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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Virginia's Early Relations with Native Americans
John Rolf Reports to Edwin Sandys Concerning Indians, 1619

Admittedly, John Rolfe's story concerning negotiations with local natives is somewhat garbled, partly a consequence of his incessant spelling changes. Nevertheless, Rolfe's story is interesting from several points of view. What does Rolfe's story tell us about the general suspicions between the Indians and English? What does his story tell us about trade between the English and Indians? Finally, what does Rolfe's story tell us about colonists who lived among the Indians (as in the case, apparently, of Robert Poole)?

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About the begynnyng of Septembr J-apazous (the King of Patawamacks brother) came to James Cyty to the Governor. Amongst other frivoulous messages he requested, that 2. shipps might be speedyly to Patawamack where they should trade for greate stoore of corne. Herevpon (according to his desyre) the Governor sent an Englishman wth him by land, and in the begynning of October, Capt Ward's shipp and Sommer-Iseland's frigate departed James Cyty hether-ward.

Robte Poole being wholly ymployed by the Governor of messages to the greate King, pswaded Sr George, that if he would send Pledges he would, he would come to visite him. Or Corne and Tobacco being in grate aboundance in or grounds . . . the Governor sent two men vnto him, who returned wth frivoulous aunsweres, sayng he never hadd any intent to come vnto him. The Gou'nor being iealous of them (the rather because wee hadd many straggling Plantaccons, much weakened by the greate mortality, Poole lykewise proving very dishonest) requested Captaine William Powell and myself (for Opachankano pfesseth much love to me, and giueth much credite to my words) to goe in a shallopp unto Pomonkey ryver: wch wee did. Going vp that ryver wthin 5. myles of his house wee sent Capt Spelman and Tho: Hobson vnto him wth the Governors message. The shipp and frigate . . . went in the night about 12. myles into the riuer, and wee hasting vpp wth or shallopp, the messengers were wth Opaihankano, before or asone as any newes came to him eyther of the shipps or or arriuall, wch much daunted them and putt them in greate feare. Their intertaymt [entertainment, which likely meant reception] at the first was harshe, (Poole being even turned heathen) but after their message was delyuered, it was kindly taken, they sent away lovingly, and Poole accused and Condemned by them, as an instrumt that sought all the meanes he could to breake or league. They seemed also be to very weary of him. Opachankano much wondered I would not goe to him, but (as I wished the messengers) they said I was syck of an ague, wherewth they were satisfied. We hadd no order to bring Poole away, nor to make any shew of discontent to him, for feare he should pswade them to some mysfheif in or corne feilds, hoping to gett him away by fayre meanes. So wee returned in greate love and amyty to the greate content of the Colony, wch before liued in dayly hazard, all messages being vntruly delyv'ed by Poole on both sides. . . .

About the begynning of Decembr Capt Ward wth his shipp and the frigate came from Patawamack. Japasons hadd dealt falsely wth them, for they could gett little trade, so that they brought not aboue 800 bushells, the most pte whereof they tooke by force from Jupasons Country who deceyued them, and a smale quantyty they traded for. But in conclusion being very peaceable wth all the other Indyans, at their departure they also made a firme peace againe wth Japazons.

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