Thursday, July 31, 2014

John Smith's 1616 Letter about Pocahontas from Virginia to Queen Anne of Great Britain



1616 Pocahontas

John Smith's 1616 Letter to Queen Anne of Great Britain:
 

Most admired Queen,

The love I bear my God, my King and country, hath so oft emboldened me in the worst of extreme dangers, that now honesty doth constrain me to presume thus far beyond myself, to present your Majesty this short discourse: if ingratitude be a deadly poison to all honest virtues, I must be guilty of that crime if I should omit any means to be thankful.

So it is, that some ten years ago being in Virginia, and taken prisoner by the power of Powhatan their chief King, I received from this great Salvage exceeding great courtesy, especially from his son Nantaquaus, the most manliest, comeliest, boldest spirit, I ever saw in a Salvage, and his sister Pocahontas, the Kings most dear and well-beloved daughter, being but a child of twelve or thirteen years of age, whose compassionate pitiful heart, of my desperate estate, gave me much cause to respect her: I being the first Christian this proud King and his grim attendants ever saw: and thus enthralled in their barbarous power, I cannot say I felt the least occasion of want that was in the power of those my mortal foes to prevent, notwithstanding all their threats. After some six weeks fatting amongst those Salvage courtiers, at the minute of my execution, she hazarded the beating out of her own brains to save mine; and not only that, but so prevailed with her father, that I was safely conducted to Jamestown: where I found about eight and thirty miserable poor and sick creatures, to keep possession of all those large territories of Virginia; such was the weakness of this poor commonwealth, as had the salvages not fed us, we directly had starved. And this relief, most gracious Queen, was commonly brought us by this Lady Pocahontas.

Notwithstanding all these passages, when inconstant fortune turned our peace to war, this tender virgin would still not spare to dare to visit us, and by her our jars have been oft appeased, and our wants still supplied; were it the policy of her father thus to employ her, or the ordinance of God thus to make her his instrument, or her extraordinary affection to our nation, I know not: but of this I am sure; when her father with the utmost of his policy and power, sought to surprise me, having but eighteen with me, the dark night could not affright her from coming through the irksome woods, and with watered eyes gave me intelligence, with her best advice to escape his fury; which had he known, he had surely slain her.

Jamestown with her wild train she as freely frequented, as her fathers habitation; and during the time of two or three years, she next under God, was still the instrument to preserve this colony from death, famine and utter confusion; which if in those times, had once been dissolved, Virginia might have lain as it was at our first arrival to this day.

Since then, this business having been turned and varied by many accidents from that I left it at: it is most certain, after a long and troublesome war after my departure, betwixt her father and our colony; all which time she was not heard of.

About two years after she herself was taken prisoner, being so detained near two years longer, the colony by that means was relieved, peace concluded; and at last rejecting her barbarous condition, she was married to an English Gentleman, with whom at this present she is in England; the first Christian ever of that Nation, the first Virginian ever spoke English, or had a child in marriage by an Englishman: a matter surely, if my meaning be truly considered and well understood, worthy a Princes understanding.

Thus, most gracious Lady, I have related to your Majesty, what at your best leisure our approved Histories will account you at large, and done in the time of your Majesty's life; and however this might be presented you from a more worthy pen, it cannot from a more honest heart, as yet I never begged anything of the state, or any: and it is my want of ability and her exceeding desert; your birth, means, and authority; her birth, virtue, want and simplicity, doth make me thus bold, humbly to beseech your Majesty to take this knowledge of her, though it be from one so unworthy to be the reporter, as myself, her husbands estate not being able to make her fit to attend your Majesty. The most and least I can do, is to tell you this, because none so oft hath tried it as myself, and the rather being of so great a spirit, however her stature: if she should not be well received, seeing this Kingdom may rightly have a Kingdom by her means; her present love to us and Christianity might turn to such scorn and fury, as to divert all this good to the worst of evil; whereas finding so great a Queen should do her some honor more than she can imagine, for being so kind to your servants and subjects, would so ravish her with content, as endear her dearest blood to effect that, your Majesty and all the Kings honest subjects most earnestly desire.

And so I humbly kiss your gracious hands,  Captain John Smith, 1616




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Food Eaten by Early Virginia Colonists

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The animal bones from food supplies found in a pit dating prior to 1610 reveal that the 104 men and boys who landed at Jamestown survived primarily on fish and turtles! Sturgeon was the most common fish. A sturgeon may live up to 60 years, weigh up to 800 pounds and reach lengths of up to 15 feet.



Tortoyses here (such as in the Bermudas) I have seene about the entrance of our bay, but we have not taken of them, but of the land tortoyses we take and eate dailie...William Strachey

Archaeologists have found the bony plates which cover the heads of sturgeon and the bony shields, or scutes, which cover the body. The sturgeon is an anadromous fish, which means that it spends most of its life in brackish or salt water, but migrates into coastal rivers to spawn. The Jamestown colonists report that the sturgeon were plentiful in the James River from May until September.



"...fish lying so thicke with their heads above the water, as for want of nets (our barge driving amongst them) we attempted to catch them with a frying pan, but we found it a bad instrument to catch fish with."  John Smith

The colonists also dined on rays, herons, gulls, oysters, raccoons, and other native Virginia animals, as well as provisions of beef, pork, and fish they brought with them from England. Domestic animals brought by the first colonists were intended as breeding stock although they were quickly eaten during the Starving Time winter of 1609-1610. Other evidence of this terrible period of Jamestown's history, when over 40% of the colonists died of apparent starvation, has been found with the food remains. Elements of poisonous snakes, malodorous musk turtles, and horses indicate the men's desperation to find sustenance.

Text from The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities


Sunday, July 27, 2014

1611 Excerpts from For the Colony in Virginea Britannia. Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall for both men & women


1611 Excerpts from  For the Colony in Virginea Britannia. Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, &c.

The Virginia Company asked Sir Thomas Gates (1585-1621) to impose a strict set of regulations on the colony. Gates, who became governor of the colony in 1611, and Sir Thomas Dale (c 1560-1619), the marshal, wrote and enforced the laws.  These laws are the earliest extant English-language body of laws in the western hemisphere. These laws were more like a business code of conduct intended to regulate the everyday activities of its members, employees, & servants, both men & women, working in Virginia between 1611-1624.


Sir Thomas Gates (1585-1621) 

1.  First since we owe our highest and supreme duty, our greatest, and all our allegeance to him, from whom all power and authoritie is derived, and flowes as from the first, and onely fountaine, and being especiall souldiers emprest in this sacred cause, we must along expect our successe from him, who is onely the blesser of all good attempts, the King of kings, the commaunder of commaunders, and Lord of Hostes, I do strictly commaund and charge all Captaines and Officers, of what qualitie or nature soever, whether commaunders in the field, or in towne, or townes, forts or fortresses, to have a care that the Almightie God bee duly and daily served, and that they call upon their people to heare Sermons, as that also they diligently frequent Morning and Evening praier themselves by their owne exemplar and daily life, and dutie herein, encouraging others thereunto, and that such, who shall often and wilfully absent themselves, be duly punished according to the martiall law in that case provided...

6.  Everie man and woman duly twice a day upon the first towling of the Bell shall upon the working daies repaire unto the Church, to hear divine Service upon pain of losing his or her dayes allowance for the first omission, for the second to be whipt, and for the third ot be condemned ot the Gallies for six Moneths. Likewise no man or woman shall daire to violate or breake the Sabboth by any gaming, publique, or private abroad, or at home, but duly sanctifie and observe the same, both himselfe and his familie, by preparing themselves at home with private prayer, that they may be the better fitted for the publique, according to the commandements of God, and the orders of our Church, as also every man and woman shall repaire in the morning to the divine service, and Sermons preached upon the Saboth day, and in the afternoon to divine service, and Catechsing, upon paine for the first fault to lose their provision, and allowance, and also to be whipt, and for the third to suffer death...


Sir Thomas Dale (c 1560-1619)

9.  No man shal commit the horrible, and detestable sins of Sodomie upon pain of death; and he or she that can be lawfully convict of Adultery shall be punished with death. No man shall ravish or force any woman, maid or Indian, or other, upon pain of death, and know the[e] that he or shee, that shall commit fornication, and evident proofe made thereof, for their first fault shall be whipt, for their second they shall be whipt, and for their third they shall be whipt three times a weeke for one month, and aske publique forgivenesse in the Assembly of the Congregation.

10.  No man shall be found guilty of Sacriledge, which is a Trespasse as well committed in violating and abusing any sacred ministry, duty or office of the Church, irreverently, or prophanely, as by beeing a Church robber, to filch, steale or carry away any thing out of the Church appertaining thereunto, or unto any holy, and consecrated place, to the divine Service of God, which no man should doe upon paine of death: likewise he that shall rob the store of any commodities therein, of what quality soever, whether provisions of victuals, or of Arms, Trucking stuffe [i.e., trading cloth], Apparrell, Linnen, or Wollen, Hose or Shooes, Hats or Caps, Instruments or Tooles of Steele, Iron, etc. or shall rob from his fellow souldier, or neighbour, any thing that is his, victuals, apparell, household stuffe, toole, or what necessary else soever, by water or land, out of boate, house, or knapsack, shall bee punished with death...



13.  No manner of Person whatsoever, contrarie to the word of God (which tyes every particular and private man, for conscience sake to obedience, and duty of the Magistrate, and such as shall be placed in authoritie of them[)], shall detract, slaunder, calumniate, murmur, mutenie, resist, disobey, or neglect the commaundments, either of the Lord Governour, and Captaine Generall, the Lieutenant Generall, the Martiall, the Councell, or any authorised Captaine, Commaunder or publike Officer, upon paine for the first time so offending to be whipt three severall times, and upon his knees to acknowledge his offence, with asking forgivenesse upon the Saboth day in the assembly of the congregation, and for the second time so offending to be condemned to the Gally for three yeares: and for the third time so offending to be punished with death...

19.  There shall be no Capttain, Master, Marriner, saylor, or any else of what quality or condition soever, belonging to any Ship or Ships, at this time remaining, or which shall hereafter arrive within this our River, bargaine, buy, truck, or trade with any one member in this Colony, man, woman, or child, for any toole or instrument of iron, steel or what else, whether appertaining to Smith Carpenter, Joyner, Shipwright, or any manuall occupation, or handicraft man whatsoever, resident within our Colonie, nor shall they buy or bargaine, for any apparell, linnen, or wollen, householdstuffe, bedde, bedding, sheete towels, napkins, brasse, pewter, or such like, eyther for ready money, or provisions, nor shall they exchange their provisions, of what quality soever, whether Butter, Cheese, Bisket, meal, Oatmele, Aquavite, oyle, Bacon, Apparell, or householdstuffe, at any time, or so long as they shall here remain, from the date of the presents upon paine of losse of their wages in England, confiscation and forfeiture of such their moneies and provisions, and upon peril beside of such corporall punishment as shall be inflicted upon them by verdict and censure of a martiall Court: Nor shall any officer, souldier, or Trades man, or any else of what sort soever, members of this Colony, dare to sell any such Toole, or instruments, necessary and usefull, for the businesse of the Colonie, or trucke, sell, exchange, or give away his apparell, or household stuffe of what sort soever, unto any such Seaman, either for mony, or any such foresaid provisions, upon paine of 3 times severall whipping, for the one offender, and the other upon perill of incurring censure, whether of disgrace, or addition of such punishment, as shall bee thought fit by a Court Martiall. 

20.  Whereas sometimes heeretofore the covetous and wide affections of some greedy and ill disposed Seamen, Saylers, and Marriners, laying hold upon the advanage of the present necessity, under which the Colony sometimes suffered, have sold unto our people, provisions of Meale, Oatmeale, Bisket, Butter, Cheese, etc., at unreasonable rates, and prises unconscionable: for avoiding the like to bee now put in practise, there shall be no Captain, Master, Marriner, or Saylor, or what Officer else belonging to any ship, or shippes, now within our river, or heereafter which shall arrive, shall dare to bargaine, exchange, barter, truck, trade, or sell, upon paine of death, unto any one Landman member of this present Colony, any provisions of what kind soever, above the determined valuations, and prises, set downe and proclaimed, and sent therefore unto each of your several ships, to bee fixed uppon your Maine mast, to the intent that want of due notice, and ignorance in this case, be no excuse, or plea, for any one offender herein...

23.  No man shall imbezell, lose, or willingly breake, or fraudulently make away, either Spade, Shovell, Hatchet, Axe, Mattocke, or other toole or instrument uppon paine of whipping.

24.  Any man that hath any edge toole, either of his owne, or which hath heeretofore beene belonging to the store, see that he bring it instantly to the storehouse, where he shall receive it againe by a particular note, both of the toole, and of his name taken, that such a toole unto him appertaineth, at whose hands, upon any necessary occasion, the said toole may be required, and this shall he do, upone paine of severe punishment.

31.  What man or woman soever, shall rob any garden, publike or private, being set to weed the same, or wilfully pluck up therein any roote, herbe, or flower, to spoile and wast or steale the same, or robbe any vineyard, or gather up the grapes, or steale any eares of the corne growing, wheter in the ground belonging to the same fort or towne where he dwelleth, or in any other, shall be punished with death...

All such Bakers are appointed to bake bread, or what else, either for the store to be given out in generall, or for any one in particular, shall not steale nor imbezel, loose, or defraud any man of his due and proper weight and measure, nor use any dishonest and deceiptfull tricke to make the bread weigh heavier, or make it courser upon purpose to keepe back any part or measure of the flower or meale committed unto him, nor aske, take, or detaine any one loafe more or lesse of r his hire or paines for so baking, since whilest he who delivered unto him such meale or flower, being to attend the businesse of the Colonie, such baker or bakers are imposed upon no other service or duties, but onely so to bake for such as do worke, and this shall hee take notice of, upon paine for the first time offending herein of losing his eares, and for the second time to be condemned a yeare to the Gallies, and for the third time offending, to be condemned to the Gallies for three yeares.

All such cookes as are appointed to seeth [i.e., boil], bake or dresse any manner of way, flesh, fish, or what else, of what kind soever, either for the general company, or for any private man, shall not make lesse, or cut away any part or parcel of such flesh, fish, etc. Nor detaine or demaund any part or parcell, as allowance or hire for his so dressing the same, since as aforesaid of the baker, hee or they such Cooke or Cookes, exempted from other publike works abroad, are to attend such seething and dressing fo such publike flesh, fish, or other provisions of what kinds soever, as their service and duties expected from them by the Colony, and this shall they take notice of, upon paine for the first time offending herein, of losing his eares, and for the second time to be condemned a yeare to the Gallies: and for the third time offending to be condemned to the Gallies for three yeares.

All fishermen, dressers of Sturgeon or such like appointed to fish, or to cure the said Sturgeon for the use of the Colonie, shall give a just and true account of al said fish as they shall take by day or night, of what kinde soever, the same to bring unto the Governour: As also of all suck kegges of Sturgeon or Caviare as they shall prepare and cure upon perill for the first time offending herein, of loosing his eares, and for the second time to be condemned a yeare to the Gallies, and for the third time offending, to be condemned to the Gallies for three yeares...

The Summarie of the Marshall Lawes

Thee are now further to understand, that all these prohibited, and forefended [i.e., forbidden] trespasses and misdemenors, with the injoyned observance of all these thus repeated, Civill and Politique Lawes, provided, and declared against what Crimes soever, whether against the divine Majesty of God, or our soveraigne, and Liege Lord, King James, the detestable crime of Sodomie, Incest, Blasphemie, Treason against the person of the principall Generals, and Commaunders of this Colonie, and their designs, against detracting, murmuring, calumniating, or slaundering of the Right Honourable the Councell resident in England, and the Committies there, the general Councell, and chiefe Commaunders heere, as also against intemperate raylings, worser sort, by the most impudent, ignorant, and prophane, such as have neither touch of humanitie, nor of conscience amongst ourselves against Adultery, Fornication, Rape, Murther, Theft, false witnessing in any cause, and other the rest of the Civill, and Politique Lawes and Orders, necesarily appertaining, and properly belinging to the Government of the State and Condition of the present Coloby, as it now subsisteth: I say thee are to know, that all these thus joyned, with their due punishments, and perils heere declared, and published, are no lesse subject to the Martiall law, then unto the Civill Magistrate and where the Alarum, Tumult, and practise of arms, are not excercised, and where these now following Lawes, appertaining only to Martiall discipline, are diligently to be observed, and shall be severely executed.

1.  No man shall willingly absent himself, when hee is summoned to take the oath of Supremacy, upon paine of death.

2.  Every Souldier comming into this Colonie, shall willingly take his oath to serve the Kind and the Colonie, and to be faithfull, and obedient to such Officers, and Commaunders, as shall be appointed over him, during the time of his aboad therein, according to the Tenor of the oath in that case provided, upon paine of being committed to the Gallies.

3.  If any Souldier, of what maner of man else soever, of what quality of condition soever he be, shal tacitely compact, with any Sea-man, Captain, Master, or Marriner, to convay himselfe a Board any shippe, with intent to depart from, and abandon the Colony, without a lawful Passe from the Generall, or chiefe commander of the Colonie, at that time, and shall happen to bee prevented, and taken therwith, before the shippe shall depart out of our Bay, that Captaine, Maister or mariner, that shall so receive him, shall lose his wages, and be condemned to the Gallies for three yeeres, and he the sworne servant of the Colony, Souldier, or what else, shall bee put to death with the Armes which he carrieth.

4.  When any select, and appointed Forces, for the execution and performance of any intended service, shall be drawne into the field, and shall dislodge from one place unto another, that Souldier that shall quit or forsake his Colors, shall be punished with death.


Friday, July 25, 2014

1610 The Church at Jamestown


William Strachey was born in 1572, in Saffron Walden, a small market town in Essex, England, to William Strachey (d. 1598) and Mary Cooke (d. 1587).  At the age of 16, he entered Emmanuel College at Cambridge University in 1588. In 1595, William married Frances Forster living near her home in Crowhurst in Surrey. Initially, Strachey supported his family from his inheritance from his father.  In order to meet family expenses, Strachey purchased 2 shares in the Virginia Company & sailed to Virginia on the Sea Venture in the summer of 1609.  This is his description of the church at Jamestown.


See CWF here The eastern corner of the 1608 church excavation sits behind a statue of John Smith

The Church at Jamestown

This description of the church constructed within the palisade at Jamestown, along with the account of the Sunday procession of the governor and his company, was written in 1610. It was included in Strachey’s letter to an unknown noble lady in England in 1609.

To every side, a proportioned distance from the palisade, is a settled street of houses that runs along, so as each line of the angle hath his street. In the midst is a market place, a store-house, and a corps de garde, 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 three-score foot, in breadth twenty-four, and shall have a chancel in it of cedar and a communion table of the black walnut, and all the pews of cedar, with fair broad windows to shut and open, as the weather shall occasion, of the same wood, a pulpit of the same, with a front hewn hollow, like a canoe, with two bells at the west end. It is so cast as it be very light within, and the lord governor and captain general doth cause it to be kept passing sweet and trimmed up with divers flowers, with a sexton belonging to it. And in it every Sunday we have sermons twice a day, and every Thursday a sermon, having true preachers, which take their weekly turns; and every morning, at the ringing of a bell about ten of the clock, each man addresseth himself to prayers, and so at four of the clock before supper.

Every Sunday, when the lord governor and captain general goeth to church, he is accompanied with all the councilors, captains, other officers, and all the gentlemen, and with a guard of halberdiers in His Lordship’s livery, fair red cloaks, to the number of fifty, both on each side and behind him; and, being in the church, His Lordship hath his seat in the choir, in a green velvet chair, with a cloth, with a velvet cushion spread on a table before him on which he kneeleth; and on each side sit the council, captains, and officers, each in their place; and when he returneth home again he is waited on to his house in the same manner.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1610 "Newes from Virginia" by Richard Rich


"Newes from Virginia" was written by an English soldier who sailed with Somers's fleet from England to Virginia in 1609, & participated in the near-abandonment of the Virginia colony in 1610. Rich tells of a baby boy & a baby girl being born there and baptised. He tells of the rich natural fruits & vegetables, hogs, birds, & turtles abounding in Virginia. He celebrates the deliverance of Sir Thomas Gates from the hurricane and the saving of the Virginia colony from near failure.




"Newes from Virginia" By Richard Rich (fl. 1610)

[By R. Rich, “one of the Voyage” to Virginia, 1608. News from Virginia. The Lost Flocke Triumphant. 1610.]

READER,—how to stile thee I knowe not, perhaps learned, perhaps unlearned; happily captious, happily envious; indeed, what or how to tearme thee I knowe not, only as I began I will proceede.

Reader, thou dost peradventure imagine that I am mercenarie in this busines, and write for money (as your moderne Poets use) hired by some of those ever to be admired adventurers to flatter the world. No, I disclaime it. I have knowne the voyage, past the danger, seene that honorable work of Virginia, and I thanke God am arrived here to tell thee what I have seene, done and past. If thou wilt believe me, so; if not, so too; for I cannot force thee but to thy owne liking. I am a soldier, blunt and plaine, and so is the phrase of my newes; and I protest it is true. If thou ask why I put it in verse, I prethee knowe it was only to feede mine owne humour. I must confesse that, had I not debard myselfe of that large scope which to the writing of prose is allowed, I should have much easd myselfe, and given thee better content. But I intreat thee to take this as it is, and before many daies expire, I will promise thee the same worke more at large.

I did feare prevention by some of your writers, if they should have gotten but some part of the newes by the tayle, and therefore, though it be rude, let it passe with thy liking, and in so doing I shall like well of thee; but, how ever, I have not long to stay. If thou wilt be unnatural to thy countryman, thou maist,—I must not loose my patrymonie, I am for Virginia againe, and so I will bid thee hartily farewell with an honest verse,—
 
As I came hether to see my native land,
To waft me backe lend me thy gentle hand.

Thy loving Country-man, R. R.    

Newes From Virginia

of the happy arrivall of that famous and worthy knight Sir Thomas Gates and well reputed and valiante Captaine Newport into England.

IT is no idle fabulous tale, nor is it fayned newes:
For Truth herself is heere arriv’d, because you should not muse.
With her both Gates and Newport come, to tell Report doth lye,
Which did devulge unto the world, that they at sea did dye.

Tis true that eleaven monthes and more, these gallant worthy wights       
Was in the shippe Sea-venture nam’d depriv’d Virginia’s sight.
And bravely did they glyde the maine, till Neptune gan to frowne,
As if a courser prowdly backt would throwe his ryder downe.

The seas did rage, the windes did blowe, distressed were they then;
Their ship did leake, her tacklings breake, in daunger were her men.        
But heaven was pylotte in this storme, and to an iland nere,
Bermoothawes call’d, conducted then, which did abate their feare.

But yet these worthies forced were, opprest with weather againe,
To runne their ship betweene two rockes, where she doth still remaine.
And then on shoare the iland came, inhabited by hogges,        
Some foule and tortoyses there were, they only had one dogge.

To kill these swyne, to yeild them foode that little had to eate,
Their store was spent, and all things scant, alas! they wanted meate.
A thousand hogges that dogge did kill, their hunger to sustaine,
And with such foode did in that ile two and forty weekes remaine.        

And there two gallant pynases did build of seader-tree;
The brave Deliverance one was call’d, of seaventy tonne was shee.
The other Patience had to name, her burthen thirty tonne;
Two only of their men which there pale death did overcome.

And for the losse of these two soules, which were accounted deere,   
A sonne and daughter then was borne, and were baptized there.
The two and forty weekes being past, they hoyst sayle and away;
Their ships with hogs well freighted were, their harts with mickle joy.

And so unto Virginia came, where these brave soldiers finde
The English-men opprest with greife and discontent in minde.        
They seem’d distracted and forlorne, for those two worthyes losse,
Yet at their home returne they joyd, among’st them some were crosse.

And in the mid’st of discontent came noble Delaware;
He heard the greifes on either part, and sett them free from care.
He comforts them and cheeres their hearts, that they abound with joy;   
He feedes them full and feedes their soules with Gods word every day.

A discreet counsell he creates of men of worthy fame,
That noble Gates leiftenant was the admirall had to name.
The worthy Sir George Somers knight, and others of commaund;
Maister Georg Pearcy, which is brother unto Northumberland.        

Sir Fardinando Wayneman knight, and others of good fame,
That noble lord his company, which to Virginia came,
And landed there; his number was one hundred seaventy; then
Ad to the rest, and they make full foure hundred able men.

Where they unto their labour fall, as men that meane to thrive;        
Let’s pray that heaven may blesse them all, and keep them long alive.
Those men that vagrants liv’d with us, have there deserved well;
Their governour writes in their praise, as divers letters tel.

And to th’ adventurers thus he writes be not dismayd at all,
For scandall cannot doe us wrong, God will not let us fall.        
Let England knowe our willingnesse, for that our worke is goode;
Wee hope to plant a nation, where none before hath stood.

To glorifie the lord tis done, and to no other end;
He that would crosse so good a worke, to God can be no friend.
There is no feare of hunger here for corne much store here growes,   
Much fish the gallant rivers yeild, tis truth without suppose.

Great store of fowle, of venison, of grapes and mulberries,
Of chestnuts, walnuts, and such like, of fruits and strawberries,
There is indeed no want at all, but some, condiciond ill,
That wish the worke should not goe on with words doe seeme to kill.     
And for an instance of their store, the noble Delaware
Hath for the present hither sent, to testifie his care
In mannaging so good a worke, to gallant ships, by name
The Blessing and the Hercules, well fraught, and in the same

Two ships, are these commodities, furres, sturgeon, caviare,        
Blacke walnut-tree, and some deale boords, with such they laden are;
Some pearle, some wainscot and clapbords, with some sassafras wood,
And iron promist, for tis true their mynes are very good.

Then, maugre scandall, false report, or any opposition,
Th’ adventurers doe thus devulge to men of good condition,        
That he that wants shall have reliefe, be he of honest minde,
Apparel, coyne, or any thing, to such they will be kinde.

To such as to Virginia do purpose to repaire;
And when that they shall thither come, each man shall have his share.
Day wages for the laborer, and for his more content,        
A house and garden plot shall have; besides, tis further ment

That every man shall have a part, and not thereof denaid,
Of generall profit, as if that he twelve pounds ten shillings paid;
And he that in Virginia shall copper coyne receive,
For hyer or commodities, and will the country leave        

Upon delivery of such coyne unto the Governour,
Shall by exchange at his returne be by their treasurer
Paid him in London at first sight, no man shall cause to grieve,
For tis their generall will and wish that every man should live.

The number of adventurers, that are for this plantation,        
Are full eight hundred worthy men, some noble, all of fashion.
Good, discreete, their worke is good, and as they have begun,
May Heaven assist them in their worke, and thus our newes is done.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Virginia, John Smith's Account of The Starving Time, 1609-1610


John Smith’s Account of the Starving Time, 1609-10



Now we all found the losse of Captaine Smith, yea his greatest maligners could now curse his losse: as for corne provision and contribution from the Salvages, we had nothing but mortall wounds, with clubs and arrowes; as for our Hogs, Hens, Goats I Sheepe, Horse, or what lived, our commanders, officers and Salvages daily consumed them, some small proportions sometimes we tasted, till all was devoured; then swords, armes, pieces, or any thing, wee traded with the Salvages, whose cruell fingers were so oft imbrewed in our blouds, that what by their cruelties our Governours indiscretion, and the losse of our ships, of five hundred within six moneths after Captain Smiths departure [October 1609-March 1610], there remained not past sixtie men, women and children, most miserable and poore creatures; and those were preserved for the most part, by roots, herbes, acornes, walnuts, berries, now and then a little fish: they that had startch in these extremities, made no small use of it; yea even the very skinnes of our horses.

Nay, so great was our famine, that a Salvage we slew and buried, the poorer sort tooke him up againe and eat him; and so did divers one another boyled and stewed with roots and herbs: And one amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered [i.e., salted] her, and had eaten part of her before it was knowne; for which hee was executed, as hee well deserved: now whether shee was better roasted, boyled or carbonado'd [i.e., grilled], I know not; but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of.

This was that time, which still to this day [1624] we called the starving time; it were too vile to say, and scarce to be beleeved, what we endured: but the occasion was our owne, for want of providence industrie and government, and not the barrennesse and defect of the Countrie, as is generally supposed; for till then in three yeeres, for the numbers were landed us, we had never from England provision sufficient for six months, though it seemed by the bils of loading sufficient was sent us, such a glutton is the Sea, and such good fellowes the Mariners; we as little tasted of the great proportion sent us, as they of our want and miseries, yet notwithstanding they ever overswayed and ruled the businesses though we endured all that is said, and chiefly lived on what this good Countrie naturally afforded. Yet had wee beene even in Paradice it selfe with these Governours, it would not have beene much better withe us; yet there was amongst us, who had they had the government as Captaine Smith appointed, but that they could not maintains it, would surely have kept us from those extremities of miseries. This in ten daies more, would have supplanted us all with death.

But God that would not this Countrie should be unplanted, sent Sir Thomas Gates, and Sir George Sommers with one hundred and fiftie people most happily preserved by the Bermudas to preserve us.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

1607 The Settlement of Jamestown by Captain John Smith

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The Settlement Of Jamestown - 1607 by Captain John Smith

This narrative is taken from the 3rd book of the 5th volume "The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & the Summer Isles: Together with The True Travels, Adventures and Observations, and a Sea Grammar" (London, 1624).




It might well be thought, a country so faire (as Virginia is) and a people so tractable, would long ere this have been quietly possessed, to the satisfaction of the adventurers, and the eternizing of the memory of those that effected it. But because all the world do see a failure; this following treatise shall give satisfaction to all indifferent readers, how the business has been carried: where no doubt they will easily understand and answer to their question, how it came to passe there was no better speed and success in those proceedings.

Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, one of the first movers of this plantation, having many years solicited many of his friends, but found small assistance; at last prevailed with some gentlemen, as Captain John Smith, Master Edward-maria Wingfield, Master Robert Hunt, and divers others, who depended a year upon his projects, but nothing could be effected, till by their great charge and industry, it came to be apprehended by certain of the nobility, gentry, and merchants, so that his Majesty by his letters patents, gave commission for establishing councils, to direct here; and to govern, and to execute there. To effect this, was spent another year, and by that, three ships were provided, one of 100 tons, another of 40 and a pinnace of 20. The transportation of the company was committed to Captain Christopher Newport, a mariner well practiced for the western parts of America. But their orders for government were put in a box, not to be opened, nor the governors known until they arrived in Virginia.

On the 19 of December, 1606, we set sail from Blackwall, but by unprosperous winds, were kept six weeks in the sight of England; all which time, Master Hunt our preacher, was so weak and sick, that few expected his recovery. Yet although he were but twenty miles from his habitation (the time we were in the Downes) and notwithstanding the stormy weather, nor the scandalous imputations (of some few, little better than atheists, of the greatest rank among us) suggested against him, all this could never force from him so much as a seeming desire to leave the business, but preferred the service of God, in so good a voyage, before any affection to contest with his godless foes whose disastrous designs (could they have prevailed) had even then overthrown the business, so many discontents did then arise, had he not with the water of patience, and his godly exhortations (but chiefly by his true devoted examples) quenched those flames of envy, and dissension...

The first land they made they called Cape Henry; where thirty of them recreating themselves on shore, were assaulted by five savages, who hurt two of the English very dangerously.

That night was the box opened, and the orders read, in which Bartholomew Gosnol, John Smith, Edward Wingfield, Christopher Newport, John Ratliff, John Martin, and George Kendall, were named to be the council, and to choose a president among them for a year, who with the council should govern. Matters of moment were to be examined by a jury, but determined by the major part of the council, in which the president had two voices.

Until the 13 of May they sought a place to plant in; then the council was sworn, Master Wingfield was chosen president, and an oration made, why Captain Smith was not admitted of the council as the rest.

Now falleth every man to work, the council contrive the fort, the rest cut down trees to make place to pitch their tents; some provide clapboard to relade the ships, some make gardens, some nets, etc. The savages often visited us kindly. The president's overweening jealousy would admit no exercise at arms, or fortification but the boughs of trees cast together in the form of a half moon by the extraordinary pains and diligence of Captain Kendall.

Newport, Smith, and twenty others, were sent to discover the head of the river: by divers small habitations they passed, in six days they arrived at a town called Powhatan, consisting of some twelve houses, pleasantly seated on a hill; before it three fertile isles, about it many of their cornfields, the place is very pleasant, and strong by nature, of this place the Prince is called Powhatan, and his people Powhatans. To this place the river is navigable: but higher within a mile, by reason of the rocks and isles, there is not passage for a small boat, this they call the falls. The people in all parts kindly entreated them, till being returned within twenty miles of Jamestown, they gave just cause of jealousy: but had God not blessed the discoverers otherwise than those at the fort, there had then been an end of that plantation; for at the fort, where they arrived the next day, they found 17 men hurt, and a boy slain by the savages, and had it not chanced a cross bar shot from the ships struck down a bough from a tree among them, that caused them to retire, our men had all been slain, being securely all at work, and their arms in dry fats.

Hereupon the president was contented the fort should be pallisaded, the ordnance mounted, his men armed and exercised: for many were the assaults, and ambuscades of the savages, and our men by their disorderly straggling were often hurt, when the savages by the nimbleness of their heels well escaped.

What toil we had, with so small a power to guard our workmen by day, watch all night, resist our enemies, and effect our business, to relade the ships, cut down trees, and prepare the ground to plant our corn, etc., I refer to the reader's consideration.

Six weeks being spent in this manner, Captain Newport (who was hired only for our transportation) was to return with the ships.

Now Captain Smith, who all this time from their departure from the Canaries was restrained as a prisoner upon the scandalous suggestions of some of the chiefs (envying his repute) who fained he intended to usurp the government, murder the council, and make himself king, that his confederates were dispersed in all the three ships, and that divers of his confederates that revealed it, would affirm it; for this he was committed as a prisoner.

Thirteen weeks he remained thus suspected, and by that time the ships should return they pretended out of their commiserations, to refer him to the council in England to receive a check, rather than by particulating his designs make him so odious to the world, as to touch his life, or utterly overthrow his reputation. But he so much scorned their charity, and publicly defied the uttermost of their cruelty; he wisely prevented their policies, though he could not suppress their envy; yet so well he demeaned himself in this business, as all the company did see his innocency, and his adversaries' malice, and those suborned to accuse him, accused his accusers of subornation; many untruths were alleged against him; but being so apparently disproved, begat a general hatred in the hearts of the company against such unjust commanders, that the president was adjudged to give him 2001; so that all he had was seized upon, in part of satisfaction, which Smith presently returned to the store for the general use of the colony.

Many were the mischiefs that daily sprung from their ignorant (yet ambitious) spirits; but the good doctrine and exhortation of our preacher Master Hunt reconciled them, and caused Captain Smith to be admitted of the council.

The next day all received the communion, the day following the savages voluntarily desired peace, and Captain Newport returned for England with news; leaving in Virginia 100 the 15 of June 1607.

Being thus left to our fortunes, it fortuned that within ten days scarce ten among us could either go, or well stand, such extreme weakness and sickness oppressed us. And thereat none need marvel, if they consider the cause and reason, which was this.

While the ships stayed, our allowance was somewhat bettered, by a daily proportion of biscuit, which the sailors would pilfer to sell, give, or exchange with us, for money, sassafras, furs, or love. But when they departed, there remained neither tavern, beer house, nor place of relief, but the common kettle. Had we been as free from all sins as gluttony, and drunkenness, we might have been canonized for Saints; but our president would never have been admitted, for ingrossing to his private, oatmeal, sack, oil, aquavitse, beef, eggs, or what not, but the kettle; that indeed he allowed equally to be distributed, and that was half a pint of wheat, and as much barley boiled with water for a man a day, and this having fried some 26 weeks in the ship's hold, contained as many worms as grains; so that we might truly call it rather so much bran than corn, our drink was water, our lodgings castles in the air.

With this lodging and diet, our extreme toil in bearing and planting pallisades, so strained and bruised us, and our continual labor in the extremity of the heat had so weakened us, as were cause sufficient to have made us as miserable in our native country, or any other place in the world.

From May, to September, those that escaped, lived upon sturgeon, and sea-crabs, fifty in this time we buried, the rest seeing the president's projects to escape these miseries in our pinnace by flight (who all this time had neither felt want nor sickness) so moved our dead spirits, as we deposed him; and established Ratcliff in his place, (Gosnol being dead) Kendall deposed. Smith newly recovered, Martin and Ratcliff was by his care preserved and relieved, and the most of the soldiers recovered with the skillful diligence of Master Thomas Wotton our surgeon general.

But now was all our provision spent, the sturgeon gone, all helps abandoned, each hour expecting the fury of the savages; when God the patron of all good endeavors, in that desperate extremity so changed the hearts of the savages, that they brought such plenty of their fruits, and provision, as no man wanted...

But our comedies never endured long without a tragedy; some idle exceptions being muttered against Captain Smith, for not discovering the head of Chickahamania river, and taxed by the council, to be too slow in so worthy an attempt. The next voyage he proceeded so far that with much labor by cutting of trees insunder he made his passage; but when his barge could pass no farther, he left her in a broad bay out of danger of shot, commanding none should go ashore till his return: himself with two English and two savages went up higher in a canoe; but he was not long absent, but his men went ashore, whose want of government gave both occasion and opportunity to the savages to surprise one George Cassen, whom they slew, and much failed not to have cut off the boat and all the rest.

Smith little dreaming of that accident, being got to the marshes at the river's head, twenty miles in the desert, had his two men slain (as is supposed) sleeping by the canoe, while himself by fowling sought them victual: who finding he was beset with 200 savages, two of them he slew, still defending himself with the aid of a savage his guide whom he bound to his arm with his garters, and used him as a buckler, yet he was shot in his thigh a little, and had many arrows that stuck in his clothes but no great hurt, till at last they took him prisoner.

When this news came to Jamestown, much was their sorrow for his loss, few expecting what ensued.

Six or seven weeks those Barbarians kept him prisoner, many strange triumphs and conjurations they made of him, yet he so demeaned himself among them, as he not only diverted them from surprising the fort, but procured his own liberty, and got himself and his company such estimation among them, that those savages admired him more than their own Quiyouckosucks...

At last they brought him to Meronocomoco, where was Powhatan their emperor. Here more than two hundred of those grim courtiers stood wondering at him, as he had been a monster; till Powhatan and his train had put themselves in their greatest braveries. Before a fire upon a seat like a bedstead, he sat covered with a great robe, made of Rarowcun (raccoon?) skins, and all the tails hanging by. On either hand did sit a young wench of 16 or 18 years, and along on each side the house, two rows of men, and behind them as many women, with all their heads and shoulders painted red: many of their heads bedecked with the white down of birds; but every one with something: and a great chain of white beads about their necks.

At his entrance before the king, all the people gave a great shout. The queen of Appamatuck was appointed to bring him water to wash his hands, and another brought him a bunch of feathers, instead of a towel to dry them: having feasted him after their best barbarous manner they could, a long consultation was held, but the conclusion was, two great stones were brought before Powhatan: then as many as could laid hands on him, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head, and being ready with their clubs, to beat out his brains, Pocahontas the king's dearest daughter, when no entreaty could prevail, got his head in her arms, and laid her own upon his to save him from death: whereat the Emperor was contented he should live to make him hatchets, and her bells, beads, and copper; for they thought him as well of all occupations as themselves. For the king himself will make his own robes, shoes, bowes, arrows, pots; plant, hunt, or do anything so well as the rest.

They say he bore a pleasant show,
But sure his heart was sad.
For who can pleasant be, and rest,
That lives in fear and dread:
And having life suspected, doth
It still suspected lead.

Two days after, Powhatan having disguised himself in the most fearful manner he could, caused Captain Smith to be brought forth to a great house in the woods, and thereupon a mat by the fire to be left alone. Not long after from behind a mat that divided the house, was made the most doleful noise he ever heard; then Powhatan more like a devil than a man, with some two hundred more as black as himself, came unto him and told him now they were friends, and presently he should go to Jamestown, to send him two great guns, and a grindstone, for which he would give him the country of Capahowosick, and forever esteem him as his son Nantaquoud.

So to Jamestown with 12 guides Powhatan sent him. That night they quartered in the woods, he still expecting (as he had done all this long time of his imprisonment) every hour to be put to one death or other: for all their feasting. But almighty God (by his divine providence) had mollified the hearts of those stern barbarians with compassion. The next morning betimes they came to the fort, where Smith having used the savages with what kindness he could, he showed Rawhunt, Powhatan's trusty servant, two demi-culverins and a millstone to carry Powhatan: they found them somewhat too heavy; but when they did see him discharge them, being loaded with stones, among the boughs of a great tree loaded with icicles the ice and branches came so tumbling down, that the poor savages ran away half dead with fear. But at last we regained some conference with them, and gave them such toys; and sent to Powhatan, his women, and children such presents, as gave them in general full content.

Now in Jamestown they were all in combustion, the strongest preparing once more to run away with the pinnace; which with the hazard of his life, with Sakre falcon and musket shot, Smith forced now the third time to stay or sink.

Some no better than they should be, had plotted with the president, the next day to have put him to death by the Levitical law, for the lives of Robinson and Emry; pretending the fault was his that had led them to their ends: but he quickly took such order with such lawyers, that he laid them by the heels till he sent some of them prisoners for England.

Now every once in four or five days, Pocahontas with her attendants, brought him so much provision, that saved many of their lives, that else for all this had starved with hunger.

Thus from numb death our good God sent relief,

The sweet assuager of all other grief.

His relation of the plenty he had seen, especially at Werawocomoco, and of the state and bounty of Powhatan, (which till that time was unknown) so revived their dead spirits (especially the love of Pocahontas) as all men's fear was abandoned.

Thus you may see what difficulties still crossed any good endeavor; and the good success of the business being thus often brought to the very period of destruction; yet you see by what strange means God has still delivered it.

As for the insufficiency of them admitted in commission, that error could not be prevented by the electors; there being no other choice, and all strangers to each other's education, qualities, or disposition.

And if any deem it a shame to our Nation to have any mention made of those enormities, let him peruse the Histories of the Spaniard's Discoveries and Plantations, where they may see how many mutinies, disorders, and dissensions have accompanied them, and crossed their attempts: which being known to be particular men's offenses; does take away the general scorn and contempt, which malice, presumption, coveteousness, or ignorance might produce; to the scandal and reproach of those, whose actions and valiant resolutions deserve a more worthy respect.

Now whether it had been better for Captain Smith, to have concluded with any of those several projects, to have abandoned the country, with some ten or twelve of them, who were called the better sort, and have left Master Hunt our preacher, Master Anthony Gosnol, a most honest, worthy, and industrious gentleman, Master Thomas Wotton, and some 27 others of his countrymen to the fury of the savages, famine, and all manner of mischiefs, and inconveniences, (for they were but forty in all to keep possession of this large country;) or starve himself with them for company, for want of lodging: or but adventuring abroad to make them provision, or by his opposition to preserve the action, and save all their lives; I leave to the censure of all honest men to consider....


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Evolution of the Virginia Colony 1611-1624


Almost from the start, investors in the Virginia Company in England were unhappy with the accomplishments of their Jamestown colonists. They therefore sought a new charter, which the king granted in May 1609. They took immediate steps to put the company on a sounder financial footing by selling shares valued at 12 1/2, 25, and 50 pounds (English monetary unit, originally equivalent to one pound of silver). Investors were promised a dividend from whatever gold, land, or other valuable commodities the Company amassed after seven years.


From The History and the Present State of Virginia, Book III, Of the Indians, their Religion, Laws, and Customs, in War and Peace.  Beverley, Robert, ca. 1673-1722.

Meanwhile, the charter allowed the Company to make its own laws and regulations, subject only to their compatibility with English law. To avoid the disputes that had characterized Virginia in its first years, the Company gave full authority and nearly dictatorial powers to the colony's governor. These changes were nearly too little and too late, for Jamestown was just then experiencing its "starving time." The Company, however, was bent on persevering and sent a new batch of ships and colonists in 1611. Over the next five years, Sir Thomas Gates and then Sir Thomas Dale governed the colony with iron fists via the "Lawes Devine, Morall, and Martiall."

The harsh regimes of the Virginia governors were not especially attractive to potential colonists. What was more, the colonists who did go to Virginia often did not have the skills and knowledge to help the colony prosper. The colonists not only found little of value, they were remarkably unable even to feed themselves. As a result, huge numbers of colonists perished from disease (many of which they brought with them), unsanitary conditions, and malnutrition. Between 1614 and 1618 or so, potential colonists were much more attracted to the West Indies and Bermuda than they were Virginia.

By 1618, the Virginia Company was forced to change course again. The Company had not solved the problem of profitability, nor that of settlers' morale. Sir Edwin Sandys became Company Treasurer and embarked on a series of reforms. He believed that the manufacturing enterprises the Company had begun were failing due to want of manpower. He embarked on a policy of granting sub-patents to land, which encouraged groups and wealthier individuals to go to Virginia. He sought to reward investors and so distributed 100 acres of land to each adventurer. He also distributed 50 acres to each person who paid his or her own way and 50 acres more for each additional person they brought along. This was known as the Virginia headright system.

Finally, Sandys thought it essential to reform the colony's governing structure. He hit upon the idea of convening an assembly in the colony, whose representatives would be elected by inhabitants. The assembly would have full power to enact laws on all matters relating to the colony. Of course, these laws could be vetoed by either the governor or the Company in London.

It may be said that some things improved, while others did not. With the experiments of John Rolfe, the colony finally discovered a staple product--tobacco. The colonists wanted to plant tobacco because it was a cash crop, even though the King opposed the use of the weed. But the Company constantly discouraged the cultivation of tobacco because its production seduced the colonists away from planting corn. The colony also continued to face the problem of lack of laborers and inability to feed itself. The ultimate answer to the labor problem was ominously foreshadowed in a little-noticed event that Rolfe described to Sandys in 1619: the arrival of a Dutch man-of-war carrying a group of captive Africans, for by the end of the century, African slave labor would become the colony's economic and social foundation. Indian relations, which seemed quiet for a time, finally spelled the end to the Virginia Company. In 1622, Indians rose up and massacred a large number of Virginia colonists. This led to an inquiry into Company affairs and finally the revocation of its charter.

See Library of Congress here.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1607 The First 102 Colonists Arrive in Virginia - 32 Survive


In 1607, the British actually establish their first American colony at Jamestown named for King James I, who ascended to the throne only 4 years earlier. Virginia was named for England's virgin Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603), who never married. More on Queen Elizabeth I to follow here. England was financially pressed following years of war with Spain.

To raise funds to explore the New World, to bring back gold and other riches, and to seek the Northwest Passage to the Middle East and India, James I grants a proprietary charter for the Chesapeake region to two competing branches of the Virginia Company, which were supported by private investors--the Plymouth Company and the London Company.

1607


April 30
The fleet heading for Virginia leaves England on December 20, 1606.  On April 30, 1607, 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 & 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)


Captain John Smith 1579-1632

September 10
President Edward Maria Wingfield deposed from the governing council.  Captain John Ratliffe elected in his place.

Early December
John Smith captured by Opechancanough (1554-1646) who was a tribal chief of the Powhatan Confederacy of what is now Virginia, and its leader from sometime after 1618, until his death in 1646. His name meant "He whose Soul is White" in the Algonquian language.

Of the original 105 settlers, only 32 survived the first year.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

1606 Instructions for the Virginia Colony

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Captain Smith and his adventurers

In the 1st decade of the 17C England began a second round of colonizing attempts. This time jointstock companies were used as the vehicle to plant settlements rather than giving extensive grants to a landed proprietor such as Gilbert or Raleigh, whose attempts at colonization in the 1570s & 1580s had failed.

The founding of Virginia marked the beginning of a 25 year period in which every colony in the New World was established by means of a joint-stock company. A variety of motives intensified the colonizing impulse - international rivalry, propagation of religion, enlarged opportunity for individual men - but none exceeded that of trade & profit. The companies were created to make a profit; their in vestments in the colonies were based on this assumption. Early in the 1630's, merchants & investors discovered that they could employ their money in other more rewarding enterprises. After 1631, no colony was founded by mercantile enterprise, but by that date the investors had left a legacy of colonization that was to endure.

In these instructions for the Virginia Company, the power of Spain and the fear derived from past failures invade every line. The detail of the instructions reflect the work of experienced men; Richard Hakluyt, the younger, for example, probably had a hand in writing them.  Hakluyt wrote The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation between 1598 and 1600. Hakluyt was an unashamed propagandist for England's maritime expansion. He detailed shipwrecks, privations, discoveries, encounters with different peoples across the globe, imprisonments, escapes.

1606 Instructions


As we doubt not but you will have especial care to observe the ordinances set down by the King's Majesty and delivered unto you under the Privy Seal; so for your better directions upon your first landing we have thought good to recommend unto your care these instructions and articles following.

When it shall please God to send you on the coast of Virginia, you shall do your best endeavour to find out a safe port in the entrance of some navigable river, making choice of such a one as runneth farthest into the land, and if you happen to discover divers portable rivers, and amongst them any one that hath two main branches, if the difference be not great, make choice of that which bendeth most toward the North-West for that way you shall soonest find the other sea.

When you have made choice of the river on which you mean to settle, be not hasty in landing your victuals and munitions; but first let Captain Newport discover how far that river may be found navigable, that you make election of the strongest, most wholesome and fertile place; for if you make many removes, besides the loss of time, you shall greatly spoil your victuals and your caske, and with great pain transport it in small boats.
But if you choose your place so far up as a bark of fifty tuns will float, then you may lay all your provisions ashore with ease, and the better receive the trade of all the countries about you in the land; and such a place you may perchance find a hundred miles from the river's mouth, and the further up the better. For if you sit down near the entrance, except it be in some island that is strong by nature, an enemy that may approach you on even ground, may easily pull you out; and if he be driven to seek you a hundred miles [in] the land in boats, you shall from both sides of the river where it is narrowest, so beat them with your muskets as they shall never be able to prevail against you.

And to the end that you be not surprised as the French were in Florida by Melindus, and the Spaniard in the same place by the French, you shall do well to make this double provision. First, erect a little stoure at the mouth of the river that may lodge some ten men; with whom you shall leave a light boat, that when any fleet shall be in sight, they may come with speed to give you warning. Secondly, you must in no case suffer any of the native people of the country to inhabit between you and the sea coast; for you cannot carry yourselves so towards them, but they will grow discontented with your habitation, and be ready to guide and assist any nation that shall come to invade you; and if you neglect this, you neglect your safety.

When you have discovered as far up the river as you mean to plant yourselves, and landed your victuals and munitions; to the end that every man may know his charge, you shall do well to divide your six score men into three parts; whereof one party of them you may appoint to fortifie and build, of which your first work must be your storehouse for victuals; the other you may imploy in preparing your ground and sowing your corn and roots; the other ten of these forty you must leave as centinel at the haven's mouth. The other forty you may imploy for two months in discovery of the river above you, and on the country about you; which charge Captain Newport and Captain Gosnold may undertake of these forty discoverers. When they do espie any high lands or hills, Captain Gosnold may take twenty of the company to cross over the lands, and carrying a half dozen pickaxes to try if they can find any minerals. The other twenty may go on by river, and pitch up boughs upon the bank's side, by which the other boats shall follow them by the same turnings. You may also take with them a wherry, such as is used here in the Thames; by which you may send back to the President for supply of munition or any other want, that you may not be driven to return for every small defect.

You must observe if you can, whether the river on which you plant doth spring out of mountains or out of lakes. If it be out of any lake, the passage to the other sea will be more easy, and [it] is like enough, that out of the same lake you shall find some spring which run[s] the contrary way towards the East India Sea; for the great and famous rivers of Volga, Tan[a]is and Dwina have three heads near joynd; and yet the one falleth into the Caspian Sea, the other into the Euxine Sea, and the third into the Paelonian Sea.

In all your passages you must have great care not to offend the naturals [natives], if you can eschew it; and imploy some few of your company to trade with them for corn and all other . . . victuals if you have any; and this you must do before that they perceive you mean to plant among them; for not being sure how your own seed corn will prosper the first year, to avoid the danger of famine, use and endeavour to store yourselves of the country corn.

Your discoverers that pass over land with hired guides, must look well to them that they slip not from them: and for more assurance, let them take a compass with them, and write down how far they go upon every point of the compass; for that country having no way nor path, if that your guides run from you in the great woods or desert, you shall hardly ever find a passage back.

And how weary soever your soldiers be, let them never trust the country people with the carriage of their weapons; for if they run from you with your shott, which they only fear, they will easily kill them all with their arrows. And whensoever any of yours shoots before them, be sure they may be chosen out of your best marksmen; for if they see your learners miss what they aim at, they will think the weapon not so terrible, and thereby will be bould to assault you.

Above all things, do not advertize the killing of any of your men, that the country people may know it; if they perceive that they are but common men, and that with the loss of many of theirs they diminish any part of yours, they will make many adventures upon you. If the country be populous, you shall do well also, not to let them see or know of your sick men, if you have any; which may also encourage them to many enterprizes.

You must take especial care that you choose a seat for habitation that shall not be over burthened with woods near your town; for all the men you have, shall not be able to cleanse twenty acres a year; besides that it may serve for a covert for your enemies round about.

Neither must you plant in a low or moist place, because it will prove unhealthfull. You shall judge of the good air by the people; for some part of that coast where the lands are low, have their people blear eyed, and with swollen bellies and legs; but if the naturals be strong and clean made, it is a true sign of a wholesome soil.

You must take order to draw up the pinnace that is left with you, under the fort: and take her sails and anchors ashore, all but a small kedge to ride by; least some ill-dispositioned persons slip away with her.

You must take care that your marriners that go for wages, do not mar your trade; for those that mind not to inhabite, for a little gain will debase the estimation of exchange, and hinder the trade for ever after; and therefore you shall not admit or suffer any person whatsoever, other than such as shall be appointed by the President and Counsel there, to buy any merchandizes or other things whatsoever.

It were necessary that all your carpenters and other such like workmen about building do first build your storehouse and those other rooms of publick and necessary use before any house be set up for any private person: and though the workman may belong to any private persons yet let them all work together first for the company and then for private men.

And seeing order is at the same price with confusion, it shall be adviseably done to set your houses even and by a line, that your street may have a good breadth, and be carried square about your market place and every street's end opening into it; that from thence, with a few field pieces, you may command every street throughout; which market place you may also fortify if you think it needfull.

You shall do well to send a perfect relation by Captaine Newport of all that is done, what height you are seated, how far into the land, what commodities you find, what soil, woods and their several kinds, and so of all other things else to advertise particularly; and to suffer no man to return but by pasport from the President and Counsel, nor to write any letter of anything that may discourage others.

Lastly and chiefly the way to prosper and achieve good success is to make yourselves all of one mind for the good of your country and your own, and to serve and fear God the Giver of all Goodness, for every plantation which our Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted out.