Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Jamestown - The Daughters of a Nation

You might have noticed that all the earlier settlers, mentioned in my last two postings here, were men or boys. So what of the women?


One of the first English women to arrive and help provide a home life in the rugged Virginia wilderness was young Anne Burras.


 Anne was the personal maid of Mistress Forrest who came to Jamestown in 1608 to join her husband. Although the fate of Mistress Forrest remains uncertain, that of Anne Burras is well known as her marriage to carpenter John Laydon, three months after her arrival, became the first Jamestown wedding. While Jamestown fought to become a permanent settlement, Anne and John began a struggle to raise a family of four daughters in the new Virginia wilderness. Certainly, Anne and her family began the stabilization process which would eventually spur the colony's growth.


But then there was, Pocahontas, or Matoaka as she was named at birth! Walt Disney, and many Victorian novelists before him, would have us believe that there was a romance between her and John Smith, the leader of the colonists. Although she saved his life at the risk of her own,  there is no evidence of romance and Smith refers to her in his diary as, '...a child of ten years'. 


That she visited the settlers most days and brought them supplies that kept them from starvation in the early months shows she was connected to Smith. The reason for this supposition is that when Smith was badly injured in a gunpowder accident, and he was shipped back to England,  she was told that he was dead, and she stopped visiting the colony.

Pocahontas  married John Rolfe, a tobacco grower, on April 5, 1614, and lived for two years on Rolfe's plantation, Varina Farms which was located across the James River from the new community of  Henricus. They had a child, Thomas Rolfe born on January 30, 1615.



Here is a painting of her baptism, in Virginia, where she was named Rebecca. John stands behind her, whilst her brother sits looking away in disgust! However it brought peace between the 'Indians' and the settlers.

The couple went to England where she was treated as a princess. Pocahontas and Rolfe lived in the suburb of Brentford, Middlesex for some time, as well as at Rolfe's family home at Heacham Hall,  Norfolk.

 In early 1617, John Smith met the couple at a social gathering, and later wrote that when Pocahontas saw him, she covered her head and didn't speak for three hours - she had thought him dead. When she did speak she called him 'Father,' and made him call her 'child'.


In March 1617, Rolfe and Pocahontas boarded a ship to return to Virginia; the ship had only gone as far as  Gravsend on the River Thames when Pocahontas became gravely ill. She was taken ashore and died in John Rolfe's arms ...at the age of twenty-two. It was not known what caused her death, but theories range from  smallpox or pneumonia to tuberculosis.


Pat's mother lived in Gravesend, Kent, by the way. 



Pocahontas

 was buried in Saint George's church there, but as that burnt down in 1727, the exact position of her burial is lost.

However, there is a statue there today outside the church of Saint George.


23 comments:

  1. What a wonderful and interesting post. Started my day just right. Thanks, John.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, I'm finding this project quite interesting

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  2. As usual your post is rich with so much information - your head must be full to bursting!! I enjoyed the post :0)
    And thank you so much for the lovely comment on my own Hendricks Gin painting too. I am thrilled you like it! And you know I will be contacting you at 10-03 am on 6th October for your answer, lol!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Sandra.

      Your painting is really wonderful

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  3. Dear John last night my husband and I have carefully read the whole story that you tell us in the three posts. So you've improved our knowledge Thanks for these posts so bright, where hidden between the lines, there is always something more on the human level, as compared to textbooks.

    I'm sorry for your accident with pen and ink. But every refined technique does not provide error.
    The slices of orange that seemed good to me, in the eyes of my teacher are too dark where it should appear transparent yellow and his advice is "cover with gesso" ... and restart again! I'm thinking that there are also blood oranges! Maybe I can .... relaunch!
    Have nice day!Rita.

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    1. What a mean guy. I loved your orange wedges. But a class is a class, your second rendition will probably surpass your first; you've had practice. --Couldn't help but comment even though it's not my blog. Your friend Mrs. Budinsky.

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    2. I'm flattered that you both took that much time, Rita. I'm learning so much through the research which is really interesting to me.

      I'm no expert, but the oranges slices looked superb to me

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  4. What a fabulously interesting post, John! I so enjoyed this furtherance of history that I never knew. Or maybe only remember vague bits and pieces now that you bring it up. What a shame that she lived such a short life.

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    1. I knew little of the history, Sherry. I had always thought it started with the Mayflower

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  5. John, I just love visiting your blog. There is always a wonderful story to hear. Keep it up!

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    1. Thank you, Heather, very kind of you to say so.

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  6. There's a marvelous, nearly accurate movie of this story with Collin Farrell I think? It set the history we learned as kids straight on the relationship of Smith and Pocahontas. Good post. What accident? I've missed a lot being swept up with self indulgence. I'll hunt back rather than have you tell me about it and relive the horror. Sorry for your loss.

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    1. There's not a lot of American history taught in our schools, beyond the Mayflower.

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  7. I do so enjoy your historical posts. Thank you, John!

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  8. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. I find your blog to be always interesting, well written and thought provoking!

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    1. What a kind thing to say, Susan. Thank you.

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  9. What a truly absorbing post John. I seldom visit your site without showing my ignorance and I'm going to do it again. I never realised Pocahontas lived in England. You're a mine of information and I tip my hat to you. ;)

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    1. Neither did I until I researched it all, John!

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  10. Hi John,

    Another interesting post. Thank you so much for sharing your art and your wonderful historical post.

    Thank you for your kind words and visit to my blog.

    All the best to you
    Joan

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  11. this was so interesting. i had no idea about any of that! the only thing i knew of pocahontas was when i went as her to a heros and villains fancy dress party once!
    thank you for an interesting history lesson!

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  12. FANTASTIC post, John!! Thanks for sharing..love the pictures as well!!

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