Top of page

Collection Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827

1610 to 1619


  1. 1610

    Sir Thomas Gates is deputy governor until the arrival of Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, the newly appointed governor of Jamestown.

    The Virginia Company sends the Reverend Richard Buck to Jamestown to be the colony's first chaplain.

    Dutch colonists begin operating a glassworks at Jamestown.

  2. May 23 or 24, 1610

    The Deliverance and the Patience arrive in Jamestown, carrying John Rolfe, Ralph Hamor, Sir George Somers, and others from the Sea Venture wreck. The survivors have built the two ships on Bermuda island from wreckage of the original ships destroyed in a hurricane. They find approximately sixty malnourished colonists at Jamestown.

  3. May 24, 1610

    Sir Thomas Gates, the new governor of Jamestown establishes martial law under Laws Divine, Morall and Martiall. These laws are published in London in 1612.

  4. June 7, 1610

    Conditions continue to deteriorate at Jamestown and Sir Thomas Gates and the colonists sail away, abandoning the colony. But they encounter Lord De la Warr and his supply ships at Mulberry Island on June 8 and return to Jamestown three days later.

  5. August 9, 1610

    Jamestown colonists attack the Paspagegh Indians. They defeat the Pasageghs decisively, at least for the moment. Friction continues between the Paspageghs and the English who have settled on their land.

  6. 1611

    Lord De La Warr serves as governor from June 10, 1610 through late March 1611 and then departs for England. George Percy serves as deputy governor through the end of May, when Thomas Dale arrives and replaces him.

  7. September 1611

    Thomas Dale leads a group of colonists to establish Henricus (later Henrico), one of the first outlying settlements in Virginia.

  8. 1612

    The third charter of the Virginia Company of London reaffirms its independence from the Crown in matters of trade and governance. A new council, drawn from all Company members, makes policy and writes instructions for Jamestown. Meetings of the weekly "court" or assembly made up of officers and some members will be more frequent, and there will be a great quarterly court, made up of council members, interested officials, and members. The governor and his council in Jamestown are responsible to the Company.

    The Crown licenses lotteries and one is established to raise funds for the Virginia Company.

    The British establish a colony on the island of Bermuda.

  9. April 13, 1613

    At Jamestown, Captain Samuel Argall and others who have captured Powhatan's daughter Pocohontas, bring her to Jamestown. Governor Sir Thomas Dale determines to keep her hostage until Powhatan releases captured Englishmen.

    Portrait of Pocahontas, from painting by Wm. Sheppard, created/published [between 1900 and 1920]
  10. 1614

    Settlements branch into the interior. There are now four: Jamestown, Kecoughtan (Elizabeth City after 1621), Henrico, and Charles City. The term of the first indentured servants in Jamestown expires and they are now free laborers. Some return to England, while others remain to become tenant farmers.

    John Rolfe is the first in Jamestown to grow marketable tobacco after obtaining superior seed from the West Indies, where the Spanish have outlawed the sale of tobacco seed to other nations on penalty of death.

    This year, Captain Samuel Argall negotiates a written treaty with the Chickahominy Indians, who are semi-independent of the Powhatan confederation. Jamestown is still largely dependent on Indian tribes for food supplies.

  11. March 1614

    John Rolfe and Robert Sparkes travel up the Pamunkey River with Pocohontas, who has been held captive at Jamestown for almost a year. Powhatan negotiates a truce.

  12. April 1614

    John Rolfe and Pocohontas are married. Before she is married, Pocohontas converts to Christianity and assumes the Christian name "Rebecca."

  13. June 28, 1614

    John Rolfe sends the first shipment of Virginia tobacco to England. Samuel Argall and Ralph Hamor depart for England.

  14. 1615

    The Bermuda Company is chartered. In 1609, the Virginia Company claimed Bermuda as part of its original charter but did nothing to establish a colony there. In 1612, some Virginia Company members purchased rights from their own Company and formed the Somers Island Company, which is chartered as the Bermuda Company in 1615. London meetings of the Virginia and Bermuda Companies often involve the same people. An Extraordinary Court Held for Virginia and the Sumer Islandes

  15. 1616

    May. Governor Sir Thomas Dale, John Rolfe, Pocohontas, and ten other Powhatan Indians sail for England on board the Treasurer, arriving in June. George Yeardley is deputy governor while Dale is in England. Dale has been recalled under criticism and in an effort to redeem his leadership writes A True Relation of the State of Virginia, Left by Sir Thomas Dale, Knight, in May last, 1616. A Proclamation Giving License to Any Who Are in Virginia, to Return Home, 1616/17

  16. Late summer 1616

    Under Deputy Governor George Yeardley's leadership, friendly relations with the Chickahominy Indians deteriorate. Jamestown is unable to supply itself, instead devoting land and labor to the cultivation of tobacco. The Chickahominy Indians are sometimes unable to supply the colony with food, or they grow impatient of repeated requests and refuse supplies. Governor Yeardley and a group of men kill twenty to forty Chickahominy Indians, and as a result the tribe draws closer to the Powhatan confederation.

    The Company fails to win a monopoly in tobacco trade from the Crown. This would have made the Company and colony the sole importers of tobacco. James I , who has a strong distaste for the habit of smoking, opposes excessive cultivation of the crop. Tobacco exports grow from a total of twenty-five hundred pounds in 1616 to a total of fifty thousand pounds in 1628.

    In London the Company creates a subsidiary joint-stock company called the "Magazine" or "Society of Particular Adventurers for Traffic with the People of Virginia in Joint Stock." This almost-completely-independent company receives a monopoly in supplying Jamestown and outlying settlements. Its director and courts meet separately from the Virginia Company's, and profits are returned to its investors alone.

  17. November 1616

    Ending the first seven-year period, the Virginia Company attempts to issue dividends to its investors, but profits are so small that it distributes land in Virginia instead. The Company allows the establishment of private plantations, called "hundreds." Land grants are made to several of the Company's major adventurers. Thereafter, some people buy stock in the Virginia Company for the specific purpose of getting private land grants. After 1618, English settlement significantly encroaches on Indian lands, especially along the Chickahominy and James Rivers. Most of these encroachments are due to private land grants by the Company.

  18. March 21, 1617

    Pocohontas dies of illness at Gravesend, England. While in England, her husband, John Rolfe, has written A True Relation of the State of Virginia, which puts a good face upon conditions in Virginia. A Letter from John Rolfe to Edwin Sandys upon His Return to Virginia

  19. April 1618

    Powhatan dies. About a year earlier he had ceded power to Opitchapan (or, Itopan), who was then succeeded by Opechancanough.

  20. October 29, 1618

    Sir Walter Raleigh is executed for treason in London, in part to satisfy the Spanish. In 1616, Raleigh had been paroled from the Tower of London, where he had been imprisoned since 1606. After his release, Raleigh had attacked a Spanish settlement in Orinoco, where he had been searching for "El Dorado," the fabled Indian leader of a city of gold. The expedition a failure, Raleigh then sailed north along the Carolina coast and Chesapeake Bay and on up to Cape Cod and the mouth of the Kennebec River before sailing home to face trial and execution.

  21. December 1618

    The Company's instructions to the Colony's new governor, George Yeardley, recognize tobacco as a medium of exchange.

    This year, Virginia Company officials in London discover that rather than yielding a profit, the original investment of seventy-five thousand pounds has been almost entirely lost.

    This year begins what is called the "Great Migration," which by 1623 brings the population of the Virginia colony to forty-five hundred.

  22. April 23, 1619

    Sir Edwin Sandys, a west English merchant with leanings toward Puritanism, is elected treasurer of the Virginia Company at a quarterly court. John Ferrar is deputy treasurer. Sandys calls for a decrease in tobacco cultivation, the creation of industries, such as the reestablishment of the glassworks and saltworks, which had fallen away, the production of naval stores, an ironworks, sawmill, silkworming, and vineyards. He calls for the cultivation of subsistence crops and of the neglected Company or "public" lands in Virginia. Women are recruited in London to come to the colony and marry. Sandys's predecessor and political enemy, Sir Thomas Smith, becomes head of the Bermuda Company. When Sandys's laudable projects fail, he becomes vulnerable to attacks.

  23. April 1619

    Governor Sir George Yeardley is empowered to charge and try Governor Samuel Argall for neglect of duty and malfeasance. Yeardley had been governor from April 1616 to May 1617 and was then succeeded by Samuel Argall, who had returned from England. Argall had established harsh martial law during his tenure, which had caused adverse publicity for the Company in London. Yeardley assures colonists that in Virginia they shall enjoy the same rule of common law as in England. The Company has instructed him to establish a legislature, settle disputes about private land patents, regularize the relationship between private plantations, or hundreds, and the Company, and to re-cultivate the Company or public lands. Instructions to Governor Yeardley.

  24. July 30-
    August 4, 1619

    The first legislative assembly meets in Jamestown, in the choir of the church. None of the Assembly's laws are official unless ratified by one-fourth of the Company's Court. Guided by the Company's instructions, the Assembly passes measures to encourage the production of wine, hemp, flax, and, above all, an adequate food supply. The cultivation of tobacco is restricted. Colonists have complained about the high prices charged by the Magazine, and the Assembly limits its profits to twenty-five percent. Other measures address social behavior, such as idleness, drunkenness, gambling, and the wearing of apparel beyond one's social station. Seven private plantations, or hundreds, are represented in this first Assembly. John Pory, A Reporte of...the General Assembly Convented at James City, July 30-August 4, 1619

    John Rolfe, who has returned from England, becomes a member of the Council. He marries Jane, the daughter of Captain William Pierce.

  25. Summer 1619

    Unceasing torrid heat adds to the crop, food supply, and health problems of the Virginia settlements. There are about a thousand people living in the Virginia colony.

  26. August 1619

    The first African slaves are brought to Virginia by Captain Jope in a Dutch ship. Governor Yeardley and a merchant, Abraham Piersey, exchange twenty of them for supplies. These Africans become indentured servants like the white indentured servants who traded passage for servitude. John Rolfe to Edwin Sandys, Jan 1619/20, "About the latter end of August..."

    The duty-free status of the Company and the colony ends. The Crown now expects to derive revenue from the Colony in the form of custom duties.

    Opechancanough replaces Itopatin as leader of the Powhatan confederation.