Within The Vines©
The Starving Time, Jamestown History Relevant
[Part of the Jamestown Colony Pages relevant to the Woodson Family Study]
Copyright &Terms of Use
The Howard & Allied Families General History 
Woodson Family Title Page
Jamestown, Va Mainpage  Our Woodsons of Jamestown 
Virginia and Our Virginians 
Our American Immigrants 
Timeline for Colonization of  North America
Email webmistress

The experiences suffered by the Jamestown Colonists in the winter of 1609-10 is best left described by those who experienced it. Nine years would pass  before our first known ancestor to  America  James Woodson arrived to the Jamestown Colony in company of his wife Sarah.    By that time, because of the hybrid tobacco which John Rolfe had developed, the colony was faring much better; It had found its commodity. Here are excerpts from  remarkable accounts of this worst year for the colony, a period  well known to London and no doubt discussed in  depth by our first Virginians prior to their emmigration.

Page Contents: 

"A True Relation,"   by George Percy 1609-1612. Comments of a survivor. 

žThe Starving TimeÓ:   John Smith Recounts the Starving Time,  1609

Image from  Virtual Jamestown. "Starving Time" Webpage.  Crandall Shifflett , ProjectDirector. History.
435 Major Williams, Blacksburg, Va. 24061 ph. 540-231-8372.
No credit for image offered at page.


"A Trewe Relacyon"
" Now all of us att James Towne beginneinge to feele that sharpe pricke of hunger wch noe man trewly descrybe butt he wch hath
Tasted the bitternesse thereof A worlde of miseries ensewed as the Sequell will expresse unto you in so mutche thatt some to satisfye
their hunger have robbed the store for the wch  I caused them to be executed. Then haveinge fedd uponn horses and other beastes as long as they Lasted we weare gladd to make shifte wth vermine as doggs Catts Ratts and myce All was fishe thatt came to Nett to satisfye Crewell hunger as to eate Bootes shoes or any other leather some colde Come by And those being Spente and devoured some weare inforced to searche the woodes and to feede upon Serpents and snakes and to digge the earthe for wylde and unknowne Rootes where many of our men weare Cutt off of and slayne by the Salvages. And now famin begineinge to Looke gastely and pale in every face thatt notheinge was spared to mainteyne Lyfe and to doe those things wch seame incredible As to digge up dead corpses outt of graves and to eate them and some have Licked upp the Bloode wch hathe fallen from their weake fellowes And amongste the reste this was moste Lamentable Thatt one of our Colline murdered his wyfe Ripped the childe outt of her woambe and threw itt into the River and after chopped the Mother in pieces and salted her for his foode The same not beinge discovered before he had eaten Pte thereof for the wch crewell and inhumane factt I aiudged him to be executed the acknowledgmt of the dede beinge inforced from him by torture haveinge hunge by the Thumbes wth weightes att his feete a quarter of an howere before he wolde confesse the same."
"A True Relation" by George Percy 1609-1612.

žThe Starving TimeÓ,  John Smith:
"...as for our Hogs, Hens, Goats, Sheepe, Horse, or what lived, our commanders, officers & Salvages daily consumed them, some small proportions sometimes we tasted, till all was devoured; then swords, armes, pieces, or any thing, wee traded with the Salvages, whose cruell fingers were so oft imbrewed in our blouds, that what by their crueltie, our Governours indiscretion, and the losse of our ships, of five hundred within six moneths after Captaine Smiths departure, there remained not past sixtie men, women and children, most miserable and poore creatures; and those were preserved for the most part, by roots, herbes, acornes, walnuts, berries, now and then a little fish: they that had startch in these extremities, made no small use of it; yea, even the very skinnes of our horses. Nay, so great was our famine, that a Salvage we slew, and buried, the poorer sort tooke him up againe and eat him, and so did divers one another boyled and stewed with roots and herbs: And one amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her before it was knowne, for which hee was executed, as hee well deserved; now whether shee was better roasted, boyled or carbonadoŪd, I know not, but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of. This was that time, which still to this day we called the starving time; it were too vile to say, and scarce to be beleeved, what we endured: but the occasion was our owne, for want of providence, industrie and government, and not the barrennesse and defect of the Countrie, as is generally supposed; for till then in three yeeres, for the numbers were landed us, we had never from England provision sufficient for six moneths, though it seemed by the bils of loading sufficient was sent us, such a glutton is the Sea, and such good fellowes the Mariners; we as little tasted of the great proportion sent us, as they of our want and miseries, yet notwithstanding they ever over-swayed and ruled the businesse, though we endured all that is said, and chiefly lived on what this good Countrie naturally afforded; yet had wee beene even in Paradice it selfe with these Governours, it would not have beene much better with us; yet there was amongst us, who had they had the government as Captaine Smith appointed, but that they could not maintaine it, would surely have kept us from those extremities of miseries. This in ten daies more, would have supplanted us all with death. "
žThe Starving TimeÓ: John Smith Recounts the Early History of  Jamestown, 1609

Top of Page

Back to Jamestown, Virginia
To Virginia &  Our Va Families

Home [Within The Vines]

To Our American Immigrants