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many of the promoters and pioneers of exploration and colonisation in the New World who are to follow, Dee is a Cambridge
alumnus who studied at St John’s College then was made a fellow of Trinity College becoming an MA in 1548. His career since then has not been without problems in Queen Mary’s reign, having been accused
of sorcery but cleared then accused of being a heretic. He was again found innocent, and now is one of Elizabeth’s most
The two sea captains that Dee had been discussing navigation charts with in Scene One are Philip Amadas
and Arthur Barlow. The pair have been entrusted with the vital task of selecting a site for England’s first colony in
North America and given command of two ships in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour. Joining them is Simon Ferdinando an experienced Portuguese navigator and pilot who will also feature in future expeditions
at Roanoke (today’s North Carolina).
Showing how the best English oak timbers are selected for
shipbuilding is illustrated in the cameo here. The two shipwrights have marked suitably angled branches on a living tree with
white paint, to use for a specific purpose when sawn off and seasoned.
Unfortunately little is known about Barlow
but Amadas comes from a well known Plymouth family. A privateer, or licensed pirate, he often sails with Sir Richard Grenville’s
squadron hunting out Spanish treasure ships to attack. However this year the voyage is to be one of reconnaissance involving
two ships with himself in charge of one and Barlow the other. Raleigh is the main backer of the venture but also sharing the
financial burden are William Sanderson and Richard Hakluyt. (Arms scene four).
Richard Hakluyt appears here in the lower scene with two companions, Dr Dee and Josias
Calmady. It is now 27 April and they have come to stand on Plymouth Hoe to watch the departure of Amadas and Barlow’s ships as they make their way past St Nicholas Island in Plymouth Sound.
Calmady, (arms here), sitting on the cannon is a wealthy local ships chandler living at Langdon Court at Wembury, illustrated at the top, and he’s supplied a lot of the victuals for the ships.