1610 - Richard Whitbourne
St. John’s, Canada
Now also I will not omit to relate something of a strange creature that I first sawthere in the year 1610, in a morning early, as I was standing by the water side, in the harbour of St. John's, which I espied verie swiftly to come swimming towards me, looking cheerefully as it had beene a woman by the face, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, ears, necke and forehead: it seemed to be so beautiful, and in these parts so well proportioned, having round about upon the head all blew strakes resembling haire downe to the necke (but-certainly it was haire), for I beheld it long, and another of my companie also, yet living, that was not then farre from me; and seeing the same comming so swiftly towards mee, I stepped backe, for it was come within the length of a long pike; which, when this strange creature saw that I went from it, it presently thereupon dived a little under water, and did swim to the place where before I landed; thereby I beheld the shoulders-and backe downe to the middle to be as square, white and smooth as the backe of a man, and from the middle to the hinder parts pointing in proportion like a lbroad hooked arrow. How it was proportioned in the forepart, from the neck and shoulders, I know not; but the same came shortly after to a boat, wherein one William Hawkridge, then my servant, was, that hath since bin captain in a ship to the East-Indies, and the same creature did put both his hands upon the side of the boat, and did strive to come in to him and others taken in the said boate; whereat they were afraid, and one of them strooke it a full blow on the head; when it fell off from them, and afterwards came to two other boats in the harbour; the men in them fled for feare to land. This (I suppose) was a Mermaid; now, because divers have written much of Mermaids, I have presumed to relate what is most certaine of such a creature that was seen at Newfoundland; whether it was a Mermaid or no, I know not; I leave it for others to judge.
Quoted from a Letter to the Editor, Asiatic Journal No 83, 1822