First-Hand Accounts -By Date
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1550 - 1574 | 1575 - 1599 | 1600 - 1624 | 1625 - 1649 | 1650 - 1674 | 1675 - 1699 | 1700 - 1749
1550 - 1574
- "Letter of Luis de Quirós and Juan Baptista de Segura," 1570. This letter describes the settlement at Ajacàn and requests that Juan de Hinistrosa, the Royal Treasurer of Cuba, send a ship of grain to sustain the settlement.
- "Letter of Juan Rogel to Francis Borgia," 1572. The letter from Juan Rogel describes the rescue of a young boy, the sole survivor of the Indian massacre at Ajacàn. The account details the massacre as related by the boy. The letter also describes the revenge taken by the Spanish forces for the massacre of the settlement.
1575 - 1599
- "The letter patents, granted by the Queen's Majesty to M. Walter Raleigh, now Knight, for the discovering and planting of new lands and countries," by Queen Elizabeth, 1584. The original letters of patent grant settlement rights in Virginia to Sir Walter Raleigh by Queen Elizabeth I.
- "The first voyage made to the coasts of America, with two barks, where in were captains M. Philip Amadas, and M. Arthur Barlowe, who discovered part of the Country now called Virginia," by one of said captains, 1584. This account of the first voyage of exploration to the Roanoke Island area includes descriptions of the journey, meetings with the local Indian tribes, and the surrounding countryside.
- "The True Pictures and Fashions of the People in that Part of America Now Called Virginia" by John White(?), 1584 & 1588. John White's drawings and descriptions of the Indians and the countryside of the Roanoke Island area provide details of the people and environment in the settlement called "Virginia." Theodore DeBry's engravings of White's watercolors appear in the 1590 edition of Thomas Hariot's account of the exploration. For a comparative look at the watercolors and engravings, explore the White/DeBry Images.
- "The voyage made by Sir Richard Grenville, for Sir Walter Raleigh, to Virginia," by Sir Richard Grenville(?), 1585. Sir Richard Grenville commanded the first group of colonists sent to Roanoke Island in 1585. This document is his account of the voyage and settlement.
- "An account of the particularities of the employments of the English men left in Virginia by Sir Richard Grenville under the charge of Master Ralph Lane," by Ralph Lane, 1585-86. After Sir Richard Grenville's return to England in 1585, Governor Ralph Lane was the commander of the settlement. This document contains his descriptions of the dire conditions that the colony experienced after Sir Grenville's departure and the reasons behind Lane's decision to abandon the colony and return all of the settlers to England with Sir Francis Drake's fleet in 1586.
- "The third voyage made by a ship sent in the year 1586, to the relief of the colony planted in Virginia, at the sole charge of Sir Walter Raleigh," 1586. This account details the third voyage that Sir Walter Raleigh sent to the Roanoke colony to provide supplies and needed materials. Sir Richard Grenville commanded the voyage to re-supply the colony that he founded in 1585. When Grenville arrived at Roanoke, he found the settlement deserted because all colonists abandoned the colony and returned to England in Sir Francis Drake's ships earlier in the year.
- "The fourth voyage made to Virginia with three ships, in the year 1587, wherein was transported the second colony," 1587. In 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh sent a new group of 105 settlers to Virginia, under the command of Governor John White. This document describes the journey of the colonizing fleet and the first months of the settlement.
- "A brief and true report of the new found land of Virginia," by Thomas Hariot, 1588. This report describes the Virginia settlement, including merchantable commodities, supplies for the sustenance of settlers, and other commodities that may prove interesting to the reader.
- "The fifth voyage of M. John White into the West Indies and parts of America called Virginia," 1590. John White returned to Roanoke in 1590 with supplies and new colonists. Upon his arrival in Virginia, he found the deserted settlement. This document recounts White's voyage and his search for the lost colonists.
1600 - 1624
- "Instructions, by way of advice, for the intended Voyage to Virginia," by John Smith, undated (probably early 1600's). In these Instructions John Smith gives his recommendations as to how a plantation should be settled in Virginia. The document was most likely written during the first ten years of the colony's settlement, but is not dated.
- "The relations of Captain Gosnold's Voyage to the North part of Virginia," by Gabriel Archer, 1602. Gabriel Archer describes the voyage to and settlement of Gosnold's Point, meetings with local Indians, the building of a fort and some houses, and explorations made by Captain Gosnold and his men before they returned to England.
- "Master Bartholomew Gosnold's Letter to his Father, touching his first voyage to Virginia," by Bartholomew Gosnold, 1602. Captain Gosnold recounts his voyage to Virginia and the settlement that he founded there.
- "Observations Gathered out of 'A Discourse of the Plantation of the Southern Colony in Virginia by the English'," by George Percy, 1606. George Percy's account describes the first voyage of exploration to Virginia sponsored by the Virginia Company.
- "A Discourse of Virginia," by Edward Maria Wingfield, 1608. First-hand account of life and events in the newly established colony of Jamestown in Virginia by Edward Wingfield, first president of Jamestown. Wingfield's account provides much detail and corroborates John Smith's account in many points. This account account of events in 1607 leading up to his removal from office on 10 September is notable for it's self-serving tone as Wingfield uses the account to justify and explain his actions in Jamestown.
- "A True Relation of Occurrences and Accidents in Virginia," by John Smith, 1608. John Smith's account details the first voyage of exploration to Virginia sponsored by the Virginia Company of London.
- "The Voyages to Virginia. 1609-1610" William Strachey describes the 1609 voyage to Virginia composed of a nine-ship convoy that ran into a hurricane. Two of the ships wrecked off the coast of Bermuda where survivors spent months building the Patience and Deliverance to sail to Jamestown. The voyage became the basis for William Shakespeare's The Tempest. (Original Spelling Version | Modern Spelling Version)
- "Nova Britannia," by R.I., 1609. This pamphlet promotes the Virginia Colony of London to investors and adventurers. It is addressed to Sir Thomas Smith, then Treasurer of the Virginia Company of London.
- "VIRGINIA richly valued by a Portuguese gentleman, translated out of Portuguese," by Richard Hakluyt the Elder [c. 1553 - 1616], 1609, This account by Richard Hakluyt, traveler and advocate of overseas colonization, promotes Virginia as a probable site for gold and minerals. He also provides a translation of an account of a Spanish expedition through Florida and the southeast of America from 1539-1542.
- "A True Declaration of the estate of the Colonie in Virginia, With a confutation of such scandalous reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise," by the Council for Virginia, 1610. This account is a report on the land and resources to be found in the Virginia colony.
- "A Short Relation made by the Lord De-La-Warre," by Lord De-La-Warre, 1611. Lord De-La-Warre became Governor of Virginia in 1610. The Virginia Company of London wanted him to standardize laws in Virginia and to help the colony recover from the "Starving Time." This document is De-La-Warre's description of the state of affairs in Virginia upon his departure due to ill health in 1611.
- "The New Life of Virginea: Declaring the former successe and present estate of that plantation," by R.I., 1612. In the second part of "Nova Britannia," R.I. defends Virginia against those who have maligned the colony.
- "A Map of Virginia, with a Description of its Commodities, People, Government, and Religion," by John Smith, 1612. John Smith's "A Map of Virginia" describes the state of affairs in the colony, the Indians, and the surrounding countryside.
- "A True Relation," by George Percy, 1609-1612. George Percy served as governor of Virginia between September 1609 and May 1610 and from March 1611 to May 1611. This document is his relation of the "Starving Time" and the war with the Indians from 1609 to 1612.
- "For the Colony in Virginea Britannia. Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, &c.," by William Strachey, 1612. This document is William Strachey's compilation of laws enacted by Sir Thomas Gates and Lord De-La-Warre.
- "Relation of Virginia," by Henry Spelman, 1613. Henry Spelman's narrative describes the massacre of Captain Ratcliffe and other colonists by Powhatan Indians in 1609-10. Henry Spelman was one of the few men to survive the attack.
- "A Plaine Description of the Barmudas, Now Called Sommer Ilands," by W.C., 1613. W.C.'s account includes a description of the shipwreck of Sir Thomas Gates's ship on Bermuda, the resources and advantages of that colony, and additional supporting material written by residents of Bermuda.
- "Good News from Virginia sent to the Counsell and Company of Virginia, resident in Virginia," by Alexander Whitaker, 1613. Alexander Whitaker was the Minister at Henrico Plantation, one of the larger plantations in Virginia. This document is his account of the state of affairs in Virginia. Whitaker wrote this document to counteract discouraging reports and rumors about the Colony.
- "Letter of Don Diego de Molina," 1613. Don Diego de Molina recounts his capture by the English in a letter to Don Alonzo de Velasco, the Spanish Ambassador in London. Molina also expresses concern about the potential growth of English colonies (especially Bermuda and Virginia). He notes the harsh conditions experienced by colonists at Jamestown and states his belief that it would be easy for the Spanish to capture the fort at Jamestown.
- "Letter of Father Pierre Biard," 1614. In this letter to the Reverend Father Claude Acquaviva, Father Pierre Biard details the 1613 capture of French Jesuits in New France by English men from Virginia, his experiences while a prisoner, and his return to France.
- "A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia," by Raphe Hamor, 1614. Raphe Hamor's account includes a description of the state of affairs in Virginia, settlements established in the colony, and the relationship between the colonists and the Indians up to 18th of June 1614. The document also contains a description of the christening of Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas, and her marriage to John Rolfe in the spring of 1614.
- "John Rolfe's Letter to Sir Thomas Dale," 1614. John Rolfe explains his reasons for marrying Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas, in this letter to Sir Thomas Dale, the governor of Virginia.
- "John Pory's Letter to Sir Dudley Carleton," 1619. John Pory's letter describing his life in Virginia, the commissioning of the ship the Treasurer to attack Spanish ships in the West Indies, and the state of agriculture in the colony.
- "Proceedings of the Virginia Assembly, 1619." These are the official records of the first elected Assembly to be held in Virginia in 1619. The Assembly consisted of two Burgesses from each of the colony's four corporations and seven of the private plantations.
- "Orders and Constitutions," 1619, 1620. This document includes the laws governing the Virginia Company of London, the conduct of meetings and business, and the election of the governing body.
- "A Declaration of the State of the Colonie and Affaires in Virginia," by His Majesty's Council for Virginia, 1620. This description of Virginia and its resources is an attempt by the members of the Council to counteract rumors of the colony's unprofitability and barrenness.
- "Two Tragic Events: 1. The Seafight of Capt. Anthony Chester, 1621 2. The Indian Massacre, 1622," 1620, 1622. This account describes a seafight between the William and Mary and two Spanish ships, the Indian Massacre of 1622, and the events that led up to the attack against the colonists.
- "Richard Frethorne's Letter to his Mother and Father, concerning the experiences of an indentured servant." by Richard Frethorne, 1623. Richard Frethorne immigrated to Virginia as an indentured servant. In this letter, he describes his miserable experiences as an indentured servant and asks his parents send either money to buy out his indenture, or food to sustain him until his indenture ends.
- "The Virginia Planters' Answer to Captain Butler," 1623. In this document, a group of Virginia planters refute the charges against the colony made by Captain Butler.
- "The Tragical Relation of the Virginia Assembly," 1624. The members of the Virginia Assembly respond to Sir Thomas Smith's attempts to discredit and bring about the dissolution of the Virginia Company of London.
1625 - 1649
- The Discourse of the Old Company," 1625. A Committee of the King's Privy Council evaluates the Virginia Company and makes recommendations for the future of the Virginia Colony and the Virginia Company of London.
- "Richard Lowther Servant Indenture," 1627. This document is an example of an indentured servant's contract between Richard Lowther of Southill and Edward Hurd of London. Lowther contracted his labor to Hurd for four years in return for passage to Virginia and room and board while on Hurd's plantation.
- "Extract from a manuscript collection of annals relative to Virginia," Author Unknown, 1642. This extract relates the political maneuverings surrounding the Virginia colony's successful attempt in 1639 to resist the re-imposition of Company government instead of the prevailing royal government. The account is anonymous and undated.
- "A Description of the Province of New Albion," by Beauchamp Plantagenet, 1648. A company of investors/planters sent Beauchamp Plantagenet to America to investigate lands for a new settlement. This account is his description of the area called New Albion, between Virginia and Maryland.
- "A Voyage to Virginia," by Colonel Norwood, 1649. Colonel Norwood was a Royalist who decided after the death of Charles I to immigrate to Virginia, where he had friends and relatives. This document describes his voyage to Virginia, in which he visited many different colonies and survived a massive storm which nearly wrecked his ship.
- "Virginia Impartially examined, and left to publick view, to be considered by all Judicious and honest men," by William Bullock, 1649. This account actively promotes the settlement of Virginia and Maryland, offering a road map of advice, despite his never having been in Virginia, for how any and all potential settlers might best profit from the opportunities available in the colonies.
- "A Perfect Description of VIRGINIA," by John Farrer (?) or Author Unknown, 1649. This account of Virginia was written in England from letters and accounts of colonists in order to emphasize the many excellent qualities of life in Virginia. The author provides this information in a convenient list format.
1650 - 1674
- "VIRGINIA: More especially the South part thereof, Richly and truly valued," by E.W. (Edward Williams), 1650. This account of Virginia focuses on the many resources and opportunities available to colonists. The author enthusiastically offers the work as a plan for colonization that will solve many social problems in England. In addition to customs revenues, Virginia would provide opportunity for the poor, orphans, ex-soldiers, and the indigent at the same time that migration across the Atlantic would effectively remove these people from England.
- "The Reformed Virginian Silk-worm, Or, a Rare and New Discovery." Various Authors, 1655. This work promotes and describes the growing of silkworms in Virginia as a new and highly profitable venture for current and future colonists, claiming that the industry would require little in the way of capital and effort.
- "Virginia and Maryland. OR, The Lord Baltamore's printed Case, uncased and answered," by Author Unknown, 1655. This work provides the Puritan side of the controversy arising when Lord Baltimore and others attempted to impose Company government on Virginia and Maryland as opposed to royal government. The account includes accounts of Parliamentary action and reprints documents associated with the situation.
- "Leah and Rachel, Or, the Two Fruitfull Sisters Virginia and Maryland," by John Hammond, 1658. This account defends the settlement of Virginia and Maryland by refuting rumors and bad reports of the area. Hammond, a member of the House of Burgesses in 1653, points out the excellent prospects to be found in both colonies.
- "Virginia's Cure: OR An ADVISIVE NARRATIVE CONCERNING VIRGINIA," by R.G., 1662. This account describes life in Virginia as a colonist, but more importantly focuses on the state of religious devotion and practice in Virginia. The author bemoans the lax observation of religion and proselytizing to the Indians and offers a remedy for the situation.
- "A Discourse and View of Virginia," by Sir William Berkeley, 1663. This is Sir William Berkeley's description of the colony and his suggestions for its improvement and future prosperity.
- "A True Relation of Virginia and Mary-land," by Nathaniel Shrigley, 1669. Nathaniel Shrigley's report is a description of the land in Virginia and Maryland and what trees, fruits, animals, and other resources could be found in the colonies.
- "Enquiries To The Governor of Virginia," by Sir William Berkeley, 1670, 1671. Sir William Berkeley responds to questions posed to him by the Lords Commissioners of Foreign Plantations. The questions/responses deal with schools, courts, commodities, and inhabitants in the Colony.
1675 - 1699
- "The Declaration of the People, against Sr: Wm: Berkeley, and Present Governors of Virginia," 1676. This document is Nathaniel Bacon's summary of the grievances of the people of Virginia against Sir William Berkeley, governor of the colony, and his advisors. The declaration includes a list of each of the grievances and of Berkeley's "wicked and Pernicious Councellours and Confederates, Aiders and Assistants against the Commonality."
- "A List of Those That Have Been Executed For the Late Rebellion in Virginia," by Sir William Berkeley, 1676. This list includes those whom Sir William Berkeley had executed for their role in Bacon's Rebellion. It is ordered by place of capture/death and explanation of the reason for execution.
- "Papers relating to Bacon's Rebellion," 1676. This collection of papers relates to Bacon's Rebellion includes Nathaniel Bacon's apology to Sir William Berkeley at the Assembly meeting prior to the rebellion and records of the court martials held in the aftermath of the rebellion.
- "An Account of our Late Troubles in Virginia," by Mrs. An. Cotton, 1676. Mrs. An. Cotton describes to Mr. C. H. the events of Bacon's Rebellion.
- "A Narrative of the Indian and Civil Wars in Virginia, In the Years 1675 and 1676," Date and Author Unknown. An unknown author describes the events of Bacon's Rebellion.
- "A Letter From Mr. John Clayton. Giving an Account of several Observables in Virginia," by Reverend John Clayton, Rector of Crofton, Yorkshire, 1688. This account of Virginia comes from a man who lived in the colony for a short time. Clayton wrote this account several years after his visit. The account focuses on more scientific aspects of the land, air, and resources of Virginia, offering practical suggestions for making the most of the agricultural prospects.
1700 - 1724
- "The Beginning, Progress, and Conclusion of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia, In the Years 1675 and 1676," by T.M., 1705. T.M. was a planter from the Northumberland area and a Assembly Member for his district. In this document he describes Bacon's Rebellion, often relating events that he was an eye-witness to due to his membership in the Assembly during this period.
- "The History of Virginia, In Four Parts," by Robert Beverley, 1720. This volume is Robert Beverley's description of the state of Virginia and its early history. The book includes a short history of the colony up to 1706, trade and produce of the country, descriptions of the Indian inhabitants, and the current government.