The Journal of John Jourdain, 1608-1617, Describing His Experiences in Arabia, India, and the Malay Archipelago


John Jourdain (died 1619) was a British captain in the service of the East India Company. He joined the company as a factor in 1607 and first sailed on its “Fourth Voyage” to India, making stops along the way at the Cape of Good Hope, Socotra and other Indian Ocean islands, and Aden and Mocha in Yemen, before arriving at Surat. The Fourth Voyage consisted of two ships, the Union and the Ascension. A pinnace was built and added to the two ships during a stop at Table Bay. The voyage encountered many problems, and the ships never made it back to England. Bad weather in the Indian Ocean separated the vessels, and hostilities with the Portuguese and with the natives often broke out, making the voyage the worst in the company’s early history. After failing to secure a trading post in India and dismayed with the time and gifts they wasted on Mughal officials, the British headed back to the Red Sea, where they resorted to seizing and ransoming Indian ships near Mocha. Jourdain was later sent on a mission to Sumatra, this time to challenge the Dutch monopoly on trade in the Spice Islands. The Journal of John Jourdain, 1608‒1617, Describing his Experiences in Arabia, India, and the Malay Archipelago is the author’s narrative of the nine years he was away while serving in the East India Company. The book begins with a lengthy introduction summarizing and elucidating the events that Jourdain chronicled in his journal. It begins on March 25, 1608, when he left the Downs, on the southeast coast of England, and ends on June 19, 1617, when his journal ceased with a final entry written near Dungeness, on the way to the Downs. On a later journey, Jourdain was shot by a Dutch sniper in Patani, India and died from his wounds in July 1619. The journal entries vary in length and substance, from brief descriptions of the weather conditions at sea to much longer accounts of events and places. Lists of authorities, bibliographies, and appendices of people and places are given at the end of the book.

Last updated: May 31, 2016