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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Evolution of the Virginia Colony, 1610-1630
The Transition from Lord De La Warr to Sir Thomas Dale, May 1611

The following two documents describe aspects of the transition of governing the Virginia colony, from Lord De La Warr to Sir Thomas Dale. Both documents are contained in Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia. How does each writer describe the situation in Virginia at this time? To what does each writer attribute the problems of the colony?

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Written by Lord De La Warr

MY Lords, now by accident returned from my charge at Virginia, contrary either to my owne desire, or other mens expectations, who spare not to censure me, in point of dutie, and to discourse and question the reason, though they apprehend not the true cause of my returne, I am forced out of a willingnesse to satisfie every man, to deliver unto your Lordships and the rest of this assemblie, in what state I have lived ever since my arrivall to the Colonie, what hath beene the just cause of my sudden departure, and on what tearmes I have left the same, the rather because I perceive, that since my comming into England, such a coldnesse and irresolution is bred in many of the Adventurers, that some of them seeke to withdraw their payments, by which the action must be supported, making this my returne colour of their needlesse backwardnesse and unjust protraction: which that you may the better understand, I was welcomed to James towne by a violent ague; being cured of it, within three weekes after I began to be distempered with other grievous sicknesses which successively and severally assailed me, for besides a relapse into the former disease, which with much more violence held me more than a moneth, and brought me to greater weaknesse; the flux surprised mee, and kept me many daies, then the crampe assaulted my weake body with strong paines, and after, the gout; all those drew me to that weaknesse, being unable to stirre, brought upon me the scurvie, which though in others it be a sicknesse of slothfulnesse, yet was it in me an effect of weaknesse, which never left me, till I was ready to leave the world.

In these extremities I resolved to consult with my friends, who finding nature spent in me, and my body almost consumed, my paines likewise daily increasing, gave me advice to preferre a hopefull recoverie, before an assured ruine, which must necessarily have ensued, had I lived but twentie daies longer in Virginia, wanting at that instant both food and Physicke, fit to remedie such extraordinary diseases; wherefore I shipped my selfe with Doctor Bohun and Captaine Argall, for Mevis in the West Indies, but being crossed with Southerly winds, I was forced to shape my course for the Westerne Iles, where I found helpe for my health, and my sicknesse asswaged, by the meanes of fresh dyet, especially Oranges and Limons, and undoubted remedie for that disease: then I intended to have returned backe againe to Virginia, but I was advised not to hazard my selfe, before I had perfectly recovered my strength: so I came for England; in which accident, I doubt not but men of judgement will imagine, there would more prejudice have happened by my death there, than I hope can doe by my returne.

For the Colony I left it to the charge of Captaine George Piercie, a Gentleman of honour and resolution, untill the comming of Sir Thomas Dale, whose Commission was likewise to bee determined upon the arrivall of Sir Thomas Gates, according to the order your Lordships appointed: the number I left were about two hundred, the most in health, and provided of at least ten moneths victuall, and the Countrie people tractable and friendly. What other defects they had, I found by Sir Thomas Gates at the Cowes; his Fleet was sufficiently furnished with supplies, but when it shall please God that Sir Thomas Dale, and Sir Thomas Gates shall arrive in Virginia with the extraordinarie supply, of 100. Kine [cattle], and 200. Swine, besides store of other provisions for the maintenance of the Colonie, there will appeare that successe in the action, as shall give no man cause of distrust, that hath already adventured, but incourage every good minde to further so good a worke, as will redound both to the glory of God, to the credit of our nation, and the comfort of all those that have beene instruments in the furthering of it.

Written by Ralph Hamor

BEfore the Lord la Ware arrived in England, the Councell and Companie had dispatched away Sir Thomas Dale with three ships, men and cattell, and all other provisions necessarie for a yeere; all which arrived well the tenth of May 1611. where he found them growing againe to their former estate of penurie, being so improvident as not to put Corne in the ground for their bread, but trusted to the store, then furnished but with three moneths provision; his first care therefore was to imploy all hands about setting of Corne, at the two Forts at Kecoughtan, Henry and Charles, whereby, the season then not fully past, though about the end of May, wee had an indifferent crop of good Corne.

This businesse taken order for, and the care and trust of it committed to his under-Officers, to James towne he hastened, where most of the companie were at their daily and usuall works, bowling in the streets; these hee imployed about necessarie workes, as felling of Timber, repayring their houses ready to fall on their heads, and providing pales, posts and railes, to impale his purposed new towne, which by reason of his ignorance, being but newly arrived, hee had not resolved where to seat; therefore to better his knowledge, with one hundred men he spent some time in viewing the River of Nausamund, in despight of the Indians then our enemies; then our owne River to the Fales, where upon a high land, invironed with the maine River, some twelve miles from the Fales, by Arsahattock, he resolved to plant his new towne.

It was no small trouble to reduce his people so timely to good order, being of so ill a condition, as may well witnesse his severitie and strict imprinted booke of Articles, then needfull with all extremitie to be executed; now much mitigated; so as if his Lawes had not beene so strictly executed, I see not how the utter subversion of the Colonie should have beene prevented, witnesse Webbes and Prices designe the first yeere, since that of Abbots, and others, more dangerous than the former. Here I entreat your patience for an Apologie, though not a pardon. This Jeffrey Abbots, how ever this Author censures him, and the Governour executes him, I know he had long served both in Ireland and Netherlands, here hee was a Sargeant of my Companie, and I never saw in Virginia a more sufficient Souldier, lesse turbulent, a better wit, more hardy or industrious, nor any more forward to cut off them that sought to abandon the Countrie, or wrong the Colonie; how ingratefully those deserts might bee rewarded, envied or neglected, or his farre inferiors preferred to over-top him, I know not, but such occasions might move a Saint, much more a man, to an unadvised passionate impatience, but how ever, it seemes he hath beene punished for his offences, that was never rewarded for his deserts. And even this Summer Cole and Kitchins plot with three more, bending their course to Ocanahowan, five daies journey from us, where they report are Spaniards inhabiting. These were cut off by the Salvages, hired by us to hunt them home to receive their deserts: So as Sir Thomas Dale hath not beene so tyrannous nor severe by the halfe, as there was occasion, and just cause for it, and though the manner was not usuall, wee were rather to have regard to those, whom we would have terrified and made fearefull to commit the like offences, than to the offenders justly condemned, for amongst them so hardned in evill, the feare of a cruell, painfull and unusuall death more restraines them, than death it selfe. Thus much I have proceeded of his endevours, untill the comming of Sir Thomas Gates, in preparing himselfe to proceed as he intended.

Now in England againe to second this noble Knight, the Counsell and Companie with all possible expedition prepared for Sir Thomas Gates six tall ships, with three hundred men, and one hundred Kine and other Cattell, with munition and all other manner of provision that could be thought ncedfull; and about the first or second of August, 1611. arrived safely at James towne.

THese worthy Knights being met, after their welcoming salutations, Sir Thomas Dale acquainted him what he had done, and what he intended, which designe Sir Thomas Gates well approving, furnished him with three hundred and fiftie men, such as himselfe made choice of. In the beginning of September, 1611. hee set saile, and arrived where hee intended to build his new towne: within ten or twelve daies he had invironed it with a pale, and in honour of our noble Prince Henry, called it Henrico. The next worke he did, was building at each corner of the Towne, a high commanding Watchhouse, a Church, and Store-houses; which finished, hee began to thinke upon convenient houses for himselfe and men, which with all possible speed hee could he effected, to the great content of his companie, and all the Colonie.

This towne is situated upon a necke of a plaine rising land, three parts invironed with the maine River, the necke of land well impaled, makes it like an Ile; it hath three streets of well-framed houses, a handsome Church, and the foundation of a better laid, to bee built of Bricke, besides Store-houses, Watch-houses, and such like: Upon the verge of the River there are five houses, wherein live the honester sort of people, as Farmers in England, and they keepe continuall centinell for the townes securitie. About two miles from the towne, into the Maine, is another pale, neere two miles in length, from River to River, guarded with severall Commanders, with a good quantitie of Corne-ground impailed, sufficiently secured to maintaine more than I suppose will come this three yeeres.

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