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Rediscovering Jamestown


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Timeline of Discoveries

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1861 Confederate forces constructed earthworks on Jamestown Island and discovered fragments of armor and weaponry.

1897 APVA (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities), which owned 221/2 acres of Jamestown, explored the church foundations.

1901-1902John Tyler, Jr. conducted excavations at the church and cemetery. Discoveries included the 1617 cobblestone foundation of the wooden church.

1903 Colonel Samuel H. Yonge, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officer who in 1901 supervised construction of the concrete seawall built to prevent further erosion of the riverbank at Jamestown, located the foundations of the country house, the Ludwell house, and the third and fourth statehouses. Yonge asserted that the discoveries made by the Confederate forces in 1861 indicated the close proximity of the fort to the present site of the Confederate earthwork at the western end of the island.

1934-1936 National Park Service acquired remaining 1,500 acres of island not owned by APVA. John T. Zaharov, H. Summerfield Day, Alonzo W. Pond and W.J. Winter directed the Civilian Conservation Corps excavators, although stratigraphic documentation was lost.

1936-1941 J.C. Harrington was assigned to Jamestown and began work on the island in 1937. He refined the methodology in use and established Jamestown as a pioneering effort in historical archeology.

1948-1949 National Park Service archeologists, under direction of J.C. Harrington, excavated the Jamestown Glasshouse site.

1954-1956 In preparation for the 350th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, John L. Cotter was made supervisory archeologist at the park. Thirteen acres of the town site were explored by six miles of trenches, three feet wide each, on a 50-foot interval grid; 100-foot squares (or lots) were excavated meticulously. Joel Shiner conducted an intensive search on APVA property for the fort. His work neither proved nor disproved that the fort was located at the western end of the island. However, he located an early 17th century armorer's forge, indicating that the fort probably was nearby. He also documented Native American occupation on the island prior to 1607. Louis Caywood excavated the 17th century plantation "Green Spring" a few miles to the north. Cotter's report on the excavations at Jamestown was extensive and still serves as the major source on Jamestown archeology.

1992-1996 In preparation for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, the National Park Service signed a cooperative agreement with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CWF) and the College of William and Mary (W&M) to conduct a five-year archeological assessment of Jamestown Island. This project brought together a multidisciplinary team of archeologists, historians, geologists, geophysicists, computer scientists, librarians, and environmental specialists to develop a revised understanding of the entire human history of the island.

The main goals for this assessment were as follows:

1. Determine the geological and topographical appearance of the island over the last 12,000 years.

2. Determine land use practices of American Indians and early European inhabitants.

3. Locate all archeological sites on the island, including possible prehistoric settlements, outlying 17th century farms and plantations, and 18th through 20th century features.

4. "Reconstruct" the town site through computer mapping.

5. Assemble documentary, cartographic, archeological, architectural, and artifactual information about Jamestown Island for future research and interpretation to include published technical reports and materials for public use.

Andrew Edwards and Audrey Horning from CWF supervised the field work in the "New Towne" area. They investigated various sites previously excavated in the 1930s and 1950s to answer specific questions dealing with structures' appearances, functions and use. They also dug test pits to search for new features such as a possible brewhouse. Another important part of the field work was to obtain previously uncollected "ecofacts" from seeds and pollen which explained changes in the environment and how the colonists altered the landscape of the island.

Dennis Blanton and Patty Kandle from W&M conducted the first systematic survey for sites of all kinds on the entire island. By digging nearly 6,000 small test holes at 20m intervals, 60 previously unknown sites were identified covering the range from prehistoric to modern times. These 60 new sites explain a great deal about the way the people used and settled the island for nearly 12,000 years.

Reports from the several assessment teams are in progress. Once this valuable new information is available, it will change the way we think about the history of the island and its inhabitants from prehistoric times to the present.
1994 - PresentThe Jamestown Rediscovery Project, initiated by The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA), was undertaken to find archaeological evidence of the 1607 Jamestown Settlement Fort. To date they have recovered over 200,000 artifacts many dating to the first half of the 1600's and many to the earliest years of that first Jamestown settlement. Excavations have uncovered the soil stain footprint of an upright log barrier, undoubtedly the remnants of a palisade dating to the early 17th century, footprints of at least one post-hole building and the possible skeletal remains of one of those earliest settlers.

May 9, 2007:

Archaeologists at Historic Jamestowne recently unearthed what appears to be the leading edge of a cache of arms and armor discarded by Jamestown colonists 400 years ago in a trash pit that may be an early well inside the north corner of the 1607 James Fort.

Viewed by Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the site May 4, the objects currently under excavation include tasset lames -- armor used to protect the thigh, a nearly complete broad sword with an intact basket hilt (sword handle), a rapier hilt and an iron pole.

"It may be like the tip of an iceberg. We expect that these exciting artifacts may be buried with many other related finds. We'll see as we uncover more of it in the next few days," said Dr. William Kelso, APVA director of archaeology.

According to historical accounts, in June 1610 after the "Starving Time" winter, the colonists buried unneeded military equipment before they left to seek supplies and passage back to England on fishing ships off the coast of New England. Instead, they returned to Jamestown the following day after they met Lord De La Warre's fleet at the mouth of the James River.

The objects were partially excavated last Friday about 3 ft. below the 17th-century ground level inside a 19 x19 ft. pit. "Because of the way the layers of debris are slumping toward the center of the pit, we think this may be a well that went foul and later became a trash pit. The sides seem to have eroded outward, which may be why the feature is so large. So far, we know it's at least 6 feet deep. We haven't found the bottom or a well shaft yet," Kelso said.

The pit is below the foundation to a 1617 addition to the governor's house, and the latest artifact is a 1613 English farthing found near the top. If it is a well, this could be the first well that was dug by John Smith in 1608-1609," he said.

Rich with artifacts, the pit has yielded glass trade beads, baubles, chess pieces, iron objects, and pottery sherds that date to the early years at James Fort. Virginia Indian artifacts have also been unearthed including a grinding stone, a bone needle and finished and unfinished shell beads. Archaeologists have also found oysters, sturgeon scutes, crab claws, and fish, bird, turtle, deer and goat remains. Danny Schmidt, APVA senior archaeologist, said the faunal remains include more wild than domesticated animals, another sign that this is an early pit.

Archaeologists are also digging in an area near a 1607 graveyard in the west corner of the fort near the James River. They've uncovered an undisturbed area about 15 to 20 ft. between a grave that was recently unearthed and the 1607 graves. Schmidt said the gap may indicate that there was a building there. Archaeologists are hoping to find the remains of the first church somewhere in the area as they continue digging toward the center of the fort. "It would make sense to find the church near the graveyard," Schmidt said. Further excavation this season will reveal more evidence. He noted that the area will be exposed quickly after the six-week summer field school begins June 4.

In anticipation of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, the APVA Preservation Virginia launched the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeological project in 1994 to identify and interpret the remains of the 1607 James Fort and town site. When archaeologists announced that they had discovered the fort site in 1996, they dispelled the long-held belief that the fort was lost to the James River. Since then, archaeologists have found the outline of the fort including the remains of palisades, bulwarks, buildings, pits and wells. In addition, they've uncovered and analyzed the remains of the last Jamestown statehouse. Over one million objects reflective of life at James Fort have been unearthed so far, as well as the burials of over 70 colonists including the remains of a high-ranking colonist, possibly Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, the principal organizer and administrator of the early Jamestown effort.

The outlines of unmarked grave shafts continue to be discovered in the southwest section of James Fort. Archaeologists are hoping that this means the original church is nearby, but it has yet to be found. The Field School students are helping the full-time archaeologists excavate 10' x 10' sections of earth down to the fort-period soil layer. Single burials and a possible double burial have been found along with thousands of artifacts. Meanwhile, near the northern bulwark, the possible well feature is looking more and more like a cellar. Two courses of a brick wall have been found inside the feature. This probable cellar was constructed parallel to the fort palisade wall, indicating it was from the fort period and hence from the earliest years of the colony.

More fort-period graves have been discovered in an area near the southwest corner of the fort. This is the same area where over 20 colonist graves were found in 2005. There is speculation that this unmarked burial ground may indicate that the fort's original church is nearby, but so far no definitive evidence has been found. A distinct absence of graves in one area which is in-turn surrounded by graves may indicate the presence of a structure, and there have been a few postholes found in this area. The area still needs more precise excavation before all of the features can be known. Danny Schmidt, Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeologist, said that they plan to go back over the area very carefully with trowels to see if further evidence can be found to illustrate the significance of the lack of burials in this one area. A late-17th-century ditch cuts through this area, its age indicated by the presence of pottery known to have been created beginning in the 1680s.

Though the church has not yet been found, thousands of 17th-century artifacts have turned up during the search. A nearly-complete halberd blade was just excavated from the area. It is in remarkable shape and is only mildly oxidized. A small lead horse, probably a children's toy, was discovered and is similar to one found in October of 2006. A fragment of a crucifix, made of jet, was also found in the area. This is the second jet crucifix found inside James Fort.

A brass seal, created for making impressions in wax, was recently excavated. Bly Straube, Curator with Jamestown Rediscovery, explained that the falcon on one side of the seal probably indicates that the owner was a gentleman, as the sport of falconry was a pastime enjoyed by those of higher class. The anchor on the other side hints that the owner was also a seafaring man. An ornamental brass mount in the form of a martlet is another recently-excavated artifact that can tell us something about its owner. A martlet is a mythical bird that has no legs, but instead has tufts of feathers where its legs should be. Martlets were used in English heraldry to represent a later (typically the fourth) son in a family. Whereas the first three sons in a family traditionally had pre-defined paths in life, the fourth had "nowhere to land," but instead had to create his own fortune.

In an area near the northern bulwark, a subterranean feature discovered several months ago is starting to take a more definite shape. Precise corners of the feature have been found, and two bricks of what was probably once a wall have also been discovered. All of this points to the feature being a cellar, but that conclusion is still not 100% certain. This is the same feature where the cache of sword hilts and other artifacts were found. The structure was built parallel to the fort wall which indicates that the fort walls were standing at the time of construction.

 Border ware pipkin, a type of cooking vessel, is being mended together from pieces found in the cellar and from the early well excavated last year. Conservator Caroline Taylor explained that Border ware pottery originates in the border regions of northeast Hampshire County and western Surrey County in England. It often has a tell-tale yellow/green glaze. Other examples of Border ware in the Historic Jamestowne collection are on display in the Archaearium.

Conservation is also underway on body armor known as a jack of plate that was excavated in 2005. When it was originally found, it was removed along with the earth below and directly around it so that the painstaking process of its conservation could be done indoors over several weeks. Conservator Michael Lavin is now removing the dirt bit by bit so that the armor can be cleaned and stabilized.

The dig will continue over the summer both in the southwest and northern areas of the fort. Weekday visitors to Historic Jamestowne can watch the dig in progress and then see many of their past finds in the Archaearium


African Americans at Jamestown

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The first documented "20 and Odd" Blacks that arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in August of 1619 are not known to have been immediately enslaved. As an institution, slavery did not exist in Virginia in 1619. Slavery as we know it today, evolved gradually, beginning with customs rather than laws. To further shed light on how this institution evolved legally, from indentured servitude to life long servitude, the following laws and/or facts are given as well as other sources on 17th century servitude among Blacks in Virginia.


Arrival of "20 and Odd" Blacks in late August of 1619 aboard a Dutch man of war. These blacks were sold/traded into servitude for supplies.


Indication by surviving wills, inventories, deeds and other documents that in some instances it was considered "customary practice to hold some Negroes in a form of life service." It should be noted that by examining these documents it was also found that some blacks were able to hold on to their status of being indentured servants, thus, eventually gaining their freedom.


All persons except Negroes are to be with Arms and Ammunition.


John Punch, a runaway indentured Servant, first documented slave for life.


Slavery was recognized in the statutory law of the colony.

Legislation was passed defining the status of mulatto children. Children would be considered the same status as the mother. If the child was born to a slave, the child would be considered a slave.


Baptism does not bring freedom. Until the General Assembly outlawed it, baptism could be the grounds for a black slave to obtain his/her freedom. It was considered for a period of time that it was not proper for a Christian to enslave a fellow Christian.


Blacks or Indians could no longer own white indentured servants.


An act was passed preventing insurrections among slaves.

Blacks could not congregate in large numbers for supposed funeral or feasts. Blacks must also obtain written authorization to leave a plantation at any given time. They could not remain at another plantation longer than 4 hours.


First act prohibiting intermarriage.

No Negro or Mulatto may be set free by any person unless the pay for the transportation out of the colony within six months or forfeit ten pounds of sterling so that the church wardens might have the Negro transported.


Negroes must give up ownership of horses, cattle or hogs.

Separate courts for the trial of slaves charged with a capital crime, thus depriving them of the right of a trial by jury.


Slaves composed half of Virginia's unfree labor force.


Slave laws were codified.


An ancient European nation, Portugal became a world power in the 15th century and held a monopoly on the export of slaves from Africa from 1440-1640.  Making it a center of navigation, they sponsored voyages down the west coast and around the southern tip of Africa to India.  With the help of African kings and traders, the Portuguese obtained slaves along the west coast %u2014 especially Angola.

Angola is a country in south-central Africa with its west coast on the Atlantic Ocean.  In the 15th century Portugal began to settle the area, then the Kingdom of Ndongo; and, in the 16th century, established a colony based on the slave trade at Luanda, and soon controlled the coast.  

Anthony Johnson
Early records refer to him as "Antonio a Negro." He arrived in Virginia in 1621 as either an indentured servant or a slave, worked on a tobacco plantation, survived the Indian attack of 1622, married, had a family, purchased his freedom, and eventually owned 250 acres.

Indian Activity at Jamestown

By 1607, Powhatan was the despotic ruler of the largest and most politically complex Indian empire in Virginia. The empire's population was approximately 14,000 Indians. Powhatan's domain of 30 tribes encompassed the entire coastal plain of Virginia from the fall line at present day Richmond to the ocean and from the Potomac River down to the modern Virginia-North Carolina border. Of all the tribes, the Pamunkeys were probably the strongest, ruled by Powhatan's powerful half-brother, Opechancanough. After an initial attack on the colonist in late May, the Indians were relatively friendly.


When the aggressive and intimidating Captain John Smith left to return to England, the colony lost any control over Powhatan's people. Although Powhatan was unable to halt English advances, Opechancanough and the Pamunkeys were able to defeat the English in several skirmishes. While Powhatan spent most of this time in seclusion, Opechancanough became stronger and more powerful.


The colonists captured Pocahontas. Powhatan's daughter, near the Potomac River. The fighting between the Indians and the English came to a halt and peaceful negotiations began.


Pocahontas renounced her heritage and chose to live with the English. She was baptized into the Church of England and changed her name to Rebecca. Her marriage to Englishman John Rolfe established peace between the English and the Powhatans. This period of peace lasted for approximately eight years.


Pocahontas died in Gravesend, England. Powhatan, grief-stricken at the news, abdicated his chiefdom and spent the rest of his life traveling and "visiting his country."


Powhatan died, succeeded by his second brother Opithapam. Several months later, Opechancanough assumed control.


Chief Opechancanough planned a coordinated surprise attack against the Tidewater settlements on March 22, 1622. during the assault, approximately 350 settlers, or one-fourth of the English population, died. Due to the timely warning by an Indian boy named Chanco, Jamestown was spared the ravages of the attack. For the next ten years, the conflict between the settlers and the Indians, dragged on.


Following a decade of tense coexistence between the Powhatan empire and the English, a stalemate developed. Both sides were tired of the hunger and loss of life.


Tired of English domination and humiliation by the loss of their land and culture, Opechancanough launched a major attack on the English settlements. Approximatelyly 400 English died in the attack.


Opechancanough, nearly 100 years old, was captured by Governoror Sir William Berkeley and was later killed by a solider guarding him at Jamestown. His death led to the signing of a peace treaty in which the various tribes agreed to be loyal subjects and allies of the crown.


There are seven recognized tribes totaling 9,500 Powhatan Indians. The Pamunkey and Mattaponi reservations (1,000 acres) cover much of the same territory as the original lands. These were the first two Indian reservations established in the United States.

Captain John Smith

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Virginians know that Captain John Smith was one of the first American heroes. But because he was a proud and boastful man, it is difficult to determine which parts of his life are fact and which are fiction. What many people may not know is that Smith's adventures started even before Jamestown.

Born in 1580 in Willoughby, England, John Smith left home at age 16 after his father died. He began his travels by joining volunteers in France who were fighting for Dutch independence from Spain. Two years later, he set off for the Mediterranean Sea, working on a merchant ship. In 1600, he joined Austrian Forces to fight the Turks in the "Long War." A valiant soldier, he was promoted to Captain while fighting in Hungary. He was fighting in Transylvania two years later in 1602. There he was wounded in battle, captured, and sold as a slave to a Turk. This Turk then sent Smith to Istanbul as a gift to his sweetheart. According to Smith, this girl fell in love with him and sent him to her brother to get training for the Turkish imperial service. Smith reportedly escaped by murdering the brother, and he returned to Transylvania by fleeing through Russia and Poland. After being released from service and receiving a large reward, he travelled throughout Europe and Northern Africa. He returned to England in the winter of 1604-05.

Captain John Smith's American adventures began at this time. Apparently restless in England, Smith became actively involved with the Virginia Company's plans to colonize Virginia for profit. The expedition, composed of three ships, set sail on December 20, 1606, and finally reached Virginia in April 1607, after enduring a lengthy voyage of over four months. When the sealed box that listed the names of the seven council members who were to govern the colony was opened, Smith's name was on the list. On May 13, 1607 the settlers landed at Jamestown ready to begin the task of surviving in a new environment.

The harsh winter, lack of fresh water, and the spread of disease made life in Jamestown difficult for the settlers. Attacks by the native Algonkian Indians made life almost impossible. The Indians, hoping that the settlers would give up and leave, raided their camps, stealing pistols, gunpowder and other necessary supplies. John Smith became leader of the colonists and did his best to fight off the Indians.

In December 1607, Indian deer hunters ambushed Smith and some companions. After killing the other Englishmen, the Indians carried Smith back to their powerful chief, Powhatan, to decide his fate. Powhatan was apparently greatly impressed by Smith's self-confidence. He was also fascinated by the mystical instruments which Smith carried with him, such as an ivory and glass pocket compass. Smith was questioned about his colony and then made to take part in some sort of ritual or trial, after which, in keeping with an Indian custom, he was made a subordinate chief in the tribe. Powhatan's 11 year old daughter took part in the ceremony in some way. Smith was constantly unsure of his fate, and he was convinced afterward that Pocahontas had saved his life. Smith was released in friendship after about four weeks of captivity and returned to Jamestown, guided by Indians.

Meanwhile, dissent within the colony fermented due to laziness, lack of supplies, and periodic attempts at desertion by many of the colonists. Personal conflicts, as well as disagreements over new policies being formulated in London, developed among Smith and various leaders. As a result, Smith left Jamestown to explore and map the Chesapeake Bay region and search for badly needed food supplies. Due to bad government and near chaos, Smith was eventually elected president of the local council in September 1608. He instituted a policy of rigid discipline, strengthened defenses and encouraged farming with this admonishment: "He who does not work, will not eat." Because of his strong leadership, the settlement survived and grew during the next year. Unfortunately, Smith was accidently injured by a gunpowder burn and had to return to England for treatment in October 1609, never to return to Virginia again.

In London, he actively promoted the further colonization of Virginia, but he was unpopular with the Virginia Company. In April 1614, he returned to the New World in a successful voyage to the Maine and Massachusetts Bay areas. With the approval of Prince Charles, he named this region New England. He was denied further opportunities to return to America due to his independent nature, and he spent the rest of his life writing books until his death in 1631 at age 51


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John Rolfe stepped into history in May 1609 when he boarded the Sea Venture, bound for Virginia. The Virginia Company, founded by investors, had financed and sponsored the English colony founded at Jamestown in May 1607. The Company expected the colonist to start industrial enterprises in Virginia that would return profits to the Company. The colonists in Virginia tried a number of different enterprises: silkmaking, glassmaking, lumber, sassafras, pitch and tar, and soap ashes, with no financial success. It was John Rolfe's experiments with tobacco that developed the first profitable export.

The Spaniards found the natives in the West Indies using the tobacco plant. They took seed to Europe where its use soon spread to other countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Sir Walter Raleigh is often credited with the introduction of tobacco to England. While in reality he may not have been responsible for its introduction, he did play an important role in the spread of tobacco use among the English. Spain and Portugal monopolized the European tobacco trade; England imported tobacco from Spain. The English colonists did not like the type of tobacco the Virginia Indians grew. They preferred the fragrant sort that Spanish colonists were producing in the Caribbean, which they were selling in large quantities and at high prices to London merchants.

The Sea Venture was the flagship of a nine-ship convoy of 500 new settlers. By July the ships had reached the West Indies, where a hurricane struck them. The Sea Venture ran aground on a reef off the Bermudas, but the entire company of 150 safely reached shore in the ship's boats. The colonists found Bermuda to be a hospitable place with sufficient food. In the following months, they built two smaller ships from cedar trees and salvage. By May 1610 the two ships, aptly named the Patience and the Deliverance, were ready. The ships reached the Chesapeake Bay after ten days sailing. While on Bermuda, John Rolfe's wife had given birth to a daughter who was christened Bermuda, but the child died there. Rolfe's wife also died, probably soon after they reached Virginia.

John Rolfe is credited by Ralph Hamor, then Secretary of Virginia, with the experiment of planting the first tobacco seeds that he obtained from somewhere in the Caribbean, possibly from Trinidad. "I may not forget the gentleman, worthie of much commendations, which first tooke the pains to make triall thereof, his name Mr. John Rolfe, Anno Domini 1612, partly for the love he hath a long time borne unto it, and partly to raise commodity to the adventurers... " Rolfe gave some tobacco from his crop to friends "to make a triall of," and they agreed that the new leaf had "smoked pleasant, sweete and strong." The remainder of the crop was shipped to England, where it compared favorably with "Spanish" leaf.

At the same time Rolfe experimented with tobacco, other events transpired that profoundly affected the colony. Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, was kidnapped and brought to Jamestown to be traded for English prisoners and weapons that Powhatan held. The exchange never took place and Pocahontas was taken to the settlement at Henrico, where she learned English, converted to Christianity, was baptized, and was christened Rebecca. It was about this time that she presumably came to the attention of John Rolfe. Rolfe was a pious man who agonized for many weeks over the decision to marry a heathen. He composed a long, laborious letter to Governor Dale asking for permission to marry Pocahontas. The letter reflected Rolfe's dilemma. The tone suggests it was intended mainly for official records, but at some points Rolfe bared his true feelings. "It is Pocahontas," he wrote, "to whom my hearty and best thoughts are, and have been a long time so entangled, and enthralled in so intricate a labyrinth that I (could not) unwind myself thereout." The wedding took place in the spring of 1614. It resulted in peace with the Indians long enough for the settlers to develop and expand their colony and plant themselves permanently in the new land.

In 1616, Rolfe took his wife and infant son Thomas to England. Pocahontas died at Gravesend seven months later, just before returning to Virginia. A sad John Rolfe left his young son in the care of a guardian in England and returned to his adopted home. Upon his return to Virginia, he assumed more prominence in the colony. He became a councilor and sat as a member of the House of Burgesses. He married again to Jane Pearce, daughter of a colonist. He continued his efforts to improve the quality and quantity of Virginia tobacco. In 1617, tobacco exports to England totaled 20,000 pounds. The next year shipments more than doubled. Twelve years later, one and a half million pounds were exported. The first great American enterprise had been established.

John Rolfe died sometime in 1622. Although a third of the colony was killed in the Indian uprising of that year, it is not known how Rolfe died. In a life that held much personal tragedy, Rolfe gave the colony its economic base. His contributions allowed the English settlements to become permanent, thus solidifying the English presence in America and making possible the first steps toward the creation of the future United States.

Born: 1585

Died: 1622


The marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe in 1614 changed the demographics of Virginia residents. Their only child, Thomas Rolfe, was the first descendent in a line that now spans over seven generations. Thomas was the culmination of years of contact between the Powhatan Indians and the English. His choices between his English heritage and Powhatan heritage affected all his future descendants.

Thomas was born in Virginia in 1615, the first recorded birth of a child born to a Virginia Indian princess and an English gentleman. The child was presumably named after the Governor, Sir Thomas Dale. His mother, Pocahontas, had converted to Christianity in 1614 and taken the name Rebecca before she married John Rolfe. The English saw her as a perfect example of what Christianizing efforts produced. John Rolfe introduced a sweet tasting tobacco to the struggling colony, which allowed Virginia to prosper in later years. However, Thomas and his parents did not stay long in Virginia.

The Virginia Company wanted to attract new colonists, and more investment money to Virginia. Their plans to do so entailed escorting Pocahontas, a Christian Indian, to England and present her and Thomas at court. The Virginia Company wanted everyone to know how well their efforts worked in the new colony, hoping that support for the Virginia colony would increase. In 1616, Rebecca (Pocahontas), John, and Thomas traveled to England, accompanied by nearly a dozen other Powhatan Indians. Once they arrived, they traveled to many places and visited with distinguished men and women. They met such notables as King James, Queen Anne, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Rolfe family. The Virginia Company considered this time well spent. They continued to raise money and attract new settlers.

The time in a foreign land was hard on Rebecca, Thomas, and the other Virginia natives. After seven months, they began their departure from England to return to Virginia. In March 1617, aboard the ship that was to sail them home, Rebecca and Thomas fell ill. Rebecca died before they could leave their departure point in Gravesend, where she was buried. John continued his voyage to Virginia, but realized that his son's health was fragile. John decided to leave young Thomas in England with Sir Lewis Stuckley until John's younger brother, Henry, could take over care. John intended for Thomas to stay in England until he regained enough strength to return to Virginia. This was an especially important turning point in Thomas' life. He would not return to Virginia until 1635 at the age of 20, and he would never again see his father.

In 1622, John Rolfe died unexpectedly in Virginia. The explanation for his death is not fully known, although it may have been through sickness. Another prominent figure that died in these years of Thomas' absence was his grandfather, Powhatan. He was the chief of the Powhatan Indians and died of seemingly natural causes in 1618. At one point during Powhatan's sickness, it was rumored among the Indians that Thomas would be the heir to the Powhatan domain. Upon Powhatan's death, however, it was clear that this was not the case. Opechancanough, Thomas' uncle, took over in Powhatan's place. When Thomas returned to Virginia in 1635, he found that his grandfather did not forget him. Through John and Rebecca Rolfe, Powhatan left Thomas thousands of acres on the James River, some of which is directly across the James River from Jamestown Island. He was also left the plantation where he was born, Varina. John Rolfe had secured this land for Thomas by taking out a royal patent before his death in 1622. Shortly after Thomas returned to Virginia, Thomas married Jane Poythress. The date of the marriage is not known, but with land and a wife, Thomas Rolfe was established. Now, he looked to find his Powhatan relatives and establish family connections.

In 1641, Thomas petitioned the Governor for permission to meet with his mother's people. The petition was accepted and Thomas met his uncle, Opechancanough. Unfortunately, there are no recordings of their meeting. Thomas evidently made the choice between his Powhatan and English heritages in 1646 when he became a lieutenant in the English military. The General Assembly in the colony granted Thomas the land called Fort James in return for his service. Thomas was now part of the English policy to dismantle and control the land of his Powhatan ancestors.

Around 1650, Thomas and Jane had their only child, Jane. Jane went on to marry Colonel Robert Bolling in 1675. The couple had one son, John. John Bolling was the third in line of descendants from Rebecca and John Rolfe, and from Bolling came seven children. John sparked off the trend of having more than one child, each successive generation doing the same.

Where does this leave Thomas? There are but a few documents that trace his life past the time of 1646, and records regarding his death are lacking. However, it seems that he became a man of wealth, as can be seen through land patents and deeds. The last reference made to him is in a deed from 1698 by John Bolling. John inherited Fort James through his mother, Jane, and transferred the land to William Brown in this deed. Thomas' name was mentioned in the document as deceased, and it is the last known reference to him.

Although Thomas Rolfe's heritage was Powhatan and English, he lived as an Englishman. When Thomas cemented that by becoming a lieutenant for the colony, he decided the manner in which thousands of his descendants would live for years to come.

Kippax Plantation
Hopewell, Hopewell city, Virginia


Jamestown's First Chaplain & Churches

Robert Hunt (c. 1568-1608),

clergyman of the Church of England, was Chaplain of the expedition that founded Jamestown, Virginia. The expedition included people from Old Heatherfield, East Sussex, England. Reverend Hunt had become the Vicar of Heatherfield, County of Sussex, in 1602, which title he held as Chaplain of the Jamestown Settlement. He had been Vicar of Reculrer, County of Kent, England, 1594-1602. He lit the candle for the Anglican Church in Virginia (United States); he first lifted his voice in public thanksgiving and prayer on April 29, 1607, when the settlers planted a cross at Cape Henry, which they named after the Prince of Wales.

Once settled in the fort, the whole company, except those who were on guard, attended regular prayer and services led by Reverend Hunt. Captain John Smith described worship services that took place in the open air until a chapel could be erected. Captain Smith's religious feelings were conventional but deeply felt. His piety asserted itself in his writings constantly; he saw the hand of God at work in his life, and he believed it had intervened to save the colonies. "He concluded that God, who had thwarted Spanish attempts to settle North America, had reserved that Region for the Protestant English."

Captain John Smith described Reverend Hunt as "our honest, religious and courageous divine." Reverend Hunt was a peacemaker, often bringing harmony to a quarreling group of men. The Chronicler wrote: "Many were the mischiefs that daily sprung from their ignorant spirits; but the good doctrines and exhortations of our Preacher Minister Hunt reconciled them and caused Captain Smith to be admitted to the Council June 20th.

The next day, June 21, third Sunday after Trinity, under the shadow of an old sail, Robert Hunt celebrated the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. It is impossible to rate too highly the character and work of the aforesaid Robert Hunt, Chaplain of the Colony." Hunt's virtuous character was well-known and respected by his fellow settlers. It was evidenced by his behavior both before and after the accidental fire in the fort in January, 1608. The fire burned the palisades with their arms, bedding apparel, and many private provisions. "Good master Hunt lost all his library, and all that he had but the clothes on his back, yet none ever did see him repine at his loss...Yet we had daily Common Prayer morning and evening, every Sunday two sermons and every three months the Holy Communion till our Minister died."

Historians believe that Robert Hunt died in the spring of 1608. His will, probated in July 1608, is the only documented evidence of his death. Scholars suggest that certain conditions imposed upon his bequest to his wife may indicate an unhappy state of affairs in the home, which could have fueled Reverend Hunt's desire to go to Virginia. However, it seems more likely that his desire to set a good Christian example, rather than his personal problems, motivated him to travel to the new world.

This faithful and courageous priest had nothing to say of himself, leaving no writings and no portrait. All authorities, including Governor Edward Maria Wingfield, First President of the Council at Jamestown, and Captain John Smith, who agreed in nothing else, agreed in praise of this worthy man. They wrote: "Our factions were oft qualified, and our wants and greater extremities so comforted that they seemed easie in comparison of what we endured after his memorable death...."


In one of his books, Captain John Smith wrote of building the first structure at Jamestown that was used as a church. According to his account, the settlers stretched a sail among the boughs and used rails to construct the sides of the structure. They sat on benches made of unhewed tree trunks. The altar was simply a log nailed to two neighboring trees. This was a purely temporary arrangement and is not counted as a church building.

Church 1 -- In 1607, the settlers built the first real church inside the fort. Smith related that this was a barn-like structure, but he gave few details. The settlers worshipped in it until it was destroyed by fire in January 1608.

Church 2 -- The church which was built after the fire in 1608 was similar in appearance to the first church. When Lord De La Warr arrived as governor in 1610, he found that the church had fallen into a sad state of disrepair, so he had it restored and its furnishings improved. It is assumed that this is the church in which Ann Burras and John Laydon were married and their daughter, Virginia Laydon, was later baptized.

When Captain Samuel Argall came to Jamestown in 1617, he found "but five or six houses, the church downe, the palizados (palisades) broken, the bridge in pieces, the well of fresh water spoiled, the storehouse used for the church; the marketplace, the streets and all other spare places planted with tobacco; the savages as frequent in their homes as themselves, whereby they were become expert in our armes...the Colonie dispersed all about planting Tobacco."

Church 3 -- In 1617, Captain Argall built a church. This is the first church known to have been built on the site where the present church stands. We know that this was constructed of timbers, but we do not know whether it was "wattle and daub" or a frame structure. The unusual feature of this church was its cobblestone foundation. This church is best remembered as the meeting place of the first Representative Legislative Assembly, which convened there on July 30, 1619. This church endured until 1639, when it was replaced by a brick structure.

Church 4 -- This brick church was begun in 1639, but took about five years to complete. During Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, this church was burned. The extent of the damages is unknown. The church was subsequently repaired. It continued to serve its congregation until approximately 1750, when it was abandoned in favor of a new church constructed some three miles from Jamestown. Following its abandonment, the ravages of time and the elements took their toll until it eventually fell into a complete state of ruin, with the exception of most of its tower, which still stands today.

Church 5 -- In 1907, the National Society of Colonial Dames of America erected a reconstruction church next to the original tower. This is the structure which visitors to Jamestown view today. The cobblestone foundations of the 1617 church, together with the brick foundations of the 1639 church, may be viewed under glass within the walls of the present church.

Powhatan & Opechancanough.

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When the English began exploring and, later, colonizing North America, they were both aware of and fascinated by the native people they encountered. Fortunately for students of history, some of these explorers and settlers chose to commit their observations to paper. Although archeology and oral traditions play a role in our appreciation of the largely-vanished culture of the Powhatan Indians in Virginia, it is the accounts of such Englishmen as John Smith, William Strachey, Robert Beverley, and George Percy which provide the detail of the everyday life of these people.

Even though the English viewed the Powhatan Indian culture as savage and primitive, we can still utilize the facts and details presented by one group of people commenting on and describing another. Since the English found the Powhatans so different from themselves, they took great pains to record those differences for the education of their contemporaries.

The 104 Englishmen who landed at Jamestown on May 13, 1607 chose that settlement site partially because no-one else was presently occupying the small peninsula, an unhealthy, if highly defensible, area. This lack of inhabitants was hardly the case for most of Tidewater Virginia, as the English were soon to discover. Although it is difficult to estimate, modern historians number the native population of 1607 Tidewater Virginia at 13,000 to 14,000. Powhatan settlements were concentrated along the rivers, which provided both food and transportation; the folk who inhabited them spoke a now-extinct form of Algonquian, a language which was common to many native peoples from present-day New York south to Florida.

The undisputed ruler of Tidewater Virginia was Wahunsonacock, usually referred to by the title "Powhatan." John Smith describes Powhatan as "a tall well proportioned man, with a sower look, his head somewhat gray, his beard so thinne, that it seemeth none at all, his age (as of 1608) neare sixtie, of a very able and hardy body to endure any labour."

Powhatan had inherited six tribes located not far from present-day Richmond. By 1607, he had added considerably to his domain which, at its peak, numbered over 30 tribes. Each tribe was governed by a werowance, a chief who owed allegiance and tribute to Powhatan. Although Powhatan maintained residences amongst all the tribes, his usual dwelling-place was a Werowocomoco, on the north side of the York River.

In addition to his councilors, whom he kept about him always, Powhatan also had an extensive family. Because of the large amounts of tribute collected (estimated by one settler as eight parts out of ten of all that his people produced) Powhatan could support over a hundred wives and the resulting offspring, the most famous of whom was Matoaka, better known by her nickname "Pocahontas."

Powhatan's people lived in villages, which could number as many as one hundred homes. Some villages were protected by wooden palisades; each house boasted an extensive and carefully-tended garden, in which was sown such staples as corn, beans, peas, squash, pumpkin, sunflowers and maypops (passionflower). Tobacco, primarily used for ceremonial purposes, was grown apart from the rest of the crops.

Although the gardens were an important food source, the Powhatans' diet was far more extensive. John Smith remarked that for the bulk of the year, Powhatans relied on other sources of food. The waterways afforded a rich diet of fish and shellfish and the woods yielded nuts, fruits and berries. Since the dog was the only animal domesticated by the Powhatans, hunting was an important way to supplement the diet, and was a task relegated to the men of the tribe. At a very young age, a boy was taught the use of the bow. Rather than a recreational activity for the wealthy, as hunting was perceived by the English, Powhatans considered it a very serious business, an important way of securing food and clothing.

The hard work of Powhatan women was more often remarked upon by the English. Whether she was gathering wood, making pottery, preparing food, dressing hides, caring for the garden or making clothing, a Powhatan woman was seldom at rest.

Some of the most detailed descriptions of Powhatan people concerns their appearance. According to John Smith, the native Virginians were "Generally tall and straight," an observation confirmed by archeological analysis, which estimates that the average Powhatan stood at about six feet. William Strachey, another 17th-century author, recorded that Powhatans were "Generally of a cullour brown or rather tawny."

Costume varied according to sex, age and status. The most common article of apparel for men was a breech-clout of skin worn between the thighs. According to Smith, "The common sort have scarce to cover their nakedness but with grasse, the leaves of trees, or such like. . . The better sort use large mantels of deare skins not much different from the Irish mantels." A man of high status might wear a shirt-like garment made of fringed deerskin or a mantle of turkey feathers. The hair was shaven from the right side of the head (to reduce the risk of entanglement in the hunter's bowstring); the hair on the other side of the head was allowed to grow long and often pulled into a knot and decorated with everything from shells to the dead hand of an enemy. Men used body paint in preparation for war or games.

Werowances (chiefs) wore fine clothes and many ornaments of pearl, rare shell beads and copper, the precious metal of the Powhatans. George Percy described the headdress of one werowance: "a crown of deares haire colloured red, in fashion of a rose fastened about his knot of haire, and a great plate of copper on the other side of his head; with two long feathers in fashion of a pair of horns placed in the midst of his Crowne."

In his History and Present State of Virginia (1705), colonist Robert Beverley opined that Powhatan Indian "women are generally beautiful, possessing an uncommon delicacy of shape and features." The skirt was the ubiquitous garment for women; those of higher-status swathed themselves in fringed deerskin. The hair of a married women was worn long and plaited in the back; a young girl had her head on the front and sides shaven close, with the rest of the hair growing long and braided down the back.

George Strachey remarked at length on the use of tattooed decorations by the Powhatan Indian women, commenting that they "have their armes, breasts, thighes, shoulders, and faces, cuningly ymbrodered with divers workes, for pouncing and searing their skyns with a kind of instrument heated in the fier. They figure therein flowers and fruits of sondry lively kinds, as also snakes, serpents."

Although early interaction between the English and Powhatans was sometimes violent and exploitive on both sides, leaders of both peoples realized the mutual benefit which could be derived from peaceful relations. Powhatan craved the trade goods brought by the English, which would give him increased status, make his peoples' lives easier and also help him to expand his empire to the west. The English needed food, allies and knowledgeable guides to help them locate raw materials, precious metals and the much-sought trade route to the Far East. The marriage of Powhatan's favorite daughter Pocahontas to settler John Rolfe in 1614 ensured a few peaceful years between the Powhatans and the English.

This brief time of peace ended in 1617 with the death of Pocahontas during a trip to England and, the next year, of her father. Opitchapan, Powhatan's brother, served briefly as chief, and then retired in favor of Opechancanough, the powerful and aggressive werowance whose land centered around present-day West Point. Opechancanough resented the English, and, although Powhatan had been assured the Jamestown settlement was merely a temporary one, the new chief saw all too clearly that the English were in Virginia to stay. Thanks to the introduction of a successful strain of tobacco by John Rolfe, the colonists had a way to achieve a profit and, consequently, the need for greater and greater tracts of land on which to grow their crop.

On March 22, 1622, Opechancanough's carefully-orchestrated plan to dismay and perhaps even rout his enemy was executed by his warriors throughout the small English settlements in Virginia. Although some areas, including Jamestown, escaped unscathed, within a few hours as many as 400 English settlers had lost their lives and the colony had received a near-fatal blow.

The surviving settlers' reaction to the Powhatan uprising was retaliation, and the English, better armed and organized than the Powhatans, set to with a vengeance. The Virginia Company instructed the settlers to wage a total war against the Powhatan people, doing whatever it took to subdue them utterly. For over a decade, the English killed men and women, captured children and systematically razed villages, seizing or destroying crops.

After the uprising, the colonists recovered and expanded their territory, even as the Powhatan empire declined both in power and population. Even so, in 1644, Opechancanough rallied his small forces to make a final attempt at routing the English from his people's land. The attack, launched on April 17, 1644, resulted in the death of hundreds of colonists, but, like the attempt made 22 years earlier, did not achieve its objective. The English captured Opechancanough, by then an old and feeble man, and brought him to Jamestown, where he was shot in the back by a soldier against orders.

As in 1622, the English retaliated. Finally, in 1646 and 1647, treaties were made with Opechancanough's successor which severely restricted the Powhatan people's territory and confined them to small reservations. Tribute was to be offered to the English king of "Twenty beaver skins att the going away of geese yearely." The Powhatan's land was further reduced in a treaty of 1677.

By 1669, the population of Powhatan Indians in Tidewater Virginia had dropped to about 1,800 and by 1722, many of the tribes comprising the empire of Chief Powhatan were reported extinct. Several tribes lost their reservations and some opted to blend into the colonial scene as best they could. By the beginning of the 20th century, only the Pamunkey and Mattaponi peoples retained their reservations.

Today, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi reservations, located near West Point, have endured as two of the oldest in the United States. Many Virginia Indians were encouraged by those tribes' example of courage and determination, and, in the early 20th century, began to reorganize their tribes. Crafts, dances, oral tradition and other almost-forgotten aspects of the Powhatan Indian culture were shared with other Virginians. In 1983, the Virginia Council on Indians was established, consisting of nine tribal representatives and three at-large members. In the same session of the General Assembly, six tribes were officially recognized; by 1990, two more tribes were given official status. Today, the Virginia Indian community is a strong one which takes pride in its heritage and responsibility for teaching others about its unique culture, which impacts on the life of every American today.


A Powhatan chief, born about 1545, died in 1644. 
He captured Capt. John Smith shortly after the arrival of the latter in Virginia, and took him to his brother, the head-chief Powhatan (q. v.). Some time after his release, Smith, in order to change the temper of the Indians, who jeered at the starving Englishmen and refused to sell them food, went with a band of his men to Opechancanough's camp under pretense of buying corn, seized the chief by the hair, and at the point of a pistol marched him off a prisoner. The Pamunkey brought boat-loads of provisions to ransom their chief, who thereafter entertained more respect and deeper hatred for the English. While Powhatan lived Opechancanough was held in restraint, but after his brother's death in 1618 he became the dominant leader of the nation, although his other brother, Opitchapan, was the nominal head-chief.

He plotted the destruction of the colony so secretly that only one Indian, the Christian Chanco, revealed the conspiracy, but too late to save the people of Jamestown, who at a sudden signal were massacred, Mar. 22, 1622, by the natives deemed to be entirely friendly. 
In the period of intermittent hostilities that followed, duplicity and treachery marked the actions of both whites and Indians. In the last year of his life, Opechancanough, taking advantage of the dissensions of the English, planned their extermination. The aged chief was borne into battle on a litter when the Powhatan, on Apr. 18, 1644, fell upon the settlements and massacred 300 persons, then as suddenly desisted and fled far from the colony, frightened perhaps by some omen. Opechancanough was taken prisoner to Jamestown, where one of his guards treacherously shot him, inflicting a wound of which he subsequently died.

The Civil War at Jamestown

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The Civil War Years

Jamestown's strategic location was important to English colonists in 1607, and there was renewed military interest in the island during the American Civil War. In 1861 Confederates initially regarded it as the best defensive point along the James River for defending Richmond, the South's capital and industrial center.

William Allen was a wealthy Virginian whose properties included Jamestown. He occupied the island that April with troops he raised at his own expense. Allen soon was joined by Catesby ap Roger Jones, a naval lieutenant, who was directed to construct and command artillery batteries. Before the year ended, Jamestown had five earthworks that controlled river traffic and protected the island. during the summer two infantry units boosted Confederate strength to its maximum of more that 1,200 men. Additional fortifications soon were erected below Jamestown and many of these troops were transferred to them. As the island's military might declined, Jones conducted vital ordnance and armor test for the CSS Virginia (formally Merrimack) prior to his November reassignment to Richmond.

Jones's successor was Major John R. C. Coxe, who was joined by local militia. Allen bolstered Jamestown's dwindling numbers during spring 1862 by raising an artillery battalion. When Major General George B. McClellan launched his Peninsula campaign and besieged Yorktown in April, the Confederates responded by evacuation the middle Virginia Peninsula, including Jamestown, on the night of May 3. With Jamestown safely behind Union lines, the large Federal transport fleet anchored there throughout the summer. Telegraph wires were run from Jamestown to Fort Monroe, which was connected to Washington, thereby improving communications between McClellan and the War Department. After McClellan's withdrawal from the Peninsula in late August, the navy continued to patrol the river.

While under Federal occupation Jamestown was a rendezvous point for escaped slaves, many of whom were evacuated by the navy. "When the army vacated the island, William Allen's slaves burned the eighteeth-century mansion there, known as the Ambler house. That October Allen had five men visit Jamestown at assess its condition, and three were killed by the rebellious blacks.

Jamestown was virtually ignored until 1863 when it became part of a Confederate diversionary movement during the Suffolk campaign. It played a comparable role for Federals in their feint against Richmond during the Gettysburg campaign.

In August 1863 Jamestown assumed a new role as an army outpost for Williamsburg, which was the most advanced Union position along the Peninsula. Companies from all service branches and U.S. Colored Troops were rotated to observe the river and Confederate guerrillas. The pace livened during the Bermuda Hundred campaign when the telegraph was reinstalled. The Petersburg campaign required improvements in June 1864. Accordingly, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant extended telegraph communications with a mile-long underwater cable from Jamestown to Swann's Point and then ran wires to Fort Powhatan which was linked to his headquarters at City Point. When guerrillas cut wires, Grant thwarted them by running an underwater cable twenty-two miles from Jamestown to Fort Powhatan. As the Petersburg campaign wore into the autumn and winter months, Union troops whose terms of enlistment had expired were sent to Jamestown to guard the island and await transportation north. Guerrilla activity occasionally ruptured the tranquility early in 1865. After General Robert E. Lee's army surrendered at Appomattox, Jamestown was a location for administering the Oath of Allegiance to former Confederates.

Today most of the sites associated with the Civil War have blended into the natural and colonial landscape. The eighteenth-century Ambler house a that serviced Confederate officers was rebuilt but burned again three decades later. Its ruins stand in New Towne. Only the wooden T-shaped outline remains from the busy wharf that received Southern supplies, and the bridge that connected the island to the mainland has totally vanished.

Of the five Confederate earthworks on Jamestown Island, only two are substantially intact and accessible to visitors. Fort Pocahontas, which stands adjacent to the seventeenth-century church tower, was the first and most significant one for defending Richmond during the early months of the war. Toward the center of the island is the Square Redoubt. Located along the modern auto tour, it once guarded the military road and protected Jamestown's interior against boat attack via Passmore Creek, just opposite the fort. Earthworks near Goose Hill and Black Point were erected to strengthen the river defenses, while a fifth one guarded the bridge and was supported by an infantry lunette. These latter fortifications no longer are extant or are hidden by marshy terrain, mush as Jamestown's Civil War history has been overshadowed by the dynamic role it played in founding a nation.

The Role of Women at Jamestown

"...the plantation can never florish till families be planted and the respect of wives and children fix the people on the soil."

Sir Edwin Sandys, Treasurer           
Virginia Company of London, 1620

THE LURE OF VIRGINIA: GOD, GLORY, AND GOLD. These were the forces that lured the first English settlers in 1606 to the new and untamed wilderness of Virginia. They carried with them the Church of England and the hopes to convert the Native Americans to Protestant Christianity. They wanted to establish an English hold on the New World and exploit its resources for use in the mother country. Some desired to find its fabled gold and riches and others longed to discover a northwest passage to the treasures of the Orient.


The settlers were directed by the Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock commercial organization. The company's charter provided the rights of trade, exploration and settlement in Virginia. The first settlers that established Jamestown in 1607 were all male. Although some, like historian, Alf J. Mapp Jr. believe that "...it was thought that women had no place in the grim and often grisly business of subduing a continent..." the omission of women in the first group of settlers may simply mean that they were not, as yet, necessary.


The company's first priority in Virginia was possibly to build an outpost, explore and determine the best use of Virginia's resources for commercial profits. The exclusion of women in the first venture supports the possibility that it was an exploratory expedition rather than a colonizing effort. According to historian Philip A. Bruce, it is possible that had colonization not been required to achieve their commercial goals, the company might have delayed sending permanent settlers for a number of years.


Once the commercial resources were discovered, the company's revenues would continue only if the outpost became permanent. For Jamestown to survive, many unstable conditions had to be overcome.

1. A clash of cultures existed between the Englishmen and the Native Americans with whom they soon found to need to trade as well as to Christianize.

2. Settlers were unprepared for the rugged frontier life in a wilderness.

3. Many settlers intended to remain in Virginia only long enough to make their fortune and then return home to England.


Providing the stability needed for Jamestown's survival was the indispensable role played by Virginia women. Their initial arrival in 1608 and throughout the next few years contributed greatly to Jamestown's ultimate success. Lord Bacon, a member of His Majesty's Council for Virginia, stated about 1620 that "When a plantation grows to strength, then it is time to plant with women as well as with men; that the plantation may spread into generations, and not be ever pieced from without."


The first woman to foster stability in Jamestown was not an English woman but a native Virginian. Pocahontas, the daughter of Chief Powhatan, was among the first Native Americans to bring food to the early settlers. She was eventually educated and baptized in the English Religion and in 1614 married settler John Rolfe. This early Virginia woman helped create the "Peace of Pocahontas," which for several years, appeased the clash between the two cultures.

One of the first English women to arrive and help provide a home life in the rugged Virginia wilderness was young Anne Burras. Anne was the personal maid of Mistress Forrest who came to Jamestown in 1608 to join her husband. Although the fate of Mistress Forrest remains uncertain, that of Anne Burras is well known. Her marriage to carpenter John Laydon three months after her arrival became the first Jamestown wedding. While Jamestown fought the become a permanent settlement, Anne and John began a struggle to raise a family of four daughters in the new Virginia wilderness. Certainly, Anne and her family began the stabilization process which would eventually spur the colony's growth.

Another young woman, Temperance Flowerdew, arrived with 400 ill-fated settlers in the fall of 1609. The following winter, dubbed the "Starving Time," saw over 80 percent of Jamestown succumb to sickness, disease and starvation. Temperance survived this season of hardship but soon returned to England. By 1619, Temperance returned to Jamestown with her new husband, Governor George Yeardley. After his death in 1627, she married Governor Francis West and remained in Virginia until her death in 1628. Her many years in Virginia as a wife and mother helped fill the gap in Jamestown's early family life.

In July 1619, settlers were granted acres of land dependent on the time and situation of their arrival. This was the beginning of private property for Virginia men. These men, however, asked that land also be allotted for their wives who were just as deserving "...because that in a newe plantation it is not knowen whether man or woman be the most necessary."

The Virginia Company of London seemed to agree that women were indeed quite necessary. They hoped to anchor their discontented bachelors to the soil of Virginia by using women as a stabilizing factor. They ordered in 1619 that "...a fit hundredth might be sent of women, maids young and uncorrupt, to make wives to the inhabitants and by that means to make the men there more settled and less movable...." Ninety arrived in 1620 and the company records reported in May of 1622 that, "57 young maids have been sent to make wives for the planters, divers of which were well married before the coming away of the ships."

Jamestown would not have survived as a permanent settlement without the daring women who were willing to leave behind their English homes and face the challenges of a strange new land. These women created a sense of stability in the untamed wilderness of Virginia. They helped the settlers see Virginia not just as a temporary place for profit or adventure, but as a country in which to forge a new home.

First Residents of Jamestown~Three Ships

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On May 13, 1607 three English ships the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery with approximately 144 settlers and sailors, will land and plant the first permanent English colony in North America. Established by the Virginia Company of London this settlement would be called Jamestown, after king James I. On June 15, 1607 the fleet commander Captain Christopher Newport will return to England leaving 104 settlers. Taken from "The Proceedings - of the English Colony in Virginia since their First beginning form England in the Year of Our Lord 1606 till this Present 1612, with All their Accidents that befell them in their Journeys and Discoveries" the following is a list of the names of those known 104 settlers.

Adling (or Adding), Henry - Gentleman
Alicock (or Alikock), Jeremy (or Jerome) - Gentleman - died August 14, 1607
Archer, Gabriel - Captain, Gentleman - died Winter 1609-1610
Asbie, John - died August 6, 1607
Beast (or Best), Benjamin - Gentleman - died September 5, 1607
Behothland (or Behethand, Beheland), Robert - Gentleman - died 1628
Brinto (or Brinton), Edward - Mason, Soldier
Brookes, Edward - Gentleman - died April 7, 1607
Brookes, John - Gentleman
Browne, Edward - Gentleman - died August 15, 1607
Brunfield, James - Boy
Bruster (or Brewster), William - Gentleman - died August 10, 1607
Capper, John
Cassen (or Cawsen), George - Laborer - died December 1607
Cassen, Thomas - Laborer
Cassen, William - Laborer
Clovill, Ustis (or Eustace) - Gentleman - died June 7, 1607
Collier, Samuel - Boy - died 1622
Cooke, Roger - Gentleman
Cooper (or Cowper), Thomas - Barber
Crofts, Richard - Gentleman
Dixon, Richard - Gentleman
Dods, John - Laborer, Soldier
Emry, Thomas - Carpenter - died December 1607
Fenton, Robert - Gentleman
Flower (or Flowre), George - Gentleman - died August 9, 1607
Ford, Robert - Gentleman
Frith, Richard - Gentleman
Galthrope (or Halthrop, Calthrop), Stephen - Gentleman - died August 15, 1607
Garret, William - Bricklayer
Golding (or Goulding), George - Laborer
Gosnold (or Gosnoll), Anthony, (Cousin) - Gentleman - died January 7, 1609
Gosnold (or Gosnoll), Anthony, (Cousin) - Gentleman
Gosnold (or Gosnoll), Bartholomew - Captain, Councilor - died August 16, 1607
Gower (or Gore), Thomas - Gentleman - died August 16, 1607
Harrington, Edward - Gentleman - died August 24, 1607
Herd, John - Bricklayer
Houlgrave, Nicholas - Gentleman
Hunt, Robert - Master, Preacher, Gentleman - died before 1609
Jacob, Thomas - Sergeant - died September 4, 1607
Johnson, William - Laborer
Kendall, George - Captain, Councilor - died December 1, 1607
Kingston (or Kiniston), Ellis - Gentleman - died September 18, 1607
Laxton (or Laxon), William - Carpenter
Laydon, John - Laborer, Carpenter
Loue (or Love), William - Tailor, Soldier
Martin, John, (Senior), Captain, Councilor - died June 1632
Martin, John, (Junior), Gentleman - died August 18, 1607
Martin, George - Gentleman
Midwinter, Francis - Gentleman - died August 14, 1607
Morish (or Morris), Edward - Gentleman, Corporal - died August 14, 1607
Morton, Matthew - Sailor
Mounslie, Thomas - Laborer - died August 17, 1607
Mouton, Thomas - Gentleman - died September 19, 1607
Mutton, Richard - Boy
Peacock (or Peacocke, Pecock), Nathaniel - Boy
Penington, Robert - Gentleman - died August 18, 1607
Percy (or Percie, Percye), George - Master, Gentleman - died 1632
Pickhouse (or Piggas), Drue - Gentleman - died August 19, 1607
Posing (or Pising), Edward - Carpenter
Powell, Nathaniel - Gentleman - died March 22, 1622
Profit, Jonas - Fisherman
Ratcliffe (or Sicklemore), John - Captain, Councilor - died November 1609
Read, James - Blacksmith, Soldier - died March 13, 1622
Robinson, John (or Jehu) - Gentleman - died December 1607
Rods (or Rodes, Roods), William - Laborer - died August 27, 1607
Sands, Thomas - Gentleman
Short, John - Gentleman
Short, Edward - Laborer - died August 1607
Simons, Richard - Gentleman - died September 18, 1607
Skot (or Scot), Nicholas - Drummer
Small, Robert - Carpenter
Smethes, William - Gentleman
Smith (or Smyth), John - Captain, Councilor - died June 1631
Snarsbrough, Francis - Gentleman
Stevenson, John - Gentleman
Studley (or Stoodie), Thomas - Gentleman - died August 28, 1607
Tankard, William - Gentleman
Tavin (or Tauin), Henry - Laborer
Throgmorton (or Throgmortine), Kellam (or Kenelme) - Gentleman - died August 26, 1607
Todkill, Anas - Soldier
Vnger (or Unger), William - Laborer
Waller (or Waler), John - Gentleman - died August 24, 1607
Walker, George - Gentleman
Webbe, Thomas - Gentleman
White, William - Laborer
Wilkinson, William - Surgeon
Wingfield, Edward Maria - Master, Councilor President - died 1613
Wotton, Thomas - Gentleman, Surgeon, - died April 28, 1638

"With diverse others to the number of 105"

Mariners and others known to have been with the expedition that established Jamestown on May 13, 1607.

Browne, Oliver - Mariner
Clarke, Charles - Mariner
Collson (or Cotson), John - Mariner
Crookdeck, John - Mariner
Deale, Jeremy - Mariner
Fitch, Mathew - Mariner - died July 1609
Genoway, Richard - Mariner
Godword, Thomas - Mariner
Jackson, Robert - Mariner
Markham, Robert - Mariner
Nelson, Francys - Captain - died Winter 1612-1613
Poole, Jonas - Mariner - died 1612
Skynner, Thomas - Mariner
Turnbrydge (or Turbridge), Thomas - Mariner
Newport, Christopher - Captain, Councilor - died 1617
Tyndall, Robert - Mariner, Gunner
White, Benjamyn - Mariner

There were 144 persons in the expedition including those 104 who remained in Virginia.

"What happened to the three Jamestown ships?"

An attempt to answer this simple but intriguing question has led to the small amount of information available from the limited sources. The individual ship most inquired after is the Discovery, the smallest, which stayed behind in Virginia when the other two, the Susan Constant and the Godspeed, went back to England on a re-supply mission.

The first reference to what may be the Discovery of Jamestown fame is dated 1602. At that time, the East India Company sent out two small vessels, the Discovery under Captain George Waymouth and the Godspeed under Captain John Drew. Their orders were to find a northwest passage to China. It was a non-productive trip with Waymouth blaming the failure on a mutiny by the crew in the latter part of July. The ship returned to Dartmouth on August 5, 1602. The ships' names, along with their descriptions as small ships, could well make them the two smaller Jamestown ships.

There is also a reference in E.K. Chatterton's English Seamen and the Colonization of America to a Discovery of 26 tons with a crew of 13 men and boys. This ship, under the command of Master William Brown, sailed in company with the Speedwell in 1603 for an exploration voyage in the New World. Their course took them by the Azores. June found them in the islands south of Cape Cod working their way down to Long Island Sound. By September, they were back in Bristol with a load of sassafras.

Brown, in his Genesis of the United States, states that these two ships "were the same vessels which returned from Cherry Island, August 15, 1606....It is possible that the Discovery was the Discovery of Pring's voyage to our northern coast in 1603."

The Discovery of our concern is the one of twenty tons burden left behind at Jamestown Colony when the Susan Constant and the Godspeed sailed for England on June 22, 1607. Captain John Smith used this Discovery to trade with the Indians when he was not strong enough to raid them. In a council held on June 13, 1610, "Sir George Summers proposed to lead a two ship expedition to the Bermuda's to obtain a six months provisions for Jamestown." Six days later, Summers, in the Patience (a Bermuda built pinnace of thirty tons) and Captain Argall in the Discovery "fell with the tide" and left Cape Henry astern. Contrary winds separated them and Argall made for Cape Cod, where he fished for several days. With a fairly good catch, Argall made a landfall off the Virginia Capes on June 30, 1610, at 7:00 p.m.

Argall also traded on the Oquicho River in the same year, when he obtained nearly 400 bushels of grain from the King of Patawomeck. The winter of 1610-1611 found Argall, still in command of the Discovery but under the orders of Lord de La Warr, "on a trading voyage up the Potomac where he is said to have found some mines of antimony and lead, and a very profitable trade with the Indians." This seems to be the last definitive trace of our Discovery.

In 1612, however, Sir Thomas Bulton led two ships to explore the Northwest, the Resolution and the Discovery. They spent the winter in the northland and returned to England in the Autumn of 1613. It is doubtful if this is the subject Discovery. Also, in June of 1622, Captain Ralph Hamor was operating in the Potomac in a pinnace of unknown identity in company with the "Barque Elizabeth" which was under command of a Captain Spelman. From 1622 onward, there is frequent mention of ships with the name of Discovery but they are listed as 40 tons or larger. The majority of these references are to a 60 ton Discovery under a Captain Thomas Jones. This ship belonged to the Adventurers of Southampton Hundred.

Robert G.C. Fee, the Naval Architect for the Newport News Shipbuilding Company, in his study for the construction of the full scale replicas of the three Jamestown ships, states that:

The Susan Constant and the Godspeed made several roundtrip passages from England to Jamestown. Their services, after leaving the charter of the Virginia Company, is unknown. However, as they served as colliers before, it may be presumed they returned to this duty. The Discovery was purchased from the Muscovy Company and remained in Virginia waters after her arrival in 1607. It is confirmed in records that this small vessel sailed up many bays and rivers along the coast. It was from this vessel that the area of Cape Cod was charted in 1609. It is believed these charts, later obtained in England, assisted the Mayflower upon her arrival in the Cape Cod area in 1620. The ultimate disposal of the Discovery is unknown.

This summation seems to be the definitive answer, at least as far as we can now determine, as to "What happened to the three ships?"

First Legislative Assembly

As citizens of the United States of America, it is important for us to rediscover the earlier expressions of our constitutional ideals in Colonial Virginia. Though many of our ideas about representative government developed from the English model of Parliament, the American tradition of representative government actually began in Jamestown. The experience there would later influence the political development of other English colonies in the New World.

We shall first briefly review some of the significant events leading up to the legislative assembly of 1619; second, we shall discuss the distinguishing features of that historic meeting, which took place in the church during the hot summer months of July and August; and finally, we shall comment on the significance of the first assembly as a precedent for many of the institutional values represented in the U.S. Constitution.

The first charter of the Virginia Company, signed by King James I on April 10, 1606, planted the first seed for the future evolution of our constitutional values. The charter proclaimed that:

all and everie the parsons being our subjects which shall dwell and inhabit within everie or anie of the saide severall Colonies and plantacions and everie or anie of theire children . . . shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises and immunities as if they had been abiding and borne within this our realme of England.

Indeed, one of the major grievances of our ancestors at the dawn of the Revolution was that England failed to grant the colonists the same rights as those enjoyed by the citizens residing in the mother country. In these simple words -- buried in a document concerned mostly with the rights of the proprietors -- lay the real authority for the first legislative assembly on the American continent to take place.

Between the years of 1606 and 1619, two significant trends were evolving that would later determine the political character of the colony. First was the growing recognition that a colonial settlement should be more than just a commercial enterprise. Unlike the Popham colony in present-day Maine (which was granted under the same charter of 1606), Jamestown showed promise of developing into a permanent settlement, and men such as Sir Edwin Sandys soon grasped the idea that in order to have a prosperous colony, one must also have a populated colony with women and children, and not just eager adventurers in constant need of supplies from home.

The second trend was that the power to make laws regulating the colony was becoming more and more decentralized. In 1609 the King, unwilling to shoulder the financial burden of the colony from the royal treasury, signed a second charter which allowed for the sale of company stocks to the public. James I thereby reluctantly surrendered his absolute control over the colony in an effort to solicit the support of as many investors as possible. This trend towards decentralization of power did not, at first, result in greater rights and privileges for the colonists. The rigid punitory code known as "Laws Divine, Morall and Martiall," which began around 1611, was, if anything, a major setback. By 1618, however, martial law was abolished, the legislative assembly created, and some of the power of government finally trickled into the hands of the settlers. Together, the two trends explained above accelerated the overall trend towards a colony less commercial, and more political in character.

Thus in April 1619 Governor George Yeardley arrived, announcing that the Company, in an effort to improve the social conditions of the colony, had voted for the abolition of martial law and the creation of a legislative assembly. This assembly would be held no more than once a year, "wherat were to be present the Governor and Counsell with two Burgesses from each Plantation freely to be elected by the inhabitants thereof." The mandatory presence of the Governor and the appointed Council somewhat restricted freedom of debate.

The names of the settlements and their elected representatives were -

For James citty: Captaine William Powell and Ensigne William Spense;

For Charles citty: Samuel Sharpe and Samual Jordan; For Citty of Henricus; Thomas Dowse and John Polentine;

For Kiccowtan: Captaine William Tucker and William Capp;

For Martin Brandon-Capt. John Martin's Plantation: Mr. Thomas Davis and Mr. Robert Stacy; For Smythe's Hundred: Captaine Thomas Graves and Mr. Walter Shelley;

For Martin's Hundred: Mr. John Boys and John Jackson;

For Argall's guiffe: Mr. (Captaine Thomas) Pawlett and Mr. (Edward) Gourgaing;

For Flowerdieu Hundred: Ensigne (Edmund)Roffingham and Mr. (John)Jefferson;

For Captaine Lawne's Plantation: Captaine Christopher Lawne and Ensigne Washer;

For Captaine Warde's Plantation: Captaine Warde and Lieutenant Gibbes.

Other members of this assembly included John Pory as Secretary and Speaker, John Twine as Clerk of the Assembly and Thomas Pierse as Sergeant at Armes. The Governor's Council consisted of the Governor, John Pory, Captain Frances West, John Rolfe, Captain Nathaniel Powell and Samuel Maycock.

The 22 burgesses, together with Governor Yeardley and the Council, met on July 30, 1619 in the church at Jamestown, because it was "the most convenient place . . . they could finde to sitt in." For the important role of Speaker the assembly elected John Pory, who had at one time served as a member of English Parliament.

The weather was unbearably hot and humid, and one burgess died during the session; nevertheless, the assembly did manage to cover several items on the agenda during its brief, six-day meeting. First, the assembly petitioned for some minor changes in the settlement of land tenure. Then, the assembly approved the "greate Charter" of 1618, which had allowed for its creation. Next, the assembly adopted measures against drunkenness, idleness, and gambling. Other legislation discussed on Monday, August 2, included protection against the Indians, baptizing the Indians, and planting trees and crops. On August 3, the assembly discussed "a thirde sorte of laws suche as might proceed out of every man's priviate conceipt." Here lies the power of the individual burgess to initiate legislation, and not simply to pass those laws proposed from above. The burgesses initiated and passed more legislation regulating relations with the Indians and the personal affairs of the colonists. The assembly even passed a law requiring compulsory church attendance. Also on August 3 the assembly took on a judicial character as it tried one of the servants of a landowner for improper conduct. Finally, on August 4, the assembly approved its first tax law. This was a poll tax requiring that every man and servant in the colony pay the officers of the assembly "one pound of the best Tobacco" for their services during this hot, midsummer season.

As the assembly made preparations to close its first meeting, John Pory, in his final petition on behalf of the assembly, asked the Company in London to excuse the assembly for its rather abrupt decision to adjourn the meeting early. More importantly, in his letter one can detect a trace of ambition to expand the power of the assembly:

Their last humble suite is, that the said Counsell and Company would be pleased, so soon as they shall finde it convenient, to make good their promise sett downe at the conclusion of their commission for establishing the Counsel of Estate and the General Assembly, namely, that they will give us power to allowe or disallowe of their orders of Courte, as his Majesty hath given them power to allowe or to reject our laws.

He even went so far as to warn the Council and Company against the danger of rebellion and anarchy. Fully aware of the power of the Council to accept or reject the laws passed by the assembly, Pory pleaded with the Company "not to take it in ill parte of these laws which we have now brought to light . . . for otherwise this people would in shorte time growe so insolent, as they would shake off all government, and there would be no living among them."

Thus concluded the first legislative assembly ever to take place in English-speaking America. It was of course a modest beginning, and the capacity of the First Assembly to serve as a precedent for later constitutional developments in America was restricted in two ways: first, the assembly was not modeled after Parliament, but rather after the assembly of Virginia Company stockholders in London (similar to a board of directors); and second, any legislation passed by the assembly was subject to unrestrained Company veto.

The First Assembly, nevertheless, "inaugurated a new era in colonial government," one that would later blossom into a fully developed constitutional system in which the preservation of peace and order, as John Pory remarked, would lay in the foundations of representative government. Let us conclude with one of Thomas Jefferson's comments in a letter to James Madison, who, at that time, had just returned to Virginia from the Philadelphia Convention. The thrust of his statement somewhat resembles that of his predecessor, John Pory:

. . . And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. This last is the most certain, and the most legitimate engine of government . . . Enable them to see that it is in their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them.

First Representitives Assembly

The first legislative assembly in English North America took place July 30 through August 4, 1619 in the choir of the Jamestown Church. This first House of Burgesses consisted of Company appointed Governor Sir George Yeardley, a six man Company appointed governor's counsil and two representatives from each of the eleven surrounding settlements or plantations. These representatives were chosen by election from among the settlers of each plantation.

Members of the council were:

     Mr. Samuel Macock
     Mr. John Rolfe
     Mr. John Pory
     Captain Nathaniel Powell
     Captain Francis West
     Reverend William Wickham


John Pory was designated secretary and speaker; John Twine, clerke of the General assembly; and Thomas Pierse, Sergeant of Arms.

Plantations and their representatives were:

     For James City
        Captain William Powell
        Ensign William Spense

     For Charles City
        Samuel Sharpe
        Samuel Jordan

     For the City of Henricus
        Thomas Dowse
        John Plentine

     For Kiccowtan
        Captaine William Tucker
        William Capp

     For Martin-Brandon, Captine John Martins Plantation
        Mr. Thomas Davis
        Mr. Robert Stacy

     For Smythes Hundred
        Captain Thomas Graves
        Mr. Walter Shelley

     For Martins Hundred (also known as Wolstenholme)
        Mr. John Boys
        John Jackson

     For Argals Guifte
        Mr. (Thomas) Pawlett
        Mr. (Edward) Gourgainy

     For Flowerdieu Hundred
        Ensign (Edmund) Rossingham
        Mr. (John) Jefferson

     For Captain Lawnes Plantation
        Captain Christophor Lawne
        Ensign Washer

     For captain Wardes Plantation
        Captain (John) Warde
        Lieutenant (John) Gibbes


Like the early struggles of the colony itself this first assembly suffered. It was hot and humid and many of the Burgesses were ill from the extreme temperatures. Indeed one Burgess had already succumbed to the heat as it was reported that on August 1st one Mr. Shelley of Smyths Hundred had died. The Governor decided that this first assembly would end after six days, on August 4th.

Although it was not the intent, the effects of this first representive assembly would frame the foundations of our present government - where citizens can elect representatives to speak for them: a government "of the people, by the people and for the people

Nathaniel Bacon~Bacon's Rebellion

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Nathaniel Bacon (January 2, 1647 %u2013 October 26, 1676) was an early plantation owner of the Virginia Colony, famous as the instigator of Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, which collapsed when Bacon himself died of dysentery.

While the exact year of Bacon's birth is debated, frequently reported as either 1646 or 1647, he was born in the 1640s, in Suffolk, England. Bacon was educated at the University of Cambridge, and left England for the Virginia colony in 1673, in response to a property dispute with his wife's family.

When he arrived in Virginia, Bacon settled on the frontier near Jamestown, Virginia, and was appointed to the council of Governor William Berkeley

Bacon's Rebellion was probably one of the most confusing yet intriguing chapters in Jamestown's history.

For many years, historians considered the Virginia Rebellion of 1676 to be the first stirring of revolutionary sentiment in America, which culminated in the American Revolution almost exactly one hundred years later. However, in the past few decades, based on findings from a more distant viewpoint, historians have come to understand Bacon's Rebellion as a power struggle between two stubborn, selfish leaders rather than a glorious fight against tyranny.

The central figures in Bacon's Rebellion were opposites. Governor Sir William Berkeley, seventy when the crisis began, was a veteran of the English Civil Wars, a frontier Indian fighter, a King's favorite in his first term as Governor in the 1640's, and a playwright and scholar. His name and reputation as Governor of Virginia were well respected. Berkeley's antagonist, young Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., was actually Berkeley's cousin by marriage. Lady Berkeley, Frances Culpeper, was Bacon's cousin. Bacon was a troublemaker and schemer whose father sent him to Virginia in the hope that he would mature. Although disdainful of labor, Bacon was intelligent and eloquent. Upon Bacon's arrival, Berkeley treated his young cousin with respect and friendship, giving him both a substantial land grant and a seat on the council in 1675.

Bacon's Rebellion can be attributed to a myriad of causes, all of which led to dissent in the Virginia colony. Economic problems, such as declining tobacco prices, growing commercial competition from Maryland and the Carolinas, an increasingly restricted English market, and the rising prices from English manufactured goods (mercantilism) caused problems for the Virginians. There were heavy English losses in the latest series of naval wars with the Dutch and, closer to home, there were many problems caused by weather. Hailstorms, floods, dry spells, and hurricanes rocked the colony all in the course of a year and had a damaging effect on the colonists. These difficulties encouraged the colonists to find a scapegoat against whom they could vent their frustrations and place the blame for their misfortunes.

The colonists found their scapegoat in the form of the local Indians. The trouble began in July 1675 with a raid by the Doeg Indians on the plantation of Thomas Mathews, located in the Northern Neck section of Virginia near the Potomac River. Several of the Doegs were killed in the raid, which began in a dispute over the nonpayment of some items Mathews had apparently obtained from the tribe. The situation became critical when, in a retaliatory strike by the colonists, they attacked the wrong Indians, the Susquehanaugs, which caused large scale Indian raids to begin.

To stave off future attacks and to bring the situation under control, Governor Berkeley ordered an investigation into the matter. He set up what was to be a disastrous meeting between the parties, which resulted in the murders of several tribal chiefs. Throughout the crisis, Berkeley continually pleaded for restraint from the colonists. Some, including Bacon, refused to listen. Nathaniel Bacon disregarded the Governor's direct orders by seizing some friendly Appomattox Indians for "allegedly" stealing corn. Berkeley reprimanded him, which caused the disgruntled Virginians to wonder which man had taken the right action. It was here the battle lines were about to be drawn.

A further problem was Berkeley's attempt to find a compromise. Berkeley's policy was to preserve the friendship and loyalty of the subject Indians while assuring the settlers that they were not hostile. To meet his first objective, the Governor relieved the local Indians of their powder and ammunition. To deal with the second objective, Berkeley called the "Long Assembly" in March 1676. Despite being judged corrupt, the assembly declared war on all "bad" Indians and set up a strong defensive zone around Virginia with a definite chain of command. The Indian wars which resulted from this directive led to the high taxes to pay the army and to the general discontent in the colony for having to shoulder that burden.

The Long Assembly was accused of corruption because of its ruling regarding trade with the Indians. Not coincidentally, most of the favored traders were friends of Berkeley. Regular traders, some of whom had been trading independently with the local Indians for generations, were no longer allowed to trade individually. A government commission was established to monitor trading among those specially chosen and to make sure the Indians were not receiving any arms and ammunition. Bacon, one of the traders adversely affected by the Governor's order, accused Berkeley publicly of playing favorites. Bacon was also resentful because Berkeley had denied him a commission as a leader in the local militia. Bacon became the elected "General" of a group of local volunteer Indian fighters, because he promised to bear the cost of the campaigns.

After Bacon drove the Pamunkeys from their nearby lands in his first action, Berkeley exercised one of the few instances of control over the situation that he was to have, by riding to Bacon's headquarters at Henrico with 300 "well armed" gentlemen. Upon Berkeley's arrival, Bacon fled into the forest with 200 men in search of a place more to his liking for a meeting. Berkeley then issued two petitions declaring Bacon a rebel and pardoning Bacon's men if they went home peacefully. Bacon would then be relieved of the council seat that he had won for his actions that year, but he was to be given a fair trial for his disobedience.

Bacon did not, at this time, comply with the Governor's orders. Instead he next attacked the camp of the friendly Occaneecheee Indians on the Roanoke River (the border between Virginia and North Carolina), and took their store of beaver pelts.

In the face of a brewing catastrophe, Berkeley, to keep the peace, was willing to forget that Bacon was not authorized to take the law into his own hands. Berkeley agreed to pardon Bacon if he turned himself in, so he could be sent to England and tried before King Charles II. It was the House of Burgesses, however, who refused this alternative, insisting that Bacon must acknowledge his errors and beg the Governor's forgiveness. Ironically, at the same time, Bacon was then elected to the Burgesses by supportive local land owners sympathetic to his Indian campaigns. Bacon, by virtue of this election, attended the landmark Assembly of June 1676. It was during this session that he was mistakenly credited with the political reforms that came from this meeting. The reforms were prompted by the population, cutting through all class lines. Most of the reform laws dealt with reconstructing the colony's voting regulations, enabling freemen to vote, and limiting the number of years a person could hold certain offices in the colony. Most of these laws were already on the books for consideration well before Bacon was elected to the Burgesses. Bacon's only cause was his campaign against the Indians.

Upon his arrival for the June Assembly, Bacon was captured, taken before Berkeley and council and was made to apologize for his previous actions. Berkeley immediately pardoned Bacon and allowed him to take his seat in the assembly. At this time, the council still had no idea how much support was growing in defense of Bacon. The full awareness of that support hit home when Bacon suddenly left the Burgesses in the midst of heated debate over Indian problems. He returned with his forces to surround the statehouse. Once again Bacon demanded his commission, but Berkeley called his bluff and demanded that Bacon shoot him.

"Here shoot me before God, fair mark shoot."

Bacon refused. Berkeley granted Bacon's previous volunteer commission but Bacon refused it and demanded that he be made General of all forces against the Indians, which Berkeley emphatically refused and walked away. Tensions ran high as the screaming Bacon and his men surrounded the statehouse, threatening to shoot several onlooking Burgesses if Bacon was not given his commission. Finally after several agonizing moments, Berkeley gave in to Bacon's demands for campaigns against the Indians without government interference. With Berkeley's authority in shambles, Bacon's brief tenure as leader of the rebellion began.

Even in the midst of these unprecedented triumphs, however, Bacon was not without his mistakes. He allowed Berkeley to leave Jamestown in the aftermath of a surprise Indian attack on a nearby settlement. He also confiscated supplies from Gloucester and left them vulnerable to possible Indian attacks. Shortly after the immediate crisis subsided, Berkeley briefly retired to his home at Green Springs and washed his hands of the entire mess. Nathaniel Bacon dominated Jamestown from July through September 1676. During this time, Berkeley did come out of his lethargy and attempt a coup, but support for Bacon was still too strong and Berkeley was forced to flee to Accomack County on the Eastern Shore.

Feeling that it would make his triumph complete, Bacon issued his "Declaration of the People" on July 30, 1676 which stated that Berkeley was corrupt, played favorites and protected the Indians for his own selfish purposes. Bacon also issued his oath which required the swearer to promise his loyalty to Bacon in any manner necessary (i.e., armed service, supplies, verbal support). Even this tight reign could not keep the tide from changing again. Bacon's fleet was first and finally secretly infiltrated by Berkeley's men and finally captured. This was to be the turning point in the conflict, because Berkeley was once again strong enough to retake Jamestown. Bacon then followed his sinking fortunes to Jamestown and saw it heavily fortified. He made several attempts at a siege, during which he kidnapped the wives of several of Berkeley's biggest supporters, including Mrs. Nathaniel Bacon Sr., and placed them upon the ramparts of his siege fortifications while he dug his position. Infuriated, Bacon burned Jamestown to the ground on September 19, 1676. (He did save many valuable records in the statehouse.) By now his luck had clearly run out with this extreme measure and he began to have trouble controlling his men's conduct as well as keeping his popular support. Few people responded to Bacon's appeal to capture Berkeley who had since returned to the Eastern Shore for safety reasons.

On October 26th, 1676, Bacon abruptly died of the "Bloodie Flux" and "Lousey Disease" (body lice). It is possible his soldiers burned his contaminated body because it was never found. (His death inspired this little ditty; Bacon is Dead I am sorry at my hart That lice and flux should take the hangman's part".)

Shortly after Bacon's death, Berkeley regained complete control and hanged the major leaders of the rebellion. He also seized rebel property without the benefit of a trial. All in all, twenty-three persons were hanged for their part in the rebellion. Later after an investigating committee from England issued its report to King Charles II, Berkeley was relieved of the Governorship and returned to England where he died in July 1677.

Thus ended one of the most unusual and complicated chapters in Jamestown's history. Could it have been prevented or was it time for inevitable changes to take place in the colonial governmental structure? Obviously, the laws were no longer effective as far as establishing clear policies to deal with problems or to instill new lifeblood into the colony's economy. The numerous problems that hit the colony before the Rebellion gave rise to the character of Nathaniel Bacon. Due to the nature of the uprising, Bacon's Rebellion does seem at first glance to be the beginnings of America's quest for Independence. But closer examination of the facts reveals what it really was: a power struggle between two very strong personalities. Between them they almost destroyed Jamestown.

Bacon's Castle

Arthur Allen first patented land which became a part of Bacon's Castle on March 14, 1650. He received 200 acres for the transportation of three servants and Alice Tucker, who either was, or would shortly become, his wife. Where Allen came from, why he came to Virginia, when he arrived, and how he obtained his money are all mysteries.

Arthur Allen first appeared in the records in 1650 with the land patent. He was appointed one of the Justices of the Peace for Surry County when it was formed in 1652, but that was the only political office he held. He was one of the wealthiest men in the county and may have been the wealthiest. He was probably one of the merchant-planters common in Tidewater Virginia in the mid-seventeenth century, as he was referred to as "Arthur Allen, merchant" in a deed in 1656.

On October 3, 1661, Allen purchased 500 acres from John and Peleg Dunstan, the sons and heirs of John Dunstan, between Lower Chippokes and Lawns Creek adjoining his other land. Four years later, Arthur Allen built his magnificent brick home, Bacon's Castle, on this tract. It was 1665 and he was 57 years old. Why he built such an elegant house in the wilds of Virginia when he was a relatively old man is unknown. Also unknown are the models Allen used to design his house, the names of the builders and workmen, and how long it took to complete the house.

Arthur Allen did not live to enjoy his house. He made his will on March 10, 1669 and died about three months later. He left Bacon's Castle to his son Arthur in entail. Presumably, he gave other legacies to his daughters Joan, Mary, and Elizabeth.

Arthur Allen II, usually known as Major Allen, was born about 1651. He was charged with the taxes for Bacon's Castle as early as 1670, and he was mentioned several times in the records in the next few years. In 1675, at the age of 24, Governor Berkeley appointed him a Justice of the Peace of the Surry County Court.

Allen was a firm supporter of the Governor in Bacon's Rebellion. Allen was present at the fateful court session of August 10, 1676 when the Surry justices voted to send supplies to the rebel Nathaniel Bacon. He must have opposed the decision and shortly thereafter he hid his silver, left his home and followed Governor Berkeley. He was at Jamestown when Bacon attacked and burned the town, and he later became one of Berkeley's most trusted officers. He was "Captain Allen" by later November 1676, and he led some of the attacks on the rebels from one of the ships in the York River in front of West Point.

In the meantime, much happened at Bacon's Castle. On Friday, September 15, 1676, John Finley, Allen's overseer, returned home on horseback from Jamestown where he had been visiting with Allen. Joseph Rogers, one of Bacon's supporters, arrested him almost within sight of Bacon's Castle. Rogers questioned Finely, then released him. Before Finley rode half a mile further on, Rogers and other Baconian supporters re-arrested Finley, disarmed him, and stole his horse. In time, Finley was sent to Charles City County where he was imprisoned for the next 11 weeks.

Three days later, on September 18th, a Monday evening, 70 of Bacon's followers, led by William Rookings, Arthur Long (Allen's brother-in-law), Robert Burgess, Joseph Rogers and William Simmons seized, occupied and garrisoned Bacon's Castle. They went about with a military bearing complete with officer's ranks (Rookings was Commander, Rogers was Lieutenant, Long was Captain, Simmons was Ensign) and colors. They wrought havoc both inside and outside the house while they remained there. They shot and ate some of Allen's cattle, ground his wheat into meal in a hand mill and trampled his crops of wheat, tobacco and grain into the ground.

The Baconian Rebels also plundered the house and stole (among other items) three fine saddles, some bridles, 22 pairs of fine dowlas sheets, six pairs of new Holland sheets, 56 pillow cases (most of them new), 24 fine napkins, two table cloths, 24 fine Holland dowlas aprons, 36 fine dowlas towels, 26 women's shifts - most of them fine, dowlas and new, several pairs of sleeves, handkerchiefs, women's head linen of all sorts, a new bed and bolster, three pewter basins, 14 new pewter plates, two pewter porringers and three mustard pots. Undoubtedly they drank the contents of the large Dutch case with six or seven three-pint bottles in it. They looked unsuccessfully for Allen's silver.

Finally, the Baconians fled on the night of December 27th, when British marines from the ship Young Prince moved up to Surry from Isle of Wight County. The rebels stole more of Allen's household linen and books by stuffing them into pillow cases, their breeches, and whatever else was handy. Allen later sued the rebels in both Surry and Charles City County courts for about 25,000 pounds of tobacco for damages. He compromised with some of the smaller men in Charles City and accepted a payment of 250 pounds of tobacco each, but he insisted on full payment from the leaders.

NOTE:  The unusual name, "Bacon's Castle," undoubtedly came from Bacon's Rebellion, although there is no evidence that Nathaniel Bacon himself ever came to the plantation or had anything to do with it. Probably the name "Bacon's Castle" was not used until many years after Bacon's Rebellion. Possibly the name became current after 1769 when the "Virginia Gazette" published three articles which described the events of Bacon's Rebellion of 1676. However, the name was not used in the records until 1802. To avoid confusion, the A.P.V.A. has called the plantation "Bacon's Castle," regardless of the time period.


Life & Legend of Pocahontas~Lady Rebecca Rolfe

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Pocahontas was an Indian princess, the daughter of Powhatan, the powerful chief of the Algonkian Indians in the Tidewater region of Virginia. She was born around 1595 to one of Powhatan's many wives. They named her Matoaka, though she is better known as Pocahontas, which means "Little-wanton," or playful, frolicsome little girl.

Pocahontas probably saw white men for the first time in May 1607 when the Englishmen landed at Jamestown. The one she found most likeable was Captain John Smith. The first meeting of Pocahontas and John Smith is a legendary story, romanticized (if not entirely invented) by Smith. He was leading a expedition in December 1607 when Indians took him captive. Days later, they brought him to the official residence of Powhatan at Werowocomoco, which was 12 miles from Jamestown. According to Smith, the great chief first welcomed him and offered him a feast. Then the Indians grabbed him and forced him to stretch out on two large, flat stones. Indians stood over him with clubs as though ready to beat him to death if ordered. Suddenly a little Indian girl rushed in and took Smith's "head in her arms and laid her owne upon his to save hime from death." The girl, Pocahontas, then pulled him to his feet. Powhatan declared that they were now friends, and he adopted Smith as his son, or a subordinate chief. Actually, this mock "execution and salvation" ceremony was traditional with the Indians, and if Smith's story is true, Pocahontas' actions were probably one part of a ritual. At any rate, Pocahontas and Smith were soon to become friends.

Relations with the Indians continued to be generally friendly for the next year, and Pocahontas was a frequent visitor to Jamestown. She delivered messages from her father and accompanied Indians bringing food and furs to trade for hatchets and trinkets. She was a lively young girl, and when the young boys of the colony turned cartwheels, "she would follow and wheele some herself, naked as she was all the fort over." She apparently admired John Smith tremendously and would chat with him during her visits. Her lively character and poise made her appearance striking. Several years after their first meeting, Smith described her as "a child of tenne yeares old, which not only for feature, countenance, and proportion much exceedeth any of the rest of his [Powhatan's] people but for wit and spirit [is] the only non-pareil of his countrie."

Unfortunately, relations with the Powhatans worsened. Necessary trading still continued, but hostilities became more open. While previously she had been allowed to come and go almost at will, Pocahontas' visits to the fort became much less frequent. In October 1609, a gunpowder explosion badly injured John Smith, forcing him to return to England. When Pocahontas next came to visit the fort, she was told that her friend Smith was dead.

Pocahontas apparently married an Indian "pryvate Captayne" named Kocoum in 1610. She lived in Potomac country among Indians, but her relationship with the Englishmen was not over. When an energetic and resourceful member of the Jamestown settlement, Captain Samuel Argall, learned where she was, he devised a plan to kidnap her and hold her for ransom. With the help of Japazaws, lesser chief of the Patowomeck Indians, Argall lured Pocahontas onto his ship. When told she would not be allowed to leave, she "began to be exceeding pensive and discontented," but she eventually became calmer and even accustomed to her captivity. Argall sent word to Powhatan that he would return his beloved daughter only in exchange for the English prisoners Powhatan held, the arms and tolls that the Indians had stolen, and also some corn. After some time Powhatan sent part of the ransom and asked that they treat his daughter well. Argall returned to Jamestown in April 1613 with Pocahontas.

Pocahontas was eventually moved to a new settlement, Henrico, which was under the leadership of Sir Thomas Dale. It was here that she began her education in the Christian faith, and that she met a successful tobacco planter named John Rolfe in July 1613. Pocahontas was allowed relative freedom within the settlement, and she began to enjoy her role in the relations between the colony and her people. After almost a year of captivity, Dale brought 150 armed men and Pocahontas into Powhatan's territory to obtain her entire ransom. Attacked by the Indians, the Englishmen burned many houses, destroyed villages, and killed several Indian men. They finally sent Pocahontas ashore, where she reunited with two of her brothers, whom she told that she was treated well and that she was in love with and wanted to marry the Englishman John Rolfe. Powhatan gave his consent to this, and the Englishmen departed, delighted at the prospect of the "peace-making" marriage, although they didn't receive the full ransom.

John Rolfe was a very religious man who agonized for many weeks over the decision to marry a "strange wife," a heathen Indian. He finally decided to marry Pocahontas after she had been converted to Christianity, "for the good of the plantation, the honor of our country, for the glory of God, for mine own salvation ..." Pocahontas was baptized, christened by the name Rebecca, and later married to John Rolfe on April 5, 1614. A general peace and a spirit of goodwill between the English and the Indians resulted from this marriage.

Sir Thomas Dale made an important voyage back to London in the Spring of 1616. His purpose was to seek further financial support for the Virginia Company. To ensure spectacular publicity, he brought with him about a dozen Algonkian Indians, including Pocahontas. Her husband and their young son, Thomas, accompanied her. The arrival of Pocahontas in London was well publicized. She was presented to King James I, the royal family, and the rest of the best of London society. Also in London at the time was Captain John Smith, the old friend she had not seen for eight years and whom she believed was dead. Smith relates that at their meeting, she was at first too overcome with emotion to speak. After composing herself, Pocahontas talked of old times. At one point she addressed him as "father," and when he objected, she defiantly replied: "'Were you not afraid to come into my father's Countrie, and caused feare in him and all of his people and feare you here I should call you father: I tell you I will, and you shall call mee childe, and so I will be for ever and ever your Countrieman.'" This was their last meeting.

After seven months, Rolfe decided to return his family to Virginia. In March 1617 they set sail. It was soon apparent, however, that Pocahontas would not survive the voyage home. She was deathly ill from pneumonia or possibly tuberculosis. She was taken ashore, and, as she lay dying, she comforted her husband, saying, "all must die. 'Tis enough that the child liveth." She was buried in a churchyard in Gravesend, England. She was 22 years old.

Pocahontas played a significant role in American history. As a compassionate little girl, she saw to it that the colonists received food from the Indians, so that Jamestown would not become another "Lost Colony." She is said to have intervened to save the lives of individual colonists. In 1616 John Smith wrote that Pocahontas was "the instrument to pursurve this colonie from death, famine, and utter confusion." Pocahontas not only served as a representative of the Virginia Indians, but also as a vital link between the native Americans and the Englishmen. Whatever her contributions, the romantic aspects of her life will no doubt stand out in Virginia history forever.

Archeology Find~Surgically Marked Skull

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Forensic analysis of a small piece of human skull discovered by archaeologists in a 400-year-old trash pit at Historic Jamestowne has confirmed that it is the earliest known evidence of surgery and autopsy in early 17th-century English America, according to Dr. William M. Kelso, director of archaeology for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA Preservation Virginia).

It also tells a painful story about the final moments of one settler's life.

Dr. Douglas W. Owsley, forensic osteologist at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and Dr. Ashley H. McKeown, forensic anthropologist at the University of Montana, determined that it was a piece of occipital bone from the back of the skull of a European man. This individual received a traumatic blow to the back of his head with a celt-like object, like an axe made of stone, that fractured his skull.

Circular cut marks in the bone show that a surgeon attempted to drill two holes in the skull using a trepan to relieve pressure. He did not complete the procedure, probably because the patient died. Saw marks on the top (superior) edge of the bone indicate that an autopsy was subsequently performed.

McKeown explained that they know he was a male because of the shape of the occipital bone and the pronounced muscle markings on the skull. "We can also tell that he was an adult because of the thickness of the skull fragment and closure of some of the visible cranial sutures. He apparently died soon after he was injured, since the fractures do not show any sign of healing, and the trepanation was aborted," she said.

Kelso said the hand-size fragment of bone, about 4" x 4 3/4", was found in a bulwark trench surrounding the west corner of the James Fort site and was discarded there with other trash no later than about 1610 based on other artifacts found in the same context. No other bones or skull pieces belonging to the individual have been found. "It appears to have been discarded as medical waste," he said.

"It's incredible to think that so much information could come from such a small piece of bone," said Bly Straube, APVA senior curator. She added that the skull is believed to be that of a European male because testing revealed that the bone contains traces of lead. "This could be a result of eating and drinking from lead-glazed pottery or pewter, which was a common practice in Europe," she said.

Archaeologists have also unearthed medical tools and objects at the James Fort site including a Spatula mundani, part of a bullet extractor (terrabellum) and numerous pieces of pottery from apothecary jars, which were typically used to contain herbs and medicines.

Straube explained that the Spatula mundani, devised and named by 17th-century surgeon John Woodall, was used to treat severe constipation. The spoon end of the instrument was to withdraw "hard excrements," while the spatula was probably for stirring preparations and applying ointments and plasters. The bullet extractor was used for grabbing and removing a bullet from a wound.

It is likely that the tools were sent to Jamestown in a surgeon's chest that Woodall outfitted for the expedition and sent with his servant John Liste, she said. The gift is recorded in a list of instructions to Sir Thomas Gates from the Virginia Council in May 1609, and probably included the surgical instruments illustrated in the 1617 edition of Woodall's book, "The Surgeon's Mate."

Both tools found at Historic Jamestowne are shown in the illustration of the chest. Trepanning tools are also depicted, but none have been found at the James Fort site, yet.

The skull fragment and the medical objects substantiate historical documents that indicate the presence of barbers, surgeons (chirurgeons), doctors and apothecaries in Jamestown as early as 1607-1610.

Catherine Correll-Walls, biographical researcher for the project, said early medical men at Jamestown included Thomas Wotton, Surgeon General at Jamestown, Thomas Couper, barber, and William Wilkerson, chirurgeon, who arrived in 1607. Anthony Bagnall, chirurgeon, arrived in 1607-08. Thomas Field, apothecary; Post Ginnat, chirurgeon; Thomas Harford, apothecary; and Dr. Walter Russell arrived in the first supply in 1608. George Liste, an apprentice to Woodall, arrived in 1609, and Dr. Laurence Bohun arrived in 1610 and was named Physician General to Virginia in 1620.

Powhatan~Address to Captain John Smith

I am now grown old and must soon die, and the succession must descend in order, to my brothers, Opitchapam, Opechancanough, and Kekataugh, and then to my two sisters, and their two daughters.

I wish their experience was equal to mine, and that your love to us might not be not be less than ours to you. Why should you take by force that from us which you can have by love? Why should you destroy us who have provided you with food? What can you get by war? We can hide our provisions and fly into the woods. And then you must consequently famish by wrongdoing your friends.

What is the cause of your jealousy? You see us unarmed and willing to supply your wants if you come in a friendly manner; not with swords and guns as to invade an enemy. I am not so simple as not to know that it is better to eat good meat, lie well, and sleep quietly with my women and children; to laugh and be merry with the English, and, being their friend, to have copper, hatchets, and whatever else I want then to fly from all, to lie cold in the woods, feed upon acorns, roots and such trash, and to be so hunted that I cannot rest, eat, or sleep. In such circumstances, my men must watch, and if a twig should but break, all would cry out, "Here comes Captain Smith." And so, in this miserable manner to end my miserable life. And, Captain Smith, this might soon be your fate too through your rashness and unadvisedness.

I, therefore, exhort you to peaceable councils, and above all I insist that the guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy and uneasiness, be removed and sent away.

Powhatan Indian Tribe History

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(Southern Renape pawd'tan, 'falls in a current' of water.-Gerard).

A confederacy of Virginian Algonquian tribes. Their territory included the tidewater section of Virginia from the Potomac s. to the divide between James river and Albemarle sound, and extended into the interior as far as the falls of the principal rivers about Fredericksburg and Richmond. They also occupied the Virginia counties east of Chesapeake Bay and possibly included some tribes in lower Maryland. In the piedmont region west of them were the hostile Monacan and Manahoac, while on the south were the Chowanoc, Nottoway, and Meherrin of Iroquoian stock. Although little is known in regard to the language of these tribes, it is believed they were more nearly related to the Delaware than to any of the northern or more westerly tribes, and were derived either from them or from the same stem. Brinton, in his tentative arrangement, placed them between the Delaware and Nanticoke on one side and the Pamptico on the other.

When first known the Powhatan had nearly 200 villages, more than 100 of which are named by Capt. John Smith on his map. The Powhatan tribes were visited by some of the earliest explorers of the period of the discovery, and in 1570 the Spaniards established among then a Jesuit mission, which had but a brief existence. Fifteen years later the southern tribes were brought to the notice of the English settlers at Roanoke island., but little was known of them until the establishment of the Jamestown settlement in 1607. The Indians were generally friendly until driven to hostility by the exactions of the whites, when petty warfare ensued until peace was brought about through the marriage of Powhatan's daughter to John Rolfe, an Englishman. (See Pocahontas). A few years later the Indians were thinned by pestilence, and in 1618 Powhatan died and left the government to Opechancanough. The confederacy seems to have been of recent origin at the period of Powhatan's succession, as it then included but 7 of the so-called tribes besides his own, all the others having been conquered by himself during his lifetime.

Opechancanough was the deadly foe of the whites, and at once began secret preparations for a general uprising. On Mar. 22, 1622, a simultaneous attack was made along the whole frontier, in which 347 of the English were killed in a few hours, and every settlement was destroyed excepting those immediately around Jamestown, where the whites had been warned in time. As soon as the English could recover from the first shock, a war of extermination was begun against the Indians. It was ordered that three expeditions should be undertaken yearly against then in order that they might have no chance to plant their corn or build their wigwams, and the commanders were forbidden to make peace upon any terms whatever. A large number of Indians were at one time induced to return to their homes by promises of peace, but all were massacred in their villages and their houses burned. The ruse was attempted a second time, but was unsuccessful. The war went on for 14 years, until both sides were exhausted, when peace was made in 1636. The greatest battle was fought in 1625 at Pamunkey, where Gov. Wyatt defeated nearly 1,000 Indians and burned their village, the principal one then existing.

Peace lasted until 1641, when the Indians were aroused by new encroachments of the whites, and Opechancanough, then an aged man, organized another general attack, which he led in person. In a single day 500 whites were killed, but after about a year the old chief was taken and shot. By his death the confederacy was broken up, and the tribes made separate treaties of peace and were put upon reservations, which were constantly reduced in size by sale or by confiscation upon slight pretense. About 1656 the Cherokee from the mountains invaded the lowlands. The Pamunkey chief with 100 of his men joined the whites in resisting the invasion, but they were almost all killed in a desperate battle on Shocco creek, Richmond. In 1669 a census of the Powhatan tribes showed 528 warriors, or about 2,100 souls, still surviving, the Wicocomoco being then the largest tribe, with 70 warriors, while the Pamunkey had become reduced to 50.

In 1675 some Conestoga, driven by the Iroquois from their country on the Susquehanna, entered Virginia and committed depredations. The Virginian tribes were accused of these acts, and several unauthorized expeditions were led against them by Nathaniel Bacon, a number of Indians being killed and villages destroyed. The Indians at last gathered in a fort near Richmond and made preparations for defense. In Aug., 1676, the fort was stormed, and men, women, and children were massacred by the whites. The adjacent stream was afterward known as Bloody run from this circumstance. The scattered survivors asked peace, which was granted on condition of an annual tribute from each village. In 1722 a treaty was made at Albany by which the Iroquois agreed to cease their attacks upon the Powhatan tribes, who were represented at the conference by four chiefs. Iroquois hostility antedated the settlement of Virginia. With the treaty of Albany the history of the Powhatan tribes practically ceased, and the remnants of the confederacy dwindled silently to final extinction. About 1705 Beverley had described them as "almost wasted." They then had 12 villages, 8 of which were on the Eastern shore, the only one of consequence being Pamunkey, with about 150 souls. Those on the Eastern shore remained until 1831, when the few surviving individuals, having become so much mixed with Negro blood as to be hardly distinguishable, were driven off during the excitement caused by the slave rising under Nat Turner. Some of them had previously joined the Nanticoke. Jefferson's statement, in his Notes on Virginia, regarding the number and condition of the Powhatan remnant in 1785, are very misleading. He represents them as reduced to the Pamunkey and Mattapony, making altogether only about 15 men, much mixed with Negro blood, and only a few of the older ones preserving the language.

The fact is that the descendants of the old confederacy must then have numbered not far from 1,000, in several tribal bands, with a considerable percentage still speaking the language. They now number altogether about 700, including the Chickahominy, Nandsemond, Pamunkey, and Mattapony (q. v. ) with several smaller bands. Henry Spelman, who was prisoner among the Powhatan for some time, now in the house of one chief and then in that of another, mentions several interesting customs. The priests, he says, shaved the right side o the head, leaving a little lock at the ear, and some of them had beards. The common people pulled out the hairs of the beard as fast as they grew. They kept the hair on the right side of the head cut short, "that it might not hinder them by flappinge about their bow stringe when they draw it to shoot; but on ye other side they let it grow and have a long locke banginge downe there shoulder." Tattooing was practiced to some extent, especially by the women. Among the better sort it was the custom, when eating, for the men to sit on mats round about the house, to each of whom the women brought a dish, as they did not eat together out of one dish. Their marriage customs were similar to those among other Indian tribes, but, according to Spelman, "ye man goes not unto any place to be married, but ye woman is brought unto him where he dwelleth." If the present of a young warrior were accepted by his mistress, she was considered as having agreed to become his wife, and, without any further explanation to her family, went to his hut, which became her home, and the ceremony was ended. Polygamy, Spelman asserts, was the custom of the country, depending upon the ability to purchase wives; Burk says, however, that they generally had but one wife. Their burial customs varied according to locality and the dignity of the person. The bodies of their chiefs were placed on scaffolds, the flesh being first removed from the bones and dried, then wrapped with the bones in a mat, and the remains were then laid in their order with those of others who had previously died. For their ordinary burials they dug deep holes in the earth with very sharp stakes, and, wrapping the corpse in the skins, laid it upon sticks in the ground and covered it with earth.

They believed in a multitude of minor deities, paying a kind of worship to everything that was able to do them harm beyond their prevention, such as fire, water, lightning, and thunder, etc. They also had a kind of chief deity variously termed Okee. Ouioccos. or Kiwasa of whom they made images, which were usually placed in their burial temples. They believed in immortality, but the special abode of the spirits does not appear to have been well defined.

The office of werowance, or chieftaincy, appears to have been hereditary through the female line, passing first to the brothers, if there were any, and then to the male descendants of sisters, but never in the male line. The Chickahominy, it is said, had no such custom nor any regular chief, the priests and leading men ruling, except in war, when the warriors selected a leader.

According to Smith, "their houses are built like our arbors, of small young sprigs, bowed and tied, and so close covered with mats or the bark of trees very handsomely, that notwithstanding wind, rain, or weather they are as warm as stoves, but very smoky, yet at the top of the house there is a hole made for the smoke to go into right over the fire."

According to White's pictures they were oblong, with a rounded roof (see Habitations). They varied in length from 12 to 24 yds., and some were as much as 36 yds. long, though not of great width. They were formed of poles or saplings fixed in the ground at regular intervals, which were bent over from the sides so as to form an arch at the top. Pieces running horizontally were fastened with withes, to serve as braces and as supports for bark, mats, or other coverings. Many of their towns were enclosed with palisades, consisting of posts planted in the ground and standing 10 or 12 ft high. The gate was usually an overlapping gap in the circuit of palisades. Where great strength and security were required, a triple stockade was sometimes made. These inclosing walls sometimes encompassed the whole town; in other cases only the chief's house, the burial house, and the more important dwellings were thus surrounded.

They appear to have made considerable advance in agriculture, cultivating 2 or 3 varieties of maize, beans, certain kinds of melons or pumpkins, several varieties of roots, and even 2 or 3 kinds of fruit trees.

They computed by the decimal system. Their years were reckoned by winters, cohonks, as they called them, in imitation of the note of the wild geese, which came to them every winter. They divided the year into five seasons, viz, the budding or blossoming of spring; earing of corn, or roasting-ear time; the summer, or highest sun; the corn harvest, or fall of the leaf, and the winter, or cohonk. Months were counted as moons, without relation to the number in a year; but they arranged them so that they returned under the same names, as the moon of stags, the corn moon, first and second moon of cohonks (geese), etc. They divided the day into three parts, "the rise, power, and lowering of the sun." They kept their accounts by knots on strings or by notches on a stick.

The estimate of population given by Smith is 2,400 warriors. Jefferson, on the basis of this, made their total population about 8,000.

Sir William Berkeley

Sir William Berkeley (pronounced "bark-lee")

(Hanworth Manor, Middlesex 1605 - Berkeley House, Mayfair, London July 9, 1677) was a Governor of Virginia, appointed by King Charles I.  of whom he was a favourite. He was born at Hanworth Manor,  Middlesex in 1605 to Maurice Berkeley (1577-????) and his wife Elizabeth née Killigrew, of Bruton, Somerset. The name of his first wife is not known. He wed his second wife, Frances Stephens (née Culpeper), in 1670.

He arrived to take up his post in Virginia in 1642, and was a popular administrator. In 1644, he returned to England to fight in the Civil War on the side of the Cavaliers, although he returned to Virginia the following year, in time to organize a force to put down a Native American uprising, which captured Opechancanough, against Berkeley's orders, and killed him. In 1652, he was forced from office by a fleet of British warships sent by Oliver Cromwell, but he remained in the colony. He had intended to extend the colony northwards; and while he did manage to get the land he wanted, he did not allow white settlement west of a line until he negotiated with the tribes.

In 1660, he was recalled to government and for fourteen years governed Virginia with no major incident. In 1675, when troubles broke out with the Native Americans on the north frontier, Berkeley refused to allow Nathaniel Bacon and the frontiersmen to take action against all tribes, whether friendly or otherwise, and a form of civil war (given the name of "Bacon's Rebellion") broke out. One of his main motivations in this decision was that he was invested in a fur trading business with the Native Americans which would have been jeopardized if relations had gone sour. Before troops sent by Charles II could arrive, Berkeley was able to put down the rebellion, but in such a harsh manner that he was removed from office. Land confiscated from Bacon was granted by Berkeley to recent English immigrant William Randolph, who founded a family of great influence in Virginia politics.

His 17th-century plantation, Green Spring in James City County about five miles west of Williamsburg, was built in 1645. The plantation originally encompassed a 2,090 acre experimental farm, and there, Berkeley developed a number of products for export to supplement the Colony's dependence upon tobacco. About 200 acres of the original plantation are preserved by the National Park Service as part of the Colonial National Historical Park.

Berkeley died at his home in London on July 9, 1677. His widow married Philip Ludwell (South Carolina Governor from 1691-1692); the Ludwell descendants married Thomas Lee and William Lee of Stratford Hall and Henry Lee II of Leesylvania.

It is believed by many historians that the well-known Berkeley Plantation in nearby Charles City County was named in his honor, as were Berkeley County and Berkeley Springs, both of which are now located in West Virginia. (The city of Berkeley, California and several famous colleges are named for Bishop George Berkeley instead.)

Berkeley is often quoted for his (1671) remarks in opposition to education of the general public:

I thank God, there are no free schools, nor printing; and I hope we shall not have, these hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from both.

William Randolph

William Randolph

(1650 - April 11, 1711) was a colonist and land owner who played an important role in the history and politics of what became the U.S. state of Virginia.

He was born in Warwickshire, England, to Richard Randolph (1627-1671) and Elizabeth Ryland (1625-1670). Randolph was also the nephew of English poet Thomas Randolph. He moved to Virginia in 1674 and married Mary Isham later that year. He was the second member of the Randolph family to settle in North America, the first being Henry Randolph. Shortly after arriving, he built his home at Turkey Island, Henrico County.

He was one of the founders of the College of William and Mary. He was also the patriarch of the Randolph family of Virginia which married with members of the Lee  Washington, and Harrison families, and included notable members such as President Thomas Jefferson. United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, First Continental Congress president Peyton Randolph, and Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

"Colonists Leaving England For Jamestown"

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Description: "In 1606 King James I granted a charter to the London Company, which had been organized by some of the great London merchants for the purpose of making settlement in Virginia. On December 19, 1606 a company of 105 'gentlemen, carpenters and laborers,' set sail on the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery under the command of Captain Christopher Newport. After a long and stormy voyage they passed through the Virginia Capes in April 1607, touched at Cape Henry, Point Comfort, and Hampton, and finally landed at Jamestown, May 13th, 1607, where they established the first permanent English-speaking settlement in the New World."

Oliver Cromwell

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Oliver Cromwell was the Puritan leader of the English Civil War. He ruled England as "Lord Protector" until 1658.

Cromwell was an English general and statesman, Puritan leader during the English Civil War. When he defeated King Charles I he had Charles I executed and became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. This was the only time in English history that the monarchy has been ousted. In 1660 the monarchy was restored by Charles II (son of Charles I). On January 30, 1661, the anniversary of the execution of Charles I, Cromwell's body was exhumed and taken by sledge to Tyburn. The procession was greeted by the sounds of outcry and curses from the people. The corpse was hanged from the gallows for a day and at evening the body was buried beneath the gibbet. The head was taken to Westminster Hall, where it was exhibited on a pole until some time near the end of Charles II's reign in 1685. Cromwell's head is believed to be buried in Cambridge

Born: Apr. 25, 1599

Died: Sep. 3, 1658

Buried: Westminster Abbey *
London, England
Plot: RAF Chapel
*Former burial location

Jane Rolfe & Daughter Jane

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Jane & Daughter Jane

Jane Rolfe

Thomas Rolfe remained in England until 1635, at which time he returned to Virginia. His grandfather Chief Powhatan (also dead by this time), had left Thomas thousands of acres on the James River, and John Rolfe had left Varina plantation to him. Thomas established his plantation "Kippax" sometimes called "Farmingdale", in what is now the city of Hopewell, Va.

Thomas became a lieutenent in the English military. He married Jane Poythress, and she gave birth to their only child, Jane, in about 1650.

Thomas died in 1675 at Kippax, and his wife Jane died a year later. They are buried on the plantation.

Kippax Plantation
Hopewell city

Bacon's Epitaph

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"Bacon's Epitaph, made by his Man" is called the first American poem, and eulogizes Nathaniel Bacon, leader of Bacon's Rebellion in 1675-76. Some historians interpret the rebellion as a proto-democratic movement against Governor Berkeley's autocratic regime. Others see it as merely a pretext to seize Indian land.

Contributor: bgill
Created: July 6, 2007 · Modified: March 21, 2009

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