The True Description of the Island of Ascention ..., Linschoten, 1598

Move the cursor over the image and click on a highlighted area for a detailed image

Jan Huyghen van Linschoten was a Dutchman who spent just over five years (1583 to 1588) in the employ of the Portuguese in Goa. He visited St. Helena in May 1589, eleven months after the visit of Cavendish. In 1596 Linschoten published a book detailing his travels titled Itinerario: Voyage ofte schipvaert van Jan Huyghen van Linschoten naar Oost ofte Portugaels Indien ... 1579-1592 (published in Amsterdam with Dutch text). Subsequent editions with Dutch text were published in 1604, 1614, 1623, and 1644, an edition with Latin text in 1599, and editions with French text in 1610, 1619, and 1638. An English text edition of the Itinerario was published in London in 1598, entitled Iohn Huighen van Linschoten his Discours of Voyages into ye Easte & West Indies.

A very brief description of Ascension is given in the Itinerario and there is a plate showing three views of the island. This plate is titled Vera effigies et delineatio Insulę Ascenscio ... (size 343 × 262 mm) and was engraved by Baptista a Doetechum in the editions of the Itinerario published in Amsterdam. In the 1598 English edition this plate is titled The true description of the Island of Ascention lyeing under 8 degrees on ye south side of ye equinactiall lyne (size 337 × 258 mm, reproduced above) and was engraved by William Rogers. Numerous flying fish and birds are shown around the island. The profiles of Ascension again are unrealistic. The three views show (top) the southeast side of the island Thus the island of Ascension sheweth from St Helena as you sayle northwest upon it; (middle) the northeast side of the island Thus the island sheweth itself being within a caliver shott of it from this mark to the where the cross and The first point that we fell upon indicate North Point; and (bottom) the northwest side of the island Thus the island sheweth upon the other syde as you sayle by it about a caliver shot from it with The first point when you have sayled about it again indicating North Point and A white sandy strand indicating Long Beach.

British Library shelfmark: C.55.g.7. and 212.d.9. and G.7008. [1598 English edition]
Library of Congress call number: DS411.1 .L735 [1598 English edition]

Last updated: 19 December, 2011

Virtual Library