Recently we were contacted by Mr. Mark E. Mitchell who is a major dealer/appraiser of original historic newspapers who reported that he had found original issues of The Post Boy from London, England reporting on the loss of the 1715 Fleet. Mr. Mitchell was kind enough to send us several scans of the newspapers. Mr. Mitchell stated “these scarce newspapers are the closest any of us who are interested in this event can ever approach – one of the only ways we can “relive” what happened and the salvage efforts.” The documents forwarded to us by Mr. Mitchell are from Thursday, November 17 to Saturday, November 19 and from Tuesday, December 6 to Thursday, December 8, 1715.
The original images are shown below. Click the image to view larger copies. Below, you’ll see the same images but with clear versions of the text for easier reading.
The earlier of the two editions contains the following report:
“Paris, November 15. N.S. Letters from the Havana of the 17th of September advise that the Flotilla consisting of 10 ships met with a violent storm upon the 31st of July that they were forced to run ashore upon the coast of Florida, 50 Leagues from Cape S. Augustin, and 20 from Cape Canaveral; and that only one ship, V.Z. The Flying-Heart, escaped: that upon this News, several Ships were immediately sent from the Havana to fish up the Gold and Silver; that good Part of it was already recover’d, and particularly that on board the Urza de Lima; and that it was hoped, most of the rest would likewise be got up. They add, that four or five hundred men were drown’d and among them several Passengers. This News was brought to Rochelle by the S. Francis, whose cargo is very rich, consisting of 500,000 Pieces of Eight, besides Merchandizes. The following Speech was made to the King by the Bishop of Auxerre, at the Breaking up of the General Assembly of the Clergy of France, at Vincennes the 30th of October.”
The second issue from December has the following report:
“Madrid, Nov. 25. N.S. On the 25th, a Proclamation was publish’d, commanding all of the Half-Pay Officers to repair to the Commissaries-General with their Commissions, in order to be register’d, and employ’d again, as Occasion shall offer, according to their Services and Merits. We have receiv’d better News concerning the Flota of New Spain; to wit, that only two Ships of it were cast away: Some others were indeed run aground upon the coast of Florida; but all the Gold and Silver, and most of the Merchandizes were taken out of them. Wherefore the King hath sent Orders to Cadiz, for the Equipment of four Men of War with all possible Expedition, and hath order’d the Marquis de Valero, who is nominated Viceroy of New Spain, to set out for Cadiz forthwith, and embarque there. His Instructions run that he shall go directly to the Havana, where those four Ships shall unlade the Effects they have on board and shall take on board those of the Flota, which amount to 12 Millions of Crowns in Gold and Silver only. The command of those Ships was design’d for Don Andres de Pez, Admiral; but he having excused himself upon count of his great Age, it is believ’d that Senior Arstigueta, a Biscayner, will be sent in his room, as having made several Voyages to the West Indies.”
We would like to thank Mr. Mitchell for sending us this fascinating archival information. For more information contact the Mitchell Archives Original Historic Newspapers and Documents at www.mitchellarchives.com.