m. 24 Sep 1582
- John Rolfe1585 - 1622
Facts and Events
John Rolfe was one of the Early Settlers of Colonial Virginia
- 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), 30, Secondary quality.
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 I in 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, ...
... The descendants of Matoaka and John Rolfe include a number of families who live in Nelson and Amherst today.
- John Rolfe, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, Secondary quality.
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)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. (New York, New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co., c1915), 1:82, Secondary quality.
Rolfe, John, belonged to a family well known in the county of Norfolk, England, for centuries. the names of Rolfe's immediate ancestors, the Rolfe's immediate ancestors, the Rolfes of Heacham Hall, appear on the register of Heacham Church as early as May 27, 1560. John Rolfe, himself, was baptized there May 6, 1585.
Rolfe was an energetic and enterprising man and one of the type most needed in the Virginia colony, a man ready for any adventure. The elder Hamor wrote that "during the time of his abode there no man hath labored more than he hath done." He had been educated in an English university and was married to an English girl, when, in 1619, he embarked for Virginia on board the "Sea Venture," which was cast away in the Bermudas with Sir Thomas Gates and other leaders of the expedition. During their ten months' stay in the islands, a little daughter was born to the Rolfes and named for her birthplace, Bermuda. The child did not live, however, nor did Mrs. Rolfe more than a short time after her arrival in Virginia.
Rolfe speedily became prominent in the colony and to him belongs the credit of introducing tobacco in 1612, which afterwards became the source of such large revenue to Virginia and was long used as currency. He was made a member of the council in 1614, and at this time succeeded Ralph Hamor, recorder of the colony, an office which he held till the officer of secretary of state was created in 1619. but in spite of Rolfe's virtues, his fame rests largely upon his romantic marriage with Pocahontas, the Indian maiden, whose story has justly gained so wide a fame. The account of Capt. John Smith's deliverance by this "Guardian Angel of Virginia" was for long accepted without question and has grown to be a part of the nation's treasured lore. Of recent years, however, there has been an effort on the part of some eminent historians to discredit the tale and set it down as a mere invention of Smith. They point out that in a published letter of Smith to a friend in England, written shortly after his release by Powhatan, nothing was said of his fair rescuer, nor, indeed, is she mentioned in his first historical accounts. It is answered, however, by the no less eminent opponents of those idol breakers, that the publisher of the letter explicitly states that he has omitted a portion as being of a private nature, that his first history is admittedly incomplete, and that Smith told the tale unrefuted at the time of Pocahontas' visit to London, when there were many there besides herself who were familiar with the facts and might have exposed the gallant captain had his account not tallied with them. However this may be, there is no doubt that, even excluding this episode, the story of Pocahontas is a most romantic one or that she rendered the colony a great service by means of her friendship. At the age of fifteen she was apparently married to an Indian chief called Kocoum, with whose people she was found by Gov. Argall, who bribed an Indian to deliver her a captive to him for the gift of a copper kettle. Argall's purpose in holding Pocahontas prisoner was that she might act as hostage for her father Powhatan's good behavior.
An entirely new turn was given the matter by an attachment which grew up between her and John Rolfe. Rolfe hesitated for some time both on account of the effect on his fellow colonists and because he shrank from marrying a heathen princess unless he could make it the occasion of saving her soul. The latter scruple was soon removed by the conversion of Pocahontas, and the favor of Sir Thomas Dale being secured, the picturesque marriage was celebrated in the little church at Jamestown in Apr., 1614. The great Powhatan also smiled on the union and two of the bride's brothers were present. There can be little doubt that it served as Sir Thomas hoped it would to cement more closely the friendship of the English and Indians and postpone violence for a time. A year later Rolfe and Pocahontas sailed for England with Sir Thomas Dale, who took with him also, a member of young Indians, both men and maidens. Pocahontas was royally received and feted, entertained by the great, both secular, who treated her as a princess, and the clergy, who regarded her as the first fruit of the church in the New World. While in London, she saw Ben Jonson's "Christmas his Mask" played at court, had her portrait painted and was altogether the center of attention. But while Pocahontas thus found favor, poor Rolfe's experience was not so pleasant. It is said that King James was envious of his marriage to a foreign princes and feared that he might attempt to establish himself King of America. The council of the company in England, when news of his marriage first reached them, actually considered, it is said, whether Rolf might not be guilty of high treason in marrying a foreign king's daughter, and if other matter had not been pressed for attention, he might been have been hanged. A good deal of this was doubtless gossip. Rolfe occupied himself during his stay in England in writing a "relation" of affairs in Virginia which he dedicated to the King. It was arranged that the couple should return to the colony with Capt. Argall in 1617, but the little Indian princess was never again to see her native woods. She died and was buried at Gravesend and her husband proceeded on his way, leaving their son, Thomas Rolfe, in charge of Sir William Stuckeley at Plymouth.
Rolfe married a third wife in 1620, Jane, a daughter of William Pierce, of Virginia, by whom he had a daughter Elizabeth. He retained his seat in the council until his death in 1622.
- ↑ , Secondary quality.
Ship Passenger and Immigration Lists from the book: The Generall Historie of the Bermudas by Captain John Smith 1624, reprint 1966; Royal Naval Dockyard Museum, Somerset, Bermuda
... John Rolfe and wife. 9 months on Somers Island. Wife died on Somers Island or shortly after arriving in Virginia.