Person:John Rolfe (23)

Find records: birth marriage death
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)

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