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HAYMAN, ROBERT, poet, colonizer, governor of Bristol’s colony in Newfoundland; baptized 14 Aug. 1575, son of Nicholas Hayman and Alice Gaverocke; m. 21 May 1604 Grace Spicer at Exeter; d. Nov. 1629 in Guiana where he was buried.

Hayman spent his early life in Totnes, Devon, where his father, a merchant, was prominent. In 1590 he matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford; in July 1596 he was admitted to the degree of B.A. and that October became a student in Lincoln’s Inn. Between receiving his degree and July 1600 he studied at Poitiers, according to a letter which his father wrote to Sir Robert Cecil, asking him to find employment for Robert. Whether Cecil’s help was forthcoming or not, Hayman later claimed to have known the court of Elizabeth well. At Oxford he enjoyed a reputation as a poet and was acquainted with other poets including William Vaughan, founder of the colony at Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland.

The origin of Hayman’s connection with Bristol is not clear; however, one of his sisters married John Barker of Bristol and Hayman’s poems show that his acquaintance there was large. Bristol had been involved in the plantation of Newfoundland since 1610 and the first governor of the Cuper’s Cove colony had been a Bristolian, John Guy. Perhaps Guy’s quarrel with the company about five years later prompted members of the city’s Society of Merchant Venturers, during Barker’s years of office as master (1617–18), to apply for a separate grant of land. They received land around Harbour Grace on Conception Bay, which they called Bristol’s Hope, a name that still survives.

Little is known of Hayman’s career as governor of this colony although, according to contemporary reports, the settlement flourished. Even the date of his appointment is unknown but possibly he took office at the colony’s foundation about 1618. He was certainly governor for some years: his first visit lasted 15 months and he spent several summers there until ceasing to be governor, which must have been by 1628. There were still settlers at Bristol’s Hope in 1631 but it is not known whether a second governor was appointed. While in Newfoundland Hayman, having little to do but oversee the labour of others, as he himself put it, wrote verse and translated works by John Owen, Rabelais, and others, which he published in 1628. A group of his own poems he addressed to the promoters of the various Newfoundland plantations, praising those who, like George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, persevered and chiding those who, like Lord Falkland, had become discouraged. About 1628, also, he tried to enlist royal support for a colony, through the mediation of the Duke of Buckingham. He argued that private resources had proved insufficient and attempted to show how the nation might profit by the full exploitation of the island’s resources.

From Newfoundland Hayman turned to Guiana. In November 1628 he left for the Amazon with Robert Harcourt, reaching Wiapoko (now Oyapock) in the following February. In November 1629 he died of a fever while on an expedition.

Gillian T. Cell

Hayman’s book is entitled Quodlibets, lately come over from New Britaniola, Old Newfound-land (London, 1628); his letter to Buckingham and address to Charles I are in the BM, Egerton mss, 2541; his will, dated 28 Nov. 1628 and proved 23 Jan. 1633, is at Somerset House, P.C.C., 1 Russell. Other sources: Bristol Society of Merchant Venturers, Book of charters, I. The book of examinations and depositions, 1622–44, II, ed. R. C. Anderson (Southampton Record Soc., XXXI, 1931), 65–69. Hist. mss Com., 9, Salisbury (Cecil) mss, X. Register of the University of Oxford (1571–1622), ed. C. W. Boase and A. Clark (2v. [II in 4 pts.], Oxford Hist. Soc., 1884–89), II, pts. 2, 3. DNB. G. C. Moore-Smith, “Robert Hayman and the Plantation in Newfoundland,” EHR, XXXIII (1918), 21–36. J. A. Williamson, The English colonies in Guiana and on the Amazon, 1604–1668 (Oxford, 1923). Anthony à Wood, Athenae Oxonienses: an exact history of writers and bishops who have had their education in the University of Oxford (3rd ed., 4v., London, 1813–20), II. [David Galloway, “Robert Hayman . . . ,” William and Mary Q. (Williamsburg, Va.), 3rd ser., XXIV (1967).]

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Cite This Article

Gillian T. Cell, “HAYMAN, ROBERT,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 15, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/hayman_robert_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/hayman_robert_1E.html
Author of Article:   Gillian T. Cell
Title of Article:   HAYMAN, ROBERT
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1966
Year of revision:   1979
Access Date:   June 15, 2024