Person:John Rolfe (23)

John Rolfe
b.Abt. 6 May 1585 Heacham, Norfolk, England
m. 1582-09-24
  1. John RolfeAbt 1585 - 1622
  • HJohn RolfeAbt 1585 - 1622
  • WPocahontas1595 - 1617
m. 5 Apr 1614
  1. Thomas Rolfe1615 - 1675
  • HJohn RolfeAbt 1585 - 1622
  • WJane PierceBef 1602 -
m. 1619
  1. Elizabeth Rolfe1620 - 1635
Facts and Events
Name John Rolfe
Gender Male
Birth? Abt. 6 May 1585 Heacham, Norfolk, England
Marriage 5 Apr 1614 Jamestown, James City, Virginia, United StatesJamestown Church [1]
to Pocahontas
Marriage 1619 to Jane Pierce
Death? 1622 Jamestown, James City, Virginia

John Rolfe was one of the Early Settlers of Colonial Virginia

Image:Early Virginia Settler Banner.jpg

Information on John Rolfe


John Rolfe (c. 1585 – 1622) was one of the early English settlers of North America. He is credited with the first successful cultivation of tobacco as an export crop in the Colony of Virginia and is known as the husband of Pocahontas, daughter of the chief of the Powhatan Confederacy.

Rolfe was born in Heacham, Norfolk, England as the son of John Rolfe and Dorothea Mason, and was baptized on May 6, 1585. At the time, Spain held a virtual monopoly on the lucrative tobacco trade. Most Spanish colonies in the New World were located in southern climates more favorable to tobacco growth than the English settlements, notably Jamestown. As the consumption of tobacco had increased, the balance of trade between England and Spain began to be seriously affected. Rolfe was one of a number of businessmen who saw the opportunity to undercut Spanish imports by growing tobacco in England's new colony at Jamestown, in Virginia. Rolfe had somehow obtained seeds to take with him from a special popular strain then being grown in Trinidad and South America, even though Spain had declared a penalty of death to anyone selling such seeds to a non-Spaniard.

In 1614 Rolfe married Pocahontas, daughter of the local Native American leader Powhatan. Powhatan gave the newlyweds property just across the James River from Jamestown. Pocahontas and John Rolfe never lived on the land, which spanned thousands of acres. Today that location is known as Smith's Fort Plantation, and is located in Surry County. Smith's Fort was a secondary Fort to Jamestown, begun in 1609 by John Smith, but abandoned in 1610. The 20'x40' house that now stands at Smith's Fort dates to 1763 and is completely original throughout. It is not known who occupied the first house there prior to that time.

On what would be called a "public relations trip" for the Virginia Company in modern terminology, Pocahontas and Rolfe traveled to England in 1616 with their baby son, where the young woman was widely received as visiting royalty. However, just as they were preparing to return to Virginia, she became ill and died. Their young son Thomas Rolfe survived, and stayed in England while his father returned to the colony.

In 1619, Rolfe married Jane Pierce. They had a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1620. Elizabeth died in 1635 at the age of 15.

John Rolfe, who had been living in or near Bermuda Hundred, died suddenly in 1622, an illness.

Thomas Rolfe, the son of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, after being educated in England returned to Virginia and married Jane Poythress, daughter of Lieut. William Poythress of Jamestown. They had one child, Jane, who married Robert Bolling in 1675. She died in 1676 leaving one son, John, born the same year.


In 1622 there was an Indian massacre of Jamestown residents. One third of the residents were killed. John Rolfe died in 1622. It is not known if he died in the massacre. Some accounts say that his home was destroyed and he died of an illness after the massacre. (needs citation)

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at John Rolfe. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
  1.   Seaman, Catherine Hawes Coleman. Tuckahoes and Cohees: the settlers and cultures of Amherst and Nelson counties 1607-1807. (Sweet Brier, Virginia: Sweet Briar College Printing Press, c1992), pg. 30.

    Tobacco, already established in England by 1607, was improved by John Rolfe who in 1612 obtained the seeds of a South American Indian variety that produced Nicotiana tabacum, a large-leaf tobacco precursor of the modern plant. In spite of the pronouncement of King James lin 1604 that tobacco was a "stinking weed", loathesome to the eye. hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain and dangerous to the lungs, the English had used it as a cure for all ailments since 1607.
    Bringing a higher price than any other Virginia product, its economic power established the pattern of life for Tidewater Virginia on an agricultural basis. Both the demand for tobacco and its heavy drain on the soil, forced the colonists to look for fresh lands and accelerated the spread of settlement.
    In 1613, Captain Argall kidnapped Princess Matoaka and brought her to Henrico City to obtain a Christian education. It was here she and John Rolfe met and fell in love. On the 5th of April, 1614, Reverend Buck, a Puritan minister, married Rolfe and Matoaka. From that time forward for eight years, peaceful relations existed between the colonists and the Indians, and the population of the colony grew.
    In 1616, John Rolfe. Matoaka. and their son Thomas sailed for England where Matoaka died in 1617. Rolfe returned to the colony where he died, leaving his son in England. Thomas Rolfe later returned to Virginia, married and had at least two daughters, Anne who remained in England; and Jane (1655- ) who married Colonel
    Robert Boiling and died shortly after the birth of her son John Boiling (Dorman, 1987:512-513). John Boiling married Mary, daughter of Richard Kennon. and their daughter. Jane Boiling (1703-1766) married Colonel Richard Randolph of "Curies." John Randolph married Elizabeth Blair, and their son John Randolph, married Mary,
    the sister of President Thomas Jefferson (Dorman. 1987: 508). Thus the line of descent from the first settlers of Virginia, the Indians and English settlers, was fruitful. The ties of kinship would prove to be so important that Virginia families would become bound together in a "tangled web of cousins." The descendants of Matoaka and John Rolfe include a number of families who live in Nelson and Amherst today.