Timeline History of Jamestown, Virginia
The Virginia Company of London is formed by investors (company adventurers) who include many London merchants and politicians who are interested in finding gold in North America. A a private stock venture is formed for this purpose. The Virginia Company will attempt to plant thier colony in the Chesapeake Bay. They also have hopes to find a water passage to the South Sea (Pacific Ocean) by exploring tributary rivers. Colonists who agree to go are promised 50 acres of land and a share of the profits (gold or other). out-of-work "gentlemen"
At the same time a"sister" company, the Plymouth Company, sends an expedition northward to present-day Maine.
The ships with their 105 colonists who have signed up to go leave Blackwall in London colonists on three ships (two rented ships. It is not too difficult to find colonists. Persons are recruited with the lure of gold and land by the company. It is said the England at this time is overpopulated and lacks opportunities for employment. Many sign up believing the bill of goods about the bountiful land and riches to be had in the New World. Among the passengers are carpenters, a blacksmith, a mason, a tailor, a goldsmith, a barber, and two surgeons, soldiers and way too many gentlemen. About 50% of the colonists are gentlemen who expect to do little work thinking others will work and feed them.
The ship Susan Constant 120 tons- a rented ship (Captain Newport ) and
The ship Godspeed 50 tons - a rented ship (Captain Gosnold) and
The " barge" / pinnace Discovery 20 tons- a small purchased ship to navigate the rivers (acting Captain Ratcliff)
April 26 -at arrival in the Chesapeake Bay, a box containing who will be leaders is opened. 7 persons are named to be in charge (called Councilors) Captain John Smith was one of the persons. Others are Captain Newport (who returns to England); John Radcliff, George Kendall, Edward Maria Wingfield, Anthony Gosnold, John Marten. This Council elects Edward Maria Wingfield as president.
May 13 th 1607 – 104 intended colonists, men and boys (no women) land at an island that they would come to call Jamestown (named after their King James) located on the Powhatan River - which they later rename the James River.
May 14 -One hundred and four men come ashore and build a tent camp.
They would later call this first settlement "James Fort," then "James Towne" and later "James Citie." The site offers a harbor that is deep enough for the colonists' ships and secluded from the view of any Spanish ships that might be offshore. However, it is also swampy, infested with mosquitoes, and lacks sufficient fresh water sources. After eight months there will be only thirty-eight people left alive.
First bloodshed - Fight with local Indians
*May 26 - First bloodshed is due to Indian attack by nearby Paspahegh Indians (about 200 is claimed to have attacked) who colonists kill two colonists and wound ten others). Few Indians are killed. They are scared off by cannon fire from the Susan Constant.
Fort is completed
· June 15 -The triangular James Fort is completed
· June 22 -Christopher Newport sets sail back for London, loaded with "treasure"--fool's gold and dirt.
By the end of August, about one half of the colonists have died from sickness. Food supplies dwindle. Captain John Smith begins to trade trinkets to nearby Indian tribes for baskets of corn.
September. President Wingfield is deposed as president of the governing Council of Jamestown and replaced by John Ratcliff. Wingfield is found guilty of falsely accusing Captain John Smith of “concealing an intended mutiny” for which he was restrained on the voyage over, and order to pay Smith damages.
December 12 - Smith departs leading a food-gathering expedition up the Chickahominy and is ambushed by hundreds of Indians in the woods who kill two of his men. Smith ties his Indian guide to his arm and uses him as a shield as he fights back killing two Indians and wounding three others. Smith becomes stuck in an icy swamp and is captured. Taken before Powhatan’s brother Opechancanough, Smith shows him his compass. He is given an Indian test to find out if he is worthy to live. Smith passes the test then is taken to a dozen villages over the next two weeks. The Smith is taken to Powhatan’s village, Werowocomoco, on the York River.
Two weeks later, Captain John Smith is brought before Powhatan, There Chief Powhatan, ruler of 34 subservient Indian tribes, receives him. Soldiers who served with Smith will publish the story of how beautiful 11-year-old princess Pocahontas (Matoaka) saved Captain John Smith from death. She did this by covering his head with her own to prevent Smith from having his brains beaten out by braves with clubs.
John Smith leads a party in search of Indians willing to trade or supply the colony with food, especially corn. Indian warriors capture Smith and his men on the Chickahominy River and. According to Smith, he and his party are eventually released because Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas intercedes with her father to save Smith's life. Smith describes Pocahontas as 11 years old at the time.
January 2 nd -
January 2 -Smith returns from Powhatan's camp accompanied by 2 Indians to take back guns Smith had promised Powhatan. Smith offers the two 2-ton demiculverins, that is way too heavy for the Indians to carry. Smith demonstrates the cannon to the Indians by loading the cannon with rocks and shooting into the icicle laden trees. The Indians run away in fear.
Ratcliff in Smith’s absence illegally appointed Archer to the council. At Smith’s return he is charged by Ratcliff and Archer for losing some men and sentenced to be hung. This is a completely nonsense and is in retaliation of John Smith earlier preventing he (the dishonorable Ratcliff and his buddy Archer) from stealing the ship Discovery which they planned to sail back to England.
Only 38 of the original 104 colonists remain
January 3 - Newport’s supply ships, the John and Francis, arrive. Newport brings one hundred new settlers
January 7 -A fire destroys many buildings within the Jamestown fort, among them the colony's first church. Most of the colony's provisions are destroyed, including those recently brought in the John and Francis. Powhatan provides food for the colony sending allowing Pocahontas to go along almost on a weekly basis. Pocahontas does cartwheels in her nakedness in the fort.
February. John Smith, Christopher Newport, Thomas Savage, and others sail up the York River to meet with Powhatan. They trade with Powhatan, force Powhatan to don a crown for the purpose of making Powhatan a subject of (subservient to) King James. Hostages are exchanged. The young boy Thomas Savage remains to live with the Powhatan’s while the Indian, Namontack, and returns with the English to live at Jamestown. These and others later similarly traded serve as interpreters (communications links), and spies.
April 10. Newport sails for England on the John and Francis
April 20. The lost supply ship, the Phoenix , commanded by Francis Nelson, arrives at Jamestown with forty more settlers and supplies
June 2 The Phoenix sails back to England with a load of cedar wood. Captain
June 2 -John Smith see this ship off then sets off in a shallop with twelve men to explore the Chesapeake Bay.
September. The Council elects John Smith as president. He writes a letter to the Company treasurer in London providing an account of the colony's progress. Smith has had to deal with unrest and divisions (factions) among the colonists. Many colonists want to go home. They find that they have to work unexpectedly hard to survive. The colonists wonder where is the gold they were told they would find? Smith says that one of his problems is to "make many stay what would else fly" The letter reaches London early in 1609.
October. Newport arrives in Jamestown. This third expedition to Jamestown brings additional sixty or seventy new colonists.Among the colonists are two women, one the wife of Thomas Forest, and the other, her maid, Anne Buras.
Back in London- May 23. The King issues a new charter to the Virginia Company of London, transferring governance and control of the colony from the Crown to the Company itself. The Company replaces the original colonial executive body, the Council, with the office of governor. Later the Council will re-emerge as an upper house of the legislature. The Company has approximately 650 members; twenty are from the nobility and one hundred are knights.
July- a fleet of 9 ships led by the ship Sea Venture leaves London
August. The fleet of ships (minus the Sea Venture and another sunk in a storm) arrive to jamestown with about four hundred and fifty new colonists.
The ship Sea Venture carrying the newly appointed Governor, Sir Thomas Gates, does not make it with the rest. It is tossed about for four days in a hurricane and wrecked on a reef at the island of Bermuda. On aboard are Sir George Somers, and William Strachey and master John Rolfe and also many women. Strachey’ s account of the storm and the survivors' experiences on Bermuda inspired Shakespeare's played The Tempest. All 150 are safe and make it ashore. These lucky survivors build two boats (called the Deliverance and the Patience) from the wreckage of the Sea Venture and wood cut and formed from trees on the island. Seven months later they will set sail for Jamestown.
September- Smith is hurt seriously in a gunpowder accident and must go back to England. George Percy takes over as Governor.
November. Anne Buras, one of the first two women to arrive in Jamestown, marries John Layden in the first wedding at Jamestown.
November - John Ratcliff is killed by the Powhatan Indians. Francis West, the brother of Lord de La Warr (an important investor and aristocrat), steals a boat loaded with food and sails back to England leaving others to starve. He will not be prosecuted because of his political connections.
The Starving Time
Winter to mid-May. The Colony experiences its first extreme food crisis, called "the starving time." George Percy, the new Governor, is not much of a leader and should bear major responsibility for the starving time. After committing atrocities, which make the Indians angry, the fort becomes surrounded. Arrows shoot those leaving the fort to get food. Those staying in the fort die from starvation. There are reports of cannibalism. The Virginia Company publicly denies the story. The busy troublemaker Archer dies from sickness.
May - The ships Deliverance and the Patience were construted in Bermuda out of the wreckage of the Sea Venture. These ships arrive 7 months later to find Jamestown in ruins? They find 60 gaunt survivors of the previous fall's 500 plus colonists that endured the starving time and Indian seige.
June 7 - Gates decides to abandon Jamestown. The colony boards ships and leaves.
June 8 -Lord de La Warr's ships arrive and seeing eh ships leaving, he orders the colonists to return to Jamestown.
April 13 -Pocahontas is kidnapped and brought to Jamestown as a hostage by Captain Argyll.
Rev. Alexander Whitaker, who arrived in 1611, will establish the 1st Presbyterian congregation in Virginia. He will instruct Pocahontas in Christianity. She will be baptized and given the name Rebecca.
April 4 - John Rolfe and Pocahontas (Rebecca) are married
March 3 - Pocahontas dies and is buried in St. Georges Church at Gravesend.
April -Powhatan dies
Finding out that one can get rich growing tobacco, thousands come to Virginia. The population grows from 400 to 4,500.
90 "Young maids to make wives for so many of the former Tenants" arrive. The they are priced by the Virginia Company at not less than "one hundredth and fiftie [pounds] of the best leafe Tobacco."
The first representative legislative assembly is held. The General Assembly meets in the choir of the Jamestown church from July 30-August 4. It’s first law passed is that tobacco shall not be sold for under 3 shillings per pound.
August 8 -20 blacks are purchased as indentured servants from a passing Dutch ship who took them from the Spanish during a sea battle. John Rolfe writes in his diary “ About the last of August came in a Dutch man of warre that sold us twenty negars”.
Opechancanough leads his Indians to kill 350 during a surprise attack the day after telling the colonists at they would be friends forever. Warning spares Jamestown itself from Indian boy named Chanco. The population is reduced from 1,400 to 1050,
December -The ship Abigail arrives, bringing sickness. The resulting plague and starvation reduce the colony to 500.
May -Colonists poison all in a nearby Indian village. Captain William Tucker concludes peace negotiations with a Powhatan village by proposing a toast. The drink has been laced with poison by Dr. John Potts. 200 Powhatans die instantly. 50 more are slaughtered.
The Kings is fed up with the Virginia Company and its charter is revoked. The Virginia Company loses its charter and the colony will be taken over, as a royal entity Virginia becomes a royal province.
Captain John Smith dies at the age of 51. He is buried in London.
First slave markets in English America are being run.
King Charles I grant colonists the right to have a General Assembly.
April 18 -Opechancanough orders a second Massacre. Over 500 English killed.
Opechancanough is captured, brought to Jamestown and shot in the back by a guard in Jamestown.
Virginia Assembly recognizes slavery as a practice in Virginia
September 19 - Bacon's Rebellion. In retaliation for an attack by Berkeley, Bacon burns down Jamestown.
October 21 -Jamestown's fourth statehouse burns down. Burgesses meet at William & Mary College built 5 miles North of Jamestown at a location called Middle Plantation.
It is decided to have the Capitol of Virginia moved from Jamestown to Middle Plantation. Middle Plantation will become the City of Williamsburg the next year in 1700.
Jamestown remains a port and farming community after the government leaves.