Author Tags: 1700-1800, Early B.C., History
Juan de Fuca was a Greek named Apostolos Valerianos who, in the service of Spain, was likely the first European to reach British Columbia, but written proof remains debatable.
Evidence that Juan de Fuca was the first European to discover the strait between Vancouver Island and Washington State, that bears his name, is provided in a remarkable compilation of travel literature called Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas His Pilgrimes Contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells by Englishmen and others in 1625. Purchas based his evidence about Juan de Fuca on letters written by an Englishman named John Lok who met Juan de Fuca in Venice, Italy in 1596. Impressed by Juan de Fuca’s claims to have sailed up the west coast of North America, Lok wrote to the Lord Treasurer, to Sir Walter Raleigh and to Master Richard Hakluyt, asking them to send 100 pounds to bring de Fuca to England. Juan de Fuca departed for Cephalonia before Lok could succeed in having money sent.
Samuel Purchas later wrote, “In the year 1592 the Viceroy of Mexico sent a pilot named Juan de Fuca on a voyage of discovery to the northwest. De Fuca followed the coast until he came to the latitude of 47º and there finding that a broad inlet trended to the eastward between the latitudes of 47º and 48º, he sailed up it for more than twenty days.” If Juan de Fuca indeed sailed up the Strait of Juan de Fuca for 20 days, obviously he ventured as far as present-day British Columbia.
According to the Consulate of Greece in Vancouver, Valerianos/Juan de Fuca was born on the island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Sea. He went to Spain and worked as a mariner and a pilot for forty years. In November 1587 on a return voyage from the Philippines and China on the Santa Anna, Valerianos was overtaken by the English Captain Candish who stole his cargo valued at some 60,000 ducats. Several years later, Valerianos was sent by the Viceroy of Mexico to serve as the pilot for an expedition of three small ships and 200 soldiers to find the Strait of Anian, the long hoped-for Northwest Passage back to Europe as envisioned by Sir Francis Drake. This expedition failed due to mutiny and the alleged misconduct of the captain in charge. The ships returned from California to Mexico. Undeterred, the Viceroy of Mexico sent Valerianos (Juan de Fuca) once more northward with a small caravela and a pinnance, hoping they could discover a route to the North Sea. On this voyage Juan de Fuca allegedly entered the strait that bears his name and saw people clothed in animal skins. He allegedly returned to Acapulco in 1592 where he was honoured for his efforts. After waiting two years for his promised rewards that were never forthcoming, he went to Spain to collect his payment from the Spanish King. Although Juan de Fuca was well-treated at court, he was unable to gain any rewards beyond flattery. Disgusted, he left Spain for Cephalonia, stopping in Venice in 1596.
In conversation with Michael Lok, an English Consul, the Greek/Spanish mariner offered his services to the Queen of England if England wanted to discover the Northwest Passage. He agreed to serve as a pilot if Queen Elizabeth provided a ship of forty tons. He also hoped the English would provide compensation for goods that were stolen from him by Captain Cavendish. Lok wrote to England, but the matter could not be resolved quickly. Juan de Fuca returned to his homeland. Lok wrote to Juan de Fuca in 1602 but no reply was received. The English presumed Juan de Fuca, already an old man when he met John Lok, must have died.
In 1847, American historian Robert Greenhow published a history of Oregon and California in which he supplied a summary of Juan de Fuca’s life based upon the English and Spanish translations of the correspondence between de Fuca and Lok. In 1854, another American historian named Alexander S. Taylor took up the narrative by asking the American Consul in the Ionian Islands, A.S. York, to gather any and all material concerning Juan de Fuca and his family.
York provided information gleaned from The Lives of Glorious Men of Cephalonia written and published in Venice in October 1843 by Rev. Anthimos Mazarakis, a Cephalonian. The book had been translated into Italian by Tomazeo. Taylor published two articles in the September and October 1859 issues of Hutchings’ California Magazine that recounted what he had gleaned about Juan de Fuca’s life.
According to Taylor’s research, the ancestors of John Phokas (Fucas) fled Constantinople in 1453 and found refuge in the Ionian Islands. One brother named Andronikos Phokas remained as the head of Phokas family. Another brother Emmanuel Phokas was born in Constantinople in 1435 and departed in 1470 for Cephalonia. He settled in a valley in southwestern Cephalonia at Elios. In that valley lies the village of Valeriano. Juan de Fuca was one of four sons born to Emmanuel Phokas, also known as Phokas Valerianos to distinguish him from the Phokas family in Argostoli.
According to the Greek Consulate of Vancouver, “The extension of the Spanish dominion in the neighboring shores of Italy and the commercial relations which sprang up as a result with the Ionian Islands, gave the opportunity to the seafaring men of the Ionian Islands to serve in Spanish ships as crews or officers. Fucas, driven by such an ambition, went to Spain where he embarked on Spanish ships sailing over the oceans. In a very short time he learned the art of pilotage so well that he attracted the attention of the King of Spain who appointed him Pilot of his navy in the West Indies, a position which he kept for over forty years.”
As conveyed by John Lok and recorded by esteemed English maritime historian Samuel Purchas, the Viceroy of Mexico sent Juan de Fuca "with a small Caravela and a Pinnace, armed with Mariners only" along the coast of New Spain and California in 1592. He sailed "until he came to the Latitude of 47 degrees and there finding that the land trended North and North-East, with a broad Inlet of Sea, between 47 and 48 degrees of Latitude, he entered there into, sayling therein more than twentie days, and found that land trending still sometime North-West and North, and also East and South-Westward, and very much broader sea than was at the said entrance, and that he passed by divers Illands in that Sayling. And that at the entrance of this said Strait, there is on the North-West coast thereof, a great Hedland or Iland, with an exceedingly high Pinacle, or spired Rocke, like a piller thereupon. Also he said, that he went on the land in divers places, and that he saw some people of Land, clad in Beasts' skins; and that the Land is very fruitful and rich of Gold, Silver, Pearle, and other things, like Nova Spania. And also he said, that being entered thus farre into the said Strait, and being come into the North Sea already, and finding the Sea wide enough everywhere and to be about thirtie or fortie leagues wide in the mouth of the Straits, where he entered he thought he had now well discharged his office and done the things he was sent to do."
This passage suggests Juan de Fuca was the first European to set foot on territory that is now part of British Columbia, having entered the Strait of George via Juan de Fuca Strait. According to Purchas [see Samuel Purchas entry], Juan de Fuca claimed the entranceway to the great inlet between 47º and 48º was marked by “an exceedingly high pinnacle or spired rock, like a pillar, thereupon.” Coastal historian Captain John T. Walbran corroborated this report in his British Columbia Coast Names. He wrote, “This is substantially correct; the island is Tatooche, and the spired rock, now known as De Fuca’s pillar, 150 feet high, stands in solitary grandeur, a little off shore, about two miles southwards of Tatooche Island.”
The first English mariner to recognize Juan de Fuca’s strait was Captain Charles Barkley on the Imperial Eagle in 1787. He consequently named Juan de Fuca Strait because it lay above the 47th parallel, where Lok’s report of Juan de Fuca’s exploration had designated it to be. Having had access to Frances Barkley’s diary of her husband’s 1787 voyage, Captain Walbran recorded the perceptions of that voyage. “The entrance appeared to be about four leagues in width, and remained about that width as far as the eye can see. Capt. Barkley at once recognized it as the long lost strait of Juan de Fuca, which Captain Cook had so emphatically stated did not exist.” Captain Barkley concluded Juan de Fuca must have been the first foreign mariner to round the point now called Cape Flattery, but Barkley himself did not venture into the opening. Captain Walbran (and most English historians) were not privy to evidence that strongly suggests the 1774 voyage of Juan Peréz first recognized the opening as that which had been described by Juan de Fuca. [See Cecil Jane entry]
Mazarakis, Anthimos. The Lives of Glorious Men of Cephalonia (Venice, 1843).
Marshall, Don B. Who Discovered the Straits of Juan de Fuca? The Strange Tale of Apostolos Valerianos (Ye Galleon Press, 1991).
Gough, Barry. Juan de Fuca’s Strait: Voyages in the Waterway of Forgotten Dreams (Harbour 2012) $32.95 978-1-55017-573-8-6
[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2005] "1500-1700" "Greek" "1700-1800"
JUAN DE FUCA - A Greek Pioneer
from Kefalonia Society of B.C., Anthony G. Maroussis
HERE IS A SUMMARY, COURTESY OF THE KEFALONIA SOCIETY OF B.C., THAT MAY HAVE BEEN PARTIALLY BASED ON THE 2005 BC BOOKWORLD ENTRY. IT CONTAINS AN IMPORTANT SUGGESTION AS TO THE POSSIBLE ORIGINS OF THE NAME Apostolos Valerianos.
The body of water which separates America's Olympic Peninsula in Washington State from Canada's Vancouver Island in the Province of British Columbia is called The Strait of Juan de Fuca. The name comes from the navigator credited for locating this passage in the year 1592. He was the first European to round the point which is now called Cape Flattery and to sail inland to a considerable depth.
Juan de Fuca, the apocryphal explorer of America's Northwest Coast, was a Greek navigator born on the island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Sea. His real name was Ioannis Phokas and he came from the village of Valeriano located on the Elios valley at the Southwestern tip of Cephalonia.
The extension of the Spanish dominion on the neighboring shores of Italy and the consequent commercial intercourse with the Ionian Islands which was carried on by Spanish vessels, offered the opportunity to the seafaring men of the Ionian Islands to serve on Spanish ships as crews or officers. Obviously adventurous and driven by ambition, the young man Phokas went to Spain where he embarked on Spanish ships as such a sailor, and being in the service of that country he sailed over the oceans. His Greek name Ioannis (John) Phokas was consequently adapted into Spanish and changed to Juan de Fuca.
Sailing on the Spanish vessels, he learned and mastered the art of pilotage so well and he proved himself to be such a skilled pilot that he attracted the attention of the King of Spain who appointed him Pilot of his navy in the West Indies, a position which he kept for over forty years.
On one of his expeditions in November 1587, while returning to Mexico from the Philippine Islands and China in his ship Santa Anna, he was intercepted by the English Captain Cavendish and was taken to Cape California where he was deprived of his cargo and own goods amounting to 60,000 ducats.
Three years later, the Viceroy of Mexico, Luis de Velaseo, sent him as a pilot with three small ships and 100 soldiers aboard, who were under the command of a Captain, to discover along Pacific Ocean's North American coast the passage which the Spanish called the Straits of Anian and fortify it against the English who, the Spaniards feared, might pass through those Straits from the North Sea into the South Sea (Pacific Ocean). The expedition, however, failed owing to the misconduct of the Captain [who was accused of sodomy--BCBW]; the soldiers mutinied and the ships had to return from California to Nova Spania (Mexico) where the Captain was duly punished.
After this ill fated voyage, in the year 1592, the Viceroy of Mexico sent him again with a small Caravela
and a Pinnance carrying armed marines on board, to discover the Straits of Anian and a passage through these straits into the North Sea (Atlantic Ocean). Fuca sailed along the coast of Mexico, California, and up the North American coast to 47 degrees latitude. He located the passage and entered the straits there and sailed therein through many islands for more than twenty days. At the entrance of the Straits he claimed he saw a great island with a particularly high pinnacle rock. He went on shore and there he described he saw people in beastsf skins. He claimed the land was very fruitful, and rich in gold, silver, pearls, and other things,
like Nova Spania (Mexico).
Having explored the Straits to a considerable depth, Juan de Fuca even thought that he already came to
the North Sea and felt his mission was successfully performed. Fearing not being armed sufficiently to resist
the ferocity of the savage people he came across, he decided to return home to Nova Spania and in 1592 he
arrived at Acapulco. In Mexico he was greatly honored by the Viceroy who also promised him great rewards. These he never received, although he stayed there for two years, but was advised by the Viceroy to go to Spain and receive his reward there by the King himself.
In Spain he was received very well by the Kingfs Court and heard very many pleasant things but received no rewards. In disgust de Fuca, who now was quite old, left Spain to go to Cephalonia where he wanted to spend his remaining days.
On his way through Italy in April 1596, he met an English pilot named John Douglas, in whose company he came to Venice. There he was introduced by Douglas to a man by the name of Michael Lok, an English merchant-adventurer, formerly the English Consul in Aleppo, Turkey, and at the time being in Venice for business reasons.
Juan de Fuca, through Lok, offered to serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England, in the capacity of a pilot for the discovery of the Northwest Passage from the Pacific Ocean into the Atlantic, provided she put at his disposal one ship of 40 tons and a Pinnance. He promised to navigate the Passage from one end to the other in thirty days. More likely, de Fuca told Lok an exciting tale in order to obtain financial compensation. In offering his services to the Queen of England, he
expressed the hope that she would compensate him for the goods taken from him by Captain Cavendish.
Lok passed the story along to other promoters of English overseas empire, who in turn published the story in 1625. Even more than the Spanish and French, the British were keenly interested in the prospect of a Northwest Passage, i.e. a waterway through the North American continent that would greatly expedite travel between Europe and East Asia. They therefore took a strong interest in de Fucas' story, even though they also had a stake in refuting it in order to deny Spain's claim to have arrived first on the Northwest Coast.
In the later eighteenth century the English explorers James Cook and George Vancouver were clearly driven in part to find the Northwest Passage that Juan de Fuca had described. When they did not find it, their priority became denigrating Spanish claims and promoting their own discoveries.
Consequently, Lok also one of the Muscovy Company directors and the man who organized and financed Martin Frobisher's three trips to Baffin Island, wrote to Lord Treasurer Cecil, to Sir Walter Raleigh, and to cosmographer Master Richard Hakluyt asking them to send 100 pounds to bring de Fuca to England. They were favorably disposed to the idea but no money was forthcoming.
In the meantime de Fuca left for Cephalonia. Lok, by July, wrote to de Fuca to go with him to England and in September an answer was received that de Fuca was willing to go to England if Lok sent him the money. Evidently, Lok
was not in a position to supply the money and the matter rested thus until June 1602, when no reply was received to letters Lok sent to de Fuca from Zante and it was surmised that the old Pilot was dead.
In the year 1854, however, Alexander S. Taylor, who specialized in the study of the history of California and Oregon, asked the American Consul in the Ionian Islands, A.S. York, to investigate
everything concerning Fuca and his family. The information which York sent from Zante (Zakynthos Island) to Taylor convinced him that Fuca did live and that his story, two and a half centuries after his death, remained alive in Cephalonia. In the September and October 1859 issues of Hutchings California Magazine Taylor published two extremely interesting articles, in the first of which he gives the
biography of Juan de Fuca, which was sent to him by A.S. York based on manuscripts in Cephalonia, and on
a book called The Lives of Glorious Men of Cephalonia written and published in Venice in October 1843 by Rev. Anthimos Mazarakis, a Cephalonian, which was translated into Italian by Tomazeo.
According to Taylor's biography, John Phokas (Fucas) the seafarer was born in the island of Cephalonia at the beginning of the 16th century (most likely in the 1530s) at the end of which he became renowned for his venturous voyages in the Pacific Ocean as well as for his explorations in the Northwestern shores of America. The ancestors of this fearless seafarer were those who fled Constantinople in 1453 and found refuge some in the Peloponnesus and others in the Ionian Islands. The brothers Emmanuel and Andronikos Phokas were amongst those who went first to Peloponnesus where Andronikos remained and became the
head of the Phokas family branch there, while Emmanuel who was born in Constantinople in 1435 left for
Cephalonia in 1470 and established himself there near a beautiful region called Elaion or commonly Elios.
In York's description, Elios is a beautiful valley in the Southwestern tip of Cephalonia full of olive trees and vines. In the center of the valley, he adds, there is the village Valeriano, upon a small height stands an old building with a wonderful view around as far as your eyes can see. This building, according to information
given to him by the inhabitants around, is supposed to be the home of Juan de Fuca where he retired after his
tortuous life to enjoy the comforts of peace and tranquility among his own Kindred and Countrymen.
All the numerous families of Phokas in Cephalonia hail from Emmanuel. According to the provided genealogical list, the head of the family Emmanuel had four sons, Stephanos, Emmanuel, Hector, and Iakovos the father of Ioannis Phokas who, because he was living in the village of Valeriano, was given the name Phokas Valerianos, as a distinction perhaps from the other Phokas who were living in Argostoli.
This story of Juan de Fuca's discovery of the Anian Strait is not corroborated by any other source except by the narrative of Lok, who met the Cephalonian navigator in Venice. This narrative of Lok is contained in the third volume of the Pilgrimes by esteemed English maritime historian and cosmographer Rev. Samuel Purchas, printed in London in 1625, but it was widely known in England before then.
American historian, Robert Greenhow republished in 1847 this narrative in the fourth edition of his history
of California and Oregon giving the original Spanish and the English translations of the correspondence
between de Fuca and Lok.
Around the question of Juan de Fuca and his voyage to the Northwestern shores of America the historians are divided into different schools. While some admit his existence and dispute certain points only of Lok's narrative, as this is related in Purchas Pirgrimes, there are others, as Hubert Bancroft, who wrote the history of the Pacific Coast States of America, who consider Fuca an imaginary person, and others who,
even if they admit the existence of a person with such a name, maintain that he never made the voyage which Lok reports. These last ones base their arguments on the fact that no mention is made of Fuca in any of the Spanish archives of that period, nor of any voyage to the Straits of Anian. Bancroft presented Lok's original
note incomplete and inaccurately, his interpretation of the story is erroneous and quite defective. In support of Lok and his narrative, Alexander S. Taylor in his second article on Juan de Fuca published in
the October 1859 issue of the Hutchings California Magazine under the title Memorials of Juan de Fuca, discoverer of Oregon, reprints this same narrative of Lok with the following preface:
The character and truthfulness of this great navigator whose name was given to the Straits which separate the American Continent from Vancouver Island have become the topic of one of the greatest discussions in the history of naval explorations. Even the fact of whether such a person ever lived has been disputed and confirmed time and again in the course of 268 years, i.e. from 1592-1859 without any efforts as it appears on the part of the writers or of the Governments to try and ascertain the facts mentioned by the first chronicler of the notable services of Juan de Fuca to Spain and Humanity. Besides that chronicler (Lok) was a much respected English Consul and evidently a capable, clever and cultured gentleman. Purchas narrates in his Pilgrimes that Juan de Fuca claimed he sailed "until he came to the Latitude
of 47 degrees and there finding that the land trended North and North-East, with a broad Inlet of Sea, between
47 and 48 degrees of Latitude, he entered there into, sayling therein more than twentie days, and found that
land trending still sometime North-West and North, and also East and South-Westward, and very much broader sea than was at the said entrance, and that he passed by divers Islands in that Sayling. And that at the entrance of this said Strait, there is on the North-West coast thereof, a great Hedland or Iland, with an
exceedingly high Pinacle, or spired Rocke, like a piller thereupon."
In support of this claim, Coastal historian Captain John T. Walbran corroborated this report in his
British Columbia Coast Names. He wrote, This is substantially correct; the island is Tatooche, and the spired
rock, now known as De Fuca's pillar, 150 feet high, stands in solitary grandeur, a little off shore, about two miles southwards of Tatooche Island.
The first English mariner to recognize Juan de Fuca's strait was Captain Charles Barkley on the ship Imperial Eagle in 1787. He consequently named Juan de Fuca Strait because it lay above the 47th parallel, where Lok's report of Juan de Fuca's exploration had designated it to be. Having had access to Frances Barkley's diary of her husband's 1787 voyage, Captain John Walbran recorded the perceptions of that
voyage, The entrance appeared to be about four leagues in width, and remained about that width as far as the
eye can see. Capt. Barkley at once recognized it as the long lost strait of Juan de Fuca, which Captain Cook had so emphatically stated did not exist.h Captain Barkley concluded Juan de Fuca must have been the first European mariner to sail round the point now called Cape Flattery, but Barkley himself did not venture into the opening. Captain John T. Walbran (and most English historians) was not privy to evidence which strongly suggested the 1774 voyage of the Spanish Captain Juan Perez was the first that recognized the opening as being the one which had been described by Juan de Fuca.
Purchas in his Pirgrimes narrates Lok reporting, When I was at Venice, in Aprill 1596 happily arrived there an old man, about threescore years of age, called commonly Juan de Fuca, but named properly Apostolos Valerianos, of Nation a Greeke, borne in the Iland Cefalonia, of profession a Mariner, and an ancient Pilot of Shippesch.
Consequently, Juan de Fuca in almost all of the subject matter literature is referred widely as Apostolos Valerianos. Based on Purchas narration, it is established that Apostolos Valerianos and not Ioannis Phokas has being the Greek name of the explorer.
We should take an issue with the name Apostolos Valerianos, and I present the following analysis:
One should accept the notion that the Greek name Ioannis (John) Phokas was conveniently changed into Spanish as Juan de Fuca to sever connection by name to his Christian Orthodox origins, an undesirable and possibly dangerous affirmation at that time. The Valerianos added distinction, must also be accepted for its use in differentiating his family's place of origin from the other Phokas families in Cephalonia.
Finally, the fist name Apostolos should be questioned, since this name is much isolated and confusing, suggesting Phokas was using various pseudonyms and consequently, his story is a conspicuous fabricated tale.In an attempt to explain this, I propose a new theory which suggests that either Lok or Samuel Purchas, inquiring for the real Greek name of Juan de Fuca and having access to the letters sent from de Fuca (one of these letters sent to Lok by Juan de Fuca, on October 1598, was written in the Greek language), they could have possibly misunderstood and assumed in error the Apostolos Valerianos name, right off the sender's
information on the mail itself; this is explained as follows: If the sender's address from Juan de Fuca's mail was written in our familiar English, most likely could have been in the form:
Sender Juan de Fuca of Valeriano
The sender address from de Fuca's mail being written in Greek, respectively should have been in the form:
ƒŸƒÎƒÍƒÐƒÑƒÍƒÉƒÃ.. gJuan de Fucah ƒ ƒ¿ƒÉƒÃƒÏƒÇƒ¿ƒË.. (i.e. Apostoleus gJuan de Fucah Valerianos)
ƒ¨ƒÃƒÓƒ¿ƒÉƒÍƒË.ƒ¿ / Cephalonia.
Or even in the slightly different form:
ƒŸƒÎƒÍƒÐƒÑƒÍƒÉ. gJuan de Fucah ƒ ƒ¿ƒÉƒÃƒÏƒÇƒ¿ƒË.. (i.e. Apostol. Juan de Fuca Valerianos)
ƒ¨ƒÃƒÓƒ¿ƒÉƒÍƒË.ƒ¿ / Cephalonia.
The second example shows, what is common practice in Greek letter writing, to abbreviate and shorten the
word Apostoleus to just Apostol and this way add to the name confusion.
The word Apostoleus or Apostolos (is the same word as in Apostle), literally stands in Greek for the word Sender. This may explain how the name Apostolos Valerianos could be derived in error by those seeking the real Greek name of the man the Spanish called Juan de Fuca.
From another perspective, Rev. Anthimos Mazarakis, in his book The lives of Glorious Men of Cephalonia suggests the name Apostolos which they also attach to him could be a middle name given to
him at baptism. This is possible, considering this middle name was added to emphasize John being named after John the Apostole and not after John the Baptist; Saints who have different commemorating calendar dates, which is significantly important for the related celebration in the Orthodox Christian faith.
That Juan de Fuca--for some the Ioannis Phokas and for many the Apostolos Valerianos of Cephalonia, Greece--was a Pilot and that he may have sailed up to the Mexican and California coasts, we have no reason to doubt that he was the first to navigate and explore the wide Straits north of the 47th parallel.
Article by: Anthony G. Maroussis
Hakluytus Posthumous or Purchas His Pilgrimes, pages 415-418.
Mazarakis, Anthimos, The Lives of Glorious Men of Cephalonia (Venice, 1843).
A History of the Greeks in the Americas, Koken, Constant, Conoutas.
The Consulate of Greece in Vancouver, Canada.
The Fuca Pillar - Tatoosh Island - Washington State
gcwith an exceedingly high Pinacle, or spired Rocke, like a piller thereupon."