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Newfoundland Verses

Robert Hayman grew up in Totnes, Dorset, where Hayman recalled that Sir Francis Drake once gave him a 'faire red Orange' and a kiss. He matriculated from Oxford determined to study overseas, and in 1617 eventually became governor of of a plantation called Bristol's Hope in Newfoundland. He used his spare time to compose verses and epigrams that often commented on his fellow colonists and also on the Newfounland weather ('Winter is there, short, wholesome, constant').

Robert Hayman

Robert Hayman, Quodlibets, lately come over from New Britaniola, Old Newfoundland (London, 1628) [f.15.c.34]. © The British Library Board


Dedicated to Charles I, Quodlibets was published in London in 1628 and can claim to be the first work of verse written in North America. Hayman set out to establish a plantation in Guiana the same year as his volume was published, but in 1629 he died of a 'burning fever' during the expedition. His companions buried him using the paddles of their canoes as spades.



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