Home > 006210. Thomas Harris, 006211. Audrey Hoare > Notes on American History

Notes on American History

Source: Rev. Edward D. Neill, “Notes on American History,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 30[1876].

[page 410]

No. IX.


Among the most important measures, inaugurated after Sir Edwin SANDYS became the presiding officer of the London Company, was the transportation of virtuous young women to Virginia.

On the 3d of November, O.S., 1619, SANDYS at the usual weekly meeting of the Company suggested “that a fit hundred might be sent of women, maids young and uncorrupt to make wives to the inhabitants.”

At the regular quarterly meeting held on Wednesday the 17th of the same month he again alluded to the subject.  “He understood that the people thither transported, though seated there in their persons for some four years, are not settled in their minds to make it their place of rest and continuance; but having gotten some wealth to return again to England.  For the remedying of that mischief and of the establishing a perpetuity of the plantation he advised to send them over one hundred young maids to become wives, that wives, children and families might make them less movable, and settle them together with their posterity in that soil.”

First Shipment of Maids.

The first shipment to the number of ninety was made by the “Jonathan” and “London Merchant,” vessels which arrived in May, 1620, at Jamestown.

In a circular of the London Company dated July 18, 1620, they declare their intention to send more young women like “the ninety which have been lately sent.”

Shipment per “Marmaduke.”

In August, 1621, the Marmaduke left the Thames for Virginia with a letter to the Governor, from which we extract the following:

“We send you in this ship one widow and eleven maids for wives for the people in Virginia.”

A choice Lot.

“There hath been especial care had in the choice of them for there hath not any one of them been received but upon good commendations, as by a note herewith sent you may perceive.”

[page 411]

To be cared for.

“We pray you all therefore in general to take them into your care, and most especially we recommend them to you Mr. POUNTES, that at their first landing they may be housed, lodged, and provided for of diet till they be married, for such was the haste of sending them away, we had no means to put provisions aboard, which defect shall be supplied by the Magazine ship.  In case they cannot be presently married, we desire they may be put to several householders that have wives, till they can be provided of husbands.”

More to come.

“There are near fifty more which are shortly to come, sent by the Earl of Southampton, and certain worthy gentlemen, who taking into their consideration, that the Plantation can never flourish till families be planted, and the respect of wives and children fix the people in the soil, therefore have given this fair beginning.”

Price of a Wife.

“For the reimbursing of whose charges, it is ordered that every man who marries one of them gives 120lb weight of best leaf tobacco, and in case any of them die, that proportion must be advanced to make it up, upon those who survive.”

Marriage to be Free.

“We pray you to be fathers to them in this business, not enforcing them to marry against their wills; neither send we them to be servants but in case of extremities, for we would have their condition as much better as multitudes may be allured thereby to come unto you.  And you may assure such men as marry these women, that the first servants sent over by the Company shall be consigned to them, it being our intent to preserve families and proper married men, before single persons.”

The Marmaduke Maids Married.

With the help of an old Virginia muster roll, we have found out that four of the twelve that came in the Marmaduke were married, and alive in 1624.

Maiden. Husband. His arrival.
Adria married Tho’s HARRIS Ship Prosperous, May, 1610
Anna Tho’s DOUGHTY ”    Marigold, 1619
Katharine Rob’t FISHER ”    Elizabeth, 1611
Ann Nich. BAYLY ”    Jonathan, 1620

Consignment by the “Warwick” and “Tiger.”

On Sept. 11, 1621, the London Company again write:

“By this ship [Warwick] and pinnace called the Tiger we also send as many maids and young women as will make up the number of fifty, with those twelve formerly sent in the Marmaduke, which we hope shall be received with the same Christian piety and charity as they were sent from hence.”

[page 412]

Price of a Wife raised.

“The providing for them at their first landing and disposing of them in marriage we leave to your care and wisdom to take that order as may most conduce to their good and the satisfaction of the Adventurers for the charges disbursed in setting them forth, which coming to £12 and upwards, they require 150lbs of the best leaf tobacco for each of them.  This increase of thirty pounds weight since those sent in the Marmaduke they have resolved to make, finding the great shrinkage and other losses upon the tobacco from Virginia will not bear less.”

Extraordinary Care in Selection.

“We have used extraordinary care and diligence in the choice of them, and have received none of whom we have not had good testimony of their honest life and carriage, which together with their names, we send enclosed for the satisfaction of such as shall marry them.” […]

At a quarterly meeting of the London Company on Nov. 21, 1621, it was mentioned that care had been taken to provide the planters in Virginia with “young, handsome and honestly educated maids,” whereof sixty were already sent. […]

[page 413]


Sir George BOWLES or BOLLES, the Lord Mayor of London, and the Aldermen thereof in 1617, “fearing lest the overflowing multitude of inhabitants should, like too much blood, infect the whole city with plague and poverty,” devised as a remedy, the transportation to Virginia of their overflowing multitude, and in 1618-19 one hundred children were sent to Virginia.

The next year, 1619, the Mayor Sir William COCKAINE resolved to ease the city of many that were ready to starve, and conferred with the Virginia Company.  The following memorial from the Company was presented to the Mayor and Aldermen.

[page 414]

“The Treasurer and Company of Virginia assembled in their great and general Court, the 17th of November, 1619, have taken into consideration, the continual great forwardness of this honourable City, in advancing the plantation of Virginia, and particularly in furnishing one hundred children this last year, which by the goodness of God have safely arrived (save such as died on the way) and are well pleased we doubt not, for this benefit, for which your bountiful assistance we in the name of the whole Plantation, do yield unto you deserved thanks.

“And forasmuch as we have resolved to send this next spring very large supplies for the strength and increasing of the Colony styled by the name of the London Colony, and find that the sending of these children to be apprenticed hath been very grateful to the people, we pray your Lordship and the rest, to renew the like favours and furnish us again with one hundred more for the next spring.

“Our desire is, that we may have them of twelve years old and upward, with allowance of £3 apiece for their transportation, and 40s. apiece for their apparel as was formerly granted.  They shall be apprenticed, the boys till they come to 21 years of age; the girls till like age, or till they be married. * * * And so we leave this motion to your honourable and grave consideration.”

The City co-operated in procuring the second company of children, but some were unwilling to leave London, as the following letter of Sir Edwin SANDYS, the presiding officer of the Company, written in January, 1620, N.S., to Sir Robert NAUNTON, one of the King’s Secretaries, indicates.

“The City of London have appointed one hundred children from the superfluous multitude to be transported to Virginia, there to be bound apprentices upon very beneficial conditions.  They have also granted £500 for their passage and outfit.  Some of the ill-disposed, who under severe masters in Virginia may be brought to goodness, and of whom the City is especially desirous to be disburdened, declare their unwillingness to go.  The City wanting authority to deliver, and the Virginia Company to transport these children against their will, desire higher authority to get over the difficulty.”

The necessary authority was granted, and the second company of children duly shipped.

In April, 1622, it was proposed to send a third company, but no data can be found to show that they sailed.

No. XII.


It must always be regretted that the London Company did not keep a proper ship and passenger register.  The good Nicholas

[page 415]

FERRAR, Dep. Gov. of the Company, on Oct. 23, 1622, alluded to the errors of management in the transportation of persons and goods.  He alluded to ships now going from London and other parts, and that “there was no note or register kept of the names of persons transported whereby himself and other officers were not able to give any satisfaction to the persons that did daily and hourly enquire after their friends gone to Virginia.”

The following list of vessels, made up from various sources, although not complete, approaches to accuracy, and is submitted for correction.

Ships which arrived at Jamestown.


1607 April Susan Constant1 100 Tons Capt.     Chris. NEWPORT, 71 passengers
God Speed 40    “ ” Bart. GOSNOLD, 52        “
Discovery 20    “ ” John RATCLIFFE, 20        “
1607-8 Jan’y John and Francis2 ” NEWPORT, 50 colonists
1608 April Phoenix3 ” NELSON, 70       “
Oct. Mary Margaret ” NEWPORT, 60       “
1609 July Discovery4 ” Robt TINDAL, Factor Sam. ARGALL
Aug. Diamond ” RATCLIFFE, GATES & SOMERS Fleet
Falcon ” MARTIN, NELSON Master
Blessing ” ARCHER, ADAMS
Swallow5 ” MOORE
Virginia6 ” DAVIES, Built in 1607 at Sagadahoc
1610 May Deliverance 70 tons7 } Built at Bermudas, and brought GATES
Patience 30 } and SOMERS with 100 colonists
June Delaware Lord DELAWARE’s fleet
Blessing ”              “
Hercules ”              “
Oct. Dainty Brought 12 men, 1 woman, 2 or 3 horses
1611 April Hercules ”       30 colonists
May Elizabeth DALE’s fleet
Mary and James
Aug. Star8 GATES
Three Carvills

1 The Susan Constant, Capt. NEWPORT, left Jamestown for England with mineral and forest specimens on 22 June, 1607, and arrived in the Thames in less than five weeks.

2 Loaded with iron ore, sassafras, cedar posts, and walnut wood, sailed from Jamestown 10th of April, and on 20th of May reached England.  The iron ore seems to have been smelted, and 17 tons sold to East India Co. at £4 per ton.

3 Capt. NELSON returned to England in July, 1608.

4 Discovery brought no passengers nor supplies, but was intended for private trade.

5 Twenty-eight or thirty were sent in ship Swallow to trade for corn with the Indians.  They stole away with what was the best ship, and some became pirates.  Others returned to England and told the tragical story of a man at Jamestown so pinched with hunger as to eat his dead wife. – See Purchas, vol. iv, p. 1757.

6 This vessel was built at Sagadahoc by the Popham colonists in 1607.  Disheartened by POPHAM’s death they set sail for England in a ship from Exeter, “and in the new pynnace the Virginia.”– Hakluyt Pub., vol. vi, p. 180.

7 The Deliverance was built by Richard FROBISHER. – See New-Eng. Hist. And Gen. Reg., vol. xxviii, p. 317, for a sketch of this shipwright.

8 In the autumn of 1611 the Star, of 300 tons, sailed from Jamestown for England with forty fair and large pines for masts.–Hakluyt Pub., vol. vi, p. 130.

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