Robert Hayman

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Robert Hayman (14 August 1575 November 1629) was a poet, colonist and Proprietary Governor of Bristol's Hope colony in Newfoundland.

Colony territory under the political control of an overseas state, generally with its own subordinate colonial government

In history, a colony is a territory under the immediate complete political control and occupied by settlers of a state, distinct from the home territory of the sovereign. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception.


Early life and education

Hayman was born in Wolborough near Newton Abbot, Devon, the eldest of nine children. His mother was Alice Gaverocke [1] and his father, Nicholas Hayman, a prosperous citizen and later mayor and MP of both Totnes and Dartmouth. By 1579 the family was living in Totnes, [2] where in the high street Hayman as a small boy met Sir Francis Drake, who presented him with an orange (Hayman records the incident in one of his poems). [3]

Newton Abbot market town and civil parish in Devon, England

Newton Abbot is a market town and civil parish on the River Teign in the Teignbridge District of Devon, England, with a population of 25,556.

Totnes town in Devon, England

Totnes is a market town and civil parish at the head of the estuary of the River Dart in Devon, England within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is about 21 miles (34 km) south-southwest of Exeter and is the administrative centre of the South Hams District Council.

Dartmouth, Devon town in Devon, England

Dartmouth is a town and civil parish in the English county of Devon. It is a tourist destination set on the western bank of the estuary of the River Dart, which is a long narrow tidal ria that runs inland as far as Totnes. It lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and South Hams district, and had a population of 5,512 in 2001, reducing to 5,064 at the 2011 census There are two electoral wards in the Dartmouth area. Their combined population at the above census was 6,822.

According to the 17th-century historian Anthony Wood Hayman was educated at Exeter College and the college register shows him matriculating on 15 October 1590 (the register wrongly shows his age as eleven whereas in fact he was fifteen). [4] He then, according to Wood, "retired to Lincolns-inn, without the honour of a degree": but here Wood is incorrect, as Hayman commenced B.A. on 8 July 1596. [5] He was admitted as a law student to Lincoln's Inn on 16 October 1596, where, again according to Wood, he "studied for a time the municipal law", though modern researches find no evidence of this or of any intention to qualify as a lawyer. In his supplication for B.A. Hayman had mentioned a plan to travel and study in Europe, and this apparently happened, as in a letter his father wrote to Robert Cecil in 1600 he states that he hoped for a career for his son in some government office, and that towards this end he had educated him at both Oxford University and at Poitiers. Wood explains that "his geny being well known to be poetical, (he) fell into acquaintance with" a literary circle which included Ben Jonson, Michael Drayton, John Donne, George Wither, John Owen and others. These encouraged his literary efforts with the result, according to Wood, that Hayman had "the general vogue of a poet". Perhaps because of these distractions Hayman seems not to have achieved any significant public office in England. Although Edward Sharpham dedicated a play to him in 1607 [6] there is nothing further known about his activities for twenty years until he emerges as a venturer and colonist to the new world.

Anthony Wood (antiquary) English antiquarian

Anthony Wood, who styled himself Anthony à Wood in his later writings, was an English antiquary.

Exeter College, Oxford constituent college of the University of Oxford

Exeter College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England and the fourth oldest college of the University.

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury English Earl

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, was an English statesman noted for his skillful direction of the government during the Union of the Crowns, as Tudor England gave way to Stuart rule (1603). Salisbury served as the Secretary of State of England (1596–1612) and Lord High Treasurer (1608–1612), succeeding his father as Queen Elizabeth I's Lord Privy Seal and remaining in power during the first nine years of King James I's reign until his death.


Hayman was married on 21 May 1604 at St Petroc's Church, Exeter, to Grace Spicer, daughter of a prominent merchant of Exeter; [7] but they appear to have had no children and as Hayman does not mention her directly in his works it seems she died young. Several of the poems later published in the book 'Quodlibets' however are dedicated to other members of the Spicer family, so he apparently remained on friendly terms with them.

Colonial career

The title page of Quodlibets Quodlibets Title Page.JPG
The title page of Quodlibets

Hayman was appointed the Newfoundland colony's first and only governor in 1618 when Bristol's Society of Merchant Venturers received a charter from King James I of England to establish the settlement. Hayman's brother-in-law John Barker [8] was the society's master. Hayman lived in the colony for fifteen months before returning to England and visited again over several summers until his tenure as governor ended in 1628. [9] Much of his work was in England raising money for the settlement, publicizing it and encouraging more colonisation efforts. In 1628 he petitioned the king's favourite the Duke of Buckingham to forward a "Proposition of profitt and honor" to the king which set out the need to encourage continued colonization of Newfoundland, and which specifically mentioned a plan to build a settlement to be called 'Carolinople' (i.e. "Charles's Town").

The first brief European contact with Newfoundland and Labrador came about 1000 AD when the Vikings briefly settled in L'Anse aux Meadows. Around 1500, European explorers and fishermen from England, Portugal, Netherlands, France, and Spain began exploration. Fishing expeditions came seasonally; the first small permanent settlements appeared around 1630. Catholic-Protestant religious tensions were high but mellowed after 1860. The British colony voted against joining Canada in 1869 and became an independent dominion in the early 20th century. Fishing was always the dominant industry, but the economy collapsed in the Great Depression of the 1930s and the people voluntarily relinquished their independence to become a British colony again. Prosperity and self-confidence returned during the Second World War, and after intense debate the people voted to join Canada in 1949.

Society of Merchant Venturers organization

The Society of Merchant Venturers is a charitable organisation in the English city of Bristol.

Charter grant of authority or rights

A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified. It is implicit that the granter retains superiority, and that the recipient admits a limited status within the relationship, and it is within that sense that charters were historically granted, and that sense is retained in modern usage of the term.

As Newfoundland's first poet in English, Hayman is remembered for his writings extolling the island, its climate and its early English pioneers. In his leisure hours as governor in Harbour Grace he composed a work later published in England as Quodlibets. [10] Quodlibets("What you will") was the first book in the English language written in what would become Canada. Some of it consisted of original short poems by Hayman, and some of translations, both of Latin poems by John Owen (epigrammatist) and of French prose by Rabelais. It was published in London in 1628, presumably as part of Hayman's attempts to raise interest in the colony. [11]

Poet person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.

Harbour Grace Town in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Harbour Grace is a town in Conception Bay on the Avalon Peninsula in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. With roots dating back to the 16th century, it is one of the oldest towns in North America.

John Owen was a Welsh epigrammatist, most known for his Latin epigrams, collected in his Epigrammata.

Although Hayman apparently remained committed to Newfoundland he was also interested in other colonial ventures, including one to Guyana under the direction of Robert Harcourt. Having arranged his financial affairs he made his will late in the fall of 1628 and left in the Little Hopewell for the Amazon. By February 1629 (new style) he was in Guiana looking into using the river 'Wiapoco' (modern Oyapock) as a trading route.


It was while travelling up the Oyapock by canoe that Hayman died of a sudden fever and was hastily buried by his companions near the banks of the river, on or about 17 October 1629. [12] His will, signed and sealed on 17 November 1628 but not proved until 1633 (1632 Old Style), leaves his estate to "my loving Cosin and Nephew Thomas Muchell of Longaston in the Countie of Somersett...". His will also mentions two "policies of insurance" taken out with the diocesan chancellor of London, Arthur Duck. Of the value of £100 each, one related to the safe arrival of Hayman's ship in Guiana and the other was "of one hundred pounds assured by the said Doctor Arthur Ducke on my life". [13]

See also


  1. William Barker, ‘Hayman, Robert (bap. 1575, d. 1629)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  2. William Barker, ‘Hayman, Robert (bap. 1575, d. 1629)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  3. Quodlibets, Fourth book, verse no. 7.
  4. William Barker, ‘Hayman, Robert (bap. 1575, d. 1629)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  5. William Barker, ‘Hayman, Robert (bap. 1575, d. 1629)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  6. 'Cupid's Whirligig' - William Barker, ‘Hayman, Robert (bap. 1575, d. 1629)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  7. William Barker, ‘Hayman, Robert (bap. 1575, d. 1629)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  8. William Barker, "Hayman, Robert (bap. 1575, d. 1629)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, January 2008. John Barker was a mayor of Bristol and married to Hayman's sister, Grace.
  9. 'In this Iland at one tyme I lived fifteene Monethes together, and since I have spent almost every sommer in it’ (BL, Egerton MS 2451, fols. 162–9).
  10. 'Qvodlibets, lately come over from New Britaniola, old New-found-land. Epigrams and other small parcels, both morall and diuine. The first foure bookes being the authors owne: the rest translated out of that excellent epigrammatist, Mr. Iohn Owen, and other rare authors: With two epistles of that excellently wittie doctor, Francis Rablais: translated out of his French at large. All of them composed and done at Harbor-Grace in Britaniola, anciently called Newfound-Land.' (1628)
  11. Reynolds, David, editor (circa 1628, copyright 2013). Quodlibets, Lately Come Over from New Britaniola, Old Newfoundland. Problematic Press. pp. 5–7. ISBN   9780986902727 . Retrieved 14 September 2015.Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. William Barker, ‘Hayman, Robert (bap. 1575, d. 1629)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  13. "And whereas I have left in the hands of Doctor Ducke Channcellor of London two pollicies of insurance the one of one hundred pounds for the safe arivall of our Shipp in Guiana which is in mine owne name, if we miscarry by the waie (which God forbid) I bequeath the advantage thereof to my said Cosin Thomas Muchell...whereas there is an other insurance of one hundred pounds assured by the said Doctor Arthur Ducke on my life for one yeare if I chance to die within that tyme I entreat the said doctor Ducke to make it over to the said Thomas Muchell his kinsman..." Will of Robert Hayman, 1628:Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Catalogue Reference PROB 11/163

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