Wednesday, February 5, 2014

1609 - Henry Hudson explores New York Bay

January 7, 1609 Matthew Scrivener, the former president of Jamestown, dies drowned with eight other settlers during a thunderstorm near Hog Island.
Casualties included four members of the colony council among whom Anthony, the brother of Bartholomew Gosnold.

 January 13, 1609 - the alliance between Powhatan and the Jamestown settlers seems definitively compromised.
The English had planned to deal with Powhatan for corn supply in anticipation of a starvation but the conditions hardened. The Indians required receiving forty swords in exchange for the provision of forty corn bushels. Captain Smith realized that the nature of relations based on a reciprocal gift exchange had just changed. Brass utensils had eventually grown weary to the Powhatan leader who now preferred to get weapons. The use that he intended to do was clear enough to convince John Smith of the threat of an impending attack. He took as evidence the transfer of the capital from Werowocomoco to Orapax, a village located on the upper Chickahominy River, unreachable to the English boats.
This was however not the first time that Indians got weapons. Captain Christopher Newport himself having formerly provided swords in exchange for turkeys.

January 16, 1609 - Captain John Smith arrives with his men in Pamunkey territory where he is received by the leader Opechancanough. It is actually an ambush. The Indian bowmen surround the house where the English are parleying, ready to shoot their arrows. Smith seizes then their chief and asks him to order his warriors to lower their weapons with the threat of his pistol.

Opechancanough was forced to execute and agreed to provide the promised corn to the settlers.

May 7, 1609 - George Benson pronounces in London a sermon calling for evangelizing the Native Americans of Virginia. He relies on the dedication of English preachers to impose the Gospel to the Indians including by force if needed.

March 12, 1609 - Bermuda becomes an English colony.

May 23, 1609 - the Virginia Company grants the President of the colony absolute control over the council.
King James 1 had just assigned a new charter to the Virginia Company of London conferring it greater powers. The geographical area covered the coast 200 miles both northward and southward from Point Comfort and formed a continuous strip of land linking the Atlantic Ocean to the mysterious Western sea. The main idea of the charter remained however the conversion of the Natives to the true religion. Sir Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, was besides appointed Captain General of Virginia with Sir Thomas Gates, as Lieutenant-General and Sir George Somers, Admiral.
The implication of such personalities allowed to raise important funds and to prepare, hastily, a major expedition.
The message sent by John Smith to the Virginia Company investors had apparently hit the mark. These had hoped to reap cheaply large profits without taking into account the reality in the field. Groping attempts made until there to set up a handicraft production showed inconsistent nervousness with the range of possibilities offered by the New World. Still was it necessary to put well enough wherewithals and send right people. The Third Supply was supposed to answer Smith's call.

June 2, 1609 - A nine-ship fleet (including a pinnace just built in Maine and a ketch) leaves Falmouth to Jamestown. This expedition is the most expensive and the largest never launched since began the English colonization of America, carrying no less than 600 new migrants. Its flagship captained by Christopher Newport is the Sea Venture, a 300-ton vessel whose it is also the maiden voyage. Admiral George Somers and Sir Thomas Gates, new lieutenant-general of Virginia, together with his right arm man George Yardley are on board.

The other ships were:
The Blessing captained by Gabriel Archer
The Lion captained by Richard Webb
The Falcon captained by John Martin
The Unitie captained by Thomas Wood
The Diamond captained by John Ratcliffe
The Swallow captained by George Moore
The Virginia of the North Colony captained by James Davies
The Catch with Master Matthew Fitch

July 14th, 1609 - The John & Mary captained by Samuel Argall arrives at Jamestown bringing supplies to the colonists.

Samuel Argall was then a young captain in the service of the Virginia Company. He had chosen to follow a shorter route to sail to Virginia passing through the Azores and along Bermuda, which avoided meeting Spanish ships. Having left Plymouth on May 6, he found upon his arrival the settlers in great distress and the reserves he brought allowed to relieve them during a few weeks. He had during his stay in Jamestown the opportunity to rout a Spanish ship, La Asuncion de Cristo, come from St Augustine to observe the activities of the colony.

July 25, 1609 - The fleet led by the Sea Venture commanded by Admiral George Somers and Christopher Newport, is dispersed in a hurricane that falls down on the West Indies.

July 28, 1609 - the Sea Venture is shipwrecked on the Bermudas shore. Her 150 passengers are fortunately all safe and sound.

This Third Supply led by Newport and new Admiral George Somers was the first major wave of colonization bound  for Virginia. This was also the first voyage of Christopher Newport aboard a brand new ship, the Sea Venture. The fleet which carried more than 500 would-be settlers found dispersed during a storm and while the other boats managed to stay the course to Jamestown, the Sea Venture lost her way to be deported towards the Bermudas shore. These islands discovered a century earlier were generally avoided by sailors who were wary of them. Newport and 150 castaways among whom Thomas Gates and George Somers settled there the time to refloat two new boats built both from the remains of the Sea Venture and cedar wood abounding on the islands. Newport sailed again to Jamestown that he reached only in May, 1610 later more than ten months of an endless expedition.

Admiral George Somers (Lyne Regis (Dorset) 1554 - Bermuda 1610) 
Navigator, knight and Member of Parliament, he is considered as the founder of the British Bermuda colony.
It was as Admiral of the Virginia Company that he sailed from Plymouth on June 2, 1609 aboard the Sea Venture, the flagship of a nine-vessel fleet bound for Jamestown and carrying more than 500 colonists. This one was dispersed during a storm which lasted three days. Recently been floated, the Sea Venture had more to suffer than the others. After trying vainly to seal water leaks and getting rid of all that weighed down the ship, George Somers rushed her to pitfalls to prevent it from sinking. This enabled the 150 passengers to have the safe life while they were believed officially dead after the other boats of the expedition had reached Jamestown. With the help of Thomas Gates, Somers organized the community and made build two makeshift boats named Patience and Deliverance. 142 survivors were able to sail again in May, 1610 after nine months spent in Bermuda and finally come to Jamestown.
Somers returned a few months later in Bermuda in search of provisions but he fell ill there and died on November 9, 1610.

July 30, 1609 - Coming from Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, accompanied with six other French explorers and a group of Algonquian, Montagnais and Huron warriors reaches the northern bank of the lake to which he is going to give his name (New York St.). He meets a concentration of about 200 Mohawks ready for battle near Ticonderoga.

The French firearms enabled them to spread panic within Mohawks, killing two of their leaders. Faced for the first time to these weapons of a new kind, the Indians preferred to flee.
It is likely that if this unequal fight had settled down over time, Iroquois would certainly have been all swept away but the simultaneous arrival of the first Dutch merchants and the reciprocity of the commercial interests would quickly upset the geopolitical map in curbing the French thrust. From now on, only Jesuit missionaries were, with more or less success, to persevere in their efforts to evangelize the tribes of the region.

 August 21, 1609 - Six ships of the Somers expedition reach Jamestown. They carry about 300 new settlers including men, women and children. The Catch has been however lost with all hands during a storm.

Among the newcomers were especially Gabriel Archer, back to Jamestown after a year in England and Sir Ferdinando Wenman, a nephew of Lord De La Warr, freshly appointed " Master of the Cavalry " of the colony. Both were unfortunately going to die during the next winter.

Sir Ferdinando Wenman (1676 - 1610) 
Having an aristocratic pedigree, his family possessed estates in Berkshire and Oxfordshire. The fact that his uncle Lord De La Warr was appointed general captain of Virginia allowed him to reach the position of Master of the Order of Jamestown and " General of the Cavalry". He had however little time to fulfill his new role because he died next winter during the Great Starvation which plagued the settlers.

August 28, 1609 - Henry Hudson discovers and explores Delaware Bay on the south coast of New Jersey which he calls Godijn's Bay and claims it on behalf of the Dutch East India Company.

The truce concluded the same year on April 9 between the States-General of Holland and Spain allows for the first time a civil ship flying Dutch flag to cross the Atlantic Ocean without risking to be attacked by the Spaniards.

Henry Hudson (September 12, 1570 - James Bay 1611)
English explorer. He served from the age of 16 as moss and rose gradually through the ranks to become a captain. In 1607, he sailed to the Arctic Ocean for the small Muscovy Company, in search of the Northeast passage. He went to 577 miles from the pole but was not able to go further due to ice fields. The company suspended its explorations and Hudson turned then on the side of the Dutch East India Company. He took command of a new vessel the Halve Maen (Half-Moon) with a crew of about twenty sailors. They set sail in May, 1609. After a new fruitless attempt by the Northeast, they changed course and crossed the Atlantic Ocean westward to reach finally Newfoundland in July. They spent the next four months to explore the North American Eastern coast, among which Staten Island, Manhattan, Maine and Cape Cod.
They were the first Europeans to describe this coast (although Giovanni da Verrazano already came there in 1524). After passing the island of Manhattan, Hudson began, on September 11, to sail back up the North River (Muhheakantuck), which will soon bear his name. The States General claimed later this territory as the New Netherlands and founded the colony of New Amsterdam. It is certainly Hudson himself who gave the name of Staten Island (Staaten Eyslandt), in honor of the States General.
Hudson returned to Europe in November but was arrested upon his arrival in Dartmouth to have sailed under an unrecognized foreign flag. The Netherlands were indeed still in revolt against the king of Spain and had not yet legal existence. He was however released after a brief detention.
The original logbook of Hudson's journey for the Dutch East India Company was lost, but is narrated by Johannes de Laet in his book dated 1625 " Nieuwe Wereldt ofte beschrijvinghe van West-Indien " (The New World or the description of Western India).

September 2-3, 1609 - Henry Hudson enters the bay of New York. He discovers the island of Manhattan and reaches the mouth of the Mauritius River which will later bear his name.

Hudson sent on September 6, five crewmen to explore the Narrows and the Upper Bay aboard a small boat. These were attacked by the Delaware Indians and John Coleman was killed by an arrow. Two of his companions were also injured. Hudson continued however to sail back up the river in search of the Northwest Passage but did not go beyond a position where is today the city of Albany.

The Delaware (or Lenape) were Algonquian speaking Native American people organized in clans. Hailing from the banks of the Delaware River, Hudson River and Long Island Sound, they were approximately 15 000 living in 80 villages when the first Europeans landed.
The Lenape, at least those of New-Jersey had a curious marital practice: a young man could only marry an old woman and a girl an old man. It included all the economic benefits allowing seniors to insure their old days while passing their experience on the following generations.

The Lenape were sedentary people practicing extensive slash-and-burn agriculture. They had also developed very sophisticated hunting methods to improve their resources. On the Atlantic Coast, towards Sandy Hook, in particular, they practiced intensive fishing and harvesting oysters. These were smoked in summer to be eaten in winter. These approaches allowed feed a population greater than would have allowed traditional hunting and picking.

September, 1609 - The arrival to Jamestown of the De La Warr fleet causes an influx of new settlers which makes even more delicate the question of provisions.
It became urgent to create a second establishment. It was for it decided to send George Percy and Captain John Martin with a party of volunteers to occupy Dumpling Island located on the other side of the river in Nansemond territory.
The negotiations with the Indians went quickly wrong. They killed two English messengers and John Martin decided to seize the island by force. He made ransack the Indian temple and desecrate graves, what Nansemonds answered by a series of attacks, obliging Martin to go back to Jamestown.

John Martin (c.1560 - 1632) 
Councilor of the Jamestown colony, he founded in 1616 Martin's Brandon Plantation located on the south bank of James River.
Son of Sir Richard Martin, town councilor of London and famous silversmith, he had married in 1588 Mary, the daughter of Robert Brandon, another silversmith who had the privilege of being Queen Elizabeth's supplier.
He took part in the first expedition which reached Virginia in spring, 1607 and was a member of the 13 men called to form the council asked to rule the new colony.
At the approach of winter, 1607, he opposed with John Smith to a premature return of the settlers to England, yet wished by many. He came however into conflict with Smith the following spring, when both golden refiners that Christopher Newport had made come to Jamestown were sent back to London after the efforts to discover precious metal have proved vain. John Martin lost his young son during the first year of settlement and decided, in this time, to leave for London. This return was in fact short-term. From June 1609, he sailed again to America on one of the ships of the Somers expedition and landed in Jamestown in August.
He had to make once again the trip towards England at an unknown time but returned in Virginia aboard the Swan in 1624.
John Martin died in 1632 in Martin's Brandon Plantation which he had founded in 1616.

September, 1609 - John Smith is injured by the accidental explosion of a powder bag. He is dismissed from the presidency of the colony and replaced by George Percy.[April, 1614]

The accident happened while he went down James River. Smith had made many enemies in Jamestown such as George Percy, Gabriel Archer and John Ratcliffe and it is possible that the match which was going to blow up powder was not struck by chance.
Although he had never really been appreciated by most of the settlers, John Smith had reached under his leadership to reorganize the colony in order to ensure its survival. He had made proceed to the reconstruction and extension of the fort and obliged colonists to cultivate lands near Jamestown.
He had just tried to solve the space problem raised by the arrival of newcomers by seeking to found establishments off Jamestown. Smith had for it dispatched two parties of men, one captained by Francis West had left near the James River Falls to purchase a Powhatan village led by the weroance Parahunt while the other placed under command of George Percy and captain John Martin had left towards the Nansemond territory. The operation had failed from both directions and the Percy and West groups had nearly lost 100 men in repeated skirmishes against the Indians. After John Smith's departure, some tried to discredit him with the Virginia Company by claiming in particular a secret union with Pocahontas supposed to make him a king.

September 10, 1609 - Captain George Percy replaces John Smith in the presidency of the Jamestown colony.

Unable to meet the needs for the newcomers, Percy had no other choice to avoid a revolt that split the colony into three parts, thus echoing John Smith's project. He decided to leave in Jamestown only a garrison and sent again young captain Francis West upriver to the falls while John Ratcliffe was in charge of the construction of forts towards the mouth of the river where Martin had attempted to position. The latter did not moreover delay returning to Jamestown leaving his men to fend for themselves. These rebelled and ran away for the greater part before being caught up and killed by the Indians. There was no survivor.

September 12, 1609 - Henry Hudson goes back up the New York Bay and stops in Manhattan where he makes reserve of beans and oysters from the local Indians.

September 18, 1609 - Hudson reaches near the present city of Albany where he is stopped near Mahican villages due to the shallow depth of the river.

The Mahicans reserved him a friendly welcome and consented to barter. Hudson offered them some supplies and received in exchange a prize of quality furs. He left towards the river mouth on September 23. Two incidents enameled the return trip.

October 1, 1609 - Henry Hudson's Half Moon is attacked by Munsees near the present city of Haverstraw.

The Munsees boarded his boat and it is during their visit that a warrior was caught stealing and killed while escaping with his booty. Hudson sent a boat to get back the goods but a Munsee tried to reverse the shallop and was killed in his turn. Anxious to avoid hostilities, Hudson decided to sail down the river, before being attacked, this time, by the Wappingers who gave chase on their canoes until he reached the sea on October 4.

October 3, 1609 - the Virginia of the North Colony captained by James Davies reaches Jamestown carrying 16 new settlers. She is the seventh ship of the Third Supply to arrive without damage. The Catch definitively seems to have been lost just like the Sea Venture lost sight during the storm which had struck Admiral Somers's fleet on July 25.

October 4, 1609 - Seriously burnt in the explosion of a powder bag, Captain John Smith leaves Jamestown to seek care in England. He will never return in Virginia.

October 1609 - The colonists build Fort Algernon at Point Comfort to watch the entrance of Chesapeake Bay and protect the James River mouth. Its command is assigned to captain James Davies.

James Davies had arrived in early October, 1609 to Jamestown aboard the Virginia, one of the ships being part of the Third Supply. He had previously been involved in the Popham Colony briefly settled at Fort Sagadahoc on the Maine coast under the authority of the Virginia Company of Plymouth.
He left of his colonial experience an entitled account " Relation of a voyage to Sagadahoc on 1607-1608 ".
Fort Algernon was so named in memory of  George Percy's ancestor who came to England in 1066 with William the Conqueror.

October, 1609 - George Percy sends Francis West and a party of 36 men aboard the Swallow to trade corn purchase with the Patawomecks.

It was not the first time when the Patawomecks supplied the colonists despite pressure from Powhatan. Francis West settled his mission but talks soon degenerated and he beheaded two Indians. Forced to flee hurriedly, he got on with his men to leave directly to England.

October, 1609 - young Henry Spelman who lived for at least a year at Orapax, with Powhatan, is transferred to Passapatanzy among the Patawomecks.

He had been the subject of an exchange with another young Indian as a part of an alliance between the English and the Powhatans. He had learned the Indian language to act some day as an interpreter. But relations were constantly degrading between the settlers and the Powhatans, announcing upcoming hostilities. Patawomeck chief  Iopassus (Japazaws) took advantage of a stay at the Powhatan to help the young Spelman to flee and took him with him. Some say that Pocahontas herself brought secretly her support to Spelman's escape.

November, 1609 - John Ratcliffe is sent with 50 men to meet the Pamunkeys in their capital Orapax in order to negotiate corn supply with their chief Powhatan. The excellent welcome which reserves them their leader and the gifts exchange are in fact only a lure. Ratcliffe is ambushed with 25 of his men. The Indians shoot at them during their boarding, leaving only two survivors who will be tortured to death by the women. Only sixteen men are back to Jamestown.

It is said that Chief  Powhatan himself ordered John Ratcliffe's painful death. He was as it is said tied to a tree and his feet placed in a bowl of boiling water whereas the women flayed him alive before they threw his head in the fire.

Those who had welcomed John Smith's departure would not delay to plunge the colony into the chaos. Smith was the only one that really feared Chief Powhatan and he had always maintained with his daughter Pocahontas close enough relationship so that prevailed between both men a kind of understanding and same respect even if their interests were mostly contradictory. Smith left, Powhatan had free hands to do away with the English. He had already weakened them by requiring weapons in exchange for food but had now decided to starve them in denying any supply, using for it force whenever it would be necessary. The settlers would accordingly be confined in their fort and condemned to die of hunger during winter. In this work, John Smith described accurately all the stages of his exploration of the territories surrounding Jamestown. He had acted with topographer's thoroughness to locate all places mentioned with their geographical but also ethnographic characteristics. All Native American tribes encountered were presented with attention to detail both about their customs and military organization, their education, lifestyle, clothes, food or beliefs.

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