DCB/DBC Mobile beta


New Biographies

Minor Corrections

Biography of the Day

BEACH, THOMAS BILLIS – Volume XII (1891-1900)

b. 26 Sept. 1841 in Colchester, England


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

HAYES (Haies), EDWARD, English explorer, writer, and colonial promoter; b. c. 1550 at West Derby near Liverpool, Lancs.; d. c. 1613.

Hayes’s father was a small landowner and merchant who soon after his son’s birth went to live in Liverpool. Hayes was at King’s College, Cambridge, in 1565 and reappeared there in 1571, but did not obtain a degree. He entered the service of Elizabeth, Lady Hoby (Lady, Russell from 1574), at Bisham Abbey, Berks., possibly as tutor to one of her sons, during which time he seems to have come to the notice of the lord treasurer, Lord Burghley, Lady Russell’s brother in-law. Thereafter he is often in touch with Burghley and is likely to have enjoyed some patronage at his hands from time to time.

For five years, 1578–83, he was very closely associated with the American voyages and colonizing schemes of Sir Humphrey Gilbert. In 1578, as “Mr Haies gent. Of Leerpolle,” he subscribed to the expedition which Sir Humphrey Gilbert was preparing to find a site for an English settlement and he may have sailed on the abortive voyage of that year, although we have no record that he did so.

He took to sea as a merchant captain about 1579. Late in 1581 or 1582 he bought the Samuel of Weymouth, renamed her the Golden Hind in honour of Sir Francis Drake’s ship, and engaged in at least one privateering voyage in her. From 1580 onwards, however, he worked closely with Gilbert in preparing a second venture. Like Gilbert, he turned away from southeastern to northeastern America and may, indeed, have been influenced by the propaganda of Anthony Parkhurst in favour of English settlement in Newfoundland, though Gilbert’s own interests centred on the mainland south from Cape Breton, and principally in what was later to be called New England. By 1582 he was already known to Richard Hakluyt and was involved in the planning of the voyage (and probably doing propaganda for it). He contributed his bark, the Golden Hind of 40 tons. Its master was the tough, experienced seaman, William Cox of Limehouse, formerly in command of a privateer in the West Indies, 1576–78, who was later to distinguish himself (and die) in the Armada campaign.

Hayes may have been appointed to write a journal of the voyage or have decided to do so for himself. In any event, his vivid and dramatic account, “A report of the voyage . . . ,” published in the 1589 edition of Hakluyt’s The principall navigations, is the chief authority for the voyage and we see it very much through his eyes. He writes well, especially when he is telling a straight story, and his narrative is deservedly famous. The Golden Hind left Plymouth with the expedition on 11 June and sighted land near the Straits of Belle Isle on 30 July. Sailing cautiously south from an estimated 51°N.Lat., Hayes first sighted Funk Island, then Baccalieu Island and Cape St. Francis, picking up the Swallow at Conception Bay. He was joined by Gilbert in the Delight (Richard Clarke, master) at St. John’s harbour. After Gilbert arrived On 3 August, Hayes went on shore, where, the following day, he saw a little of the land round the harbour but he suffered an injury (we are not told how) and was immobilized for some days. He was thus largely dependent on reports from the parties that Gilbert dispatched from his base, though they were not able to penetrate far into the interior [see Stephanus Parmenius]. He summarized the reports carefully and gave an intelligent account of the climate, estimated the fishing resources of the island, and concluded that all northern commodities, whether or not already present – timber products, hemp, flax, furs, and, he thought, wheat – could be grown and exploited; but the rigorous winters would have to be faced as they were in Scandinavia. He picked up something about trees, fruits, birds, and animals, and stressed the mineral potentialities of the island, in iron, copper, lead, and, he thought, silver.

Hayes tells effectively the story of the next leg of the voyage (24–29 August) and all he knew of the wreck of the Delight. Hayes, following, appears to have taken a southwesterly course to safety [see Sir Humphrey Gilbert]. But the expedition was reduced too far for it to proceed; the Golden Hind and the Squirrel were unable to face the blustery weather and the long autumn reconnaissance down the coast from Cape Breton which they had planned. Gilbert, from the Squirrel, came to confer with Hayes and Cox and they decided reluctantly, Hayes says, to abandon the voyage.

Gilbert, however, had not abandoned his plans. At a last conference he told Hayes and Cox that they should command the expeditions he would get to sea in 1584 towards the south (down the mainland coast), while he himself would command a northern (Newfoundland) voyage. But on Monday night, 9 September, the Squirrel’s lights went out and Hayes had to assume she had foundered. Next day there was no trace of her or her occupants. So the Golden Hind came home alone, reaching Falmouth on the 22nd, putting in at Dartmouth to tell Gilbert’s brother the sad news and then sailing to Weymouth where the men were dispersed. His crew had remained healthy and united throughout the voyage and its many frustrations. Hayes, though he had lost much in the enterprise, remained optimistic. He had shown himself an able and resourceful voyager.

Hayes did his best on his return to see that Gilbert’s enterprise was continued, contributing much to Sir George Peckham’s tract, A true report (1583), by which he hoped to revive support for the venture. But its Catholic supporters had mostly abandoned the project and the investors with Gilbert had lost too much money already. Whether Hayes prepared and circulated his own report in manuscript we do not know. Christopher Carleill set out in May 1584 but got no farther than Ireland. Hayes, however, was convinced that Newfoundland offered great prospects if sufficient backing could be got to exploit it, so he did not associate himself with Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Walsingham, his supporter, who were soon planning colonies just north of Spanish Florida.

Instead, he turned to win the support of Lord Burghley, his old patron, whose interests overseas were centred on the encouragement of fisheries, the fur trade, and the production of naval stores – timber products, flax, and hemp, especially. By 10 May 1585, when Hayes wrote to Burghley (BM, Lansdowne MS 37, ff. 166–67), he had worked out several detailed documents on Newfoundland and handed over early in 1596 both “A discourse of Master Haies of the new lande discovered” (BM, Lansdowne MS 100, ff.83–87), in which the climate and commodities of Newfoundland are discussed against a background of English political rights and economic needs; and also another “Platt” (plot or plan) (ibid., ff. 88–94) for putting into effect his schemes for a colony which would control the fishery.

He showed some detailed knowledge of the fishery and expressed his belief that both Englishmen and foreigners would submit to control and taxation in the harbours in order to gain security against attack [see Richard Clarke, Sir Bernard Drake]. He proposed that a corporation be established, representing the fishing interests in all the principal ports and headed by some nobleman of rank, which would be open to other English participants in the fishery. This was not unlike the fur-trading consortium worked out for New France in 1603. It is possible that Hayes had backing from southern ports like Southampton and Weymouth but the southwestern ports were satisfied with the existing system and all the fishermen concerned were in any event strongly individualistic. Moreover, the prospects of being able to control and tax foreign fishing vessels were by no means assured. His own contribution was to offer to take out 200 convicts to do the hard work of galley-slaves and labourers. He implies too that he should be general of the expedition. Burghley may well have been sympathetic but he did nothing to implement the scheme. It is of some significance, however, in bringing consideration of Newfoundland as a possible colony under closer scrutiny.

The appearance of Hayes’s report of the Gilbert voyage in the first edition (1589) of The principall navigations publicized his vivid and dramatic account and also gave his views on English colonization in general, along with “A brief relation of the New found lande,” the earliest systematic description to be published. (This was reprinted in the second edition, III (1600), 143–61.) Hayes did not confine his activities to the promotion of colonization alone, for throughout his adult life, from 1579 to 1613, he frequently advocated projects to Burghley and his successors as lord treasurer and to Sir Robert Cecil, Burghley’s son. Some were plans for domestic reforms, many of them for improving the coinage system in England or Ireland, or for reorganizing the militia; others, maybe, for improving the water supply of London, or some other local purpose. Most of them contained proposals for his employment in implementing them. In addition, this active and resourceful man engaged in privateering from 1589 to 1591.

By about 1593 Hayes had revived his interest in North America but by this time he had decided that Newfoundland was too cold for permanent settlement. What was needed was the plantation of the mainland coast between 40° and 45°, where English colonists could settle in a climate more congenial to them, or else down the valley of the St. Lawrence where the French had reached 45°, and along which there was a substantial possibility of finding a passage to the South Seas. The colony should be built up economically on the profits of fur-trading with the Indians, the gradual establishment of small settlements, and the eventual attraction of the Newfoundland fishermen to the mainland coasts, where new fishing grounds and shore bases could be developed for them. Later, when settlement had developed, large numbers of intending settlers, 20,000 if need be, could be carried on the outward-bound fishing vessels and so a strong dominion established for the crown of England, while the discovery of a passage to the Pacific would make not only the settlers but also England rich.

The project owes much to the ideas of Christopher Carleill, who planned to settle the coasts north of 40° in 1583–84 [see Sir Humphrey Gilbert] but who had been diverted to various military employments in Ireland. Returning to England in 1593 he may well have joined forces with Hayes (and quite possibly Richard Hakluyt as well). The result was an elaborate and valuable proposal for the colonization of what are now Canada and northern New England, which has remained unpublished. “A discourse concerning a voyage intended for the plantation of Christian religion and people in the northwest regions of American in places most apt for the constitution of our bodies and the speedy advancement of a state” (Cambridge University Library, MS Dd. 3.85). The limiting dates for it are 1593 to 1595, but by the latter date Carleill was said to have sailed with Sir Francis Drake on his last voyage and in 1596 Hayes declared himself willing to follow Sir Walter Raleigh to Guiana. Who else was concerned in the proposals is not known but these proposals may well have been directed to Lord Burghley, who was at this time interested in plans for penetrating the St. Lawrence [see Richard Fisher, Sylvester Wyet, Charles Leigh].

When the “discourse” appears in print under Hayes’s name, as an appendix to John Brereton’s A brief and true relation . . . (1602), this document is much abbreviated: it is linked more closely with the attempts to explore and settle Maine and Massachusetts with which Bartholomew Gosnold’s voyage in 1602 had been concerned. The St. Lawrence references are removed (the English have now left the valley finally to the French), but the title, “A treatise, containing important inducements for the planting in these parts, and finding a passage that way to the South Sea and China,” still stresses the possibility of finding, if not by the St. Lawrence, then by other rivers, a westerly passage to the Pacific. But lists of commodities to be found on the Atlantic seaboard include a few new scraps of information from the Nova Scotia area, probably gathered by Hakluyt.

Hayes now ceases to concern himself in American ventures. From 1599 to 1603, he is employed in government service in and concerning Ireland. How he was employed otherwise we do not know; he preferred to live in London but he is found living at various times in Fittington, Essex, and in Hamsell, Sussex. He was, from 1601 to 1603, in charge of a coinage debasement scheme in Ireland, which he himself had proposed. He was associated with various inventions, or their application, mostly for coinage purposes. In his latter years, from 1603, he was a government pensioner. But he retained a lively interest in North America from 1578 until at least 1606, in which year he and his relative, Thomas Hayes, approached Lord Salisbury with a scheme for the public financing of the proposed Virginia Company.

To Hayes we owe the finest description of any 16th-century English voyage to what is now Canada but in addition he must be regarded as the most devoted propagandist for Elizabethan settlement within Newfoundland, the Atlantic Provinces, and the St. Lawrence. Of these areas only the first was planted by Englishmen in his lifetime, but it seems probable that at least he had kept English interest in that area alive, even if he is not known to have been associated with the Newfoundland Company of 1610.

David B. Quinn

Hayes’s account of the Gilbert voyage, “A report of the voyage and successe thereof, attempted in the yeere of our Lord, 1583. by Sir Humfrey Gilbert knight . . .” was printed in Hakluyt’s Principall navigations (London, 1589), 679–97. (It contains “A brief relation of the New found lande.”) Modern reprintings: Principal navigations (1903–5), VIII, 34–77; Voyages of Gilbert (Quinn), II, 385ff. Hayes’s “A discourse of Master Haies of the new lande discovered” is in BM, Landsdowne MS 100, ff.83–87; and in the appendix to John Brereton’s A brief and true relation of the discovery of the north part of Virginia . . . (London, 1602). W. G. Gosling, The life of Sir Humphrey Gilbert (London, 1911). Prowse, History of Nfld. D. B. Quinn, “Edward Hayes, Liverpool colonial pioneer,” Lancashire and Cheshire Hist. Soc. Trans., CXIII (1960), 25–45.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

David B. Quinn, “HAYES, EDWARD,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 26, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/hayes_edward_1E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/hayes_edward_1E.html
Author of Article:   David B. Quinn
Title of Article:   HAYES, EDWARD
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1966
Year of revision:   1979
Access Date:   September 26, 2023