence on pages 10 and 26, where the page corners have torn or worn away with age. Yet the page numbers are well to the left of the present page edge, thus suggesting they were added after the damage was done.

The following table summarizes Cowley's location and activities as reported in the indicated sections of the manuscript. The omission of specific dates within most of Section I is understandable, given that it was reconstructed from memory long after the fact. But why then are there two specific date entries (October 24th & 28th) near the end of this section? Perhaps Cowley actually began a new onboard journal shortly after joining Eaton, and these dates were entered in it. Later on, when Ms. 1050 was copied from this journal (now presumed lost), the occasion of a major event—the Pacific crossing from Gorgona to Guam—was used to start the present Section II. Still later, Cowley reconstructed the first segment of the voyage from memory, and consulted the now-missing journal to fill in the details of his first few months with Captain Eaton. This might account for the presence of dates in October, and their absence elsewhere in the same section.

YearMonthEvent DescribedJournal
1683August 4thDeparture from Virginia with Capt. Cook, RevengeSection I
1684JuneGalápagos, with Capt. Cook, Batchelors Delight
AugustCowley joins Capt. Eaton, Nicholas
October, n/dDeparted Island of Lobos, returned to Galápagos
October 24thSaw Ld. Norris's Island
October 28thArrived at Albemarle Island
NovemberDeparted Galápagos
mid DecemberArrived at Gorgona Island
December 22Cowley begins new journalSection II
† Cowley was probably on board one of the captured prize vessels during this segment of the voyage.

Sloane Ms. 54
The Voyage of William Ambrosia Cowley, Marriner, …

Pages Description
1 The Voyage of William Ambrosia Cowley, Marriner, from ye Capes of Virginia to ye Islands of Cape D'Verd; From thence to Guiny, and soe to 60 degrees & 20 mts. South Lattitude, round about Terra Del Fuego, thence to ye Northward in ye South Sea as low as Panama; from thence to ye Island of Gorgonia, and soe to ye Ladroones, thence to China, soe to Java, thence to ye Cape of Good Hope, and soe to Holland; Performed by him in Severall Ships Successively, between the 4th of August 1683 and the 1st of October 1686.
1-24 (Cowley's reconstruction from memory of the first part of his journal.)
24-128 A Journal of our intended voyage … from the Iland of Gorgonia …

This manuscript's lengthy title identifies the author and concludes by listing the ending date of 1st of October, 1686. However, the final ms. entry is actually “Wednesday, 29th” [of September], when Cowley reached Holland, a few weeks prior to his arrival in England on October 12. Although each recto page shows a number in parentheses (1, 3, 5, 7, …), a later hand has drawn a line through each number and inserted a new sequence (2, 3, 4, 5, …). The original (and correct) page numbering is followed in this description.

Pepys Ms. 2826
Journal of William Ambrosia Cowley, Mariner, …

Pages Description
285-304 (Cowley's reconstruction from memory of the first part of his journal.)
304-392 A Journal of our intended voyage … from the Iland of Gorgonia …
393-394 June 11th, 1683. (This date appears at the top of the page, followed by a brief summary of the voyage of the Nicholas, Captain John Eaton.

The Catalogue of the Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge (Volume V: Manuscripts, Part ii, Modern, p. 90) describes the ms. as “[110 pp., paged as 285-394].” The pages (if any) preceding page 285 are not described. Note that the Cowley ms. actually concludes on page 392, and is followed by a two-page entry dated June 11th 1683 which describes the voyage of the Nicholas, Captain John Eaton, from England to the meeting with Captain Cook and Cowley, just beyond Cape Horn.

There is a catch word on every page, with two exceptions: The text continues to the bottom of the first page, thus leaving no space for one. It is also omitted within a contiguous four-page segment beginning 14th January, 1684. At that point, the ms. is written by a different hand, which continues (with catch words) throughout the rest of the ms. Perhaps this copyist did not plan to use them at all, until instructed to do so early on in the project, perhaps for the convenience of his distinguished client.

Whitehall Ms. 4
Spanish Manuscript — Hack

Pages Description
1-72 Capt. Bartholomew Vellegas: (various sailing directions)
73-102 A description of the Magellan Straights, Port St. Julian, Observations of the Eclips of the Moon, etc. (no attribution given)
102-206 A Journall Kept by Capt. Bartholomew Sharpe of his transactions in the South Sea of America.
(8 unnumbered pages) Chart of ship's position, August 9, 1680-January 28, 1681/82
[mispagination in original)

The “Spanish Manuscript” title may refer to the first section, attributed to Bartholomew Vellegas. The “Exact Journal” phrase at the beginning of the Cowley segment may be taken as the copyist's description of what follows, and “Ingenious Englishman” a description of the author, and not the author's description of himself. Since there is no known occurrence of this phrase elsewhere in the literature, its appearance here may be what prompted Kemp & Lloyd to invent their ludicrous claim that Cowley himself concealed his true identity thusly while on the voyage.

The handwriting and spelling are consistent throughout the ms. (Sonday, Tusday, Fryday, for example), suggesting it is the work of a single copyist who compiled it from various sources.

Morgan Ms. MA 3310
William Hacke, Handwritten Journal of Pirate Bartholomew Sharpe

Pages Description
A Journal kept by Capt. Bartholomew Sharpe of his Passage over land at the Isthmos [sic] of Darien to the South Sea of America … likewise a Journal kept by Capt. William Cowley from the Island of Gorgona in the foresaid South Sea of America by the East indias to Holland in Europe; and allso an abstract of the said Cowleys Journal from Cape Charles in Virginia to the said Island of Gorgona in the Sea aforesaid being faithfully Collected & the drafts delineated from the Originals by William Hacke.
1-124 By Capt Bartholomew Sharpe 1680. A journal of our passage overland from the No to the South Sea of America; & of all our transactions whilest we sailed in the Said South Sea
125-166 A description of the Straghts of Magellan taken by Capt. Jn. Wood in his Maties Ship Sweepstakes Anno 1669
167-248 A Journal kept by Capt. Wm. Cowley on board the Ship Nicholas of London Capt. John Eaton Commander. A Voyage from Gorgona Island … to … Holland.
249-262 An abstract of a journal kept by Capt. Cowley from Cape Charles …to … the Island of Gorgona …

This is the only ms. in which the second segment of the voyage appears before the first segment, which suggests that the second segment is a copy of Whitehall Ms. 4 above, to which Cowley appended his reconstruction of the first segment, which is identified in this ms. as an Abstract. This segment contains the first appearance of the claim pertaining to the Galápagos Islands that “I being the first that anchored there gave them their names, the which in due time I shall insert more plainly.”

In addition to the obvious physical page sequence within the manuscript, the final sentence of Section I (on ms. p. 262) makes it clear that it was prepared after Section II. Cowley reports that “… we took our departure from thence [Gorgona] designing to sail home by the way of the East Indies as appears in page 167.” In fact, the entire text of Section I is written in the past tense, in contrast to the frequent use of present tense in Section II. Section I includes a Galápagos chart with the following legend at the top of the page:

The Islands; of Gallappagos: discover'd by Capt; Cowley A. 1684.

The island outlines on the chart are quite similar to those on the chart that appears in Cowley's printed Voyage Round the Globe, although the legend on the latter version states:

The Gallapagos Islands Discovered by Capt; John Eaton

It is unclear why Eaton gets the credit in Cowley's printed work. During the Galápagos segment of the voyage, Cowley was on board the Batchelors Delight,* Captain John Cook, upon whose death in early July 1684 the captaincy passed to Edward Davis. In August, Cowley transferred to Eaton's Nicholas, with whom he remained until December 9, 1685.

* The only known reference to the name of the ship is in Lionel Wafer's New Voyage …, where the author states that “I staid with Captain Davis in the Batchelors Delight.”


Virginia T8525a3 & Lambeth 642

None of the following phrases, nor the mis-spelled Albemarle, appear in subsequent mss., and their similarity here suggests both mss. were written at about the same time. And, despite naming individual islands, Cowley does not use the word “Galápagos” to identify the islands collectively in either of these mss. The omission is puzzling, because obviously the name was known to him and it does appear in all subsequent mss.

Virginial T8525a3Lambeth 642
…& pretending that they wanted a master … They … pretending that they wanted a master …
…agreeing with me for five hundred pieces of eight for my paines. I agreeing with them for 500 hundred pieces of eight for my paines.
But the Captaine & Company told me that I was mistaken. They were not bound for Pety Guaves, for they were bound to the South Seas where they should get Gold & Silver A Nofe [enough]. They told me that I was mistaken. They were not bound for Petty Guaves, but … into the South Sea, where we should have Gold and Silver enough.
This Iland I named the Duke of Alber Males [sic] Iland. … the D. of Albermales [sic] Island.

In addition, Cowley wrote in the Virginia ms. that he had forgotten the longitudes of the various Galápagos Islands and was awaiting the arrival of papers that he left in Holland. The longitudes of the islands also do not appear in the Lambeth ms. and in fact—with the exception of a November 1683 “Long: 8 degrees” entry at Sherbrow (Sherbro, Sierra Leone)—no longitudes are given for any other locations either. Sherbro is actually at about 13° West Longitude, so Cowley presumably reckoned his longitude from Lizard Point (5°13' W.).

Virginia T8525a3 & Sloane 1050

The “Your Grace” letter is the only known ms. entirely written by Cowley himself. The handwriting style indicates that the other manuscripts are the work of various copyists. There are however two places in Ms. 1050 where Cowley has inserted something in his own hand, as indicated by a comparison of several words found in both manuscripts. In addition, Cowley's distinctive spellings of ware and one them (for were and on them) are found in both the letter and one of the Ms. 1050 insertions, both of which are described below.

Virginia & Subsequent Manuscripts

In all seven mss., Cowley gives his departure date as August 4th, 1683. However, the latitude of the departure point varies as shown here.

VirginiaLambethSloane & PepysMorganHacke's Collection
Wee set saille from Smiths Iland lying in 37 Degrees and 20 Minits. We set saile from Cape Charles in Virginia lying in Latitude of 37 Degrees and 20 Minits. I had sailed from the Cape of Virginia lying in the Lat. of 37 Deg. North. We took our departure from Cape Charles in Virginia lyeing in the lattitude of 36:00 No. I departed from Cape Charles in Virginia, lying in the Latitude of 36 Degrees North.

It is uncertain if the changes from 37°20' to 37° and finally to 36° are deliberate or are simply transcription errors. However, the agreement between the Morgan ms. and the published book indicates that the former was the last ms. written before the book was published. The actual location of Smith's Island is 37°7' North Latitude.

Lambeth & Subsequent Manuscripts

The following details suggest that the Lambeth ms. preceded the Sloane, Pepys and Morgan manuscripts.

In addition, there is at least one excerpt in Lambeth 642 that is updated in the Sloane and other manscripts:

Lambeth 642Sloane and PepysMorgan 3310
December, 1683. About the Lat of 47 Degrees and 40 Minuits it was my fortune to discover an Island which is not laid down in Drafts of the World, the Iland being well wooded … January, 1683. This Moneth wee were in the Latitude of 47 Degrees & 40 minits, where wee espyed an Iland bareing west from us. … These Ilands that we saw I suposed to be the Sibble de Wards by the Lattitude & Longitude of them. December, 1683. We came into the lattitude of seaven and forty degrees South where we saw land, an Island not before known … or ever laid down in any map or draught which I called Peyps's Island.

From this, it would appear that at the time the Lambeth ms. was written, Cowley did not realize the islands were already known. He later learned their identity (presumably, the modern Falkland Islands) and made the appropriate correction in the Sloane and Pepys mss. Still later, the islands were “moved” slightly north (by omitting the 40' notation) and named in honor of Samuel Pepys. This was presumably the invention of the editor—with or without Cowley's approval—perhaps to gain favor with the famous diarist.

Sloane 1050 & 54

With the exception of an insertion described below, the entire Sloane Ms. 1050 was written by one person, whose handwriting is clear, but not as polished as one might expect from a professional copyist. By contrast, Ms. 54 is so elegant that parts are almost unreadable. Significant differences in the handwriting suggest that it is the work of at least three copyists. Many “This 24 hours…” entries in Ms. 1050 become “This four and twenty hours…” in Ms. 54.

In Ms. 54, the lengthy title is followed by the “The reason wherefore …” paragraph and then the August 4th heading, as cited above, with the same use of capitalization.

On the first page of Ms. 1050, the final sentence begins “In the month of september, the 4th day wee being in the Lat. of … .” In Ms. 54, the first part of this sentence becomes a centered header with the year appended. The rest of the sentence is written as a new paragraph, as shown here:

In the Month of September the 4th Day 1683

“Wee being in the latitude of … .”

From this it would appear that Ms. 1050 is the earlier version, and the sentence fragment was redone as a header when Ms. 54 was copied from it. The reverse sequence is ruled out here, because it would be unlikely that a copyist would insert inline text as a replacement for a header.

To further support this view of the ms. sequence, the end of Section I and the beginning of Section II are both found on the same page in Ms. 54. If Section II had been written first, it would have begun at the top of a page (as it does in Ms. 1050) and not immediately below the concluding paragraph of Section I.

Additional pieces of evidence to support the 1050/54 sequence are found within these manuscripts:

  1. Ms. 1050, page 13: In a May, 1684 entry, the Spanish “Capt. Perialto” is mentioned. His name is slightly above the base line for the rest of the sentence, and is written in a different hand. The distinctive style of the first letter matches the letter “P” found in the ms. page 64 insertion described immediately below. Thus, it appears that the copyist left a blank space in the line and Cowley inserted the captain's name later on. The same anomoly does not appear on the equivalent line in Ms. 54; thus it is a copy of Ms. 1050, written after Cowley made the insertion.
  2. Ms. 1050, page 64: The entry for Wedensday [sic, throughout this ms.] 30 Sept. [1685] is:
    Wee sailed with the wind N. E., little wind, distance run 56 miles, finding ourselves in the latitude of 12°43' difference of latitude 22 minutes, Departure 21 minutes, Course South, 22° West. Fair weather. [sketch of a pointing hand]
    The sketch of a pointing hand is duplicated by a similar sketch on the facing verso page, where a lengthy insertion describes the capture of a ship with 60 men aboard. The “… latitude of 12°43' ” in Ms. 1050 becomes “… latitude of 12°43' N.” in Ms. 54, where it is immediately followed by that insertion. The Ms. 1050 sentence fragments shown above in bold/italics are omitted in Ms. 54 and Pepys 2326. The entire anecdote does not appear at all in Lambeth Ms. 642.
  3. Ms. 54: The copyist added a “catch word” at the bottom of each page if the entry on that page continued to the next page. A catch word does not appear if the entry concluded on that page. Since Ms. 1050 does not display catch words at all, their use in Ms. 54 suggests that it followed Ms. 1050 in the production cycle as the manuscript was prepared for printing.

Sloane 1050 & 54 & Pepys 2826

All three mss. report that the first part of Cowley's journal—covering August 1683 through December 1684—was lost when he left Captain Davis to join Captain Eaton, and was subsequently reconstructed from memory. These mss. all begin with this reconstruction, followed by the continuation from December 1684 though the end of the voyage in September 1686.

Since Samuel Pepys often commissioned copies of manuscripts, it is assumed here that Pepys Ms. 2826 played no part in the book production process, and that it was copied from Sloane Ms. 54 for his library. The following evidence supports this assumption.

Sloane/Pepys and Whitehall/Morgan Mss.

There are several indicators that the Sloane/Pepys mss. preceeded the Whitehall/Morgan mss., as reviewed here. For the purposes of this comparison, Sloane Ms. 54 is compared to Morgan Ms. 3310, although the same observations apply to Sloane Ms. 1050 and Whitehall Ms. 4. Pepys Ms. 2826 is not part of this comparison, since it is thought to be a copy commissioned by Samuel Pepys for his personal use, and therefore not part of the production sequence leading to the eventual printed book.

In Ms. 54 Cowley begins a September 1683 entry with details of a hurricane, followed by their arrival at the Island of Sall a few weeks later. Ms. 3310 omits the storm and simply begins “In the month of September we made the Island of Sall.” There is also the matter of Cowley's actual role in the events of the voyage. In Ms. 54 he matter-of-factly states that “I shaped my course … to the Cape de Verde Islands, we having now agreed to alter our course.” From this it would seem he was a willing collaborator. But in Ms. 3310 his tone has changed (on advice of counsel?) to “I … being forced to alter my course again, I steered away ESE for the Cape de Verde Islands.”

There are also typographical and contextual details to suggest a sequence from Ms. 54 to Ms. 3310 to published book. In Ms. 54, p. 3, Cowley mentions that a Dutch ship “… clapped a Spring upon his cable … .” In Ms. 3310, p. 251, this becomes “… clapping a pring [sic] upon the cable…” and the identical mis-spelled word appears in the book.

The treatment of Cowley's visit to an African village, and his description of the islands subsequently named after Samuel Pepys were both described above.

The final—and perhaps, best—indicators of ms. sequence lie within the Galápagos sections. In the Sloane/Pepys mss., Cowley states that “. . . there being in number fifteen islands that I have seen, I have named eight of them.” A recapitulation of these names follows. Cowley's 15/8 count and the recapitulation are omitted in Morgan Ms. 3310. Seven of his original eight names also appear in this ms., but one name has been changed: Lord Norris' becomes the Earle of Abington [sic, Abingdon]. Lord John Norris of Rycaut was a son of James Bertie, Earl of Abingdon. Herman Moll's chart in Hacke's Collection shows Rycot Rocks and Nories [Norris] Rocks in the vicinity of the Earle of Abington's Island, so it would appear that a decision to honor the Abingdon family was made after the Sloane/Pepys mss., and this revision found its way into the Morgan ms. and the printed book. Albany Island is also added, with details of its location within Albany Bay, and later on a single sentence inserts four more names: “There are four more isles, one I called Narbroughs, another Dean's, another Crossmans, & the other Brattles.” There is no information about any of them. In the published book, still another new sentence adds three more names: “One … I called Eures's', another Dassigny's, and another Bindlos's.” Again, there is no information about any of them.

In all the examples described so far, it is the content of Ms. 3310 that appears in the published Cowley's Voyage, thereby indicating that it was a copy of Ms. 54, edited (and sometimes with a heavy hand) for use in production of the book.

Whitehall 4 & Morgan 3310

Both mss. are sequentially paginated, with Cowley's journal preceded by the work of others (described below). The handwriting within each ms. is consistent from the first to last page, and it is therefore assumed that each is the work of a single copyist, rather than of the cited authors. Neither ms. mentions Cowley's loss of the first part of his journal. Whitehall Ms. 4 covers only the latter part of the voyage, while Morgan Ms. 3310 covers the complete voyage in a two-part sequence, as summarized here.

4II123-209December 1684 September 1686GorgonaEngland
3310II167-248December 1684 September 1686GorgonaEngland
3310I249-262August 1683 December 1684VirginiaGorgona
† The Cowley segments are identified as Sections I & II for comparison with the Sloane manuscripts.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in either ms. to explain why the content of Ms. 3310, Section I does not appear in Ms. 4. All that can be suggested here is that when Cowley finished his reconstruction of the first segment of the voyage, the copyist added it to the most-recent of the two mss., and there was no need to copy it to the other one. A continuing study of the Cowley segment in both mss. has not yet yielded anything useful in making a more definitive judgement of precedence. In fact, further examination of the use of present and past tense adds more confusion than enlightenment. For example, present-tense entries might suggest a direct report of an event written at the time that event took place, while past-tense entries—as in Ms. 3310, Section I—might indicate a re-telling of the same event. Consistency of tense might therefore help place one ms. ahead of the other, but there is no such consistency, as shown by these examples:

Date (1685)Ms. 4Ms. 3310, Section II
January 12We were in the latitude…We are now in the latitude …
January 13We being in the latitude …We being in the latitude …
January 14We find ourselves in the latitude …We found ourselves in the latitude …

There is, however, evidence elsewhere to indicate which is the earliest mss. The table below summarizes the content and pagination within both mss., along with the equivalent sections in Hacke's Collection of Original Voyages.

Ms. 4Ms. 3310Hacke's Collection
(no Index)Index (labeled “The Table”)unpaginatedIndexunpaginated
Sailing instructions of Capt. Vellegas1-72(not present)
 Cowley's Voyage1-45
Streights of Magellan (unattributed)73-102Bartholomew Sharp's Journal1-124Sharp's Journey1-55
Bartholomew Sharpe's Journal102-121Streights of Magellan by Captain Wood125-166Wood's Voyage56-100
Cowley's Journal (second segment)123-209Cowley's Journal (both segments)167-262(see above)
(not present in either ms.)Roberts's Voyage1-53

In Ms. 3310, the presence of an Index and absence of Capt. Vellegas' work matches the book, in which Cowley's Voyage appears first, followed by the works of Sharp, Wood and Roberts—the Sharp and Wood sequence matches that of Ms. 3310, while the Roberts segment does not appear in either ms. Although the book's distinctive pagination (1-45, followed by 1-100 and 1-53) suggests that there might have been plans to publish these segments separately, they are not known to exist in such a format. In any case, these observations indicate Ms. 3310 bears the closest resemblance to the book, and is therefore assumed to be the later of the two mss.

Sharpe vs. Sharp: The name Bartholomew Sharpe is spelled thusly in both manuscripts, but appears as “Sharp” in the Collection of Original Voyages edited by William Hacke.

Lambeth & Pepys Accounts of the ship Nicholas

The comparisons presented above indicate that the Lambeth ms. was followed in sequence by the two Sloane mss. and then the Pepys ms. The Nicholas account comprises the first two pages of the Lambeth ms. and the last two pages of the Pepys ms. By way of explanation, it is assumed here that Cowley brought this account to England with him, and turned it over to the copyist who prepared the Lambeth ms. It was not copied into the Sloane mss. because it was to play no part in the eventual production of the printed version of Cowley's voyage. But Samuel Pepys may have instructed his copyist to append it to his personal copy of Cowley's ms., which appears to have been copied from Sloane Ms. 54, as described above.

A few text insertions in the Nicholas account are displayed here in italics on the Lambeth Ms. 642 page. These are incorporated into the text of Pepys Ms. 2826, which at first suggests that the latter was copied from the former. However, there are also a few significant changes in phrasing, which suggests that the Lambeth ms. was copied from an original account (now presumed lost), and that this account was subsequently modified by Cowley (or someone else) before the Pepys version was prepared. There is however one insertion that is not explained by either assumption.

    Above: Lambeth Ms. 642
    Below: Pepys Ms. 2826

This is a correction to the number of pieces of eight, as seen here. If indeed the Pepys copy of the Nicholas account was copied from the Lambeth ms., presumably the copyist would have written this insertion directly into the text, as was in fact done with the other insertions seen in the Pepys ms. But if both copyists consulted some other source, it would seem unlikely that each would make—and then, correct—the same omission. For the moment then, there is no satisfactory explanation for this discrepancy.

Comparison of Dates in All Manuscripts

The Virginia T8525a3 manuscript is the only one bearing the actual date on which it was written. As already indicated, it is thought that the others were written in the sequence given here, but no information has yet been discovered to assign specific dates.

There is an unresolved discrepancy in the actual date of Cowley's departure from Gorgona in December 1684, as shown here:

VirginiaT8525a3IIThe 22 of December
Lambeth642IIDecember the 22th [sic]
Sloane1050IIDecember 22
Sloane54IIDecember 22th [sic]
Pepys2826IIDecember 22d
Whitehall4IIFrydayDecember 22d
Morgan3310II (p. 167)FrydayDecember the 19th
Morgan3310I (p. 262)19th day of December

The day/date given in Ms. 3310, Section II, agrees with the Julian calendar for December 1684, so it is unclear where the error lies. Since the Whitehall and Morgan mss. both show another line in which Cowley has “… corrected my works from Gorgona the 22d of December,” it means that all seven mss. agree on this date. If so, the Whitehall Ms. 4 copyist introduced the word “Fryday” instead of “Monday” in error. Yet both parts of Morgan Ms. 3310 also give an alternative date of December 19th, which happens to have fallen on a Friday. The departure from Gorgona is mentioned in the published Cowley's Voyage, but neither day nor date is given. But on the same page their arrival at Guam “… was the 14th of March …” and “The next Day, being Sunday, … .” This lack of any date, followed by very specific dating, suggests that the publisher may have been uncertain of which date was correct for the Gorgona departure, and therefore omitted it completely.

The Julian calendar for December, 1684 is included for reference purposes.

Julian Calendar for December, 1684


Manuscript Locations
Virginia Mss1. T8525a3 Lambeth Ms. 642 Sloane Mss. 1050 & 54
Virginia Historical Society
428 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220
Lambeth Palace Library
Lambeth Palace Road
London SE1 7JU
The British Library
Dept. of Manuscripts
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
Pepys Ms. 2826 Whitehall Ms. 4 Morgan Ms. MA 3310
The Pepys Library
Magdalene College
Cambridge CB3 0AG
Hydrographic Data Centre
Hydrographic Office
Ministry of Defence
Taunton, Somerset TA1 2DN
(formerly at Whitehall Library, London)
Pierpont Morgan Library
29 East 36th Street
New York, NY 10016-3403