August 3, 1527
The first letter from North America
It was at St. John’s, Newfoundland on 3 August 1527 that the first known letter was sent from North America. While in St. John’s, John Rut had written a letter to King Henry VIII on his findings and his planned voyage. The letter in part reads as follows:
“Pleasing your Honourable Grace to heare of your servant John Rut with all his company here in good health thanks be to God.“
The conclusion of the letter reads:
“…the third day of August we entered into a good harbour called St. John and there we found Eleuen Saile of Normans and one Brittaine and two Portugal barks all a fishing and so we are ready to depart towards Cap de Bras that is 25 leagues …. In the Haven of St. John the third day of August written in hast 1527, by your servant John Rut to his uttermost of his power.”
John Rut was chosen by Henry VIII to command an expedition to America in 1527. With the ships Mary Guildford and the Samson, his goal was to find a passage to Asia around or through North America and to engage in trade when he had done so.
Henry VIII may have been a bit distracted when he got the letter, he was in the process of quietly trying to annul the marriage to his first wife Catherine of Aragon.
Recommended Activity: Letters are fascinating and are the foundation of many family and community histories. Take some time to look at some of the old letters that might be found in your home. The ‘art” of writing a letter is quickly disappearing as we move to e mail and other social media as the main way to communicate. Search the Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections
Recommended Reading: Biography of John Rut: http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=247&terms=de