Pocahontas saved Captain John Smith

Pocahontas - a nickname meaning “playful one” 

“Matoaka” her given name

“[She] was the first Christian of that [Indian] nation and the first Virginian who ever spake English.” Smith

Historians agree that Captain John Smith was the savior of the Colony.

Since Pocahontas saved Smith’s life, therefore she is responsible the survival of the colony.

Pocahontas’s portrait made in England at 21 years of age

Matoaka & Son

Pocahontas “Matoaka” & son Thomas (2 1/2 years old)

This Sedgeford portrait of Pocahontas and her son, Thomas Rolfe, carefully preserved through the centuries, although its travels and whereabouts have been been shrouded in mystery. Presently at Kings Lynn Museum.

It is believed the bereaved John Rolfe brought this portrait with him from England to his home here on the edge of the wilderness. The picture may have hung on the wall of one of Virginia’s stately Colonial mansions and been taken back to england at some time. When reaching adulthood, Thomas Rolfe came to Virginia and assumed his fathers lands and possessions. He may have shipped the painting back to England, possibly to the Heacham Hall estate, which had been in the Rolfe family hundreds of years before John was born. It is known that the painting was sold at about the turn of the present century, the canvas was removed to Sedgeford, another Rolfe property. That the painting was carefully preserved proves, however, that its value to the Rolfe ancestors. The earrings worn by Pocahontas in the picture are in existence today and are the only personal belongings of Powhatan’s daughter known to have survived the long intervening centuries. They have been handed down carefully in the Rolfe family from father to son for generations and are owned now by Robert Girdlestone Meggy of Brooklyn, New York.

Earrings said to have belonged to Pocahontas

John Rolfe in 1614 and may have received these earrings on a trip to London right before her death in 1617.

The earrings were handed down through the Rolfe family and now belong to the Association for Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.

Pocahontas's earings

Pocahontas’s earings

Each earring is formed of a double mussel-shell, the rare white kind found only the eastern shore of Berings Strait. They are set in silver rims, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and are worth approximately $500,000.

Double shell earrings were worn very generally among the American Indians we are told, but the white variety was reserved exclusively for the adornment of priests and princes. These royal jewels are set in silver rims, inlaid with small steel points. This mounting, it is thought, suggests that they were set, or re-set, in England.

The latter assumption is more or less confirmed by an old tale concerning these valuable ornaments. It is declared that they were reset in England for Pocahontas by that Duke of Northumberland who was the brother of George Percy the colonist, who wrote “The Trewe Relacyon of What Happened in Virginia.” This document is a letter from the emigrant to his brother, the nobleman, who remained at home.

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Many Virginians have seen these famous earrings, for they were on exhibition at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, and were shown again at the Jamestown Exposition in 1907. Only a few months ago the officers of the A. P. V. A. had them on private view at the John Marshall House, where they would become a part of the permanent exhibit were the association able to acquire them by purchase.

When Pocahontas died and was buried at Gravesend, her small son was left by his father in the care of the little boy’s uncle, Henry Rolfe, with whom he lived until maturity. The descendants of this Henry Rolfe were know as the Rolfe’s of Essex, the last member of this branch of the family being J. Girdlestone Rolfe. His second wife was Isabella Golden Clark, to whom he gave the earrings at the time of their marriage in 1923, and she bequeathed the precious earrings to her sister, Mrs. Jessie Hodgson Meggy. In this way they went out of the Rolfe family. The present owner inherited them from his mother, who had obtained them from her sister, Mrs. Rolfe.

Pocahontas Captain john smith

B&W copy of the of Pocahontas and her son, Thomas Rolfe.

See information above. It is presently at Kings Lynn Museum.

Rebecca

Painting made in England of Pocahontas

A drawing of Pocahontas was made in England when she was 20 years old. In 1793, the above Pocahontas portrait was produced as a black and white engraving made from the drawings now lost.

This was colorized into a oil portrait of Pocahontas by William L. Sheppard in 1891 as seen below.

Lady Rebecca  21

Colorized painting of Pocahontas

Historic portrait made in 1891 of the 1793 engraving above.

This shows Pocahontas in London, at age 20, dressed for the court of King James. She died within months of her . This portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian, in Washington, D.C.. This painting does not capture her celebrated innocence.

Pocahontas statue at jamestown

Statue of Pocahontas at Jamestown

Romanticized Statue of Pocahontas at Colonial Jamestown National Park

a duplicate is in St. George’s Church where Pocahontas was buried

Pocahontas by who ?

Later painting of Pocahontas

Thomas Sully (1783-1872), one of the best early American painters, was born at Hornecastle, England.  Later his home was Philadelphia.  In 1837 he was in London to paint a portrait of Queen Victoria for the St. George Society of Philadelphia.  He died in Philadelphia in 1872.  He painted over 2,000 portraits including Stephen Decatur, Lafayette, and Thomas Jefferson.   It is not known what  picture of Pocahontas he used as a model for his picture of  Lady Rebecca . Some say It has similarity to the Sedgeford portrait.

pocahontas saving john smith

Pocahontas saving Captain John Smith

Pocahontas saving the life of Captain John Smith

Pocohontas being kidnapped

Pocohontas being kidnapped

Pocahontas is kidnapped 1612 and held for ransom. He father Powhatan paid but she was not released.

Click here to see John Smith’s Letter to Queen Anne regarding Pocahontas

John Smith’s Letter to Queen Anne regarding Pocahontas

In 1616, word came to Captain John Smith that Pocahontas was coming to visit England with her husband John Rolfe.  Captain Smith was concerned that Pocahontas might not be given the reception he felt she deserved, so he wrote a letter Queen Anne to personally vouch for the integrity and faithfulness of Pocahontas.  He reveals to the Queen that Pocahontas saved his life on several occasions, and saved the lives of many English at Jamestown.  Although Smith humbles himelf before the Queen in this letter (as would any English citizen), it is important to realize he was one of the most famous and influential explorers in England and what he said carried a lot of weight.

Smith mentions in this letter that Pocahontas saved his life twice


To the most high and virtuous princess, Queen Anne of Great Britain

Most admired Queen,

The love I bear my God, my King and country, hath so oft emboldened me in the worst of extreme dangers, that now honesty doth constrain me to presume thus far beyond myself, to present your Majesty this short discourse: if ingratitude be a deadly poison to all honest virtues, I must be guilty of that crime if I should omit any means to be thankful.

So it is, that some ten years ago being in Virginia, and taken prisoner by the power of Powhatan their chief King, I received from this great Salvage exceeding great courtesy, especially from his son Nantaquaus, the most manliest, comeliest, boldest spirit, I ever saw in a Salvage, and his sister Pocahontas, the Kings most dear and well-beloved daughter, being but a child of twelve or thirteen years of age, whose compassionate pitiful heart, of my desperate estate, gave me much cause to respect her: I being the first Christian this proud King and his grim attendants ever saw: and thus enthralled in their barbarous power, I cannot say I felt the least occasion of want that was in the power of those my mortal foes to prevent, notwithstanding all their threats. After some six weeks fatting amongst those Salvage courtiers, at the minute of my execution, she hazarded the beating out of her own brains to save mine; and not only that, but so prevailed with her father, that I was safely conducted to Jamestown: where I found about eight and thirty miserable poor and sick creatures, to keep possession of all those large territories of Virginia; such was the weakness of this poor commonwealth, as had the salvages not fed us, we directly had starved. And this relief, most gracious Queen, was commonly brought us by this Lady Pocahontas.

Notwithstanding all these passages, when inconstant fortune turned our peace to war, this tender virgin would still not spare to dare to visit us, and by her our jars have been oft appeased, and our wants still supplied; were it the policy of her father thus to employ her, or the ordinance of God thus to make her his instrument, or her extraordinary affection to our nation, I know not: but of this I am sure; whenher father with the utmost of his policy and power, sought to surprise me, having but eighteen with me, the dark night could not affright her from coming through the irksome woods, and with watered eyes gave me intelligence, with her best advice to escape his fury; which had he known, he had surely slain her.

Jamestown with her wild train she as freely frequented, as her fathers habitation; and during the time of two or three years, she next under God, was still the instrument to preserve this colony from death, famine and utter confusion; which if in those times, had once been dissolved, Virginia might have lain as it was at our first arrival to this day.

Since then, this business having been turned and varied by many accidents from that I left it at: it is most certain, after a long and troublesome war after my departure, betwixt her father and our colony; all which time she was not heard of.

About two years after she herself was taken prisoner, being so detained near two years longer, the colony by that means was relieved, peace concluded; and at last rejecting her barbarous condition, she was married to an English Gentleman, with whom at this present she is in England; the first Christian ever of that Nation, the first Virginian ever spoke English, or had a child in marriage by an Englishman: a matter surely, if my meaning be truly considered and well understood, worthy a Princes understanding.

Thus, most gracious Lady, I have related to your Majesty, what at your best leisure our approved Histories will account you at large, and done in the time of your Majesty’s life; and however this might be presented you from a more worthy pen, it cannot from a more honest heart, as yet I never begged anything of the state, or any: and it is my want of ability and her exceeding desert; your birth, means, and authority; her birth, virtue, want and simplicity, doth make me thus bold, humbly to beseech your Majesty to take this knowledge of her, though it be from one so unworthy to be the reporter, as myself, her husbands estate not being able to make her fit to attend your Majesty. The most and least I can do, is to tell you this, because none so oft hath tried it as myself, and the rather being of so great a spirit, however her stature: if she should not be well received, seeing this Kingdom may rightly have a Kingdom by her means; her present love to us and Christianity might turn to such scorn and fury, as to divert all this good to the worst of evil; whereas finding so great a Queen should do her some honor more than she can imagine, for being so kind to your servants and subjects, would so ravish her with content, as endear her dearest blood to effect that, your Majesty and all the Kings honest subjects most earnestly desire.

And so I humbly kiss your gracious hands,
Captain John Smith, 1616

Some Powhatan Vocabulary

  • Above……………Oskeitch
  • Acorn …………Anaaskimmins
  • Air…………………Rarascau
  • All…………Cheisk
  • Apple…………….Maracah
  • Arm……………….Mese
  • Arrow …………Attonce
  • Awake…………..Aumaumer
  • Bald……………….Paatchkiscaw
  • Ball………………..Aitowh
  • Blood……….Sawwehone
  • Bow……….Attaup
  • Bread from corn………. Pone (Oppone)
  • Butterfly………..Manaang-gwas
  • Canoe…………….Aquiontan
  • Cheese…………Ootun
  • Child……………..Nechaun
  • Climb a Tree…Ahcoushe
  • Cold………………Nonssamats
  • Coat………..Mantchoor
  • Copper………..Matassun
  • Creek……………Meihsutterask
  • Daughter………Amosens
  • Deer………………Uttapaantam
  • The Devil……….Riapoke
  • Dish………… Outacan
  • Dog……………….Attemous
  • Drink……………..Umpsemen Apook
  • Egg………………..Wouwh
  • Enemie…………..Maskapow
  • Elbow……………..Meisquan
  • Earth………………Aspami, Ottawm, Chippsin
  • East………………..Vtchepwoissuma
  • Eat………….Mecher
  • Eyes…………..Muskins
  • Father…………….Kowse
  • Feet………………..Messetts
  • Fight with fists……….Nummecaxuttenax
  • Fingernails…….Wijchaudg
  • Fire…………………Pokatawer
  • Fish……….Noughmass
  • Fool……….Wintuc
  • Fox…………Assimoest
  • Friend……….Netab
  • Hello Friend……….Wingapo
  • Garden……………..Oronocah
  • Gate………………….Cuppenauk
  • Girl………… Pokontas, Usqwaseins
  • Go…………..Ireh
  • Go, run quickly……….Ireh assuminge
  • God……….Okee
  • God’s name…….Ahone
  • Good……….Wingan
  • Goose………Kehunge
  • Grits…….Tockahominy
  • Gun…………Pocosack
  • Hatchet……….Tomahack
  • more to come soon……….. last updated 11/09/05

Numericals

1. Nekut
2. Ninge
3. Nuss
4. Yeough
5. Porance
6. Comotinch
7. Toppawoss
8. Nuscawes
9. Kykeytawe
10. Koske

20. Ningepoke

70. Toppawosstassapooeksku

300. Nuswohcassannack

visit my website for private tour information

Captain John Smith .

Defending Smith .

Smith’s Philosophy .

Smith’s Friends .

Ambushes attempted on Captain John Smith .

Factions at Jamestown .

Who Shot JR ?Who was Jr? —-we don’t know yet who shot him but JR’s idenity is revealed .

Questions about Captain John Smith .

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