Jamestown Va

First successful/permanent British settlement in North America, established 1607. (Earlier failure: Roanoke Island.)

Founded by the Virginia Company, a Joint Stock company.

Started with 105 settlers.


An additional benefit of the site was that the land was not occupied by NativeAmericans. This was largely due to the inhospitable terrain that severely challenged the settlers. Jamestown Island is a swampy area isolated from most hunting game such as deer and bears which like to forage over much larger areas. The settlers quickly killed off all the large and smaller game that was to be found on the tiny peninsula. The low, marshy area was infested with mosquitoes and other airborne pests and the brackish water of the tidal James River was not a good source of drinking water.

Upon landing, secret orders from the Virginia Company were opened which named Captain John Smith as one of the "councelors". Smith had been arrested for mutiny on the voyage over by Christopher Newport and was scheduled to be hanged upon arrival but was freed after the opening of the orders. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Smith_of_Jamestown

John Smith was captured by the local Injuns, but saved by Pocahontas; in 1609 he returned to England. She later negotiated with Smith for the release of Native Americans who had been captured by the colonists during a raid to gain English weaponry. Pocahontas converted to Christianity and took the name "Rebecca" in 1613 under the tutelage of Reverend Alexander Whitaker who arrived in Jamestown in 1611 to found the first Presbyterian Church in Virginia. Pocahontas later married John Rolfe on April 24, 1614. Within two years, the couple left for London where Pocahontas died at Gravesend on March 17, 1617. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocahontas

John Rolfe was a settler who had arrived in Jamestown in 1609 following the shipwreck of the Sea Venture. He was the first man to successfully raise export tobacco in the Colony (although the colonists had begun to make glass artifacts immediately after their arrival). The tobacco raised in Virginia prior to that time, Nicotiana rustica, was not to the liking of the Europeans but Rolfe had brought some seed for Nicotiana tabacum with him from England. Although most people "wouldn't touch" the crop, Rolfe was able to make his fortune farming it (by 1617, the colonists exported 50,000 pounds of tobacco to England). Rolfe and Pocahontas left their Varina Farms plantation for England in 1616 but the now wealthy Rolfe returned to Jamestown the following year following Pocahontas' death from sickness in England. Once back in Jamestown, Rolfe married Jane Pierce and continued to improve the quality of his tobacco with the result that by the time of his death in 1622, Jamestown was thriving as a producer of tobacco. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rolfe

In the meantime, the publication of Smith's book sparked a resurgence in interest in the colony leading to the dispatch of additional colonists, a doctor and a new governor, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr in 1610. Lord De La Warr ("Delaware") forced the remaining 90 settlers to stay, thwarting their plans to abandon the colony.

When a fourth charter, severely reducing the Virginia Company's ability to make decisions in the governing of Virginia, was proposed by the Crown, subscribers rejected it. King James I forthwith changed the status of Virginia in 1624. Virginia was now a royal colony to be administered by a governor appointed by the King. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Company

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