Death from Anglophobia
In 1577, the British adventurer Martin Frobisher, on his second voyage in search of a Northwest Passage, kidnapped three Inuit and took them back to England.
They were a man and a woman — who were not husband and wife, and who may not have even known each other prior to their capture — and a baby boy of about 14 or 15 months who was the woman’s son.
Their names have come down through history in garbled form. The man’s name was recorded variously as Calichough, Collichang, Callicho, and Kalicho. These imperfect renderings mask what his real name may have been.
The woman’s name was written as Ignorth and also Egnock. This is generally assumed to be an attempt to write “arnaq,” the Inuktitut word for “woman.” This could also have been her name, but it’s not known if it was.
The child’s name was written as Nutioc; this was probably meant to be “nutaraq,” the Inuktitut word for “child.” The boy’s actual name is unknown.
The Inuit reached Bristol, England in early fall of 1577, but unfortunately they did not live long. They were attended in Bristol by a doctor, Edward Dodding, from the time of their arrival until their deaths.
In early October, Kalicho was introduced to the mayor of Bristol.
Kalicho had his kayak with him. It was described as being 14 feet long and “made of Beastes’ skins in form like unto a large barge … but sharpe at both ends, having but one round place for him to sit in.”
Kalicho demonstrated its use and his skill in handling it for a crowd of onlookers on Oct. 9. He paddled up and down the river and killed a “couple of ducks with his dart.” One observer remarked, “He would hit a ducke at a good distance … and not misse.”
Less than a month after his kayak demonstration, on Nov. 7, Kalicho was dead. The woman Ignorth died less than a week later. Both were buried at St. Stephen’s Church in Bristol. The child died a short time later.
Dodding arrived to attend to Kalicho an hour before his death and reported, “I found everything threatening imminent death — and no wonder, for his speech was impaired and almost cut off, his appetite faded and pulse non-existent…”
On his deathbed, Kalicho refused the treatment Dr. Dodding was recommending — bloodletting.
The doctor’s report continued: “He summoned up to a certain extent all the energies and faculties which he had abandoned, came back to himself as if from a deep sleep and recognised us as people he knew.… I had scarcely left him when he moved from life to death.”
If the good doctor can be believed, Kalicho’s last words were in English: “God be with you.”
As one might expect, Dodding expressed sadness at the loss of his patient. Unfortunately, his sadness was not because of Kalicho’s death, but because he had died before Queen Elizabeth I had a chance to meet him!
“I was bitterly grieved and saddened,” he wrote, “not so much by the death of the man himself as because the great hope of seeing him which our most gracious Queen had entertained had now slipped through her fingers…”
Dodding conducted a post-mortem examination of Kalicho’s body, in effect an autopsy. His report has survived as “Reporte of the Sicknesse and Death of the Man at Bristoll which Capt. Furbisher brought from the North-west.”
Written in Latin and translated, the report began: “When the body had been dissected, the first thing to claim my attention was two ribs; these had been badly broken, in sustaining a fall of some force and impact, and were still gaping apart without having knit together.… Some contamination, which nobody noticed, had excited inflammation and the contusion of the lung had, in the course of time, become putrified as a result.”
In fact, Kalicho had suffered more than just a fall.
When he was abducted in Frobisher Bay, it was by force.
A Cornish crew member on Frobisher’s ship overpowered him and threw him so roughly to the ground that “he made his sides ache for a month after.” It seems the force had broken his ribs and one had punctured a lung.
The autopsy report continued: “This condition, aggravated by the harmful cold outside and intensified by poor diet, was in the meantime neither put right from outside by surgery nor arrested from within by medicines, so that it rapidly developed unchecked day by day into an incurable ulcer of the lung…”
In commenting on the man’s diet as a contributing factor in his death, Dodding wrote: “When he was among us, his diet was too liberal either for the severity of the disease to tolerate or the man’s habitual daily way of life to sustain… Everyone’s judgment was deceived rather by the hidden nature of the disease, and by misguided kindness, than by ill-will; but when, shortly before his death, the nature of his illness expressed itself in the rather obvious symptom of breathlessness, he was already a victim of dropsy [swelling of an organ or tissue due to accumulation of excess fluid].”
And then Dodding made a strange observation, one perhaps unique in medical history.
Of course, Kalicho had been unhappy about being abducted and had gone to England very much against his own will. Under these circumstances, it’s natural that he did not thrive in his new and strange surroundings.
Still, the doctor’s finding that he suffered also from “Anglophobia,” and that this contributed to his death, comes as a surprise.
Dodding wrote, “There was, you might say, an ‘Anglophobia,’ which he had from when he first arrived, even though his fairly cheerful features and appearance concealed it and gave a false impression…”
What were the symptoms of this Anglophobia?
Dodding said it was confirmed “from the state of his pulse rather than from himself: for this [his pulse] was all the time too small, too sluggish and too weak rather than too slow, although it was also slower than either his youth or his bilious temperament would require.”
Many Inuit were taken to England over the centuries. Many died there. But I know of no other death attributed to Anglophobia.
Taissumani is an occasional column that recalls events of historical interest. Kenn Harper is a historian and writer who lived in the Arctic for more than 50 years. He is the author of “Minik: The New York Eskimo” and “Thou Shalt Do No Murder,” among other books. Feedback? Send your comments and questions to [email protected].