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This is page 7 of a 13 page article. Go to previous page. Go to Introduction.

II. Thomas Doughtie: the Martyr – The Atlantic Crossing Edit

In the meantime, Bright and Brewer vilified the unsuspecting Doughtie. Somehow the tale that he was a conjurer got about; Kelsey speculates that the rumor may have been due to astrological charts Doughtie prepared (102). But a more interesting idea can be derived from the outcome of the next incident, when John Brewer visits the Pelican. His friends give him a “cobbey,” a traditional maritime roughhousing. Doughtie participates somewhat reluctantly – one wonders if he felt that not participating would alienate the gentleman further from his crew. The incident, recorded by Cooke, is worth quoting at length:

...Mastar Dowghty puttying in his hand, said fellowe John, you shall have in my hand, althowghe it be but lyght amongst the rest, and so laynge his hond on his buttoke, which perceyved of John trumpet, he began to swere wounds and blud to ye company t let hym lose, for they are not all (qd he) the Generales frinds that be here, and with that turned hym to Mastar Dowghty and sayde vnto hym (as hym self presently aftar tolde me in the price), Gods wounds, Dowghty, what doste thow meane to vse this familiaritie with me, consyderynge thou art not the Generals frind? who answered hym: What, fellow John, what moves you to this and to vse these words to me, that am as good and sure a frind to my good Generall as any in this flete, and I defye hym that shall saye the contrarye? but is the matter thus, why yet, fellow John, I pray the lett me lyve vntill I come into England? (Cooke 193-194)

Again, as in the Essex affair, Doughtie shows not guile, nor skill at manipulation, but naiveté and verbal honesty. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t wise of him to put that sort of idea into Brewer’s head! To give some indication of the level of prevarication allowable when the subject is Thomas Doughtie, the British Library Catalog of the Sir Francis Drake Exhibition of 1977 describes the incident thusly: “Doughty saw fit to hit him [Brewer],” (57). The casual reader of this passage is hardly to be blamed for believing Doughtie perpetuated a hostile and violent attack against the trumpeter, instead of a swat upon the buttocks delivered in the course of roughhousing.

When Brewer reports this incident, Drake acts in a peremptory way by making Doughtie come across to the Mary in the pinnace, then refusing to allow him on board or even to let him speak, but immediately transferring him to the flyboat Swan, a tiny vessel which carried provisions. Kelsey believes that since Doughtie outranked the captain of the Swan, John Chester, he therefore assumed command (99), but there is little evidence to back this. According to evidence presented at the trial, Doughtie himself said that he was sent to the Swan as a prisoner, and that he was suspected of conjury and treason. It also is stated that Hugh Smythe is instructed by Chester not to “have any conference [with Doughtie] or receave anye thinge att his hande,” (“Documents” 166). This admonition is given, ironically, because Doughtie had given Smythe a brush – the same sort of token given to Doughtie by the Portuguese prisoners, and for the same reason. No matter the perceived seriousness of Doughtie’s situation at this point, “Putting Doughty there was a disgrace, like locking him in the pantry,” quips George Sanderlin (60). Yet it is more than just a calculated insult, for the master of the Swan, John Saracold, is little better than a thug and will proceed to make Doughtie miserable for – well, for the rest of his short, unhappy life.

But why did Drake overreact so extremely to this incident? It is quite possible that, under the influence of Bright and Brewer, Drake was looking for a reason to malign his former friend. Wagner, calling Brewer a “henchman of Sir Christopher Hatton” even claims that the purpose of Brewer’s visit was “to get up a quarrel with Doughty,” (51). But another interesting possibility is raised in a brief comment by Retha M. Warnicke in a review of John Cummins' book Francis Drake: the Lives of a Hero. She wonders if perhaps Drake could have interpreted the touching of Brewer’s buttocks as sexual, and if the idea of Doughtie as a conjurer must be interpreted in the context of witchcraft involving homoerotic unions with the devil. At first glance, the idea seems far-fetched, if only because a discussion of sexuality seems vaguely inappropriate – it has simply never been a part of the traditional Drake hero narratives. Upon reflection, although a taboo in the Victorian histories which establish the Drake tradition, it seems a bit disingenuous in the 21st century to pretend that 164 sailors are going to remain chaste as nuns with the exception of one wild party at Port Desire and the unfortunate, (and, one suspects, overworked) Maria, a slave girl Drake picked up off the coast of Mexico. And Warnicke is certainly not the only one to pick up on the undertones of the incident; consider the grossly distorted fictive history represented in Bawlf’s account of the circumnavigation, where Doughtie himself instigates the cobbey in a very provocative manner: “Thomas Doughty had him [Brewer] seized and bent over a barrel, and under the pretext of an amusement, invited the assembled crew to join him in delivering a ‘cobbey’ – a rough spanking to Brewer’s naked buttocks,” (92). Derek Wilson’s fictive history is even more provocative:

When Brewer clambered over the gunwale he was confronted by the gentlemen in a semicircle and behind them the rest of the crew drawn up in two lines. He glanced nervously round. Then Thomas Doughty stepped forward and with an exaggerated bow, welcomed the visitor aboard. Brewer began falteringly to announce his business when a shout went up from one of the gentlemen, “A cobbey!” With a whoop the others took up the cry. Brewer was seized by two embarrassed-looking sailors. His struggles and curses were in vain; the gnarled fingers bit into the flesh of his arms and neck, and forced him to bend over a barrel in the centre of the deck. Eager hands pulled his breeches down. Then, one by one, the entire company beginning with Doughty belaboured Brewer’s buttocks, while he gritted his teeth so as not to give his tormentors the added satisfaction of hearing him cry out. (68)

This passage is a clear illustration of the dangers of passing off what is truly a fictionalized account as a history: Doughtie becomes the instigator, egged on by the gentlemen (it is difficult to keep track of who was on which ship at any time during the voyage, but there is a fair amount of evidence that most of the gentlemen were on the Elizabeth with Wynter) to the mortification of the sailors, who had no hope but to comply with their odious orders (the cobbey was a tradition of sailors, not Elizabethan gentlemen), and it is far from plain that the objection of Brewer is not to any terrible suffering he may have incurred, but simply to the fact that Doughtie touched him. More to the current point: the language here describes something on the verge of becoming a gang rape, with men whose “eager hands” remove Brewer’s breeches. The phrase, “one by one, the entire company beginning with Doughty belaboured Brewer’s buttocks” verges on pornography.

Why should the fact that Doughtie touched him upset Brewer so much? Considering the incident on the Mary, it is quite possible that Brewer was simply looking to provoke trouble with the gentleman. But it is to be remembered that Brewer probably knew Doughtie from their mutual service under Hatton. Throughout the metahistory of the Doughtie incident, the phrase “Italianate Englishman” keeps surfacing in relation to Thomas Doughtie. William Wood describes the friendship between Drake and Doughtie thusly: “Drake returned to England with a new friend, Thomas Doughtie, a soldier-scholar of the Renaissance, clever and good company, but one of those 'Italianate' Englishmen who gave rise to the Italian proverb: Inglese italianato e diavolo incarnato -- 'an Italianized Englishman is the very Devil'.” Corbett uses the phrase, complaining that it was a type of man “which from our habit of regarding the Elizabethan age as one of burly English manhood is much lost sight of, though its influence was felt in every fibre of the time, and not always for good,” (Tudor Navy 209). Roche is eager to distinguish between the Italianate Doughtie and the more robust Drake: “The one a ruddy-cheeked farmer’s son, the other a polished, well-read, university-educated, Italianate man of the world” (43-44). In the book Before Pornography: Erotic Writing in Early Modern England, Ian Frederick Moulton explores at great length the connection between being perceived as “Italianate,” effeminate and a sodomite. “The two issues-Italianate corruption and the decline of English manhood-were often linked,” (113). The phrase also carries a connotation of deception and manipulation in a political sphere as well; in 1593 John Eliot would say that “If italianate Englishmen learn their villainy from Machiavelli, they get their filthiness from Aretino...” (145). Perhaps this connection is best summed up in one phrase written in 1904, “Thomas Doughty, the Italianate Englishman who was charged with sorcery, treachery and conspiracy to mutiny, laid his head upon the block and ceased intriguing for ever,” (Fletcher 397).

Perhaps Doughtie's "Italianate" habits were enough to stir Drake’s paranoia about sorceries and seditions, or perhaps it runs deeper. Perhaps it was on the Mary that Ned Bright revealed some of the things that would later comprise his testimony against Doughtie, whether they were true or not:

In my cabin abord the Pellycan, he the sayd T.D. cam to me, when their had certayne words passed betwixt William Leange and me, wch T.D. sayd that the captayne was very much offended wt me, and yt or captayne wold set me in the Bylbos; but he the said T.D. sayd he wold not suffer it, and that our Captayn should not offer it me; ffor I was one of them whom he the sayd T.D. loved and made account of, and bade me kepe my cabbyn two or three dayes, and then the captayne and I should be ffrends agayne, and byd me so ffarewell, and be ruled by him and he wold do me good. (“Documents” 172).

It is certainly perplexing to determine what appeared to be seditious in this exchange: Bright apparently falls afoul of the captain; Doughtie, the captain’s good friend, offers to patch up the fight out of friendship for Bright. The implication which was certainly intended to impress the jury – that Doughtie was attempting to seduce Bright to mutiny – appears not nearly as obvious as an alternate implication – that Doughtie was attempting to seduce Bright. Perhaps this occurred to Drake as well, and the accumulating hints touched upon a homophobic streak in Drake exploited by Bright and Brewer. It was hardly necessary for Doughtie to be homosexual or even bisexual any more than it was necessary for him to be practicing witchcraft – Drake just had to be convinced that Doughtie was a gay sorcerer to be gripped by insane paranoia.

Or perhaps the idea hit Drake a little too close to home. He was, after all, a man like many sailors, who barely found time to visit with his wife, a man who would remain childless his whole life. A further complication is Drake’s possible identification as a “pirate.” It has become a common trope amongst revisionist authors such as Ronald and Kelsey to regard Drake’s activities as piratical, but how much life aboard Drake’s fleet conformed to what we know about later “pirate culture” is an interesting question. B.R. Burg, who seats Drake firmly in the pirate tradition, makes an argument that sodomy was the major form of sexual expression among pirates, perhaps even serving as an attraction to the lifestyle among certain types of men. Unfortunately, Burg’s case is built on extrapolating from twentieth century sociological data concerning all-male prison and military populations; the historical data he needs to prove his point simply does not exist for obvious reasons – lack of literacy, the transitory nature of written text in unstable circumstances, and that pirates did not care to leave records of the mores of their subculture accessible to those outside of it. The data we do have about the pirate culture of the 17th century shows some striking parallels to life on Drake’s ships in the 16th: the cosmopolitan nature of the crew, the tendency to incorporate the skills of willing (or unwilling) prisoners, the practice of matelotage – the ritualized and often homoerotic bond between a master (inevitably of the specialized classes – captains, carpenters, physicians, never ordinary crewmen) and a servant, often a native or escaped slave, who sold himself into bondage (Drake’s tie to Diego the Cimarron is legendary, and we also know that Wynter kept a black manservant, Vlysses), the leveling of class distinctions (Drake’s unfulfilled promise that the least sailor would become as wealthy as a gentleman). In discussing the socioeconomic motivations for joining a pirate crew, Palmer analyzes the simmering class-resentments of the men, who mostly came from underclass backgrounds and had a scathing contempt of the social order. The captain, he argues, was always in a precarious position: “Those with ‘gentleman-like” pretensions incurred the wrath of their men,” (191). Drake, who certainly had gentlemanly pretensions himself, was clearly cognizant of the need to connect with his crew on their own level. He may have come to see Doughtie, a man rigidly grounded in class privilege, as a necessary sacrifice.

But there is one enormous distinction between the buccaneers of the 17th century and the privateers of the 16th: a privateer eventually returns home. Drake kept a house and a wife in Plymouth; we know from many accounts that Sir Francis Drake was enormously concerned with his reputation. So for our purposes, the reality of pirate sexuality doesn’t really matter; it is far less important than the fictive histories in contemporary circulation. “A company of sodomites,” writes Madame Margaret Heathcote in 1655 of life in the Caribbean islands (qtd. in Burg 155). Hans Turley’s Rum, Sodomy and the Lash: piracy, sexuality and masculine identity deals entirely with public perceptions and literary accounts of the transgressive nature of pirate sexual behavior. Drake may well have felt that the shadow of piracy which dogged his early career implied more than mere economic crimes.

And Drake’s relationship with Doughtie may have been suspect in its own right. As mentioned earlier, Sir Francis Drake the Younger manages somehow to sublimate the Doughtie affair into an inadvertent romance where Drake falls in love at first sight with the man for whom his affection was more than brotherly. It is always difficult to know how far to read the concept of “romantic friendship” into a narrative such as this, especially from the perspective of an age like ours which cannot grasp the concept at all. It may also well be true that the lines of straight and gay are blurred intentionally in such friendships when they take place in homophobic cultures. In his book Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance, editor Kenneth Borris elaborates:

Early modern friendship's emotional union and privileged physical intimacies, such as bedsharing, produced an inadvertent homology between it and sexually coupled male and female same-sex love. That could readily constitute an unofficial covert link, a possible means of personal reconciliation, between authorized male or female homosociality, homoerotic desire, however much anathematized, and its genital enaction...A social superior's unusual favor to a younger attractive retainer or subordinate would most readily have provoked comment...Yet, although male bonding in the Renaissance differed much less from sexual love than at present, due to its formerly greater emotional intensity and physical intimacy, sex between males was all the more proscribed and forbidden according to moral, legal, and religious strictures. So many cultural factors promoted masculine homosociality that a central early modern function of "sodomy" was to manifest a taboo that could appear radically to dissociate "appropriate" kinds of male-male interaction from sexual intimacy, and thus discourage and police such genital relations. (258-259)

It seems clear that the Drake-Doughtie friendship, especially as described in The World Encompassed, falls into this paradigm. By comparison, none of Drake’s other friendships are ever described with anything close to the same effusion. This certainly does not of necessity imply that Drake was homosexual; he probably wasn’t, at least on a conscious level. But sexual or not, Sir Francis the Younger’s fictive history is a love affair, one that the third part of this article will show to have left lasting imprint on both literature and history.

The quoted passage illustrates the dangerous ambiguity lying between idealized friendship and disgusting sodomy. It also raises another pertinent point: this line was at its thinnest if the relationship in question was one of social inequality. The question here is not of Drake’s authority, but rather why Doughtie would stoop to such a close friendship with Drake, his social inferior – or attempt one with Ned Bright, for that matter. Any endeavor by Doughtie to assert his authority might potentially place his relationship with Drake in an unfavorable light. The relative ages of Drake and Doughtie may also have been a factor: if Doughtie was indeed 14 years younger than Drake, it introduces a different level of inequality, and perhaps another level of suspicion as to why Drake would befriend the gentleman. And Drake built a reputation based upon his “manliness,” as is demonstrated on the title page of his nephew’s 1626 book about the raid on Panama, entitled Sir Francis Drake Revived: Calling vpon this Dull or Effeminate Age to folowe his Noble Steps for Golde & Silver. Benson states that Drake’s taste for pomp and finery (as demonstrated by his love of perfume, music and fine silver) was “encouraged, no doubt, by that accomplished and elegant gentleman, Captain Thomas Doughty,” (111) despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence to support this declaration. If Drake’s chroniclers take such pains to assert his masculine identity, might Drake, living during an era where the charge of effeminacy was an intolerable insult, have felt the same pressures? He may have been aware that his relationship with Doughtie was crossing that dangerous line, shading too far into something wherein the “manliness” was suspect. Far easier for Drake to believe that Doughtie, the Italianate conjuror, had crossed that line than he, the epitome of Elizabethan patriarchal firmness, had done so of his own volition. But a solution to the problem would prove itself to be at hand; in fact, later commentators on the incident inadvertently reveal the stakes in their propitious phraseologies: “The execution of Doughty is a true revelation of Drake’s manhood,” Raymond Mixell gushes.

By this point, the fleet had reached the coast of South America, and had been subjected to repeated incidence of bad weather – severe storms and freakish moments of calm. Tensions were high, and the sailors, always a superstitious lot, looked for a scapegoat. On the voyage of Christopher Columbus, the problem was solved by blaming the ungodly practice of gambling with “the devil’s picture book” and throwing the decks of playing cards overboard. Drake’s paranoid reaction was more vicious. Indeed, had Doughtie been thrown overboard, he might have been luckier. Separated from his onetime friend, in the company of Doughtie’s enemies, Drake seemingly becomes convinced that the conjuration charges are true. According to Cooke, “any tyme we had any fowle weather, he would say that Thomas Dowghty was the occasyoner therof, and wolde say that it came out of Tom Dowghtys capcase,” (195). Off the coast of Brazil, the flyboat is temporarily lost in a storm, and Drake, of course, blames Doughtie.

Far from the romantic vision of The World Encompassed, on the flyboat, Doughtie has wandered into Lord of the Flies as scripted by George Orwell. He seems to have become aware of the severity of his situation, for at the trial, John Sarocold reports, “at his coming abord he declared yt he was sent as a prisoner and as one suspected for a congerer and treator to the generall, of the wch he sayd he wold purge himself in England affore their better yt dyd accuse him, iff lawe wold sarue him, as he knewe it wold, and to their greate shame,” (165). It is an indication of Doughtie’s situation that this protestation of innocence is read at the trial as one of the charges against him! From the start he faces the resentment of the captain of the tiny boat, John Chester, who forbids interaction between his crew and Doughtie. It is here that the supposed charges of mutiny arise: Doughtie apparently gives a brush to Hugh Smythe, promising him more in friendship later, and offers to loan £40 to Henry Spindelay, the gunner, upon their return to England. That it was not unusual for Doughtie to loan money, as is evidenced by his will, is not something understood by the sailors, to whom £40 must have seemed an astronomical sum, more than a ship’s master would make in a year. These gestures are read as an attempt to bribe the men. And perhaps they were – but not necessarily for a sinister purpose. At this point, can Doughtie be blamed for wanting to assure himself of some friends in a hostile environment?

Chester himself had little authority on the ship; his command was nominal, most of the ship’s daily operations being handled by the master, John Sarocold. Sarocold apparently harbored great resentment against anyone who opposed him or exceeded him in social standing; it is not known whether Chester’s treatment worsened with the arrival of Doughtie, but it was bad enough for Doughtie to be shocked, remarking, according to Cooke, “I marvayle, Mastar Chestar, that yow will take it at his hands to be thus vsed, consyderinge yow were here aucthorised by the Generall,” (196). According to Smythe, at first Doughtie believes that Chester is “his enimye, whom he would neuer forgive,” (“Documents” 166) but he soon realizes that Chester and he are in the same boat, quite literally. Sarocold subjects them both to a series of humiliations and abuses, including putting them on short rations while he and his accomplices eat extremely well.

Doughtie, resentful of his treatment, continued to stress both his innocence and that he was being ill used by Drake, who owed him much, including preferment with the Earl of Essex and the Queen of England. These comments must have seemed to Doughtie nothing more than the truth, but to the common seamen who reported them at his trial, they were, at best, idle boasting, and, at worst, an attempt to undermine Drake’s authority. Matters come to a head in a direct confrontation with Sarocold; it is here that Doughtie makes remarks, which, taken out of context, will become the bulk of the real evidence of his alleged mutiny, or in Cooke’s words, “the especiall matter that he had be out of his head for” (197). These words, while foolish and inflammatory, are hardly the words of a plotter, and do not directly threaten Drake at all. Unfortunately, at his trial and in a veritable ocean of Drake biographies, they are repeated with no explanation. “The context of his [Doughtie’s] remarks is unclear,” warns Sugden nervously (106). On the contrary, a perusal of Cooke’s narrative will quickly reveal the context most vigorously drawn in all its vulgar, sordid splendor.

Doughtie begins by a demand to be treated with more respect, and that he should be “vsed as well as other men, consyderynge his adventure,” (his investment in the voyage.) Interestingly, despite the general preconception that Doughtie’s gentleman adventurers were trouble because they demanded special treatment, what Doughtie is demanding here is that he be treated the same as the sailors. Sarocold replies, “Thou an adventure here?...I will not gyve a point for the nor thye aventure,” (197). To admit that Doughtie had a financial stake in the voyage is to admit that he should have a say in the way it is conducted, a line of logic which reaches its ultimate conclusion when Doughtie’s claims that he invested in the venture become evidence to be used against him at his trial.

The fight escalates, centering on the victualling situation, blows are exchanged and Sarocold taunts him, “Wilt thou have victualles, thow shalt be glad...the rather to eate that which falls from my tayle,” (Cooke197; Kelsey 101.) Such an insult might infuriate anyone, especially someone who was hungry and had good reason to feel used, abused and persecuted – to this, the stigma of being a gentleman accosted thusly by a common sailor may be added. Understandably, Doughtie was livid. His response, reported by a number of people, including in a somewhat softened form by Cooke, is to turn to Chester and implore him to take back his command: his “talke unto Mr. Chester was, yt whereas Mr. Chester’s auctoritye semed to be taken away by the Mr, yt iff he wold be ruled by him, he wold geve his aucthorytye agayne, and wold put the sword into his hands to rule as he thought good,” The sequel, which Cooke omits, is most likely the statement that damned Doughtie: “...and yt iff Mr. Chestar wold be ruled, he wold make the companye to be redye to cutt one another’s throte,” (“Documents” 167).

Discontent in the fleet, especially growing hostility between the sailors and the gentlemen, ran high, and Drake, surrounding himself with the sailors, did nothing to alleviate the tension. Doughtie’s unfortunate phrasing implied an armed rebellion, yet it is clear from the context that his intent was not mutiny, but rather to restore order by returning authority to the rightful captain of the ship. Far from the clever and manipulative schemer we shall see throughout the Drake-based historical fictions, in reality Doughtie appears to be impulsive and incautious in his speech, blurting out that which might better have been kept silent – a trait which we earlier witnessed in the Essex affair and will see again upon several occasions.

After numerous separations due to bad weather, the fleet finally assembled at the mouth of the Rio Deseado, what was later to be named Port Desire. It is likely Drake blamed Doughtie’s sorcery for the vanishing ships – but unlikely that he believed that Doughtie ordered the Swan to sail north since the ship was basically in the hands of Saracold. Those who accuse Doughtie of trying to run from the fleet (and they are numerous – amongst them Froude) would do well to remember a simple fact: when Drake went looking for the missing ships, the Swan was found within a day – it was the Mary, under the command of Drake’s own brother which remained missing for an extended period of time (Cummins 79).

At this point, citing the logistical difficulties and loss of crew, Drake ordered the burning of the Swan and the transfer of her supplies to the other ships. Returning to the Pelican, Doughtie finally confronted Drake, and in an angry exchange accused him of bad faith, as Drake reported at the trial, “…the worst word of the mothe of his, the sayd Thomas, was of more than 3 of the others of our sayd generall,” (“Documents” 174). Cooke repeats the incident in these words: “The worst word that came out of his mowthe was to be believed asone as his [Drake’s] othe,” (198). As Cooke did not have access to the transcript of the accusations - indeed, he believed them destroyed (203) – this passage serves to illustrate that his account is trustworthy, and his memory is reasonably reliable.

Drake’s response to these “vnkynd speches” was to strike Doughtie and order him bound to the mast by none other than John Sarocold, who, according to Cooke, “toke a little panye with hym,” (198). Then Drake ordered Doughtie and his brother transferred to the canter, an act which Doughtie protested, being now in fear of his life from the thuggish Sarocold and “some other desperate and vnhonest people.” Drake’s response was to have John and Thomas Doughtie removed by force, hoisting them over to the canter with the ship’s tackle. It is this incident of which Silverberg says Drake “continued to show great tolerance to this troublesome pair whom another captain might have cast overboard weeks before; he simply rebuked them…” (266).


By this point, it would appear that Drake had it in mind to put Doughtie on trial. If Cooke’s account is to be believed, Drake asked one Thomas Cuttill, master of the Pelican, to witness to something he considered false. Cuttill was apparently well-liked by Doughtie, and featured in one of the accusations presented at Doughtie’s trial. It is worth reproducing the wording in full since the accusation is one of the most controversial. It is also worth pointing out that while most of the depositions are signed, this is part of a series of four accusations with no author.

It, that the saide Thomas Doughtie and Thomas Cuttill, being often in secret conference, at the last for the good lyking wch he had off Thomas Cuttill, if he found hym the same man afterwarde yt then he did, he would pvide for him £100, besydes his vyage when he came in England to gooe to the sea with, and dor thear what he thought meete to make retourne off their money wth advantage. And when he came home agayne bidde hym take now care, for he would stand between hym and the danger, and would kepe the said Cuttill in the Temple from my lord admiral and all officers, to goe and come whatsoever the matter was. (Documents 165)

This accusation was reported at Doughtie’s trial as evidence to apparently imply the use of bribery to buy a mutiny; in later histories, the story becomes so exaggerated that it has been suggested Doughtie tried to talk Cuttill into stealing the Pelican, planning to use it to plunder in the north (Sir Francis Drake: an Exhibition). Careful reading immediately banishes the latter idea – it is clear that Doughtie is referring to staking Cuttill the money for yet another voyage after they return home. And whether he means to bribe Cuttill is highly questionable, for it seems he expects a return on his investment. Indeed, the financially astute and generous Doughtie was constantly loaning money – among the debtors he forgave in his will were his wife’s uncle, his old comrade from Ireland Richard Broughton, and even Leonard Vicarye! The most curious thing about this passage is exactly why Doughtie offered to hide Cuttill in the Temple – perhaps he anticipated that Cuttill’s venture would be another one like Drake’s which involved trading in other people’s money (although given the odd wording, the modern mind might well assume that Doughtie’s “good lyking” might have been a bit…Italianate.)

The money could hardly have served as any motivation for Cuttill’s actions at this point. Under the circumstances, it must have been clear that having Doughtie’s friendship was a detriment, and yet Cuttill was so incensed at Drake’s request that he went ashore with his gun, telling the others that he preferred to take his chances alone with the “cannibals” rather than “accuse this gentleman of that as I take God to wytnes I knowe not by hym…I nevar knewe any thinge by hym but to be the generals frend,” (Cooke 199). Cuttill eventually discharged his gun, according to Cooke as a signal to attract the indigenous peoples of the area. But his fellow mariners took this as a signal that he wished to return, and a boat was sent for him. After being entreated by the crew, Cuttill eventually returned to the Pelican, but his name never appears on any of the accusations against Doughtie.

Of course, this incident is uncomfortable and difficult for Drake’s supporters to explain. The most usual strategy is to claim that Cuttill was protesting Doughtie’s treatment (Sugden 107), and if Cuttill can be portrayed as a coward who lost his nerve and slunk back with his tail between his legs, all the better. Better still, if he can be portrayed as a class conscious social climber appalled at the treatment of a foppish gentleman by hearty mariners, the egalitarian modern audience might be provoked to suitable indignation. Neither of these strategies is enough for Callender, who makes up his own story (qtd. in Robinson 279). In it, the scheming Doughtie persuades Cuttill to lead a mutiny, and so he wades ashore for a secret rendezvous. He fires his arquebus as a signal to the villains, but no one shows up to assist him except kindly Captain Drake, who is concerned for his well-being! Robinson has great fun in tearing apart the absurdities of this fictive history, not the least of which is the idea of seizing a ship by rallying in the wilderness (280).

The fleet did not go far before hitting more bad weather, and the canter vanished for a space. During the interval, Drake blamed Doughtie for all their troubles, accusing him of conjuring the storm despite his imprisonment. According to Cooke, there was considerable sympathy for Doughtie, but no one dared to speak out. When the canter was found again, Drake ordered it also burned, and transferred the Doughties to the Elizabeth. He addressed the crew with the sternest warnings not to speak to the brothers, nor to let them read or write, a command which he later relaxes, simply warning to keep their literature in plain sight, written in English, perhaps for fear that Doughtie was inscribing black magical formulae in a foreign tongue. Drake’s invective at the time presages his eventual intent, for he said he “dyd not know how to cary alonge with hym this voyadge” the two brothers, John whom he accused of being a witch and a poisoner, and Thomas, guilty of conjury, sedition, “a very badd and lewed fellow” (Cooke 200). Even so, the Elizabeth contained a number of men sympathetic to the Doughties, one even willing to provide them with a cabin, despite Drake’s command that the two men get the worst lodging and provisions that the ship had to offer. Drake was to retaliate against this man by depriving him of his station.

Next page - Thomas Doughtie: the Martyr - The Ugly Trial and Beautiful Death of Thomas Doughtie

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