Thus was Drake crowned great Hioh of California. He called the country Nova Albion, or New Albion, “and that for two causes,” says the Chaplain, “the one in respect of the white bancks and cliffs, which lie toward the sea: the other, that it might have some affinities, even in name also, with our owne country, which was sometime so called.”
As has been stated above, Fletcher is our chief source of information for details regarding events at the “conuenient and fit harborough.”
…No picture of the plate is known to exist. Only one recourse remained – to find the plate. Here it is! Recovered at last after a lapse of 357 years! Behold, Drake’s plate – the plate of brasse! California’s choicest archaeological treasure! And here is what the inscription says:
BEE IT KNOWNE VNTO ALL MEN BY THESE
IVNE 17 1579
BY THE GRACE OF GOD AND IN THE NAME OF HERR
MAIESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND AND HERR
SVCCESSORS FOREVER I TAKE POSSESSION OF THIS
KINGDOME WHOSE KING AND PEOPLE FREELY RESIGNE
THEIR RIGHT AND TITLE IN THE WHOLE LAND VNTO HERR
MAIESTIES KEEPEING NOW NAMED BY ME AN TO BEE
KNOWNE VNTO ALL MEN AS NOVA ALBION
(signed) Hole for
So the plate, assuming its authenticity, completely vindicates Chaplain Fletcher. The phraseology of the inscription in nearly every particular is that of The World Encompassed, our fullest version of Fletcher’s account.
The inscription claims Nova Albion for the Virgin Queen and her successors, just as the Chaplain says.
The plate is of brass, just as the Chaplain says.
Not the “province and people” but the “province and kingdome” and the “right and title in the whole land” were given up, just as the Chaplain says.
They were granted not by a nameless nobody, but by “king and people” the great Hioh and his subjects, just as the Chaplain says.
Finally, there is a hole through the plate “made of purpose” to hold the sixpence, just as the Chaplain says.
Mr. Chickering obtained a silver sixpence bearing Queen Elizabeth’s picture and it is a perfect fit. From that jagged window in the plate, after Drake departed, Queen Elizabeth looked majestically into the faces of the great Hioh and his people, and out upon fair California…Between the relic and the eye-witness records there is a spectacular and convincing harmony which no fraud would be likely to attain…
To learn more, click here. (California book)
Bancroft Library, Rare Book Collection. University of California, Berkley, California.