Sir Francis Drake in Nova Albion

Attend the Elizabethan California Festival, Oct. 18-20, Hwy. 1, Muir Beach to Drake's Bay!

Phase I
The Wondjina Research Institute (WRI) of Sonora, California, has now completed Phase I of its Nova Albion Project, which included six months of intensive study in the United States and the United Kingdom by an international team of volunteers. The work  included archival and field investigations.  The field investigations focused on the Agate Beach area, near Bolinas in Marin County, California.  Copies of the Final Phase I report will be made available on this web site in the near future.  Printed copies may be obtained from the Wondjina Research Institute, 83 S. Stewart Street, Sonora, California.
The Agate Beach Area, Bolinas Bay
The Agate Beach area has produced considerable quantities of 16th Century artifacts over the past 30 years. Recent radiocarbon dating of wooden ship timbers that have been washed up on this beach suggests that the remains of at least one 16th Century shipwreck lie nearby. Copies of this information are included with the Phase I report. Research in the United States and the United Kingdom suggests that some of the dated timbers from Agate Beach  may be from an English vessel, possibly the Content, a supply ship of the 1586-1588 Cavendish Expedition that may have had secret orders to resupply the Nova Albion 'Colony'.

The People Left Behind - Colony or Castaways

As a part of its review of archival materials dealing with the Drake and Cavendish Expeditions, WRI has "stumbled" upon the work of Zelia Nuttall, who in 1914 compiled a list of possible colonists/castaways who MAY have been left in California by the 1579 Drake Expedition. These names are listed in Appendix F of the Phase I Final Report and below.

Ms. Nuttall compared lists of the people who left England with Drake, subtracted out those known to have died or been lost along the way, against the names of those who returned to England.  She identified 21 men and one woman who were unaccounted for, presumably left behind in Nova Albion.  There were also two "re-supply" expeditions sent out in the 1580s, at least one of which may have reached Nova Albion.  Their crews remain unaccounted for.

As a part of the Phase II portion of its Nova Albion Project, WRI will be seeking information from California Native American informants in the California Coastal Study Area (Marin, Contra Costa, Solano, Sacramento, Sonoma, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties) who have oral or written traditions suggesting that they are or may be descended from the following 16th Century English colonists/castaways:

Members of the 1579 Drake Expedition

"Gentleman" or Officers
  • Mr. Nicholas Anthony
  • Mr. Charles
  • Mr. Caube
  • Mr. Thomas Cuttill or Cuttyll
  • Mr. William Markham
  • Mr. John Sarocold
Seaman, Soldiers or Tradesmen
  • John Audley

  • Luke Adden

  • John Cowrttes

  • William Cowke

  • John Deane

  • Thomas Ffloud

  • Thomas Grige

  • George, a Musician

  • Richard Graye

  • John Gallawaye

  • Christopher Hayman

  • William Haynes

  • Thomas Marttyn

  • Richard Morgan

  • Littel Nele, a Fleming (possibly, a Dutch or Belgian woman)

  • Edward Worrall

There were, in addition, Captain John Brewer, Officers, Sailors, Soldiers or Colonists of the ship Content of the 1587 Cavendish Expedition.
The above- mentioned members of the 1579 Drake Expedition were unaccounted for (Nuttall 1914: 427-428) and MAY have been left as colonists/castaways in California. Only recently, researchers in the United Kingdom have made the connection that these individuals could have been left behind as a part of a secret "Lost Colony" that was commissioned by Elizabeth I of England and may have existed up to A.D.1613 . Recent research suggests that the 1586-1588 expedition of Thomas Cavendish and the earlier, ill-fated 1582 expedition of Edward Fenton were sent by Elizabeth I to re-supply the 'colony' of Nova Albion. WRI has retained a team of researchers in the United Kingdom to find the names of the members of the 1587 Cavendish Expedition that sailed on the Content and hopes to have a list of these individuals by the end of August, 2001.
Call for Volunteers Project Photos