First Hand Accounts

This piece in broken English is a most important contribution to the history of the first colony on the James river, inasmuch as it is the only Eye-witness account, p. civ, of the massacre of Captain RATCLIFFE and his company by POWHATAN; about Nov. 1609, p. ciii, or the beginning of the Starving Time of 1609-10, p. 498.

SPELMAN was rescued by Captain ARGALL in Sept. 1610, p. 503: but this narrative was evidently not written for some time after; for the writer says at p. cx:

Concerninge ther lawes my years and understandinge, made me the less to looke after.

We have therefore approximately dated the narrative 1613, as it was apparently written in England, p. civ.

HENRY SPELMAN was the third son of Sir HENRY SPELMAN, the antiquary. He afterwards returned to Virginia, and rose to be a Captain in the colony, and is referred to at pp. 172, 498, 503, 528, 606.

This manuscript (now in the possession of JAMES F. HUNNEWELL, Esq., of Charlston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.) has only been recently printed, under the editorship of HENRY STEVENS, Esq., F.S.A., in an edition of 100 copies, London, 1872: to which impression, the reader is referred for an account of the singular adventures of the manuscript, until it was sold at Mr. LILLY'S sale on 7 July 1871.

BEinge in displeasuer of my frendes, and desirous to see other cuntryes, After [sum weekes], three moneths sayle we cum with prosperus winds in sight of Virginia wher A storme sodenly arisinge seavered our [ship] fleete, (which was of x sayle) every shipp from other, puttinge us all in great daunger for vij or viij dayes togither. But ye storme then ceasing our shipp called ye unitye cam ye next morning saffly to an anker at Cape Henry ye daye of October 1609, Wher we found thre other of our fleete, and about a senight after thre more cam thether also. The residew [still remayned] Amongst which was Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Summers Knights [who] wear not [being] hard of many monthes after our arivall.

From Cape Henry we sayled up ye River Powàhtan & with in 4 or 5 dayes arived at James toune, wher we weare joyfully welcomed by our cuntrymen beinge at that time about 80 persons under the gover[n]ment of Capt Smith, The Praesident. Havinge heare unladed our goods and bestowed sum senight or fortnight in vieinge of the cuntry, I was caried By Capt Smith our Presidant to ye Fales, to ye litell Powhatan wher unknowne to me he sould me to him for a towne caled Powhatan and leavinge me with him ye litle Powhatann, He made knowne to Capt weste how he had bought a toune for them to dwell in [Wheruppon Capt weste growinge angrye (Bycause he had bestowed cost to begine a toune in another place) Capt Smith &c.] desireing that captaine West would come & settle himself there, (but captaine Weste having) bestowed cost to begine a toune in another place (misliked it: and unkindnesse thereuppon ariseing betweene them) Capt Smith at that time [saying] repliede litell [yet] but after- ward [wrought] conspired with the Powhatan to kill Capt weste, which Plott tooke but smale effect, for in ye [interim] meane time Capt Smith was Aprehended, and sent abord for England, my self havenge binn now about vij or viij dayes with the litell Powhatan who though he made very much of me givinge me such thinges as he had to winn me to live with him. [When] Yet I desired to see our english and therfore made signes unto him to give me leave to goe to our ship to feach such thinges as I leafte behind me, which he agreed unto and settinge himselfe doune, he clapt his hand on the ground in token he would stay ther till I returned. But I staying sumwhat to long, at my cumminge [backe] to ye place wher I leaft him I found him departed wheruppon I wente backe to our shipp beinge still in ye Fales and sayled with them to James toune, wher not beinge long ther, Before one Thomas Savage with 4 or 5 Indians cam from the great Powhatan with venison to Capt: Percye, who now was president. After the delivery therof and that he must returne he was loith to goe with out sum of his cuntrymen went with him, wher uppon I was apoynted to goe, which I the more willinglie did, by Reason that vitals were scarse with us, cariinge with me sum copper and a hatchet [with me] which I had gotten. [And] Cumminge to the Great Powetan I presented to him such thinges as I had which he tooke, usinge me very kindly, [settinge this Savage and me at his oune Table messe]. And After I had bin with him about 3 weekes [? Nov. 1609] he sent me backe to our English bidding me tell them, that if they would bring ther ship, and sum copper, he would fraught hir backe with corne, which I having reported to our English and returning ther answer to ye Kinge, He before ther cumminge layd plotts to take them, which in sum sort he affected, for xxvj or vij they killed which cam towards land in ther long boate, and shott many arrows into ye shipp, which our men perseyving and fearinge the worst, wayed anker and returned. Now whil this busines was in [doinge] action ye Powhatan sends me and one Samwell a Duchman To a toune about xvj miles of, caled Yawtanoone willinge us ther to stay [till] for him, At his cumminge thether we understood how althinges had passed by Thomas Savage, as before is related, the Kinge in shew made still much of us yet his mind was much declined from us which made us feare the worst, and having now bin with him about 24 or 25 weekes [? Mar. 1610], it happned that the Kinge [of Pasptan] of Patomeck cam to visitt the great Powetan, wher beinge a while with him, he shewed such kindnes to Savage Samuell and my self as we determined to goe away with him, when the daye of his departure was cum, we did as we agreed and havenge gone a mile or tow on the way, Savage fayned sum excuss of stay & unknowne to us went backe to the Powetan and acquaynted him with our [fleinge] departing with ye Patowomeck. The Powetan presen[t]ly sends after us commandinge our returne: which we [not belevinge] refuseing went still on our way: and thos[e] that weare sent, went still on with us, till one of them findinge op[p]ortunity on a sudden strooke Samuell with an axe and killed him, which I seinge ran a way from a monge the cumpany, they after me, the Kinge and his men after them, who overtake them heald them, till I shifted for my self and gott to the Patomeckes cuntry, with this Kinge Patomecke I lived a year and more [? Mar.- Sept. 1610] at a towne of his called Pasptanzie, untill such time as an worthy gentelman named Capt: Argall arived at a toune cald Nacottawtanke, but by our english cald Camocacocke, wher he understood that ther was an english boy named Harry. He desiringe to here further of me cam up the river which the Kinge of Patomeck hearringe sent me to him and I goinge backe agayne brought the kinge to [him] ye shipe, wher capt: Argall gave the Kinge [sum] copper for me, [and he] which he receyved Thus was I sett [free] at libertye and brought into England.Xatauahane

[Another version of this passage is given in the last leaf of the Manuscript, which may be the original draught.]

[fraught hir backe corne which I having reported to our English, and returneing their answeare to ye Powhatan. Captaine Ratclyff came with a shipp with xxiiij or xxv men to Orohpikes, and leaving his shipp there came by barge with sixteen men to ye Powhatan to Powmunkey where he very curtuously in shew received them by sending them bread and veinson in reward whereof Captaine Ratclyff sent him copper and beades and such like Then Powhatan appointed Cap: Ratclyff a house for him and his men to lye in during the time that thei should [traff] traffique, not far from his owne but above half a mile from the barge, and himself in the evening comeing to the [ther] house slenderly accompanied) welcomed him thither, And [after Cap. Rat] returned leaving the dutch man, Savage, and my self behinde him. The next day the Powhatan with a company of Salvages came to Capt: Ratclyff, and caried our English to their storehouse where their corne was to traffique with them, giveing them pieces of copper and beades and other things. According to ye proportions of ye basketts of corne which they brought but the Indians dealing deceitfully by pulling or beareing upp the bottom of their baskets with their hands soe that ye lesse corne might [searve to] fill them. The English men taking exceptions against it and a discontentment riseing uppon it ye king [conveied himself and] departed taking me and ye dutchman with him [and] his wives hence, And presently a great number Indians that lay lurking in ye woods & corne about began with an oulis and whoopubb and whilest our English men were in hast carieing their corne to their shipps the Indians that were hidden in ye corne shott the men as they passed by them and soe killed them all saveing one William Russell and one other whoe being acquainted with ye cuntry escaped to James towne by land.]

Of ther service to their gods

TO give sum satisfaction to my frends and contentment unto others, which wish well to this viage, and are desirus to heare ye fashions of that cuntrye: I have set doune as well as I can, what I observed in ye time I was amonge them. And therfore first concerninge ther gods, yow must understand that for ye most part they worship ye divell, which ye conjurers who are ther preests, can make apeare unto them at ther pleasuer, yet never ye less in every cuntry they have a severall Image whom they call ther god. As with the great Pawetan he hath an Image called Cakeres which most comonly standeth at Yaughtawnoone [in one of ye Kinges houses] or at Oropikes in a house for that purpose and with him are sett all the Kings goods and presents that are sent him, as ye Cornne. But ye beades or Crowne or Bedd which ye Kinge of England sent him are in ye gods house at Oropikes, and in their houses are all ye Kinge ancesters and kindred commonly buried [commonly], In ye Patomecks cuntry they have an other god whom they call Quioquascacke, and unto ther Images they offer Beades and Copper if at any time they want Rayne or have to much, and though they observe no day to worshipe ther god: but uppon necessitye, yet onc[e] in the yeare, ther preests which are ther conjurers with ye [people] men, weomen, and children doe goe into the woods, wher they preests makes a great cirkell of fier in ye which after many observanses in ther conjurations they make offer of 2 or 3 children to be given to ther god if he will apeare unto them and shew his mind whome he [will have] desier. Uppon which offringe they heare a Caukewis Manato Taukinge souke Quia uasack noyse out of ye Cirkell Nominatinge such as he will have, whome presently they take bindinge them hand and footte and cast them into ye circle of the fier, for be it the Kinges sonne he must be given if onc[e] named by ther god, After ye bodies which are offered are consumed in the fier and ther cerimonees performed the men depart merily, the weomen weaping.

Of the cuntry of Virginia

THe cuntry is full of wood [and] in sum partes, and water they have plentifull, they have marish ground and smale fields, for corne, and other grounds wher on ther Deare, goates, and stages feadeth, ther be in this cuntry Lions, Beares, woulves, foxes, muske catts, Hares caled assapameek. fleinge squirells, and other squirells beinge all graye like conyes, great store of foule only Peacockes and common hens wanting: fish in aboundance wher on they live most part of the Summer time They have a kind of wheat cald locataunce and Pease and Beanes, Great store of walnuts growing in every place. They have no orchard frutes, only tow kind of plumbes the one a sweet and lussius plumbe long and thicke in forme and liknes of A Nutt Palme. the other resemblinge a medler But sumwhat sweeter yet not Ætable till they be rotten as ours are.

Of ther Tounes & buildinges

PLaces of Habitation they have but feaw for ye greatest toune have not above 20 or 30 houses in it, Ther Biuldinge are made like an oven with a litell hole to cum in at But more spatius with in havinge a hole in the midest of ye house for smoke to goe out at, The Kinges houses are both broader and longer then ye rest havinge many darke windinges and turnings before any cum wher the Kinge is, But in that time when they goe a Huntinge ye weomen goes to a place apoynted before, to build houses for ther husbands to lie in att night carienge matts with them to cover ther houses with all, and as the men goes furthur a huntinge the weomen [goes before] follows to make houses, always carrienge ther mattes with them ther maner of ther Huntinge is thiss [wher] they meett sum 2 or 300 togither and havinge ther bowes and arrows and every one with a fier [sti] sticke in ther hand they besett a great thikett round about, which dunn every one sett fier on the ranke grass [and] which ye Deare seinge fleeth from ye fier, and the menn cumminge in by a litell and litle incloseth ther game in a narrow roome, so as with ther Bowes and arrowes they kill them at ther pleasuer takinge ther skinns which is the greatest thinge they desier, and sume flesh for ther provision.

Ther maner of mariing

THe custum of ye cuntry is to have many wives and to buye them, so that he which have most copper and Beads may have most wives, for if he taketh likinge of any woman he makes love to hir, and seeketh to hir father or kindsfolke to sett what price he must paye for hir, which beinge on[c]e agreed on the kindred meett and make good cheere, and when the sume agreed on be payd she shall be delivered to him for his wife, The cerimony is thus The parents bringes ther daughter betwene them (if hir parents be deade then sume of hir kinsfolke, or whom it pleaseth ye king to apoynt (for ye man goes not unto any place to be maried But ye woman is brought to him wher he dwelleth). At hir cumminge to him, hir father or cheefe frends joynes the hands togither and then ye father or cheef frend of ye man Bringeth a longe stringe of Beades and measuringe his armes leangth therof doth breake it over ye hands of thos that are to be married while ther handes be joyned together, and gives it unto ye womans father or him that brings hir, And so with much mirth and feastinge they goe togither, When ye Kinge of ye cuntry will have any wives he acquaintes his cheef men with his purpose, who sends [for] into all partes of ye cuntry for ye fayrest and cumliest mayds out of which ye Kinge taketh his choyse given to ther parents what he pleaseth. If any of ye Kings wives have onc[e] a child by him, he [never lieth with hir more] keepes hir no longer but puts hir from him givinge hir suffitient Copper and beads to mayntayne hir and the child while it is younge and then [it] is taken from hir and mayntayned by ye King[s charge], it now beinge lawfull for hir beinge thus put away to marry with any other, The Kinge Poetan havinge many wives when he goeth a Huntinge or to visitt another Kinge under him (for he goeth not out of his owne cuntry) He leaveth them with tow ould men who have the charge on them till his returne.

This Pasptanse was brother to Patomsk. It was my happ to be leaft at one of ye Kings Pasptanses Howses when he went to visitt another Kinge and two of his wives wear ther also, after the Kings departure, one of them would goe visitt hir father, [whos] hir name was Paupauwiske, and seinge me, willed me to goe with hir and to take hir child and carye him thether in [his] my armes, beinge a [long] days jouyrnye from ye place wher we dwelt, [but] which I refusinge she strook me 3 or 4 blows, but I beinge loith to bear to much gott to hir and puld hir doune giving hir sum blows agayne which ye other of ye Kings wives perseyvinge, they both fell on me beatinge me so as I thought they had lamd me, Afterwarde when ye Kinge cam home: in ther presents I acquainted him how they had used me, The King with out further delay tooke up a couwascohocan, which is a kind of paringe Iron, and strooke at one of them with such violenc[e], as he feld her to the ground in manor deade. I seinge that, fled to a Neyghburs house, for feare of ye Kings displeasuer, But his wife cumming againe to hir self: sumwhat apeased his anger so as understandinge wher I was by his brother, he sent me his younge child to still, for none could quiet him so well as my selfe, and about midnight he sent for him againe, The next day morninge the King was erlye upp, and came to the house wher I was: loith I was to see him, yet being cum to him instead of his anger, I found him kind to me, asking me how I did, and whether I was affrayd of him last night, bycause I rann away from him, and hidd my selfe, I being by his speeches sumwhat boulder, Asked him for his Queene, He answered all was well, and that I should goe home with him tellinge me he loved me, and none [should] should hurt me. I though loith went with him, wher at my cumminge ye Queene looked but discontentedly on me, But hoping on the Kinges promise, I cared ye less for others frownes, knowinge well that ye Kinge made ye more of me in hope I should healpe him to sum copper, if at any time our english cam into thos parts, which I often had promised him to doe, and which was by Capt: Argall Bountifully performed.

How the[y] name ther children

AFter the mother is delivered of hir child with in sum feaw dayes after the kinsfolke and neyburs beinge intreated ther unto, cums unto ye house: wher beinge assembled the father, takes the child in his armes: and declares that his name shall be, as he then calls him, so his name is, which dunn ye rest of ye day is spent in feastinge and dauncinge.

Ther maner of visitinge the sicke with ye fation of ther buriall if they dye,

WHen any be sicke among them, ther preests cums unto the partye whom he layeth on the ground uppon a matt And having a boule of water, sett betwene him and the sicke partye; and a Rattle by it, The preest kneelinge by the sick mans side dipps his hand into the boule, which takinge up full of watter, he supps into his mouth, spowting it out againe, uppon his oune armes, and brest, then takes he the Rattle, and with one hand takes that, and with the other he beates his brest, makinge a great noyes, which havinge dunn he easilye Riseth (as loith to wake the sicke bodye, first with one legge, then with the other, And beinge now gott up, he leaysuerly goeth about ye sicke man shakinge his Rattle very [easily] softly over all his bodye: and with his hand he stroketh ye greaved parts of the sicke, then doth he besprinkell him with water mum[b]linge certayne words over him, and so for that time leave him, But if he be wounded after thes cerimonys dunn unto him he with a litle flint stone gasheth the wound makinge it to runn and bleede which he settinge his mouth unto it suckes out, and then aplies a certayne roote betten to powter unto ye Sore.

If he dies his buriall is thus ther is a scaffould built about 3 or 4 yards hye from the ground and the deade bodye wraped in a matt is brought to the place, wher when he is layd ther on, the kinsfolke falles a weopinge and make great sorrow, and instead of a dole for him, (the poorer people beinge gott togither) sum of his kinsfolke flinges Beades amonge them makinge them to scramble for them, so that many times divers doe breake ther armes and legges beinge pressed by the cumpany, this finished they goe to ye parties house wher they have meat given them which beinge Æten all ye rest of the day they spend in singinge and dauncinge using then as much mirth as before sorrow more over if any of ye kindreds bodies which have bin layd on ye scaffould should be consumed as nothing is leaft but bonns they take thos bonns from ye scaffould and puttinge them into a new matt, hangs them in ther howses, wher they continew whille ther house falleth and then they are buried in the ruinges of ye house[.] what goods the partye leaveth is devided amonge his wives and children. But his house he giveth to the wife he liketh best for life: after her death, unto what child he most loveth.

The Justis and goverment

COncerninge ther lawes my years and understandinge, made me the less to looke after bycause I thought that Infidels wear lawless yet when I saw sum put to death I asked the cause of ther offence, for in the time that I was with ye Patomecke I saw 5 executed 4 for murther of a child (idest) ye mother, and tow other that did the fact with hir and a 4 for consealing it as he passed by, beinge bribed to hould his pease. and one for robbinge a traveler of coper and beades for to steale ther neyburs corne or copper is death, or to lye one with anothers wife is death if he be taken in the manner.

The manor of execution

THos that be convicted of capitall offences are brought into a playne place before ye Kinges house when then he laye, which was at Pomunkeye the chefest house he hath wher one or tow apoynted by the Kinge did bind them hand and foote, which being dunn a great fier was made, Then cam the officer to thos that should dye, and with a shell cutt of[f] ther long locke, which they weare on the leaft side of ther heade, and hangeth that on a bowe before the Kings house Then thos for murther wear Beaten with staves till ther bonns weare broken and beinge alive weare flounge into the fier, the other for robbinge was knockt on ye heade and beinge deade his bodye was burnt.

The manor of settinge ther corne with ye gatheringe and Dressing.

THey take most commonly a place about ther howses to sett ther corne, which if ther be much wood, in that place the[y] cutt doune the greate trees sum half a yard above the ground, and ye smaller they burne at the roote pullinge a good part of barke from them to make them die, and in this place they digg many holes which before the English brought them scavels and spades they used to make with a crooked peece of woode beinge scraped on both sides in fation of a gardiners paring Iron. they put in to thes holes ordenarily 4 or 5 curnels of ther wheat and 2 beanes like french beanes, which when the wheat doe growe up havinge a straw as bigg as a canne reede the beanes runn up theron like our hopps on poles, The eare of ye wheat is of great bignes in lenght and cumpace and yet for all the greatnes of it every stalke hath most commonly sum fower or five eares on it, Ther corne is sett and gathered about the time we use, but ther maner of ther gatheringe is as we doe our [aplse] apells first in a hand basketts [putti] emtiinge them as they are filled into other bigger basketts wherof sum are made of the barkes of trees, sume of heampe which naturally groweth ther, and some of the straw wheron ye wheat groweth, Now after ye gatheringe, they laye it uppon matts a good thicknes in the soun to drye & every night they make a great pile of it, coveringe it over with matts to defend it from the dewe, [which] and when it is suffitien[t]ly weathered they pile it up in ther howses, dayly as occation serveth wringinge the eares in peises betwene ther hands, and so rubbinge out ther corne do put it to a great Baskett which taketh upp the best parte of sum of ther howses, and all this is cheefly the weomens worke for the men doe only hunt to gett skinns in winter and doe tewe or dress them in summer.

But though now out of order yet let me not altogither forgett the settinge of ye Kings corne for which a day is apoynted wherin great part of ye cuntry people meete who with such diligence worketh as for the most part all ye Kinges corne is sett on a daye After which setting the Kinge takes the croune which ye Kinge of England sent him beinge brought him by tow men, and setts it on his heade which dunn the people goeth about the corne in maner backwardes for they going before, and the king followinge ther faces are always toward the Kinge exspectinge when he should flinge sum beades amonge them which his custum is at that time to doe makinge thos which had wrought to scramble for them But to sume he favors he bids thos that carry his Beades to call such and such unto him unto whome he giveth beads into ther hande and this is the greatest curtesey he doth his people, when his corne is ripe the cuntry people cums to him againe and gathers drys and rubbes out all his corne for him, which is layd in howses apoynted for that purpose.

The settinge at meat

THey sett on matts round about ye howse ye men by them selves and ye weomen by ther selves ye weomen bringe to every one a dish of meat for the better sort never eates togither in one dish, when he hath eaten what he will, or that which was given him, for he looks for no [meat] second corse he setts doune his dish by him and mum[b]leth ceartayne words to himself in maner of [a saying grace] givinge thankes, if any leaft ye weomen gather it up & ether keeps it till ye next meall, or gives it to ye porer sort, if any be ther.

The differences amonge them

THe King is not know by any differenc[e] from other of ye [better] chefe sort in ye cuntry but only when he cums to any of ther howses they present him with copper Beads or Vitall, and shew much reverence to him

The preest[s] are shaven on ye right side of ther head close to the scull only a litle locke leaft at ye eare and sum of thes have beards But ye common people have no beards at all for they pull away ther hares as fast as it growes. And they also cutt ye heares on ye right side of ther heade that it might not hinder them by flappinge about ther bow stringe, when they draw it to shoott, But on ye other side they lett it grow & have a long locke hanginge doune ther shoulder.

The Armor and wepon with discipline in war

AS for Armoure or dissipline in ware the[y] have not any. The weopons they use for offence are Bowes and Arrowes with a weopon like a hammer and then Tomahaucks for defence which are shields made of the barke of a tree and hanged on ther leaft shoulder to cover that side as they stand forth to shoote

They never fight in open fields but always ether amonge reede or behind trees takinge ther oportunitie to shoot at ther enimies and till they can nocke another arrow they make the trees ther defence

In ye time that I was ther I sawe a Battel fought betweene the Patomeck and the Masomeck, ther place wher they fought was a marish ground full of Reede. Beinge in the cuntry of the Patomecke the peopel of Masomeck weare brought thether in Canoes which is a kind of Boate they have made in the forme of an Hoggs trowgh But sumwhat more hollowed in, On Both sids they scatter them selves sum litle distant one from the other, then take they ther bowes and arrows and havinge made ridie to shoot they softly steale toward ther enimies, Sumtime squattinge doune and priing if they can spie any to shoot at whom if at any time he so Hurteth that he can not flee they make hast to him to knock him on the heade, And they that kill most of ther enimies are heald the cheafest men amonge them; Drums and Trumpetts they have none, but when they will gather themselves togither they have a kind of Howlinge or Howbabub so differinge in sounde one from the other as both part may very aesly be distinguished. Ther was no greater slawter of nether side But ye massomecks having shott away most of the arrows and wantinge Vitall [was] weare glad to retier;

The Pastimes

WHen they meet at feasts or otherwise they use sprorts much like to our heare in England as ther daunsinge, which is like our darbysher Hornepipe a man first and then a woman, and so through them all, hanging all in a round, ther is one which stand in the midest with a pipe and a rattell with which when he beginns to make a noyes all the rest Gigetts about wriinge ther neckes and stampinge on ye ground

They use beside football play, which wemen and young boyes doe much play at. The men never They make ther Gooles as ours only they never fight nor pull one another doune.

The men play with a litel balle lettinge it fall out of ther hand and striketh it with the tope of his foot, and he that can strike the ball furthest winns that they play for.