Newport, Christopher (DNB00)

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NEWPORT, CHRISTOPHER (1565?–1617), sea captain, born about 1565, sailed from London in January 1591–2 as captain of the Golden Dragon, and with three other ships under his command, for an expedition to the West Indies. On the coast of Hispaniola, of Cuba, of Honduras, and of Florida they sacked four Spanish towns, and captured or destroyed twenty Spanish vessels, and, returning home, met at Flores with Sir John Burgh [q. v.], and joined him in his attack on the Madre de Dios on 3 Aug. Newport was afterwards put in command of the prize, which he brought to Dartmouth on 7 Sept. 1592.

In December 1606 Newport was appointed to ‘the sole charge and command’ of the expedition to Virginia ‘until such time as they shall fortune to land upon the coast of Virginia.’ He returned to England in July 1607, and in October again sailed for Virginia, returning in May 1608. A third voyage followed; and in a fourth, sailing from Plymouth on 2 June 1609, in company with Sir George Somers [q. v.], in the Sea Venture, the ship, after being buffeted by a violent storm, was cast ashore among some islands which they identified with those discovered by the Spanish captain Bermudez nearly one hundred years before. The Spaniards questioned the identification (Lefroy, p. 30); but, as the islands were overrun with hogs, it is certain that they had been previously visited by Europeans, and posterity has agreed with Somers and Newport in calling them the Bermudas. After some stay they built a pinnace and went on to Virginia, where they arrived in May 1610, and in September Newport returned to England. The voyage was commemorated by Silvester Jourdain [q. v.], who had sailed with Newport, in his ‘Discovery of the Bermudas, otherwise called the Ile of Divels,’ 1610, 4to, the tract which supplied local colour to Shakespeare's ‘Tempest.’ In 1611 Newport made a fifth voyage to Virginia.

Towards the end of 1612 Newport entered the service of the East India Company as captain of the Expedition, a ship of 260 tons, which sailed on 7 Jan. 1612–13, carrying out Sir Robert Shirley as ambassador to Persia. Touching in Table Bay in May, he landed Shirley near the mouth of the Indus on 26 Sept., went on to Bantam, where he obtained a full cargo without delay, and arrived in the Downs on 10 July 1614. For the quickness with which he had made the voyage and his successful trade he was highly commended by the company, and was awarded a gratuity of fifty jacobuses. On 4 Nov. the governors stated that Newport refused to go the next voyage for less than 240l. a year, whereon they resolved ‘to let him rest awhile, and to advise and bethink himself for some short time’ (Cal. State Papers, Colonial, East Indies). After some delay a compromise was made for 15l. a month, and on 24 Jan. 1614–1615 Newport sailed in command of the Lion. He again made a successful voyage, returning to England in September 1616. Two months later he sailed, as captain of the Hope, on a third voyage to the East Indies. The Hope arrived at Bantam on 15 Aug. 1617, and a few days afterwards Newport died.

By his will (in Somerset House, Meade, 92), dated 16 Nov. 1616, ‘being to go with the next wind and weather, captain of the Hope, to sail into the East Indies, a long and dangerous voyage,’ he left his dwelling-house on Tower Hill, with garden adjoining, and the bulk of his property, to his wife, Elizabeth, and after her death to his two sons, John and Christopher, and his daughter Elizabeth. To this daughter he also left 400l. to be paid to her on her marriage, or at the age of twenty-one. To his daughter Jane he left 5l., to have no further claim, ‘in regard of many her great disobediences towards me, and other her just misdemeanours to my great heart's grief.’

His son Christopher, being master's mate on board the Hope, made his will (Meade, 85) in Table Bay on 27 April 1618, being then sick of body, but in good and perfect memory. His brother John and sister Elizabeth are named as executors and residuary legatees. To his sister Jane he left 10l., on condition that she has ‘reformed her former course of life.’ He names two aunts, Johane Ravens and Amy Glucefeild; also a kinswoman, Elizabeth Glucefeild. He died shortly afterwards, and the will was proved on 22 Sept. 1618.

[Calendars of State Papers, Colonial, North America, and West Indies and East Indies; Hakluyt's Principal Navigations, iii. 567; Purchas his Pilgrimes, iv. 1734; Brown's Genesis of the United States, ii. 956 and freq.; Lefroy's Memorials of the Bermudas and Historye of the Bermudas (Hakluyt Soc.).]

J. K. L.