Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Timeline of Events Leading to Jamestown, Virginia

This timeline was prepared by the Jamestown Rediscovery project of Preservation Virginia. It comes from their website here.  For much more information on Jamestown visit their fine website; & if you can, donate to their continuing work.

A Timeline of Events and References

Leading Up To and Through the Founding of Jamestown


Queen Elizabeth succeeds Queen Mary.


Jean Ribault establishes Huguenot colony (Charles Fort) at Port Royal in South Carolina.

John Hawkins makes his first voyage to the West Indies.


Charles Fort abandoned.


Second colony of Huguenots under Rene de Laudonniere established on St. John's River in Florida.

John Hawkins makes his second voyage to the West Indies and Guinea.


St. Augustine established.


John Hawkins departs on third voyage.


Hawkins fights Spanish at Battle of Vera Cruz, later set ashore at Tampico, Mexico, where three of his men began a 12 month march to the north, reaching Cape Breton.


Martin Frobisher's first voyage.


Martin Frobisher's second voyage.


Martin Frobisher's third voyage.

England and Netherlands sign treaty to fight Spain.

Humphrey Gilbert sailed for America with 350 men but was forced to return.


Sir Francis Drake returns to England from voyage around the world.


Sir Humphrey Gilbert's voyage to Newfoundland; his ship was lost on the return voyage.


Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe reach Roanoke Island in July, returned to England in September.


Raleigh's fleet of seven vessels under Richard Grenville and Ralph Lane, with 108 men, reach Roanoke Island in June.


In June, Sir Francis Drake arrives from Florida and removes the Lane colony to England.

Sir Richard Grenville and three ships arrive at Roanoke in August.


John White with 150 men, women, and children sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to plant the Cittie of Raleigh on the Chesapeake Bay, landed at Hatorask on July 22.


John White returns to Roanoke Island.


Capt. Christopher Newport sailed for the West Indies.


Capts. Amias Preston and George Somers sail to the West Indies.


Sir Walter Raleigh sent Samuel Mace of Weymouth on a voyage to Virginia (North Carolina) to gather plant materials and to search for survivors of the Lost Colony.

Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold, Capt. Bartholomew Gilbert, Capt. Gabriel Archer, and others sent on voyage to New England coast.

Nova Scotia visited regularly by English traders.


Capt. Martin Pring sent to New England coast by Bristol merchants.

Capt. Bartholomew Gilbert sent on voyage to Chesapeake Bay; Gilbert and 4 others went ashore (likely the Eastern Shore) and were killed by Indians.

James VI of Scotland becomes James I.


Fleet leaves London on December 20.


April 30
Ships arrived at Cape Comfort with the original group of settlers; a vanguard boat stopped at Kecoughtan where the natives welcomed the English.

May 13
"The thirteenth day, we came to our seating place in Paspihas Countrey, some eight miles from the point of Land, which I made mention before: where our shippes doe lie so neere the shoare that they are moored to the Trees in six fathom water." George Percy (Tyler 1952:15)

May 14
"The fourteenth day, we landed all our men, which were set to worke about the fortification, and others some to watch and ward as it was convenient." George Percy (Tyler 1952:15)

"the Councell contrive the Fort..." "The Presidents overweening jealousie would admit no exercise at armes, or fortification but the boughs of trees cast together in the forme of a halfe moon by the extraordinary paines and diligence of Captain Kendall." John Smith, Proceedings (Barbour 1964:206)

May 14+
Newport, Smith, Percy, Archer, and others spent 6 days exploring the James River up to the falls and Powhatan's village.

May 26
"Hereupon the President was contented the Fort should be pallisadoed, the ordinance mounted, his men armed and exercised, for many were the assaults and Ambuscadoes of the Salvages...." John Smith, Proceedings (Barbour 1964)

200 armed Indians attack Jamestown, killing 1 and wounding 11.

May 28
"we laboured, pallozadoing our fort." Gabriel Archer (Arber)

June 4
"by breake of Day. 3. Of them had most adventurously stollen under our Bullwark and hidden themselves in the long grasse...." Gabriel Archer (Arber)

June 10
John Smith released from arrest and sworn in as member of the Council.

June 15
"The fifteenth of June we had built and finished our Fort, which was triangle wise, having three Bulwarkes, at every corner, like a halfe Moone, and foure or five pieces of Artillerie mounted in them. We had made our selves sufficiently strong for these Savages. We had also sowne most of our Corne on two Mountaines." George Percy (Tyler 1952:19)

June 22
Newport sails for England.

June 27
"... our extreme toile in bearing and planting pallisadoes." John Smith, Proceedings (Barbour 1964:210)

September 10
President Wingfield deposed, Ratcliffe elected.

Early December
Smith captured by Opechancanough.


Newport returns with the First Supply and about 100 new settlers, finds only 38 survivors.

Powhatan releases Smith.

January 7
Fire destroyed "all the houses in the fort."

March (?)
"repairing our Pallizadoes." John Smith

April 10
Newport sails for England.

Summer (?)
"Jamestowne being burnt, we rebuilt it and three forts more ... invironed with a palizado of fourteen or fifteene feet, and each as much as three or four men could carrie ... we had three Bulwarkes, foure and twenty peeces of ordnance of Culvering, Demiculvering, sacar and falcon and most well mounted upon convenient platforms...." John Smith, General History (Barbour 1964:325)

September 10
Smith elected President.

"Now the building of Ratliffes Pallace stayed as a thing needlesse; the Church was repaired; the Store-house recovered; buildings prepared for the Supplyes, we expected; the Fort reduced to a five-square forme; the order of the Watch renewed; the squadrons (each setting of the Watch) trained; the whole Company every Saturday exercised, in the plaine by the west Bulwarke, prepared for that purpose, we called Smithfield: . . ." (Third Book, Barbour II 180-181)

Newport arrives with the Second Supply including the first two women and 8 Dutchmen or Poles who were "glasse-men." No more supplies from England until May of 1610.

End of Year
Newport returns to England carrying with him "tryals of Pitch, Tarre, Glasse, Frankincense, Sope Ashes. . . ."


"Now we so quietly followed our businesse, that in 3 monthes we made 3 or 4 last of pitch and tarre, and sope ashes, and produced a triall of glasse, made a well in the forte of excellent sweete water (which till then was wanting) built some 20 houses, recovered our Church, ..., builte a blocke house in the necke of our Ile, kept by a garrison, to entertaine the Salvages trade, and none to passe or repasse ..., 30 or 40 acres of ground we digged, and planted; ... but the hogges were transposted to Hog Ile, where also we built a blocke house with a garrison, to give us notice of any shipping, ..." "We built also a fort for a retreat. . . ." (Proceedings, Barbour I 263)

May 23
Virginia Company replaces Council with Governor who has absolute control.

Seven ships arrive at Jamestown, Sea Venture wrecked on Bermuda. 200-300 men, women, and children.

September 10
Capt. George Percy replaces Capt. John Smith as president of the Council, Smith returned to England.

"James towne being burnt, wee rebuilt it and three Forts more, besides the Church and Store-house, we had about fortie or fiftie severall houses to keepe us warme and dry, invironed with a palizado of foureteene or fifteene foot, and each as much as three or foure men could carrie. We digged a faire Well of fresh water in the Fort, where wee had three Bulwarks, four and twentie peeces of Ordnance, of Culvering, Demiculvering, Sacar, and Falcon, and most well mounted upon convenient plat-formes, planted one hundred acres of Corne." John Smith, (Fourth Book, Barbour II 325).


May 23
Gates (acting as Virginia's first governor until arrival of Thomas West-Lord De La Warr), John Rolfe, Ralph Hamor, Sir George Somers, and other survivors of the Sea Venture wrecked at Bermuda arrive at Jamestown. Find 60 survivors of the "Starving Time."

"Viewing the fort, we found the palisades torn down, the ports open, the gates from off the hinges, and the empty houses (which owners had taken from them) rent up and burnt, rather than the dwellers would step into the woods a stone's cast off from them to fetch other firewood. And it is true, the Indians killed as fast without, if our men stirred but beyond the bounds of their blockhouse, . . . " William Strachey (Wright 1964:64)

May 24
Gates issues The Divine, Moral, and Martial Laws.

June 7
Gates decides to abandon Jamestown.

"This consultation taking effect, our governor, having caused to be carried aboard all the arms and all the best things in the store which might to the adventurers make some commodity upon sale thereof at home, and burying our ordnances before the fort gate which looked into the river, . . ." William Strachey (Wright 1964:76)

June 8
Gates's convoy meets Lord De La Warr's ships at Mulberry Island.

June 10
" ... relanded all his men at the fort again." William Strachey (Wright 1964:77)

"Upon His Lordship's landing at the south gate of the palisade (which looks into the river), our governor caused his company in arms to stand in order and make a guard. ... and after marched up into the town, where at the gate I bowed with the colors and let them fall at His Lordship's feet, who passed on into the chapel. . . . " William Strachey (Wright 1964:84)

"...Is cast almost into the forme of a Triangle, and Pallizadoed. The south side next to the river (howbeit extended in a line, or Curtaine sixscore foote more in length, then the other two, by reason the advantage of the ground doth so require) containes 140 yards: the West and East sides 100 only. At every Angle or corner, where the lines meete, a Bulwarke or Watchtower is raised, and in each Bulwarke a peece of Ordance or two well mounted. To every side, a proportionate distance from the Pallisade, is a settled streete of houses, that runs along, so each line of the angle hath his streete. In the midst is a marhet place, a storehouse, and a corps de guarde, as likewise a pretty chapel, though (at this time when we came in) as ruined and unfrequented. But the lord governor and captain general hath given order for the repairing of it, and at this instant many hands are about it. It is in length threescore foot, in breadth twenty-four .... And thus enclosed, as I said, round with a Palizade of Planckes and strong Posts, foure foot deep in the ground, of yong Oakes, Walnuts, etc., the fort is called, in honor of his Majesty's name, Jamestown. The principal gate from the town, through the palisade, opens to the river, as at each bulwark there is a gate likewise to go forth and at every gate a demiculverin, and so in the market place. The houses first raised were all burnt by a casulty of fire the beginning of the second year of their seat and in the second voyage of Captain Newport, which since have been better rebuilded, though as yet in no great uniformity, either for the fashion or beauty of the street. A delicate wrought fine kind of mat the Indians make, with which (as they can be trucked for snatched up) our people do dress their chambers and inward rooms, which make their houses so much the more handsome. The houses have wide and large country chimneys, in which is supposed (in such plenty of wood) what fires are maintained; and they have found the way to cover their houses now (as the Indians) with barks of trees, as durable and as good proof against storms and winter weather as the best tile, defending likewise the piercing sunbeams of summer and keeping the inner lodgings cool enough, which before in sultry weather would be like stoves, whilst they were, as at first, pargeted and plastered with bitumen or tough clay." William Strachey (Wright 1964:79-81)

August 9
English launch major attack on the Paspahegh village, capturing and executing the Queen and her children, burning houses and cutting down corn fields. Subsequent use of word Paspahegh in documents refers to their former territory.


March 28
De La Warr leaves for England, George Percy is Deputy Governor until arrival of Thomas Dale, about 150 people left.

May 12
Dale arrives off Point Comfort.

Sir Thomas Gates, Lt. Governor returns to Virginia with 280 people and assumes control.

"Sir Thomas Gates ... happily arrived about the second of August, with sixe good Shippes, men, provisions and cattle ... the resolution of Sir Thomas Dale, now wholy busied (our land fortifications to weake to withstand a forraigne Enemy). . . ." Hamor (1957:28).

Dale with 350 men start building Henricus.

Early Fall
William Strachey leaves Virginia for England.

Also in 1611
John Rolfe imports tobacco seeds from Trinidad, Nicotiana tabacum; native tobacco was Nicotiana rustica.


John Rolfe exports first crop of improved tobacco.


"...and the forts which they have are of boards and so weak that a kick would break them down, and once arrived at the ramparts those without would have the advantage over those within because its beams and loopholes are common to both parts - a fortifcation without skill and made by unskilled men. Nor are they efficient soldiers, although the rulers and captains make a great profession of this because of the time they have served in Flanders on the side of Holland, where some have companies and castles. The men are poorly drilled and not prepared for military action." Diego de Molina (Tyler 1952:221).

"Twenty leagues off is this colony with one hundred and fifty persons and six pieces; . . ." Diego de Molina (Tyler 1952:224).

Pocahontas captured and brought to Jamestown.

John Rolfe makes first shipment of West Indian tobacco grown in Virginia to England.


"The Towne [James Town] it selfe by the care and providence of Sir Thomas Gates, who for the most part had his chiefest residence there, is reduced into a handsome forme, and hath in it two faire rowes of houses, all of framed Timber, two stories, and an upper Garret, or Corne loft high, besides the three large, and substantial Storehouses, joyned together in a length some hundred and twenty foot, and in breadth forty, and this town hath been lately newly, and strongly impaled, and a faire platforme fro Ordence in the west Bulwarke raised: there are also wothout this towne in the Island, some very pleasant, and beautifull houses, tow Blockhouses, to observe and watch least the Indians at any time should swim over the back river, and come into the Island, and certain other farme houses." Hamor (1957:33).

"No sooner was he thus fenced, and in a manner secured from the Indians, but his next worke (without respect to his owne health or particular welfare) was building at each corner of the towne, very strong and high commanders or watch-towers, a faire and handsome Church, and storehouses, ... There is in this town 3 streets of well framed houses, a hansom Church, and the foundations of a more stately one laid, of Brick, in length, an hundred foote, and fifty foot wide, beside Store houses, watch houses, and such like: there are also, as ornaments belonging to this Town, upon the verge of this River, five faire Block houses, or commanders, wherein live the honesteo sort of people, as in Farmes in England. ... by name, Hope in faith, Coxen Dale, secured by five Forts, called, Charity Fort, Mount malado, a retreat, or guest house for sick people, a high seat, and wholesome aire, Elizabeth Fort, and Fort patience: and heere hath Mr. Whitacres chosen his Parsonage, or Church land ... called Rocke Hall ... " Hamor (1957: 29-31).

Gates leaves Virginia, leaving Dale as Deputy Governor.

April 5
John Rolfe and Pocahontas married at Jamestown.

Argall and Ralph Hamor depart from Virignia for England.


Pocahontas gives birth to son Thomas Rolfe.


John Rolfe lists settlements at Henrico with 38 men under Capt. Smalley, Bermuda Nether Hundred with 119 under Capt. Yeardley, West and Sherley Hundred with 25 under Capt. Maddeson, James Towne with 50 under Lt. Sharpe, Kequoughtan with 20 under Capt. George Webb, and Dales Gifte with 17 under Lt. Cradock.

John Rolfe, Pocahontas, and son depart Virginia for England.

June 2
Thomas Dale arrives in London, leaving Virginia in the hands of Capt. George Yeardley.

This list is not intended to be complete but to give an overview of the common references associated with James Fort.