"The First Englishmen in India", Ed: J. Courtenay Locke, Pub: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., London, Year: 1931 (1st edition).

Account of the Voyage of Ralph Fitch, Merchant of London. This part of the account pertains to the year 1583.

The First Englishmen in Bombay

The first city of India that we arrived at upon the 5th of November, after we had passed the coast of Zindi, is called Diu, which standeth in an Island in the Kingdom of Cambaia and is the strongest town that the Portugals have in those parts. It is but little, but well stored with merchandise, for here they lade many great ships with divers commodities for the Straits of Mecca, for Ormus, and other places, and these be ships of the Moors and of Christians. But the Moors cannot pass except they have a passport from the Portugals.

Cambaietta is the chief city of that province, which is great and very populous and fairly builded for a town of the Gentiles, but if there happen any famine the people will sell their children for very little. The last king of Cambaia was Sultan Badu, which was killed at the siege of Diu, and shortly after his city was taken by the Great Mogor, which is the King of Agra and of Dilli, which are forty days' journey from the country of Cambaia. Here the women wear upon their arms infinite numbers of rings made of elephants' teeth, wherein they take so much delight that they had rather be without their meat than without their bracelets.

Going from Diu we came to Daman, the second town of the Portugals in the country of Cambaia, which is distant from Diu forty leagues. Here is no trade but of corn and rice. They have many villages under them which they quietly possess in time of peace, but in time of war the enemy is master of them.

From thence we passed by Basaim and from Basaim to Tana, at both which places is small trade but only of corn and rice.

The 10th of November we arrived at Chaul, which standeth in the firm land. There be two towns, the one belonging to the Portugals and the other to the Moors. That of the Portugals is the nearest to the sea and commandeth the bay, and is walled round about. A little above that is the town of the Moors, which is governed by a Moor King called Xa-Maluco. Here is great traffic for all sorts of spices and drugs, silk and cloth of silk, sandals, elephants' teeth and much China work, and much sugar which is made of the nut called Gagara; the tree is called the palmer, which is the profitablest tree in the world. It doth always bear fruit, and doth yield wine, oil, sugar, vinegar, cords, coals; of the leaves are made thatch for the houses, sails for ships, mats to sit or lie on; of the branches they make their houses and brooms to sweep; of the tree, wood for ships. The wine doth issue out of the top of the tree. They cut a branch of a bough and bind it hard and hang an earthen pot upon it, which they empty every morning and every evening and still it and put in certain dried raisins, and it becometh very strong wine in short time.


  1. Zindi is Sind.
  2. Diu fort was allowed to be constructed by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in 1535. Ten years later the Portuguese occupied the whole town and island.
  3. The Straits of Mecca refer to the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, referred to as Gates of Mecca in Berthelot's map of 1635.
  4. Cambaietta is Cambay.
  5. Gentiles seems to mean any non-Islamic people of India and Moors all the Islamic peoples.
  6. Children were supposed to be sold into slavery, a practice often alleged of many parts of Asia.
  7. Sultan Badu refers to Bahadur Shah, who was not killed at the siege of Diu, but murdered and thrown into the water while on a diplomatic visit to the Portuguese aboard their ships. They denied complicity in the deed, but historians are still unconvinced.
  8. Dilli is the correct transliteration for the city whose name is more commonly written as Delhi. The latter is may be an incorrect transcription of Dehli, the common Indo-Persian name for the same city.
  9. Elephants' teeth refer to tusks.
  10. Daman was sacked by the Portuguese in 1531 and occupied by them in 1558.
  11. Basaim, also spelt Bazim or Bassein, is the modern Vasai. The town and land were ceded to the Portuguese by Bahadur Shah in 1534. The Marathas captured it in 1739. Tana is modern Thana, and was occupied by the Portuguese in 1533 and lost in 1739.
  12. Chaul was a Portuguese factory and the town a little above it is Alibagh.
  13. Xa-Maluco or Zemelluco or other variant spellings of this word refer to the Nizam Shahi dynasty of Ahmadnagar. The same name was used by occidental travellers for all kings of the dynasty! The reigning prince at this time was Murtaza Nizam Shah I (1565-1587) and Chaul belonged to his kingdom.
  14. Gagara refers to jaggery, made from the sappy juice, and not the nut, of various palm trees. The derivation is from the Malayalam chakkara through the Portuguese form jagara.
  15. Palmer, also spelt pawmer, refer to the palm tree. The derivation is from the French palmier. The abundant virtues of the tree are accurately catalogued.
  16. Still clearly means to distil.
  17. The short time can be rather short. The liquid remains toddy for no more than four days; after which it turns sour and has to be distilled into arrack.