13 John Smith (1580–1631)

Brook O'Keefe; Cheyanne Chesley; Jade Parkhurst; Ricki Pierre-Canel; and Christopher Goodwin

John_Smith_after_Simon_De_Passe.jpg (313×500)
“John Smith,” line engraving from the 18th century, after Simon De Passe. 6 7/8 in. x 4 3/4 in. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.


John Smith was born in Lincolnshire, England in either late 1579 or early 1580, the exact date is unknown. As a child he attended a grammar school, however, he wanted to be a sailor. Instead, his father insisted that he take an apprenticeship with a merchant. After this he decided to become a soldier at age 16 and joined the military. He was sent to Hungary on a mission with the English army, however he was captured and enslaved in the region that now makes up Istanbul. He worked for a woman who treated him well, however, she sold him to her brother who was much harsher. Smith believed this was an attempt to convert him to Islam and that the lady was in love with him. Smith did labor intensive farm work, however, he killed his master and escaped. He returned to England in the early 1600s and began engaging with the Virginia Company. The Company sent 3 small ships to what Smith names, New England. Along the voyage, however, Smith was arrested for rebelling against authority.When Smith was released, he was instructed to set up trade with the indigenous people as well as explore the area. Upon arrival to the Chesapeake Bay the settlers attempted to take land that was claimed by the Powhatan Confederacy. They struggled with starvation and lack of resources. After his release, Smith set out on two voyages in attempts to find the Pacific Ocean and a trail to it, which he did not. However, he did provide accurate maps of the region, which were later used by other settlers coming to New England. While on an expedition he was captured by the native people and almost executed by Powhatan. According to Smith, the daughter of Powhatan, Pocahontas, stopped the execution. This is debated, as the “execution” may have been a ceremony of acceptance. The natives established peace with Smith and the settlers and helped provide them food. Smith sent a letter back to England, A True Relation of Virginia, which became known as the first publications in New England.When Smith returned to Jamestown, he was elected president of Jamestown. During this time there was a drought, which limited the food supply. The Natives stopped helping provide food for the Colonists because of the drought. This led Smith to attempt to enslave the native people and attacked their settlements. This began conflict with the native people that seized with the marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. He also forced colonists to work on the farms in order to eat. This system was efficient, however, the colonist did not like Smith. He was sent back to England on allegations of attempted murder and never returned to New England. He published works about Jamestown and advice about farming, including: General Historie of Virginia (1624) which discussed colonization in North America and the Virginia Company; The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captain John Smith (1630) which focused on Smith’s role in New England; and Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England, or Anywhere (1631) which was mainly advice for farming, most of which Smith learned from the native people.

The General Historie of Virginia by Captain John Smith, 1624; the Fourth Booke is an anthology of Captain John Smith’s logs and writings pertaining to his experience and knowledge of Virginia. He covers years from approximately 1609 to 1623. The anthology includes entries such as “The Starving Time”, “Capture of Pocahontas”, “Peace with the Indians”, and “The Indian Massacre”. Many anthologies that can be found today are a collection of various authors and typically cover times from the present back to a certain time period, such as the puritan times. Modern anthologies are created to capture the literature of the past in a way that the author enjoys, rather than to capture history. Some of these pieces include poetry, fiction, nonfiction, journal entries and maps. Major Writers of Early American Literature, edited by Everett Emerson, is simply a collection of various authors’ biographies and studies on early American writers. This anthology strongly differs from other modern anthologies with its both historic and personal entries that capture the thoughts and ideas of a man in Puritan America.

Within this collection, Captain John Smith wrote the pieces, “The Capture of Pocahontas” and “Her Marriage with John Rolfe”. The first, “The Capture of Pocahontas” discusses how Pocahontas was taken into captivity and the reasoning behind it. This is a first hand account of what happened, as Captain John Smith was aboard the ship in which Pocahontas was held captive on. Smith begins this account by introducing Captaine Argall as an old friend of his that was sent to spend twelve months in the country along with eighty other men. Pocahontas was then persuaded to go abroad with her friend Japazaws and his wife in order to see the ship because Captain Argall had promised Japazaws a Copper Kettle if he brought Pocahontas there. There, Pocahontas was taken captive aboard the ship. Japazaws and his wife were sent to shore while Pocahontas was taken to Jamestowne. A messenger was then sent to her father to tell her that she had been stolen by Argall. Pocahontas’ father, Powhatan, sent Argall seven of the men he had captured from him and said that he would send the rest of the men, upon the return of his daughter. Argall, however, sent back that he did not trust this and that until he received all of his men back, they would be keeping Pocahontas. Powhatan did not answer back again, and therefore, Captaine Argall’s ship went into Powhatan’s own river with his daughter and said they were there to return his daughter and collect their ransom. Rather than, returning the men, Powhatan’s people began firing arrows at their boat and after being provoked by this, Argal and Smith went onto shore and burned all of their houses. They then declared peace and the people said that the captured men had run away but that Powhatan’s men were looking for them. They told them that their weapons and other stolen things would be returned to them the next day, but they were not. Two of the men came onto the ship and saw that their sister, Pocahontas, was alive and well, even though they had heard the contrary, and said they would persuade their father to collect her and declare forever peace with them.

In another piece, “Her Marriage with John Rolfe”, Captain John Smith is recounting how he found out about the love between John Rolfe and Pocahontas. Smith says that when he learned about the love between the two, he told Sir Thomas Dale. Sir Thomas Dale then wrote a letter with his advice to Pocahontas. She then shared the letter with her brother, who also approved of the love. The news of the marriage soon traveled to her father, Powhatan, and he also approved and sent her uncle and two brothers to send his blessing and help with the marriage. Smith then states that since then, they have also had friendly trade and commerce with Powhatan and his people.

The General Historie of Virginia by Captain John Smith, 1624; The Fourth Booke contains a wide variety of genres. The first would be that this text is an anthology, but the entries within this anthology include non-fiction, autobiography, history, creative nonfiction and possibly a bit of memoir. Smith does cover historical events and people in his entries, but these pieces may also be tainted by personal goals and objectives, thus fitting this collection of writings into creative nonfiction. Also, being a collection of various writings, some writings may fall under certain genres while others may not apply to those genres whatsoever. The autobiography and memoir fits into entries such as those titled “Captain Smith’s Letter to Queen Anne” or “Smith’s Review of his Administration”.


“John Smith Biography”, A&E Television Networks, April 2, 2014,    https://www.biography.com/people/john-smith-9486928

Szaylay, Jessie. “John Smith of Jamestown: Facts and Biography”, Live Science, November 1, 2013, https://www.livescience.com/40898-captain-john-smith.html


Generall Historie
Virginia (excerpts)

New-England, and the Summer
Isles: with the names of the Adventurers,
Planters, and Governours from their
first beginning Ano: 1584. to this
present 1624.
and the Accidents that befell them in all their
Journyes and Discoveries.
Also the Maps and Descriptions of all those
Countryes, their Commodities, people,
Government, Customes, and Religion
yet knowne.
By Captaine IOHN SMITH sometymes Governour
in those Countryes & Admirall
of New England

Printed by I.D. and I.H. for Michael Sparkes

Now called America, was discovered: and part
thereof first Planted by the ENGLISH, called
VIRGINIA, with the Accidents and
Proceedings of the same.

The first Booke.

FOR the Stories of Arthur, Malgo, and Brandon, that say a thousand yeares agoe they were in the North of America; or the Fryer of Linn that by his blacke Art went to the North pole in the yeare 1360. in that I know them not. Let this suffice.


The Chronicles of Wales report, that Madock, sonne to Owen Quineth, Prince of Wales seeing his two brethren at debate who should inherit, prepared certaine Ships, with men and munition, and left his Country to seeke aduentures by Sea: leauing Ireland North he sayled west till he came to a Land vnknowne. Returning home and relating what pleasant and fruitfull Countries he had seene without Inhabitants, and for what barren ground his brethren and kindred did murther one another, he provided a number of Ships, and got with him such men and women as were desirous to liue in quietnesse, that arriued with him in this new Land in the yeare 1170: Left many of his people there and returned for more. But where this place was no History can show.


The Spanyards say Hanno a Prince of Carthage was the first: and the next Christopher Cullumbus, a Genoesian, whom they sent to discover those vnknowne parts. 1492.


But we finde by Records, Cullumbus offered his seruice in the yeare 1488. to King Henry the seauenth; and by accident vndertooke it for the Spanyards. In the Interim King Henry gaue a Commission to Iohn Cabot, and his three sonnes, Sebastian, Lewis, and Sautius. Iohn and Sebastian well provided, setting sayle, ranged a great part of this vnknowne world, in the yeare 1497. For though Cullumbus had found certaine Iles, it was 1498. ere he saw the Continent, which was a yeare after Cabot. Now Americus came a long time after, though the whole Continent to this day is called America after his name, yet Sebastian Cabotdiscovered much more then them all, for he sayled to about forty degrees Southward of the lyne, and to sixty-seauen towards the North: for which King Henry the eight Knighted him and made him grand Pilate of England. Being very aged King Edward the sixt gaue him a Pention of 1661.13s.4d. yearely. By his directions Sir Hugh Willowby was sent to finde out the Country of Russia, but the next yeare he was found frozen to death in his Ship, and all his Company.


Mr Martin Frobisher was sent in the yeare 1576. by our most gracious Queene Elizabeth, to search for the Northwest passage, and Metaincognita: for which he was Knighted, honored, and well rewarded.


Sir Humphrey Gilbert a worthy Knight attempted a Plantation in some of those parts: and obtained Letters Pattents to his desire: but with this Proviso, He should

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maintaine possession in some of those vast Countries within the tearme of sixe yeares. Yet when he was provided with a Navy able to incounter a Kings power, even here at home they fell in diuisions, and so into confusion, that they gaue over the Designe ere it was begun, not with standing all this losse, his vndanted spirit began againe, but his Fleet fell with New-foundland, and he perished in his returne, as at large you may read in the third Volume of the English Voyages, written by Mr Hackluit.

Vpon all those Relations and inducements, Sir Walter Raleigh, a noble Gentleman, and then in great esteeme, vndertooke to send to discover to the Southward. And though his occasions and other imployments were such he could not goe himselfe, yet he procured her Maiesties Letters Pattents, and perswaded many worthy Knights and Gentlemen to adventure with him to finde a place fit for a Plantation. Their Proceedings followeth.


The most famous, renowned, and euer worthy of all memory, for her courage, learning, iudgement, and vertue, Queene Elizabeth, granted her Letters Patents to Sir Walter Raleigh for the discovering and planting new Lands & Countries, not actually possessed by any Christians. This Patenty got to be his assistants Sir Richard Grenvell the valiant, Mr William Sanderson a great friend to all such noble and worthy actions, and divers other Gentlemen and Marchants, who with all speede prouided two small Barkes well furnished with all necessaries, vnder the command of Captaine Philip Amidas and Captaine Barlow. The 27. of Aprill they set sayle from the Thames, the tenth of May passed the Canaries, and the tenth of Iune the West Indies: which vnneedfull Southerly course, (but then no better was knowne) occasioned them in that season much sicknesse.

        Their arrivall.
        Abundance of Grapes.

The second of Iuly they fell with the coast of Florida in shoule water, where they felt a most dilicate sweete smell, though they saw no land, which ere long they espied, thinking it the Continent: an hundred and twenty myles they sayled not finding any harbor. The first that appeared, with much difficulty they entred, and anchored, and after thankes to God they went to view the next Land adioyning to take possession of it for the Queenes most excellent Maiestie: which done, they found their first landing place very sandy and low, but so full of grapes that the very surge of the Sea sometimes over-flowed them: of which they found such plenty in all places, both on the sand, the greene soyle and hils, as in the plaines as well on euery little shrub, as also climbing towardes the tops of high Cedars, that they did thinke in the world were not the like abundance.

        The Ile of Wokokon.
        In Lybanus are not many.
        Conference with a Salvage.

We passed by the Sea-side towards the tops of the next hills being not high: from whence we might see the Sea on both sides, and found it an Ile of twentie myles in length, and six in breadth, the vallyes replenished with goodly tall Cedars. Discharging our Muskets, such a flocke of Cranes, the most white, arose by vs, with such a cry as if an Army of men had shouted altogether. This Ile hath many goodly Woods, and Deere, Conies, and Foule in incredible abundance, and vsing the Authors owne phrase, the Woods are not such as you finde in Bohemia, Moscovia, or Hercinia, barren and fruitlesse, but the highest and reddest Cedars of the world, bettering them of the Aslores, Indies, or Libanus: Pynes, Cypres, Saxefras, the Lentisk that beareth Mastick, and many other of excellent smell and qualitie. Till the third day we saw not any of the people, then in a little Boat three of them appeared, one of them went on shore, to whom wee rowed, and he attended vs without any signe of feare; after he had spoke much though we vnderstood not a word, of his owne accord he came boldly aboord vs, we gaue him a shirt, a hat, wine and meate, which he liked well, and after he had well viewed the barkes and vs, he went away in his owne Boat, and within a quarter of a myle of vs in halfe an houre, had loaden his Boat with fish, with which he came againe to the poynt of land, and there devided it in two parts, poynting one part to the Ship, the other to the Pinnace, and so departed.

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        The Arriuall of the Kings brother.

The next day came diuers Boats, and in one of them the Kings Brother, with forty or fifty men, proper people, and in their behauiour very ciuill; his name was Granganameo, the King is called Wingina, the Country Wingandacoa. Leauing his Boats a little from our Ships, he came with his trayne to the poynt: where spreading a Matte he sat downe. Though we came to him well armed, he made signes to vs to sit downe without any shew of feare, stroking his head and brest, and also ours, to expresse his loue. After he had made a long speech vnto vs, we presented him with diuers toyes, which he kindly accepted. He was greatly regarded by his people, for none of them did sit, not speake a word, but foure, on whom we bestowed presents also, but he tooke all from them, making signes all things did belong to him.

The King himselfe in a conflict with a King his next neighbour and mortall enemy, was shot in two places through the body, and the thigh, yet recouered: whereby he lay at his chiefe towne six dayes iourney from thence.

        Trade with the Salvages.

A day or two after shewing them what we had, Granganameo taking most liking to a Pewter dish, made a hole in it, hung it about his necke for a brest-plate: for which he gaue vs twenty Deere skins, worth twenty Crownes; and for a Copper Kettell, fiftie skins, worth fiftie Crownes. Much other trucke we had, and after two dayes he came aboord, and did eate and drinke with vs very merrily. Not long after he brought his wife and children, they were but of meane stature, but well fauoured and very bashfull; she had a long coat of Leather, and about her privities a peece of the same, about her forehead a band of white Corrall, and so had her husband, in her eares were bracelets of pearle, hanging downe to her middle, of the bignesse of great Pease; the rest of the women had Pendants of Copper, and the Noblemen fiue or sixe in an eare; his apparrell as his wiues, onely the women weare their haire long on both sides, and the men but on one; they are of colour yellow, but their hayre is blacke, yet we saw children that had very fayre Chesnut coloured hayre.


After that these women had beene here with vs, there came downe from all parts great store of people, with Leather, Corrall, and diuers kinde of dyes, but when Granganameo was present, none durst trade but himselfe, and them that wore red Copper on their heads, as he did. When euer he came, he would signifie by so many fires he came with so many boats, that we might know his strength. Their Boats are but one great tree, which is but burnt in the forme of a trough with gins and fire, till it be as they would haue it. For an armour he would haue ingaged vs a bagge of pearle, but we refused, as not regarding it, that wee might the better learn where it grew. He was very iust of his promise, for oft we trusted him, and he would come within his day to keepe his word. He sent vs commonly euery day a brace of Bucks, Conies, Hares, and fish, sometimes Mellons, Walnuts, Cucumbers, Pease, and diuers rootes. This Author sayth, their corne groweth three times in fiue moneths; in May they sow, in Iuly reape; in Iune they sow, in August reape; in Iuly sow, in August reape. We put some of our Pease in the ground, which in ten dayes were 14. ynches high.

        The Ile Roanoak.
        The great courtesie of a Woman.

The soyle is most plentifull, sweete, whole some, and fruitfull of all other, there are about 14. seuerall sorts of sweete swelling tymber trees: the most parts of the vnderwood, Bayes and such like: such Okes as we, but far greater and better. After this acquaintance, my selfe with seauen more went twenty myle into the Riuer Occam, that runneth toward the Cittie Skicoack, and the euening following we came to an Ile called Roanoak, from the harbour where we entred 7. leagues; at the North end was 9. houses, builded with Cedar, fortified round with sharpe trees, and the entrance like a Turnpik. When we came towards it, the wife of Granganameo came running out to meete vs, (her husband was absent) commanding her people to draw our Boat ashore for beating on the billowes, other she appoynted to carry vs on their backes aland, others to bring our Ores into the house for

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stealing. When we came into the other roome, (for there was fiue in the house) she caused vs to sit downe by a great fire; after tooke off our clothes and washed them, of some our stockings, and some our feete in warme water, and she her selfe tooke much paines to see all things well ordered, and to provide vs victuall.

        A banquet.
        Skicoac a great towne.

After we had thus dryed our selues, she brought vs into an Inner roome, where she set on the bord standing a long the house somewhat like frumentie, sodden venison, and rosted fish; in like manner mellons raw, boyled rootes and fruites of diuers kindes. There drinke is commonly water boyled with Ginger, sometimes with Saxefras, and wholsome herbes, but whilest the Grape lasteth they drinke wine, More loue she could not expresse to entertaine vs; they care but onely to defend themselues from the short winter, and feede on what they finde naturall in sommer. In this feasting house was their Idoll of whom they tould vs vncredible things. When we were at meate two or three of her men came amongst vs with their Bowes and Arrowes, which caused vs to take our armes in hand. She perceiuing our distrust, caused their Bowes and Arrowes to be broken, and they beaten out of the gate: but the euening approaching we returned to our boate, whereat she much grieuing brought our supper halfe boyled, pots and all, but when she saw vs, but put our boat a little off from the shoar and lye at Anchor, perceiuing our Ielousie, she sent diuers men & 30. women to sit al night on the shoare side against vs, and sent vs fiue Mats to couer vs from the raine, doing all she could to perswade vs to her house. Though there was no cause of doubt, we would not aduenture: for on our safety depended the voyage: but a more kinde louing people cannot be. Beyond this Ile is the maine land and the great riuer Occam, on which standeth a Towne called Pomeieck, and six dayes higher, their City Skicoak: those people neuer saw it, but say there fathers affirme it to be aboue two houres iourney about. Into this riuer falleth an other called Cipo, where is found many Mustells where in are Pearles: likewise another Riuer called Nomapona, on the one side where of standeth a great towne called Chawanock, the Lord of the Country is not subiect to Wingandacoa. Beyond him an other king they cal Menatonon. These 3. are in league each with other. Towards the south. 4. dayes iourney is Sequotan, the southermost part of Wingandacoa.

        How the Country was called Virginia.

Adioyning to Secotan beginneth the country Pomonik, belonging to the King called Piamacum, in the Country Nusiok vpon the great riuer Neus. These haue mortall warres with Wingina, King of Wingandacoa. Betwixt Piemacum and the Lord of Secotan, a peace was concluded: notwithstanding there is a mortall malice in the Secotans, because this Pieneacum invited diuers men, and 30. women to a feast, and when they were altogether merry before their Idoll, which is but a meere illusion of the Deuill, they sudainly slew all the men of Secotan, and kept the women for their vse. Beyond Roanoak are many Isles full of fruits and other Naturall increases, with many Townes a long the side of the Continent. Those Iles lye 200. myles in length, and betweene them and the mayne, a great long sea, in some places. 20. 40. or 50. my les broad, in other more, somewhere lesse. And in this sea are 100. Iles of diuers bignesses, but to get into it, you haue but 3. passages and they very dangerous. Though this you see for most part be but the relations of Saluages, because it is the first, I thought it not a misse to remember them as they are written by them that returned & ariued in England about the middest of September the same yeare. This discouery was so welcome into Englandthat it pleased her Maiestie to call this Country of Wingandacoa, Virginia, by which name now you are to vnderstand how it was planted, disolued, reuned, and enlarged,

The Performers of this voyage were these following.


  • Philip Amadas.
  • Arthur Berlow.

Of the Companie.

  • William Grenuill.
  • Iohn Wood.
  • Iames Browewich.
  • Henry Greene.
  • Beniamen Wood.
  • Simen Ferdinando.
  • Nicholas Peryman.
  • Iohn Hewes.

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Sir Richard Grenuills voyage to Virginia, for 
Sir Walter Raleigh. 1585.

        Sir Richard Grenvils, voyage.

THe 9. of Aprill he departed from Plimouth with 7. sayle: the chiefe men with him in command, were Master Ralph Layne, Master Thomas Candish Master Iohn Arundel, Master Stukley, Master Bremige, Master Vincent, Master Heryot and Master Iohn Clarke. The 14. day we fell with the Canaries, and the 7. of May with Dominico in the West Indies: we landed at Portorico, after with much a doe at Izabella on the north of Hispaniola, passing by many Iles. Vpon the 20. we fell with the mayne of Florida, and were put in great danger vpon Cape Fear. The 26. we Anchored at Wocokon, where the admiral had like to beene cast away, presently we sent to Wingina to Roanoak, and Master Arundell went to the mayne, with Manteo a saluage, and that day to Crooton. The 11. The Generall victualed for 8. dayes, with a selected company went to the maine, and discovered the Townes of Pomeiok, Aquascogoc, Secotan, and the great Lake called Paquipe. At Aquascogoc the Indians stole a siluer Cup, wherefore we burnt the Towne and spoyled their corne, so returned to our fleete at Tocokon. Whence we wayed for Hatorask, where we rested, and Granganimeo, King Wingina’s brother with Manteo came abord our Admirall, the Admirall went for Weapomeiok, & Master Iohn Arundell for England. Our Generall in his way home tooke a rich loaden ship of 300. tunns, with which he ariued at Plimouththe 18. of September. 1585.


These were left vnder the command of Master Ralph Layne to inhabite the Country, but they returned within a yeare.

Philip Amidas Admirall. Master Kendall. Master Antony Russe.
Master Thomas Heryot. Master Gardiner. Master Allen.
Master Acton. Master Predeox. Master Michaell Pollison.
Master Stafford. Master Rogers. Master Thomas Bockner.
Master Thomas Luddington. Master Haruy. Master Iamesmason.
Master Maruyn. Master Snelling. Master Dauid Salter.
Cap. Vaghan. Master Iames Skinner.

With diuers others to the number of 108.

        Their first Plantation.

Touching the most remarkeable things of the Country and our proceeding from the 17 of August 1585. till the 18. of Iune1586. we made Roanoack our habitation. The vtmost of our discouery Southward was Secotan as we esteemed 80. leagues from Roanoacke. The passage from thence was thought a broad sound within the maine, being without kenning of land, yet full of flats and shoulds that our Pinnasse could not passe, & we had but one boat with 4. ores, that would carry but 15. men with their prouisions for 7. dayes: so that because the winter approached we left those discoueries till a stronger supply. To the Northward; our farthest was to a Towne of the Chesapeacks, from Roanoack 130. myles. The passage is very shallow and dangerous by reason of the breadth of the sound and the little succour for a storme, but this teritory being 15. myle from the shoare, for pleasantnest of seate, for temporature of climate, fertility of soyle and comoditie of the Sea, besides beares, good woods, Saxefras, Walnuts &c. is not to be, excelled by any other whatsoeuer.

There be sundry other Kings they call Weroances as the Mangoacks, Trypaniks and opposians, which came to visit vs.


To the northwest our farthest was Chawonack from Roanoack, 130. myles our

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passage lyeth through a broad sound, but all fresh water, and the channell Nauigable for a Ship, but out of it full of shoules.

        Chawonock 700. men.

The townes by the way by the water, are Passaquenock the womens towne, Chepanoc, Weapomeiok; from Muscamungewee enter the riuer and iurisdiction of Chawoneck, there it beginneth to straiten, and at Chawonock it is as Thames at Lambeth: betwixt them as we passed is goodly high land on the left hand, and there is a towne called Ohanock, where is a great corne field, it is subiect to Chawonock, which is the greatest Prouince vpon the riuer, and the Towne it selfe can put seuen hundred men into the field, besides the forces of the rest. The King is lame, but hath more vnderstanding then all the rest.

        Menatonon his Relations of the Ile of Pearle, and a rich Mine, & the Sea by it.

The river of Moratoc is more famous then all the rest, and openeth into the sound of Weapomesok, and where there is but a very small currant in Chawonock, it hath so strong a currant from the Southwest, as we doubted how to row against it. Strange things they report of the head of this riuer, and of Moratoc it selfe, a principall towne on it & is thirtie or fortie dayes Iourney to the head. This lame King is called Menatonon. When I had him prisoner two dayes, he told mee that 3. dayes Iourney in a Canow vp the riuer Chawonock, then landing & going foure dayes Iourney Northeast, there is a King whose Country lyeth on the Sea, but his best place of strength is an Iland in a Bay inuironed with deepe water, where he taketh that abundance of Pearle, that not onely his skins, and his nobles, but also his beds and houses are garnished there with. This king was at Chawonock two yeares agoe to trade with blacke pearle, his worst sort whereof I had a rope, but they were naught; but that King he sayth hath store of white, and had trafficke with white men, for whom he reserued them; he promised me guides to him, but aduised me to goe strong, for he was vnwilling strangers should come in his Country, for his Country is populous and valiant men. If a supply had come in Aprill, I resolued to haue sent a small Barke to the Northward to haue found it, whilest I with small Boates and 200. men would haue gone to the head of the riuer Chawonock, with sufficient guides by land, inskonsing my selfe euery two dayes, where I would leaue Garrisons for my retreat till I came to this Bay.

Very neare vnto it is the riuer of Moratoc, directly from the West, the head of it springeth out of a mayne Rocke, which standeth so neare the Sea, that in stormes the Sea beats ouer it into this fresh spring, that of it selfe at the surse is a violent streame. I intended with two Wherries and fortie persons to haue Menatonons sonne for guide, to try this presently, till I could meete with some of the Moratocks, or Mangoaks, but hoping of getting more victuall from the Saluages, we as narrowly escaped staruing in that Discouery as euer men did.

        Pemissapan his trechery.
        The discouery of the riuer Moratoc.
        A noble resolution.

For Pemissapan who had changed his name of Wingina vpon the death of his brother Granganameo, had giuen both the Chawonests, and Mangoaks word of my purpose: also he told me the Chawonocks had assembled two or three thousand to assault me at Roanok, vrging me daily to goe against them, and them against vs; a great assembly I found at my comming thether, which suddaine approach did so dismay them, that we had the better of them: & this confederacy against vs was procured by Pemissapan himselfe our chiefe friend we trusted; he sent word also to the Moratoks and the Mangoaks, I came to inuade them, that they all fled vp into the high Country, so that where I assured my selfe both of succour and prouision, I found all abandoned. But being thus farre on my iourney 160. myles from home, and but victuals for two dayes, besides the casualties of crosse winds, stormes, and the Saluages trechery, though we intended no hurt to any: I gaue my Company to vnderstand we were onely drawne forth vpon these vaine hopes by the Saluages to bring vs to confusion: a Councell we held, to goe forward or returne, but they all were absolutely resolued but three, that whilst there was but one pynt of Corne for a man, they would not leaue the search of that riuer; for they had two Mastiue Dogs, which boy led with Saxefras leaues (if the worst fell

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out) vpon them and the pottage they would liue two dayes, which would bring them to the sound, where they should finde fish for two dayes more to passe it to Roanock, which two dayes they had rather fast then goe backe a foote, till they had seene the Mangoaks either as friends or foes.

        The strange Mine of Chaunis Temoatan.

Though I did forsee the danger and misery, yet the desire I had to see the Mangoaks was, for that there is a prouince called Chaunis Temoatan, frequented by them and well knowne to all those Countries, where is a mine of Copper they call Wassador;they say they take it out of a riuer that falleth swiftly from high rocks in shallow water, in great Bowles, couered with leather, leauing a part open to receiue the mettall, which by the change of the colour of the water where the spout falleth, they suddainly chop downe, and haue the Bowlefull, which they cast into the fire, it presently melteth, and doth yeeld in fiue parts at the first melting two parts mettall for three of Ore. The Mangoaks haue such plenty of it, they beautifie their houses with great plates thereof: this the Salvages report; and young Skiko the King of Chawonocks sonne my prisoner, that had beene prisoner among the Mangoaks, but neuer at Chaunis Temoatan, for he sayd that was twentie dayes iourney overland from the Mangoaks.

        The great currant of the river Moratoc.

Menatonon also confirmed all this, and promised me guids to this mettall Country; by Land to the Mangoaks is but one dayes iourney, but seauen by water, which made me so willing to haue met them for some assay of this mettall: but when we came there we found no creature, onely we might see where had beene their fires. After our two dayes iourney, and our victuals spent, in the euening we heard some call as we thought Manteo, who was with me in the boat; this made vs glad, he made them a friendly answer, which they answered with a song we thought for welcome, but he told vs they came to fight. Presently they did let flie their Arrowes about the boat, but did not hurt, the other boat scouring the shore we landed: but they all were fled, and how to finde them wee knew not. So the next morning we returned to the mouth of the riuer, that cost vs foure dayes rowing vp, and here our dogs pottage stood vs in good stead, for we had nothing els: the next day we fasted being windbound, and could not passe the sound, but the day following we came to Chippanum, where the people were fled, but their wires afforded vs fish: thus being neare spent, the next day God brought vs to Roanocke. I conclude a good Mine, or the South sea will make this Country quickly inhabited, and so for pleasure and profit comparable with any in the world: otherwise there will be nothing worth the fetching. Provided there be found a better harbour then yet there is, which must be Northward if there be any. Master Vaughan, no lesse hoped of the goodnesse of the Mine, then Master Heriot that the riuer Moratocks head, either riseth by the Bay of Mexico, or very neare the South Sea, or some part that openeth neare the same, which cannot with that facilitie be done as from the Bay of Pearles, by insconsing foure dayes iourney to the Chawonoks, Mangoaks, and Moratocks, &c.

The conspiracy of Pemissapan; the Discouery of it; and our 
returne for England with Sir Francis Drake.

        The Conspiracy of Pemissapan.
        The death of a most rare Salvage.

ENsenore a Saluage, father to Pemissapan, the best friend we had after the death of Granganimeo, when I was in those Discoueries, could not prevaile any thing with the King from destroying vs, that all this time God had preferued, by his good counsell to the King to be friendly vnto vs. Pemissapan thinking as the brute was in this last iourney we were flaine and starued, began to blaspheme our God that would suffer it, and not defend vs, so that old Ensenore had no more credit for vs: for he began by all the deuises he could to inuade vs. But in the beginning of this brute, when they saw vs all returne, the report false,

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and had Manteo, and three Saluages more with vs, how little we esteemed all the people we met, and feared neither hunger, killing, or any thing, and had brought their greatest Kings sonne prisoner with vs to Roanock: it a little asswaged all his deuises, and brought Ensenore in respect againe, that our God was good, and wee their friends, and our foes should perish, for we could doe them more hurt being dead, then liuing, and that being an hundred myles from them, shot, and strucke them sicke to death, and that when we die it is but for a time, then we returne againe. But that which wrought the most feare among them was the handy-worke of Almightie God. For certaine dayes after my returne, Menatonon sent messengers to me with Pearle, and OkiscoKing of Weopomeoke, to yeeld himselfe seruant to the Queene of England. Okisco with twenty-foure of his principall men came to Pemissapan to acknowledge this dutie and subiection, and would performe it. All which so changed the heart of Pemissapan, that vpon the aduise of Ensenore, when we were ready to famish they came and made vs wires, and planted their fields they intended to abandon (we not hauing one corne till the next haruest to sustuine vs). This being done our old friend Ensenore dyed the twenty of Aprill, then all our enemies wrought with Pemissapan to put in practise his deuises, which he easily imbraced, though they had planted corne by vs, and at Dasamonpeack two leagues from vs. Yet they got Okisco our tributary to get seuen or eight hundred (and the Mandoages with the Chisapeans should doe the like) to meete (as their custome is) to solemnize the Funerall of Ensenore. Halfe of whom should lye hid, to cut off the straglers, seeking crabs and prouision: the rest come out of the mayne vpon the Signall by fire. Twenty of the principall of Pemissapans men had charge in the night to beset my house, put fire in the Reeds that couered it, which might cause me run out so naked and amazed, they might without danger knocke out my braines. The same order for Mr Heriots, and the rest: for all should haue beene fired at an instant. In the meane time they should fell vs nothing, and in the night spoyle our wires, to make nenessitie disperse vs. For if we were but ten together, a hundred of them would not meddle with vs. So our famine increased, I was forced to send Captaine Stafford to Croatan, with twentie to feed himselfe, and see if he could espie any sayle passe the coast; Mr Predeox with ten to Hatarask vpon the same occasion: and other small parties to the Mayne to liue vpon rootes and Oysters.

        A slaughter of two Salvages.
        Pemissapan slaine and 8. others.

Pemissapan sequestring himselfe, I should not importune him for victuall, and to draw his troupes, found not the Chawonestsso forward as he expected, being a people more faithfull and powerfull, and desired our friendships, and was offended with him for raising such tales, and all his proiects were revealed to me by Skico my prisoner; who finding himselfe as well vsed by me, as Pemissapan tould me all. These troubles caused me send to Pemissapan, to put suspition in his head, I was to goe presently to Croatan to meete a Fleete came to me, though I knew no such matter: and that he would lend me men to fish and hunt. He sent me word he would come himselfe to Roanock; but delaying time eight dayes that all his men were there to be assembled, not liking so much company, I resolued the next day to goe visit him, but first to giue them in the Ile a Canvisado, and at an instant to seaze on all their Canows about the Ile. But the towne tooke the Alarum before I ment it. For when I sent to take the Canows, he met one going from the shore, ouerthrew her and cut off two Salvages heads; wherevpon the cry arose, being by their spyes perceiued: for they kept as good watch over vs, as we of them. Vpon this they to their Bowes, and we to our Armes: three or foure of them at the first were slaine, the rest fled into the woods. The next morning I went to Dassamonpeack and sent Pemissapanword I was going to Croatan, and tooke him in my way to complaine Osocon would haue stole my prisoner Skito. Here vpon he did abide my comming, & being among eight of the principallest, I gaue the watchword to my men, and immediately they had that they purposed

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for vs. Himselfe being shot through with a Pistoll fell downe as dead, but presently start vp and ran away from them all, till an Irish Boy shot him over the buttocks, where they tooke him and cut off his head.

        A most generous courtesie of Sir Francis Drake.

Seauen dayes after Captaine Stafforton sent to me he descryed twentie-three Sayle. The next day came to me himselfe (of whom I must say this, from the first to the last, he neither spared labour, or perill by land or sea, fayre weather, or foule, to performe any serious seruice committed to him.) He brought me a letter from Sir Francis Drake, whose generous mind offered to supply all my defects, of shipping, boats, munition, victuall, clothes, and men to further this action: and vpon good consultation and deliberation, he appointed me a ship of 70. tuns, with an hundred men, and foure moneths victuals, two Pinnaces, foure small Boats, with two sufficient Masters, with sufficient Gangs. All this being made ready for me, suddenly arose such a storme for foure dayes, that had like to haue driuen the whole Fleete on shore: many of them were forced to the Sea, whereof my ship so lately giuen me was one, with all my prouision and Company appoynted.

Not with standing, the storme ceasing, the Generall appointed me a ship of 170. tuns, with all prouisions as before, to carry me into England the next August, or when I had performed such Discoueries as I thought fit. Yet they durst not vndertake to bring her into the harbour, but she must ride in the road, leauing the care of the rest to my selfe, advising me to consider with my Company what was fittest, and with my best speed returne him answer.

        Virginia abandoned.

Herevpon calling my Company together, who were all as priuy of the Generals offer as my selfe; their whole request was, (in regard of all those former miseries, and no hope of the returne of Sir Grenvill,) and with a generall consent, they desired me to vrge him, we might all goe with him for England in his Fleete; for whose reliefe in that storme he had sustained more perill of wrack, then in all his honorable actions against his enemies. So with prayses to God we set sayle in Iune 1586. and arriued in Portsmouth the 27. of Iuly the same yeare: Leaving this remembrance to posteritie,

To reason lend me thine attentiue eares, Exempt thy selfe from mind-distracting cares:
 Least that’s here thus proiected for thy good; By thee reiected be, ere vnderstood.


Written by Mr Ralph Layne, Governour.

The Observations of Mr. Thomas Heriot in this Voyage.

For Marchandize and Victualls.


WHat before is writ, is also confirmed by that learned Mathematician Mr Thomas Heriot, with them in the Country, whose particular Relation of all the Beasts, Birds, Fishes, Foules, Fruites, and Rootes, and how they may be vsefull; because I haue writ it before for the most part in the Discourse of Captaine Amidas, and Captaine Layne, except Silk grasse, Wormesilke, Flax like Hempe, Allum, Wapeith, or Terra sigillata, Tar, Rosen, & Turpentine, Civet-cats, Iron ore, Copper that hold Silver, Coprose and Pearle: Let those briefes suffice, because I would not trouble you with one thing twice.



For Dyes, Showmack, the herbe Wasebur, little rootes called Chapacor, and the barke of a tree called by the Inhabitants Tangomockonominge, which are for divers sorts of Reds.

        A strange Salt.

What more then is related is an herbe in Dutch called Melden, described like an Orange, growing foure foote high; the seede will make good broth, and the

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stalke burnt to ashes makes a kinde of Salt: other Salt they know not, and we vsed of it for Pot-herbs. Of their Tobacco we found plenty, which they esteeme their chiefe Physicke.


Ground nuts, Tiswaw we call China roots; they grow in clusters, and bring forth a bryer stalke, but the leafe is far vnlike, which will climbe vp to the top of the highest tree: the vse knowne is to cut it in small peeces, then stampe & straine it with water, and boyled makes a gelly good to eate. Cassavia growes in Marishes, which the Indians oft vse for bread and broth. Habascon is like a Parsnip, naught of it selfe, except compounded: and their Leekes like those in England.

        Fruits thats strange.

Sequenummener, a kinde of Berry like Capers, and three kinde of Berries like Acornes, called Sagatamenor, Osamenor, and Pummuckoner.

        Beasts extraordinary.

Saquenuckot and Maquowoc, two kinde of beasts, greater then Conies, and very good meate; in some places such plenty of gray Conies, like hayres, that all the people make them mantels of their skins. I haue the names of 28. severall sorts that are dispersed in the Country: of which 12. kindes we haue discouered and good to eate; but the Salvages sometimes kill a Lyon and eate him.


There is plentie of Sturgeon in February, March, Aprill, and May; all Herings in abundance; some such as ours, but the most part of 18.20.or 24. ynches long, and more. Trouts, Porpisses, Rayes, Mullets, Old-wiues, Plaice, Tortoises both by Sea and Land: Crabs, Oysters, Mussels, Scalops, Periwinckles, Crevises, Secanank: we haue the Pictures of 12. sorts more, but their names we know not.


Turkyes, Stockdoues, Partridges, Cranes, Hernes, Swans, Geese, Parrots, Faulcons, Merlins. I haue the names in their language of 86. severall sorts. Their woods are such as ours in England for the most part, except Rakeock a great sweet tree, whereof they make their Canowes: and Ascopo, a kinde of tree like Lowrell, and Saxefras.

Their Natures and Manners.

Their Clothing, Townes, Houses, Warres, Arts, Tooles, handy crafts, and educations, are much like them in that part of Virginia we now inhabite: which at large you may reade in the Description thereof. But the relation of their Religion is strange, as this Author reporteth.

        Their Religion.
        How the world was made.

Some Religion they haue, which although it be farre from the truth, yet being as it is there is hope it may be the easier reformed. They beleeue there are many gods which they call Mantoac, but of different sorts and degrees. Also that there is one chiefe God that hath beene from all eternitie, who as they say when he purposed first to make the world, made first other gods of a principall order, to be as instruments to be vsed in the Creation and government to follow: And after the Sunne, Moone, and Starres, as pettie gods; and the instruments of the other order more principall. First (they say) were made waters, out of which by the gods were made all diversitie of creatures that are visible or invisible.

        How man was made.

For mankinde they say a Woman was made first, which by the working of one of the gods conceiued and brought forth children; and so they had their beginning, but how many yeares or ages since they know not; having no Records but onely Tradition from Father to sonne.

        How they vse their gods.

They thinke that all the gods are of humane shape, and therefore represent them by Images in the formes of men; which they call Kewasowok: one alone is called Kewasa; them they place in their Temples, where they worship, pray, sing, and make many offerings. The common sort thinke them also gods.

        Whether they goe after death.

They beleeue the immortalitie of the Soule, when life departing from the body, according to the good or bad workes it hath done, it is carried vp to the Tabernacles of the gods, to perpetuall happpinesse, or to Popogusse, a great pit: which they thinke to be at the furthest parts of the world, where the Sunne sets, and there burne continually.

        Two men risen from death.

To confirme this they told me of two men that had beene lately dead, and revived

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againe; the one hapned but few yeares before our comming into the country; of a bad man, which being dead and buried, the next day the earth over him being seene to moue, was taken vp, who told them his soule was very neare entering into Popogusso, had not one of the gods saued him and gaue him leaue to returne againe, to teach his friends what they should doe to avoyd such torment. The other hapned the same yeare we were there, but sixtie myles from vs, which they told me for news, that one being dead, buried, & taken vp as the first, shewed, that although his body had layne dead in the graue, yet his soule liued, and had travailed far in a long broad way, on both sides whereof grew more sweet, fayre, and delicate trees and fruits, then ever he had seene before; at length he came to most braue and fayre houses, neare which he met his Father, that was dead long agoe, who gaue him charge to goe backe, to shew his friends what good there was to doe, to inioy the pleasures of that place; which when hee had done hee should come againe.

        The subtiltie of their Priests.

What subtiltie so ever be in the Weroances, and Priests; this opinion worketh so much in the common sort, that they haue great respect to their Governours: and as great care to avoyde torment after death, and to enjoy blisse. Yet they haue divers sorts of punishments according to the offence, according to the greatnesse of the fact. And this is the sum of their Religion, which I learned by having speciall familiaritie with their Priests, wherein they were not so sure grounded, nor gaue such credit, but through conversing with vs, they were brought into great doubts of their owne, and no small admiration of ours: of which many desired to learne more then we had meanes for want of vtterance in their Language to expresse.

        Their simplicitie.

Most things they saw with vs as Mathematicall Instruments, Sea Compasses; the vertue of the Loadstone, Perspectiue Glasses, burning Glasses: Clocks to goe of themselues; Bookes, writing, Guns, and such like; so far exceeded their capacities, that they thought they were rather the workes of gods then men; or at least the gods had taught vs how to make them, which loued vs so much better then them; & caused many of them giue credit to what we spake concerning our God. In all places where I came, I did my best to make his immortall glory knowne. And I told them, although the Bible I shewed them, contained all; yet of it selfe, it was not of any such vertue as I thought they did conceiue. Notwithstanding many would be glad to touch it, to kisse, and imbrace it, to hold it to their breasts, and heads, and stroke all their body over with it.

        Their desire of salvation.

The King Wingina where we dwelt, would oft be with vs at Prayer. Twice he was exceeding sicke and like to dye. And doubting of any helpe from his Priests, thinking he was in such danger for offending vs and our God, sent for some of vs to pray, and be a meanes to our God, he might liue with him after death. And so did many other in the like case. One other strange Accident (leauing others) will I mention before I end, which mooued the whole Country that either knew or heard of vs, to haue vs in wonderfull admiration.

        A wonderfull Accident.

There was no Towne where they had practised any villany against vs (we leaving it vnpunished, because we sought by all possible meanes to winne them by gentlenes) but within a few dayes after our departure, they began to dye; in some Townes twenty, in some forty, in some sixty, and in one an hundred and twenty, which was very many in respect of their numbers. And this hapned in no place (we could learn) where we had bin, but where they had vsed some practise to betray vs. And this disease was so strange, they neither knew what it was, nor how to cure it; nor had they knowne the like time out of minde; a thing specially observed by vs, as also by themselues, in so much that some of them who were our friends, especially Wingina, had observed such effects in foure or fiue Townes, that they were perswaded it was the worke of God through our meanes: and that we by him might kill and slay whom we would, without weapons, and not come

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neare them. And therevpon, when they had any vnderstanding, that any of their enemies abused vs in our Iourneyes, they would intreat vs, we would be a meanes to our God, that they, as the others that had dealt ill with vs, might dye in like sort: although we shewed them their requests were vngodly; and that our GOD would not subiect himselfe to any such requests of men, but all things as he pleased came to passe: and that we to shew our selues his true servants, ought rather to pray for the contrary: yet because the effect fell out so suddenly after, according to their desires, they thought it came to passe by our meanes, and would come giue vs thankes in their manner, that though we satisfied them not in words, yet in deeds we had fulfilled their desires.

        Their strange opinions.

This marueilous Accident in all the Country wrought so strange opinions of vs, that they could not tell whether to thinke vs gods or men. And the rather that all the space of their sicknesse, there was no man of ours knowne to die, or much sicke. They noted also we had no women, nor cared for any of theirs: some therefore thought we were not borne of women, and therefore not mortall, but that we were men of an old generation many yeares past, & risen againe from immortalitie. Some would Prophesie there were more of our generation yet to come, to kill theirs and take their places. Those that were to come after vs they imagined to be in the ayre, yet invisible and without bodies: and that they by our intreaties, for loue of vs, did make the people die as they did, by shooting invisible bullets into them.

To confirme this, their Physicians to excuse their Ignorance in curing the disease, would make the simple people beleeue, that the strings of bloud they sucked out of the sicke bodies, were the strings wherein the invisible bullets were tyed, and cast. Some thought we shot them our selues from the place where we dwelt, and killed the people that had offended vs, as we lifted, how farre distant soever. And others said it was the speciall worke of God for our sakes, as we had cause in some sort to thinke no lesse, whatsoever some doe, or may imagine to the contrary; especially some Astrologers by the eclipse of the Sunne we saw that yeare before our Voyage, and by a Comet which began to appeare but a few dayes before the sicknesse began: but to exclude them from being the speciall causes of so speciall an Accident, there are farther reasons then I thinke fit to present or alledge. These their opinions I haue set downe, that you may see there is hope to imbrace the truth, and honor, obey, feare and loue vs, by good dealing and government: though some of our company towards the latter end, before we came away with Sir Francis Drake shewed themselues too furious, in slaying some of the people in some Townes, vpon causes that on our part might haue bin borne with more mildnesse; notwithstanding they iustly had deserued it. The best neverthelesse in this, as in all actions besides, is to be indevoured and hoped; and of the worst that may happen, notice to be taken with consideration; and as much as may be eschewed; the better to allure them hereafter to Civilitie and Christianitie.


Thus you may see, How

Nature her selfe delights her selfe in sundry Instruments,
That sundry things be done to decke the earth with Ornaments;
Nor suffers she her servants all should runne one race,
But wills the walke of every one frame in a divers pace;
That divers wayes and divers workes, the world might better grace.

Written by Thomas Heriot, one of the Voyage.

Read more at https://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/smith/smith.html.



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Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature Copyright © by Brook O'Keefe; Cheyanne Chesley; Jade Parkhurst; Ricki Pierre-Canel; and Christopher Goodwin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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