1605 - The Appeal of Northern Virginia



Northern Virginia formed at that time the upper part of the lands granted first in 1578 to Sir Humphrey Gilbert by Queen Elizabeth then to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584. It corresponded to current Maine and New Hampshire territories.
The French were very active since a few years in the region and had already founded trading posts. For the English, it became urgent not to give way for fear of losing definitively an area they considered to hold legally thanks to their Royal charter.

March 5, 1605 - Captain George Weymouth leaves Gravesend in the Thames Estuary aboard the Arcangel for an expedition which has to drive him along the Maine coast. Backed by Thomas, Earl of Arundel and the Earl of Southampton, it is overseen by Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Its purpose is to locate places to found a colony.

Among the passengers was James Rosier, a gentleman newly converted to Catholicism hired by Arundel as naturalist and recorder. He had maybe, three years before, been a part of Gosnold’s trip to New England. Rosier published on the way back a complete report of the expedition covering both plants and animals collected as well as American Natives met.

George Weymouth (? - c.1612) - He studied mathematics, navigation and shipbuilding before leaving to explore the coast of North America. He set sail from England on May 2, 1602, heading an expedition funded by the East India Company intending to find the mythical Northwest Passage. Confident, Queen Elizabeth had given him a letter for the Emperor of China. He reached Strait of Hudson on July 26, but couldn't sail further owing to bad weather and a misfit crew. Weymouth thought wiser to turn back and explored the Labrador coast before returning to England. He was back to Dartmouth on September 5. He presented, next year, to King James a  manuscript entitled "The Jewells of Artes" dealing with maritime navigation, shipbuilding and fortifications.

Sir Ferdinando Gorges (1565-1647) - born into a prosperous family from Somerset, he chose to enter the military career and served at first against the Spaniards, in Holland. He got afterwards the opportunity to fight in France under Henri IV during his war for accession to the throne. Once knighted by Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, he was appointed commander of the fort of Plymouth by Queen Elizabeth  with assignment to organize the western counties' defence for protection from a Spanish invasion. While he was more or less directly involved in the Earl of Essex rebellion, he decided, facing treason charges, to testify against his former protector, himself under trial. This experience convinced afterward Gorges to side with the Crown but he had to wait until 1603 to command Plymouth again, after the coronation of James 1. It is from this time that arose his interest for colonization.

Monhegan Island
May 17th, 1605 - Captain George Weymouth lands on Monhegan Island, 12 miles off the Maine coast.















This island had already been explored in 1603 by Martin Pring and a year later by Samuel de Champlain. It was then of use as seasonal basis to French or Spanish fishermen for fish drying. Its name came from the Algonquian Monchiggon meaning " the island towards the sea ". It was afforested and on shores grew currants, raspberries, peas, rosehips, strawberry plants and wild vineyard. As agreed, captain Weymouth made experiment the quality of soils and waters. Seeds grew with an exceptional speed.

May 30, 1605 - Captain Weymouth and 13 of his men go aboard a shallop to explore the dry land. They are reaching the mouth of a river they name St Georges when they are approached for the first time by Indians come to meet them in canoes.

This meeting was friendly and Weymouth offered the Indians knives, combs, mirrors, bracelets and various things which obviously seemed to interest them. These were dressed in beaver and deer pelts and wore leather shoes. None had a beard but they had on the other hand long black hair. The English were impressed by the care and skill brought to make their boats as well as by the quick-wittedness of their hosts.


Bartering with Indians
June 1, 1605 Weymouth barters with the Indians again, giving them knives and various junk items, receiving in exchange beavers, otter or sable pelts and tobacco.

The English built their first real contact with the Indians, exchanging words, comparing weapons and the way to use them.

June 16, 1605 - Captain Weymouth decides to weigh anchor and head back to England.











He had explored the Maine coast up to the mouth of the Kennebec River and brought with him some Indian captives (Manida, Skidwarres, Nahanada, Assacumet and Tisquantum (Squanto) whom he wished to present to Sir Ferdinando Gorges.

July 18, 1605 - Weymouth is back to Dartmouth.

It seems, according to the testimonies, that the five Indians were treated well by Sir Ferdinando Gorges and all could return home. Nahanada accompanied in 1606 captain Hanham and his assistant Martin Pring for a trip to the Kennebec area. Skidwarres took part in the expedition organized in 1607 by George Popham and Raleigh Gilbert and brought them up to the village of Nahanada, become the leader of a hundred Indians' community, which reserved them a warm welcome.

October 30, 1605 - Sir John Zouche and Captain George Weymouth go into partnership to create a private colony in Northern Virginia (New England).

This principle was however opposed by John Popham who defended public colonies placed under the responsibility of great companies incorporated. The second idea prevailed.


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