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.