Jamestown Colony of Virginia Timeline

Jamestown Colony of Virginia Timeline

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  • 1607

    Jamestown Colony of Virginia founded.

  • 1607 - 1699

    Jamestown Colony of Virginia becomes the first permanent English colony in North America.

  • 1607 - 1609

    Jamestown Colony of Virginia struggles to survive.

  • 1609 - 1610

    The Starving Time of the Jamestown Colony; colonists are forced to resort to cannibalism.

  • 1610 - 1611

    Jamestown Colony begins to thrive after the introduction of tobacco crop and reorganization of the settlement.

  • 1611 - 1619

    John Rolfe's tobacco blend becomes lucrative cash crop; Jamestown investors become rich.

  • 1611 - 1619

    Systematic removal of native Powhatan tribes from their lands as more colonists arrive in Jamestown from England.

  • 1619

    House of Burgesses is convened; first English representational government in the Americas.

  • 1619

    First African slaves arrive in Jamestown; possibly treated as indentured servants.

  • 22 Mar 1622

    The "Indian Massacre" of the Jamestown colony when the Powhatan Confederacy fights for their land; over 300 colonists killed.

  • 1676

    Bacon's Rebellion; Jamestown is burned in revolt over governor's pro-Native American and early settler's rights.

  • 1699

    Jamestown is abandoned in favor of Williamsburg as colonial capital of Virginia.

Jamestown Colony of Virginia Timeline - History

Before Europeans arrived in Virginia the land was inhabited by Native American tribes including the Catawba in the south, the Powhatan in the east, the Cherokee in the west, and the Tutelo in the center region of the state. The Powhatan peoples on the east coast spoke the Algonquian language and lived in longhouses made from tree saplings covered with grass or bark mats. A number of tribes joined together to create the Powhatan Confederacy under the leadership of Chief Powhatan. Chief Powhatan was also the father of Pocahontas who would later marry English settler John Rolfe.

Re-enactment of the landing at Jamestown from the US Navy

In 1606, the Virginia Company of London was granted a charter to start a colony in Virginia. They gathered a group of settlers and set sail on three ships named the Susan Constant, the Discovery, and the Godspeed. Upon reaching Virginia they founded the settlement of Jamestown on May 13, 1607.

These first settlers had a rough time. Most of the original colonists starved to death within a few years. They also fought with the local Powhatan Indians until one of the settlers kidnapped the local chief's daughter, Pocahontas, and managed to secure a truce.

Despite the early struggles, more and more settlers arrived in Virginia. Tobacco became an important crop and large tobacco plantations formed throughout Virginia. In order to work the land, slaves were brought in from Africa. In 1624, Virginia was made a crown colony of Britain. The capital city was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg in 1698.

After the British won the French and Indian War they began to impose taxes on the American Colonies including the Stamp Act of 1765. Many colonial leaders spoke out against the taxes and began to discuss revolution. It was Virginia's Patrick Henry who said "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, Virginia was quick to send troops and organize a militia to fight the British. Some of the main leaders of the revolution, such as General George Washington who led the Continental Army and Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence, were from Virginia. Some of the important battles that took place in Virginia were the Battle of Great Bridge, the Siege of Petersburg, and the Battle of Yorktown. It was at the Battle of Yorktown where the British finally surrendered and the Americans won the war.

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis by John Trumbull

After the war, Virginia voted to ratify the U.S. Constitution and became the 10th state on June 25, 1788.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected president, several southern states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States. At first, Virginia wanted to remain loyal to the Union, but they did not want to fight their fellow southern states. When fighting broke out at Fort Sumter in 1861, Virginia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy.

The capital of the Confederacy was moved to Richmond, Virginia. As a result, much of the fighting during the Civil War took place in Virginia. Some of the major Civil War battles that took place in Virginia included the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Second Battle of Bull Run, and the Battle of Appomattox Court House. It was on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox that General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant and the Civil War came to an end.

Because so many battles took place in Virginia, it was decimated by the war. Much of the state's infrastructure including railroads, cities, roads, and industry needed to be rebuilt. Virginia was finally readmitted to the Union in 1870, but it took some time after for Virginia to fully recover.

The Pentagon by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond

A Timeline for Structures at Jamestown Related to the Chiles Family

NPS archeologist Empy Jones' sketch of Structure 44 at Jamestown, created in the 1930s.

In 1638-9, Richard Kemp, who served as Secretary of the Virginia colony during the tenure of the irascible Sir John Harvey, built his “brick house” on 3 ½ acres of land to the east of the present-day Ambler ruins. This “brick house” was designated S44 by NPS archeologists it is the building that would eventually pass into Walter Chiles I’s hands. Governor Sir John Harvey identified Kemp’s house as the first brick dwelling at Jamestown and two eyewitnesses used the word “faire” to describe the house. Governor Harvey himself referred to Kemp’s house as “the fairest that ever was knowen in this countrye for substance and uniformity.”

Archeological evidence (excavations done in the 1930’s and 1990’s) indicate that structure 44 was a one- or possibly two-story home raised on a shallow footing of brickbats. A central, H-shaped chimney was shared by two rooms on the ground floor. Both rooms may have been paved with brick or tile.

Empy Jones, the lead excavator during the 1934-35 dig, kept a daily logbook and produced a freehand sketch (illustrated above) of the foundations laid bare. Jones’ sketch indicated that S44 was about 23 feet long. S44 is also depicted in NPS archeologist John Cotter’s 1958 base map of the Jamestown townsite.

Richard Kemp was a close associate of the unpopular Governor Harvey, who had been thrust out of office by his fellow Virginians and then briefly reinstated by the Crown. When Sir John’s replacement Sir Francis Wyatt arrived in Virginia in 1639, he appointed a new Council, suspending Kemp as Secretary.

Conjectural painting by NPS artist Sydney King of Structure 38

William Kemp sold S44 to Governor Wyatt in 1641, perhaps under duress, and moved to Rich Neck Plantation on the mainland. He would not recover his old post until Governor Sir William Berkeley replaced Wyatt in 1642. Sir Francis Wyatt built the “Country House” (S38) on a half-acre lot to the west of S44. (S38 is illustrated to the left in a conjectural painting by NPS artist Sydney King.)

Around 1644, Governor Sir William Berkeley purchased the S44 property with its brick house. The deed turning the property over to Sir William referred to the “mansion house, together with All gardens, orchards, yard Backsides, out houses, buildings … late in ye tenure and occupacon of Richd Kemp esq. and by him Conveyed unto Sr. ffrancis Wyatt Kt.” This was at the same time that Berkeley was building his Green Spring estate, located a few miles away on the mainland. Although Sir William owned other houses in town, he may have lived in S44 at one time or another.

In 1649, Berkeley sold S44 and its acreage to merchant and Burgess Walter Chiles I. Sometime prior to his death in 1653, Walter Chiles I acquired 70 acres at Black Point, located near the easternmost tip of Jamestown Island. When Walter Chiles I died, his widow Elizabeth retained a dower interest and remained in S44. His son Walter Chiles II inherited the estate from his father.

Walter Chiles II married Mary Page, daughter of wealthy York County merchant John Page. The couple may well have lived with the widow Elizabeth for awhile before building their own 38- X 24-foot house sometime in the 1650’s. This new house is referred to in site maps as S138 and was situated located directly in front of S44.

S138 was made of brick and likely consisted of two rooms, heated by a fireplace in the west gable. (The detail from a conjectural drawing of colonial Jamestown, illustrated to the right, depicts both S138 and S44, located next to the “Ambler House.”)

detail of conjectural sketch by NPS artist Sydney King depicting colonial Jamestown

Recent archeology has indicated that a structure had stood previously on the site of S138. In 2005, NPS archeologist Dr. Andrew Veech found evidence of a post-in-the-ground structure (S178) when excavating S138. S178 appeared to be a timber building 10 feet wide and at least 24 feet long and was perhaps part of Kemp’s construction efforts after 1638. It is very likely that S178 stood at the time of the Chiles family’s ownership.

When Mary Chiles died, her husband Walter Chiles II married Suzanna (no last name?). When Chiles died, Suzanna wed the Reverend James Wadding and moved elsewhere. Suzanna and her husband the minister sold the lot with S44 and S138 on it to John Page, the father of Walter Chiles II’s first wife Mary. John Page was a York County merchant and resident of Bruton Parrish at Middle Plantation (the site of present-day Williamsburg), where he dwelt in a brick house he had built in 1662.

John Underhill's 1664 land plat depicting structures around the present-day Ambler Mansion Ruins at Jamestown

Sometime before September 1676, John Page tore down S44 and built S53 behind S138 archeological evidence indicates strongly that it was a wing of S138. (These structures are depicted in a 1664 plat drawn by John Underhill, illustrated to the left.)

In 1676, there was mention of looting of S53’s cellar pipes of wine were stolen during Bacon’s Rebellion. Both S138 and S53 were burned down or at least badly damaged during the rebellion.

Civilian Conservation Corps workers excavating near the Ambler Mansion at Jamestown in 1935. Note obelisk in the background

By 1682, both S138 and S53 were either rebuilt or repaired by William Sherwood, who had bought the property sometime before that year. (Sherwood had been purchasing property near the center of town to renovate and improve old structures, then leasing them out to burgesses and Lord Culpepper’s Council.)

Sherwood’s improvements to S138 and S53 were impressive. In 2005, excavators found evidence of a porch tower raised around the front doorway, probably constructed after 1676. A “porch chamber” was on the second story of the 16’3” X 13’10” porch.

When Sherwood rebuilt S138 and S53, he followed the footprint of the Chiles house, but enlarged it and probably built the aforementioned porch tower. In government leases of the property, there is mention of a “great hall” and “Dining-Room” (probably the front rooms in S138) and “a back room on the same floor” (S53) and a “cellar” (under S53).

In excavations from the 1930’s (illustrated above is a 1935 NPS dig at the Chiles/Sherwood property holdings), NPS excavators H.C. Forman and Summerfield Day found about 50,000 pieces of ornamental molded plaster across the entire Ambler complex site. These were recognized by the archeologists as destruction debris used to fill in cellar holes, leveling the old building sites in preparation for construction of the Ambler mansion in the 1750’s. The vast majority of ornamental plasterwork fragments (nearly 700 pieces) were associated with S138 nearly 300 were from the excavation of the cellar of S53.

a hand and book are depicted in this molded plaster ornamentation excavated from the Sherwood home at Historic Jamestowne

Cherub faces, a foot, a hand holding a book (illustrated to the left), mastiff heads and acanthus leaves were amongst the plasterwork debris excavated. There was no evidence of strapwork, which was typical of the first half of the 17 th century. According to historian Cary Carson’s report in the National Park Service’s Evaluation of Previous Archeology (a document associated with its Jamestown Archeological Assessment project), the plaster fragments “were as fashionably up-to-date as any 1670-1690s plasterwork in far grander buildings in England.” Carson continues: “So far as architectural historians know, S138/53 became the most dignified and fashionable public building in England’s North American colonies until the Capitol at Williamsburg and the Governor’s Palace were built 40 years later.”

the Ambler mansion, constructed around 1750 and here photographed at the end of the nineteenth century

In 1697, William Sherwood died his widow Rachel continued to lease out her property for government business.

Rachel Sherwood married Edward Jaquelin about 1699 and his eldest daughter Elizabeth (from a later marriage) would inherit his Jamestown Island plantation. She wed Richard Ambler, who built the Ambler mansion (illustrated to the right by a photograph taken before the 1895 fire that destroyed the building) and demolished S138/53, S31 and S58. It is very likely that bricks from the earlier structures were incorporated into the Ambler Mansion.

Carson, Cary (Senior Principal Investigator). Evaluation of Previous Archaeology (part of the Jamestown Archaeological Assessment study conducted between 1992 and 1996). Williamsburg, Virginia, 2006.

Cotter, John. Archeological Excavations at Jamestown. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1958.

Cotter, John and J. Paul Hudson. New Discoveries at Jamestown. Washington, D. C.:U. S. Government Printing Office, 1957.

Forman, Henry Chandlee. Jamestown and St. Mary’s: Buried Cities of Romance. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1938.

---. Jamestown Archeological Assessment. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, (no date).

McCartney, Martha W. Documentary History of Jamestown Island, Volume III: Biographies of Owners and Residents (part of the Jamestown Archaeological Assessment study conducted between 1992 and 1996). Williamsburg, 2000.

Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, Virginia: The Hermitage Press, Inc., 1906.


The settlers arrived on three ships, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery.

  • Jeremy Alicock, Gentleman, (d. August 14, 1607)
  • Captain Gabriell Archer, Gentleman, died Winter 1609-1610
  • John Asbie, (d. August 6, 1607)
  • Robert Behethland, Gentleman, (d. 1689)
  • Benjamin Best, Gentleman, (d. September 5, 1607)
  • Thomas Bragg, Teenaged Deckhand to Christopher Newport
  • George Bragg, Teenaged Deckhand to Christopher Newport
  • Edward Brinto, Mason, Soldier
  • James Brumfield, Boy
  • Edward Brookes, Gentleman, (d. April 7, 1607)
  • John Brookes, Gentleman
  • Edward Browne, Gentleman, (d. August 15, 1607)
  • William Bruster, Gentleman, (d. August 10, 1607)
  • John Capper, Carpenter
  • George Cassen, Labourer, (d. December 1607)
  • Thomas Cassen, Labourer
  • William Cassen, Labourer
  • Ustis Clovill, Gentleman, (alternate Eustice) (d. June 7, 1607)
  • Samuell Collier, Boy, (d. 1622)
  • Roger Cooke, Gentleman
  • Thomas Couper, Barber
  • Richard Crofts, Gentleman
  • Richard Dixon, Gentleman
  • John Dods, Labourer, Soldier
  • Ould Edward, Labourer
  • Thomas Emry, Carpenter, (d. December 1607)
  • Robert Fenton, Gentleman
  • George Flowre, Gentleman, (d. August 9, 1607)
  • Robert Ford, Gentleman
  • Richard Frith, Gentleman
  • Stephen Galthrope (or Halthrop), Gentleman, (d. August 15, 1607)
  • William Garret, Bricklayer
  • George Golding, Labourer
  • Thomas Gore, Gentleman, (d. August 16, 1607)
  • Anthony Gosnold, Gentleman, (d. January 7, 1609)
  • Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, Captain of the Godspeed, Council Member, (d. August 22, 1607)
  • Edward Harrington, Gentleman (d. August 24, 1607)
  • John Herd, Bricklayer
  • Nicholas Houlgrave, Gentleman
  • Master Robert Hunt, Preacher, (d. before 1609)
  • Thomas Jacob, Sergeant, (d. September 4, 1607)
  • William Johnson, Labourer
  • Captain George Kendall, Council Member, (d. December 1, 1607)
  • Ellis Kingston (or Kiniston), Gentleman, (d. September 18, 1607)
  • John Laydon, Carpenter
  • William Laxon, Carpenter
  • William Love, Tailor, Soldier
  • John Martin, Jr, Gentleman, (d. August 18, 1607)
  • Captain John Martin, Sr, Gentleman, Council Member (d. June 1632)
  • George Martin, Gentleman
  • Francis Midwinter, Gentleman, (d. August 14, 1607)
  • Edward Morish (Morris), Gentleman, Corporal, (d. August 14, 1607)
  • Matthew Morton, Sailor
  • Thomas Mounslie, Laborer,(d. August 17, 1607)
  • Thomas Mouton, Gentleman,(d. September 19, 1607)
  • Richard Mutton, Boy
  • Nathaniel Peacock, Boy
  • Penington, Robert - Gentleman, (d. August 18, 1607)
  • Master George Percy, Gentleman,(d. 1632)
  • Dru Pickhouse, Gentleman,(d. August 19, 1607)
  • Edward Pising, Carpenter
  • Nathaniel Powell, Gentleman (d. March 22, 1622)
  • Jonas Profit, Sailor, Fisherman
  • Captain John Ratliffe, Captain of the Discovery, Council Member, (d. November 1609)
  • James Read, Blacksmith, Soldier, (d. March 13, 1622)
  • John Robinson, Gentleman, (d. December 1607)
  • William Rods, Labourer, (d. August 27, 1607)
  • Thomas Sands, Gentleman
  • Edward Short, Labourer, (d. August 1607)
  • John Short, Gentleman
  • Richard Simons, Gentleman, (d. September 18, 1607)
  • Nicholas Scot (or Skot), Drummer
  • Robert Small, Carpenter
  • Captain John Smith, Council Member, (d. June 1631)
  • William Smethes, Gentleman
  • Francis Snarsbrough, Gentleman
  • John Stevenson, Gentleman
  • Thomas Studley, Gentleman, (d. August 28, 1607)
  • William Tanker, Gentleman
  • Henry Tavin, Labourer
  • Kellam Throgmorton, Gentleman, (d. August 26, 1607)
  • Anas Todkill, Carpenter, Soldier
  • William Unger, Labourer
  • George Walker, Gentleman
  • Thomas Walker, listed under "Virginia, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1607-1890"
  • John Waller (or Waler), Gentleman, (d. August 24, 1607)
  • Thomas Webbe, Gentleman
  • William White, Laborer
  • William Wilkinson, Surgeon
  • Master Edward Maria Wingfield, Captain of the Susan Constant, Council President, (d. 1631) , Surgeon, (d. April 28, 1638)

Mariners and others known to have been with the expedition.

Browne, Oliver - Mariner Clarke, Charles - Mariner Collson (or Cotson), John - Mariner Crookdeck, John - Mariner Deale, Jeremy - Mariner Fitch, Mathew - Mariner - died July 1609 Genoway, Richard - Mariner Godword, Thomas - Mariner Jackson, Robert - Mariner Markham, Robert - Mariner Nelson, Francys - Captain - died Winter 1612-1613 Poole, Jonas - Mariner - died 1612 Skynner, Thomas - Mariner Turnbrydge (or Turbridge), Thomas - Mariner Newport, Christopher - Captain, Councilor - died 1617 Tyndall, Robert - Mariner, Gunner White, Benjamyn - Mariner Danynell Stephen

Origins (1606–07)

The colony was a private venture, financed and organized by the Virginia Company of London. King James I granted a charter to a group of investors for the establishment of the company on April 10, 1606. During this era, “Virginia” was the English name for the entire East Coast of North America north of Florida. The charter gave the company the right to settle anywhere from roughly present-day North Carolina to New York state. The company’s plan was to reward investors by locating gold and silver deposits and by finding a river route to the Pacific Ocean for trade with the Orient.

A contingent of approximately 105 colonists departed England in late December 1606 in three ships—the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery—under the command of Christopher Newport. They reached Chesapeake Bay on April 26, 1607. Soon afterward the captains of the three ships met to open a box containing the names of members of the colony’s governing council: Newport Bartholomew Gosnold, one of the behind-the-scenes initiators of the Virginia Company Edward-Maria Wingfield, a major investor John Ratcliffe George Kendall John Martin and Captain John Smith, a former mercenary who had fought in the Netherlands and Hungary. Wingfield became the colony’s first president. Smith had been accused of plotting a mutiny during the ocean voyage and was not admitted to the council until weeks later, on June 10.

After a period of searching for a settlement site, the colonists moored the ships off a peninsula (now an island) in the James River on the night of May 13 and began to unload them on May 14. The site’s marshy setting and humidity would prove to be unhealthful, but the site had several apparent advantages at the time the colony’s leaders chose it: ships could pull up close to it in deep water for easy loading and unloading, it was unoccupied, and it was joined to the mainland only by a narrow neck of land, making it simpler to defend. The settlement, named for James I, was known variously during its existence as James Forte, James Towne, and James Cittie.

Jamestown Chronology

1570-1 Spanish Jesuits set up a mission on the York River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Within six months, the Spaniards were killed by local Indians.

1585-7 Three separate voyages sent English explorers and settlers to the coast of what is now North Carolina, then known as Virgiria. John White, who was governor of a colony on Roanoke Island and had gone back to England for supplies, returned in 1590 and found no trace of the settlers.

1607On May 13, nearly five months after departing from England, an expedition of 104 colonists arrived at a site on the James River selected for settlement. The group was sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, whose investors hoped to make a profit from the resources of the New World. The group named their settlement for King James I.

1608Captain Christopher Newport, commander of the 1607 Jamestown expedition who had sailed back to England, returned to Virginia in January with settlers and goods. It was the first of a series of regular arrivals in the colony. John Smith was elected president of the governing council in the fall. Smith left for England the next fall (1609) to recover from a wound caused by a gunpowder explosion and never returned to Virginia.

1611Elizabeth City and Henrico were established, marking the beginning of expansion beyond Jamestown.

1613Pocahontas, a daughter of Powhatan, powerful leader of 30-some Indian tribes in coastal Virginia, was kidnapped by the English.

1614The first sample of tobacco cultivated by John Rolfe was shipped to England by this time. Tobacco was the “golden weed” that ensured the economic survival of the colony. Pocahontas married John Rolfe after being baptized in the Anglican Church, and an eight-year period of peace between the English colonists and Powhatan Indians ensued.

1617Pocahontas died in England.

1619The first representative legislative assembly in British America met at Jamestown on July 30. The first documented people of African origin in Virginia arrived in late summer aboard an English ship flying Dutch colors.

1620The Plymouth colony was established in Massachusetts.

1624King James revoked the charter of the Virginia Company, and Virginia became a royal colony.

1699The capital of Virginia was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg.

History of Preservation Virginia

Preservation Virginia (originally known as The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, or APVA) was the first statewide historic preservation organization created in the United States. Today the organization's mission is to raise awareness of Virginia's historic places and ensure that they remain relevant and valued into the future.

Preservation Virginia was founded in 1889 by Mary Jeffery Galt and Cynthia Beverley Tucker Coleman to preserve and protect Virginia’s landmarks. Their first purchase was the Powder Magazine in Williamsburg. In 1893 they acquired their premier property: Jamestown, site of the first permanent English settlement in North America.

In that year, Edward and Louise Barney donated 22 ½ acres of Jamestown Island to the APVA, including the ruins of the iconic 17th-century brick church tower. In the late 19th century, this western portion of the island was a wooded, quiet place where locals would picnic by the tower. The push to preserve this site was driven by ongoing erosion from the James River the common belief was that the site of 1607 James Fort lay completely underwater. In the early 1900s, federal fund assistance paid for construction of a seawall by engineer Samuel Yonge. Yonge also conducted a study of the historic property and discovered the foundations of Jamestown’s final statehouses in a complex that stood from the 1660s to 1698. (When the building burned in 1698, Governor Francis Nicholson moved Virginia’s Capitol inland to Williamsburg. Historic Jamestowne’s Archaearium museum now sits over the Statehouse foundations.)

Preservation Virginia conducted its own archaeological investigations around the church tower in preparation for Jamestown's 300th anniversary in 1907. These excavations found brick foundations that likely belonged to a 1639 church. Within those foundations, excavators identified traces that matched the documented dimensions of a 1617 church, where the first representative assembly in English North America met in 1619. The Colonial Dames paid to build the 1907 Memorial Church on top of the foundations, with glass on each side of the floor to showcase the original foundations of both the 1617 and 1639 churches. The Memorial Church was designed by architect Edmund Wheelwright and is modeled after St. Luke’s Church in Smithfield, one of the oldest churches in Virginia.

There were other additions to the property in the early 1900s: statues to Pocahontas and John Smith, the General Assembly monument, new Preservation Virginia entry gates and buildings, and a 103-foot Tercentenary obelisk provided by the federal government.

In 1934, the National Park Service acquired the remaining 1,500 acres of Jamestown Island that are a combination of woods and wetlands. Today the National Park Service and Preservation Virginia jointly operate the island as “Historic Jamestowne,” which includes the site of the original 1607 fort, James City town site, and Virginia’s first capital. Preservation Virginia began the Jamestown Rediscovery Project in 1994 to prepare for the 400th anniversary of the colony in 2007. With the discovery of the archaeological remains of James Fort, Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service planned and implemented an expansion plan to support the research and interpretation of the site, including the Voorhees Archaearium, research center, visitor center, and interpretive landscape. A major rehabilitation project in 2013 and 2014 preserved the brick church tower by repairing, repointing, and occasionally replacing bricks that compose the only remaining above-ground feature from 17th-century Jamestown.


Jamestown, first established in the Virginia Colony at Jamestown, on May 13, 1607, was the site of the first permanent English [4] settlement in North America. Upon arrival, the hundred-some colonists set about constructing a fort to protect themselves from the nearby Virginia Indian tribes and from a potential attack from the Spanish settlements in Florida. [ citation needed ]

Between 1609 and 1610, lack of local food and replenishment of supplies from England, and inability to cope with disease led to the "starving time", which only 60 colonists survived. The colony was resupplied with new colonists, and over the next several decades became the center of government for the English colonists, and a port town for additional arrivals from England to the new land, with about 500 people living in or around it at its peak. [ citation needed ] In 1619, the first Africans arrived in the colony one of their number was a woman called Angela, who was purchased by Captain William Peirce. [5]

Jamestown was the capital of the Virginia Colony, and saw Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, which led to the burning down of most of Jamestown, but the town was rebuilt. After an accidental second burning in 1698, the capital was relocated to higher ground at Middle Plantation in 1699, which was then renamed Williamsburg. Soon, Jamestown began a period of rapid decline. By the 1750s, the land was owned and heavily cultivated primarily by the Travis and Ambler families. [ citation needed ]

Due to its location on the James River, the island saw some action during the American Revolutionary War (1776-1781) when the area was used as a military post where American and British prisoners of war were exchanged.

In the 19th century, Jamestown Island reverted to little-used farmland, and in 1862 became the site of Doller's Point Battery, a Confederate earthworks during the American Civil War intended to protect Richmond against Union gunboats. Swann's Point Battery was a Union Army battery located Swann's Point above the mouth of Gray's Creek on the James River, opposite Jamestown Island from 1862-1865. The Ambler Farm was burned by escaped slaves, who found the desolate island to be a haven. The area then reverted to farmland until preservation efforts began at the end of the 19th century. [ citation needed ]

According to their website, Jamestown Rediscovery is "committed to supporting preservation, education, and the archaeological investigation of Historic Jamestowne, the original site of the first permanent English settlement in America." [6]

Late in the 19th century, Jamestown became the focus of new historical interest, and by 1893, the site of Jamestown was owned by Mr and Mrs Edward Barney, who donated 22.5 acres (9.1 ha) of land on Jamestown Island, including the 17th-century tower of the Jamestown Church, to Preservation Virginia historic preservation. By this time, erosion from the river had eaten away the island's western shore visitors began to conclude that the site of James Fort lay completely underwater. With federal assistance, a sea wall was constructed in 1900 to stabilize and protect the area from further erosion. In 1907, with the site's 300th anniversary in mind, the present Jamestown Church was rebuilt by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, re-using the surviving 17th century tower.

In 1932, George C. Gregory discovered the foundation of the first capitol building, circa 1646, at Jamestown. [7] In 1934, Colonial National Historical Park obtained the remaining 1,500-acre (610 ha) of the island and partnered with Preservation Virginia to preserve the area and present it to visitors in an educational manner. The site was designated Jamestown National Historic Site on December 18, 1940, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The National Park Service maintains the remaining portions of the island with recreations of building foundations of the post-1610 Jamestown port town. In 1957, with the site's 350th anniversary in mind, New Discoveries at Jamestown was published.

In 1994, with the quadricentennial year approaching, Preservation Virginia agreed to fund a 10-year archaeological project called Jamestown Rediscovery to search for any remains of James Fort, led by William Kelso. By 1996, they had found James Fort, which had only lost a western bulwark to river erosion.

In 2006, many preparations were underway for the Jamestown 2007 event celebrating the 400th anniversary of the settlement. The site was visited by several dignitaries, including President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Queen Elizabeth II visited to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing on May 4, 2007 – she had previously visited the park in October 1957. As noted by Queen Elizabeth during her state visit to the U.S. in 2007, Jamestowne was the beginning, not just of America, but of the British Empire.

The Historic Jamestowne area of Jamestown Island includes several important structures, both historical and modern.

Old Town Edit

This area includes the ruins within the original 1607 James Fort, the restored Jamestown Church, and the ruins of the Statehouse.

New Town Edit

Situated to the east of the Old Towne area, this area includes the Ambler Mansion ruins, the rowhouse, and Governor Harvey House.

Monuments Edit

The tall Tercentenary Monument, which resembles the Washington Monument in Washington, was placed on Jamestown Island by the United States government in 1907 for the 300th anniversary of the settlement. It cost $50,000 at the time, stands 103 feet (c.31 meters) tall, and is made of New Hampshire granite. [8] The north face inscription reads: Jamestown - The first permanent colony of the English people. The birthplace of Virginia and of the United States - May 13, 1607. [9]

The General Assembly Monument was unveiled on July 31, 1907, as a gift of the Norfolk branch of the APVA. Located near the church, it is a small obelisk designed to commemorate the first meeting of Virginia's General Assembly in July 1619. [10]

A horse trough, a gift from the Society of Colonial Wars in 1907, was installed in a place now just outside the Yeardley House offices of the Jamestown Rediscovery project. It was designed by architect Harold Van Buren Magonigle. [11]

The APVA Gates, a brick and iron entrance to the land owned by the APVA, was presented on May 9, 1909 by The Colonial Dames of America. They were relocated to its present location northeast of the Memorial Church in 1957. [12] [11]

The bronze John Smith statue was unveiled on May 13, 1909, and was a gift from Joseph Bryan and his wife, Isobel, early supporters of the APVA. William Couper, from Norfolk, designed the statue. It has a granite base, and measures 20 feet tall. The inscription on the base reads: John Smith, Governor of Virginia, 1608 and features Smith's adopted coat of arms and motto, vincere est vivere ("to live is to conquer"). [11]

The bronze Pocahontas statue was unveiled in June 1922, and stood south of the church, where it could "welcome" visitors coming from off the ferry. It was moved to the low rock base near the APVA entrance gate for the 350th celebration in 1957. In 2014 it was moved slightly to the west to make way for archaeological work. [11]

Also in June 1922, The Colonial Dames of America erected the Hunt Shrine (dedicated to Robert Hunt), the first Anglican minister of the colony. It was designed by Ralph Adams Cram. The shrine frames a bas-relief depicting the 1607 service. It was first set with its back to the James River, but in 1960 it was rotated to face the river from the northern earthwork of the Civil War's Fort Pocahontas. [11] Its inscription, taken from John Smith, reads

Our factions were oft qualified, and our wants and greater extremities so comforted that they seemed easie in comparison of what we endured after his memorable death. .

The wooden cross that stands near the entrance to the Archaearium museum was erected by the APVA in 1957 to honor the settlers who died in first years of the settlement. The inscription reads: To the Glory of God and in grateful memory of those early settlers, the founders of this nation who died at Jamestown during the first perilous years of the colony. Their bodies lie along the ridge beyond this cross, in the earliest known burial ground of the English in America. [11]

Voorhees Archaearium Edit

Officially named the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium, or simply the Voorhees Archaearium is a museum with excavated artifacts and exhibits about Jamestowne. The building is located over the excavated remains of the last Statehouse in Jamestown, which visitors can see. The museum onsite opened just prior to the 400th anniversary and displays objects that belonged to Jamestown colonists 400 years ago, unearthed from the long lost James Fort site in a 7,500 sq ft gallery space integrating both life and death experiences of the colonists and the landscape they shaped.

Additional archaeological materials from James Fort were featured in the Smithsonian Institution's limited exhibition, Written In Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake from February 7, 2009 to January 6, 2013 at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.


Virginia Edit

The name "Virginia" is the oldest designation for English claims in North America. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh sent Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to explore what is now the North Carolina coast, and they returned with word of a regional king (weroance) named Wingina, who ruled a land supposedly called Wingandacoa.

The name Virginia for a region in North America may have been originally suggested by Sir Walter Raleigh, who named it for Queen Elizabeth I, in approximately 1584. [5] In addition the term Wingandacoa may have influenced the name Virginia." [6] [7] On his next voyage, Raleigh learned that while the chief of the Secotans was indeed called Wingina, the expression wingandacoa heard by the English upon arrival actually meant "What good clothes you wear!" in Carolina Algonquian, and was not the name of the country as previously misunderstood. [8] "Virginia" was originally a term used to refer to North America's entire eastern coast from the 34th parallel (close to Cape Fear) north to 45th parallel. This area included a large section of Canada and the shores of Acadia. [9]

The colony was also known as the Virginia Colony, the Province of Virginia, and occasionally as the Dominion and Colony of Virginia or His Majesty's Most Ancient Colloney[sic] and Dominion of Virginia [10] [11]

Old Dominion Edit

It is said, according to tradition, that in gratitude for the loyalty of Virginians to the crown during the English Civil War, Charles II gave it the title of "Old Dominion". [12] [13] The colony seal stated from Latin (en dat virginia quartam), in English 'Behold, Virginia gives the fourth', with Virginia claimed as the fourth English dominion after England, France, Scotland and Ireland.

The state of Virginia maintains "Old Dominion" as its state nickname. The athletic teams of the University of Virginia are known as the "Cavaliers," referring to supporters of Charles II, and Virginia has another state public university called "Old Dominion University".

Although Spain, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands all had competing claims to the region, none of these prevented the English from becoming the first European power to colonize successfully the Mid-Atlantic coastline. Earlier attempts had been made by the Spanish in what is now Georgia (San Miguel de Gualdape, 1526–27 several Spanish missions in Georgia between 1568 and 1684), South Carolina (Santa Elena, 1566–87), North Carolina (Joara, 1567–68) and Virginia (Ajacán Mission, 1570–71) and by the French in South Carolina (Charlesfort, 1562–63). Farther south, the Spanish colony of Spanish Florida, centered on St. Augustine, was established in 1565, while to the north, the French were establishing settlements in what is now Canada (Charlesbourg-Royal briefly occupied 1541–43 Port Royal, established in 1605).

Elizabethan colonization attempts in the New World (1584–1590) Edit

In 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh sent his first colonisation mission to the island of Roanoke (in present-day North Carolina), with over 100 male settlers. However, when Sir Francis Drake arrived at the colony in summer 1586, the colonists opted to return to England, due to lack of supply ships, abandoning the colony. Supply ships arrived at the now-abandoned colony later in 1586 15 soldiers were left behind to hold the island, but no trace of these men was later found. [14]

In 1587, Raleigh sent another group to again attempt to establish a permanent settlement. The expedition leader, John White, returned to England for supplies that same year but was unable to return to the colony due to war between England and Spain. When he finally did return in 1590, he found the colony abandoned. The houses were intact, but the colonists had completely disappeared. Although there are a number of theories about the fate of the colony, it remains a mystery and has come to be known as the "Lost Colony". Two English children were born in this colony the first was named Virginia Dare – Dare County, North Carolina, was named in honor of the baby, who was among those whose fate is unknown. The word Croatoan was found carved into a tree, the name of a tribe on a nearby island. [14]

Virginia Company (1606–1624) Edit

Following the failure of the previous colonisation attempts, England resumed attempts to set up a number of colonies. This time joint-stock companies were used rather than giving extensive grants to a landed proprietor such as Gilbert or Raleigh. [3]

Charter of 1606 – creation of London and Plymouth companies Edit

King James granted a proprietary charter to two competing branches of the Virginia Company, which were supported by investors. These were the Plymouth Company and the London Company. [15] By the terms of the charter, the Plymouth Company was permitted to establish a colony of 100 miles (160 km) square between the 38th parallel and the 45th parallel (roughly between Chesapeake Bay and the current U.S.–Canada border). The London Company was permitted to establish between the 34th parallel and the 41st parallel (approximately between Cape Fear and Long Island Sound), and also owned a large portion of Atlantic and Inland Canada. In the area of overlap, the two companies were not permitted to establish colonies within one hundred miles of each other. [15] During 1606, each company organized expeditions to establish settlements within the area of their rights.

The London company formed Jamestown in its exclusive territory, whilst the Plymouth company formed the Popham Colony in its exclusive territory near what is now Phippsburg, Maine. [16]

Jamestown and the London company Edit

The London Company hired Captain Christopher Newport to lead its expedition. On December 20, 1606, he set sail from England with his flagship, the Susan Constant, and two smaller ships, the Godspeed, and the Discovery, with 105 men and boys, plus 39 sailors. [17] After an unusually long voyage of 144 days, they arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and came ashore at the point where the southern side of the bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, an event that has come to be called the "First Landing". They erected a cross and named the point of land Cape Henry, in honor of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King James. [ citation needed ]

Their instructions were to select a location inland along a waterway where they would be less vulnerable to the Spanish or other Europeans also seeking to establish colonies. They sailed westward into the Bay and reached the mouth of Hampton Roads, stopping at a location now known as Old Point Comfort. Keeping the shoreline to their right, they then ventured up the largest river, which they named the James, for their king. After exploring at least as far upriver as the confluence of the Appomattox River at present-day Hopewell, they returned downstream to Jamestown Island, which offered a favorable defensive position against enemy ships and deep water anchorage adjacent to the land. Within two weeks they had constructed their first fort and named their settlement Jamestown. [ citation needed ]

In addition to securing gold and other precious minerals to send back to the waiting investors in England, the survival plan for the Jamestown colonists depended upon regular supplies from England and trade with the Native Americans. The location they selected was largely cut off from the mainland and offered little game for hunting, no fresh drinking water, and very limited ground for farming. Captain Newport returned to England twice, delivering the First Supply and the Second Supply missions during 1608, and leaving the Discovery for the use of the colonists. However, death from disease and conflicts with the Natives Americans took a fearsome toll on the colonists. Despite attempts at mining minerals, growing silk, and exporting the native Virginia tobacco, no profitable exports had been identified, and it was unclear whether the settlement would survive financially. [ citation needed ]

Powhatan Confederacy Edit

The Powhatan Confederacy was a confederation of numerous linguistically related tribes in the eastern part of Virginia. The Powhatan Confederacy controlled a territory known as Tsenacommacah, which roughly corresponded with the Tidewater region of Virginia. It was in this territory that the English established Jamestown. At the time of the English arrival, the Powhatan were led by the paramount chief Wahunsenacawh.

Popham colony and Plymouth company Edit

On May 31, 1607, about 100 men and boys left England for what is now Maine. Approximately three months later, the group landed on a wooded peninsula where the Kennebec River meets the Atlantic Ocean and began building Fort St. George. By the end of the year, due to limited resources, half of the colonists returned to England. Late the next year, the remaining 45 sailed home, and the Plymouth company fell dormant. [18]

Charter of 1609 – the London company expands Edit

In 1609, with the abandonment of the Plymouth Company settlement, the London Company's Virginia charter was adjusted to include the territory north of the 34th parallel and south of the 39th parallel, with its original coastal grant extended "from sea to sea". Thus, at least according to James I's writ, the Virginia Colony in its original sense extended to the coast of the Pacific Ocean, in what is now California, with all the states in between (Kentucky, Missouri, Colorado, Utah, etc.) belonging to Virginia. For practical purposes, though, the colonists rarely ventured far inland to what was known as "The Virginia Wilderness", although the concept itself helped renew the interest of investors, and additional funds enabled an expanded effort, known as the Third Supply. [ citation needed ]

1609 Third Supply and Bermuda Edit

For the Third Supply, the London Company had a new ship built. The Sea Venture was specifically designed for emigration of additional colonists and transporting supplies. It became the flagship of the Admiral of the convoy, Sir George Somers. The Third Supply was the largest to date, with eight other ships joining the Sea Venture. The new Captain of the Sea Venture was the mission's Vice-Admiral, Christopher Newport. Hundreds of new colonists were aboard the ships. However, weather was to drastically affect the mission. [ citation needed ]

A few days out of London, the nine ships of the third supply mission encountered a massive hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. They became separated during the three days the storm lasted. Admiral Somers had the new Sea Venture, carrying most of the supplies of the mission, deliberately driven aground onto the reefs of Bermuda to avoid sinking. However, while there was no loss of life, the ship was wrecked beyond repair, stranding its survivors on the uninhabited archipelago, to which they laid claim for England. [19]

The survivors at Bermuda eventually built two smaller ships and most of them continued on to Jamestown, leaving a few on Bermuda to secure the claim. The Company's possession of Bermuda was made official in 1612, when the third and final charter extended the boundaries of 'Virginia' far enough out to sea to encompass Bermuda. [20] Bermuda has since been known officially also as The Somers Isles (in commemoration of Admiral Somers). The shareholders of the Virginia Company spun off a second company, the Somers Isles Company, which administered Bermuda from 1615 to 1684. [ citation needed ]

Upon their arrival at Jamestown, the survivors of the Sea Venture discovered that the 10-month delay had greatly aggravated other adverse conditions. Seven of the other ships had arrived carrying more colonists, but little in the way of food and supplies. Combined with a drought, and hostile relations with the Native Americans, the loss of the supplies that had been aboard the Sea Venture resulted in the Starving Time in late 1609 to May 1610, during which over 80% of the colonists perished. Conditions were so adverse it appears, from skeletal evidence, that the survivors engaged in cannibalism. [21] The survivors from Bermuda had brought few supplies and food with them, and it appeared to all that Jamestown must be abandoned and it would be necessary to return to England. [ citation needed ]

Abandonment and Fourth supply Edit

During this time, perhaps 5000 Virginians died of disease or were killed in the Indian massacre of 1622. [22]

Samuel Argall was the captain of one of the seven ships of the Third Supply that had arrived at Jamestown in 1609 after becoming separated from the Sea Venture, whose fate was unknown. Depositing his passengers and limited supplies, he returned to England with word of the plight of the colonists at Jamestown. The King authorized another leader, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, later better known as "Lord Delaware", to have greater powers, and the London Company organized another supply mission. They set sail from London on April 1, 1610.

Just after the survivors of the Starving Time and those who had joined them from Bermuda had abandoned Jamestown, the ships of the new supply mission sailed up the James River with food, supplies, a doctor, and more colonists. Lord Delaware was determined that the colony was to survive, and he intercepted the departing ships about 10 miles (16 km) downstream of Jamestown. The colonists thanked Providence for the Colony's salvation.

West proved far harsher and more belligerent toward the Indians than any of his predecessors, engaging in wars of conquest against them. He first sent Gates to drive off the Kecoughtan from their village on July 9, 1610, then gave Chief Powhatan an ultimatum to either return all English subjects and property, or face war. Powhatan responded by insisting that the English either stay in their fort or leave Virginia. Enraged, De la Warr had the hand of a Paspahegh captive cut off and sent him to the paramount chief with another ultimatum: Return all English subjects and property, or the neighboring villages would be burned. This time, Powhatan did not even respond.

First Anglo-Powhatan War (1610–1614), John Rolfe and Pocahontas Edit

On August 9, 1610, tired of waiting for a response from Powhatan, West sent George Percy with 70 men to attack the Paspahegh capital, burning the houses and cutting down their cornfields. They killed 65 to 75, and captured one of Wowinchopunk's wives and her children. Returning downstream, the English threw the children overboard and shot out "their Braynes in the water". The queen was put to the sword in Jamestown. The Paspahegh never recovered from this attack and abandoned their town. Another small force sent with Samuel Argall against the Warraskoyaks found that they had already fled, but he destroyed their abandoned village and cornfields as well. This event triggered the first Anglo-Powhatan War.

Among the individuals who had briefly abandoned Jamestown was John Rolfe, a Sea Venture survivor who had lost his wife and son in Bermuda. He was a businessman from London who had some untried seeds for new, sweeter strains of tobacco with him, as well as some untried marketing ideas. It would turn out that John Rolfe held the key to the Colony's economic success. By 1612, Rolfe's new strains of tobacco had been successfully cultivated and exported, establishing a first cash crop for export. Plantations and new outposts sprung up starting with Henricus, initially both upriver and downriver along the navigable portion of the James, and thereafter along the other rivers and waterways of the area. The settlement at Jamestown could finally be considered permanently established. [23]

A period of peace followed the marriage in 1614 of colonist John Rolfe to Pocahontas, the daughter of Algonquian chief Powhatan.

Second Anglo-Powhatan War (1622–1632) Edit

Indian Massacre of 1622 Edit

The relations with the Natives took a turn for the worse after the death of Pocahontas in England and the return of John Rolfe and other colonial leaders in May 1617. Disease, poor harvests and the growing demand for tobacco lands caused hostilities to escalate.

After Wahunsenacawh's death in 1618, he was soon succeeded by his own younger brother, Opechancanough. He maintained friendly relations with the Colony on the surface, negotiating with them through his warrior Nemattanew, but by 1622, after Nemattanew had been slain, Opechancanough was ready to order a limited surprise attack on them, hoping to persuade them to move on and settle elsewhere.

Chief Opechancanough organized and led a well-coordinated series of surprise attacks on multiple English settlements along both sides of a 50-mile (80 km) long stretch of the James River, which took place early on the morning of March 22, 1622. This event came to be known as the Indian Massacre of 1622 and resulted in the deaths of 347 colonists (including men, women, and children) and the abduction of many others. The Massacre caught most of the Virginia Colony by surprise and virtually wiped out several entire communities, including Henricus and Wolstenholme Town at Martin's Hundred.

Jamestown was spared from destruction, however, due to a Virginia Indian boy named Chanco who, after learning of the planned attacks from his brother, gave warning to colonist Richard Pace with whom he lived. Pace, after securing himself and his neighbors on the south side of the James River, took a canoe across the river to warn Jamestown, which narrowly escaped destruction, although there was no time to warn the other settlements.

A year later, Captain William Tucker and Dr. John Potts worked out a truce with the Powhatan and proposed a toast using liquor laced with poison. 200 Virginia Indians were killed or made ill by the poison and 50 more were slaughtered by the colonists. For over a decade, the English settlers killed Powhatan men and women, captured children and systematically razed villages, seizing or destroying crops.

By 1634, a six-mile-long palisade was completed across the Virginia Peninsula. The new palisade provided some security from attacks by the Virginia Indians for colonists farming and fishing lower on the Peninsula from that point.

On April 18, 1644, Opechancanough again tried to force the colonists to abandon the region with another series of coordinated attacks, killing almost 500 colonists. However, this was a much less devastating portion of the growing population than had been the case in the 1622 attacks.

Crown colony (1624–1652) Edit

In 1620, a successor to the Plymouth Company sent colonists to the New World aboard the Mayflower. Known as Pilgrims, they successfully established a settlement in what became Massachusetts. The portion of what had been Virginia north of the 40th parallel became known as New England, according to books written by Captain John Smith, who had made a voyage there.

In 1624, the charter of the Virginia Company was revoked by King James I and the Virginia Colony was transferred to royal authority in the form of a crown colony. Subsequent charters for the Maryland Colony in 1632 and to the eight Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina in 1663 and 1665 further reduced the Virginia Colony to roughly the coastal borders it held until the American Revolution. (The exact border with North Carolina was disputed until surveyed by William Byrd II in 1728.)

Third Anglo-Powhatan War (1644–1646) Edit

After twelve years of peace following the Indian Wars of 1622–1632, another Anglo–Powhatan War began on March 18, 1644, as a last effort by the remnants of the Powhatan Confederacy, still under Opechancanough, to dislodge the English settlers of the Virginia Colony. Around 500 colonists were killed, but that number represented a relatively low percent of the overall population, as opposed to the earlier massacre (the 1622 attack had wiped out a third that of 1644 barely a tenth). However, Opechancanough, still preferring to use Powhatan tactics, did not make any major follow-up to this attack.

This was followed by another effort by the settlers to decimate the Powhatan. In July, they marched against the Pamunkey, Chickahominy, and Powhatan proper and south of the James, against the Appomattoc, Weyanoke, Warraskoyak, and Nansemond, as well as two Carolina tribes, the Chowanoke and Secotan.

In February - March 1645, the colony ordered the construction of four frontier forts: Fort Charles at the falls of the James, Fort James on the Chickahominy, Fort Royal at the falls of the York and Fort Henry at the falls of the Appomattox, where the modern city of Petersburg is located.

In August 1645, the forces of Governor William Berkeley stormed Opechancanough's stronghold. All captured males in the village over age 11 were deported to Tangier Island. [24] Opechancanough, variously reported to be 92 to 100 years old, was taken to Jamestown. While a prisoner, Opechancanough was shot in the back and killed by a soldier assigned to guard him. [25] His death resulted in the disintegration of the Powhatan Confederacy into its component tribes, whom the colonists continued to attack.

Treaty of 1646 Edit

In the peace treaty of October 1646, the new weroance, Necotowance, and the subtribes formerly in the Confederacy, each became tributaries to the King of England. At the same time, a racial frontier was delineated between Indian and English settlements, with members of each group forbidden to cross to the other side except by a special pass obtained at one of the newly erected border forts. The extent of the Virginia colony open to patent by English colonists was defined as: All the land between the Blackwater and York rivers, and up to the navigable point of each of the major rivers – which were connected by a straight line running directly from modern Franklin on the Blackwater, northwesterly to the Appomattoc village beside Fort Henry, and continuing in the same direction to the Monocan village above the falls of the James, where Fort Charles was built, then turning sharp right, to Fort Royal on the York (Pamunkey) river. Necotowance thus ceded the English vast tracts of still-uncolonized land, much of it between the James and Blackwater. English settlements on the peninsula north of the York and below the Poropotank were also allowed, as they had already been there since 1640.

English Civil War and Commonwealth (1642–1660) Edit

While the newer, Puritan colonies, most notably Massachusetts, were dominated by Parliamentarians, the older colonies sided with the Crown. The Virginia Company's two settlements, Virginia and Bermuda (Bermuda's Independent Puritans were expelled as the Eleutheran Adventurers, settling the Bahamas under William Sayle), Antigua and Barbados were conspicuous in their loyalty to the Crown, and were singled out by the Rump Parliament in An Act for prohibiting Trade with the Barbadoes, Virginia, Bermuda and Antego in October 1650. This dictated that:

[D]ue punishment [be] inflicted upon the said Delinquents, do[es] Declare all and every the said persons in Barbada's, Antego, Bermuda's and Virginia, that have contrived, abetted, aided or assisted those horrid Rebellions, or have since willingly joyned with them, to be notorious Robbers and Traitors, and such as by the Law of Nations are not to be permitted any maner of Commerce or Traffique with any people whatsoever and do[es] forbid to all maner of persons, Foreiners, and others, all maner of Commerce, Traffique and Correspondency whatsoever, to be used or held with the said Rebels in the Barbada's, Bermuda's, Virginia and Antego, or either of them.

The Act also authorised Parliamentary privateers to act against English vessels trading with the rebellious colonies: "All Ships that Trade with the Rebels may be surprized. Goods and tackle of such ships not to be embezeled, till judgement in the Admiralty Two or three of the Officers of every ship to be examined upon oath."

Virginia's population swelled with Cavaliers during and after the English Civil War. Under the tenure of Crown Governor William Berkeley (1642–1652 1660–1677), the population expanded from 8,000 in 1642 to 40,000 in 1677. [26] Despite the resistance of the Virginia Cavaliers, Virginian Puritan Richard Bennett was made Governor answering to Cromwell in 1652, followed by two more nominal "Commonwealth Governors". Nonetheless, the colony was rewarded for its loyalty to the Crown by Charles the II following the Restoration when he dubbed it the Old Dominion. [ citation needed ]

Crown colony restoration (1660–1775) Edit

With the Restoration in 1660 the Governorship returned to its previous holder, Sir William Berkeley.

In 1676, Bacon's Rebellion challenged the political order of the colony. While a military failure, its handling did result in Governor Berkeley being recalled to England.

In 1679, the Treaty of Middle Plantation was signed between King Charles II and several Native American groups.

Williamsburg era Edit

Virginia was the largest, richest, and most influential of the American colonies, where conservatives were in full control of the colonial and local governments. At the local level, Church of England parishes handled many local affairs, and they in turn were controlled not by the minister, but rather by a closed circle of rich landowners who comprised the parish vestry. Ronald L. Heinemann emphasizes the ideological conservatism of Virginia while noting there were also religious dissenters who were gaining strength by the 1760s:

The tobacco planters and farmers of Virginia adhered to the concept of a hierarchical society that they or their ancestors had brought with them from England. Most held to the general idea of a Great Chain of Being: at the top were God and his heavenly host next came kings. who were divinely sanctioned to rule, then an hereditary aristocracy who were followed in descending order by wealthy landed gentry, small, independent farmers, tenant farmers, servants. Aspirations to rise above one's station in life were considered a sin. [27]

In actual practice, colonial Virginia never had a bishop to represent God nor a hereditary aristocracy with titles like 'duke' or 'baron'. However, it did have a royal governor appointed by the king, as well as a powerful landed gentry. The status quo was strongly reinforced by what Jefferson called "feudal and unnatural distinctions" that were vital to the maintenance of aristocracy in Virginia. He targeted laws such as entail and primogeniture by which the oldest son inherited all the land. As a result increasingly large plantations, worked by white tenant farmers and by black slaves, gained in size and wealth and political power in the eastern ("Tidewater") tobacco areas. Maryland and South Carolina had similar hierarchical systems, as did New York and Pennsylvania. [28] During the Revolutionary era, all such laws were repealed by the new states. [29] The most fervent Loyalists left for Canada or Britain or other parts of the Empire. They introduced primogeniture in Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1792, and it lasted until 1851. Such laws lasted in England until 1926. [30]

American Revolution Edit

As the English expanded out from Jamestown, encroachment of the new arrivals and their ever-growing numbers on what had been Indian lands resulted in several conflicts with the Virginia Indians. For much of the 17th century, English contact and conflict were mostly with the Algonquian peoples that populated the coastal regions, primarily the Powhatan Confederacy. Following a series of wars and the decline of the Powhatan as a political entity, the colonists expanded westward in the late 17th and 18th centuries, encountering the Shawnee, Iroquoian-speaking peoples such as the Nottoway, Meherrin, Iroquois and Cherokee, as well as Siouan-speaking peoples such as the Tutelo, Saponi, and Occaneechi.

Iroquois Confederacy Edit

As the English settlements expanded beyond the Tidewater territory traditionally occupied by the Powhatan, they encountered new groups with which there had been minimal relations with the Colony.

In the late 17th century, the Iroquois Confederacy expanded into the Western region of Virginia as part of the Beaver Wars. They arrived shortly before the English settlers, and displaced the resident Siouan tribes.

Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood made further advances in policy with the Virginia Indians along the frontier. In 1714, he established Fort Christanna to help educate and trade with several tribes with which the colony had friendly relations, as well as to help protect them from hostile tribes. In 1722, he negotiated the Treaty of Albany.

Lord Dunmore's War Edit

The cultural geography of colonial Virginia gradually evolved, with a variety of settlement and jurisdiction models experimented with. By the late 17th century and into the 18th century, the primary settlement pattern was based on plantations (to grow tobacco), farms, and some towns (mostly ports or courthouse villages).

Early settlements Edit

The fort at Jamestown, founded in 1607, remained the primary settlement of the colonists for several years. A few strategic outposts were constructed, including Fort Algernon (1609) at the entrance to the James River.

Early attempts to occupy strategic locations already inhabited by natives at what is now Richmond and Suffolk failed owing to native resistance.

A short distance farther up the James, in 1611, Thomas Dale began the construction of a progressive development at Henricus on and about what was later known as Farrars Island. Henricus was envisioned as possible replacement capital for Jamestown, and was to have the first college in Virginia. (The ill-fated Henricus was destroyed during the Indian Massacre of 1622). In addition to creating the new settlement at Henricus, Dale also established the port town of Bermuda Hundred, as well as "Bermuda Cittie" (sic) in 1613, now part of Hopewell, Virginia. He began the excavation work at Dutch Gap, using methods he had learned while serving in Holland.

"Hundreds" Edit

Once tobacco had been established as an export cash crop, investors became more interested and groups of them united to create largely self-sufficient "hundreds." The term "hundred" is a traditional English name for an administrative division of a shire (or county) to define an area which would support one hundred heads of household. [31] In the colonial era in Virginia, the "hundreds" were large developments of many acres, necessary to support land hungry tobacco crops. The "hundreds" were required to be at least several miles from any existing community. Soon, these patented tracts of land sprang up along the rivers. The investors sent shiploads of settlers and supplies to Virginia to establish the new developments. The administrative centers of Virginia's hundreds were essentially small towns or villages, and were often palisaded for defense.

An example was Martin's Hundred, located downstream from Jamestown on the north bank of the James River. It was sponsored by the Martin's Hundred Society, a group of investors in London. It was settled in 1618, and Wolstenholme Towne was its administrative center, named for Sir John Wolstenholme, one of the investors.

Bermuda Hundred (now in Chesterfield County) and Flowerdew Hundred (now in Prince George County) are other names which have survived over centuries. Others included Berkeley Hundred, Bermuda Nether Hundred, Bermuda Upper Hundred, Smith's Hundred, Digges Hundred, West Hundred and Shirley Hundred (and, in Bermuda, Harrington Hundreds).

Including the creation of the "hundreds", the various incentives to investors in the Virginia Colony finally paid off by 1617. By this time, the colonists were exporting 50,000 pounds of tobacco to England a year and were beginning to generate enough profit to ensure the economic survival of the colony.

Cities, Shires, and Counties Edit

In 1619, the plantations and developments were divided into four "incorporations" or "citties" (sic), as they were called. These were Charles Cittie, Elizabeth Cittie, Henrico Cittie, and James Cittie, which included the relatively small seat of government for the colony at Jamestown Island. Each of the four "citties" (sic) extended across the James River, the main conduit of transportation of the era. Elizabeth Cittie, know initially as Kecoughtan (a Native word with many variations in spelling by the English), also included the areas now known as South Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore.

In 1634, a new system of local government was created in the Virginia Colony by order of the King of England. Eight shires were designated, each with its own local officers. Within a few years, the shires were renamed counties, a system that has remained to the present day.

Later settlements Edit

In 1630, under the governorship of John Harvey, the first settlement on the York River was founded. In 1632, the Virginia legislature voted to build a fort to link Jamestown and the York River settlement of Chiskiack and protect the colony from Indian attacks. In 1634, a palisade was built near Middle Plantation. This wall stretched across the peninsula between the York and James rivers and protected the settlements on the eastern side of the lower Peninsula from Indians. The wall also served to contain cattle.

In 1699, a new capital was established and built at Middle Plantation, soon renamed Williamsburg.

Northern Neck Proprietary Edit

In the period following the English Civil War, the exiled King Charles II of England hoped to shore up the loyalty of several of his supporters by granting them a significant area of mostly uncharted land to control as a Proprietary in Virginia (a claim that would only be valid were the king to return to power). While under the jurisdiction of the Virginia Colony, the proprietary maintained complete control of the granting of land within that territory (and revenues obtained from it) until after the American Revolution. The grant was for the land between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers, which included the titular Northern Neck, but as time went on also would include all of what is today Northern Virginia and into West Virginia. Due to ambiguities of the text of the various grants causing disputes between the proprietary and the colonial government, the tract was finally demarcated via the Fairfax Line in 1746.

In the initial years under the Virginia Company, the colony was governed by a council, headed by a council President. From 1611 to 1618, under the orders of Sir Thomas Dale, the settlers of the colony were under a regime of civil law that became known as Dale's Code. [32]

Under a charter from the company in 1618, a new model of governance was put in place in 1619, which created a new House of Burgesses. [32] On July 30, 1619, burgesses met at Jamestown Church as the first elected representative legislative assembly in the New World. [32] The legal system in the colony was thereafter based around the English common law.

For much of the history of the Royal Colony, the formal appointed governor was absentee, often remaining in England. In his stead, a series of acting or Lieutenant Governors who were physically present held actual authority. In the later years of its history, as it became increasingly civilized, more governors made the journey.

The first settlement in the colony, Jamestown, served as the capital and main port of entry from its founding until 1699. During this time, a series of statehouses (capitols) were used and subsequently consumed by fires (both accidental, and in the case of Bacon's Rebellion, intentional). Following such a fire, in 1699 the capital was relocated inland, away from the swampy clime of Jamestown to Middle Plantation, soon to be renamed Williamsburg.

The capital of Virginia remained in Williamsburg, until it was moved further inland to Richmond in 1779 during the American Revolution.

The entrepreneurs of the Virginia Company experimented with a number of means of making the colony profitable. The orders sent with the first colonists instructed that they search for precious metals (specifically gold). While no gold was found, various products were sent back, including pitch and clapboard. In 1608, early attempts were made at breaking the Continental hold on glassmaking through the creation of a glassworks. In 1619, the colonist built the first ironworks in North America.

In 1612, settler John Rolfe planted tobacco obtained from Bermuda (during his stay there as part of the Third Supply). Within a few years, the crop proved extremely lucrative in the European market. As the English increasingly used tobacco products, the production of tobacco in the American Colonies became a significant economic driver, especially in the tidewater region surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.

Colonists developed plantations along the rivers of Virginia, and social/economic systems developed to grow and distribute this cash crop. Some elements of this system included the importation and use of enslaved Africans to cultivate and process crops, which included harvesting and drying periods. Planters would have their workers fill large hogsheads with tobacco and convey them to inspection warehouses. In 1730, the Virginia House of Burgesses standardized and improved the quality of tobacco exported by establishing the Tobacco Inspection Act of 1730, which required inspectors to grade tobacco at 40 specified locations.

Ethnic origins Edit

England supplied the great majority of colonists. In 1608, the first Poles and Slovaks arrived as part of a group of skilled craftsmen. [35] [36] [37] [38] In 1619, the first Africans arrived. Many more Africans were imported as slaves, such as Angela. [39] In the early 17th century, French Huguenots arrived in the colony as refugees from religious warfare. [40]

In the early 18th century, indentured German-speaking colonists from the iron-working region of Nassau-Siegen arrived to establish the Germanna settlement. [41] Scots-Irish settled on the Virginia frontier. [42] Some Welsh arrived, including some ancestors of Thomas Jefferson. [43]

Servitude and slavery Edit

With the boom in tobacco planting, there was a severe shortage of laborers to work the labor-intensive crop. One method to solve the shortage was through the usage of indentured servants.

By the 1640s, legal documents started to define the changing nature of indentured servants and their status as servants. In 1640, John Punch was sentenced to lifetime servitude as punishment for trying to escape from his master Hugh Gwyn. This is the earliest legal sanctioning of slavery in Virginia. [44] After this trial, the relationship between indentured servants and their masters changed, as planters saw permanent servitude a more appealing and profitable prospect than seven-year indentures.

As many indentured workers were illiterate, especially Africans, there were opportunities for abuse by planters and other indenture holders. Some ignored the expiration of servants' indentured contracts and tried to keep them as lifelong workers. One example is with Anthony Johnson, who argued with Robert Parker, another planter, over the status of John Casor, formerly an indentured servant of his. Johnson argued that his indenture was for life and Parker had interfered with his rights. The court ruled in favor of Johnson and ordered that Casor be returned to him, where he served the rest of his life as a slave. [45] Such documented cases marked the transformation of Negroes from indentured servants into slaves.

In the late 17th century, the Royal African Company, which was established by the King of England to supply the great demand for labor to the colonies, had a monopoly on the provision of African slaves to the colony. [46] As plantation agriculture was established earlier in Barbados, in the early years, slaves were shipped from Barbados (where they were seasoned) to the colonies of Virginia and Carolina.

Religion Edit

In 1619, the Anglican Church was formally established as the official religion in the colony, and would remain so until shortly after the American Revolution. Establishment meant that local tax funds paid the parish costs, and that the parish had local civic functions such as poor relief. The upper class planters controlled the vestry, which ran the parish and chose the minister. The church in Virginia was controlled by the Bishop of London, who sent priests and missionaries, but there were never enough, and they reported very low standards of personal morality. [47] By the 1760s, dissenting Protestants, especially Baptists and Methodists, were growing rapidly and started challenging the Anglicans for moral leadership. [48] [49] [50]

Education and literacy Edit

The first printing press used in Virginia began operation in Jamestown on June 8, 1680, though within a few years it was shut down by the Governor and Crown of England for want of a license. [51] It was not until 1736 that the first newspaper, the Virginia Gazette, began circulation under printer William Parks of Williamsburg. [51]

The Syms-Eaton Academy, started in 1634, became the first free public school in America. Private tutors were often favored among those families who could afford them. [52]

For most of the 17th century, a university education for settlers of Virginia required a journey to England or Scotland. [52] Such journeys were undertaken by wealthy young men. In the early years, many settlers received their education prior to immigrating to the colony. [52]

In 1693, the College of William and Mary was founded at Middle Plantation (soon renamed Williamsburg). The college included a common school for Virginia Indians, supplemented by local pupils, which lasted until a 1779 overhaul of the institution's curriculum. [52] The college, located in the capital and heart of the Tidewater region, dominated the colony's intellectual climate until after independence. [52] [53]

After 1747, some Virginians began to attend institutions at Princeton and Philadelphia. Generations began to move west into the Piedmont and Blue Ridge areas. [52] It is in this region of Virginia that two future Presbyterian colleges trace their origins to lower-level institutions founded in this time period. First, what would become Hampden–Sydney College was founded in 1775, immediately prior to the American Revolution. Likewise, Augusta Academy was a classical school that would evolve into Washington and Lee University (though would not grant its first bachelor's degree until 1785).

Jamestown Colony of Virginia Timeline - History

Remake of the Susan Constant
Photo by Ducksters

Setting Sail for America

In 1606, King James I of England gave the Virginia Company of London the charter to establish a new colony in North America. They financed an expedition of 144 men (105 settlers and 39 crewmen) to travel to America aboard three ships named the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery. They set sail on December 20, 1606.

The three ships first headed south to the Canary Islands. They then traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Islands, landing at Puerto Rico for fresh food and water. From there, the ships headed north and finally, four months after leaving England, landed at Cape Henry in Virginia on April 26, 1607.

The first order of business was to select a site to build a fort. The settlers explored the coast and picked an island spot that could be easily defended if they were attacked by the local natives. They named the new settlement Jamestown after King James I. They then built a triangular shaped fort for protection.

Unfortunately, the site they chose was not ideal. In the summer, the site turned into a swamp filled with mosquitoes and poisonous water. In the winter, it was unprotected from the harsh winter storms and became bitterly cold.

The first settlers of Jamestown were all men. Most of them were gentlemen looking for gold. They hoped to get rich quick and then return to England. Few of the men were used to the hard rigors and work that it took to survive in the New World. They didn't know how to fish, hunt, or farm. Their lack of basic survival skills would make the first few years very difficult.

House in Jamestown
Photo by Ducksters

The first year was a disaster for the settlers. More than half of the original settlers died during the first winter. Most of them died from diseases, germs from the water, and starvation. A few were also killed in disputes with the local Native American peoples called the Powhatan. The settlers that did survive only survived with the help of the Powhatan and a resupply ship that arrived in January.

The local Native Americans were part of a large confederacy of tribes called the Powhatan. At first the settlers did not get along with the Powhatan. Some settlers were killed or kidnapped by the Powhatan when venturing outside the fort.

It wasn't until Captain John Smith took over the leadership of the colony that the relationship improved. When Smith attempted to visit the Powhatan Chief, he was taken captive. Smith was saved when the chief's daughter, Pocahontas, intervened and saved his life. After this event, the relationship between the two groups improved and the settlers were able to trade with the Powhatan for much needed goods.

It was in the summer of 1608 that Captain John Smith became the president of the colony. Unlike the other leaders, Smith was not a "gentleman", but an experienced seaman and soldier. Smith's leadership gave the colony a chance to survive.

A lot of the settlers didn't like Smith. He forced everyone to work and made a new rule that said "if you don't work, you don't eat." However, the rule was necessary because too many of the settlers were sitting around expecting others to build houses, grow crops, and hunt for food. Smith also told the Virginia Company to only send skilled laborers such as carpenters, farmers, and blacksmiths to the settlement in the future.

Unfortunately, Smith was injured in October of 1609 and had to sail back to England to recover.

Remake of a Powhatan home
Photo by Ducksters

The winter after John Smith left (1609-1610) turned out to be the worst year in the history of the settlement. It is often called the "starving time" because only 60 of the 500 settlers living in Jamestown survived the winter.

After the harsh winter, the few settlers left were determined to abandon the colony. However, when fresh supplies and colonists arrived from England in the spring, they decided to stay and make the colony work.

For the next few years, the colony failed to be much of a success. Things began to turn around, however, when John Rolfe introduced tobacco. Tobacco became a cash crop for Virginia and helped the colony to grow rapidly over the next several years.

Watch the video: Jamestown Settlement. Jamestown Colony. Educational Story for Kids. Kids Academy


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