The Centurion arrived safe at Marseilles, on her outward bound voyage, where, after delivering her goods, she remained better than five weeks, taking in lading, and then intended to return to England. When she was ready to come away from Marseilles, there were sundry other ships of smaller burden at that place, the masters of which intreated Robert Bradshaw of Limehouse, the master of the Centurion, to stay a day or two for them till they could get in readiness to depart, saying that it were far better for them all to go in company for mutual support and defence, than singly to run the hazard of falling into the hands of the Spanish gallies in the Straits. On which reasonable persuasion, although the Centurion was of such sufficiency as might have been reasonably hazarded alone, yet she staid for the smaller ships, and set out along with them from Marseilles, all engaging mutually to stand by each other, if they chanced to fall in with any of the Spanish gallies.
Thus sailing altogether along the coast of Spain, they were suddenly becalmed upon Easter-day in the Straits of Gibraltar, where they immediately saw several gallies making towards them in a very gallant and courageous manner. The chief leaders and soldiers in these gallies, were bravely apparelled in silken coats, with silver whistles depending from their necks, and fine plumes of feathers in their hats. Coming on courageously, they shot very fast from their calivers upon the Centurion, which they boarded somewhat before ten o’clock A.M. But the Centurion was prepared for their reception, and meant to give them as sour a welcome as they could; and having prepared their close quarters with all other things in readiness, called on God for aid, and cheered one another to fight to the last. The Centurion discharged her great ordnance upon the gallies, but the little ships her consorts durst not come forward to her aid, but lay aloof, while five of the gallies laid on board the Centurion, to whom they made themselves fast with their grappling irons, two on one side and two on the other, while the admiral galley lay across her stern. In this guise the Centurion was sore galled and battered, her main-mast greatly wounded, all her sails filled with shot holes, and her mizen mast and stern rendered almost unserviceable. During this sore and deadly fight, the trumpeter of the Centurion continually sounded forth the animating points of war, encouraging the men to fight gallantly against their enemies; while in the Spanish gallies there was no warlike music, save the silver whistles, which were blown ever and anon. In this sore fight, many a Spaniard was thrown into the sea, while multitudes of them came crawling up the ships sides, hanging by every rope, and endeavouring to enter in: Yet as fast as they came to enter, so courageously were they received by the English, that many of them were fain to tumble alive into the sea, remediless of ever getting out alive. There were in the Centurion 48 men and boys in all, who bestirred themselves so valiantly and so galled the enemy, that many a brave and lusty Spaniard lost his life. The Centurion was set on fire five several times, with wild-fire and other combustibles thrown in for that purpose by the Spaniards; yet by the blessing of God, and the great and diligent foresight of the master, the fire was always extinguished without doing any harm.