Queen Elizabeth’s 16th century Portolan chart eliminates California as Sir Francis Drake’s landing site.
Its been said so many times and written wrong so many times; for various reasons, either by the proponents of Francis Drake landing at the Pt. Reyes National Seashore and Drakes Bay or by people who’ve never researched the topic in the slightest and just parrot what they’ve been told.
Quite frankly, white cliffs are never mentioned in the Francis Fletcher journal “The World Encompassed”. What it does say is: “cliffs and white banks”. Take it to mean what you want but, Neahkahnie Mountain’s cliffs fall directly into the sea from its height of 1631 feet. This is the highest point on the Pacific Ocean from British Columbia to the So. California border. Extending south from Neahkahnie Mountain is 8 miles of sand dunes; pristine white banks. Neahkahnie Mountain is pictured on the cover of my book where you can see its cliffs and running south from Neahkahnie are the pristine white banks of the Nehalem Bay state park even today.
There is much more to the description of the landing site than just the cliffs and white banks. The flora of Oregon is very much like Plymouth, England whereas no California coastal flora is similar to Plymouth. Additionally, the Spanish Captain Sebastian Cermeno who was shipwrecked in 1595 at Pt Reyes/Drakes Bay described the coast as Castilian, i.e. Spain. Only in someone’s wildest dreams would Francis Drake have thought Pt Reyes/Drakes Bay or any of the other pretending bays, reminded him of England in the slightest..
And then there is the Hondius Broadside Map (1589) with a rendition of Nehalem Bay in the upper left hand corner. All of the other pretending sites either do not match, are directionally mismatched North, East, South or West; or they refuse to recognize the map all together as one of the primary documentary icons of Drakes voyage. My book lists 9 areas of the map which correspond directly with Nehalem bay to name just a few.
Henry R. Wagner’s "Spanish Voyages to the Northwest Coast of America in the Sixteenth Century" (1929)
and "Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America to the Year 1800", 2 Vol.
(1937) is considered the true magnum opus which tackles the period. Wagner’s December 1932 California Historical Quarterly "George Davidson, Geographer of the Northwest Coast of America" said that in 1858 Davidson shared the popular idea that Drake had been in San Francisco Bay but: “As he gradually obtained better information began to modify his views and by 1886 he had centered his whole scheme of identification at Drake’s Bay. In reality there is just as much evidence to support his view [of either bay]; that is to say, there is none at all”
Wagner said: “With his [Davidson] vast accurate information regarding the sailing conditions in the North Pacific [as the Pacific Assistant U.S Geodesic Surveyor 1850-1893] he had little difficulty in demolishing in this many points advanced by others who were totally ignorant of the realities of the case. They mostly argued from documents and maps, all of which, especially the maps, were extremely inaccurate, and consequently Davidson had a great advantage over them. His conclusion was finally generally accepted, although, as I have said before, there is no solid basis for it.”
Davidson’s views on the subject of Drake’s Bay first appeared in full in his "Identification of Sir Francis Drake’s Anchorage on the Coast of California in the year 1579."
“This is a fine case of special pleading and was accompanied by partial reproductions
of some early charts which he thought ware factors in the case but which I
[Wagner] have since shown have nothing whatever to do with it. Personally, I [Wagner] believe that his opinion was formed by seeing the name of Sir Francis Drake applied to a port in about the latitude of Drake’s Bay on the eighteenth century maps.” Wagner’s "Some Imaginary California Geography", (Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, April
1926) having traced the origin of Davidson’s error says the bay had been named “San Francisco” in honor of Cermeno’s 1595 chronologer which was changed by later cartographers to Sir Francisco Draco in honor of Francis Drake.
Nevertheless Wagner gives Davidson high credit with: “The mere fact that he [Davidson] may have been mistaken in some of his historical deductions drawn from inconclusive sources can in no wise detract from the practical results which he achieved in the interests of science and to the benefit of his adopted state [California]. In many respects he was the most
remarkable man that has ever lived in California, and all who live in California
and enjoy the fruits of his labor should honor his memory.”
However; “All the collateral evidence that Dr. Davidson was able to gather to support his
position furnishes just as valid, and in some cases more convincing, arguments in favor of some other bay.”
What Wagner said then holds true today. My writings have shown Nehalem Bay is that “some other bay” where Francis Drake landed in the summer of 1579 for 5 weeks to repair the Golden
I recently received a letter commenting on an article I've written and I thought I would share it with all those interested in setting the historical record straight in claiming Oregon's rightful history.
I have been studying your excellent article again this morning. It does indeed place
everything in the right sequence, without drama, which I mistakenly tried to
create for my own understanding.
Yours is a beautiful rendition of the facts, carefully constructed to
include every relevant theory in regard to the source of Hakluyt's first story
of Drake's journey in 1589 and also the amazing map included in 1599. It is revealing that the Hakluyt Society's Handbook which brought it forward in 1974, was apparently of interest only to the British, who had no interest in the exact location. It is only through the Jensen-Viles' discoveries, Costaggini's professional survey in 1982, and your writings that Drake's landing spot and the true Nova Albion are brought to our attention.
May I compliment you again and again for your writings and your contributions to our Oregon history.
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 1:19 PM
Subject: Re: Northern latitudes
The overwritten numbers are there , i went to London and saw the manuscript. Not that I can make any meaning or attach any signifigance , but I saw it with my own eyes.
You’re right, whatever the meaning or significance. However; Drake or Tello’s Bark(as Blundenville said) may have gone as farther than 48 deg. ,but the first hand accounts of Francis Fletcher said 48 twice and John Drake’s 2 depositions to the Inquisition in 1584 & 1587 both said 48 deg.. Only modern day Robert Greenhow, Librarian of Congress in 1840 and George Davidson in 1888 said Drake went only to 43 degrees. However; they were both geopolitically motivated because of the Oregon Territory Treaty of 1846. In 1840 Greenhow made the determination that Drake only went to 43 because he had been asked by the Senate Select Committee on the Oregon Territory (1838-185x) to determine the ownership. Davidson, the surveyor of the first US Geodesic Survey of the Pacific Coast starting in 1850 was not about to start an international situation with Great Britain who had previously claimed the Oregon Territory down to the California border. Hakluyt is useless, because he was also under the Queen’s “Pain of Death” for releasing the great voyage information which wasn’t edited by Walshingham, the Queen’s secretary.
Of course, Fletcher said they were at 38 and 38 deg. 30 min. You’ll need to read Oregon’s Stolen History for the reason why the two different readings within adjoining sentences in his narrative. I’ll give you some clues; Nicolas van Sype map of 1582 and Vizcaino's 1603 voyage.
G From: R Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 9:59 AM To: Subject: Northern latitudes
Garry: Lately you have been a party to my musings about telescopes now I have a rather interesting dilema. Corresponding with Bob Graham it has become very apparent that there is in the published record about Drake's voyage a huge range in the height raised to the north. Are you aware of any patterns in the declared heights, Were they increasing over time, declining, scattered and there is also the curious statement made by John Davis Madox on the Fenton expedition that Drake hasd been on the back side of Labrador. There is also the overwritten number in the manuscript in Londob(I went to see it and it also appeared to me to indicate at one time 57 had been penned in. That puts the spread from 42 -57 which is about 1000 miles. That is not in any realm of accuracy and appears to be completely outside of the demonstrated accuracy of Drake's navigation. Outside of this quandry , have you seen the letter from Ortelius to Mercator -1580- that complains about how the Eng are giving out contradictory stories about the voyage? Bob has a complete letter in Latin and has carefully reviewed the translation and believes it to be accurate. Merry Christmas and the best in 2013 Ralph
Hi Ralph, I believe Bawlf mentions overwritten numbers. As far as Labrador goes, the latitude is 52.56 deg. If you’re referring to the Mercator letter being sworn to secrecy to the exact latitude and being upset that the truth wasn’t let out but he had hoped with so many knowing that it would be let out, I know about it. Any other letter about latitude, I’m not familiar with. The Mercator letter is the crux of the entire Drake mystery. So many secrets, so much disinformation and finally so much of the real truth being let out that it became almost impossible to understand the truth until Jensen and Viles discovered the Neahkahnie Mountain survey which has eventually led to Nehalem Bay being the true location of his landing. So may experts looking in the wrong place, so may wrong decisions, so much false theories being taken as truth. California has never found the exact site because, quite simply he was never there. Your really ought to get my “Oregon’s Stolen History”. I’m working on the grand findings book. It only has to be edited and finished in about a year. Needless to say, the NPS’s buffoon decision of a National Landmark at Drake’s Bay will be the last chapter. Smart California people, so called Drake experts, will still throw up their smoke and mirrors without standing up and naming a site. It is as if, history be damned, the game of debate is all they care about. Best wishes, Happy Holidays and Peace.
Hoping not to appear as some crazed old man, I’d like to make a few final comments about, let’s call it what it will be perceived by the public as the Pt. Reyes staff and the newspapers have already been calling it, the Drake designation.
Archaeological sites aside, if the NPS designates those sites of Cermeno’s shipwreck, Francis Drake’s name will be identified on infinitum with the area by a bogus namesake, first designated by the surveyor George Davidson’s political bias/mandate to disallow the Hudson Bay Company’s claim on the Oregon Territory down to the 42° N. latitude finally settled in 1848 with the U.S claiming to the current 48° N. latitude. Francis Drake was never anywhere near his namesake bay.
More research, as you contend, would only be more looking for Drake abound Drakes Bay which you will never find. As they all have previously agreed, archaeologists, Dr. Robert Heizer, Dr. Clement Meighan, Dr. Aubrey Neasham and Dr. Adan F. Treganza only found Cermeno artifacts and that’s all that will ever be found.
You say as with any important topic in American history, we expect there to be scholarly debate. Drake left a survey on Neahkahnie Mountain, verified not once, but three separate times by professional anthropologist and civil engineers. Where are the NPS researchers in Nehalem Bay?
The NPS wants to protect 16 sites along Pt. Reyes that provide material evidence of early culture contact. A few nails and sherds of porcelain would not be considered substantial archaeological contact to designate a National Park in Oregon. Oregon has 40,000 documented prehistory sites, none of which are National Parks. You must be aware that we in Oregon have a 17th century Spanish galleon shipwreck and have collected over 2,200 sherds.
Of all of the theorized Francis Drake landing sites for the five weeks he spent on the Pacific coast in the summer of 1579, California or not, only Nehalem Bay, Oregon has received an endorsed by any professional organization; the Oregon Archaeological Society, Oregon’s oldest archaeological organization as well as the endorsement of Thomas Vaughan C.B.E., Oregon Historian Laureate and Executive Director of the Oregon Historical Society 1955-1989. It was reported in the December 2008 of Oregon Archaeological Society Screenings that, “HE (Garry Gitzen) HAS PRODUCED A MAGNIFICENT COMPILATION WHICH SHOULD BE IN EVERY IMPORTANT HISTORICAL LIBRARY and available to every serious student on this subject. Amateur or professional, he will have critics, but they will have a Herculean task to overcome the lucid arguments of this book (Francis Drake in Nehalem Bay 1579, Setting the Historical Record Straight)… IT HAS NO PARALLEL.” Thomas Vaughan, C.B.E. has said; “Due to Garry Gitzen’s Francis Drake in Nehalem Bay 1579, Setting the Historical Record Straight, I am now convinced that Francis Drake was in Nehalem Bay.”
Whereas today, the primary California groups imply (with all due respect) so-called scholars have clearly decided that Drakes Bay was the landing site; while these same California groups failed on three separate occasions to gain an endorsement when they plead their cases before the California Historical Resources Commission during the 1970’s.
I would like to know who the peer reviewer scholars are both inside and outside the National Park Service and why wasn’t I consulted without my having to appear graveling by writing such letters as this to save Oregon’s history forever being stolen by having Francis Drake’s name connected with Pt. Reyes National Seashore.
The historically correct way to recognize Cermeno’s shipwreck is to rename the Pt. Reyes National Seashore to the Pt. Reyes National Seashore Cermeno Park and remove Francis Drake’s name altogether from all references with the area.
I write about history; neither do I make history nor should the NPS be in the business of increasing park attendance by designating falsified history.
Former NPS archaeologist Dr. Aubrey Neasham said; “To solve the questions surrounding the first English landfall in what Drake named “Nova Albion” – New England – Dr. Neasham suggested that Oregon also form a state commission and that possibly a national Drake commission be created.” (The World Newspaper, “Plaque records Drake’s Arago visit, by Charles Kocher, Coos Bay, August 6, 1977) I agree it is about time to have a truly national commission created to finally recognize Nehalem Bay as Francis Drake’s Pacific coast landfall.
Research Analyst and Author