|Report of Don Beltran De Castro on the capture of
The only order I received from the Viceroy when I left Callao, in
chase of this Englishman, was, if my memory serves me, that I was
to effect the capture with all care, and to do my best to come up
with him, which, by the grace of God, I did.
As to what passed when I had caught him, I may make the
following statement :—From Thursday, at four in the afternoon,
when I first attacked him, we continued fighting all that evening
and night, as well as all Friday, and Friday night. On Saturday,
well into the day, I found my flagship very much damaged, as most
of the crew were killed, and the mainmast shot away, my own ship
being also in a very critical condition, many of my spars being
carried away or injured, and my ship pierced, and full of water.
Thinking it unwise to risk further, I ordered the offer to be made
to Hawkins of fair terms of war if he would surrender—in order to
suspend the fighting, as I was as likely to sink as he was, and I was
content to have got hold of him at any rate. He accepted the offer,
and I think my course was the wisest one under the circumstances,
in his Majesty's interests. Shortly before he surrendered, I learnt
that he had ordered two men to stand by with lighted torches, to
set fire to the powder magazine if we boarded him. But one of our
shot carried away both of the men, although there were others who
would have taken their places. If his Majesty ordered that no
enemy who entered those seas was to be taken alive, I never heard
of such an order. But even if I had, I am of opinion that a
commander is at liberty to act as he thinks best for the service under
the circumstances, and I believe I acted wisely in doing as I did,
always with submission to the opinion of these gentlemen, who will
Your Lordship calls Richard Hawkins a corsair. He was not so,
as a corsair, as I understand it, is one who makes war on his own
account upon those with whom his sovereign is at peace, without
any authority from his sovereign. But Hawkins bore a patent
from the queen of England (which I still have in my possession),
ordering him to do all the damage he could to our King and his
allies. This being the case, and war having existed between the
two countries for so long, I do not think that Don Richard merits
the name that you apply to him.
The Council of State in their report to the King on the above
subject, approve of Don Beltran de Castro's action, and agree that
Hawkins was not a pirate but a prisoner in fair war, and,
consequently, might be ransomed.
696. Report of the Council of State to Philip III. on the
communication from the Irishman Richard Owen, giving
advice as to the best way to effect the war in Ireland.
The Council has considered the enclosed memorial of Richard
Owen, a confidant of Earl O'Neil, which contains many points of
interest. These points, however, all depend upon the resolution to be
arrived at as to the matter itself ; and the Council thinks best not to
consider in detail Owen's advice prematurely. The Council has,
however, gone through all the reports that have been furnished
to your Majesty on the matter, and finds that the undertaking, in
principle, has been authorised, the strength decided upon, and everything
ordered to be got ready without loss of time. But your
Majesty's absence has so delayed matters that the vessels and galleys in
Andalusia are still very much behindhand. Out of the 16 needed,
only 8 have been fitted out, and the raising of sailors has not even
begun. As promptitude is of the very first importance in the
business, as your Majesty has shown by ordering great speed to be
exercised, and in your own prompt resolve, and every day brings
further confirmation of the desirability of harassing the Queen at
that point, the Council urgently begs your Majesty to order greater
expedition to be used, and that the rest of the galleons should be
got ready at once, as also the provisions, biscuits, &c. Out of the
30,000 quintals of biscuits expected, there are only now 12,000 in
Lisbon, of which it was arranged to send 4,000 to Ireland.
The Council also recommends the King to have the needful money
provided and encashed without delay.
Richard Owen's long memorial resolves itself into the following
That Prince O'Neil should be appointed Captain-General, as no
Irishman will consent to be governed by one of lower rank than
That O'Donnell be made Governor of Connaught, and Desmond
Governor (fn. 1) of Munster.
That the Irish should be taken by his Majesty, either as subjects,
allies, or protegés.
The best time for the war is from September to December, as the
English are always in strength in spring and summer.
The 30 or 40 Irish gentlemen in Flanders, etc., should be sent
with the force.
The Pope should be asked to excommunicate the Irishmen who aid
All the arms and munitions sent should be kept in an arsenal.
For the battery of towns will be needed eight cannons and four
Harness and all accessories should be sent, but not horses.
Six field pieces will be sufficient, and if fortifications are to be
erected, tools should be sent.
No Irish ship should be allowed in a Spanish port without a
license from O'Neil.
The Catholics are tired of war, and if aid be not promptly sent it
may be feared they will make peace with the English.
The Englishwoman onfers them liberty of conscience, and to each
Chief the possession of his lands, with many new privileges. The
Catholics have hitherto refused them out of affection to his Majesty.
The king of Scotland has offered O'Neil to make good terms for
him with the Englishwoman.
Most nations dislike Spain : the Irish love it. It is just, therefore,
that they should be succoured. Aid should therefore be sent at
The cheapest way to send the aid will be as follows :—
Every October a large number of Irish, Scotch, and Breton ships
go to Spain for wine. Take these ships, pay them good freights,
and load them with men, arms, etc, Send 10 small warships to
convoy them. Let some Spanish pilots go in each of the foreign
boats for security, If any disaster occurs your Majesty would lose
less than if you sent your own galleys.
To take Ireland, and cast out the heretics speedily and cheaply,
the force should enter Carlingford, in O'Neil's country, where there
is great abundance of provisions, good horses, and everything
necessary. It is only 40 miles from Dublin. Operating from
Carlingford, four out of the six English garrisons in O'Neil's
country can be expelled in three days, and more can be done there
against the English in six months than elsewhere in many years.
If the force goes to Munster the war will last for many years.
Owen describes himself as having served over 12 years in Flanders,
and as being in command of all of O'Neil's infantry.—Madrid,
20th November 1600.