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Introduction: Jamestown History
presence near Jamestown predated the English attempts at its colonization
and the French explorers also provided European
contact. to the Indians of the Chesapeake Bay. Jamestown was not the
first american colonization endeavor , neither the
attempt in Virginia by the British crown. It is, though,
considered its first permanent one and therein lies its importance.
The history of Jamestown in the 12 years before the arrival of the Woodsons is rich, & is given in further detail within this page. 1619 marked the arrival of this Doctor, required for a beourgening colony enriched by the recent hybrid tobacco which at last created its export. 1619 also marked the first year of two other vital commodities to the colony beyond additional medical personnel. The first was women , sold for 150 pounds of tobacco. The second was the cargo aboard a [probably Portuguese] ship captained by a Dutchman. In need of victuals, this captain exchanged "Twenty and some odd " blacks who thus entered the Jamestown colony. In 1623, the post massacre muster reveals 6 black Americans within the home of the Woodsons.
This annotated version of the Jamestown Colony's laws inform of the difficulties of the settlement , the conditions of its inhabitants, and the culture of its founders. Many laws appear based on a restrictive understanding of the bible; others , like death for robbing a garden, or corporal punishment for the taking of lifestock, including dogs, speak to the history of the starving time in addition. These laws predated the arrival of John Woodson and his wife by 7 years, having first been established by Sir Thomas Gates in 1610 , expanded upon by his succesors and published in London in 1612. Widely published in London, the Woodsons were no doubt well aware of these laws and the strict, punitive society into which they would immerse themselves footnote one.
"That no man speake impiously or maliciously, against the holy and blessed Trinitie, or any of the three persons, that is to say, against God the Father, God the Son, and God the holy Ghost, or against the knowne Articles of the Christian faith, upon paine of death."Top of Page
" That no man blaspheme Gods holy name upon paine of death, or use unlawful oathes, taking the name of God in vaine, curse, or banne, upon paine of severe punishment for the first offence so committed, and for the second, to have a bodkin thrust through his tongue, and if he continue the blaspheming of Gods holy name, for the third time so offending, he shall be brought to a martiall court, and there receive censure of death for his offence."
"Hee that shall take an oath untruly, or beare false witnesse in any cause, or against any man whatsoever, shall be punished with death."
" No man shall rifle or dispoile, by force or violence, take away any thing from any Indian comming to trade, or otherwise, upon paine of death"
"no man shall dare to kill, or destroy any Bull, Cow, Calfe, Mare, Horse, Colt, Goate, Swine, Cocke, Henne, Chicken, Dogge, Turkie, or any tame Cattel, or Poultry, of what condition soever; whether his owne, or appertaining to another man, without leave from the Generall, upon paine of death in the Principall, and in the accessary, burning in the Hand, and losse of his eares, and unto the concealer of the same foure and twenty houres whipping, with addition of further punishment, as shall be thought fitte by the censure, and verdict of a Martiall Court."
"Every tradsman in their severall occupation, trade and function, shall duly and daily attend his worke upon his said trade or occupation, upon perill for his first fault, and negligence therin, to have his entertainment checkt for one moneth, for his second fault three moneth, for his third one yeare, and if he continue still unfaithfull and negligent therein, to be condemned to the Gally for three yeare."
"No man or woman, (upon paine of death) shall runne away from the Colonie, to Powhathan, or any savage Weroance else
"What man or woman soever, shall rob any garden, publike or private, being set to weed the same, or wilfully pluck up therin any roote, herbe, or flower, to spoile and wast or steale the same, or robbe any vineyard, or gather up the grapes, or steale any eares of the corne growing, whether in the ground belonging to the same fort or towne where he dwelleth, or in any other, shall be punished with death."
" Every Minister or Preacher shall every Sabboth day before Catechising, read all these lawes and ordinances, publikely in the assembly of the congregation upon paine of his entertainment checkt for that weeke." From "Articles, Lawes, and Orders, Diune, Politique, and Martiall for the Colony in Virginia.' Printed at London for Walter Burre. 1612.
The prayer which
concludes the pamphlet -- which was evidently repeated to the settlement
twice daily -- serves to remind us that the Virginians, myth notwithstanding,
were not merely jolly cavaliers. King James I, though no Puritan, was as
intensely religious in his own way as those who dissented
from the church he headed. Indeed, understanding this period in the history of Anglo-American civilization and the emergence
of philanthropic and charitable practices requires a sensitive appreciation of the importance of religion in the lives of all
of the English-speaking peoples." written by Peter Dobkin Hall
[London ; 1624]
From Map Collections of the Library of Congress
On December 20, 1606, three merchant ships loaded with passengers and cargo embarked from England. Adverse winds held the ships near England for 6 weeks and food reserves were depleted. Of the passengers, 45 died on the voyage, but 101 men and 4 boys aboard The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery finally landed on a semi-island in May, 1607. On their arrival, and the motivation for their journey, England remained without an established, vital post in America. "They chose for a settlement an area picked for its military advantages. It had a deep-water mooring for the ships, it was far enough up the River into which they sailed to be out of sight of the fearsome Spanish, and it was a semi-island--protected on three sides by the river and marshes.î1 This was not the first English Settlement, but it is known to history as the first permanent English settlement in the Americas and they named if for their King, James I.
The existence of the Roanoke Colony, spanning interrupted history from 1584 to its known demise in 1590, was 20 years after the first settlement by French Huguenots on the St. Johns River near present-day Jacksonville called Fort Caroline. Fort Caroline survived only one year , those colonists being expelled by a Spanish fleet resulting in the death of all its male inhabitants . In 1565 the same Spaniard who attacked Fort Caroline founded St. Augustine, Florida, and this became the first permanent European settlement in North America, it being continuously populated since its founding, unlike Jamestown, which was abandoned at its original location in 1698, moving further inland by choice of its populace.
Sir Walter Raleigh, half brother of Humphrey Gilbert who died trying to colonize Newfoundland the year before, sent colonists who founded Roanoke in 1584 and he sent more colonists in 1585. On August 18 1586 the first English child was born in North America at Roanoke Island and named Virginia Dare . In 1586, a new group of 150 settlers landed on Roanoke Island and Sir Francis Drake, sailing with a fleet of 30 ships and 2,300 men, functioned as the scourge of the Spanish in the West Indies and in attacking Spanish treasure ships on the high seas. After burning the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine, Florida, Drake visited Roanoke Island.2 But in 1590/1, Roanoke was found missing, its 90 men, 17 women and 9 children gone with no sign of them anywhere about and only the word "Croatan" carved on a post. The colony may have been wiped out by Indians in the region. Some purport that they survived and became themselves Indian de facto, and were later encountered as pale Indians by later explorers. Although both the English and the Spanish searched for clues to the colony's disappearance for many years, the mystery has never been solved and its fate remains a mystery. The Spanish predated the English in precense in the Chesapeake Bay region.
The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery were sent by mandate of King James I who had established two companies comprised of merchant-adventurers anxious, like their French and Spanish counterparts, to be enriched through the untapped bounty of America : the London Company and the Plymouth Company. The London Company was the first to send ships, and it was their three that arrived to Virginia. The Plymouth Company established a colony on the Kennebec River, in Maine, in 1607 but the colony failed, and it would be 13 years after the founding of Jamestown that Plymouth would receive her pilgrims.
King James gave the London Company three objectives when he sent off the three ships: find us gold, find us a route to the South Seas, and find us Our Lost Colony of Roanoke. They found none of these things, but they did reach the River James and named it for their King, and they established the colony of Jamestown upon it.
When first arrived, the colonists had the advantage of good season, and the Indians were friendly towards them. A record log shows that within a month those first men and boys completed the building of a large triangular fort on the banks of the James. As John Smith said, ëheaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man's habitations.í But the swamp rose against them and almost immediately came a long period of terrible suffering including disease, attack and starvation leading to cannibalism. Early Jamestown suffered "blistering heat, swarms of insects spawned in the nearby wetlands, typhus, unfit water supplies, starvation, fierce winters, Indian attacks, influxes of inappropriately-prepared "Colonists" sent from a changing England that had no other place for them, and a period of tyrannical martial law when missing church 3 times was a capital offense .î1[see Jamestown Laws herein]
"By 1608 only 35 of the original 105 males remained alive and in the same year two ships arrived. Included on board were two women, one the wife of a gentleman on board and of her nothing more is heard. The other married a carpenter in the first English marriage to take place in America. She had four daughters and in 1625 was one of the few still alive of the first inhabitants of Jamestown. England sent 9 ships in 1609 [The Third Supply] , but they had been caught in a hurricane . Sea Venture, the lead ship,was wrecked off Bermuda and its passengers--including many of the proposed new leaders of the colony--were stranded for months. The rest of the ships limped into Jamestown in August of 1609, its passengers mostly sick or hurt--one ship was said to carry the plague. Those vessels provided nothing but 400 extra mouths to feed.1. The experience of the passengers of the Sea Venture while in Bermuda, which they found devoid of humans , but with abundant flowers and wild hogs, is felt to be the basis for Shakespeare's last play "The Tempest" first performed in England in 1611.
ìMany of the colonists we could call gentlemen-adventurers, 'whose breeding,' a contemporary said, 'never knew what a day's labour meant.' These were men, often lesser scions of nobility, with no future in England, who were lured by the Virginia Company by promises of land and wealth, much as people were lured to California during the Gold Rush. But there was no gold in Virginia, and these "prospectors" didn't know how to farm, didn't know how to hunt, and--possibly feeling betrayed by the Virginia Company's promises, and lacking any land of their own--were not known for their spirit of cooperation either among themselves, nor with the local Indians of the Powhattan confederacy.î1
ìApparently the only man who had been able to keep a modicum of peace, both in the colony and with the Indians, was John Smith. Even so, by 1609, the settlers had suffered one horror after another. Hundreds had died, but the worst was yet to come. Smith, injured in a gunpowder explosion, was shipped back to England, and with other leaders stranded on Bermuda, the colony of as many as 600 fell into chaos". 1 This was the advent of "the starving time" occuring in the winter of 1609-10, and settler George Percy documented them in his brief history: ""A True Relacyon" [He departed the colony in 1612 and his account was published in London] In it is described the murder of a pregnant wife by her starving husband, and his comsumption of her remains for his meals.
The colonists stranded in Bermuda, including John Rolfe, finally made it to Jamestown May 24, 1610; They built the "Deliverance" and "Patience" on Bermuda from timbers and rigging from the wrecked "Sea Venture" and native timber from Bermuda. When the Sea Venture finally reached Jamestown, they came upon only 60 gaunt survivors of the Starving Time--nearly 90% of the colony had died.1 Within a month the colony was abandoned, all colonists boarded the ships, and they set off down the James bound for England. By miracle, within one day, and 10 miles down the James they were met by Lord de La Warr's arriving ships , and the colonists were ordered to return to Jamestown.1
Evidence of the circumstances of Jamestown's settlers and troops is evident in its laws of 1612, in place until 1619, remarkably oppresive and set in place to attempt organization where chaos threatened to rule. Adding to the attacks, the hunger, the constant need for fresh water, the insects and disease was the threat of martial punishment for lying or speaking against the trinity, and three years in the gally was the punishment for not showing up for work three times, while loss of hands or ears accompied the killing of a neighbor's dog, and death the stealing of a radish.
Economic change came through export in 1614 of the first crop of Virginia Tobacco, a hybrid developed by John Rolfe and it was in the same year that a peace was established with the native Powhatan confederacy for it was this same year that he married Pocahontas, with Powhatan's approval, bringing 8 years of peace to the colony. Pocohontas though, would die in England after giving birth to a son, and the peace was short lived. But, ìBy 1619 Jamestown had exported 10 tons of tobacco to Europe and was a boomtown. The export business was going so well the colonists were able to afford two imports which would greatly contribute to their productivity and quality of life....In that year were added [ "20 and some odd" Blacks from Africa and 90 women from England--both were paid for in tobacco. The women were "Young maids to make wives for so many of the former Tenants" . The Virginia Company [a private English company] dictated they were to be priced at not less than "one hundredth and fiftie [pounds] of the best leafe Tobacco." . ìthe first twenty 'Negar' slaves had arrived from the West Indies in a Dutch vessel and were sold to the governor and a merchant in Jamestown in late August of 1619, as reported by John Rolfe to John Smith back in London. (Robinson, Donald L. Slavery and the Structure of American Politics, 1765 - 1820. NY: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1971) 3 Reference is made that "The ship that bore them is described as a Dutch man-of-war" .3 , although the true identification of the type of vessel is not secure. It is persons among these "20 odd" who are felt found in the 1623 post massacre muster and in the Woodson houshold at Fleur de Hundred.
The Africans became indentured servants, similar in legal position to many poor Englishmen who traded several years labor in exchange for passage to America. However, the laws of Jamestown and the conditions of Indenture black vs white in the Virginia colony show a rapid progression towards institutionalized slavery, leaving the period of black indenture an apparantly short lived and fragile portion of Virginia history.
By 1622, the colony was living under a false sense of tranquility. The marriage of Pocahontas to her English captain in 1614 had allowed for a tenuous peace. But in 1617, Pocohontas died in London, and in 1618, her father died in Virginia. Powhatan was succeeded to the throne by a brother, who almost immediately stepped aside in favor of another half brother, Opechancanough. This Chief was far more militant than his deceased predecessor. While some natives were living within Jamestown proper, and some were christianized, the killing of a revered spiritual leader in 1622 by the English was all that was required for Opechancanough to unleash his gathering fury. On Good Friday of that year, in an expertly mounted attack foiled only hours before the attack through intervention of a christianized Indian, the natives were gathered with the settlers throughout the colony. At a preestablished time, they rose up against the settlers. The account of this action and the war that ensued includes reports of survivors; and the page detailing this massacre discusses at legnth subsequent actions , wars and treaties involving the Powhatan and the English..
Jamestown continued to suffer for lack of access to fresh water and ìoften the colonists were reduced to drinking the brackish river water. Malaria and dysentery periodically raged through the community. It suffered numerous disastrous fires and explosions in the early days, and even as a city it was burned down twice. Bacon burned it during his Rebellion, and a few years later it burned down again by accident. When the fourth State House burned in 1698, the site was abandoned, and the capitol moved to Williamsburg. Jamestown, out of the mainstream of the bustling colony now, gradually fell into ruins. ...ì1
But 12 years after its founding, 79 years before its demise, three years before its first massacre, and one year before the pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, our earliest direct ancestors so far known on American soil [the Native American ascendancy purported through the Howard /Fowler southern lines and suggested in the Confederacy inscriptions record of Jabus McGhee not yet being revealed in any way] arrived in the form of Dr John Woodson and his wife Sarah Winston. The Woodsons settled at Fleur de Hundred ( Flowerdew Hundred, Flour De Hundred, or Piersey's Hundred), which is on the south side of the James River about thirty miles above Jamestown, in what is now Prince George County. In 1632, Dr. Woodson was listed as the Surgeon of the Flour De Hundred Colony in Virginia. Two Woodson sons were born at Flowerdew Hundred; John born in 1632 and Robert born in 1637.
His wife ìSarah was a survivor of the Indian massacre of 22 March 1622. Sarah survived another Indian attack about 20 years later, so the story goes, although her husband did not. On April 19, 1644, Dr. Woodson was killed in sight of his house by Indians, who had called him out apparently to see the sick. , (Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 20, 1976, p3-8) After killing him, they attacked his home which was successfully defended by his wife and a man [ called at times a teacher and others a shoemaker] named Ligon. Ligon killed seven of the Indians with an old muzzleloading gun eight feet long, now one of the prized possessions of the Virginia Historical Society. Mrs. Sarah Woodson killed two Indians who came down the chimney; One with boiling water and one with a roasting spit [editors note: so the story goes] . The boys, John and Robert, were concealed during the attack under a tub and in a potato pit, respectively."5
.In the muster of 1623, [taken to understand the impact of the 1622 Indian massacre/ action] are found in the home of Dr John Woodson 6 black americans listed without name . The relationship of James Woodsons to his slaves is one which interests all students of early American, black American and Jamestown history, but there is scarce little record of exactly what type of relationship it was. Slave ownership though, outright, is evident in many of our early Virginia lines, as those lines involve plantars on a major scale, holding many slaves to work the labor intensive tobacco crop. The last evidence of slave ownership in our lines involves our Pleasants and [possibly] Howard ancestors of the late 1700s, and required, through the will of one wealthy Pleasants plantar forebear, an act of legislature to allow the release of the upwards of 500 slaves he set free on his death. Such a mandate by a decedent was huge; This act of legislature took 20 years in formation. Dr Woodson, one of the first European Americans known with black Americans in residence at his home, was a physician brought in 1619 to care for the needs of the growing colony. Both Dr Woodson and his wife would survive Opechancanough's fearsome attack of 1622 which nearly destroyed the colony, but Dr Woodson would die in the chief's last military action in 1644. His wife and sons however, survived it, she with legendary bravery as per family lore, Their survival, however it was managed , is a fact for which we must be grateful, as it is through son Robert that our line continues. Some Woodsons define their lines by asking 'Are you a wash-tub Woodson or a potato-hole?' ì6 Using that identification, we are Potato Hole Woodsons through son Robert, and are such in company of Dolley Todd Madison and the famous outlaw Jesse Woodson James
JAMESTOWN WITHIN THE VINES©
Links Outside These Pages
Brief History of Jamestown, Virginia, part of tobacco.org pages
[http://www.tobacco.org/] and , based on the preceeding, ìA
Brief History of Jamestown, Virginia,î [timeline] sourced to previous
and presented by Virtual School, Distributed Learning Community www.virtualschool.edu
2. ìA Bio of America. English Settlement,î Annenberg/CPB Learner.com, http://www.learner.org/biographyofamerica/prog02/feature/index_text.html.
3. ìChronology on the History of Slavery and Racism,î Citation information and credit: Chronology on the History of Slavery, Compiled by Eddie Becker 1999,, http://innercity.org/holt/slavechron.html.
of Purse and Person" cited by Bob Juch, in ìBob
5. Webpage " THE HEARDS OF DRY FRIO CANYON AND FAMILY CONNECTIONS" Contact Person Sue Heard Helveston [Shelveston@aol.com] . Specific URL in link. Excerpt sourced at page to the following publications:
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