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Gilbert
Gilbert
328

house three times’ (Dev. Assoc. Trans. xi. 466, 479).

In the autumn of 1572 Gilbert was sent to the Netherlands with a band of fifteen hundred English volunteers to assist the Zeelanders against their Spanish tyrants. After making an incursion nearly up to the gates of Bruges he crossed the Wester Schelde to Flushing. He was repulsed in an assault upon Goes, and his raw levies were not allowed to take refuge in Flushing until they had withstood a night attack by the Spaniards from Middelburg. At the end of August Gilbert again assaulted Goes unsuccessfully, as he was obliged to raise the siege by Mondragon's famous march of eight miles across the ‘drowned lands’ of the Ooster Schelde from Bergen-op-Zoom. The English fled before the more disciplined troops of Spain, and Gilbert returned to England in disgust (Fox Bourne, English Seamen, i. 114; Markham, Fighting Veres, pp. 43–8). For the next five years (1573–8) Gilbert lived in retirement at Limehouse, where he had resided for a year before he went to the Netherlands. During the winter of 1574, being visited here by George Gascoigne [q. v.], the poet, and asked by him ‘how he spent his time in this loitering vacation from martial stratagems,’ Gilbert took his friend into his study and there showed him ‘sundry profitable and very commendable exercises which he had perfected plainly with his own pen’ (Gascoigne's Pref. to Gilbert's Discourse). One of these ‘exercises’ was Gilbert's ‘Discourse of a Discouery for a New Passage to Cataia.’ It was written partly in support of his still unanswered petition of November 1566, and partly to quiet the fears of his elder brother, Sir John, who, having no issue, was adverse to Sir Humphrey embarking personally in such an enterprise. It led to the bestowal of a license (5 Feb. 1575) upon Sir Martin Frobisher [q. v.] for his discovery towards Cathay. It was afterwards edited by George Gascoigne in 1576, with additions, and probably without Gilbert's authority. On 6 Nov. 1577 Gilbert set forth another ‘discourse:’ ‘How Her Majesty might annoy the King of Spain by fitting out a fleet of war-ships under pretence of a voyage of discovery, and so fall upon the enemy's shipping, destroy his trade in Newfoundland and the West Indies, and possess both Regions’ (State Papers, Dom. cxviii. 12). There was no response to this discourse, but on 11 June 1578 Gilbert obtained from the queen his long-coveted charter for discovery, to plant a colony, and to be governor (Hakluyt, iii. 135–7). The first expedition in connection with it, in which he was assisted by his step-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, left Dartmouth on 23 Sept. 1578. Owing to divided councils it was a failure from the outset, and after putting back into Plymouth the fleet left once more on 18 Nov., only to court disaster at sea at the hands of the Spaniards off Cape Verde. Gilbert, finding it impossible with the residue to carry out his project, returned to Plymouth in May 1579 (Holinshed, iii. 1369). Although Sir Humphrey had sunk all his money and his influence at court in this unfortunate venture, the project was not abandoned, but in the meantime he turned to his old employment in Ireland. The summer of 1579 saw him serving under Sir John Perrot, admiral of the queen's ships sent to encounter the insurrection raised by James Fitzmaurice, aided by Spanish ships off Munster [see Fitzgerald, James Fitzmaurice, d. 1579]. In July 1581 he writes to Walsingham from Minster in Sheppey that he might be paid a little sum of money for his work in Ireland in 1579, whereby he had lost so much that he was reduced to utter want. It was a miserable thing, he added, that after seven-and-twenty years' service he should now be subjected to daily arrests, executions, and outlawries, and have even to sell his wife's clothes from off her back (State Papers, Dom. cxlix. 66). The next four years appear to have been employed by Gilbert chiefly in raising money for his colonising scheme, and in collecting information. His charter would expire in 1584, and to facilitate his operations he resolved to assign some of the privileges contained in it to other speculators, on condition that their enterprises should be carried on under his jurisdiction. Thus we meet with ‘Articles of agreement between Sir H. Gilbert and such of Southampton as adventure with him’ (ib. clv. 86). The result was that in the summer of 1583 he was enabled to set out once more on his long-cherished project for the settlement of Newfoundland.

On Tuesday, 11 June 1583, Gilbert sailed out of Plymouth Sound with a fleet of five ships, viz. the Delight as admiral, the barque Raleigh (furnished by his step-brother, and the largest vessel), the Golden Hind (commanded by Edward Hayes, the narrator of the voyage), the Swallow, and the Squirrel. Two days later the barque returned to Plymouth, probably by the connivance of Raleigh, on the plea of sickness aboard. After parting company with the Swallow and Squirrel in a fog on 20 July, Gilbert proceeded with his two remaining vessels until 30 July, when he sighted the northern shores of Newfoundland, near the Straits of Bellisle. Following the coast to the south, and after crossing Conception Bay, where he met with the Swallow,