It is hard to know what the boys must have felt as they
arrived in London. We only have lists of names and places of origin in the Parish
Register. The letters below have been written to try and imagine what their
experience must have been like.
Author: Lin Carey
|Find Out More...
Click on the pictures as you read the story. They will
tell you more about life at the time.
Charles, a boy…10 or 12 years old'
On 13 th February 1597 , the records of St Luke's Church
in Chelsea mention the baptism of a South American Indian boy: “Charles, a boy
by estimation 10 or 12 years old brought by Sir Walter Rawlie from Guiana ”.
Baptismal record of Charles
From the date, it seems likely that Charles was brought
back from Raleigh 's first voyage to Guiana in South America , in 1595. Raleigh
was searching for the legendary city of El Dorado , the city of gold. Raleigh
had with him an interpreter brought to England from an earlier voyage. With
his help Raleigh was able to make contact with several Guianan leaders along
While travelling by boat along the Orinoco River , Raleigh
's party met a local tribe called the Orenoqueponi. Their chief, Topiawari,
made the explorers welcome and exchanged gifts. Raleigh then asked for volunteers
to accompany him back to England . Topiawari gave his son, Caywaraco, a young
man of eighteen or twenty. In return, Raleigh left two of his crew with the
Orenoqueponis: a sailor called Francis Sparrow, and a sixteen-year-old cabin
boy, Hugh Godwin, who planned “to learn their language”.
Back in London
Three other Orenoqueponi people returned to England with
Raleigh , one of whom may well have been the boy “Charles”. We do not know what
happened to Charles after this baptism record, but he would have been taught
English and may well have stayed at Raleigh 's house. If he survived, he may
have been one of a number of Guianan Indians who became valued interpreters
to other English explorers during the following decade.
James Hamilton's Map of Chelsea , 1644
Raleigh in the Tower of London
Raleigh himself was not able to return to Guiana for another
twenty-two years. For much of this time he was imprisoned in the Tower of London
. In the Tower he was waited on by two Guianan Indians, Leonard and Harry, who
may or may not have been the other two men from the 1595 voyage. We do know
that Caywaraco returned to Guiana in 1596 after his father's death, and remained
a friend of Raleigh and a supporter of the English.
This is how Raleigh described Guiana :
I never saw a more beautiful country, nor more lively prospects:
hills so raised here and there over the valleys; the river winding into divers
branches; the plains adjoining without bush or stubble, all fair green grass;
the ground of hard sand, easy to march on for horse or foot; the deer crossing
in every path; the birds towards the evening singing on every tree with a thousand
several tunes; cranes and herons of white, crimson and carnation perching on
the river's side; the air fresh with a gentle easterly wind; and every stone
that we stooped to take up promised either gold or silver by his complexion.
What can Charles and the other Guianans have thought of
London when they arrived in September 1595?
A View of Tudor London
Click on the names below to find out about other Native Americans who came to
London with Sir Walter Raleigh:
Manteo and Wanchese
and the death of Raleigh