The Worthy Enterprise Of John Fox




Richard Hakluyt was born at Eyton in Herefordshire in 1553, and was

educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he

graduated B.A. in 1574, and M.A. in 1577, and lectured publicly upon

geography, showing "b
th the old imperfectly composed, and the new

lately reformed maps, globes, spheres, and other instruments of this


In 1582 Hakluyt published his "Divers Voyages touching the Discovery of

America and the Lands adjacent unto the same, made first of all by our

Englishmen, and afterwards by the Frenchmen and Bretons; and certain

Notes of Advertisements for Observations, necessary for such as shall

hereafter make the like attempt." In 1583, having taken orders, he went

to Paris as chaplain to the English ambassador, Sir Edward Stafford,

returning to England for a short time in 1584, when he laid before the

queen a paper entitled "A particular Discourse concerning Western

Discoveries, written in the year 1584 by Richard Hakluyt, of Oxford, at

the request and direction of the right worshipful Mr. Walter Raleigh,

before the coming home of his two barks."

In 1587 he translated and published in London "A Notable History

containing Four Voyages made by certain French Captains into Florida."

In 1589 he published "The Principal Navigations, Voyages and

Discoveries of the English Nation"--a work developed into three volumes

folio, published in the years 1598, 1599, and 1600 as "The Principal

Navigations, Voyages, Traffics, and Discoveries of the English Nation."

Hakluyt became Archdeacon of Westminster in 1603, and died in 1616. He

was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Four stories from Hakluyt's voyages appear in this book. "The

Troublesome Voyage of the Jesus," which is included with "The Story of

Sir John Hawkins," p. 43; "The Voyage made to Tripolis in Barbary," p.

79; "A True Report of a Worthy Fight," p. 91; and "The Worthy Enterprise

of John Fox" which here follows.

"Among our merchants here in England, it is a common voyage to traffic

to Spain; whereunto a ship called the Three Half Moons, manned with

eight and thirty men, well fenced with munitions, the better to

encounter their enemies withal, and having wind and tide, set from

Portsmouth 1563, and bended her journey towards Seville, a city in

Spain, intending there to traffic with them. And falling near the

Straits, they perceived themselves to be beset round about with eight

galleys of the Turks, in such wise that there was no way for them to fly

or escape away, but that either they must yield or else be sunk, which

the owner perceiving, manfully encouraged his company, exhorting them

valiantly to show their manhood, showing them that God was their God,

and not their enemies', requesting them also not to faint in seeing such

a heap of their enemies ready to devour them; putting them in mind also,

that if it were God's pleasure to give them into their enemies' hands,

it was not they that ought to show one displeasant look or countenance

there against; but to take it patiently, and not to prescribe a day and

time for their deliverance, as the citizens of Bethulia did, but to put

themselves under His mercy. And again, if it were His mind and good will

to show His mighty power by them, if their enemies were ten times so

many, they were not able to stand in their hands; putting them,

likewise, in mind of the old and ancient worthiness of their countrymen,

who in the hardest extremities have always most prevailed, and gone

away conquerors; yea, and where it hath been almost impossible. 'Such,'

quoth he, 'hath been the valiantness of our countrymen, and such hath

been the mighty power of our God.'

"With such other like encouragements, exhorting them to behave

themselves manfully, they fell all on their knees, making their prayers

briefly unto God; who, being all risen up again, perceived their

enemies, by their signs and defiances, bent to the spoil, whose mercy

was nothing else but cruelty; whereupon every man took him to his


"Then stood up one Grove, the master, being a comely man, with his sword

and target, holding them up in defiance against his enemies. So likewise

stood up the owner, the master's mate, boatswain, purser, and every man

well appointed. Now likewise sounded up the drums, trumpets and flutes,

which would have encouraged any man, had he never so little heart or

courage in him.

"Then taketh him to his charge John Fox, the gunner, in the disposing of

his pieces, in order to the best effect, and, sending his bullets

towards the Turks, who likewise bestowed their pieces thrice as fast

towards the Christians. But shortly they drew near, so that the bowman

fell to their charge in sending forth their arrows so thick amongst the

galleys, and also in doubling their shot so sore upon the galleys, that

there were twice as many of the Turks slain as the number of the

Christians were in all. But the Turks discharged twice as fast against

the Christians, and so long, that the ship was very sore stricken and

bruised under water; which the Turks, perceiving, made the more haste to

come aboard the ship: which, ere they could do, many a Turk bought it

dearly with the loss of their lives. Yet was all in vain, boarded they

were, where they found so hot a skirmish, that it had been better they

had not meddled with the feast; for the Englishmen showed themselves men

indeed in working manfully with their brown bills and halberds, where

the owner, master, boatswain and their company stood to it so lustily,

that the Turks were half dismayed. But chiefly the boatswain showed

himself valiant above the rest, for he fared amongst the Turks like a

wood lion; for there was none of them that either could or durst stand

in his face, till at last there came a shot from the Turks which brake

his whistle asunder, and smote him on the breast, so that he fell down,

bidding them farewell, and to be of good comfort, encouraging them,

likewise, to win praise by death, rather than to live captives in misery

and shame, which they, hearing, indeed, intended to have done, as it

appeared by their skirmish; but the press and store of the Turks were so

great, that they were not long able to endure, but were so overpressed

that they could not wield their weapons, by reason whereof they must

needs be taken, which none of them intended to have been, but rather to

have died, except only the master's mate, who shrunk from the skirmish,

like a notable coward, esteeming neither the value of his name, nor

accounting of the present example of his fellows, nor having respect to

the miseries whereunto he should be put. But in fine, so it was, that

the Turks were victors, whereof they had no great cause to rejoice or

triumph. Then would it have grieved any hard heart to see these infidels

so violently entreating the Christians, not having any respect of their

manhood, which they had tasted of, nor yet respecting their own state,

how they might have met with such a booty as might have given them the

overthrow; but no remorse hereof, or anything else doth bridle their

fierce and tyrannous dealing, but the Christians must needs to the

galleys, to serve in new officer; and they were no sooner in them, but

their garments were pulled over their ears and torn from their backs,

and they set to the oars.

"I will make no mention of their miseries, being now under their

enemies' raging stripes. I think there is no man will judge their fare

good, or their bodies unloaden of stripes, and not pestered with too

much heat, and also with too much cold; but I will go to my purpose,

which is to show the end of those being in mere misery, which

continually do call on God with a steadfast hope that He will deliver

them, and with a sure faith that He can do it.

"Nigh to the city of Alexandria, being a haven town, and under the

dominion of the Turks, there is a road, being made very fencible with

strong walls, whereinto the Turks do customably bring their galleys on

shore every year, in the winter season, and there do trim them, and lay

them up against the spring-time; in which road there is a prison,

wherein the captives and such prisoners as serve in the galleys are put

for all that time, until the seas be calm and passable for the galleys;

every prisoner being most grievously laden with irons on their legs, to

their great pain and sore disabling of them to any labour; into which

prison were these Christians put and fast warded all the winter season.

But ere it was long, the master and the owner, by means of friends, were

redeemed, the rest abiding still in the misery, while that they were

all, through reason of their ill-usage and worse fare, miserably

starved, saving one John Fox, who (as some men can abide harder and more

misery than other some can, so can some likewise make more shift, and

work more duties to help their state and living, than other some can do)

being somewhat skilful in the craft of a barber, by reason thereof made

great shift in helping his fare now and then with a good meal. Insomuch,

till at the last God sent him favour in the sight of the keeper of the

prison, so that he had leave to go in and out to the road at his

pleasure, paying a certain stipend unto the keeper, and wearing a lock

about his leg, which liberty likewise five more had upon like

sufferance, who, by reason of their long imprisonment, not being feared

or suspected to start aside, or that they would work the Turks any

mischief, had liberty to go in and out at the said road, in such manner

as this John Fox did, with irons on their legs, and to return again at


"In the year of our Lord 1577, in the winter season, the galleys happily

coming to their accustomed harbourage, and being discharged of all their

masts, sails, and other such furnitures as unto galleys do appertain,

and all the masters and mariners of them being then nested in their own

homes, there remained in the prison of the said road two hundred three

score and eight Christian prisoners who had been taken by the Turks'

force, and were of fifteen sundry nations. Among which there were three

Englishmen, whereof one was named John Fox, of Woodbridge, in Suffolk,

the other William Wickney, of Portsmouth, in the county of Southampton,

and the third Robert Moore, of Harwich, in the county of Essex; which

John Fox, having been thirteen or fourteen years under their gentle

entreatance, and being too weary thereof, minding his escape, weighed

with himself by what means it might be brought to pass, and continually

pondering with himself thereof, took a good heart unto him, in the hope

that God would not be always scourging His children, and never ceasing

to pray Him to further His intended enterprise, if that it should

redound to His glory.

"Not far from the road, and somewhat from thence, at one side of the

city, there was a certain victualling house, which one Peter Vuticaro

had hired, paying also a certain fee unto the keeper of the road. This

Peter Vuticaro was a Spaniard born, and a Christian, and had been

prisoner above thirty years, and never practised any means to escape,

but kept himself quiet without touch or suspect of any conspiracy, until

that now this John Fox using much thither, they brake one to another

their minds, concerning the restraint of their liberty and imprisonment.

So that this John Fox, at length opening unto this Vuticaro the device

which he would fain put in practice, made privy one more to this their

intent; which three debated of this matter at such times as they could

compass to meet together; insomuch that, at seven weeks' end they had

sufficiently concluded how the matter should be, if it pleased God to

further them thereto; who, making five more privy to this their device,

whom they thought that they might safely trust, determined in three

nights after to accomplish their deliberate purpose. Whereupon the same

John Fox and Peter Vuticaro, and the other five appointed to meet all

together in the prison the next day, being the last day of December,

where this John Fox certified the rest of the prisoners what their

intent and device was, and how and when they minded to bring that

purpose to pass, who thereunto persuaded them without much ado to

further their device; which, the same John Fox seeing, delivered unto

them a sort of files, which he had gathered together for this purpose by

the means of Peter Vuticaro, charging them that every man should be

ready, discharged of his irons, by eight of the clock on the next day at


"On the next day at night, the said John Fox, and his five other

companions, being all come to the house of Peter Vuticaro, passing the

time away in mirth for fear of suspect till the night came on, so that

it was time for them to put in practice their device, sent Peter

Vuticaro to the master of the road, in the name of one of the masters of

the city, with whom this keeper was acquainted, and at whose request he

also would come at the first; who desired him to take the pains to meet

him there, promising him that he would bring him back again. The keeper

agreed to go with him, asking the warders not to bar the gate, saying

that he would not stay long, but would come again with all speed.

"In the mean-season, the other seven had provided them of such weapons

as they could get in that house, and John Fox took him to an old rusty

sword-blade without either hilt or pommel, which he made to serve his

turn in bending the hand end of the sword instead of a pommel; and the

other had got such spits and glaves as they found in the house.

"The keeper being now come unto the house, and perceiving no light nor

hearing any noise, straightway suspected the matter; and returning

backward, John Fox, standing behind the corner of the house, stepped

forth unto him; who, perceiving it to be John Fox, said, 'O Fox, what

have I deserved of thee that thou shouldest seek my death?' 'Thou,

villain,' quoth Fox, 'hast been a bloodsucker of many a Christian's

blood, and now thou shalt know what thou hast deserved at my hands,'

wherewith he lift up his bright shining sword of ten years' rust, and

stroke him so main a blow, as therewithal his head clave asunder so that

he fell stark dead to the ground. Whereupon Peter Vuticaro went in and

certified the rest how the case stood with the keeper, and they came

presently forth, and some with their spits ran him through, and the

other with their glaves hewed him in sunder, cut off his head, and

mangled him so that no man should discern what he was.

"Then marched they toward the road, whereinto they entered softly, where

were five warders, whom one of them asked, saying, who was there? Quoth

Fox and his company, 'All friends.' Which when they were all within

proved contrary; for, quoth Fox, 'My masters, here is not to every man a

man, wherefore look you, play your parts.' Who so behaved themselves

indeed, that they had despatched these five quickly. Then John Fox,

intending not to be barren of his enterprise, and minding to work surely

in that which he went about, barred the gate surely, and planted a

cannon against it.

"Then entered they into the gaoler's lodge, where they found the keys of

the fortress and prison by his bedside, and there got they all better

weapons. In this chamber was a chest wherein was a rich treasure, and

all in ducats, which this Peter Vuticaro and two more opening, stuffed

themselves so full as they could between their shirts and their skin;

which John Fox would not once touch, and said, 'that it was his and

their liberty which he fought for, to the honour of his God, and not to

make a mart of the wicked treasure of the infidels.' Yet did these words

sink nothing unto their stomachs; they did it for a good intent. So did

Saul save the fattest oxen to offer unto the Lord, and they to serve

their own turn. But neither did Saul escape the wrath of God therefore,

neither had these that thing which they desired so, and did thirst

after. Such is God's justice. He that they put their trust in to deliver

them from the tyrannous hands of their enemies, he, I say, could supply

their want of necessaries.

"Now these eight, being armed with such weapons as they thought well of,

thinking themselves sufficient champions to encounter a stronger enemy,

and coming unto the prison, Fox opened the gates and doors thereof, and

called forth all the prisoners, whom he set, some to ramming up the

gate, some to the dressing up of a certain galley which was the best in

all the road, and was called The Captain of Alexandria, whereinto some

carried masts, sails, oars, and other such furniture as doth belong unto

a galley.

"At the prison were certain warders whom John Fox and his company slew,

in the killing of whom there were eight more of the Turks which

perceived them, and got them to the top of the prison, unto whom John

Fox and his company were fain to come by ladders, where they found a hot

skirmish, for some of them were there slain, some wounded, and some but

scarred and not hurt. As John Fox was thrice shot through his apparel,

and not hurt, Peter Vuticaro and the other two, that had armed them with

the ducats, were slain, as not able to wield themselves, being so

pestered with the weight and uneasy carrying of the wicked and profane

treasure; and also divers Christians were as well hurt about that

skirmish as Turks slain.

"Amongst the Turks was one thrust through, who (let us not say that it

was ill-fortune) fell off from the top of the prison wall, and made such

a groaning that the inhabitants thereabout (as here and there stood a

house or two) came and questioned him, so that they understood the case,

how that the prisoners were paying their ransoms; wherewith they raised

both Alexandria, which lay on the west side of the road, and a castle

which was at the city's end next to the road, and also another fortress

which lay on the north side of the road, so that now they had no way to

escape but one, which by man's reason (the two holds lying so upon the

mouth of the road) might seem impossible to be a way for them. So was

the Red Sea impossible for the Israelites to pass through, the hills and

rocks lay so on the one side, and their enemies compassed them on the

other. So was it impossible that the walls of Jericho should fall down,

being neither undermined nor yet rammed at with engines, nor yet any

man's wisdom, policy, or help, set or put thereunto. Such

impossibilities can our God make possible. He that held the lion's jaws

from rending Daniel asunder, yea, or yet from once touching him to his

hurt, cannot He hold the roaring cannons of this hellish force? He that

kept the fire's rage in the hot burning oven from the three children

that praised His name, cannot He keep the fire's flaming blasts from

among His elect?

"Now is the road fraught with lusty soldiers, labourers, and mariners,

who are fain to stand to their tackling, in setting to every man his

hand, some to the carrying in of victuals, some munitions, some oars,

and some one thing some another, but most are keeping their enemy from

the wall of the road. But to be short, there was no time mis-spent, no

man idle, nor any man's labour ill-bestowed or in vain. So that in short

time this galley was ready trimmed up. Whereinto every man leaped in all

haste, hoisting up the sails lustily, yielding themselves to His mercy

and grace, in Whose hands is both wind and weather.

"Now is this galley afloat, and out of the shelter of the road; now have

the two castles full power upon the galley; now is there no remedy but

to sink. How can it be avoided? The cannons let fly from both sides, and

the galley is even in the middest and between them both. What man can

devise to save it? There is no man but would think it must needs be


"There was not one of them that feared the shot which went thundering

round about their ears, nor yet were once scarred or touched with five

and forty shot which came from the castles. Here did God hold forth His

buckler, He shieldeth now this galley, and hath tried their faith to the

uttermost. Now cometh His special help; yea, even when man thinks them

past all help, then cometh He Himself down from Heaven with His mighty

power, then is His present remedy most ready. For they sail away, being

not once touched by the glance of a shot, and are quickly out of the

Turkish cannons' reach. Then might they see them coming down by heaps to

the water's side, in companies like unto swarms of bees, making show to

come after them with galleys, bustling themselves to dress up the

galleys, which would be a swift piece of work for them to do, for that

they had neither oars, masts, sails, nor anything else ready in any

galley. But yet they are carrying into them, some into one galley, and

some into another, so that, being such a confusion amongst them, without

any certain guide, it were a thing impossible to overtake the

Christians; beside that, there was no man that would take charge of a

galley, the weather was so rough, and there was such an amazedness

amongst them. And verily, I think their god was amazed thereat; it could

not be but that he must blush for shame, he can speak never a word for

dulness, much less can he help them in such an extremity. Well,

howsoever it is, he is very much to blame to suffer them to receive such

a gibe. But howsoever their god behaved himself, our God showed Himself

a God indeed, and that He was the only living God; for the seas were

swift under His faithful, which made the enemies aghast to behold them;

a skilfuller pilot leads them, and their mariners bestir them lustily;

but the Turks had neither mariners, pilot, nor any skilful master, that

was in readiness at this pinch.

"When the Christians were safe out of the enemy's coast, John Fox called

to them all, telling them to be thankful unto Almighty God for their

delivery, and most humbly to fall down upon their knees, beseeching Him

to aid them to their friends' land, and not to bring them into another

danger, since He had most mightily delivered them from so great a

thraldom and bondage.

"Thus when every man had made his petition, they fell straightway to

their labour with the oars, in helping one another when they were

wearied, and with great labour striving to come to some Christian land,

as near as they could guess by the stars. But the winds were so

contrary, one while driving them this way, another while that way, so

that they were now in a new maze, thinking that God had forsaken them

and left them to a greater danger. And forasmuch as there were no

victuals now left in the galley, it might have been a cause to them (if

they had been the Israelites) to have murmured against their God; but

they knew how that their God, who had delivered Egypt, was such a loving

and merciful God, as that He would not suffer them to be confounded in

whom He had wrought so great a wonder, but what calamity soever they

sustained, they knew it was but for their further trial, and also (in

putting them in mind of their further misery) to cause them not to

triumph and glory in themselves therefor. Having, I say, no victuals in

the galley, it might seem one misery continually to fall upon another's

neck; but to be brief the famine grew to be so great that in

twenty-eight days, wherein they were on the sea, there died eight

persons, to the astonishment of all the rest.

"So it fell out that upon the twenty-ninth day after they set from

Alexandria, they fell on the Isle of Candia, and landed at Gallipoli,

where they were made much of by the abbot and monks there, who caused

them to stay there while they were well refreshed and eased. They kept

there the sword wherewith John Fox had killed the keeper, esteeming it

as a most precious relic, and hung it up for a monument.

"When they thought good, having leave to depart from thence, they sailed

along the coast till they arrived at Tarento, where they sold their

galley, and divided it, every man having a part thereof. And then they

came afoot to Naples, where they departed asunder, every man taking him

to his next way home. From whence John Fox took his journey unto Rome,

where he was well entertained by an Englishman who presented his worthy

deed unto the pope, who rewarded him liberally, and gave him letters

unto the King of Spain, where he was very well entertained of him there,

who for this his most worthy enterprise gave him in fee twenty pence a

day. From whence, being desirous to come into his own country, he came

thither at such time as he conveniently could, which was in the year of

our Lord God 1579; who being come into England went unto the court, and

showed all his travel unto the council, who considering of the state of

this man, in that he had spent and lost a great part of his youth in

thraldom and bondage, extended to him their liberality to help to

maintain him now in age, to their right honour and to the encouragement

of all true-hearted Christians."