Loading

Jamestown QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Why is Jamestown Significant?

Many consider it to be the "Birthplace of America".

Who established the Jamestown Colony?

King James

In April 1606 King James I of England granted the Virginia Company a charter to establish colonies in Virginia. The Virginia Company of London established the colony at Jamestown.

When did the voyage to Jamestown begin?

Three ships left London on December 20, 1606.

The 3 initial ships that sailed for the Jamestown settlement were named Susan Constant, Godspeed, and the Discovery.

Why did the voyage last 144 days? (approximately 4 ½ months)

The ships used an established southerly route in order to catch favorable trade winds and ocean currents.

They then turned west to the Caribbean, making several stops. Finally, the ships sailed north, parallel to the coast of North America, ending in Virginia. The entire trip was more than 6,000 miles.

The ships sighted the land of Virginia and landed at Cape Henry (Virginia Beach today) on April 26, 1607.

Why did the Virginia Company of London establish the colony?

The Virginia Company was in search of economic opportunity.

They expected to profit from mineral wealth such as gold and iron ore, timber and wood products and other natural resources. They also hoped to find a Northwest Passage or sailing route to Asia, and to convert the native inhabitants to Catholicism.

Why did the colonists choose the site they did for the Jamestown colony?

The Virginia Company’s instructions indicated the colonists were to locate upriver “100 miles”, on a river with a northwest orientation so the colonists could search for a Northwest Passage. Jamestown Island met these criteria and had a deep water port. The site also was chosen for its defensive position, as it was surrounded on three sides by water and on a fourth by swamp. Further, the fort was located at a bend in the river, which provided a wide field of view.

What were the boundaries of the land granted to the Virginia Company?

The charter of 1606 gave the Company rights to the area of the North American Atlantic coast between 34 and 41 degrees latitude; fifty miles inland and all islands up to one hundred miles out to sea. The 1609 charter extended Virginia’s boundaries to 200 miles north and south of Jamestown and from sea to sea.

Who were the native Indians that the English encountered at Jamestown?

The native Indians in Virginia were the Powhatan Indians, a group of approximately 32 different tribes who lived in the Virginia coastal plain. Historians estimate more than 14,000 Powhatan Indians lived in Virginia at the time of contact.

What did the Powhatan Indians call their home and who was their leader?

The Powhatan Indians called the area “Tsenacommacah” which means “densely inhabited area”. The paramount chief of the Powhatan chiefdom was Wahunsonacock. The English called him “Powhatan”.

What were the major difficulties the early colonists faced?

Arrows could be shot many times faster than the bullets brought by the settlers.
How many colonists died in the first year?

After 8 months in Virginia, only 38 of the original 104 were alive when the first supply ship arrived in January 1608. Historians have estimated that one out of six new settlers died before the end of their first year.

What were the first trade skills practiced at Jamestown?

Trades needed to build houses and other structures like a carpenter and blacksmith. Also a tailor, barber and two surgeons. Later tradesmen had skills that the Virginia Company hoped would help earn a profit-a jeweler, refiners, goldsmiths, and a perfumer. Other early trades included apothecaries and a cooper.

What products and resources did the Virginia colony export to England?

One of the first materials exported was wood for ship construction, furniture, houses, clapboard, wainscot, pikes, etc. Other wood products included potash, pitch, and tar. Tobacco soon became the most important export.

What was John Smith’s role at Jamestown?

He installed a policy of rigid discipline, strengthened defenses, and encouraged farming with his order that all must work or face starvation. Smith had settlers dig the first well inside the fort and also led the first English explorations of the Chesapeake Bay. Smith’s strong leadership helped the colony survive and grow but also made him enemies within the fort. As he slept in a boat in the river one night, Smith was badly injured by a mysterious gunpowder explosion. He returned to England for treatment in October 1609 and never set foot in Virginia again.

When did the first English women arrive at Jamestown?

The first two women arrived in October 1608. They were Mistress Forrest and her maid, Ann Burras. Most women who followed came to be with their husbands, or to serve as personal servants to other women. In 1620, approximately 90 women arrived to supplement those already in the colony and to serve as wives for the planters. About 50 more would arrive in 1621.

When did the first Africans arrive in Virginia?

The first recorded arrival of Africans was in August 1619. A privateering ship, the White Lion, arrived at Point Comfort carrying 20 or more Africans.

When was the first church service at Jamestown?

Reverend Robert Hunt held the first Anglican Communion in Jamestown under a sail used for protection on June 21, 1607.

When and where did Virginia’s first representative assembly meet?

The first representative assembly in English America met July 30-August 2, 1619 in the church at Jamestown.

When did the capital of Virginia move from Jamestown?

Virginia’s general assembly met at Middle Plantation (Williamsburg) and decided to make it the new capital in 1699.