Some Notes On These Pages

Illustration (tossed in here for the heck of it): Theodore De Bry's "crowning" of Drake, circa 1598; there is no reason to think De Bry had direct or special knowledge of the voyage, but nevertheless details of his engravings have been used in support of this or that theory.

These pages are written, constructed and maintained by myself - Oliver Seeler, a writer and amateur historian living on the Mendocino Coast of California. They are an outgrowth of a larger project I began six years ago, a re-examination of the questions still surrounding the whereabouts of Francis Drake during the early summer of 1579, on the northwestern American coast, in the course of his famous voyage around the world on the Golden Hind.

The larger project (and the report of it in my forthcoming book Francis Drake in Nova Albion - The Mystery Restored) was inspired by the speculation of another amateur historian, Mr. R. A. Whipple, that Drake's "lost harbor" was at Albion Bay, in what is now Mendocino County, California. On close analysis, this idea - one which, it turns out, was raised by others on several earlier occasions though not with the intense enthusiasm of Mr. Whipple - must for now be relegated to a long list of promising but inconclusive site proposals. However, the location has provided a convenient stage on which to examine some of the follies surrounding the quest, and some of the ways in which the scant evidence, coupled with all too rare logic, can be legitimately used in the hunt for the Golden Hind's anchorage.

The focus of the work soon shifted from Albion to the larger question of how so much confusion and chaos came to surround the published history of the circumnavigation. The result has been a deconstruction of much of the prevailing mythology of the voyage, along with an attempt to provide at least a starting point for new approaches - thus the second phrase of the title of the book, " - The Mystery Restored."

In the course of the project, which became a much larger undertaking than anticipated, I have published a number of articles on the subject, and have presented some of my findings in lectures and seminars. Publications in which my work on this and related subjects appear include The Map Collector, The Artilleryman, Lamas Magazine, Mendocino Historical Research Inc. Newsletter and Mendocino Coast Traveller' Guide; lectures and papers have been presented at the University of Arizona, the University of Texas (to the Society for the History of Discoveries at its annual meeting held there) and in various local venues.

Many of the problems addressed in these web pages refer to the Drake Navigators Guild, a formidably entrenched group of proponents of the popular theory that Drake harbored in so-called Drake's Bay on the Marin County coast. It may seem that this group has been singled out herein, but it happens that presently it is the most vociferous and visible of a long line of organizations and individuals whose enthusiasm and beliefs have overwhelmed scholarly care and logic. Lest some of my more harsh criticisms of the Drake Navigators Guild be misconstrued, I point out that I have had no personal dealings whatsoever with this group or, to my knowledge, with any of its members. In the more spacious environs of my book, the foibles of numerous academic and private institutions, as well as of many professional and amatuer historians, are examined under an equally bright light.

The issues surrounding the circumnavigation are of many varieties, some intertwined and some free-standing. Not all of the topics discussed in the book are even mentioned here on these web pages. For example, the book contains a chapter on the cartography of the voyage as it relates to the search for the lost harbor; here, cartographic comments are confined to a few brief notes on the Hondius "Portus Plan." Two chapters of the book deal with the literature - early and modern - of the circumnavigation; here there are a few paragraphs on the World Encompassed. As pointed out in the "Author's Note" found at the bottom of each of these pages, the information here is fragmentary and undocumented. I suggest that this entire set of pages be viewed, especially by anyone contemplating using the information herein, as an introductory collage rather than as a formal presentation.

There are a number of individuals and organizations without whom this project would have been abandoned long ago. I may list them here in the future, but will not now anticipate the thanks and acknowledgment they are given in the book; rather, I say here Thank you! to all who have helped - you know who you are. Finally, thanks also to the readers of these pages, for your interest and for any comments you might offer.

Nova Albion Research
Copyright 1996 by Oliver Seeler
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