The First Seventeen Years: Virginia 1607-1624
by Charles E. Hatch
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Virginia, 1607-1624


The University Press of Virginia



Tenth printing 1991


The University Press of Virginia / Charlottesville



The Start of Colonization 1

The Establishment of Jamestown 4

Summer and Fall, 1607 5

The Three Supplies, 1608-1610 6

A Critical Hour 10

Order and More Stable Ways 12

Tobacco 16

Yeardley and Argall 18

A New Approach 21

Yeardley and Wyatt 26

Virginia and the Dissolution 29

The Spread of Settlement—1607 to 1624 34

Towns, Plantations, Settlements, and Communities in Virginia: 1607-1624 (numbers are keyed to text and to illustrating map) 32, 33

1. Pasbehegh Country—1617 35

A. Argall Town—1617 36

B. Pasbehegh—c.1617 37

C. "the Maine"—1608 37

2. Smith's (Southampton) Hundred—1617 38

3. "Tanks Weyanoke"—c.1618 41

4. Swinhows—before 1622 43

5. Westover—c.1619 43

6. Berkeley Town and Hundred—1619 44

7. Causey's Care (or "Cleare")—c.1620 46

8. West and Shirley Hundred—c.1613 47

9. Upper Hundred-"Curls"—c.1613 49

10. "Diggs His Hundred"—c.1613 49

11. The "citty of Henricus" (Henrico)—1611 50

12. Arrahatock—before 1619 52

13. The College Lands—c.1619 53

14. The Falls—1609 56

15. Falling Creek—c.1619 57

16. Sheffield's Plantation—before 1622 59

17. Proctor's Plantation—before 1622 60

18. Coxendale—c.1611 60

19. "Bermuda Citty" (Charles City) Incorporation 62

A. Bermuda Hundred—1613 62

B. Rochdale Hundred—1613 63

C. Bermuda City—1613 63

20. Piercey's Plantation—c.1620 66

21. Jordan's Journey—c.1619 67

22. Woodleefe's Plantation—c.1619 68

23. Chaplain's Choice—c.1623 68

24. Truelove's Plantation—c.1621 69

25. "Powle-brooke" or Merchant's Hope—1619 70

26. Maycock's Plantation—c.1618 71

27. Flowerdieu Hundred-Piercey's Hundred—c.1618 71

28. "Captaine Spilmans Divident"—before 1622 73

29. Ward's Plantation—c.1619 73

30. Martin's Brandon—c.1617 75

31. "Paces-Paines"—1620 77

32. Burrow's Mount—c.1624 78

33. Plantations "Over the river from Jamestown" 79

A. Treasurer's Plantation (George Sandys)—c. 1621 80

B. Hugh Crowder's Plantation—c.1622 81

C. Edward Blaney's Plantation—c.1624 81

D. Capt. Roger Smith's Plantation—c.1622 82

E. Capt. Samuel Mathews' Plantation—c.1622 82

34. Hog Island—1609 83

35. Lawne's Plantation—1619 85

36. Warrascoyack (Bennett's Plantation)—1621 86

37. "Basse's Choyse"—1622 89

38. Nansemond—1609 89

39. The Eastern Shore—c.1614 90

40. Elizabeth City (Kecoughtan)—1610 93

41. Newport News—1621 98

42. Blunt Point—c.1621 101

43. Mulberry Island—c.1617 102

44. Martin's Hundred—1618 104

45. Archer's Hope—c.1619 107

46. "Neck-of-Land neare James Citty"—before 1624 109

Selected Readings 112

Appendix; Supplies for Virginia 114


The colonization of Virginia was a mammoth undertaking even though launched by a daring and courageous people in an expanding age. The meager knowledge already accumulated was at hand to draw on and England was not without preparation to push for "its place in the sun." There was a growing navy, there was trained leadership, there was capital, there was organization and there were men ready to make the gamble for themselves and to the glory of God and for their country.

It remained for the Virginia Company of London, under its charter of April 10, 1606, to found the first permanent English settlement in America. This company, a commercial organization from its inception, assumed a national character, since its purpose was to "deduce" a "colony." It was instrumental, under its charter provisions, in guaranteeing to the settlers in the New World the rights, freedoms, and privileges enjoyed by Englishmen at home as well as the enjoyment of their customary manner of living which they adapted to their new environment with the passage of years. Quite naturally the settlers brought with them their church and reverence for God, maintained trial by jury and their rights as free men, and soon were developing representative government at Jamestown.

The immediate and long-range reasons for the settlement were many and, perhaps, thoroughly mixed. Profit and exploitation of the country were expected, for, after all, this was a business enterprise. A permanent settlement was the objective. Support, financial and popular, came from a cross section of English life. It seems obvious from accounts and papers of the period that it was generally thought that Virginia was being settled for the glory of God, for the honor of the King, for the welfare of England, and for the advancement of the Company and its individual members.

In England, and in Virginia, they expected and did carry the word of God to the natives, although not with the same verve as the Spanish. They expected to develop natural resources, to free the mother country from dependence on European states, to strengthen their navy, and to increase national wealth and power. They expected to be a thorn in the side of the Spanish Empire; in fact, they hoped one day to challenge and overshadow that empire. They sought to find the answer to what seemed to be unemployment at home. They sought many things not the least of them being gold, silver, land and personal advancement. As the men stepped ashore on Jamestown Island, perhaps each had a slightly different view of why he was there, yet some one or a combination of these motives was probably the reason.

The first section of this account is an adaptation, by the author of the booklet, Jamestown, Virginia: The Town Site and Its Story (National Park Service, Historical Handbook Series, No. 2) published by the Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1949.

Virginia, 1607-1624

On May 13, 1607, three small English ships approached Jamestown Island in Virginia: the Susan Constant of 100 tons, commanded by Captain Christopher Newport and carrying seventy-one persons; the Godspeed of forty tons, commanded by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold and carrying fifty-two persons; and the Discovery, a pinnace of twenty tons, under Captain John Ratcliffe with twenty-one persons. During the day they maneuvered the ships so close to the shore that they were "moored to the trees in six fathom [of] water." The next day, May 14, George Percy continues, "we landed all our men, which were set to worke about the fortification, others some to watch and ward as it was convenient." In this manner the first permanent English settlement in America was begun on the shores of the James River, in Virginia, about twenty years after the ill-fated attempts to establish a colony on Roanoke Island and thirteen years before the Pilgrims made their historic landing at Plymouth in New England.


The expedition of 1607, dispatched by the Virginia Company of London, included supplies and no less than 145 persons of whom 104 or 105 (depending on which of the more detailed contemporary accounts is accepted) were to remain in Virginia as the first settlers. The fleet left England late in 1606. It moved down the Thames River from London on December 20 and, after a slow start, the ships proceeded over the long route through the West Indies. Captain Newport was in command, and the identity of the councilors who were to govern in Virginia lay hidden in a locked box not to be opened until their destination had been reached.

Dissension at one point on the voyage led to charges against John Smith who reached the New World in confinement. This was suggestive of the later personal and group feuds and disagreements that plagued the first years of the Virginia Colony. It was a condition that grew out of the initial organization that placed authority in Virginia in a Council rather than in a single governor. It led John Rolfe, in 1616, to write, in retrospect, that: "the beginning of this plantacion was governed by a President & Councell aristocraticallie. The President yerely chosen out of the Councell, which consisted of twelve persons. This government lasted above two yeres: in which time such envie, dissentions and jarrs were daily sowen amongst them, that they choaked the seedes and blasted the fruits of all mens labors."

The "Land of Virginia" was first seen by the lookout on April 26, and just a little later in the same day a party was sent ashore at Cape Henry to make what was the first landing in the wilderness which they came to conquer. Having been aboard ship for many weeks, the settlers found the expanse of land, the green virgin trees, the cool, fresh water, and the unspoiled landscape a pleasant view to behold. At Cape Henry they saw Indians and several of the party were wounded by their arrows, notably Capt. Gabriel Archer, one of the experienced leaders.

They built a "shallop," went exploring into the country for short distances by land and water, enjoyed the spring flowers, and tasted roasted oysters and "fine beautiful strawberries." On April 29, a cross was set up among the sand dunes. The next day the ships were moved from Cape Henry into Chesapeake Bay to the site on Hampton Roads which they named Point Comfort, now Old Point Comfort.

For about two weeks, explorations were made along both banks of the James, below and above Jamestown, from its mouth to a point as far upstream perhaps as the mouth of the Appomattox River near present Hopewell. Parties went ashore to investigate promising areas, and communication was established with the native tribes. On May 12, a point of land at the mouth of Archer's Hope, now College Creek, a little below Jamestown, was examined in detail. From this site the ships moved directly to Jamestown, where they arrived May 13. On May 14, they landed and broke ground for the fort and the town that ultimately won the distinction of the first permanent English settlement in America and the Capital of the Virginia Colony for almost a century.

In May 1607, the days were warm; the nights, cool. Life was stirring in the wilderness and nature had been generous, the colonists thought. There were fruits, abundant timber, deer and other animals for food, and a not too numerous native population. The hot, humid weather of midsummer and the snow, ice, and emptiness of winter were not in evidence. The choice of a site for settlement was both good and bad. The anchorage for ships at Jamestown was good. The Island had not then become a true island and had an easily controlled dry land isthmus connection with the mainland. As the river narrows here, it was one of the best control points on the James. It had been abandoned by the Indians; and it was a bit inland, hence somewhat out of range of the Spanish menace. Arable land on the Island was limited by inlets and "guts." The marshes bred in abundance, even the deadly mosquitoes whose forebears had been brought from the West Indies in the colonists' own vessels; and, with contamination so easy, drinking water was a problem. All of these facts became evident to these first English Americans as the months went by.

When the orders were opened after arrival in Virginia, it was found that the governing body in the Colony was made up of seven councilors. Edward Maria Wingfield, of gallant service in the Low Countries; Bartholomew Gosnold and Christopher Newport, both seasoned seamen and captains; John Ratcliffe, who piloted the Discovery to Virginia; John Martin, an earlier commander under Drake; John Smith, already an experienced adventurer; and George Kendall, a cousin of Sir Edwin Sandys who later was to play a dominant role in the Virginia Company. To this list can be added other prominent names: George Percy, brother to the Earl of Northumberland and a trained sailor; Gabriel Archer, a lawyer who had already explored in the New England country; and Reverend Robert Hunt, the vicar at Jamestown, whose pious and exemplary living was noted by his associates.


The work of establishing Jamestown and of exploring the country round about began almost simultaneously and remarkable strides were made in a short time. The several weeks between May 13 and June 22, when Newport left Virginia for a return to England, were busy ones. At Jamestown an area was cleared of trees and the fort begun. The soil was readied and the English wheat brought over for the purpose was planted. At this point Newport, in one of the small boats, led an exploring party as far as the falls of the James. He was absent from Jamestown about a week and returned to find that the Indians had launched a fierce attack on the new settlement which had been saved, perhaps, by the fact that the ships were near at hand. These afforded safe quarters and carried cannon on their decks that had a frightening effect on the natives.

The fort was completed about mid-June. It was triangular in shape, with a "bulwarke" at each corner which was shaped like a "halfe moone." Within the "bulwarkes" were mounted four or five pieces of artillery: demiculverins which fired balls of about nine pounds in weight. The fort enclosed about one acre with its river side extending 420 feet and its other sides measuring 300 feet. The principal gate faced the river and was in the south side (curtain) of the fort, although there were other openings, one at each "bulwarke," and each was protected by a piece of ordnance. The church, storehouse, and living quarters were flimsily built of perishable materials, within the walls of the palisaded fort, along fixed "streets" and around an open yard. For the first few years this fort was Jamestown.

Before the fort was completed the wheat had come up and was growing nicely, as George Percy wrote in what was probably the first essay on farming along the James River. About June 10, John Smith, partly through the intercession of Robert Hunt, was released and admitted to his seat on the Council. Relations with the Indians improved. On June 21, the third Sunday after Trinity, the first recorded Anglican communion was celebrated. "We had comunion. Captain Newport dined ashore with our diet, and invited many of us to supper as a farewell." The next day, Christopher Newport raised anchor and began the return trip to England. He took letters from those remaining in Virginia and carried accounts describing Virginia and the events that had occurred. The settlement had been made, and the future seemed promising.


Within the short span of two months, conditions changed drastically. The Indians became cautious and distrustful, and provisions, not sufficiently augmented from the country, began to run low. Spoilage destroyed some food, and, with the coming of the hot, humid weather, the brackish drinking water proved dangerous. In August, death struck often and quickly, taking among others the stabilizing hand of Captain Gosnold. Inexperience, unwillingness, or inability due to insufficient food, to do the hard work that was necessary and the lack of sufficient information about how to survive in a primeval wilderness led to bickering, disagreements, and, to what was more serious still, inaction.

As the first summer wore on it was natural that hostility should develop toward the titular head of the Colony. Had the first president, Edward Maria Wingfield, been a stronger, more adventurous, and more daring man, conditions might have been a little better, despite his lack of real authority. He was not the leader to act, and, to reason later. Consequently, opinion was arrayed against him and charges, some unjust no doubt, were formed that led to his deposition and replacement in one of the two celebrated jury trials which occurred at Jamestown about mid-September. His successor, perhaps no more able, was John Ratcliffe who continued for about a year until he was deposed and replaced by Matthew Scrivener, one of those who came over with the first supply. It was a little later, in 1608, that Captain John Smith took the helm as chief councilor, which was what the president really was. It was under the presidency of Ratcliffe, however, that Smith emerged as an able, experienced leader, who preferred action to inaction even though it might be questioned later. His work and his decisions, sometimes wise, sometimes not so wise, did much to insure the initial survival of the Colony.

When the first cool days of approaching autumn touched Jamestown, in 1607, spirits rose and hopefulness supplanted despair. Disease, which had reduced the number to less than fifty persons, subsided; the oppressive heat lessened; and Indian crops of peas, corn, and beans began to mature. Friendly relations were established with the natives, and barter trade developed. As the leaves fell, game became easier to get, ducks multiplied in the ponds and marshes, and life in general seemed brighter. Work was resumed in preparation for the coming winter, and exploration was undertaken.

It was in December, 1607, while investigating the Chickahominy River area, that Smith was taken by the Indians. He was eventually carried before Powhatan who released him, some say through the intercession of the young Pocahontas. Upon return to Jamestown he was caught in the meshes of a feuding Council and was faced even with the possibility of being hanged for the death of his companions.


All was forgotten early in January, however, when Newport reached Jamestown with the first supply for the settlers. He brought food, equipment, instructions, and news from home. The two ships of the supply had left England together, but the second did not reach Virginia until April.

Shortly after Newport's arrival in January, disaster came. Fire swept through "James Fort," consuming habitations, provisions, ammunition, some of the palisades and even Reverend Robert Hunt's books. This was a serious blow in the face of winter weather. With the help of Newport and his sailors, the church, storehouse, palisades, and cabins were partially rebuilt before he sailed again for England early in April. Much more could have been done had he not consumed so many days in a pompous visit and lengthy negotiations with the wily Powhatan. Then, too, the ships had to be loaded for the return voyage, for the London backers were calling loudly for profitable produce.

The first of the spring months were spent in cutting cedar logs and preparing "clapboards" for sale in England, and a little later there seems to have been a mild "gold rush" at Jamestown as some hopeful looking golden colored soil was found. This all delayed early spring clearing and planting, and boded ill for the coming summer when Smith undertook additional explorations.

It was in September 1608 that Smith became president in fact and inaugurated a program of physical improvement at Jamestown. The area about the fort was enlarged and the standing structures repaired. At this point, in October, the second supply arrived, including seventy settlers, who, when added to the survivors in Virginia, raised the over-all population to about 120.

Among the new arrivals were two women, Mistress Forrest and her maid. Several months later, in the church at Jamestown, the maid, Ann Burras, was married to one of the settlers, John Laydon, a carpenter by trade. This marriage has been ranked as "the first recorded English marriage on the soil of the United States." Their child, Virginia, born the next year, was the first to be born at Jamestown.

With the second supply came workmen sent over to produce glass, pitch, soap ashes, and other items profitable in England. So rapidly did they begin the search for a source of wealth that "trials" of at least some of the products were sent home when Newport left Jamestown before the end of the year.

In addition to settlers and supplies, Newport brought more instructions from the Company officials. The Colony was not succeeding financially, and it was urged that the Council spend more time in planning the preparation of marketable products. It was urged, too, that gold be sought more actively; that Powhatan be crowned as a recognition befitting his position; and that more effort be expended in search of the Roanoke settlers. These projects, all untimely, were emphasized, and the more pressing needs of adequate shelter and sufficient food were neglected.

In the interval from about February to May 1609, there was considerable material progress in and about Jamestown. Perhaps forty acres were cleared and prepared for planting in Indian corn, the new grain that fast became a staple commodity. A "deep well" was dug in the fort. The church was re-covered and twenty cabins built. A second trial was made at glass manufacture in the furnaces built late in 1608. A blockhouse was built at the isthmus which connected the Island to the mainland for better control of the Indians, and a new fort was erected on a tidal creek across the river from Jamestown.

Smith was now in command, as his fellow councilors either had returned to England or were dead. About this time there came a new disaster. With all attention centered on the numerous construction projects, insufficient protection was given the meager supply of grain. When discovered, rats had consumed almost all of the vital corn stores. Faced with this situation, Smith found it necessary to scatter the settlers, sending some to live with the Indians and some to eat at the oyster banks. Only "a small guarde of gentlemen & some others [were left] about the president at James Towne."

In midsummer of 1609, conditions at Jamestown were not good, although it is doubtful that they were any worse than during the two previous summers. The settlers were becoming acclimated, and they were learning the ways of the new country. Supplies were low, yet the number of colonists was small, and a good harvest and a good fall might have improved matters had not some 400 new, inexperienced settlers sailed into the James with only damaged supplies. To add to other complications, they brought fever and plague. In the selection of prospective settlers for the voyage the standards had been low, and too many ne'er-do-wells, and even renegades, had been included.

This was the third supply, and it reached Jamestown in August. Unfortunately it arrived without its leadership and the authority to institute the governmental changes which the Company had authorized. These changes provided for the appointment by the Company of a strong governor with an advisory council in Virginia. Sir Thomas Gates had been dispatched as Governor, yet the ship bearing him, along with Sir George Somers and Captain Newport was wrecked in the Bermuda Islands.

Reaching Virginia in the third supply were several men who had been earlier leaders in the Colony and who were now all hostile to Smith: Archer, Ratcliffe, and Martin. A confusing scene developed over command. The old leaders, particularly Smith, refused to give way to the new in the absence of Gates, the appointed governor. There was considerable bickering which led to an uneasy settlement, leaving Smith in charge for the duration of his yearly term, now almost expired.

It was obvious to everyone that there were too many men for all to remain at Jamestown. John Martin was sent to attempt a settlement at Nansemond, on the south side of the James below Jamestown, while Captain Francis West, brother of Lord De La Warr, was sent to settle at the falls of the James. Returning to Jamestown after an inspection tour at the falls, Captain Smith was injured by burning gunpowder and incapacitated. Ratcliffe, Archer, and Martin seemingly used this opportunity to depose him and to compel him to return to England to face their charges against him as had been the fate of previous presidents. These three men, failing to agree on a replacement from their own number, persuaded George Percy to accept the position of president. Percy was in command during the terrible winter that followed.

The winter of 1609-10 has been described through the years as the "starving time," seemingly, an accurate description. It saw the population shrink from 500 to about sixty as a result of disease, sickness, Indian arrows, and malnutrition. It destroyed morale and reduced the men to scavengers stalking the forest, fields, and woods for anything that might be used as food. When spring came there was little spirit left in the settlement. It would seem unjust to attribute the disaster to Percy, who did what he could to ameliorate conditions by attempting trade and keeping the men busy. The "starving time" appears to have been caused by an accumulation of circumstances not the least of them being internal dissension and the now open hostility of the Indian. The heavy use of force and armed persuasion in dealing with them was bound to have its effect. It cut off the badly needed supply of corn and other Indian foods.


In May 1610, the hearts of the weary settlers were gladdened when Sir Thomas Gates, their new governor, sailed into the James. For about a year he and the survivors of the wreck of the Sea Venture had labored in Bermuda to make possible the continuation of their voyage to Virginia. For the purpose they built two small boats, the Patience and the Deliverance. It was not a pleasant sight that greeted them at Jamestown. Ruin and desolation were everywhere. Gates, with his Council, on July 7, 1610, wrote that Jamestown seemed "raither as the ruins of some auntient [for]tification, then that any people living might now inhabit it...."

Gates promptly distributed provisions, such as he had, and introduced a code of martial law, the code that was strengthened later by De La Warr and made famous by its strict enforcement during the governorship of Sir Thomas Dale. After surveying the condition of the settlement and realizing that the supplies he had brought would not last three weeks, Gates took counsel with the leaders. They decided to abandon the settlement. On June 7, 1610, the settlers, except some of the Poles and Dutchmen who were with Powhatan, boarded the ship, left Jamestown, and started down the James.

The next morning, while still in the river, advance word reached Gates that Lord De La Warr had arrived at Point Comfort on the way to Jamestown and was bringing 150 settlers and a generous supply. The bad news carried to England by the returning ships of the third supply, late in 1609, had caused considerable stir in Virginia Company circles and had resulted in De La Warr's decision to go to Virginia. Learning of the new supply, Gates hastened back to Jamestown. The new settlement had been saved in a manner that was recognized at that time as an act of "Providence."

On June 10, De La Warr reached "James Citty" and made his landing. He entered the fort through the south gate, and, with his colors flying, went on to the church where Reverend Richard Buck delivered an impressive sermon. Then his ensign, Anthony Scott, read his commission, and Gates formally delivered to him his own authority as governor. De La Warr's arrival had given the settlement new life and new hope. Lean times lay ahead, yet the most difficult years lay behind. Virginia now had a government that made for stability under the governor, and the old settlers, who, a little later, came to be called "ancient planters," had learned well by experience.

Gates, after dealing with the Indians, left for England. De La Warr, who continued to live aboard ship for a time, called a Council, reorganized the colonists, and directed operations to promote the welfare of the Colony, including the construction of two forts near Point Comfort. He fell sick, however, and, after a long illness, was forced to leave Jamestown and Virginia in March 1611. The now veteran administrator, George Percy, was made governor in charge. With De La Warr went Dr. Lawrence Bohun, who had experimented extensively with the curative powers of plants and herbs at Jamestown.


In May, 1611 Sir Thomas Dale, on military leave from his post in the Low Countries, arrived as deputy governor of Virginia. With him were three ships, three smaller boats, 300 people, domestic animals, and supplies. He proceeded to give form and substance to the martial law which had been evoked by his predecessors and to the achievement of rather severe regimentation. He began by posting proclamations "for the publique view" at Jamestown. Later, he thoroughly inspected suitable settlement sites and surveyed conditions generally. He wrote, on May 25, that on arrival at Jamestown he found "... no corn sett, some few seeds put into a private garden or two; but the cattle, cows, goats, swine, poultry &c to be well and carefully on all hands preserved and all in good plight and likeing."

To get things in order at the seat of government, one party was designated to repair the church, another to work on the stable, another to build a wharf. When things were reasonably well in hand at Jamestown, he made plans to push the decision to open a new settlement above Jamestown which, he hoped, would become the real center of the Colony. The reasons for such a removal of the seat of government are well known: not sufficient high land at Jamestown, poor drinking water, too much marsh, and a location not far enough upstream to be out of reach of the Spanish. Too often the reality of the ever present Spanish threat to Virginia is overlooked. Spain, still strong, had long been dominant in the New World and had known intentions of eliminating the English. That they never effectively moved in this direction did not lessen the fear in the Colony in the early years. This explains the various alarms that went out along the James from time to time. Quite naturally there was concern when spies were landed at Point Comfort in 1611. These were kept under careful scrutiny for several years, until disposition was made of them.

In the very critical period of 1611-1616, during the administrations of Gates and Dale, emphasis was away from Jamestown. Emphasis fell on newly established Henrico and then on Bermuda together with their related settlements. Attention was given, too, to Kecoughtan and a settlement was made even on the Eastern Shore. Despite all of this, Jamestown remained as Virginia's capital. In 1612, "Master George Percie ... [was busy] with the keeping of Jamestown" while much of the Colony had been "moved up river." The first settlement now was looked upon as chiefly a place of safety for hogs and cattle.

In 1614 it was made up of "two faire rowes of howses, all of framed timber, two stories, and an upper garret or corne loft high, besides three large, and substantiall storehowses joined togeather in length some hundred and twenty foot, and in breadth forty...." Without the town "... in the Island [were] some very pleasant, and beutifull howses, two blockhowses ... and certain other framed howses." In 1616 it was a post of fifty under the command of Lieutenant John Sharpe, who was acting in the absence of Captain Francis West. Thirty-one of these were "farmors" and all maintained themselves with "food and raiment."

The Gates-Dale five-year administration (1611-16) actually saw Virginia established as a going concern. The role of Dale in all of this seems to have been a heavy, perhaps the predominant, one although the role of Gates should not be overlooked. Martial law brought order and uniformity in operations and compelled the people to work regularly, the hours being six to ten in the morning, two to four in the afternoon. Dale saw to it that corn was planted and harvested, that houses and boats were built, and that the new laws were strictly observed. He pressed one and all into service, even the women, some of whom "were appointed to make shirtes for the Colony servants" using carefully rationed needle and thread. Dale was credited, by a contemporary, as building on the foundations laid by Gates in a manner that dealt effectively with the two greatest "enemies and disturbers of our proceedings": "enmity with the naturalls, and ... famine." Among the important achievements was the careful husbanding of livestock to the end that a "great stock of kine, goates, and other cattle" was built up for the company "for the service of the publique."

Both Gates and Dale proceeded with a stern attitude toward the Indians. In the end it was possible to arrive at a peaceful state by force and negotiation. Dale recognized, too, that the Pocahontas-John Rolfe marriage, in 1614, was "an other knot to binde this peace the stronger." This helped to strengthen the treaties worked out with old Powhatan and with the closer Chickahominies.

So effective were all of these measures that John Rolfe, in 1616, wrote "whereupon a peace was concluded, which still continues so firme, that our people yearlely plant and reape quietly, and travell in the woods a fowling and a hunting as freely and securely from danger or treacherie as in England. The great blessings of God have followed this peace, and it, next under him, hath bredd our plentie...."

All this was accomplished when the fortunes of the Virginia Company were at a low point and little support was being sent to the Colony. John Rolfe then went on to predict that Dale's "worth and name ... will out last the standing of this plantation...."

Martial law, strictly administered at first, was gradually relaxed in application as conditions stabilized. Prior to 1614 Dale took the momentous step of allotting "to every man in the Colony [excepting the Bermuda Hundred people], three English acres of cleere corne ground, which every man is to manure and tend, being in the nature of farmers." Along with the three acres went exemption from much Company service and such as was required was not to be in "seede time, or in harvest." There was, however, to be a yearly levy of "two barrels and a halfe of corne" and, except for clothing, a loss of right to draw on the Company store. This greatly advanced individual responsibility and was a big step toward the evolution of private property. In the beginning all ownership was Company controlled. The reason for this is evident. The colonists could not provide food and other necessaries all at once in a wilderness infested by savages. A storehouse, or as it was termed, "a magazine," was provided in which all supplies were placed, and to which all products obtained from the land were brought. This was a safety measure, both for the Company, which had expended much for supplies, and for the settlers. This plan has been misunderstood frequently by writers. It did have its disadvantages. In time, with growth, and increased production, the system passed away. The general division of land, promised in 1609, was not to come until 1619. Dale took an interim step that had far reaching importance in establishing permanency and stability.

Gates and Dale in their administration had the help of other enterprising and daring early Virginians such as Samuel Argall, John Rolfe, the Reverend Alexander Whitaker, Ralph Hamor and others. In the case of Captain Samuel Argall, criticism of his later work as governor often beclouds his earlier helpfulness in getting Virginia established. He pioneered in making a direct crossing of the Atlantic to save time and to avoid the Spanish. Argall led in exploration, both in Virginia waters and northward along the coastline. He was adept at shipbuilding and in the Indian trade. It was evidently he who discovered the best fishing seasons and the fact that the fish made "runs" in the bay and in the rivers. He made open attack on the French settlements to the north in New England and Nova Scotia, returning to Jamestown with his captives. There is little wonder that a contemporary wrote, "Captain Argal whose indevores in this action intitled him most worthy."

It was Argall, too, who, while on a trading expedition on the Potomac, captured Pocahontas and brought her prisoner to Jamestown in an attempt to deal with her father, Powhatan. She was well received at Jamestown, where earlier she had often visited, and when her father refused to pay the price asked for her ransom, she was detained. Later, she preferred life with the English and did not wish to return to her native village. She was placed under the tutelage of Reverend Alexander Whitaker who instructed her in the Christian faith. Eventually she was baptized, and, in April 1614, in the church at Jamestown, married John Rolfe.

This was a reflection of the religious concern that existed in Virginia. One of the ministers, Alexander Whitaker reported: That: "Sir Thomas Dale (with whom I am) is a man of great knowledge in divinity, and of a good conscience in all his doings: both which bee rare in a martiall man. Every Sabbath day wee preach in the forenoone, and chatechize in the afternoone. Every Saturday at night I exercise in Sir Thomas Dales house. Our Church affaires bee consulted on by the minister, and foure of the most religious men. Once every moneth wee have a communion, and once a yeer a solemn fast."


It was John Rolfe who pioneered in the cultivation of the plant that was to be Virginia's economic salvation, tobacco. In the first years of the settlement every effort had been made to find products in the New World that would assure financial success for the settlers and the Company. Pitch, tar, timber, sassafras, cedar, and other natural products were sent in the returning ships. Attempts to produce glass on a paying scale proved futile, as did early efforts to make silk, using the native mulberry trees growing in abundance. The glass furnaces fell into disuse, and rats ate the silkworms. Even the native tobacco plant (Nicotiana rustica), found growing wild, was, as William Strachey reported, "... not of the best kind ... [but was] poore and weake, and of a biting tast ..." and initially held little promise.

It was about 1610-11 that seed was imported into Virginia from the island of Trinidad very probably at the hand of John Rolfe, an ardent smoker, who was credited by Ralph Hamor as the pioneer English colonist in regularly growing tobacco for export. Hence he can be called the father of the American tobacco industry. In its initial stage, too, there was encouragement from the experienced Captain George Yeardley.

Following the process of selection and crossing which had proved so successful for the Spanish cultivators in the West Indies, the initial efforts were rewarding. The new plant (Nicotiana tabacum) proved easily naturalized and adaptable to the Virginia soil.

The initial success led to an experimental shipment of tobacco from Virginia in 1613. This was of pleasing taste and was well received in some quarters. Soon tract after tract was cleaned of its native Nicotiana rustica as the settlers turned to the promising new species. For a few years production was slow since English dealers were reluctant to hazard too much on an uncertain commodity. In the 1615-16 period Spain sent tobacco into London at the rate of twenty-five pounds for each of the 2,300 pounds coming from Virginia. This was not to continue, however, since English leaders were growing hostile to the successful Spanish trade. Even before becoming aware of the Virginia product, they were, with some success, encouraging production in England itself.

Despite domestic tobacco, however, and the favor of Spanish leaf, the Virginia product, cheaper than the Spanish, began to win friendly users in London and in the other cities. To meet the demand and to produce profits, the young colony all but abandoned other industries and even its staples, to the concern of the Company, for the cultivation of "the weed." Soon governors were taking measures to restrict planting in the interest of producing foodstuffs and in defending themselves. Captain Samuel Argall, who came to Jamestown in 1617, is said to have found "but five or six houses, the church downe, the palizado's broken, the bridge in pieces, the well of fresh water spoiled; the store-house ... used for the church; the marketplace, and streets, and all other spare places planted with tobacco; the salvages as frequent in their homes as themselves, whereby they were become expert in our armes ... the Colonie dispersed all about planting Tobacco." In 1617 Virginia exported some 20,000 pounds, in 1619 this had doubled and in 1629, only a decade and a half after the first shipment, the total reached 1,500,000 pounds.

Thus, a new trade and industry were born in the Colony. Tobacco proved to be the economic salvation of Virginia, and provided a means that brought land into use and made slavery profitable. Tobacco and slavery together led to the development of important characteristics of the whole social, political, and economic structure of the Old South. One of the immediate effects of tobacco culture in Virginia was the impetus it gave to the expansion of the area of settlement and to the number of settlers coming to Virginia.


When Dale departed Virginia in May, 1616 there was more security, stability, good management, deeper understanding of the new land, and a keener knowledge of survival than had existed prior to this date. Even so, at this time only about 350 of all the hundreds of persons who had come to the Colony had managed to stay alive and remained here.

Captain George Yeardley was left in charge, seemingly having been appointed directly by Dale. Under him, it was reported, "the Colony lived in peace and best plentie that ever it was to that time." He very probably was glad to see the supply ship that came in October, 1616. Various kinds of provisions from it were exchanged with the colonists for their tobacco. It was this ship, too, that brought Abraham Piercey who, as "cape-merchant," took over the management of the Company's store in Virginia.

But all was not peace. Yeardley had soon to deal with the Chickahominies who objected to their payment of "tribute corn." This was soon resolved to the satisfaction of the Governor. Later there was friendly exchange with the Indians even, it seems, to the extent of training some in the use of firearms for hunting purposes and "There were divers ... [that] had savages in like manner for their men." Perhaps, there was too much familiarity for later well being.

In May, 1618 Argall returned to Virginia as deputy governor in charge. He seemingly, with "sense and industry," began to renovate the disrepair he found, particularly at Jamestown. He was the first to prescribe the limits of Jamestown as well as of "the corporation and parish" of which it was the chief seat. He soon re-established good relations with Opechancanough now the dominant Indian personality. He was hampered by a great drought and a severe storm that damaged corn and tobacco, and he sought to control profit and tobacco prices by proclamation. Moreover, he was the author of a policy of watchfulness and carefulness in individual relationships with the Indians.

Eventually, however, Argall was severely criticized and accused of the misappropriation of Company resources. He was charged, too, with a host of private wrongs to particular persons, wrongs accompanied by high-handed actions. Much in disfavor, he slipped away from the Colony a matter of days before the new Governor, Sir George Yeardley again, reached Virginia in April, 1619.

It was early in the Yeardley-Argall three year span (1616-19) that a new form of settlement began to take root in Virginia. This was that of the particular plantation. No new Company communities had been, or would be, added to the "four ancient boroughs" ("Incorporations") already established, yet many would rise as the result of the enterprise, expenditure, and direction of special ("particular") persons, or groups, within the Company or having the sanction of it. Such settlements were known as particular plantations.

Resulting settlements spread east and west along the James and outward along its rivers and creeks as well. Jamestown lay approximately in the center of an expanding and growing Colony. It was the center of one of the four initial Incorporations and it was more. It developed into one of the original Virginia shires in 1634. This shire, a decade later, became a county. James City County continues as the oldest governing unit in English America. Jamestown was its chief seat, Virginia's capital town and the principal center of the Colony's social and political life. In size it remained small, yet it was intimately and directly related to all of the significant developments of Virginia in the period.

There is strong evidence that Jamestown was the first to feel the impact of the advantages and fruits that growth produced. Material progress is evident as early as 1619 in the letter of John Pory, Secretary of the Colony, written from Virginia late in that year:

Nowe that your lordship may knowe, that we are not the veriest beggars in the worlde, our cowekeeper here of James citty on Sunday goes accowtered all in freshe flaming silke; and a wife of one that in England had professed the black arte, not of a schollar, but of a collier of Croydon, weares her rought bever hatt with a faire perle hatband, and a silken suite thereto correspondent.

But it is good to remember, perhaps, that Virginia was still not the perfect paradise. On March 15, 1619 a letter reaching England reported sad news and very likely not unusual news—"about 300 of the Inhabitants ... died this last yeare."


In 1618 there were internal changes and dissensions in the Virginia Company that led to the resignation of Sir Thomas Smith, as Treasurer, and to the election of Sir Edwin Sandys as his successor. This roughly corresponded to changes in Company policy toward the administration of the Colony and to intensified efforts to develop Virginia. It led to the abolition of martial law, to the establishment of property ownership, to greater individual freedom and participation in matters of government and to the intensification of economic effort. The program was prompted by a desire to make the Virginia enterprise a financial success, to increase the population, and to make the Colony attractive as well as to give the colonists more of a sense of participation.

Sir George Yeardley, recently knighted, returned to Virginia as Governor, in April 1619, and was the first spokesman in the Colony for the new policy toward Virginia. In England it had been ably advanced on behalf of the Colony by Sir Edwin Sandys, the Earl of Southampton, and John and Nicholas Ferrar.

Land was one of the great sources of wealth in Virginia and soon after early commercial enterprise failed, was recognized as such. Its acquisition became a prime objective. Initially the Company had determined that no land would be assigned to planters, or adventurers, until the expiration of a seven year period. And this period was in actual practice delayed. The first real, or general, "division" was provided for in 1618 and this became effective in Virginia in 1619.

It was recognized that there were several groups meriting land. First came the Company and its investors. The second was the particular hundreds and plantations sponsored and belonging to private adventurers joined in investing groups in England. The third was composed of individual planters who lived and resided in Virginia. Yeardley came armed with instructions to effect the division. The boundaries of the four Incorporations (James City, Charles City, Henrico and Kecoughtan) were to be fixed and public lands for the support of their officers and churches were to be set aside as well as tracts for Company officials in Virginia and others for Company use and profit. The consolidation of all settlements into the four listed "Cities or Burroughs" was soon consummated.

Two classifications of planters were noted—those who came to Virginia before Dale departed in 1616 and those who came later. The first group, called "ancient planters," may have been Virginia's first "aristocracy." Each such person with three years of residence was entitled to 100 acres as a "first division." Those having come to Virginia after Dale's departure were in a different position. If they had come, or were to come, at their own charge they were to obtain only fifty acres at the "first division." If transported by the Company they were first to serve as "tenants" on the Company's land for a term of seven years.

All grants it was specified would "be made with equal favour except the differency of rent." Rent proved to be a diverse term covering tobacco, capons, merchantable Indian corn and such. Rent payments were a matter of concern and led the planters in the Assembly of 1619 to petition for the appointment of an officer in Virginia to receive them. Payment to the Company in London, in money, was described as impossible.

All tracts, including those allotted prior to the general division, now would have to be laid off and surveyed. The prescribing of bounds became a necessity to resolve existing, and to prevent future, uncertainties and disputes. This was to be the function of William Claiborne, surveyor-general, who reached Virginia in October, 1621.

Headrights were another matter which entered the picture in these formative years. This began as a device, a good one it proved to be, used by the Company to stimulate immigration and settlement in Virginia. It allowed any person who paid his own way to the Colony to receive fifty acres for his own "personal adventure." In addition he could collect fifty acres for each person whose passage he paid. If a person brought himself and three others, for example, he could claim 200 acres under this arrangement. This headright system was later adopted in other colonies and continued in use for generations.

The early success of the land division can be seen, perhaps, in the report of John Rolfe written in January, 1620:

All the ancient planters being sett free have chosen places for their dividendes according to the commission, Which giveth all greate content, for now knowing their owne landes, they strive and are prepared to build houses & to cleere their groundes ready to plant, which giveth ... [them] greate incouragement, and the greatest hope to make the Colony florrish that ever yet happened to them.

Participation in the affairs of government was another element in the new Company approach. Soon after his arrival, Yeardley issued a call for the first representative legislative assembly in America which convened at Jamestown on July 30, 1619, and remained in session until August 4. This was the beginning of our present system of representative government. The full intent behind the moves that led to this historic meeting may never be known. It seems to have been another manifestation of the determination to give those Englishmen in America the rights and privileges of Englishmen at home that had been guaranteed to them in the original Company charter. It seems to be this rather than a planned attempt to establish self-government in the New World on a scale that might have been in violation of English law and custom at the time. Whatever the motive, the significance of this meeting in the church at Jamestown remains the same. This body of duly chosen representatives of the people has continued in existence and its evolution leads directly to our State legislatures and to the Congress of the United States.

Circumstances seemed to prevent the annual meeting of the Assembly even though this was initially intended. Possibly, although it is not clear, the Assembly met in March, 1620. There was a session after the arrival of Governor Wyatt in October, 1621 although little is known of its actions. The next session of record was in the late winter of 1624 and of this some papers have survived. At the time the dissolution of the Company seemed to be sensed and the Burgesses acted carefully. Much of the session was devoted to answering questions relative to the state of the Colony. The Assembly went on record, too, denouncing the so-called autocratic government that existed in Virginia prior to 1619. There was, however, refusal to associate its name with an attack on the Company and it would not send its papers to England by the investigating commissioners. Instead they were sent by a representative of the Assembly's choice. The status of the General Assembly under the King, when Virginia became a royal colony, was, for sometime, undefined and even its continuation was, perhaps, doubtful. It did, nonetheless, survive to become a chief instrument of government.

In the social field the Company had recognized that homes, children and family life make for stability and now steps were taken to do something about it. To this end, in November 1619, a program was launched to increase the emigration of women to Virginia. Many had already come to contribute greatly to the Colony's welfare, the first two in 1608; and family life was already very much a reality. The male percentage of the population was, however, still much too high.

The first of the "maids" sent in this new program reached Virginia in late May and early June, 1620 seemingly to the benefit of both "maids" and eligible bachelors. In 1621 it was reported that in December the Warwick arrived with "an extraordinary choice lot [of] thirty-eight maids for wives."

Earlier, in August 1619, there had been another event, this an unplanned one, when a group of negroes were brought to the Colony out of the West Indies and sold from the ship which brought them for "victualls." This created little attention at the time. Evidently these newcomers found themselves bound for a time as servants rather than as slaves. The matter of mass negro slavery with its profitableness in the tobacco economy was, as yet, decades away. This event of 1619, however, may properly be noted as the first move in this direction.

Immigration to the Colony continued to increase including even a number of English youths, and measures were taken to meet the religious and educational needs of the settlers. This was the period that saw the attempt to establish a college at Henrico.

The reorganized Virginia Company, following its political changes, renewed its efforts to expand the Colony and to stimulate profitable employment. Heavy emphasis was placed on crop diversification and on the establishment of a number of new industries including forest products, wine, iron and glass, the latter attempted a second time possibly on Glasshouse Point just outside of Jamestown Island. The planting of mulberry trees and the growing of silkworms were advanced by the dispatch of treatises on silk culture as well as silkworm eggs in a project in which King James I himself had a personal interest.

The industrial and manufacturing efforts of these years, however, were not destined to succeed. This condition was not due to any laxity on the part of George Sandys, resident Treasurer in Virginia, who was something of an economic on-the-spot supervisor for the Company. Virginia could not yet support these projects profitably, and interest was lacking on the part of the planters who found in tobacco a source of wealth superior to anything else that had been tried. It was the profit from tobacco that supported the improved living conditions that came throughout the Colony.

These Englishmen who came to settle in the wilderness retained their desire for the advantages of life in England. Books, for example, were highly valued, and with the passage of the years were no uncommon commodity in Virginia. As early as 1608, Rev. Robert Hunt had a library at Jamestown, which was consumed by fire in January of that year. Each new group of colonists seemingly added to the store on hand: Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, other religious works, medical and scientific treatises, legal publications, accounts of gardening, and such. There was local literary effort, too, such as that by Treasurer George Sandys who continued his celebrated translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses in the house of William Pierce at Jamestown.


Yeardley, having instituted the measures of the "Greate Charter," continued to serve as Governor until November 18, 1621. His was a good administration, yet it was not without criticism. There was some unfavorable comment on his negotiations relative to Indian lands as well as in the arrangement of various government fees. With so many personal and private interests in so many of the individual settlements, it is remarkable that he did not get into difficulties of a more serious nature. Even when Sir Francis Wyatt relieved him as governor, he continued on as a Councilor and was later to be Governor again. He had been at the helm when Virginia enjoyed, perhaps, its best three years to date—1619-21.

His successor, Wyatt, proved as popular and even survived the dissolution of the Company. Wyatt, as others before and others to follow, found the governorship to be expensive. It is reported that he spent L1,000 in less than two years. Both Yeardley and Wyatt resided at Jamestown from which, for the most part, they directed Colony affairs. Here they maintained a most impressive establishment with their wives, children and indentured servants including some of the negroes now resident in the Colony.

It is in the 1619 to 1624 period that the first clear picture of at least a part of the physical town of Jamestown emerges, for this period corresponds with the earliest known property records that exist. The town had outgrown the original fort in some years past and now appeared as a fairly flourishing settlement. The records reveal that many of the property owners were yeomen, merchants, carpenters, hog-raisers, farmers, joiners, shopkeepers, and ordinary "fellows," as well as colonial officials. The "New Town" section of James City developed in this period as the old section proved too small and the residents began to build more substantial houses, principally frame on brick foundations. Even so, the town was far from that of a city, perhaps, only a village at best. It was, nonetheless, as close to a hub of political, social, and economic life as completely rural Virginia had. It was the Colony's capital in every sense.

The population figures taken in these years give a good idea of the size of Jamestown in this period. In February 1624, it is recorded that 183 persons were living in Jamestown and 35 others on the Island outside of the town proper. These are listed by name, as are the 87 who had died between April 1623 and the following February. In the "census" of January 1625 there was a total of 124 residents listed for "James Citty" and an additional 51 for the Island. The over-all total of 175 included some 122 males and 53 females.

Aside from the population statistics, the musters of January 1625 give much more information. Jamestown had a church, a court-of-guard (guardhouse), 3 stores (probably storehouses), a merchant's store, and 33 houses. Ten of the Colony's 40 boats were here, including a skiff, a "shallop" of 4 tons, and a "barque" of 40 tons. There were stores of fish, 24,880 pounds to be exact, corn, peas, and meal. There were four pieces of ordnance, supplies of powder, shot and lead, and, for individual use, "fixt peeces," snaphances, pistols, seventy swords, coats of mail, quilted coats, and thirty-five suits of armor. The bulk of the Colony's livestock seems to have been localized in the Jamestown area, about half (183) of the cattle, a little more than half (265) of the hogs, and well over half (126) of the goats. The one horse listed for the Colony was shown to have been at Jamestown, but in this category the "census" must have been deficient. Even in 1616 there had been 3 horses and 3 mares.

The massacre and its aftermath and the investigation and dissolution of the Company dominated the Virginia scene in Wyatt's first three year term as Governor. These things should not, perhaps, becloud the continued expansion and growth of the Colony that resumed after the fateful year of 1622 when the massacre was followed, in the summer, with disease along the James and then by the more specific plague.

It was on March 22, 1622 that the great catastrophe struck Virginia in the form of the well planned and carefully executed massacre by the Indians under the crafty leadership of Opechancanough, successor to Powhatan. Although the consequences were not enough to threaten the survival of the Colony, they were deeply serious. At least a fourth, if not a third, of all residents lay dead at the end of a single day. Many plantations were abandoned and safety and security became the principal order of the day. It spelled the end of numerous projects such as the production of iron and of enterprises such as the attempt to found a college. Jamestown, given timely warning because of the loyalty of an Indian, Chanco, to his master, saw no damage. In this respect it was one of only a few such areas. It did, however, see some resulting congestion as survivors came in from distant, and even nearby, communities.

Regrouping, reorganization and revenge followed after the initial shock was over. Punishment of the Indians occupied the center of the stage for months. In January, 1623, however, the Governor and his Council could report in answer to Company inquiries, some of which were critical of Colony operations, that "We have anticipated your desires by settinge uppon the Indians in all places." Directed by the Governor from Jamestown, George Sandys, Sir George Yeardley, Capt. John West, Capt. William Powell and others led expeditions against the various native tribes. "In all which places we have slaine divers, burnte theire townes, destroyde theire wears [weirs] & corne." The seizure of considerable additional mature corn, likewise, was a blow to the Indian and a help to the English. The Indian had been brought to heel, yet he was still not impotent, a fact that the colonists now well recognized and of which they had occasional reminder as when Capt. Henry Spelman and his party were slain in April, 1623.


The Virginia Company established the first permanent English settlement in America, but did not reap the profits that it had expected. Even through reorganization and large expenditures, it never achieved its full objective and was increasingly subject to criticism despite its remarkable achievement. The devastating effect of the massacre ushered in a period of attack that never subsided. Commissioners were sent to investigate the Colony at first hand. Charge was met by countercharge and tempers rose high. The Company stubbornly contended for its original charters and James I and Company opponents seemed equally as determined to break them. Matters reached a head in 1624 when James I dissolved the Company, thereby removing the hand that had guided Virginia affairs for 17 years.

With this act Virginia became a royal colony and continued as such until the American Revolution made it free and independent. From the point of view of the people in the Colony, the change from Company to Crown was almost painless although there was concern over land titles and a continuance of the Assembly. The Company Governor gave way to the royal appointee, but most institutions were left intact. Perhaps a glance at the proceedings of the Assembly of March, 1624 is useful in pointing up the matters of concern to the representatives of the people at this particular time.

At the time Virginia was a going concern. It was well established, economically sound, and expanding at a considerable rate. The business at this session embraced some 35 laws, or acts. Of this total 7 dealt with the economic situation, 8 with Indian affairs and security, 8 with religious matters, 6 with local organization and welfare and 5 with matters of personal and community rights. In the main they suggest growth and an established order.

In the economic sphere there was concern for the planting of ample corn, emphasis on fencing and planting "vines, hearbs, rootes, &c." Commodity rates were in need of further enforcement. It was duly ordered, too, that there would be "no waightes nor measures used, but such as shalbe Sealed by officers Appointed for that purpose."

In matters of safety the chief concern was still the Indian. Trading for corn with the natives was to be prohibited. It was required that "every dwellinge howse shalbe pallizadoed," that guards be maintained and that careful and constant inspection by commanders insure working and ready arms and ammunition. Good watch was to be maintained even when at work in the fields and powder was not to be wasted "unnecessarily in drinking or entertainementes." It was determined that in midsummer the people of "every corporatione" should fall on the Indians near them "as we did the last yeere" presumably to burn their crops and houses.

Church affairs came in for considerable regulation. One act required that a place be set aside for the worship of God in each and every plantation, a place or "roome sequestred for that purpose" as well as "a place sequestred onlye to the buryall of the dead." A fine, one pound of tobacco for one Sunday but fifty pounds for a month of absences, was imposed for missing the Sunday service. Ministers were exhorted to look after their charges and the people were not to "disparage" their ministers without "sufficient proofe." Payment of the minister's salary was to be insured and there were regulations against "swearinge and drunkennes." A formal order was passed that March 22, the date of the massacre of two years before, be "solemnized as [a] hollidaye." In matters of church conformity the action was specific, "That there be an uniformitie in our Church as neere as may be, to the canons in Englande both in [substance] and circumstance and that all persons yeeld redie obedience unto them under pain of censure."

Government organization and operation was spelled out in a number of instances. To meet the needs of a growing and spreading population special courts were set up for Elizabeth City and Charles City. At least in cases involving no more than 100 pounds of tobacco and for petty offences, it would not be necessary to journey to Jamestown. It was further ordered that all private holdings be duly surveyed, bounded, and recorded. A public "grainary" was ordered to be established in each parish. Control of trade was sought by specifying that no ships should "break boulke [bulk] or make privatt sales of any comodities" before reaching Jamestown. Taxes were not ignored either for a levy of ten pounds of tobacco, already the common currency it appears, was laid on each male above 16 years of age to help defray the "publique depte [debt]." Lest it be forgotten, it was enacted that obedience was required "to the presente government."

Old planters were given special exemption from public service, "they and theire posteritie," while Burgesses were rendered exempt from seizure during Assembly time. "Persones of qualitie" when found delinquent, it was stated, could be imprisoned if not fit to take corporal punishment. It is of note that service to the Governor, or the public, was made contingent on Assembly consent. Of particular interest, too, was the action on the principle of taxation. It was bold, indeed, at this time for the Assembly to declare that;

The Governor shall not laye any taxes or impositiones uppon the Colony, theire landes or comodities otherwi[se] then by the awthoritie of the Generall Assemblie, to be levied and imployed as the saide Assembly shall appoint.

This was an early word on taxation, but it was to be far from the last word in the next century and a half.


By 1624 the Colony had grown from a single settlement at Jamestown to a series of communities along the James River and on the Eastern Shore. Until 1611 only Jamestown had proven lasting. In this fourth year, however, Kecoughtan (Elizabeth City) was established on a permanent basis and Henrico was laid out. In 1613 the fourth of the Company settlements was established at Bermuda which was to become Charles City. For five years the center of population passed up river. The area in the "Curls" of the James for a time was the preferred location. It looked as if even the seat of government would be moved here where much official business was transacted. In 1616 John Rolfe listed 6 settlements and according to his report, some 68 per cent of the residents were in the Henrico-Bermuda area.

Decline set in, in the upriver settlements, however, and the focus returned again to the Jamestown area, aided, it seems, by the efforts of Governor Samuel Argall. It was this 1617-19 period, too, that saw the beginning of particular plantations which did much to populate the James River basin as far as the falls. In 1619 at the time of the Assembly meeting, there were eleven localities, or communities, that sent representatives to Jamestown. Plantations continued to multiply until the destruction of the massacre temporarily rolled back the number. For a time the settlements were reduced to, perhaps, a dozen. Even the massacre, however, could not long hold back what was becoming a tide. The reoccupation of abandoned areas and the utilization of new land was quickly the order of the day. In 1625 a total of 27 areas or communities were reported. In this surge of expansion the center of population now passed again from Jamestown and rested in the lower areas of the James. In 1624 and 1625 Elizabeth City was indeed Virginia's most populous community. In fact, early in 1625 the Elizabeth City group (Kecoughtan, Buckroe, Newport News, etc.) had a greater population than did all of the plantations above Jamestown. At this point "James Citty" and the Island stood second with a population of 175 while Elizabeth City alone had about 350.

The story of Virginia's first seventeen years was written all along the banks of the James and much of it in the towns, forts, and plantations that grew here. Each of them has an individual story and together they give much of the story of Virginia's early years.


The country westward from Jamestown Island along the north shore of the James River as far as the Chickahominy River was known early as Pasbehegh Country from the Indians which inhabited there. Jamestown, as a matter of fact, was considered to have been established in Pasbehegh territory. This area began to feature in the immediate history of Virginia when, in 1608, the colonists elected to build their glass furnaces on the mainland at the top of the isthmus leading to the Island. This, although an unsuccessful enterprise, functioned for a time and people were in residence here. When the enterprise was revived about 1620 the same site, it is thought, was again used. In 1624 it is reported that five persons were then living at the "glase house." Presumably these were associated with the glass project.

The settlement of the general area is not clear as to date. It is stated that Sir Thomas Dale granted "some small parcells" in Pasbehegh, perhaps, as early as 1614. These probably were immediately seated and planted. Samuel Argall returned to Virginia, which he had served well in the 1609-14 days, as governor in 1617. He, likewise, is credited with having granted "some small parcells" here. Argall, too, is identified with the creation of a distinct settlement in the area, one that, for a time, bore his name. This was Argall's Guift, more often mentioned as Argall's Town.


Samuel Argall, it seems, was attracted to the area west of Jamestown and established his people here. He and his associates had been assigned 2,400 acres for the transportation of 24 persons by Charter of March 30, 1617 issued just before he left England. This was one of the first such grants. There were settlers with him, too, to be employed on land set aside for the support of the Governor's office. Evidently his settlement, or plantation, got underway in 1617 and two years later was listed among the populated areas in the Colony. It was one of the eleven communities which sent representatives to the First Assembly in 1619. They were Thomas Pawlett and Edward Gourgaing.

To advance the settlement, Argall had contracted for the clearing of some 300 acres of ground (600 pounds sterling it was to cost). This was to be done by colonists assigned to Martin's Hundred. Other arrangements were made with Captain William Powell to clear ground and to erect a house, this to cost L50. This was the Powell whom Argall made the Captain of the Governor's Company and Guard, Lieutenant Governor and Commander of Jamestown, the blockhouses and the people. Evidently Argall and Powell intended to pass on this cost to the "Inhabitants of Paspaheigh, alias Argall's towne" for these people sought "an absolute discharge from certain bondes wherein they stood bound to Captain Samuell Argall for the payment of 600 lb and to Captain William Powell, at Captaine Argall's appointment, for the payment of 50 lb more. To Captaine Argall for 15 skore acres of wooddy ground, called by the name of Argal's towne or Paspaheigh; to Captain Powell in respect of his paines in clearing the grounde and building the houses, for which Captaine Argal ought to have given him satisfaction."

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."


With Yeardley's arrival steps were taken to lay out the 3,000 acres set aside for the Governor's office. This was specified to be on the land "formerly conquered or purchased from the Paspahegh Indians" and included Argall Town. It seemingly was directly east of another 3,000 acres of Company land set aside for the profit of the Company. The Company tract adjoined the Chickahominy River. Both the Company and Governor's land was to be tilled chiefly by tenants. The exact bounds of Pasbehegh, even with these specifications, is difficult to fix. Even landownership in the period prior to 1625 is difficult to define. It seems fairly evident that two communities developed in the area between Powhatan Creek and the Chickahominy, that closest to Jamestown being "the Maine" (mainland). There are references, however, that clearly indicated that both were collectively referred to on occasion as Pasbehegh, as when in 1621 there is mention of the "Subberbs of James Cittie called by the name of Paspehayes," and on occasion as "the Main" as in the listing of residents in 1624. On the other hand, other references are equally as suggestive of two communities. There is separate mention as early as 1619 and a clear differentiation in the census of 1625.

In 1625 there were some 43 people at Pasbehegh including 10 of the Governor's men. Among the total were 7 wives and 3 children. Seemingly the decision to hold this area after the massacre, "James Cittie with Paspehay," took the families back to the land. The settlement, in 1625, seemed well stocked with arms but had no livestock.

Nearby in "the Maine" lived an additional 36 persons of which the largest single muster was that of Thomas Bunn with his wife, son, a maid and four other servants. It was somewhat less well equipped in arms than its neighbor although in most categories it was comparable. Only 3 houses were enumerated yet this was 2 more than given for Pasbehegh. Perhaps, living conditions were deteriorating.

It may be significant that the General Court in January, 1626, reiterated the permission given "to the inhabitants of Pasbehaye to remove themselves from that place." No restraint would be placed on them "nor any other the inhabitants of the Maine to stay and inhabit there." Perhaps, the insecurity of being on the "Governor's Land" was one reason that these "free men" could, and wanted to, leave. The reasons offered, however, were "the barreness of the ground whereon they plant," "the badness of their utterly decayed houses" and "their small strength & ability to hold & defend the same place."


This, along with Martin's Hundred and Argall's settlement, was among the first particular plantations to be established in Virginia and was founded and promoted by the "Society of Smyth's Hundred." It took its name from Sir Thomas Smith who was treasurer of the Virginia Company and a heavy investor. When he sold his interest in 1620 to his successor, the Earl of Southampton, the designation was changed from Smith's to Southampton Hundred. The initial grant was for some 80,000 acres and it was located on the north shore of the James between the Chickahominy River and the Weyanoke territory.

The first settlers to come over in the venture appear to have arrived in the ship George in 1617. In 1618 it was planned to send another 35 and supplies were arranged including "Tooles for a brickyard" and "A mill to grind" tools. The items enumerated can be found in the Records of the Virginia Company of London in Volume III, pages 95-96. From a good start it seemingly became, for a time, the leading plantation on the James. When Yeardley arrived as Governor he became interested in this project in which he obviously had a financial stake at least to the extent of bringing "out of England at my chardge 25 men this year [1619] to furnish Smyth hundred...." Yeardley wrote on April 29, 1619, that the plantation was "alltogether destitute of cowes." He asked that more be sent and that authority be sought to purchase as they were available. He hoped to get in the Colony "as many as will sett up 3 ploughs at Smythes Hundred, for we have there great store of good cleered grounds." He was disappointed in not having a good tobacco crop but drought and other things had prevented it. "I cannot expect much tobako our cheifest care must be for corne."

When representatives were chosen for the Assembly in 1619, Capt. Thomas Graves and Walter Shelley went up to Jamestown from Smith's Hundred. Already a church had been founded here. It was St. Marys Church to which Mary Robinson was a benefactor having made possible a communion cup, a plate, a carpet, an altar cloth, "one surplisse" and other ornaments and hangings to the value of twenty pounds. The Society of Smith's Hundred became interested, too, in the rearing of Indian children in the Christian way when another benefactor assured financial support. It was agreed that arrangements would be found for all not accommodated at Berkeley and Martin's hundreds and elsewhere. This particular plantation was among those to be encouraged by Company and Colony. Products they reaped could be returned to their own adventurers.

Yeardley continued for some time as commander of the hundred. He held court, made land grants, and conducted other Colony business here, perhaps, in "the now mansion house of mee the said George Yeardley in Southampton Hundred." In January, 1620, he advised "not onely the Adventurers for Smythes hundred, but the generall Company also, to send hither husbandmen truly bred (whereof here is a great scarcity, or none at all) both to manage the plough and breake our oxen and horses to that busines." In the same period John Rolfe wrote that the Smith's Hundred people had seen much sickness even though they were seated "at Dauncing Point, the most convenyent place within their lymittes." For this reason "no matter of gaine or greate industry can be expected from them." On the matter of sickness George Thorpe wrote from Southampton Hundred on December 19, 1620 that Virginia was healthy and that he was "perswaded that more doe die here of the disease of theire minde then of theire body by havinge this countrey victualles overpraised unto them in England & by not knowinge they shall drinke water here." He added hopefully, perhaps, that "wee have found a waie to make soe good drinke of Indian corne," that he often preferred it to "good stronge Englishe beare."

Society expenditures continued as forty-two more colonists were sent, of which five died en route in August 1619. Supplies were dispatched, including "English meale" and equipment furnished. The latter, early in 1620, included forty swords and thirty-three suits of armor plus two more "better then ordinary" totaling thirty-two pounds in cost.

The two Smith's Hundred ventures into iron production failed for the same reason that the College project failed. The men "were not able to mannage an iron worke and soe turned good honest tobaccoe mongers." The results of their fishing "in the North Colony," for which they had special "lycence," are less clear. The plantation did have its own shipping. Again, this time early in 1622, they were called on to undertake the education and rearing of some 30 of the "infidelles children," "Children of the Virginians."

The massacre appears to have been the blow that ended the promising hopes of Smith's Hundred. Only 5 persons were slain here but the effects were more far reaching. It was to be one of the settlements to be held and well fortified. In June, 1622, it was reported that "the inhabitants of Southampton Hundred since the late bloudy murthering of [the] nation by the Indians, hath been often infested by them & still is above other plantations wherby they are not onlie putt from planting corne, tobacco, & other nessarie employmentes wherby they might be able to subsist, but also have no corne for the present to maintaine life."

It would appear that the plantation was abandoned and that its survivors may have been relocated at Hog Island where the adventurers had an interest. This was an unfruitful end after the expenditure of some 6,000 pounds sterling. The net result in 1625 was some cattle, "land belonging to Southampton Hundred containeing 100000 acres" and a tract with some tenants on it at Hog Island.


About midway along the north shore of the James River between the Chickahominy and Appomattox Rivers is a projection of land that forces a wide sharp turn in the James. The Indians called this Tanks (little) Weyanoke, a place where the river goes around the land. This was separate, and distinct, from Great Weyanoke which lay along the south side of the James toward the Appomattox. The Weyanoke Indian tribe inhabited both areas, yet their chief town was on the south side.

In 1617 the Indian chieftain Opechancanough, who later would master mind the massacre, presented Sir George Yeardley with a sizeable tract here later described as 2,200 acres. On November 18, 1618, in his instructions, the Company confirmed the Indian grant to Yeardley "in consideration of the long and good and faithful service done by ... [him] in our said Colony and plantation of Virginia." Two hundred acres were allowed for two shares of stock and 2,000 were allowed for services rendered. Bounds for "Weyanoke," and for adjacent "Konwan" which was also included, were described and it was declared to be in "the territory of the said Charles City."

This was but one of Yeardley's developed properties. He, it seems, put men to work here and sought to open it up and make it profitable. Presumably this was after 1619 yet before 1622. It was mentioned in April, 1619 as a plantation begun in the period beginning in 1617. It seems significant, however, that it had no representation in the Assembly of 1619 unless it be assumed that the Smith's Hundred representatives spoke for it or unless it was grouped with Yeardley's Flowerdieu Hundred across the river.

At the time of the massacre "At Weynoack of Sir George Yeardly his people" some 21, one of whom was Margery Blewet a woman, were slain. With this, the plantation was abandoned and there seems no record of its immediate reoccupation. There is no reason to think that it was ever declared to be a part of Smith's Hundred to the east although Yeardley was fearful of it at one point due principally to the activity of Samuel Argall. The only entry in the land grants list of 1625 is "Tancks Wayonoke over against Perceys Hundred, 2,000 acres." By this date Yeardley had disposed of it through sale to Capt. Abraham Piercey who, also, had purchased Flowerdieu (Piercey's) Hundred.


George Swinhow was an "Adventurer to Virginia" about 1618 to the extent of L37 10s. By 1620 this had increased to L62 10s, and included provisions to the extent of 2 hogsheads and a half ton. He, himself, came to Virginia in the Diana and seems to have settled a plantation on the north side of the James in the vicinity of Weyanoke and Westover. This was prior to 1622. When the massacre came on March 22 it left 7 dead "at Mr. Swinhowe his house," Mrs. Swinhow, 2 sons, and 4 others.

There is no record that he returned to his 300 acres in the Corporation of Charles City. In 1625 he was a resident of "the Maine" near Jamestown where he had but one servant with him. Evidently he was a tobacco planter, for when he died, a year later, he left "a hundred gilders which was ten pounde sterlinge for to make the most of his tobacco."


It appears to have been in the summer of 1619 that Captain Francis West laid out the site of Westover plantation. This was done on the strength of fixing the grant of land in Virginia due Henry, the fourth Lord De La Warr—son and heir of Governor De La Warr who served the Colony for many years. There was some delay, however, in getting a duly authorized patent. On January 10, 1620, when Yeardley wrote of seating the Berkeley Hundred people, he appeared to be concerned lest he be accused of infringing on the West claim. He pointed out that the new settlement was more up river—"more towardes West and Sherley Hundred, and towardes Charles Citty." He went further and stated that West, before his departure for England, did not obtain "any grante" from him as Governor and consequently the bounds of what he did lay out were not known precisely.

There is scanty information relative to the development of Westover. At the time of the Indian massacre, however, it is clear that three Wests, Captain Francis, Captain Nathaniel, and Mr. John, all brothers and each at one time governor of Virginia, were established here. Two persons were killed at each of their plantations, "at Westover, about a mile from Berkley Hundred." In the Assembly of 1624 Westover sent its representative to the Assembly at Jamestown in the person of Samuel Sharpe. This being the case, it is difficult to explain the absence of the plantation from the list of 1624 and the muster of 1625. In the May, 1625 land tabulation, there is a single entry which reads "Att Westover 500 acres claymed by Captaine Francis West." From later events it would appear that the plantation had a continuous history with, perhaps, a small break caused by the massacre.


In February, 1619, the Virginia Company granted the authority to establish a "particular plantation" in Virginia to a group composed of Richard Berkeley, Sir William Throckmorton, Sir George Yeardley, George Thorpe and John Smyth of Nibley. The initial move toward settlement appears to have been made in the following summer when a ship, the Margaret, was fitted out and dispatched with emigrants and supplies. The 35, whose names are known, reached Virginia and on November 30, Ferdinando Yate, one of the group who chronicled the voyage, reported that "in the evening god bethanked we came to anker at Necketan [Kecoughtan] in a good harbore."

It was a little later that the site of the settlement was selected on the north side of the James. Reputed to contain 8,000 acres and 12-1/2 square miles, it was above Westover and "more towards West and Sherley Hundred, and towards Charles Citty." Yeardley elected to describe it thus to emphasize that it did not conflict with any claims of the Wests at Westover. Yate concluded his journal relating "we are well settled in good land by the means of the Governor of this cuntrie." He noted, too, that "our house is built with a stoore convenient." "The people were then following daiely husbantrie, sum to clering ground for corn and tobacko, sum to building houses, sum to plant vines and mulberie trees."

A number of the papers concerned with the initial establishment of Berkeley Hundred survive and at least give an insight into what was intended. The undertaking was expected to reflect "to the honor of allmighty god, the inlargeinge of Christian religion and to the augmentation and renowne of the generall plantation in that cuntry, and the particular good and profit of ourselves, men and servants, as wee hope." There was a very special instruction, perhaps, of some unusual note: "wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perputualy keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty god." Was this the first specific Thanksgiving Day in America?

Capt. John Woodleefe was named, and sent, as governor or commander of the new plantation. He, a man of some years of experience in Virginia affairs, was cautioned to keep his and Berkeley Hundred affairs separate and not to seat his own people "unles full ten English miles from ..." Berkeley. Specific orders were given him relative to building houses which should be "homelike" and "covered with boardes," some "framed" and to enclosing 400 acres "with a strong pale of seaven foote and halfe highe." Religious conformity and practice was stressed. All was to be "observed and kept, according as it is used in the Church of England."

There was soon a change in direction as a new charter placed the management of affairs in Virginia directly in the hands of George Thorpe and of William Tracy who was assigned Throckmorton's interest in the project. Thorpe left for the Colony in the spring of 1620 and with him went 3 men and "six kyne." A larger reinforcement accompanied Tracy. It included 50 persons who left England in the fall of 1620 reaching Virginia on January 29, 1621. Tracy wrote in September that he had in his Company "4 maid servants 3 maried wives & 2 young children my wife and daughter & son." The full list of supplies that came at this time is preserved (Records of the Virginia Company of London, III, 385-393) and tells much of life and conditions in Virginia. It included 2 grindstones, 2 mill stones, garden seeds: parsnips, carrot, cabbage, turnip, lettuce, onion, mustard and garlic; books on "husbandry & huswifry;" 22,500 "nayles of severall sorts;" and "sives to make gunpowder in Virginia." (See the Appendix.)

Things were well advanced when the massacre hit Berkeley Hundred. Eleven were killed here including Capt. George Thorpe "one of his Majesties pensioners." Then came abandonment from which no clearcut survival seems to have been achieved. In the spring of 1622 those who "remayneth" must have been relocated. Four persons sent from England "before the news of the massacre was heard" arrived in June and there is mention of others going for Berkeley in August. In July, 1623 John Smith promised to supply "my servants now living in Virginia in Berckley Hundreth" and others at least to the extent of L100. Two months later the Bonny Bess is reported to have brought people and supplies for Berkeley in its cargo.

In January, 1624, it was reported that 16 men, all of whom are named, were "planted at Sherley Hundred for Barkley Hundred Company." This indicates that the settlement at Berkeley had not yet been reactivated. Further indication is found in the assignment of Richard Milton of "Shirley Hundred" to look after the "Barkley Hundred" cattle for which he would get 50 pounds of tobacco and "the milke of the said Kyne." Perhaps these are the same cattle which had been taken to Jordan's Journey, by overseer Kemish, just after the massacre. There is no mention of Berkeley in the list of 1624, or in the muster of 1625.


Nathaniel Causey was an old soldier who came to Virginia in the First Supply early in 1608. It was on December 10, 1620 that he obtained a grant that he began to develop as a private plantation. This appears to have been located just to the east of West and Shirley Hundred on the north side of the James. If we accept the entry in the land list of May, 1625 this was for some 200 acres. Presumably he and his wife, Thomasine, also an "old planter" who had come to the Colony in 1609, lived here, at least for a time, perhaps, with servants which numbered 5 in 1625.

In the massacre Causey "being cruelly wounded, and the salvages about him, with an axe did cleave one of their heads, whereby the rest fled and he escaped." In 1624 Causey, who sat in the Assembly, is thought to have represented Jordan's Journey where he is listed as in residence that same year and again in 1625. He was among the 31 who signed the Assembly's reply to the declaration of charges against the Smith administration of the Colony made by Alderman Johnson and others. His plantation, Causey's Care, across the river from Jordan's Journey, continued, it seems, and for years was a landmark of the vicinity. Causey appears occasionally in the court records as when on May 23, 1625, he assumed a debt and obligation to "Doctor Pott" which required the delivery of "one barrel of Indian corne" to "James Cittie at the first cominge downe of the next boate."


This plantation, or hundred, on the north side of the James across from the mouth of the Appomattox River first comes into view as one of the areas in the Bermuda Incorporation established by Dale. Settlement is thought to date from 1613. As time passed it appears to have developed with less restrictive ties to Bermuda City than the hundreds adjoining it on the south side of the river. There is little to indicate that Bermuda Hundreds' claim on it in 1617 was ever seriously considered.

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