The Sea Venture

Copyright 2007 J. Andy Delbridge


In 1608, a year after the English set foot on a tiny island called  Jamestown, a supply mission of the young settlement was being planned. This mission, to leave 1609, was to be the third mission, and the largest to date.  Jamestown could not survive without these missions, especially during the winter months when food supplies were extremely limited.  These missions were instrumental in the founding of Virginia, and therefore, of the English in North America.  This episode of history is also of the experiences of the progenitor of a family line, one of the author’s, in this New World.  A newly built ship, the Sea Venture, was to make her maiden voyage.  Using the science of the day, the ship was designed specifically for the supplying efforts of Jamestown--to transport much-needed supplies and people to the little island on the James River.  She was to be the flagship of this very large mission, which utilized a fleet of nine ships.  To better understand this mission, a general background of Jamestown prior to this third mission is necessary in order to benefit the reader.  It is imperative to understand, not only what was going on in Jamestown just prior to the mission, but to understand how fragile survival of this latest English attempt was at getting a foot-hold in this new land.  Many colonization attempts were made prior to Jamestown. All failed to produce a permanent settlement prior to this time.  However, with each attempt, knowledge was gained.


The history of England and the New World goes back to before Jamestown in 1607.  The familiar story of the unsuccessful attempt of Sir Walter Raleigh of 1587, more commonly known as “The Lost Colony”, was not the first either.  The first to cross the Atlantic on behalf of the English was John Cabot in 1497, only five years after Columbus crossed the Atlantic. Cabot’s primary goal was to establish trading routes to the northwest.  England was not prepared at that time for colonization.  Her commerce was still in her infancy compared to other countries like Portugal, Italy, and Spain.   Francis Drake was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, ending his three-year trek in 1580.  Thomas Cavendish was the second, completing it in 1586. 


In addition to finding more efficient trading routes in a world that was getting smaller, striking out for adventure, starting a new life, was attractive to others as well. There was an unwritten caste system that was in place in the old land of England, the law of primogeniture, which allocated all inheritance to the eldest son.  For the younger sons in this Old World, knowing a new land accross the Atlantic encompassed unlimited cheap land that could be a genesis of a new life, the prospect of going to this place was attractive. Sir Walter Raleigh first attempted to colonize Virginia in 1585, but that settlement would last less than one year.  Sir Francis Drake, after plundering such sites as St. Augustine and Cartagena, enraging the Spanish, moving up the coastline, met with the Raleigh’s men at Roanoke Island.  The colonists, discovering that it was more difficult than previously believed to colonize the New World, determined their best course of action would be to ride back to England with Drake. They arrived back at Plymouth, July 28, 1586. This colonization attempt, though losing four men, was not wasted.  From the new land, the settlers brought back to England potatoes and tobacco.  The potato was then planted in Raleigh’s land in Ireland.  The potato and tobacco became very popular. The second attempt of Raleigh, May of 1587, is the attempt that became famous due to the supposed mystery of the settlers’ disappearance.  Many know the story of how Governor White left Roanoke Island for England to gather supplies.  This was ten days after his daughter gave birth to the very first English person born in the new land, Virginia Dare. Surely it was difficult to abandon his daughter and granddaughter but the fate of the colony rested on new supplies. What White had not counted on was war between England and Spain.  The Spanish Armada delayed his return voyage to Roanoke by three years.  Upon his return, he found the place deserted with no clue aside from the word “Croatoan” carved on the side of a tree. Therefore, this attempt is known today as “The Lost Colony”. 


Each of these attempts of colonization brought knowledge.  By the time The Virginia Company of London was initiated, many Englishmen knew basically what to expect and why the past attempts failed.  With the war with Spain out of the way, at least for the time being, a more focused effort could go into another attempt of colonization. 


The Virginia Company of London was chartered by James I in 1606.    No time was lost in preparing for the first expedition. The first voyage of the Virginia Company began on December 19, 1606.  Christopher Newport was the captain in charge of commanding the three-vessel fleet.  The ships were; the Susan (Sarah) Constant (100 tons)-- Captain Newport at the helm; The Godspeed (40 tons)—with Captain Bartholowmew Gosnald; and the Discovery (20 tons) headed by Captain John Ratcliffe.  On board were 120 men and boys.  They were bound for Virginia, the colony that earlier was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen.


They reached Virginia after four months at sea, on April 26, 1607.  On this date they made first landfall in Virginia, at Cape Henry, and a erected Christian cross.  The two capes, one on each end of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, were named after the sons of King James I, Henry and Charles.  The orders of the Virginia Company were sent in a secured box, to be opened only after twenty-four hours after arrival in Virginia.  These orders included a list of the settlers who would be in the new Council.  The names listed were Christopher Newport, Bartholomew Gosnald, Edward Maria Wingfield, John Smith, John Ratcliffe, John Martin, and George Kendall.  These members of the Council would elect the first President. The man they elected president was Wingfield.  After much debate as to the location they would choose for their settlement, they anchored next to an island that jutted out into the newly named James River on May 14.


They named the island on which they chose as their new home Jamestown, in honor of King James I.  The natives were not shocked at the arrival of these white men.  The Chiefdom of Powhatan spread down through what is now North Carolina. They knew about the previous attempts and of the Spaniards, further south in Florida.  They were, however, were puzzled at many things these colonists did.  Why did these people occupy such an invaluable area?  The white men settled upon an island with no fresh water springs, full of mosquitoes, and densely forested with trees and high grasses which would help conceal any approaching enemy.  The natives would never choose such a location.  They brought no women, therefore, according to the native beliefs, must be poor.  However the colonists, being sent over by the Virginia Company, were quite optimistic.  They knew they would be getting supplies from England on a regular basis.   It is important to note that, at that time, they were not sure what happened to the settlers on the previous attempt to settle the New World, on Roanoke Island, some twenty years before.  In fact, one of the missions of the Jamestown Colony, towards the end of the next year, would be to send a search party to Roanoke Island to try and locate those Raleigh-sponsored initial pioneers. Later, Chief Powhatan confessed to Smith and the other English that he ordered their massacre based on what his priest told him.


Within a week of landing at Jamestown Newport and twenty others headed up river to the falls of the James River to search for gold.  They could go no further than where present-day Richmond is located at the falls of the river. There they erected a Christian cross and claimed the area for England.  Meanwhile at Jamestown, with Newport exploring upriver, the natives attacked the yet unfinished fort at Jamestown, demonstrating to the colonists that the natives do not approve of what is taking place.  


June 21 (22nd according to Smith), Newport left for England, leaving 104 colonists behind (100 men and four boys).  By this time John Smith had proven his use in relations with the natives.  He was perhaps the best at trading with the natives for the provisions the colonists needed.


By September 10th of 1607, only 46 of the original 104 settlers were alive. In the interim, Gosnald had died.  Kendall had been detected planning to desert the colony and was shot. On September 10th, the remaining Council members, Ratcliffe, Smith and Martin, decided to depose Wingfield as president. They elected John Ratcliffe as the second president in Virginia.


In December of that same year Smith, while exploring the Chickahominy region, was taken prisoner by the natives.  Everyone knows that he escaped death by Pocahontas’s actions. Being Chief Powhatan’s favorite daughter, even at twelve years old, she had tremendous say. Smith was not out of the woods yet however.  His two companions on that exploration were killed.  The colonists at Jamestown, upon Smith’s return, January 2, 1608, believed he was responsible for the deaths of their comrades.  By this time Ratcliffe had admitted Gabriel Archer (who despised Smith) into the Council.   They chose to execute Smith by hanging as a result. Smith was to die the next day.  As luck would have it, Newport arrived that next day with the first of the supply missions sent from England, January 9, 1608.  Seventy more colonists arrived on board the John and Francis. Christopher Newport, finding only 35 of the original 104 colonists he left behind, spared Smith from his sentence.1  Five days after Newport’s arrival, a fire destroyed nearly all of Jamestown.  During this hard winter, many died from exposure and famine as a result.


On September 10, 1608, after being president for exactly one year, Ratcliffe was disposed.  John Smith was elected third president of Virginia.


The second supply mission under Newport arrived on September 29th, 1608.  Another seventy colonists arrived.  This brought the total of colonists at Jamestown to 120, accounting for those that perished. Two females arrived on this second supply mission and, a year later, the first white colonist was born in Jamestown, Virginia Laydon.


In December 1608, Newport left for England again.  This time taking Ratcliffe, the deposed ex-president.  Newport also took a map and journals of Captain Smith that detail his explorations of the Chesapeake Bay.

In early 1609, the three council members under Smith; Scrivener, Waldo and Wynne, died from accidents. Smith made no attempt to replace these Council members, making him a supreme ruler, answerable to no one currently in this new land.  Scrivener and Waldo both drowned in an accident going to
Hogs Island on the James.  Matthew Scrivener was, at that time, January 1609, the first secretary for the Colony of Jamestown.


During the winter of 1608/09, Smith successfully traded with the Indians for corn that lasted the winter.  During the next Spring, much work was undertaken, such as building a well for fresh water.  Up to that time fresh water was only received from the river. Smith began building a fort south of the river, known as Smith’s Fort, in Surry County. 


It was then learned that the old charter had been repealed.  It was replaced with one doing away with the Council government and instead making Thomas West,  Lord De La Warr, governor. He would be arriving shortly. However, until then, Thomas Gates would fill the role as soon as he arrived in Jamestown.  This made Gates the first Virginia Governor.


The third supply mission to Jamestown, consisting of 500-600 people on board nine ships, set sail down the River Thames on June 2, 1609.  After a rendezevous with other ships, five days later at Plymouth, Devon, the long trek across the ocean began.  The ships were: The Sea Venture, Blessing, Diamond, Unitie, Falcon, Lion, Swallow, Virginia, and Catch.  The Sea Venture, the largest of the ships, had 150 people on board, including Sir Thomas Gates, the newly appointed interim Governor.  He was to replace John Smith to oversee the Va. Colony until Lord De La Warr, Thomas West, could come at a later

date to be the active Governor of the Virginia Colony.  It seems as though not much thought went into who sailed in which ship.  Because, also on the Sea Venture were the next two most powerful people to come to Jamestown, Admiral George Somers, and Vice Admiral Christopher Newport. John Rolfe and his expecting wife were also on the Sea Venture.  This was one of Newport’s five trips (his fourth) he would make between the Old World and the New.  George Somers, also onboard the Sea Venture, was admiral of the fleet of nine ships sponsored by the Virginia Company of London. 


Admiral Sir George Somer (1554-1610) was born near Lyme Regis in Dorsetshire, England of modest circumstances.  At an early age he took to the sea, and as a captain of the vessel Flibcote, he captured Spanish prizes, bringing them back to Dartmouth. He was to become a large landowner by the time he reached his early thirties.


Somers was a former ship mate of Sir Walter Raleigh, who sponsored two previous tries at an English Colony at Roanoke Island, Virginia (now present-day North Carolina). 


By early 1609, cautious optimism was increasing throughout the stock holders of the Virginia Company of London.  In that same year, Somers received instructions to command the third expedition to Virginia.  He then promptly mortgaged his property and outfitted the Sea Venture.2  It is believed that the Sea Venture, a rather large 300 ton displacement ship, was built by the Virginia Company in 1608, designed specifically for the transporting of settlers to the new world.  This was her maiden voyage.


The typical route to the New World was to go south, skirting the western shores of Europe until “the butter melted” 3, which was the common direction for sailing to the Canary Islands.  From those islands, with the favorable trade winds, the western direction would take them to the New World. Then, on July 25, 1609, off the Azores, the fleet encountered a “hurycano”, also known then as a fierce tempest.



William Strachey, on board the Sea Venture, wrote:

"The cloudes gathering thicke upon us, and the windes singing, and whistling most unusually,... a dreadful storme and hideous began to blow from out the North-east, which swelling, and roaring as it were by fits, some houres with more violence then others, at length did beate all light from heaven; which like an hell of darkenesse turned blacke upon us, so much the more fuller of horror…."4


William Strachey (1572-1621) would later be appointed (1610), by Governor Lord De La Warr, to replace Matthew Scrivener, who drowned in January 1609, as secretary to the colony.5 


For twenty-four hours the waves reached the clouds.  By the time the sea calmed, seven feet of water lay inside the Sea Venture. Seams in the hull had opened due to the stress on the hull.  


Two ships were separated from the other seven ships, the Sea Venture and the Catch.  Upon arriving at Jamestown, the people on the successful seven ships mourned the loss of their comrades on board the two lost ships, who were feared lost at sea.


The Sea Venture was badly damaged.  With water rushing in the hull, the crew of the large ship began tossing cargo overboard to lighten the ship’s load. 


For three days and four nights, all men were needed to pump and bail water out of the sinking ship.  Using candles, a group of men found many leaks and plugged them up between the ribs of the ship.  One rather large leaked eluded them.  Tearing up walls of the rooms, searching and listening, they could not pinpoint where a specific leak was coming from.  Unable to plug that, the men were divided into groups.  Each would bail and pump for one hour, earning one hour’s rest. 


With everyone moving slowly due to exhaustion, finally Somers, who hadn’t eaten or slept at all since the ordeal began, with eyes trained onto the horizon, spotted land.  They have come upon the dreaded “Isle of the Devils”, Bermuda.


Somers luckily, or by strategy, rested the Sea Venture upright, being hung between two reefs, on 28 July 1609.  As Strachey put it,


 “…having no hope to save her by coming to an anker in the same, we were inforced to runne her ashoare, as neere the land as we could, which brought us within three quarters of a mile of shoare, and by the mercy of God unto us, making out our boats, we had ere night brought all our men, women and children, about he number of one hundred and fifty, safe into the Island.”  6


Bermuda was officially first settled at this point, and has been continuously inhabited since the shipwreck of the Sea Venture.


Bermuda got its name earlier by the Spaniards.  It was more commonly called the Islands of the Devil. It was bad luck to step foot onto her land, which is a good reason the Spaniards, who had already settled Florida and many other places in Mexico, would not go near her shores. The place was believed inhabited with evil spirits and demons. Somers, after outfitting the ship’s longboat with decking from the Sea Venture to help make it sea worthy, sent eight men onward to Jamestown to inform them of the predicament. These eight men were never seen or heard from again.  


The other separated ship of the third supply mission, the Catch, was indeed lost and never heard from again. Meanwhile the seven ships that weathered the hurricane intact and made it to Jamestown that summer (1609) added 300 people to the colony. The new settlers were hungry after their terrifying voyage.  Nearly all supplies were lost, including much food that was spoiled due to the heat at damage of the storm.  Most supplies were on board the Sea Venture, due to her being the largest of the vessels.  Arriving on this third supply mission were Captains Gabriel Archer, John Ratcliffe, and John Martin who despised Smith. They were happy to relieve Smith of command.  7


They wanted him gone.  Most of the existing colonists agreed with the new captains.  Many thought that Smith was too power hungry.  He was making deals with the natives, and perhaps trying to marry Pocahontas to dominate the New World. He was wearing buckskins now and many thought he was losing his mind. 8    


By late summer 1609, Chief Powhatan was angry with Capt. John Smith, due to numerous broken promises.  Smith had told him, on their first meeting, that they were taking refuge from the Spanish ships and would be leaving soon.  Now they had houses and a church.  Every so often a new ship came with more people...and that summer a fleet of seven ships brought 300 more people to James Fort.  Smith had not traded with weapons either, nullifying Powhatan’s plan to gain power over the surrounding nations. Smith had promised that they would stay on the island only.  However, people upriver were starting farms inside his nation.  Powhatan could tolerate the English if they gave him copper and weapons, but that wasn’t the case. 9  


The Fall of Captain John Smith


With the colonists and the natives against him, Smith’s power had to come to an end.  The final incident that did Smith in was an injury he suffered from his powder bag.  It is assumed someone put a fuse to the bag of powder Smith wore on his belt. The powder exploded.  It blew off muscle and flesh in a ten-inch square hole.  On October 1st, 1609, Smith left Jamestown for England so that his wounds could be treated. 


This injury was very important in that it sent Smith home.  His respect as the overall leader may have vanished, but he could still negotiate very well.  It was soon evident that his talents as an “ambassodor to the natives” was missed.  Pocahontas visited James Fort to inquire about Smith.  She was told that Smith had died and that she was not welcome at the fort anymore.  Not long after, Ratcliffe, who had arrived that Summer, and a force of 30 colonials, accepted Powhatan’s invitation of trade and feast.  They went to meet with the natives up the York (Pamunkey) River.  Neither Ratcliffe or his men were ever seen again.


The store of corn that was gathered by Smith in September was gone by winter.  Smith was no longer there to use his talents for trade and keep good relations with the Indians. The colonials were now imprisoned within their fort.  If anyone left the protection of the palisades, many arrows flew towards them. Ninety percent of them died during the winter (1609-1610).   This time frame on Jamestown became known as “The Starving Time”.   Of the over 500 colonials who were at Jamestown when Smith left in October 1609, only sixty were present in May of 1610.  


Down in Bermuda, the 150 occupants of the former Sea Venture fared better. Wild pigs, whose ancestors were perhaps the cargo of a Spanish shipwreck that, too, was beached, roamed the area near where the Sea Venture beached.  This pork as well as other food found on the island, made for nice meals of the crew and passengers stranded there.  Using Bermuda cedar and wood salvaged from the remains of the Sea Venture, the castaways built two boats over the course of nine months, the Deliverance and the Patience.   


A few of the 150 passengers did not survive their stay in Bermuda.  Two of them being the wife and newly born child of John Rolfe.  Finally, Admiral George Somers and all of the passengers and crew, except two, departed the paradise of Bermuda to complete their mission to Jamestown on May 10, 1610. The two Englishmen left on the islands remained to claim the islands of Bermuda for the crown. The two ships sailed to Jamestown on May 10, 1610, arriving in Jamestown May 24th.


Two members of the party were left behind in Bermuda. One, Christopher Carter, was to become the first permanent resident of the new settlement.  He lived on the island until his death. For a time the islands were called the Somers Islands, named after the admiral who brought the sinking ship near her shores.


It can only be imagined what the surviving colonists in Jamestown thought when they saw these two vessels approach.  At first sight, it could be assumed these were Spaniards.  However, once realizing who they were, the mixed feelings of shock and joy had to surface.  These men were thought dead and drowned nearly a year before.  Now, here they are approaching Jamestown.


What the crew and passengers of the two newly constructed ships, the Deliverance and the Patience, saw upon arrival to Jamestown shocked them all.  The Starving Time had taken its toll during the previous winter, killing 90% of the occupants of Jamestown. The James Fort was in shambles.  All the wood inside of the fort was burned the previous winter by the colonials in hopes to stay warm.  The colonists were prisoners in their own stockade.  They feared venturing outside the walls of the fort.  The natives were shooting arrows at all who they saw outside the fort to gather firewood or other chore.


On June 7, 1610, after Interim Governor Gates decided to vacate the miserable island and return to England, they set sail down the James River.


Thomas West, Baron De La Warr (Governor Delaware) at that same time, was sailing up the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, approaching Jamestown, having left England April 1, 1610 as the fourth supply mission to Jamestown.  The two parties met on June 9 off of Mulberry Island (near present-day Fort Eustis in Newport News). Replacing the interim Governor Gates, Governor Delaware ordered Gates to return back to Jamestown.  This new supply mission included new settlers, food, a doctor, and much needed additional supplies. They immediately began to reinforce the fort and other structures. The timely arrival of Lord De La Warr’s fleet impacted the future, not only by saving the colony by its timely arrival, but, by sending Rolfe back to Jamestown.  Rolfe began to experiment on tobacco.  Eventually he grew a type that would eventually allow the colony to create its own economy, and begin a trading industry.  Because of this the Virginia Colony was finally a profitable venture. 


Sir George Somers, to help prepare for the upcoming winter, volunteered to return to Bermuda.  He set sail aboard the Patience  on June 19, 1610 for supplies for the struggling colony of Virginia. Due to several days of bad weather, Somers ended up off the coast of Cape Cod.   He eventually made it back to Bermuda. There he saw his two friends that were left there about a month earlier.


While at Bermuda, sick and frail, Somers, sensing his impending death, told his nephew, Captain Mathew Somers, to go back to Virginia after he died to inform the men of Jamestown.  He would die there on November 19, 1610, leaving no direct descendants. Captain Matthew Somers, not honoring his uncle’s request, instead returned to England aboard the Patience to claim his inheritance.  He had with him his uncle's body. Three men were left on the islands to hold the claim. Legend has it that Somers’s heart was buried at the church they had constructed during the castaway period of 1609-10, St George's church, in Bermuda. After his nephew delivered the rest of Somers’s body to England, he was buried.


By the time Somers’s body made it to England, Newport, Gates, and a shipload of colonists had arrived back in England as well.  They had departed for England on May 10, 1610. Gates carried with him a long letter written by Strachey which described the “tempest” at sea, their ordeals and other experiences of the colonists.  This manuscript, which the Virginia Company of London did not desire published at this time for fear of reduced funding, caught the attention of an insider of the literary world by the name of William Shakespeare.  The famous play entitled “The Tempest” derived from the information Strachey had recorded. 10 


As a side note, in 1612, at Sir George Somers's previous recommendation, a new venture company, a subsidiary of the Virginia Company, was formed to finance and manage the colonization of this Atlantic island group. Sixty settlers set sail and arrived on the island on July 11th.  Today, the official crest of Bermuda features an image of the Sea Venture battling the great tempest to commemorate the circumstances of the island's founding. 



John Rolfe became a wealthy settler, eventually owning several platations.  One was near Sir Thomas Dale’s new city of Henricus, called Varina Farms. In 1614 he married Pocohontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan. Thomas Rolfe was born in 1615.  Peace between the natives and settlers resulted, partly, due to this amiable relationship. Many are descended from this family, including the Bollings of Virginia.  It is unclear wheather Rolfe died as a result of the 1622 Massacre.  He died soon after this event.


Massacre of 1622. 


John Proctor and his wife Alice had settled in the farthest western stretches of the colony.  The area was known as Henrico, again, named after the son of James I, Henry.  They had their plantation just up river from the town of Henricus, the second settlement of the English, where Proctor’s Creek met the James River.  Today this area is in Chesterfield.  Proctor was away in England in 1622 gathering more settlers to join them in Virginia.  One was granted 50 acres by the Kind for each settler that was brought to Virginia.


Across the James from Jamestown, in Surry, lived a Richard Pace. He had developed an area called Pace’s Paines.  The word paine meant meadows in 17th century English. Paces Paines was 600 acres on the bluff across the James River from Jamestown. Prior to the famous Indian Massacre on March 22, 1622, Chanco, an Indian boy who had been treated like a son with much respect by Richard Pace, informed the latter of the planned massacre.  Pace urgently secured Pace’s Paines then rowed across the river with his wife, son George,  and Chanco, to warn the governor at Jamestown.  At the fort of Jamestown, the Indians struck from two sides.  But with stepped up defenses, none were killed there.  In all, 347 settlers of the 1200 at the time were murdered. All of the colonists would likely have been murdered by Chief Opechancanough had Chanco, whose own brother took part in the massacre, not informed Richard Pace. Opechancanough took over the empire of his late brother, Chief Powhatan. Jamestown would likely have ended up similar to Raliegh’s colony at Roanoke.


After hearing the warning, Alice Proctor, living at the plantation in Henrico without her husband, who had journeyed back to England, did not want to vacate the plantation.  She told the authorities she would not leave.  Only after the authorities threatened to burn down the house did Alice finally leave to join others in Jamestown.  The house did burn during the Massacre.  


It is interesting to note that upon John Proctor’s return from England, he was granted 200 acres in Surry in the area known as Pace’s Paines.  On February 16th , 1623, a census was ordered, which was known as, “The Living and the Dead”.  This is how it was known that 347 settlers did not survive the massacre. Also from this census, it is known that, at that time, there were 33 colonists residing on the south side of the river from Jamestown, in Surry.  Two of these are noted as Mr. John Proctor and his wife Mrs. Proctor. The Proctors remained in Surry for several generations thereafter.


Christopher Newport-  After making a fifth and last round-trip voyage between England and Virgnin, December 1611, newport resigned as “Admiral of Virginia”.  Later, while under the employment of the East India Company, Newport died of fever in Java in 1617, having never visited Jamestown again. Note: Newport News may have gotten its name, not from Christopher Newport, but by a geographic feature that shares a similar look of a point of land extending out in the Alligator River in North Carolina. On a 1770 map of North Carolina, the point is called Nupernuse Point. 



William Strachey’s ring was found n 1997 in the ruins of Jamestown.  It was identified by the family seal on it.


Chief Powhatan, fathered an estimated 100 offspring, his name was Wahunsunacock   but he adopted the name of his tribe as his own title.  He then gave that name to all tribes he controlled. 7 His coalition was the largest and most powerful chiefdom along the entire Atlantic seaboard when the English arrived.  The tribe had larger enemies.  To the North were the Iroquois and Susquehannock.  To the West, the Monocan.  Below the James River (Powhatan River) was the Nansemond and Meherrin.  The Powhatan Nation grew since the late 1500’s (p35).  Now it consisted of Potomac River south to the James.  It went east to the Eastern Shore and west to the falls.  Copper was the gold of the natives.  The Monacans had many secret copper mines and were stingy with their materials.  If Powhatan could get copper from the English, he then could subjigate the Monacans.



Pocohontas, like all Powhatan people, was given three names.  The first, Matoaka, was given at birth.  She was given the name Amontute as her spiritual name.  Then, her father, father of perhaps over a hundred, Chief Powhatan, gave her the name Pocohontas 6.  As we know from history, after her marriage to John Rolfe, whe was given the Christian name Rebecca. 


Ancient Planters


To be called an “Ancient Planter” described someone of very high status in the colony. This meant that the individual came over before 1616, before “the coming away of (Governor) Sir Thomas Dale” who left Virginia for England, November 1616. They paid their own passage, they owned at least one share of Va. Compnay stock, they had lived in Va. for at least three years, and they survived the Massacre of 1622.  They are the ones who received the first land grants.  There are about 149 known Ancient Planters.  As Ancient Planters, they were entitled to have 100 acres of free land for each share of stock purchased.  It was also enacted by the General Assembly of March 5, 1624 “that all old planters that were here before or came in at the coming of Sir Thomas Gates, they and their posterity shall be exempted from personal service to the wars and any public charge.  This meant that their descendants were exempt from service as soldiers and payment of taxes.  Living south of the James River, there were only 13 Ancient Planters.  Among those was John Proctor.  It is noted in Colonial Surry by John Boddie that John Proctor came over on the Sea Venture along with Sir Thomas Gates.  Gates was the interim Governor until Lord Delaware arrived. It is also noted that Proctor first settled in Henrico.  During the massacre, Proctor was away in England when his wife Alice bravely defended their plantation on Proctor’s Creek.  While in England at a meeting he stated he had lived ”near 14 years in Virginia”.  In may 1625 he was granted 200 acres on the south side of James River in Surry.  This grant was located at Pace’s Paines.     


Wreck Site


Excavation began on a wreck site in Gates Bay believed to be the Sea Venture.  It was called the Downing wreck, named after the principal researcher/diver, until it could be determined the wreck was actually that of the Sea Venture.  It was noticed, in the 1980’s, that she was still lying between two coral about ¾ of a mile out from shore.  Bermuda has remained continuously occupied since the great ship went down in 1609.




As discussed earlier, one motivating factor for men to uproot from the old world was to claim land.  For if they were a younger son of their father, or a daughter, they were entitled to nothing in the old system. For most, the advantages of starting anew in a new world were overwhelming. One needed little to no funds to come to the new world.  One could pay for their passage or serve in an indenture term upon arriving for a specified time.  Once that time was over, a land plot was allocated for the settler.  As that individual started and then raised a family, many traditions from the old world were hard to replace.  Again, for the second generaton sons and daughters, not being the first-born son meant getting little to nothing upon the death of one’s father.   Primogenture remained in effect until Thomas Jefferson ended this practice. (George Washington The Image and the Man  1926  W.E. Woodward   Boni and Liveright New york p.17) 






1              Virginia Reader  Rosenberger   p. 67




3                     Empires in the Forest: Jamestown and the Beginning of America by Avery Chenoweth and Robert Llewellyn  p.21


4                     Wright p.4 A Voyage to Virginia in 1609: Strachey’s True reportory edited by Louis B. Wright. The University Press of Virginia.


5                     Virginia Reader: A Treasury of Writings From the First Voyages to the Present  Edited by Francis Coleman Rosenberger. E.P. Dutton and Company. 1948 p.101


6                     Wright p.15 A Voyage to Virginia in 1609: Strachey’s True reportory edited by Louis B. Wright. The University Press of Virginia



7                     Captain John Smith: Jamestown And the Birth of The American Dream.  Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler.  Page 208. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 2006


8                     Empires in the Forest: Jamestown and the Beginning of America by Avery Chenoweth and Robert Llewellyn  p.132


9                     Empires in the Forest: Jamestown and the Beginning of America by Avery Chenoweth and Robert Llewellyn  p.133


10                  Virginia Reader: A Treasury of Writings From the First Voyages to the Present  Edited by Francis Coleman Rosenberger. E.P. Dutton and Company. 1948 p.101





1.                    Andrews, Matthew Page. Virginia: The Old Dominon. The Dietz Press. Richmond, Va. 1949


2.                    Billings, Warren. Jamestown and the Founding of the Nation. Thomas Publications. Gettysburg, Pa.


3.                    Billings, Warren. The Old Dominon in the Seventeenth Century: A Documentary History of Virginia, 1606-1689. The University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill, N.C. 1975


4.                    Boddie, John B. Colonial Surry. Genealogical Publishing Company. Baltimore, Md. 1966


5.                    Campbell, Charles. History of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia. J.B. Lippincott and Co. Philadelphia, PA. 1860.


6.                    Deans, Bob. The River Where America Began:  A Journey Along the James.  Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.  Lanham, Md. 2007.


7.                     Hatch, Charles E., Jr. The First SeventeenYears Virginia 1607-1624. The University Press of Virginia.  Charlottesville, Va 1957


8.                    Hoobler, Thomas and Doroty. Captain John Smith: Jamestown and the Birth of the American Dream.  John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Hoboken, N.J. 2006


9.                    Horn, James. A Land As God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. Basic Books. New York. 2005


10.                 Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. The Jamestown Project. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA. 2007


11.                 Mapp, Alf J., Jr. The Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominon’s Role in the Making of America 1607-1781.  IUniverse, Inc. 1957, 2006


12.                 Price, David A. Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas and the Heart of a New Nation. Faber and Faber. New York. 2003


13.                 Rosenberger, Francis Coleman. Virginia Reader: A Treasury of Writings. From the First Voyages to the Present.  E.P. Dutton and company. New York. 1948


14.                 Rountree, Helen and Turner, E. Randloph III. Before and After Jamestown: Virginia’s Powhatans And Their Predecessors. University Press of Florida. Gainesville, FL. 2002.


15.                 Rouse, Jr. Parke. The James: Where a Nation Began. Dietz Press, Richmond, Va. 1990.


16.                 Southern, Ed. Editor. The Jamestown Adventure: Accounts of the Virgnia Colony 1605-1614.  John F. Blair Publisher.  Winston-Salem, N.C. 2004.


17.                 Stith, William. The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia: Being An Essay Towards a General History of the Colony. William Park, Publishers. 1865


18.                 Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. England in America 1580-1652. Greenwood Press, Publishers. New York. 1904.


19.                 Wallenstein, Peter. Cradle of America: Four Centureis of Virginia History. University Press of Kansas. Lawrence, KS. 2007


20.                 Woodward, W.E.  George Washingt:The Image and the Man.  Boni and Liveright. New York  1926 p.17


21.                 Woolley, Benjamin. Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Setlement of America. Harper Collins Publishers. New York. 2007.


22.                 Wright, Louis B. editor A Voyage to Virginia in 1609.  The University Press of Virginia. Charlottesville, Va. 1964






My Genealogical Line from John Proctor of Jamestown down...


John Proctor 10gr. grandfather (b.1557 London)

John Proctor 9gr grandfather. The Immigrant. Born: Abt 1587, London, England 1 Marriage: Alice before 1610 in London,

George Proctor  8g Born: Abt 1621, Pace's Paines, Jamestown, James City County, Virginia Took part in Bacon’s Rebellion.

Joshua Proctor Born: 1650, Surry County, Virginia 7gr

Robert Proctor  Born: Abt 1686, Surry County, Virginia    --daughter Sarah b. 1720-1786



Richard Branscome(b.1721), 5gr  grandfather d.1775  (married 1744  Sarah Proctor 1720-86 Va.)


John Branscome(b. 1760-d.1821)


Wesley Branscum (b.1801-1873)


George W. Branscum (b.1841)


William Andrew Branscum (b.1867), gr


Theodore Andrew Branscum(b.1904),

Linda S. Branscum Delbridge

me-John A. Delbridge (1967).