Sunday, September 14, 2014

Accomplishments during Short Life-Spans

During the reign of Charles I, there are many entries in the English Chancellor's Records reflect names of settlers who traveled to and fro concerning the affairs of Jamestown. 
The life expectancy of a colonists who came to Jamestown during the 17th century was exceedingly low.  The main reason was the brutality of the unfriendly tribes of the emperer Powhatan, deprivation, starvation and general hardship.  Prior to the formation of the colony in 1607,  James I had come to the throne of England after the death of Queen Elizabeth I.  He made an agreement with Spain which forced Spain to relinquish total control of North America so that the English could explore. Thus, the Virginia Company was formed, which was a joint stock company. It sponsored the first settlement to Jamestown and outfitted 144 settlers (mostly males)  to make the trip.  In those days, sea voyages caused dysentery, fevers and deaths, and only 104 immigrants survived the journey.  The new colonists were faced with aggressive opposition from the natives and were compelled to construct a stockade fence around the town and remain inside. Venturing outside of the village was so disastrous that when another supply arrived the following year, there were only about 38 of the original settlers left.  Emperor Powhatan massacred much of the population in 1622/1623.  Throughout the settlement periods of the 17th century, there were few women in the colony, and passenger lists contained many of the same names of males who returned to England for wives.  No need to wish the Jamestown records survived to locate marriage records, because almost all settlers were married in England.  The Parish Records is the place to search. Considering the hardships which the first colonists to Virginia endured and the short life-spans, it is a small miracle that the colonists accomplished lasting settlements and finally  built a productive tobacco economy. Reflecting back, this makes their lives valuable commodities to Americans today and descendants of Virginians can appreciate a unique sacrifice to the cause of freedom.

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