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Glossary - Document 3

This document is the examination of James Machary regarding his enforced service with the Spanish Armada, dated 29 December 1588

(Catalogue reference: SP 63/139 no 25 f. 82)


Clothing and equipment.


Armada is the Spanish word for a fleet of ships. The Spanish Armada of 1588 was made up of approximately 150 ships. King Philip II of Spain intended to invade England and bring it under Spanish rule. There were many reasons behind this, both religious and political. Since Philip had been married to Mary I, he had been king of England for a few years. Under Elizabeth, England had reverted from the Catholic rule of Philip and Mary to Protestantism. Elizabeth I was also encouraging unrest in the Netherlands, which were ruled by Philip. Further provocation was provided by her refusal to condemn the English privateers who were attacking Spanish ships. England was also competing with Spain for trade and expansion in the New World or Americas. The execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 brought matters to a head, and the Armada set out to invade England the following year. Unfortunately for Philip, bad storms meant that the Spanish ships were unable to meet up with the forces of the Duke of Parma in the Netherlands as originally intended. They were also blown off course after the Battle of Gravelines. Intending to return to Spain by sailing north around Scotland, many ships were in fact wrecked off the coast of Ireland and Scotland. Of the 150 ships that set out, only 65 managed to return to Lisbon.

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Strong thick rope (in a nautical context).


Capstan, a winding mechanism for weighing anchor, hoisting heavy sails etc.

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Erris St Donnell

Blacksod Bay on the coast of Erris, a district of County Mayo in Ireland.


A statement or testimony that is taken down in writing as evidence.

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Of or belonging to Flanders. King Philip II of Spain had inherited Flanders from his father, Charles I, who was also the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.


A galleass was an oared sailing ship, a cross between a galleon and an oared galley.


The Gerona, (also known as Girona), was a galleass in the Spanish Armada. She was forced to undergo repairs in the port of Killibegs in Donegal, Ireland. While in port, the Gerona took on the crews of the Rata Santa Maria Encoronada and the Duquesa Santa Ana. Upon leaving Donegal, the Gerona headed for Scotland but, on 30 October 1588, she was wrecked off Lacada Point near the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Ireland.

Gran Bello, Don Thomaso de

Don Tomaso de Granvelle.

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A large ship of burden or transport.


Impressment or press–ganging. Enforced service in either the army or navy.

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Leva, Don Alonso de

Don Alonso Martinez de Leiva de Rioja, Knight of Santiago and commander-designate of the Armada.


Loughros Mor Bay, Donegal.

Lord Deputy of Ireland

The English monarch's representative and head of his/her administration in Ireland.

Sir William Fitzwilliam, who was born at Milton in Northamptonshire in 1526, held this post during the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada. His appointments in Ireland commenced in 1555 when Mary I appointed him temporary Keeper of the Great Seal of Ireland. In 1575 Fitzwilliam resigned as Lord Deputy and returned to England owing to ill health. As the governor of Fotheringay Castle during the incarceration and subsequent execution of Mary Queen of Scots, he was said to have shown great respect and kindness to his prisoner. In 1588 Fitzwilliam was reappointed Lord Deputy of Ireland. Almost immediately, he had to deal with the issue of apprehending Spanish stragglers from the Armada both on land and off the shores of Ireland.


Capital of Portugal. In 1580 Portugal was united with the other Spanish kingdoms by King Philip II. It continued under the rule of the Spanish crown until 1640. The Spanish kingdoms were known collectively as Spain but were not actually a unified state at this time.

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'Mc Swine ny Does Countrie'/McSweeney ne Doe

McSweeney ne Doe (gaelic - Mac Suibhne na d'Tuath) was an underchief of the Earl of Tirconnel. The area is now Donegal, Ireland.

'Narrowe Seas'

The English Channel.


Military supplies, large guns, cannons etc.

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Paris, Counte de

The Count de Paredes.


Metal tableware.


A ship called La Rata Santa Maria Encoronada.

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Secretary hand

A style of handwriting which developed in England in the 16th century. It was used for business purposes. It is a cursive style (from the Latin 'currere' - to run) so called because it was written at speed and 'runs' across the page. The pen does not leave the page between letters. The use of secretary hand had begun to wane by the mid-17th century.

St Ann

A ship called Duquesa Santa Ana.

The King

'...w[it]h the K[ing]...' document 3, line 14.

Philip II, King of Spain 1556-1598, born 1527.

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A county situated within the Irish Province of Munster. There is also a town of the same name.


Food and provisions.

Walsingham, Sir Francis

1530[?]-1590. A zealous Protestant, he lived abroad during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I. Walsingham's knowledge of foreign affairs, combined with his many overseas acquaintances, led to his employment in the area of foreign secret intelligence under Elizabeth I on his return to England. In 1573, he was created joint Secretary of State with Lord Treasurer Burghley, with special responsibility for foreign affairs. Walsingham was renowned for his capabilities in intelligence gathering; his detection of Babington's plot against the life of Elizabeth I, in which Mary Queen of Scots was heavily implicated, led to the latter's execution for treason in 1586. With many agents in Spain, Walsingham was aware of the Armada's preparations, down to minute detail in some cases. He died in 1590 and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, London.

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