Captain John Smith

Captain John Smith

Sometimes Governour of Jamestown Virginia, and Admiral of New England

Captain john smith

Captain John Smith


Captain John Smith

1580 – 1631

“Brass without but gold within”

from an inscription below Smith’s picture on the Map of New England (sentiment believed written by Sir Samuel Saltonstall)

captain john smith's coat of arms

captain john smith’s coat of arms

Captain John Smith’s coat of arms
“How he did divide from Pagans three, Their heads and lives, Types of his Chivalry”

from a tablet in the church where Captain John Smith is buried.

Smith’s Motto “To Overcome is to Live”

Challenge: do some research and find out how this farmer’s son earned a coat of arms and why his coat of arms has three heads on it.


A tribute to Captain John Smith BY SOLDIERS THAT SERVED WITH HIM.

“Thus we lost him that, in all his proceedings, made Justice his first guide, and experience his second; ever hating basenesse, sloth, pride, and indignitie more than any dangers; that never allowed more for himselfe than his souldiers with him; that upon no danger would send them where he would not lead them himselfe; that would never see us want what either had, or could an means get for us; that would rather want than borrow, or starve than not pay; that loved actions more than words, and hated falsehood and cousnage worse than death; whose adventures were our lives, and whose losse our deaths.” written by Richard Potts & William Phettiplace fellow soldiers and colonists who wrote this and other fine tributes to Smith in the 1612 book, The Porceedings of the English Colonie of Virginia.

An adventurer, discoverer, writer, and the best founding father of this country.

Captain John Smith risked his life, his reputation and property to establish a colony in America. He contributed a great deal to the creation and survival of the English Colony in America which is the birthplace of the United States.

It is great to have someone with such good character as Smith as a founder of this great country.


Traits Of Character of Founding Fathers (Page XIV The Spirit of “Seventy Six” 2002 )

The authors of The Spirit of “Seventy Six” list traits they identify with the founding fathers of America such as ” he is independent, he is impatient of discipline, equalitarian,has little patience with those who claim to be his superior,is ambitious and avaricious, and much given to speculation an getting ahead. He is literate, takes an active part in politics and carries into camp the habits of self-government. He does not like fighting for it’s own sake, but fights well when he as to; he has little use of military hierarchy and bucks like a colt against taking orders. He is ingenious and practical, prefers a stone wall to an open field, and a timely retreat to a foolhardy advance. He is young and tough and survives hardships and diseases that would wipe out his more vulnerable descendents; he live simply and unaffectedly. He is on the whole cheerful and good humored, decent and honest, and commits few crimes against persons (unless they are Indians) .

How Captain John Smith is alike and how he differs from the other Forefathers

I identify all of these good traits above in Captain John Smith, But John Smith has exceptionally outstanding traits not exhibited by other American Forefathers. Smith was fair with the Indians and committed no crimes against them. Smith hated slavery and would never have stood for it. Smith was not avaricious (will do anything for money) but exhibited the most kindness in every way. When he was awarded a giant amount of money from a case of false accusation, Smith donated this to the colony. That Smith bucked the system when he received poor orders is a certainty. He wrote back to the investors of the London company that there was no Gold, that more laborers were needed, etc. The investors who were trying to sell the stock did not want to hear this. The London Company investors would eventually act and follow all of Smith’s recommendations.


Book Recommendations

Books that you can find in most good libraries, some times on eBay or on

There have been many books written about Captain John Smith. Unfortunately, many authors have made gross errors in fact. Some factual errors seem to be their desire to generate controversy , others because they have not done enough research themselves.


****** Smith wrote his own illustrated autobiographies ******

………Read Captain John Smith’s writings 

 in his own words?


Travels and works of Captain John Smith… Edited by Edward Arber…

Arber’s book contains most if not all of the writings of  of Captain John Smith. Below is a list of writing’s of Smith.

John Smith’s writings of Virginia and New England are written in a very remarkable, straightforward, and a direct narrative style. Unfortunantly his diaries are lost but his books remain.


My favorite book about Smith

written by an admirer

The American Dream by J.A. Leo Lemay, 1991 

This book examines the character of Captain John Smith. This book is not a saga, nor meant to be a biography, but it is an examination of Smith’s life, his relationships with friends and enemies. It also includes explanations of errors written about Smith by authors of the past.

This author has done a complete job in this book, leaving out nothing. I realize that this author (Lemay) has come to admire Csaptain John Smith as I do, as one of the most interesting and awesome individuals who has lived.  


My recommendation for new readers

“Fearless Captain: The Adventures of John Smith” by Aleck Loker, 2006

“The book corrects some of the erroneous stories of Captain John Smith contained in the Pocahontas cartoon and the recently released Hollywood movie about John Smith and Pocahontas. With the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas coming next year, this book will help put that important milestone into its historical perspective.”

This is available from, and from local bookstores. This hardcover book contains more than 180 pages and has 52 color illustrations, with a retail price is $26.95 Hardcover ISBN: 1931798834, Pub. Date: April 2006,Series: Founders of the Republic , Age Range: 12 and up

My recommendation for more serious readers

Captain John Smith  by Bradford Smith, 1953A very good read about Captain John Smith.

Bradford Smith in 1968 donated a window of John Smith in the church where Smith is burried, St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate in London. Captain Smith is shown in the central panel with his navigational instruments around his feet. The outer panels show his patrons, Robert Bertie and Samuel Saltonstall. Above are the three little ships in which the pioneers crossed the Atlantic.


My recommendation for further reading by a respected historian on Smith

A book (large) most often referenced by historians is The Three Worlds of Captain John Smith by Philip Barbour, 1964

Barbour admired Smith so much that he contributed beautiful stained glass windows depicting events of Smith life to Smith’s church in Willoughby, Lincolnshire. In the Chancel (south side) – are the The Virginia Windows, the John Smith Window and the St. Helena Window were all gifts to this church from Philip L. Barbour




Smith, better than any other leader followed the Instructions for Virginia prepared by the London Company

Captain John Smith led the most interesting and productive life of adventure and discovery of anyone in history.


An example of Smith’s Character is found in a pep talk delivered by Captain John Smith to his men when 12 days into exploring the Chesapeake bay in an open boat, when their bread was spoiled, the men tired and wished to turn back.

“Gentlemen”, ” what shame would it be for you to force me to returned with a months provision, scarce able to say where we have been, nor yet heard of that wee were sent to seeke. You cannot say but I have shared wit you of the worst that is past; and for what is to come, of lodging, diet, or whatsoever, I am contented you allot the worst part to myself. As for your fears that I will lose myself in these unknowne large warters, or be swallowed up in some stormie gust: abandon those childish fears, for worse then is past cannot happen, and there is as much danger to returne, as to proceed forward. Regaine therefore your old spirits : for return I will not (if God assist me) til I have seene the Massawomeekes, found Patowomeck, or the head of this great water you conceit to be endlesse.”written by Dr. Walter Russell and Anas Todkill


The name of captain John Smith will ever be associated with the foundation of Virginia.

“Captain John Smith was the greatest single founder of the English Colonies in America” A. J. Leo Lemay 1991

I wish to make you aware of this great man. As a figure in the history of this country and it’s creation, he should be known and admired. He practiced the highest morals of personal character throughout his life. His decision making in difficult situations is inspirational.

John Smith was a self-made man. A farmers son who was a tenant of Lord Willoughby. John Smith knew the Willoughby’s sons. He undoubtedly heard the ballad of Lord Willoughby’s exploits and was influenced by it. After the death of his father when he was 16, left his English homeland to seek a life of adventure with honor. The life he led in his latter teens and early adulthood was nothing less that awesome. If you would indulge me to present a colorful analogy, Captain John Smith’s life of adventure in Europe reminds me of Russell Crow’s character (Maximus Decimus Meridius) in the movie Gladiator, but on steroids.

Captain John Smith led an amazing life of adventure in Europe before becoming a participant in helping assemble the venture that would later become Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement, the birthplace of our country.

Below, Captain John Smith gets to play Knight as he defeats the first of three Turks in single combat in front of tens of thousands of fellow soldiers and Turks in the walled city .

Smith & Turk

Captain John Smith fights Turkish Prince


Captain John Smith deserves better than to be maligned as he has by some authors, who have incompletely read the writings of his life, or simply formed an opinion that none could have lived such an adventurous life. Others picking up on these negative writings have perpetuated these erroneous conclusions.

When Captain John Smith was horribly injured aboard a ship at Jamestown, some of the factional element who feared what Captain John Smith might say about them on his return to England, made a plan to kill him. One entered his cabin aboard ship with a gun but did not complete the plan (“their heart did fail them” as Captain John Smith recounted later). Captain John Smith’s soldiers offered to kill those who made the attempt, but Captain John Smith would not have it so.

Like Captain John Smith’s soldiers who offered to exterminate his enemy’s who sought to kill him, I offer herein to defend him. I will defend him with my pen (or rather words created on a computer keyboard). I hope to dispatch their disparaging words to the graveyard. I hope those who misinterpret and write falsehoods see the error of their ways and become supporters of Captain John Smith. Smith’s best defenders are those who served with him and soldiers and colonists.

John Smith had many friends who wrote their thoughts and praise. and had many kind words to speak of him as such:


Captain John Smith developed a love for America. It was his child.

Smith had amazing thoughts on slavery in America before there was any slavery. Smith had been a slave to the Turks after being wounded on the field of battle, captured and sold into slavery.

Captain John Smith was the model of a true Virginia gentleman.

Smith’s forbearance not to retaliate against the Indians after the many attempts on his life is unprecedented in American history.

Of those leaders in charge, before or after Smith at Jamestown, Captain John Smith would be the best friend the Indians ever had.

He treated the Indians better than any other leader to follow. There were several reason for his forbearance. First, he was charged to keep the peace. Second, he realized that retaliation to the ambushes would escalate into war, loss of life on both sides and loss of trade food from the Indians. Smith had self-confidence in his ability to prevent ambushes. To prevent a war, he would accept the apology and the presents the Indians would deliver after their failed ambush upon him. “We maie thought verie patient to endure all thise injuries. Yet onlie with fearing them, we got what they had: whereas if we had taken revenge, thn by their losss, we whou,d have lost our selves.” Smith

John Smith saved the Jamestown Colony. In the early days of Virginia, that colony depended for its life and preservation on his firmness and courage.

Not only was he, in his own person, an adventurer, explorer and settler, as well as a writer and recorder, but he had an intense belief in the necessity to this country of possessing a powerful navy.

Philosophy of Captain John Smith

Reading Captain John Smith’s works gives one insight into his highly moral character and desire to do good. Please read some of my favorite of Smith’s thoughts, his philosophy of life which I have recorded for you.

Smith apologized for his ability as a writer on many occasions but his writing was among the best of the times.


John Smith, this farmers son, would make amazing maps. He obviously was a quick study of things of interest which was almost everything he encountered.

From his base at Jamestown, Smith would map this the Chesapeake Bay making an amazingly accurate map under difficult and harrowing circumstances. After the mapping expedition, Smith would become the colony’s president, service a great year sustaining the colonists and keeping them alive. But near the end of his year as president, Smith would be horribly injured by ignition of gunpowder on his abdomen while sleeping. He would have to return home. After recovering back in England, Smith would later map the Northern coast of Virginia naming it New England. He would become a writer of books.


Captain John Smith would make awesome maps.

A beautiful version of his 1612 map of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay area is below

Captain John Smith's map

Captain John Smith’s 1612 map of the Chesapeake Bay


If you wish to purchase a copy of this map, click the link below.


“…a country that may have the prerogative over the most pleasant places known, for large and pleasant navigable rivers, heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation…” Captain John Smith, 1612 

an amazing map by an amazing man

Smith’s map of Virginia was first published in 1612. It designates the locations of over 200 American Indian villages. The map was produced from notes made by Smith when he surveyed the Chesapeake during his 1608 voyage of exploration and his earlier explorations of nearby rivers. His map is a remarkably accurate considering that he was using just a compass and visual sightings from a 30-foot open boat,  as pictured below.

Below are statements regarding Smith’s map by E. M. Sanchez-Saavedra in “A Description of the Country, Virginia Cartographers and Their Maps 1607-1881, published by the Virginia State Library Richmond 1975.

Smith’s map was perhaps the most influential piece of cartography in Virginia history. For the first three quarters of the seventeenth century, the topography of Virginia was known to the outside world only through maps based on Smith’s work. Smith’s map stands apart as a relatively scientific document. (as late as 1873 it was used as a primary source in the Virginia-Maryland dispute). Smith’s map is an amazingly accurate depiction of Virginia’s coastlines, watercourses and landmarks.

“The modern reader may wonder why Smith drew his map sideways. Prior to the 18th century, maps were customarily drawn from the point of view of a sailor approaching land from the sea.”

Perhaps it’s most amazing feature is it’s forthright distinction made between those areas based on Smith’s personal observation and those derived from hearsay accounts from the Indians.  Smith, a true man of the Renaissance, was aware of the difference between legend and reality, and he was serious enough about the accuracy of his  map to express the limits of his explorations. By stating that “to the crosses hath bin discover’d what beyond is by relation,” he elevated his work well above that of many contemporaries, who placed mythical lands and waters at random throughout their creations.

This map is available for purchase at Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestown or from me (email me).


Captain John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay in a sail / rowboat like this

Shallop similar to the one Smith used to explore the Chesapeake in 1608

photo above from Plymouth Plantation web site

Contact me if you wish to purchase copies of Smith’s map of the Chesapeake Bay.

These maps are very clear (guaranteed) . The maps are 17″x22″ and are attractive

The cost of the maps are:

color Virginia map is $22

black and white Chesapeake Bay map is $6.

Please add plus $4 shipping (no extra cost for combined shipping in same tube).

envelope to signigy viewer to email me

Smith’s map of Virginia’s northern coast which he himself would name New England.

1616 – John Smith published A Description of New England (with map), which he so named, based on his voyage in 1614

Smith's map of New England

Captain John Smith’s map of New England

Captain Christopher Jones (captain of the Mayflower) could rely on the map made by Captain John Smith who had published A Description of New England in 1616. (Smith’s map) was made after a detailed exploration of the coast. It was the first to use the name ‘New England’, and it was on this map that the site of the Pilgrim Fathers’ later settlement was named Plymouth.

This map of New England is now available for sale

The cost of the Black & White New England map is $12

Please add plus $4 shipping (no extra cost for combined shipping in same tube).

envelope email link

Captain John Smith's image from New England Map©

Writings of  Captain John Smith

John Smith’s writings of Virginia and New England are written in a very remarkable, straightforward, and a direct narrative style. It is presumed he recorded events in a diary as he lived them. This we do know he did when captured by pirates.  It is our misfortune that  his diaries were lost.

“Smith’s sea experiences deserve a place in the literature of the sea above most men”.

Works by John Smith (1580-1631)
1608A True Relation of such occurrences and accidents of note as hath hapned in Virginia since the first planting of that Colony. This is a publication of a letter Smith sent back 14 months after arrival to an unidentified friend who edited it then published it. From this letter the English world will be provided provided the earliest account of the Virginia settlement. Either Smith did not mention his rescue by the Indian princess Pocahontas, or it was edited out before publication.
1612A Map Of Virginia with a Description of the Country. Smith continues his account of the Jamestown settlement during his governorship.The Porceedings of the English Colonie of Virginia (second part of book) whose authors are listed as Thomas Studley, Anas Todkill, Walter Russell, Nathaniel Powell, William Phettiplace, Richard Wyffin, Thomas Abby, Thomas Hope and Richard Potts . Thomas Abby said the treastise was first concieced by Richard Potts who had been clerk of the council in 1608 and 1609. The whole work was turned over to Reverend William Symonds
1616A Description of New England: or the Observations and Discoveries of Captain John Smith. Smith offers an account of his second exploration in North America during which he mapped the coastline of New England.
1620New England’s Trials. Smith recommends New England as a site for colonization.This was 16 pages initially in pamphlet form describing how ships would benefit that Country by sea nd land, etc. In an expanded edition in 1622 he would describe the Pilgrims’ doubtful prospects and how they might better succeed if they would take instruction from him. Smith said in 1624 that he had caused two or three thousand to be printed.
1624The General Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles. Smith chronicles the colonization of Virginia, going into more detail than in his earlier, shorter history of 1608. Included is an extensive treatment of the Pocahontas story.
1626An Accidence, or The Pathway to Experience Necessary for all Young Seamen. Smith’s manual of seamanship is illustrated with incidents from his own experiences. It would be enlarged as A Sea Grammar in 1627. It would be so popular that it would be brought out in repeated editions for the next 65 years. Smith’s name was still used on the title page of it’s 1691 edition.
1630The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captaine John Smith in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America… from 1593 to 1629. Smith provides an account of his early life and his subsequent adventures in a fascinating, though unreliable, autobiography.
1631Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England. Written shortly before Smith’s death, this work offers practical advice to the Massachusetts settlers and includes an autobiographical poem, “The Sea-Mark.”








pocahontas marrying john Rolfe

John Rolfe and Pocahontas being married at Jamestown

pocahontas saving john smith

Pocahontas saves Captain John Smith

Did Pocahontas Save Captain John Smith?  The answer is yes

The Jamestown colony was the birthplace of America.

Historians agree Captain John Smith was the savior of the colony. It is logical to deduce that since Pocahontas saved Captain John Smith’s life, that makes her the savior of the colony. Just think, we oue our country to a woman.

Pocahontas Painting

Painting of Pocahontas


Later painting of Pocahontas

pocahontas and son

Pocahontas and son Thomas

portrait in Kings Lynn Museum

possibly the most realistic painiting of Pocahontas (& her son Thomas)


Pocahontas Statue

Pocahontas Statue at Jamestown


Pocahontas statue at Jamestown Island (copy is in St. Georges Church yard, England)


Captain John Smith: a reference guide / Kevin J. Haynes 1991, G.K. Hall & Co. MA

The American Dream of Captain John Smith/ J.A. Leo Lemay 1991, The University press of Virginia


Epitaph of Captain John Smith

in the Church of St. Sepulchre without Newgate, London, England

Captain John Smith
Sometime Governour of Virginia
and Admiral of New England
who departed this life the 21st of June 1631
Here lyes one conquered, that hath conquered Kings,
Subdu’d large Territories, and done Things
Which to the world impossible would seem
But that the Truth is held in more esteem.
Shall I report his former service done
In honour of his God and Christendom?
How that he did divide from Pagans three
Their heads and lives, Types of his Chivalry?
Or shall I talk of his Adventures Since,
Done in Virginia, that large Continent:
How that he subdu’d Kings unto his yoke,
And made those heathen flee, as wind doth smoke:
And made their land, being of so large a Station
An habitation for our Christian Nation
Our god is glorify’d, their Want supply’d
Which else for Necessaries must have dy’d.
But what avils his Conquests, now he lyes
Interr’d in earth, a Prey to Worms and Flyes?
O may his soul in sweet Elysium sleep,
Until the Keeper that all Souls doth keep,
Return to Judgement, and that after thence,
With angels he may his Recompense



John Smith, a farmer’s son, grew up playing with the sons of Lord Willoughby who lived near by. He certain would have been awed as a youth by Lord Willoughby’s tales of adventure. Below is a poem that was circulating in England about the exploits of Lord Willoughby that John Smith as a youth would have heard many times. It is my opinion that the Willoughby’s would have the greats influence on John Smith’s character and life.

My Lord Willoughbies Welcome Home

Melody – “Lord Willoughby”
from Percy’s Reliquairies of English Poetry

The fifteenth day of July, with glist’ning speare & shield,
A famous fight in Flanders was foughten in the field:
The most couragious officers were the English captains three,
But the bravest in the Battel was brave Lord Willoughby.2. The next was Captain Norris a valiant man was he;
The other Captain Turner, that from field would never flee;
With fifteen hundred fighting men, alas, there was no more,
They fought with forty thousand then, upon that bloody shore.

3. Stand to it, noble Pike-men, and look you round about;
And shoot you right, you Bow-men, and we will keep them out;
You Musquet and Calliver men, do you prove ture to me,
I’le be the foremost man in fight, says brave Lord Willoughby.

4. And then the bloody enemy they fiercely did assail,
They fought it out most furiously not doubting to prevail,
The wounded men on both sides fell most piteous for to see,
Yet nothing could the courage quell of brave Lord Willoughby.

5. For seven hours in all mens view the fight endured sore,
Until our men so feeeble grew that they could fight no more,
And them upon dead horses full savourly they eat
And drank the puddle water, they could no better get.

6. And when they fed so freely, they kneeled on the ground,
And praised God devoutely for the courage they had found,
And beating up their colours the fight they did renew,
And turning toward the Spanyards, a thousand more they slew.

7. The sharp steel-pointed Arrows and Bullets thick did flye;
Then did our valiant Souldiers charge on most furiously,
Which made the Spaniards waver, they thought it best to flee,
They fear’d the stout behaviour of brave Lord Willoughby.

8. Then quoth the Spanish general, Come let us march away,
I fear we shall be spoiled all, if that we longer stay,
For yonder comes Lord Willoughby, with courage fierce and fell:
He will not give one inch of way for all the Devils in Hell.

9. And then the fearful enemy was quickly put to flight,
Our men pursued courageously and rout their forces quite,
And at last they gave a shout, which echoed through the sky,
God and St. George for England! the conquerors did cry.

10. This news was brought to England will all the speed might be,
And then our gracious Queen was told of this same victory,
Oh, this is brave Lord Willoughby my love that ever won,
Of all the Lord of honour, tis he great deed hath done.

11. For souldiers that were maimed and wounded in the fray,
Our Queen allowed a pension of fifteen pence a day,
Besides all costs and charges she quit and set them free,
And this she did all for the sake of brave Lord Willoughby.

12. Then courage, noble English men, and never be dismaid,
If that we be but one to ten we will not be afraid
To fight with forraign Enemies, and set our Country free,
And thus I end the bloody bout of brave Lord Willoughby.


Causes of Problems at Jamestown

The company promised them gold, most got death

The company believed too much of their own hype of their stock venture and did not prepare themselves well enough. The did provide high quality food and beer, but did not plan for the delay the colonists would incur when starting of sitting in a rolling ship for 6 weeks waiting for fair winds.

The Company did not choose persons for the endeavor well. Too many soft-handed sons of squires, careless laboreres, etc. Smith would sum it up well later “too many gross errors have beene comitted”. They sent too many gentlemen and too few tradesmen. A distinction in classes caused problems. The upper class individuals felt they did not have to work . That was the perception they had gotten from the company. The company set up a group of seven counciulors to oversee the venture on site. But this led to infighting. A single leader with good leadership skills was needed. That person could be found in Captain John Smith,( the farmers son). But Smith was away’s having to answer to other councilors who were very difficult to say the least.

The Company over hyped the venture making it seem to those signing up to go that gold would be there for the taking . The colonists were very disappointed to find otherwise.

A poet, Michael Drayton, came down to the docks at Blackwall December 20th 1606 to see the colonist off in good form, to help get them to peak motivation. After all , it would be they who would be making the company money. Below are some verses of a poem he read the colonists as they were preparing to board the ships.


And cheerfully at sea, 
Success you still entice,
To get the pearl and gold,
And ours to hold,
Earth’s only paradise,

Where nature hath in store
Fowl, venison, and fish,
And the fruitful’st soil
Without your toil
Three harvests more,
All greater than your wish.

Company made promises they did not keep in regards to keeping their labor force re-supplied. The colonists were very disappointed to find that they were were put on very short and poor rations when the food ran short ( partly due to the voyage taking longer than anticipated). The colonists found that some in charge seemed to eat better than others. The colonists were very disappointed to find that they faced hostile Indians who were attacking almost daily. The tradesmen colonists had to put in allot of labor to build a fort while the gentlemen looked on. The common tradesman colonists were being ordered around and made to do heavy work, something they did not expect. The lower class found that gentlemen got preferential treatment and did not have to work as much as the laborer,r though both signed the same agreement and were promised the same share portions. The colonists found that if they offended certain persons in charge, they could get into allot of trouble, maybe whipped, maybe hung. The beer ran out and they were being forced to drink water from the river and later contaminated wells. They were not prepared to encounter disease during the summer months. By December 1607, approximately 60% of the colonists were dead from either Indian arrows or disease.

This turned into a survival situation for the colonists. After the fort was constructed for protection, food was necessary. Captain John Smith mainly took on the job of supply and was successful.

But, Smith’s job was made difficult by factions in the fort who where were jealous of his success, who wished to leave and were prevented from doing so by Smith, who sought power for themselves.

But the company still insisted there was gold and started treating their workers as if they were shirking their duties. The said they would starve the colonists if they did not get enough return to pay their way. The company had spend about L 20/colonist. They told Captain Newport not to bother coming  back to England if he did not bring gold, or discover the water route to the Far East or find the lost colonists from Roanoke.

The colonist found Gold, they were starving, were having to work like crazy to pay their charge (pay back the company for what they are spending to send them there), like cutting trees into clapboard, making tar and pitch from sap, sending back sassafras’s, pelts, etc. They wantet to go home but they signed up to work for 5 years. They are lucky to just see another day alive.

Most of those that signed up for this great adventure would find hardship, starvation, Indian arrows and death.

But it was not that the company was evil. They had to answer to their stockholders for the failure to earn money . They were under pressure to perform, to be successful. The Company’s failure was in miscalculating what would be needed, not taking into account possible things that could go wrong, that could affect the success of the mission.

The tents they sent were second hand and in poor condition.

In their spare time, the colonists were directed to convert the Indians to be Christians and were criticized for not do so.

Smith said ” that much they blamed us for not converting the savages when those they sent us were little better if not worse” .

Smith said the company did no better “nor did they convert any of those we sent them to England for that purpose”

Roll of Dishonor at Jamestown

Ratcliff– installed Archer as council member without authority to do so and against the rules and fellow councilor Martin’s objection. Ratcliff prosecuted and aided Archer’s designs.

Wingfield– weak leader too concerned with class and his own pot of food. Was removed as President of the council, confined aboard the ship, ordered to pay restitution to Smith for falsely accusing him of mutiny on the trip over, and was sent back to England.

Gabriel Archer– the always ambitious deceitful author of factions. Came up with a biblical reason for ordering Smith to be hung because he lost some men on a trading mission. (the loss of three men due to an ambush).

Francis West– deserted leaving others to starve

George Percy– was president during the starving time when the colonists were reduced from 500 to less than 60 in 7 months, due to Indian arrows if they left the fort, and starvation (lack of ability to gather food) if they stayed in the fort. Percy apparently suffered less during this starvation time than most others. This is probably because as President, he had the authority to kept a well stocked table for himself. August 9th, 1910, Percy led a surprise attack on a village. He did agreed to the murder of the chief of the Paspaha ‘s children and ordered the Queen slain.

Lord Delaware’- author of scorched earth policy. Ordered raids of the nearby indians.

Sir Thomas Dale- ordered and led raids of the nearby indians.

Captain Argyll-who arrived after Captain John Smith had left. He kidnapped Pocahontas. He was as unscrupulous in the execution of any plans entrusted to him. He arrived in Virginia in September, 1612, and early in the spring of 1613 he was sent on an expedition up the Patowomeck to trade for corn and to effect a capture that would bring Powhatan to terms. The Emperor, from being a friend, had become the most implacable enemy of the English. Captain Argyll says: “I was told by certain Indians, my friends, that the great Powhatan’s daughter Pokahuntis was with the great King Potowomek, whither I presently repaired, resolved to possess myself of her by any stratagem that I could use, for the ransoming of so many Englishmen as were prisoners with Powhatan, as also to get such armes and tooles as he and other Indians had got by murdther and stealing some others of our nation, with some quantity of corn for the colonies relief.”

Attacks of retribution against the Indians the year after Smith left

Lord Delaware’s arrival saw the changed the policy of trying to keep the peace with the indian to surprise attacks in retribution for past killings of the colonists by the Indians. Delaware’s was above being rebuked by the company management back home. He ordered attacks. This would set the policy henceforth for the next few years.

After Smith returned to England, and Lord Delaware arrived and pursued a scorched earth policy.

Percy said, Sir Thomas Gates led a surprise attack of revenge on the Kekowhatan village. “Upon landing, a taborer, was directed to play his flute and dance to  allure the Indians near, where “espying a fitting opportunity, fell upon them, put five to the sword, wounding many others.”

August 9th, 1910, Percy led a surprise attack on a village. He did agreed to the murder of the chief of the Paspaha ‘s children and ordered the chief’s wife , the queen, killed. In Percy’s own words, during his surprise attack on the village” My lieutenant bringing with him the queen and her children and one Indian prisoners, I taxed (rebuked) him because he had spared them, his answer was that, having them now in my custody, I might do with them what I pleased. Upon the same, I caused the Indians head to be cut off; “, and then ” it was agreed upon to put the children to death, the which was effected by throwing them overboard and shooting out their brains in the water.”, and later he was told by Captain Davis that the “lord general (Lord Delaware) seemed to be discontent because the queen was spared”. Percy, not wishing his lord general to be discontented, ordered the queen to be put to sword in the woods. In writing later, Percy said “although Captain Davis told me it was my lord’s direction (to kill the queen), I am persuaded to the contrary.”

Percy said Argyll, at the direction of Lord Delaware, led an attack on the village of Wariscoyans. But he says , the Indian being warned, had fled and the village houses and corn was torched.

As a warning to others, Percy said, Lord Delaware ordered the head of an Indian visiting the fort to be cut off after it was presumed he was a spy.

Percy said Sir Thomas Dale led 100 men against the Nancemondies where he had many skirmishes.


Captain John Smith: a reference guide / Kevin J. Haynes 1991, G.K. Hall & Co. MA

The American Dream of Captain John Smith/ J.A. Leo Lemay 1991, The University press of Virginia

Below I have printed the Instructions of the London Company for the Virginia Company for 1606 and a portion of their instruction for 1609.Notice how the Instructions from the Virginia Colony change in how they instruct the colonists to deal with the natives.

in 1606 the instructions are : you must have great care not to offend the naturals [natives]

in 1609 the instructions are : you must remove from them (steal) some children and make them prisoners and to make Powhatan a prisoner or make him and other chiefs of tribes pay tribute.

Instructions for the Virginia Colony, 1606

As we doubt not but you will have especial care to observe the ordinances set down by the King’s Majesty and delivered unto you under the Privy Seal; so for your better directions upon your first landing we have thought good to recommend unto your care these instructions and articles following.

When it shall please God to send you on the coast of Virginia, you shall do your best endeavour to find out a safe port in the entrance of some navigable river, making choice of such a one as runneth farthest into the land, and if you happen to discover divers portable rivers, and amongst them any one that hath two main branches, if the difference be not great, make choice of that which bendeth most toward the North-West for that way you shall soonest find the other sea.

When you have made choice of the river on which you mean to settle, be not hasty in landing your victuals and munitions; but first let Captain Newport discover how far that river may be found navigable, that you make election of the strongest, most wholesome and fertile place; for if you make many removes, besides the loss of time, you shall greatly spoil your victuals and your caske, and with great pain transport it in small boats.

But if you choose your place so far up as a bark of fifty tuns will float, then you may lay all your provisions ashore with ease, and the better receive the trade of all the countries about you in the land; and such a place you may perchance find a hundred miles from the river’s mouth, and the further up the better. For if you sit down near the entrance, except it be in some island that is strong by nature, an enemy that may approach you on even ground, may easily pull you out; and if he be driven to seek you a hundred miles [in] the land in boats, you shall from both sides of the river where it is narrowest, so beat them with your muskets as they shall never be able to prevail against you.

And to the end that you be not surprired as the French were in Florida by Melindus, and the Spaniard in the same place by the French, you shall do well to make this double provision. First, erect a little stoure at the mouth of the river that may lodge some ten men; with whom you shall leave a light boat, that when any fleet shall be in sight, they may come with speed to give you warning. Secondly, you must in no case suffer any of the native people of the country to inhabit between you and the sea coast; for you cannot carry yourselves so towards them, but they will grow discontented with your habitation, and be ready to guide and assist any nation that shall come to invade you; and if you neglect this, you neglect your safety.

When you have discovered as far up the river as you mean to plant yourselves, and landed your victuals and munitions; to the end that every man may know his charge, you shall do well to divide your six score men into three parts; whereof one party of them you may appoint to fortifie and build, of which your first work must be your storehouse for victuals; the other you may imploy in preparing your ground and sowing your corn and roots; the other ten of these forty you must leave as centinel at the haven1s mouth. The other forty you may imploy for two months in discovery of the river above you, and on the country about you; which charge Captain Newport and Captain Gosnold may undertake of these forty discoverers. When they do espie any high lands or hills, Captain Gosnold may take twenty of the company to cross over the lands, and carrying a half dozen pickaxes to try if they can find any minerals. The other twenty may go on by river, and pitch up boughs upon the bank’s side, by which the other boats shall follow them by the same turnings. You may also take with them a wherry, such as is used here in the Thames; by which you may send back to the President for supply of munition or any other want, that you may not be driven to return for every small defect.

You must observe if you can, whether the river on which you plant doth spring out of mountains or out of lakes. If it be out of any lake, the passage to the other sea will be more easy, and [it] is like enough, that out of the same lake you shall find some spring which run[s] the contrary way towards the East India Sea; for the great and famous rivers of Volga, Tan[a]is and Dwina have three heads near joynd; and yet the one falleth into the Caspian Sea, the other into the Euxine Sea, and the third into the Paelonian Sea.

In all your passages you must have great care not to offend the naturals [natives], if you can eschew it; and imploy some few of your company to trade with them for corn and all other . . . victuals if you have any; and this you must do before that they perceive you mean to plant among them; for not being sure how your own seed corn will prosper the first year, to avoid the danger of famine, use and endeavour to store yourselves of the country corn.

Your discoverers that pass over land with hired guides, must look well to them that they slip not from them: and for more assurance, let them take a compass with them, and write down how far they go upon every point of the compass; for that country having no way nor path, if that your guides run from you in the great woods or desert, you shall hardly ever find a passage back.

And how weary so ever your soldiers be, let them never trust the country people with the carriage of their weapons; for if they run from you with your shott, which they only fear, they will easily kill them all with their arrows. And whensoever any of yours shoots before them, be sure they may be chosen out of your best marksmen; for if they see your learners miss what they aim at, they will think the weapon not so terrible, and thereby will be bould to assault you.

Above all things, do not advertize the killing of any of your men, that the country people may know it; if they perceive that they are but common men, and that with the loss of many of theirs they diminish any part of yours, they will make many adventures upon you. If the country be populous, you shall do well also, not to let them see or know of your sick men, if you have any; which may also encourage them to many enterprizes.

You must take especial care that you choose a seat for habitation that shall not be over burdened with woods near your town; for all the men you have, shall not he able to cleanse twenty acres a year; besides that it may serve for a covert for your enemies round about.

Neither must you plant in a low or moist place, because it will prove unhealthful. You shall judge of the good air by the people; for some part of that coast where the lands are low, have their people blear eyed, and with swollen bellies and legs; but if the naturals he strong and clean made, it is a true sign of a wholesome soil.

You must take order to draw up the pinnace that is left with you, under the fort: and take her sails and anchors ashore, all but a small kedge to ride by; least some ill-dispositioned persons slip away with her.

You must take care that your marriners that go for wages, do not mar your trade; for those that mind not to inhabite, for a little gain will debase the estimation of exchange, and hinder the trade for ever after; and therefore you shall not admit or suffer any person whatsoever, other than such as shall be appointed by the President and Counsel there, to buy any merchandizes or other things whatsoever.

It were necessary that all your carpenters and other such like workmen about building do first build your storehouse and those other rooms of publick and necessary use before any house be set up for any private person: and though the workman may belong to any private persons yet let them all work together first for the company and then for private men.

And seeing order is at the same price with confusion, it shall be adviseably done to set your houses even and by a line, that your street may have a good breadth, and be carried square about your market place and every street’s end opening into it; that from thence, with a few field pieces, you may command every street throughout; which market place you may also fortify if you think it needfull.

You shall do well to send a perfect relation by Captaine Newport of all that is done, what height you are seated, how far into the land, what commodities you find, what soil, woods and their several kinds, and so of all other things else to advertise particularly; and to suffer no man to return but by pasport from the President and Counsel, nor to write any letter of anything that may discourage others.

Lastly and chiefly the way to prosper and achieve good success is to make yourselves all of one mind for the good of your country and your own, and to serve and fear God the Giver of all Goodness, for every plantation which our Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted out.

Pocahontas . Pocohontas

Defending Smith .

Smith’s Philosophy .

Smith’s Friends .

Timeline of Jamestown’s History

Ambushes attempted on Captain John Smith .

Factions at Jamestown .

Who Shot JR ? Who was Jr? —-we don’t know yet who shot him but JR’s idenity is revealed .

Questions about Captain John Smith .

Timeline of History at Jamestown .

Some common questions often asked about Captain John Smith and Pocahontas

Was Captain John Smith ever married ? No

Are there decendents of Captain John Smith? There is no record of him having any children

Did Captain John Smith love Pocahontas? He propably loved her as a friend. Smith estimated that Pocahontas was 11 years old when she saved him from having his brains beaten out with clubs in late December 1607. Pocahontas, when seeing Captain John Smith in England some 10 years later said to him “you shall call me child and I will call you father”.

How did Captain John Smith die and how old was he? Captain John Smith died at 51 years old. It seems that the end cam rather quickly. He was very weak the last days of his life and could barely write.

Who did Pocahontas marry? Pocahontas married Master John Rolfe in 1614.

When did Pocahontas die? March 1617 at 21 years old. She had one child, named Thomas Rolfe.


Pocahontas was married to an Indian prior to marring Master Jophn Rolfe. Pocahontas apparently had married an Indian “pryvate Captayne” named Kocoum.

Captain John Smith in the movie "The New World"

Captain John Smith in the movie “The New World”

The New World movie

The New World movie is a fictional drama of the birth of our country. It’s best features is it’s authentic looking costumes, fort, natives and weapons which help give the viewer the feeling of what the land looked like when the colonists arrived. A second value is that it introduces viewers to the events that took place (thought inaccurate and flawed). Unfortunately, the producers have seen fit to distort the history of Jamestown, events concerning Captain John Smith and also Pocahontas.

This movie “The New World” turns out to be a 2 hour soap opera focusing on Colin Farrell who appears to be under the influence of drugs the whole movie. He has few lines and seems like he would rather be somewhere else. Rather than acting the part of the strong character of Captain John Smith, the savior of the colony, Farrell is listless, often gazing off in the distance or at the ground. No history is represented correctly. That it claimed to be based on historical events is a distortion. It is as if when making this movie, historical events were put into a hat and of the very few withdrawn to be used, they were then placed in random order, and then distorted. This is one of the the worst movies ever. Even Disney’s earlier movies of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, with it’s corruption of Jamestown history, did it better!

Come to Jamestown and hear the true story. It is awesome.

Hopefully one day, someone will tell the true story in a movie. The true story will be better than anything that could be fabricated.

This is a work in progress last updated 5/24/06

Check back to see new additions .

I would like to hear any comments visitors have about my pages of Captain John Smith or Pocahontas. Please click on the email envelope below to send me an email.

John Sutton

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