Tuesday, February 18, 2014

1618 - The Start of the "Great Migration"


1618 remains as the starting year of the Great Migration. The population of Jamestown will go in five years from 400 to 4500 inhabitants

April, 1618 - After wreaking havoc in New England, smallpox introduced by European explorers, reaches Virginia, causing in particular the death of Chief Powhatan Wahunsunacock and many members of his tribe.
Powhatan's replacement returns to his two maternal half brothers Itoyatan and Opechancanough.
According to customs, Chief Powhatan's body was gutted, its flesh removed and the bones dried. The skeleton was then restored and replaced inside the skin, cavities were filled with valuables and the mummy was sutured so as to give the appearance of a living form. The body was then wrapped in a buckskin and exposed in a quicosin, a funeral building watched by the shamans.

May 1618 - The London Puritan merchant Christopher Lawne arrives at Jamestown aboard the Marygold.
He has left England to found with a fortnight of puritan settlers a plantation on the south bank of the James River to which is given the name of Lawne Creek, located in the current Island of Wight.

Like many religious dissidents, Christopher Lawne emigrated to Holland but he was quickly disappointed by the sectarian spirit which prevailed there. He returned then to London where he decided to plan with his puritan friends to leave for Virginia.
Back in London in August, Christopher Lawne organized a new trip with the Marygold that took place in May, 1619, carrying a hundred new settlers for his plantation in the Island of Wight.
He had to be a member of the first assembly of the House of Burgesses met in Jamestown on June 30, 1619. He fell however sick a few months later and died in November.

June, 1618 - Governor Samuel Argall complains to have been obliged to pay money owed to colonists by the Virginia Company.

Maybe he tried to make a diversion facing the mounting complaints against him. It remains that the Company hastened to question the validity of these debts without however completely deny them.
Argall was playing on two tables at once. He was the colony's governor and compensated as such but also owned a private 400- acre plantation. And he showed in time a more and more obvious interest to resolve conflicts only in favour of his personal interests, at the expense of the Company that he was supposed to represent.

June 7, 1618 - Thomas West, Baron De La Warr, first governor of Virginia dies at sea on the Neptune, heading to Jamestown. He has to investigate further to complaints raised against the tyrannical conduct of his deputy Samuel Argall.

It was for a long time believed that he had been buried in the Azores but recent research revealed that his body had been transported to Jamestown for burial.
[August, 1618]

August, 1618 -  the Virginia Company sends a letter to Samuel Argall, accusing him of embezzlement and breach of trust. His trial will be held upon his return in London.

Among the charges were the personal use of ships and crews of the Company, the ban on anyone to buy furs to Indians to keep the monopoly, the diversion of corn from the Company to the sole benefit of his own plantation, the apropriation of livestock belonging to the Company and various violations of the workers' rights.

August, 1618 - The Neptune arrives at Jamestown after a particularly dramatic trip.
This ship that had made build Lord De La Warr himself had left England in April with 160 would-be settlers on board. But headwinds would quickly turn the trip into a living hell. The passengers began to get sick, some even were suffering from dysentery. Lord DeLa Warr and 30 migrants died before reaching Virginia.
Among the survivors were William Farrar, Elizabeth Garnett (the wife of Thomas Garnett, in Jamestown since 1610), Thomas Powell and William Cole.

October, 1618 -  the New Netherlands Company whose patent has expired since January 1 requests to the States General the granting of a new  monopoly on the fur trade but is turned down. This decision opens subsequently the trade to all, while causing the dissolution of the company.

Former members such as Hendrick Eeelkens and Adriaen Jans Engel hastened to send to New Netherland the Schilpad, a ship commanded by the nephew of the first, captain Jacob Eelkens, whereas from their part Lambert van Tweenhuysen, Jonas Witens and Samuel Godijn dispatched the Swarte Beer (Black Bear) captained by Hendrick Christiaensen.

November 9, 1618 - Claiming the granting of a license from the States General and the Prince of Orange, Eelkens and Engel send out their notaries on board the Swarte Beer to warn captain Christiaensen not to medle in their trade affairs.

He disregarded their warning auguring a period of quarrel between the traders.

November 18, 1618 - In order to encourage immigration to the colony, the Virginia Company passes during its assembly, a series of bills called " Orders and Constitutions " since considered as Great Charter of the privileges, Orders and Laws granted to Virginia.

Among the clauses was one called "Headright" which offered an additional 100-acre land to all the planters settled before Thomas Dale's going in May, 1616, and a new 50-acre plot to anyone come to settle down in the colony from this date or having supported travel expenses of another immigrant. This practice had to last after the dissolution of the Company and be confirmed by the Privy Council of King on July 22, 1634.
The "Headright" was the assignment of  50 to 100-acre lands to all adventurers who agreed to cross the ocean and have a part in the settlement of the colonies. This granting also involved anyone who assumed the travel costs of planters or indentured servants. This system had the advantage to concern lands located in uninhabited areas but was mostly to rich owners the opportunity to expand their domains while refusing the poorest to have the chance to get one day their own plot. It had in fact to increase the gap between a more and more wealthy class and laborers condemned to remain destitute.


The "headright" was introduced in Jamestown to find a solution to the labor shortage at a time when the rising economy in Virginia was only based on tobacco growing, requiring large areas and many planters.

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