Francisco was a youth or a young man in 1521, when Spanish slave raiders captured him with a group of sixty men and women from a land whose name the Spaniards understood to be “Chicora.”

Indian captive. Born in the early sixteenth century, the man Spaniards baptized as “Francisco” was a native of the present-day South Carolina coast in the area of Winyah Bay. Francisco was a youth or a young man in 1521, when Spanish slave raiders captured him with a group of sixty men and women from a land whose name the Spaniards understood to be “Chicora.” The raiders took their captives to Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola, where they divided the survivors among the men who had funded the expedition. In this way Francisco became the slave of the judge Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón. Ayllón took Francisco to Spain not long after his capture. During this visit, the sixteenth-century chroniclers Peter Martyr and Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo heard Francisco’s tales about the wealth and marvels of his homeland. Martyr recorded Francisco’s account and brought it wide circulation in Europe. Oviedo was more skeptical and later claimed that Francisco had deceived Ayllón in an effort to return home. Ayllón used Francisco’s description of Chicora to inspire interest in this region and to gain a royal contract to conquer and settle it in June 1523. Francisco de Chicora accompanied the Ayllón expedition as a translator and guide when it sailed in July 1526. However, soon after Ayllón’s ships arrived in the area of Winyah Bay, Francisco fled inland with the expedition’s other captive Indians. The Spaniards never saw him again.

Hoffman, Paul E. A New Andalucia and a Way to the Orient: The American Southeast during the Sixteenth Century. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990.

Quinn, David B., ed. New American World: A Documentary History of North America to 1612. Vol. 1, America from Concept to Discovery: Early Exploration of North America. New York: Arno, 1979.

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Citation Information

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  • Article Title Chicora, Francisco de
  • Author Karen L. Paar
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/chicora-francisco-de/
  • Access Date July 21, 2019
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date April 15, 2016
  • Date of Last Update August 1, 2017