Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Starving Time in Jamestown #virginiapioneersnet

The first several years at Jamestown were known as "the starving time".  It seemed that every time the supply returned to England, that its new settlers became quite ill.  In those days, arsenic was used on board vessels to kill the rat infestation.  That means that as supplies were unloaded, so were rats. Just a speculation on my part, but the illnesses which were caused so many persons to suffer horrible deaths sound like poisoning. Also, archaeologists have uncovered rat skeletens and observed that the colonists were eating the rats to keep from starving.  Also, after John Smith left the colony to return to England, he did so without appointing a leader.  The Indians began to rob and plunder the settlement, and at the same time famine and disease aided in the work of destruction.

At the close of that terrible winter, known ever since as the "Starving Time," barely sixty of the five hundred men whom Smith had left in the colony survived.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Religious Services at Jamestown, Virginia

Courtesy of New York Public Library


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Monday, February 15, 2016

Proctor Plantation

Winter in Jamestown
John Proctor of London, Middlesex County, was among those who came to Virginia under a Company Charter in the 1609-15 period. It would appear that he located a plantation well up the James River, on its south side, but below Falling Creek. The land list of 1625 specified that he had a 200 acre grant in this vicinity. Perhaps, he was established here well before the massacre. When the Indians descended on his place, he must have been away, for his wife stood her ground as she did later when the Colony officials sought to force her to vacate the now isolated post. It is reported that Mistress Proctor, a proper, civill, modest gentlewoman [fortified and lived in despite of the enemy] till perforce the English officers forced her and all them with her to goe with them, or they would fire her house themselves, as the salvages did when they were gone. In 1624 Proctor and his wife were living  over the River from Jamestown and a year later he, his wife Alice and three servants were at Paces Paines. It is not known whether he returned to his plantation upriver from which he had been uprooted in 1622. He had, in 1623, received a patent to transport fifty persons to Virginia together with sufficient necessities and provisions for cultivating the land. The latter seemingly included a wherry or small boate. There is evidence, too, that he could punish his servants if the occasion warranted even to the extent of using a line or whip corde.   Note: John Proctor died July 3, 1627 in Surry County, Virginia.

Source:  The First Seventeen Years 1607-1725 by Charles E. Hatch Jr.<br><br>
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Monday, February 8, 2016

Nonsuch

The records and historians frequently mention "the falls".  But what do they mean? One of President Wingfield's first acts in May, 1607, after the construction of James Fort was underway, was the dispatch of a party to explore the river above Jamestown. Twenty-two men under Capt. Christopher Newport left on May 21 and proceeded inland to the falls of the James River near the Indian Towne of Powhatan.  Although the James River was navigable, small ships could not pass beyond the Falls.  Hence, upon the shallop of Newport arriving, they could not cross.  Two years later Capt. Smith sent Capt. Francis West from Jamestown to establish a settlement at the Falls where 140 men and a six months supply of food was left.  However, the site was too low in elevation and subjected to the inundation of high water. So when Capt. Smith went up river to look over the new post, he negotiated with the Indians to take over their fortified settlement on a point of high ground. This included lodgings and 300 acres of ground readie to plant, a place which Smith called Nonsuch.
The shift of site was made in West's absence and when he returned he was not happy with the situation. He preferred the site of his choice and the settlers returned again "to the open aire of West Fort," abandoning "Nonsuch."  As a result, an Indian attack followed and the settlement became untenable. West returned with his men to Jamestown having lost a goodly number at the "Falles" as well as eleven men and a boat at "Arsetocke" a few miles downstream. One more settlement had temporarily failed. Lord De La Warr attempted to re-establish the post here in 1610 and built "Laware's Fort" from which he planned to search for minerals in the coming spring. This, too, failed when illness caused him to return to Jamestown, the same sickness, perhaps, that led him to quit Virginia a little later.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

The College Lands

Some of the old deeds in York County, Virginia refer to the College lands.  The College began in 1619 with a specific interest towards Christianing the Indians and educating the infidels children. Governer Yeardley's instructions of 1618 had an order to locate a suitable place for a university in the Henrico area.  Contributions were made towards the planting of a college and 10,000 acres were set aside as an endowment. When the bishop's collection for the college reached £1,500, a decision was made. Rather than start construction with too little, it was resolved to send fifty tenants-at-halves to work on the land. Half of their income would go to the college project and half to themselves. Profits, it was expected, would augment the building and maintenance fund and help to support tutors and students. In the meanwhile, friendly relations with the Indians were important to make possible the willing education of their children. The tenants reached Virginia in November, 1619, under the command of William Weldon. Being poorly supplied, however, and inexperienced, the Governor dispersed 30 of them among the old planters and sent Weldon and the remainder to be with Capt. Samuel Mathews at Arrahatock which was actually within the College lands. This was a poor beginning and meant that little would happen within a year. In England, the early beginnings were seen not to have been too successful and the Company committee set up for the purpose explored various possibilities. In the spring of 1620, George Thorpe, a gentleman of the King's privy chamber and a member of the Company Council, was made deputy for the Company to prosecute the project. Already he had gone to Virginia in the interest of Berkeley Hundred. Previously, it appears, an additional fifty tenants had been dispatched to the Colony.
The Indian massacre of 1620/1621 took George Thorpe and 17 of the "Colledge People" located about 2 miles above "Henrico-Citie." The college project did not survive this blow even though the Company urged it and the 60 surviving tenants were returned to the land in the spring of 1623 with the hope of building houses and planting orchards and gardens.  During the year of 1624, there were 29 persons living on the college lands, and, according to the census of 1625, this had dropped to 22 who were living in 8 houses. They were then deficient in food, excepting fish, and in livestock and were not too well armed, having but 16 armors, 6 swords, and 18 fixed pieces. The excursion into ironmaking had failed after the expenditure of "the greatest parte of the stock belonginge to the Colledge." With the dissolution of the Company the spark for the project seemed gone. One student of this subject, Robert Hunt Land, has concluded: "Possibly a greater blow to Henrico College than the massacre was the revocation of the charter of the Virginia Company of London."
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Monday, February 1, 2016

Argall Town

Having been assigned 2400 acres for the transportation of 24 persons, a site west of Jamestown was selected by Samuel Argall in 1617 as settlement.  This was one of the first land grants.  Also, there were settlers with him to be employed on the land.  The occupants of this area were listed two years later which sent representatives to the Fist Assembly of 1619, viz., Thomas Pawlett and Edward Gourgaing. From all that I can determine this land was near to the present site of Williamsburg, Virginia.
Seemingly the accommodations which resulted were good ones for when, in 1619, some newly arrived Martin's Hundred people were seated here, there was good and convenient housing which enabled them to do the best of all new-comers. They reaped better crops and the list of those who died was not comparable to other places. Argall Town, however, was not destined to become a settled community. It was on the Governor's land and Yeardley proceeded after his arrival in 1619 to take a petty rente from the settlers here "to make them acknowledge that Paspaheigho by expresse wordes in the greate commission did belonge to the Governor and that they had bene wrongfully seated by Capt. Argall upon that lande."
Source:  The First Seventeen Years 1607-1725 by Charles E. Hatch Jr.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Falling Creek Iron Works

The Iron Works at Falling Creek near Jamestown
Five years after the massacre of Jamestown, William Capps was sent by the King to Virginia with a general commission to establish a number of industries in the colony, including the manufacture of iron. The Governor and Council expressed the utmost readiness to give Capps all the assistance in their power, but Capps soon became involved in trouble and before he could issue any plans, was forced to leave the colony. Source: King to Governor and Council of Virginia, British State Papers, Colonial, vol. IV, No. 32; Sainsbury Abstracts for 1627, p. 164; Examination taken Nov. 2, 1629, British State Papers.


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