Thursday, January 24, 2019

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.


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.