Timeline Of Events Directly Affecting Women
England became a colonial power in the 1580s, after setting up a colony at Roanoke in the present-day state of North Carolina, establishing it to rival Spanish control of the New World. The Anglo-Spanish War of the 1580s-1600s raged violently, as English privateers such as Francis Drake, John Hawkins, & Martin Frobisher raided Spanish shipping. Although the Roanoke colony failed, in 1607 the English set up the Jamestown colony in Virginia, & the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts in 1622. English expansion in the New World gave them most of the Atlantic coast of colonial North America.
Copies of complete documents may be found by clicking on highlighted descriptions.
The First Charter of Virginia; April 10 Here
Virginia. The British establish their first American colony at Jamestown named for King James I, who ascended to the throne only four years earlier. Virginia was named for the virgin Queen Elizabeth, who never married. 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. Of the original 105 settlers, only 32 survived the first year.
First English women arrive at Jamestown contributing to Jamestown's ultimate survival. 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."
Anne Burras came to Jamestown in 1608 married John Laydon three months after her arrival becoming the first Jamestown wedding. Anne and John raised four daughters in the new Virginia wilderness.
John Smith (1580-1631) claims (some 24 years later & 7 years after her death) that Pocahontas saves him from execution by Algonquian Chief Powhatan who was her faher.
The Dutch East India Company sends Henry Hudson on a seven month voyage to explore the area around present-day New York City and the river north to Albany, which bears his name. The Dutch claimed the land.
Temperance Flowerdew, arrived at Jamestown 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 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.
The Second Charter of Virginia; May 23
Tobacco cultivation is introduced in Virginia and within a decade becomes the colony's chief source of revenue.
Authorized version of King James Bible published
The Third Charter of Virginia; March 12 Here
Pocahontas is taken hostage by Jamestown colonists in the first Anglo-Powhatan war.
A Dutch trading post is set up on lower Manhattan island.
Pocahontas is baptized a Christian and marries John Rolfe, one of the Jamestown colonists.
General Charter for Those who Discover Any New Passages, Havens, Countries, or Places; March 27 Here
Grant of Exclusive Trade to New Netherland by the States-General of the United Netherlands; October 11 Here
Pocahontas and John Rolfe departed for England, where she met King James I. Pocahontas and Rolfe were awarded funds to return to the colony to establish a college to Christianize the Powhatan Indians, but on beginning the trip home she died unexpectedly, in March 1617, at Gravesend, England, where she is buried.
John Smith writes A Description of New England.
Virginia settlers were first granted their own personal property, the acreage dependent on the time and situation of their arrival. This was the beginning of private property for Virginia men. The 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 hoped to anchor their discontented bachelors to the soil of Virginia by using women as a stabilizing factor. They ordered 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."
The first session of the first legislative assembly in America occurs as the Virginia House of Burgesses convenes in Jamestown. It consists of 22 burgesses, all men, representing 11 plantations.
Twenty Africans, 17 men & 3 women, are brought by a Dutch ship to Jamestown for sale as indentured servants, marking the beginning of slavery in Colonial America.
Petition for a Charter of New England by the Northern Company of Adventurers; March 3 Here
Massachusetts. A group of 101 Puritan Separatists frustrated in their attempts to achieve reform within the Church of England sail on board the Mayflower to America and establish Plymouth Colony on Cape Cod in New England. When 41 men from the group set up the the Mayflower Compact establishing a form of local government in which the colonists agree to abide by majority rule and to cooperate for the general good of the colony, later colonies us it as a model as they set up governments. Plymouth was absorbed by Massachusetts Bay Colony with the issuance of the Massachusetts Bay charter of 1691.
Charter of New England; November 3 Here
Mayflower Compact; November 11 Here
The first public library in the colonies is organized in Virginia with books donated by landowners
Yale Law School, The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy. New Haven, CT.
Burt, Daniel S., editor. THE CHRONOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE: AMERICA'S LITERARY ACHIEVEMENTS FROM THE COLONIAL ERA TO MODERN TIMES. Houghton Mifflin Internet.
HISTORY MATTERS. American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University). Internet.