Person:John Smith (125)

Capt. John Smith, of Jamestown
d.21 Jun 1631 London, England
m. Bef 1579
  1. Francis SmithAft 1579 - Aft 1631
  2. Capt. John Smith, of Jamestown1579/80 - 1631
  3. Alice SmithAbt 1581 - Aft 1631
  1. Peregrine SmithAbt 1608 -
Facts and Events
Name Capt. John Smith, of Jamestown
Gender Male
Christening[1][2] 9 Jan 1579/80 Willoughby, Lincolnshire, England
Marriage [proof of marriage needed]
to Unknown Unknown (5045)
Death[1][2] 21 Jun 1631 London, Englandage 51 -
Burial[1][3] St. Sepulchre Without Newgate, City of London, Middlesex, England(Saint Sepulchre-without-Newgate Church, Holborn Viaduct)
Reference Number? Q228024?

Capt. John Smith was one of the Early Settlers of Colonial Virginia

Research notes

Image:Early Virginia Settler Banner.jpg

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 John Smith (explorer), in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia
    last accessed May 2016.
    This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at John_Smith_of_Jamestown. 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.

    John Smith (c. January 1580 – 21 June 1631), Admiral of New England, was an English soldier, explorer, and author. He was knighted for his services to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania, and his friend Mózes Székely. He was considered to have played an important part in the establishment of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. He was a leader of the Virginia Colony (based at Jamestown) between September 1608 and August 1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay. He was the first English explorer to map the Chesapeake Bay area and New England. ...
    Capt. John Smith
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. (New York, New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co., c1915)

    Smith, John, fourth president of the Virginia council, was the eldest son of George and Alice Smith, tenants of Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby; was baptized at Willoughby, January 9, 1580; travelled extensively abroad, where he encountered many perils by sea and land; distinguished himself by killing three Turks one afer another, for which astonishing prowess he received from Prince Sigismund of Transylvania, a coat-of-arms charged with three Turks heads. That he was a man of distinction in England is proved by the fact of his selection by the king as a member of the first Virginia council. He sailed to America with the first colonists, but was charged by Wingfield and others as an instigation of Galthorpe's mutiny in the West Indies, and was kept under arrest till June 10, 1607, some three weeks after the landing at Jamestown. After the deposition of Wingfield from the presidency and the election of Radcliffe, Smith acted as cape merchant, and was quite successful in procuring corn from the Indians. In one of these expeditions up the Chickahominy river he was taken prisoner by the Indians. He remained a prisoner by the Indians. He remained a prisoner about three weeks, during which time he was taken from town to town and finally conducted to Werowocomoco on York river to be put to death. From this peril he was rescued by Pocahontas, one of the daughters of Powhatan, head chief of the Powhatan confederacy, and soon after was suffered to return unharmed to Jamestown. Here he ran into a new danger, when the council, under lead of Gabriel Archer, condemned him to be hanged as responsible for the death of Emry and Robinson, who accompanied him to the Chickahominy; but Captain Newport arriving the same night (January 2, 1608) with the "First Supply," and interfering in his behalf, Smith was released. Smith continued his explorations and in the summer of 1608 made a full discovery of Chesapeake Bay, and its tributary rivers. On September 10, 1608, he assumed the presidency, and among the first things he did was to enlarge the area of the fort by the addition of about three acres, changing the plan from a triangle to a pentagon. After the "Second Supply" of men and provisions arrived, in October, 1608, there occurred two months later the first marriage of English people in America, that of John Laydon and Ann Burras. Smith started an extensive system of improvements at Jamestown, in which he kept the men engaged for several months, but a remarkable disclosure of carelessness on his part rendered the work of little value. It was suddenly discovered that the corn in the storehouse on which the colonists depended was nearly all consumed by rats and the remainder was unfit to eat. To save the colonists from starvation he had to break them up in small parties, and station them at different points, sending some to live with the Indians and others to the oyster banks down the river. While the colony was in this desperate condition, the "Third Supply" arrived, bringing news of a new charter and the appointment of Sir Thomas Gates as governor. As Sir Thomas's ship, the Sea Venture, had been wrecked and given up for lost, the crowd of settlers who landed had no recognized leader and Smith declined to surrender his authority. Violent quarrels took place, Smith was arrested, and in October, 1609, he returned to England. Smith, in contrasting the results of his administration with the "starving time," which followed, claims credit rather unjustly for what the new arrivals accomplished. In reviewing his connection with Virginia, the evidence is reached that while he was a strong and masterful spirit, he was contentious, boastful and illiberal in his treatment of others. So long as he stayed, the colony was rent by factions of which he was certainly an active promoter.
    Smith was in England from 1609 to 1614, when he was taken into the employment of the North Virginia Company, created admiral of New England, and sent on several voyages thither. He remained in this service two years, after which till his death, June 21, 1631, he lived in England devoting himself to writing. During his stay in Virginia he had sent home in 1608 a report which was soon after published as "A Trewe Relation." In 1612 he published his "Map of Virginia," in 1616 his "Description of New England," in 1620 "New England's Trials," and in 1624 the "General Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Islands," and in 1630 "The True Travels." These works have all the same general style, suggestive of the character of Smith, being involved, hasty, inaccurate and illiberal, but sincere, open and fearless. While his narratives must not be taken without qualifications, and not much weight is to be attached to his opinions of others, there is no real reason to reject his authority on the main issues.

  3. Biography, in Source Needed.
    BIOGRAPHY: This portrait of Captain John Smith (shown below) appeared on a 1616 map of New England. The image is colorized by Jamie May from an original engraving by Simon de Passe.

    Virginians know that Captain John Smith was one of the first American heroes. But because he was a proud and boastful man, it is difficult to know which parts of his life are fact and which are fiction. What many people may not know is that Smith's adventures started even before Jamestown.


    Born in 1580 in Willoughby, England, John Smith left home at age 16 after his father died. He began his travels by joining volunteers in France who were fighting for Dutch independence from Spain. Two years later, he set off for the Mediterranean Sea, working on a merchant ship. In 1600 he joined Austrian forces to fight the Turks in the "Long War." A valiant soldier, he was promoted to Captain while fighting in Hungary. He was fighting in Transylvania two years later in 1602. There he was wounded in battle, captured, and sold as a slave to a Turk. This Turk then sent Smith as a gift to his sweetheart in Istanbul. According to Smith, this girl fell in love with him and sent him to her brother to get training for Turkish imperial service. Smith reportedly escaped by murdering the brother and returned to Transylvania by fleeing through Russia and Poland. After being released from service and receiving a large reward, he traveled all through Europe and Northern Africa. He returned to England in the winter of 1604-05.

    Here begins Captain John Smith's American adventures. Apparently restless in England, Smith became actively involved with plans to colonize Virginia for profit by the Virginia Company, which had been granted a charter from King James I. After setting sail on December 20, 1606, this famous expedition finally reached Virginia in April 1607 after enduring a lengthy voyage of over four months in three tiny ships. When the sealed box that listed the names of the seven council members who were to govern the colony was opened, Smith's name was on the list. On May 13, 1607 the settlers landed at Jamestown ready to begin the task of surviving in a new environment.

    The harsh winter, lack of fresh water, and the spread of disease made life in Jamestown difficult for the settlers. Attacks by the native Algonquian Indians made life almost impossible. The Indians, hoping that the settlers would give up and leave, raided their camps, stealing pistols, gunpowder, and other necessary supplies. John Smith became leader of the colonists and did his best to fight off the Indians.

    In December 1607, he and some companions were ambushed by Indian deer hunters. After killing the other Englishmen with him, the Indians carried Smith back to their powerful chief, Powhatan, to decide his fate. Powhatan was apparently greatly impressed by Smith's self-confidence as well as such mystical instruments as an ivory and glass pocket compass he carried with him. Smith was questioned about his colony and then made to take part in some sort of ritual or trial, after which, in keeping with an Indian custom, he was made a subordinate chief in the tribe. Powhatan's 11 year old daughter took part in the ceremony in some way. Smith was constantly unsure of his fate, and he was convinced afterward that Pocahontas had saved his life. Smith was released in friendship after about four weeks of captivity and returned to Jamestown, guided by Indians. Meanwhile, dissent within the colony fermented due to lack of supplies, laziness, and periodic attempts at desertion by many of the colonists, and personal conflicts among Smith and various leaders, as well as disagreements over new policies being formulated in London. As a result, Smith left Jamestown to explore and map the Chesapeake Bay region and search for badly needed food supplies. Due to bad government and near chaos, Smith was eventually elected president of the local council in September 1608. He instituted a policy of rigid discipline, strengthened defenses, and encouraged farming with this admonishment: "He who does not work, will not eat." Because of his strong leadership, the settlement survived and grew during the next year. Unfortunately, Smith was accidentally injured by a gunpowder burn and had to return to England for treatment in October 1609, never to return to Virginia again.

    In London, he actively promoted the further colonization of Virginia, but was unpopular with the Virginia Company. In April 1614, he returned to the New World in a successful voyage to the Maine and Massachusetts Bay areas, which he named New England, with the approval of Prince Charles. He was denied further opportunities to return to America due to his independent nature and spent the rest of his life writing books until his death in 1631 at age 51.

    A further note from the same article states:
    :"John Smith died 21 June 1631. He was buried in 1633 in the south aisle of Saint Sepulchre-without-Newgate Church, Holborn Viaduct, London, England. The church is the largest parish church in the City of London, dating from 1137. Captain Smith is commemorated in the south wall of the church by a stained glass window."