PRIME MOVER OF JAMESTOWN
Bartholomew Gosnold arrived at Exmouth on Friday, July 23, 1602. He haad been gone from England seventeen weeks to the day. He had visited unknown lands beyond the seas, and had brought his ship and all his crew -- gentlemen and others alike -- safely home. contrarieties he had had, but his voyage was notable for its morale, its expedition, and its maintenance of health. It was also notable for its secrecy.
What had Gosnold achieved in those four months?
He had blazed a new trail, so to speak, across the trackless waters of the Atlantic that was little longer than the shortest possible route. He had found and explored part of the coast of New England, the first to do so systematically in eighty years. He had found a place suitable for a trading-post, and set up a building -- that it was abandoned was beside the point. He had made friendly contact with the Indians there, He had, in short, carried out his mission as wwell as time and circumstances permitted. And he had brought back raw materials of sufficient value to defreay, or nearly defray the cost of the expedition: the balance, if any, could be charged off to exploratory expenses. This much, apart from the exact balance sheet, is known.
Among the things not known are such particulars as whether or not he was sent by the Earl of Southampton, as William Strachey later stated, whether or not he was aware of the violation of Ralegh's patent implicit in his unauthorized trip, and whether or not he actually expected to winter on an island off the American coast with what little he had by way of men and supplies. These unknowns are relatively unimportant. The important side of his story, about which fact must be combined with possiblility and probability, involves the backing he had (regardless of the Earl of Southampton), why he went (regardless of whether he stayed or not), and what he did when he got back to England.
As for the backing, it is reasonable to assume that Gosnold had the support of his wife's cousin, Sir Thomas Smythe -- how much is uncertain. It is reasonable to assume that through Sir Thomas he met Captain Hayes, a man over twenty years his senior but whose urge to colonize "Virginia" (including New England) never flagged. It is reasonable to assume, finally, that he Richard Hakluyt and Hayes were already known to one another, at least since the Gilbert North American venture of 1583. These assumptions, based on fact and on sound inference, sum up the important fundamentals of Gosnoold's career: connection with successful and wealthy merchants, connection with the mariners who made colonizing possible, and connection with the leading geographer and propagandist of English expansion of his day, if not of all time. Other connections of course grew out of these, but are subsidiary.
Why Gosnold went on his voyage in 1602 cannot be answered catgegorically. It may be that residence near such a port as Ipswich stimulated his imagination, and that tales of Ralegh's ill-fated colony reached his ears through Suffolk families which had lost a son or husband there. These would almost without doubt have made more vivid a fancy born of life near a busy port. By comparision, legal studies were dull. And so, between the time when Hakluyt received the living at Wetheringsett, near Bartholomew's home, and the last mention of Bartholomew as law student, everything points to his having abondoned a sedentary career in favor of a restless one. This would have been, on these grounds, between 1590 and 1592, when Gosnold was eighteen or twenty.
Despite the historical blank that broadly covers the years from 1592 to 1602, one isolated bit of fact testifies to some knowledge of the sea on Gosnold's part. In 1599, Bartholomew returned to England from a privateering voyage with booty valued at £1,625 17s 6d, piously hijacked from a Spanish ship at sea. This gave him funds, and possibly contributed to his determination to follow in the footsteps -- in the wake, would be more nautical -- of Giovanni da Verrazzano (1524) and Sir Humphrey Gilbert (1583). This also perhaps explains how and why, as the year 1602 rolls around, he seems to have planned from the outset to establish some sort of colony in what Verrazzano called "Norumbega."
Yet the size of the planned colony, twenty men at the outside, raises some doubt. He may have intended only to see what location for a colony he might find and, having found a moderately satisfactory one, have determined to hold the site pending to arrival of reinforcements of men and supplies, to be sent quickly byt his associate, Bartholomew Gilbert. This again is relatively unimportant. That he planned eventually to found a colony there can be no doubt. Consequently, whether the first one, the short-lived "fort" on Elizabeth's Isle, was to remain the pernament colony is immaterial.
Thus it is apparent that Gosnold deeply intended to found a colony, that he had connections, and that he found a suitable site. What, then, did he do on his return to England?
Again, the breaks in the historical records prevent a clearcut answer. Clio, the muse of epic poetry and history, seems to have been busier keeping her first interest ship-shape than her second. Indeed, granted the gift of song, it would be much easier to write a poem about Gosnold or most of his known conterporaries than it is to put down just what happened -- to record their history. To do that, we must once more weigh possibilities and probabilities, steadying the scales with such facts as we have, and then reconstruct the story according to our best lights.
Gosnold, to repeat, got to Exmouth on Friday, July 23, 1602. The next thing known about him is that he wrote at least a second letter (from there, or from London?) to his father by September 7th. This letter intimates that he had written immediately upon his return, and that he had already received an answer in which his father wanted to know more about him and his trip. Then, for at least three years, no record of Bartholomrw Gosnold has survived, beyond the notations in a parish register that a daughter and two sons of his were baptized: Susan, apparently in his absence, on August 2, 1602; Bartholomew, on December 16, 1603; and Paul on December 11, 1605. Let us attempt to fill in the gaps by logic.
In the first place, the documents and narratives preserved by Samuel Purchas (Purchas His Pilgrimes) show that two exploratory voyages were sent from England to Virginia in 1603: one, with two ships, under Captain Martin Pring and Master Robert Salterne, the latter of Gosnold's 1602 voyage; and the other, with Bartholomew Gilbert as Captain, Gosnold's co-captain in 1602. The former of these voyages had thirty men and boys on one ship, and thirteen men plus one boy on the other. The latter had some sixteen men all told. The former was sent by the merchants of Bristol, under the aegis of Richard Hakluyt, had for its objective and gathering of the panacea sassafras, and incidentally (although not without some purposefulness) skirted parts of the Massachusetts coast "which Captaine Gosnold overshot the yeere before." The latter was sent by Sir Walter Ralegh and had for its objective trade in the "southern part of Virginia," the search for the lost Roanoke colony, and the exploration of Chesapeake Bay -- still known mostly if not entirely by hearsay. Why was Bartholomew Gosnold not put in charge of either of these expeditions?
In the case of Pring, his was purely a trading voyage, with some exploring. Gosnold's interest seems by that time to have become concentrated on colonizing. In addition, Pring was sent out of Bristol, and all of Gosnold's mercantile contacts surely hinged on Sir Thomas Smythe, of London. Bristol did not like "East Country" interlopers. It was not logical for gosnold to have any part in this at all.
In the case of Gilbert, the absence of Gosnold from the roll is perhaps even more inevitable. Sir Walter Ralegh chose Gilbert to head the voyage as an outcome of is dealings with Gilbert on the latter's return from the 1602 expedition. He had apparently originally thought of sending Samuel Mace out again, despite that Captain's failure to obey orders implicitly in 1602, but in the end sent Gilbert instead. Gilbert's record argues that he was a "good talker", and his association with the successful Gosnold expedition would haave been a selling-point. Furthermore, Gilbert obviously had a more important part in that expedition than has commonly been indicated. This appears in the obscure detail that the first geographical feature discovered in 1602 was named Gilbert's Point, and only the second Gosnold's Hope -- in those days, discoveries were generally named with a great eye to relative importance. Other details were that Gilbert, a neighbor of Gosnold and very likely in a sense a friend, was also "Lord Cobham's man", and Lord Cobham was still, though in even less of a sense, a friend of Sir Walter. The result was that Ralegh seems never even to have heard of Gosnold, and therefore, quite logically, could not have employed him to go to Virginia.
This need not mean, however, that Gosnold was, or felt, left out of the colonization plans. The fact is that the death of Queen Elizabeth, just after Pring had started and just before Gilbert left, brought a halt to all such plans for a number of months. Royal influence on all sorts of human affairs being then immeasurably greater than a modern mentality can easily conceive, on merchant, no rich nobleman even, would have dreamed of spending money on colonial projects until the character and attitude of the new monarch from Scotland could be tested. The populace welcomed James Stuart with signs of great joy, the ministers of state sighed with relief that the difficult matter of the sucession to the throne was solved without any complication. But the merchants and nobles with money to lose watched King James for a while before indulging in any extravagant gestures.
There were two basic reasons for this, from the point of view of Gosnold's career, the more important of which was probably Spain. Elizabeth had been in an undeclared but unmitigated war with Spain since 1584. James was suspected, or known, to want Peace. Peace might involve English expansionistic behavior overseas -- for nearly twenty years without exception designed to harass, thwart, or rob Spain. Colonial plans must wait until James declared himself on that score.
Then there was the matter of patents. Sir Walter Ralegh held a patent on all Virginia, which in theory kept out of America south of Newfoundland all colonial entrepreneurs not authorized by him. But Sir Walter was in disfavor in certain influential circles and was most cordially disliked by one of the truly dangerous and unprincipled men in all England, Lord Henry Howard, soon to be created Earl of Northampton by King James. Howeard had poisoned the ear of the new King before he ever laid eyes on Ralegh, and Ralegh was in the tower, on pretty well trumped-up charges, even before Bartholomew Gilbert's expedition of 1603 returned to London -- Gilbert himself had been killed by the Indians somewhere along the central Atlantic coast of what is now the United States.
All in all, then, it behove Gosnold to wait patiently with other colonialists until James's attitude could be known. What specifically Gosnold did, is not known. But it is likely that he profited by this inactivity to lay plans for the future on a broader and sounder base.
Then came a bit of a suprise. Ralegh being held in the Tower "for life", his un-friend (which better represents the state than "enemy"), the Earl of Southampton -- highly popular with King James -- entered into close association with his Roman Catholic brother-in-law, Thomas Arundell, soon to be known as Baron Arundell of Wardour. They gathered funds and a group of twenty-nine mariners and adventurers and sent the now famous Waymouth voyage fleeting to the shores of New England. It was another voyage of exploration, but this time it may be that a site was being sought for a Roman Catholic colony, where English law would be less severely administered in religious matters. Whatever their real purpose, the entire group returned, filled with praise of the scenery and fertility of "north Virginia." They returned also with five Indians.
This matter may seem trivial, but Waymouth's arrival at Dartmouth with his kidnapped Indians attracted the attention of the Governor of Plymouth Fort, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, under whose jurisdiction the port of Dartmouth lay. Sir Ferdinando, though himself apathetic to the overseas will-o'-the -wisp, was the son of a first cousin of Tristram Gorges of Budockshed, who was related on his mother's side to Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Ralegh and was "imbued with the spirit of American discovery." For that, or some even more obscure, reason, Sir Ferdinando promptly seized three of the abducted Indians for himself, and shipped the other two off to Sir John Popham, Lord Chief Justice of england. This Indian impoundment occured shortly after Waymouth's landing, July 18, 1605.
Bartholomew Gosnold meanwhile had presumably returned to his home in Bury St. Edmunds, perhaps then twenty-five miles from Wetheringsett by country road and horse-path. Hakluyt undoubtedly easily accessible there. (It is known that he had no curate to help him at Wetheringsett in 1603 and possibly he still had to care for his two hundred communicants in person in 1605.) Gosnold more likely than not saw something of him. sir Thomas Smythe, fresh back from a special embassy to Boris Godunov, "Emperour, and great duke of all Russia", certainly saw him -- and not only on Russian affairs. virginia plantations were very much in the air.
But sometime before this, perhaps very early in 1605, Gosnold must have made the acquaintance of a young farmer's son from Lincolnshire named John smith, seven or eight years his junior, who had just returned from rare adventures in such unknown places as Hungary, Transylvania, Muscovy, and Morocco. Smith bore the military grade of Captain, bestowed on him by Hanns Jacob Khissl, Lieutenant Colonel of the Arsenal under Archduke Ferninand of Styria, first-cousin of the Emperor Rudolph II. Captain Smith was casting about for something to do, had some savings and some ill-gotten gains, like all advenurers of the times. He had shown his stamina by escaping from a Tartar prison-camp on the Don and returning to civilization through the unknown and virtually untrodden steppes of southern Muscovy. Captain gosnold, of no known military experience, apparently saw in Captain Smith a potentially usful associate and began to elaborate verbally: he had plans to establish a colony among the Indians of the New World.
Smith had already given fleting consideration to joining a relief expedition to an infant colony in Guiana, which for undisclosed reasons he failed to do. But, caught by the fire of Gosnold's enthusiasm, he reacted more than warmly to the substitute plan. He became the first "stranger" to join Gosnold's local group of friends -- that is, he was unrelated and he came from "distant" Lincolnshire. (His meeting with Gosnold seems to have steemed from Smith's landlord, Lord Willoughby, whose uncle, Sir John wingfield, was a first cousin of Gosnold's aunt, Ursula Naunton.)
In late years, Smith wrote that "Captaine Bartholomew Gosnold, the first mover of this plantation [of Virginia], having many years solicited many of his friends, but found small assistance, at last prevailed with some Gentlemen, as Maister Edward Maria Wingfield, Captaine John smith, and divers others, who depended a yeare upon his projects [before anything happened] . . . ." This means that by early 1605 Gosnold had already approached, and interested, his distant cousin, Edward Maria Wingfield, in his plan. (Edward was a second cousin of Richard Wingfield and Elizabeth Naunton nee Wingfield, father and mother respectively of Sir John on the one side of Ursula Naunton on the other.) But with his wife's cousin, Sir Thomas Smythe, away in Muscovy, with Smythe's associates perhaps dragging their feet on account of the new King, and with Southampton suddenly setting off an expedition like a firecracker, neither Gosnold nor Wingfield got much beyond what would be called today "the planning stage"; nor did John smith's appearance on the scene help materially.
At this juncture, everything happened all at once, as the saying goes. Lord Chief Justice Popham, "a huge, heavie, ugly man", received his two naked Indians from America via Plymouth Fort, properly robed, no doubt, in his judicial scarlet. And he marvelled. Time and again, for some years past, he had bethought himself of America -- of Virginia -- as a place to which undeerirable subjects of his Britannic Majesty might be sent, to relieve some of the current ills of the realm which he had continued to observe from the loftiness of his Bench. Now that the dirty-brown, paint-bedaubed bodies of the two denizens of the Unknown Continent grovelled before him, his interest duddenly awakened. Despite his unwieldy bulk, there was nothing slow about the mind of Sir John Popham.
First Secretary Sir Robert Cecil, now created -- and to be remembered as -- the Earl of Salisbury, was asked to call together all the many individuals who would be interested in schemes to "plant" America -- with colonists, not with parsnip seed. Salisbury of course knew of the Earl of Southampton's expedition of that same summer, and undoubtedly remembered the return of Gosnold and Gilbert three years before. (Ralegh's letter made sure of that.) In a word, he was not uninformed on the whole American question. Nevertheless, there had been reasons for not moving too quickly. By the time he received Popham's communication, one important aspect of colonization had cleared up notably.
King James, as everyone had almost feared (fear mixed with contrary hope), had arrived in England clothed in Peace. Scarcely had he arrived at Whitehall than he recalled the "letters-of-marque" that permitted -- indeed, authorized -- English privateers to plunder Spanish ships; and within a year and a few months of his accession to the throne had negotiated and signed a Peace Treaty with Spain. Spain had maintained the decorum of pretending to be in less of a hurry to sign, but by June 15, 1605, Philip III had ratified it. Salisbury's conscience was at least clear in regard to colonies: they could legally be established under the terms of the Treaty -- more accurately, there was deliberately and carefully not a single word about them there. Oddly, it had so happened that the Lord Admiral brought the Treaty, with Philip's signature, to King James only one week before Waymouth brought the Indians to Plymouth.
Sir Ferdinando Gorges, mystically stimulated by his three Indians, for the first time began to propagandize colonial ventures in America himself. More trivially, playwright Ben Jonson, aided by a couple of collaborators, produced a satire just then, on the gold-seekers who were exciting the metropolis with tales of wealth in Virginia to rival the gold of Ophir. All in all, between Gorges and the Indians and Ben Jonson such an effervescence was frothed up that Gosnold almost disappeared from the scene.
But when the sober Lord Chief Justice, and the sober merchants of London and elsewhere, met with the shrewd and sober First Secretary, Salisbury, solid plans began to emerge. Sir Thomas Smythe, restored in grace and knighted by the King before he went to Muscovy, was by then one of England's leading merchant-princes. Governor of the East India Company and entrepreneur in many merchandising fields, Sir Thomas settled gradually and almost inevitably into place as the pivot on which the American plans would turn. This meant the return of Bartholomew Gosnold to a key position.
Then came castastrophe, in the form of the Gunpowder Plot. (The outbursts of plots attest the disturbed character of the age: Esses' plot in 1601, the Bye plot -- involving Ralegh -- in 1603, the Gunpowder plot of Guy Fawkes' fame in 1605.) It is unnecessary here to go into what or why that was, but it caused the incarceration of more than one innocent subject -- among them, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland -- and distracted the attention of the Lord Chief Justice for some weeks. It also brought clearly before the public the cleavage between Catholics and Protestants and exacerbated the tensions and rivalries that had flourished over the religious issue since the days of Henry VIII and his first divorce. The Gunpowder Plot consequently was not merely an incident that slightly delayed Gosnold's realization of his hopes and plans to found a colony. It affected the essence of that colony, and reflected (and perhaps aggravataed) the canker that almost destroyed it.
But by the time the Christmas festivities ended with Ben Johson's masque for the marriage of the new Earl of Essex and Frances Howard, daughter of the Earl of Suffolk -- mere children -- and the Twelfth Night entertainment, also by Jonson, on January 6, 1606, normality had returned to England. By the end of the month the trial and execution of the plotters had passed into history. The Lord Chief Justice could return to his colonial planning. (The only possible serious obstacle -- a Catholic contract of private nature arranged between Sir John Zouche and Captain Waymouth -- had been washed away by the flood of anxiety loosed on November 5, "Guy Fawkes' Day.")
The charter which finally authorized Bartholomew Gosnold's long delayed "English pale" on the shores of aboriginal America was, of course, a compromise. The English have been conspicuous throughout their long history for realizing that nature abjors black and white almost as much as she abhors, proverbially speaking, a vacuum. The pastel shades are better suited to nature's works -- men, for instance, are never all black or all white. So must human relations, plans, and aspirations be; some black of imperfection in the purity of white, some white of innocence in the black of depravity.
The black and white in this case were, without specifying which was which, the tradition which provided individual, private monopolies to plant feudal domains across the seas, and the "socialistic" aim of the Lord Chief Justice to form royal colonies under the administration of the Crown. The end result was, to risk oversimplification, investment by private enterprise, by individuals, with the administration, or government, reserved to the Crown. It proved to be a makeshift arrangement, soon changed, but it was good enough to start the movement. English colonies so founded would be backed by men of enough wealth and political power to make the Spaniards think twice (perhaps) before moving to annihilate the colonies planned, and to make King James think twice (perhaps) before he backslid under Spanish pressure. Then, and it was equally important, the private investment, necessarily shored up if not quasi-guaranteed the Crown, could supply the vast captial needed over the first few years. For the investment might well produce no returns for a long time. This private capital took the form of a joint-stock company, but it was strictly private in the sense that subscription was not, in the modern sense, open to the public.
It seems on the surface ridiculous to attribute to the 1602 explorer who, "seeing this whole strength to consist but of twelve men, and they but meanly provided, determined to returne for England [from Elizabeth's Isle]" the elephantine solemnity of the final plan for colonization. Yet there is no real reason to doubt Captain John Smith's work that Bartholomew Gosnold was the "prime mover". Bartholomew moved where he could and , where he could not, other forces moved for him -- even Providence, in the form of five naked Indians. Gosnold was in all probability the one Englishman of the time (discounting Ralegh, in the Tower) who combined the vision, the practicality, and the persistence, to make colonization possible. It was a fortunate accident that allied him through his marriage with a business-man of equal vision and even greater capacity for persistence.
The moving picture, then, that like the Moving Finger of Omar Khayyam writes and having writ moves on, is of a young, adventurous soul that found its goal in what was called Virginia, and never stayed nor stopped until that goal was realized. Bartholomew Gosnold, obscure would-be lawyer from a Suffolk village, became the Deus ex machina of that consummate planner and idealist, Richard Hakluyt, as neither Gilbert nor Ralegh, knighted for their deeds, could. He, with an even more obscure farmer's boy, planted -- for all eternity -- an English birthright in Virginia's virgin soil.
The historical details from here on are simple to relate. So far as Gosnold's life and activities are concerned, and to all practical purposes, the Lord Chief Justice drew up a document for the King's signature which satisfied the merchants (including Sir Thomas Smythe) and "the Crown" (including Sir Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury). Sir Thomas may well have had a hand in drafting it; so may Sir Francis Bacon, then soaring into fame on the rocket of his Advancement of Learning; so may Sir Edwin Sandys, already a great leader in the House of Commons; so may Sir Ferdinando Gorges, he of the five kidnapped Indians; so may others. The crucial matter was the final writing and the securing of the Kings's approval. Popham and Smythe put it through the mill. Then action once more devolved on those whose idea it really was: Gosnold and the other adventurers who would risk their lives to carry out what the charter permitted them to do.
It is unnecessary to confuse the issue here with minutiae, such as the authorizing of the two separate, but overlapping, colonies -- one in Gosnold's "Norumbega" (the land that waited for John Smith to name it "New England"), the other in Ralegh's "Virginia" (the North Carolina of the unseccessful colony). West Country rivalries with London over who should get there first, and what was wrong with the plans, have no bearing on Gosnold's life. Gosnold had "found" the northern part of Virginia, but he was ready to "find" the southern part, and plant his colony there. How the mighty divided and virtually undiscovered land mattered little. The thing was to discover it, plant it, and keep it planted: no one had done that yet for England.
There is no question but it may be argued that the big merchants, nobles, and so on were more likely to have hired mariner Gosnold than that Gosnold went looking for nobles. Yet, it was so common in those days -- and still is -- for the Columbuses, Cabots, Verrazzanos, the Cartiers to seek support from the magnificent for their magnificent ideas that although the story may have been the other way around, the probabilities are against it. It is much more likely that Gosnold, having somehow obtained the backing of the Earl of Southampton and, most probably, Sir Thomas Smythe for a voyage in 1602, put a sort of pressure on Sir Thomas for another voyage -- a pressure that was only delayed in its results by Sir Thomas' absence in Muscovy and by the unexpected Waymouth expedition. Delayed by the latter, but helped, for Waymouth's entirely unprincipled kidnapping of five Indians seems to have turned the trick.
Whether, for instance, Edward Maria Wingfield, Gosnold's first associate in the Virginia Venture of 1606, would himself have moved toweard the promotion of an English colony in Virginia may well be doubted. Edward Maria was by a dozen years the senior of his cousin of briefer recorded genealogy. Edward Maria, judging by surviving records, had never succeeded in obtaining long-sought acres in Ireland or recompense for services in the Low Countries which resulted in his imprisonment by the Spaniards (in 1588 or so) and despite his illustrious blook he ws without land or glory. However, Edward Maria had a tie with the Earl of Southampton -- he was the grandson of a lady named Bridget Wiltshire by her first husband, while his first cousin Sir William (later Lord) Hervey, her grandson by her second husband, married the Earl of Southampton's widowed mother. And Southampton was interested in Virginia, and had sent younng cousin Gosnold there (to the northern part). Thus Edward Maria and Bartholomew got together -- like enough at the asking of the younger man. For him, an illustrious and literate figure-head would lend dignity to his expedition, if he would go along. John Smith, his old companion Archer, and others would do the work, and gladly.
So it was that when Lord Chief Justice Popham was ready with the basic material -- the Charter -- Sir Thomas Smythe, with Gosnold at his elbow, was ready with the men: Richard Hakluyt as chief sponsor, and with him Edward Maria Wingfield, Sir Thomas Gates, and Sir George Somers -- all "old soldiers" who were far from dying. Edward Maria Wingfield agreed to go along, perhaps with an eye to being Governor. Hakluyt, who had been offered the Chaplaincy, almost went, but sensibly gave up the idea and relinquished the job to a protege of Wingfield's, a Robert Hunt, of more sutiable age for hardships. Gates and Somers remained in the wings until it was their turn to step on stage. So far as Gosnold's story is concerned, they are mere names.
On April 10, 1606, at least a year after Gosnold had really begun to work on his ploans, James, by the grace of God, King, etc., "greately commending and graciously accepting: so noble a proposal, granted to Gates and Somers, Hakluyt and Wingfield, and divers others not named, his "license to make habitation, plantacion, and to deduce a colonie of sondrie" of his people in that part of America which was commonly called Virginia -- that is to say, between the indeterminate line where Spanish influence was supposed to stop and the lands were French influence was supposed to begin. Of Gosnold, Smythe, or Smith never a word.
AS has just been said in passing, King James authorized two groups of colonial entrepreneurs, one for the "north part of Virginia", the other for the "south part", the Virginia of today. Hakluyt was with the Southern group, Popham (in the persons of members of his family) and Gorges took over the "northerners." Their story, like the eventual history of Gates and Somers, is beside the point. Gosnold, ephemeral planter in the north, joined Hakluyt's group, as was to be expected. The merchants financing the expedition gathered together -- under Sir Thomas Smythe, judging by subsequent events -- to provide proper government as well as the necessary funds, and the active participants set about procuring supplies and enlisting prospective colonists. In John Smith's words, "his Majestie by his letters patent, gave commission for establishing Councels, to direct here, and govern and execute there. To effect this, was spent another yeare." Well, not quite. In eight months the expedition was ready to sail.
King James was not so speedy about appointing a governing Council as Smith wrote, for the official list of members was not published until 20 November. Since someone must have been in charge in the meantime, it may be taken for granted that Sir Thomas Smythe dedicated a good bit of time to general direction. Perhaps he was aided by his associate in the East India Company, Sir William Romney, who had already shown interest in the exploration of a "Northwest Passage" to China, across the top of North America. They, or whoever was then in charge, selected ships and ship-captains; Gosnold, Wingfield and Smith busied themselves with "gentlemen: and others (laborers) to go along.
On the basis, presumably, of Ralegh's Roanoke Colony of 1587, it was determined to send three ships (a "fleet", with an Admiral in charge) and a body of roughly one hundred colonists. (Ralegh had sent three ships, with about a hundred men and boys -- disregarding the women. The 1606 expedition included no women at all.) To command the fleet, Captain Christopher Newport was chosen, an old hand at privteering in West Indian waters, who had left an arm there in defense of his ship. Newport's Vice-Admiral was, need we say, Bartholomew Gosnold. These two were the only appointed officers of the expedition during the voyage. Upon arrival in Virginia, a permanent governing body would take over.
The third ship, which may have been the same pinnance which was Pring's second ship in 1603, was placed under the command of Captain John Sicklemore, alias Ratcliffe, who is still the most obscure figure among the leading colonists.
Newport, Gosnold, and Ratcliffe, as he is more commonly known, were eventually entrusted with three copies of secret and sealed Instructions for the foundation and government of the Colony, not to be opened until arrival in Virginia. These Instructions contained the names of those appointed by the London Council to the Council of and in Virginia, which proved a cause of considerable dissent despite the fact that secrecy was chosen just to avoid that very thing. How far Newport and Ratcliffe influenced the choice or enlistment of other colonists is not clear. But there is evidence that Gosnold and Smith had a large hand in this aspect of the plans.
Here breif mention may be accorded to some of those lesser lights in the colonial experiment, some who are known or surmised to hav been relatives or friends of Bartholomew Gosnold. In addition to his friend Gabriel Archer, Gosnold took with him his younger brother, Anthony, and the son of his first-cousin Robert, another Anthony, aged not over eighteen. George Goulding, a laborer who went along, was also most probably a relative -- a close one, perhaps, of Bartholomew's wife, or a distant one of Bartholomew himself.
Then there was John Asbie or Ashby -- Bartholomew's uncle Robert of Otley married a Naunton whose brother married an Ashby. Roger Cooke, another colonist, may have been another connection, also through the Nauntons. Robert Ford may have belonged to the Fords of Essex into whose family Bartholomew's cousin Robert of Langham married. Nicholas Skot or Scot may have been connected through Bartholomew's distant cousin Sara Carter, who married an Edward Scot, or through Sir Thomas Smythe's sister who married Sir John Scott, a member of the London Council in 1607. And Thomas Webbe, "Gentleman", may have been a cousin through Bartholomew's great-aunt Alice, who married a Thomas Webbe who had died more than half a century before.
Some or all of these may be but coincidences of surname. No one has determined as yet who these colonists actually were. Nevertheless, there is a great probability that at least a few of these were related as has been surmised. Gosnold's strength in the colony was great, and it may have depended in part on the support of the "gentlemen" among those listed above.
John Smith's direct addition to the colonists is more difficult to assess. He stated that it cost him "many a forgotten pound to hire men to go; and procrastination [the year-long delay] caused more to run away than went." But elsewhere he said that he with his "party" prevented attempts to abondon the colony (after Gosnold's death). Clearly, John Smith had no important relatives, and his "party" was probably made up of laborers and soldiers. Yet one gentleman-colonist may be attributed to Smith, Stephen Galthorpe, who died not long after their arrival in Virginia. Stephen may possibly have been a member of the family of that name in Alford, Lincolnshire, where Smith first went to school in the days of the Spanish Armada. This family was far-flung, and included a branch in Suffolk and Norfolk to which Edward Maria Wingfield was connected by inter-family marriages. Stephen and John Smith were apparently close during the voyage out of England.
Wingfield himself claimed credit for the Chaplain, Robert Hunt, a gentle but determined man who died, aged about thirty-eight, within a year of his arrival. In addition, he mentioned a friend, with whom he quarrelled bitterly, Richard Crofts, possibly another connection of Gosnold's. Beyond the friendship and the quarrel, nothing certain is known of this gentleman.
Of those not connected in any apparent way with Gosnold or Wingfield there was Captain John Martin, the son of Sir Richard Martin, goldsmith of London and one-time Lord Mayor. Captain John was in his forties and had a career in law and on the sea behind him. He had commanded the Benjamin (financed at least in part by his father) under Sir Francis Drake on the voyage that brought back the 1585-1586 Roanoke Colony of Sir Walter Ralegh. Martin's fther had been in semi-discrace over debts -- by no means entirely his fault -- in 1602 and 1603, and, although his name was entirely cleared by 1605, this may have had something to do with the son's determination to go overseas. The deciding factor, however, was undoubtedly the prospect of gain and the fact that he had already visited the coast of America. (Martin's name is a controversial one in early American history.)
Captain George Kendall was another leader in the colony, whose identity has been determined only quite recently. He apparently was in some sense in the pay of Spain, went to Virginia in some sense as a spy, and was caught. It is known that he was executed for treason -- the first Englishman to have that unenviable distinction in North America so far as is known. Kendall was a continual trouble-brewer, who took advantage of petty factions among the colonists to promote his own aims, which might well merit the old-fashioned adjective "sinister."
The last in this list, but first in social standing, was George Percy, youngest brother of Henry Percy, ninth Earl of Northumberland, and scion of one of the most blue-blooded families in Britian. George was not quite a year younger than John Smith, and appears to have joined the expedition for two reasons: his brother was involved in the Gunpowder Plot and incracerated in the Tower since the end of 1605, and George was apparently tired of whatever he himself had been doing in Ireland for some little time. It is likely that, in 1606, he sought independent means and some small glory for himself across the seas.
Casting an eye very briefly on the future, we may add almost parenthetically that a Thomas Sands, "Gentleman", went along, whose only importance, if any, was that he may possibly hav e been a brother of both Sir Edwin Sandys -- perhaps second only to Sir Thomas Smythe in the London end of the Virginia venture -- and George Sandys, outstanding member of the Virginia Colony in the 1620's.
These, along with a handful of gentlemen whose only reason for joining the expedition was as ex-adventurers in America, constituted the company drawn together by the efforts of Gosnold, his "cousin" Sir Thomas Smythe, his real cousin Wingfield, and his friend Captain John Smith. It is anyone's guess who the remaining unidentified colonists were.
As the preparations neared completion, King James issued a document interminably entitled (as was the custon of the day) Articles, Instructions and orders, sett down and established by us the twentieth day of November  . . ., and so on, in which he appointed a broup of knights and merchants to form the the already-mentioned King's Council, or London Council, for Virginia, and outlined nearly forty basic principles for the functioning of the colony.
Three weeks later, on December 10th, the Council in question issued its first orders, in which the ships for the expedition were named, and the powere and responsibilities of Newport, Gosnold and Ratcliffe outlined. Simultaneously, or very shortly thereafter, further Instructions by way of advice were issued by the Council, " to be observed by those Captains and company which are sent at this present to plant there." And all was ready. Nine days later the fleet sailed.
It is idle to speculate on the details of embarkation. Samuel Purchas' often quoted marginal note on the subject states that 71 were aboard the Susan Constant, 52 on the God Speed, and 21 on the Discovery, making a total of 144. There is no more way of knowing, however, whether this figure includes sailors as well as colonists than of determining what passengers were on which ship. Nevertheless, it may be surmised that Edward Maria Wingfield sailed on the Susan Constant, since he was the only patentee of the company to go on the expedition and, with the exception of George Percy, Esq., the ranking member according to the strictg social scale of the day. And it may be guessed, from what happened on the voyage, that Captain John Smith was on the same ship.
The fleet was grimly detained by contrary winds for nearly six weeks in the Downs, a part of the North Sea off the coast of Kent which is protected by Goodwin Sands. This well-nigh insufferable delay made manyt of the company ill, and Hunt almost despaired of his life. All of them it made irritable. And when they at last got away, the seeds of strife were well planted on all three ships.
Judging by surviving records, trouble broke out most seriously between Edward Maria Wingfield and John Smith. wingfield was an "esquire", a gentleman by birth, Smith, a farmer's boy. Smith, however, had been made a Captain for valor in the field in Hungary. This made him feel the equal of anybody with the same or lesser military title, especially since they were all off on a expedition in which merely social strata might be assumed to be rearranged according to merit or function rather than birth. Wingfield, unquestionably, was not aware that anything could change the status conferred by the latter. Consequently it was only a matter of time until there were words between the two which could not be tolkerated by the gentleman-by-birth. By the time the fleet left the Canaries, perhaps toward the end of the third week in February, 1607, Smith was "restrained as a prisoner" -- on fabricated accusations of "concealing an intended mutiny", demonstrably made by Winfgield, for that born-gentleman was later fined £200 for slander. This unpleasant situation persisted through the rest of the voyage and for six and a half weeks thereafter. Smith seems to have borne his "restraint" with considerable dignity, perhaps sustained by the thought that George Percy's noble brother was equally unjustly "restrained" in the Tower at the same time.
When the fleet arrived off Cape Henry on 26 April, the secret Instructions were opened and read, as ordered by the London Council. According to these, that body had appointed the following colonists to act as local governing body, or Council, in Virginia: Captain Christopher Newport (ex officio as Admiral), Master Edward Maria Wingfield, Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, Captain John Smith, Captain John Ratcliffe, Captain John Martin, and Captain George Kendall. Wingfield, who ought to have known that Smith's name was on the list -- it can hardly have been a secret -- was patently furious.
The council promptly held a meeting, as required by the Instructions, and elected Wingfield its first President, which was to be expected in view of his age, blue-blood, and dignity. Wingfield thereupon refused to swear Smith in as a Councillor. But Newport, from the outset an obedient servant of the London Company above all and otherwise a fair and moderate arbitrator rather than a commander, delayed all swearing-in, in the hope, perhaps, that hot heads would cool off. He seems to have persuaded the Council to postpone the ceremony until they found a place to settle, and then, when the place was found and Windfield still refused to administer the oath to Smith, after all the others had been sworn in, he took Smith with him up the James River. His objective was, in obedience to the Instructions of course, to see what potential enemies might be lurking above them, as well as what potential food-supplies there might be, mines, and other potentialities. Archer, Percy, and the colony's surgeon -- probably also a botanist -- went along, but Smith's part in the expedition seems clearly to have some connection with the "intended mutiny: and Wingfield's obduracy. AS for that dignitary, he stayed on the admiral's ship, tied close to shore at the new-born colony Jamestown, in company with Gosnold and Ratcliffe and their ships and men.
At first, Wingfield refused to fortify Jamestown, for reasons which may best be labelled "arcane" -- a word which may perhaps convey the utter inexplicability of his action. Only with difficulty did Kendall manage to get permission to surround the settlement with "roughs of trees cast together in the forme of a halfe moone:, to afford some sort of security. But before Newport, Smith, Percy, and Archer got back, the Indians attacked. This was Wingfield's first serious mistake in "presidential policy."
The attack occurred on Tuesday, May 26th. Newport and his group of explorers returned on Wednesday. Thursday -- one wonders if at Newport's insistence -- all went to work "palisading" their fort with a strong wooden fence. Friday the Indians came again, but kept out of musket-shot reach. There followed a brief respite until Sunday, when one of the gentlemen, Eustace Clovell, was shot full of arrows, while straggling outside the palisade. He died a week later.
This almost uninterrupted Indian prowling made it clear that, despite Wingfield's stand, the colony was not what could be called at peace with the aborigines, adding this danger to Gosnold's original dislike of the site. (Wingfield had chosen the place and had refused to be budged, causing "some contention" between him and Gosnold two weeks before.) June began with another, minor, attack, followed on June 4th by further skulking and pot-shots with arrows. Clearly the situation demanded radical treatment.
The only strictly military man known to have been among the colonists, if the uncertain and in any case much earlier services of Wingfield and Martin are excluded, was Captain Smith. At this juncture, those who always supported him, along with some who were perhaps not so steadily friendly, began an energetic protest against his continued state of virtual ostracism. Smith undoubtedly was glad to cooperate. By Saturday, June 6th, a petition had been drawn up and presented to the Council for reformation of "certayne preposterous proceedings, and inconvenyent Courses", as the official Relation put it. (Gagriel Archer almost certainly was the author.)
The following Wednesday, moved by Admiral Newport, the Council considered the petition and a great stir was made to bring harmony and "uniformity of Consent" back to the Colony. In the end, and on that day, the official account reports: "Captaine Smyth was . . . sworn one of the Counsell, who was elected in England." Thus John Smith began his true, and loyal, service to America.
By then, Newport had decided that he must return to England. He had already stayed away longer than the King's Council had wanted -- he was supposed to have been back by the end of May, "if God permit" -- although part of the delay had been unavoidable from the very outset, due to the North Sea. Nevertheless, it behoved him to start back, and about a week after Smith's admission to the Council he called on President Wingfield. He wanted to ask how Wingfield "thought himself settled in government." Wingfield answered "that no disturbance could indanger him or the Collonye, but it must be wrought eyther by Captaine Gosnold, or Master Archer; for the one was strong with friends and followers, and couold if he would; and the other was troubled with an ambitious spirit, and would if he could." This indicates that all was not entirely harmonious between Gosnold and Wingfield, as has been said, and it was the first intimation of Archer's potential danger to the peace of Jamestown.
Newport then, curiously, informed both Gosnold and Archer of percisely what the President thought, "and moved them, with many intreatyes, to be myndefull of their dutyes to his Majestie and the Collonye." "Curiously", since Gosnold surely had no intention of overthrowing Wingfield -- almost certainly the first many he chose to go with him on the voyage: such a piece of advice would have tended more to arouse suspicion than to allay a feeling that did not exist; while any information fiven to Archer to the effect that Wingfield was afraid of him would only make matters worse. But Newport was tht sort of man, and it was by that very token that the mutual respect which seems to have existed between him and John Smith was doomed, as further evidences of silly, however dutiful, actions became manifest. This is part of Smith's story, however, not of Gosnold's.
The following Monday, June 22nd, Newport sailed on the Susan Constant, taking the God Speed with him, and leaving only Ratcliffe's pinnance Discovery with the colony. On his departure he promised, rather unrealistically, to be back with supplies, and more colonists, within twenty weeks. Considering that it had taken him eighteen weeks to get to Virginia and he would need at least four or five to return to England, the promise was rash, no matter how "unusual" their difficulties had been. Then, no one could predict how long it would take him to "turn around": report to the King's Council -- Heaven deliver him from the delays of reporting to the King in person! -- load supplies and colonists, and get past the Downs once more. It was not so much that Newport's estimate was unrealistic in this sense, it was worse. It was highly unpolitic, for it encouraged a very large segment of the colonists to rely for supplies on his return, instead of starting off with a will to take care of themselves.
John Smith reported that the day before Newport sailed, the Chief of the Pamunkey tribe sent an emissary to promise the colonists peace, which is an unimportant detail since it cannot be regarded as a sincere gesture -- the Chief's record is mute testimony to that. But this item in a very sketchy record serves as a spring-board for Smith to add that the fort was by then properly fortified and all the men in good health, although, because of "some" discontent, "it did not so long continue." Why? Because
. . . the President and Captaine Gosnold, with the rest of the Counsell, being for the moste part discontented with one another, in so much, that things were neither carried out with that discretion [that was demanded] nor any business effected in such good sort as wisdom would, nor our owne good and safetie required.
Nevertheless, the colony settled down to some sort of routine. The only surviving account of what went on, that of Captain John Smith which was so bungled on its way to the press that it is at times almost incomprehensible, has no further word of Indian visits, of attempts at trading with the Indians, or of any rational behavior by anybody.l All that emerges is that Newport did have some sort of authority, that Wingfield had none, that he and Gosnold were at odds, and that nearly everybody was sick -- mostly from lack of food, but partly from maintaining a continous watch and ward for attacks by the savages. The only Councillor mentioned for good is Martin, who was too weak and too sick to accomplish much. Thus the stifling July days dragged on, poisoning the colonists morally and physically with its muggy heat, its jungle-bred fear, and its alternate starvation and overeating -- the latter when a big sturgeon was caught. Not even Gosnold was a hero then.
Then came August, and on the first or second day of that tragic month, Gosnold's "discontent" and apathy worsened into palpable distemper. In short, he fell seriously sick. Afew days later, George Asbie or Ashby died, "of the bloudie flixe" -- dysentery. A deadly epidemic had broken out.
The second week of August started with the death of George Flower, probably the Captain Flower of campagins in Ireland, to be followed the next day by William Bruster, or Brewster, "of a wound given by the Savages." Bruster had just sent a letter to Salisbury, by way of Newport's ship, telling the Secretary that Virginia was "the most statlye, Riche Kingdom in the woorld, nevar posseste by anye Christian prynce." But sickness took a greater toll than the Indians, four, that are known, that week.
The third week was the most tragic yet, perhaps the most tragic of all. Unaided by Indian arrows, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday each claimed a life, among them that of Captain Martin's son. Then came two days of respite, to bury the dead, and then the blow, from which the colony did not recover for many a month. On Saturday, August 22, 1607, death claimed Captain Bartholomew Gosnold.
Gosnold had been sick for three weeks, as had many others. Scurvy and dysentery were the chief complaints -- certainly not malaria, for the symptoms were different. Typhoid fever possibly had its share in pestilence too. And there was hunger, always, made all the more pernicious by unaccustomed diet when there was food, so that George Percy wrote, "For the most part, they [those who died] died of mere famine." The specific cause of Gosnold's lingering death is not known.
During his illness, however, and possibly because he realized that it would be fatal, Gosnold called Edward Maria Wingfield into his tent, along with John Smith. It was an attempt to bring peace between the President and the man who already by then was obviously emerging as the strong man of the colony. While he weas alive, Captain Gosnold had been able to maintain a sort of truce between them. With death lurking just around the flap of his tent, he sought to heal the quarrel.
But Wingfield would not, could not, bend. Master Smith he intoned to the sick Captain, had spread a rumor in the colony, when food was at its scarcest, that he, Wingfield, feasted himself and his servants and associates out of the colony store. This was done, he added -- to use his own words -- "with intent (as I gathered) to have stirred the discountented company against me." Then he turned to Smith and told him, before Gosnold, "indeed, I had cased half a pinte of pease to be sodden [boiled] with a piece of port, of my own provision, for a poore old man, which in a sickness (whereof he died) he much desired." And after adding that if Smith "had given it out otherwise", he had lied, the true cause of Wingfield's dislike of Smith burst out. [Smith's] face, that he begged in Ireland like a rogue, without a lycence. To such I would not my name should be a companyon."
Smith seems to have muttered something about their being equal as members of the Council and to have returned the insult by saying that he would disdain to have his serving-man for Wingfield's companion if they were in England. But the account is indeed obscure here and it is difficult to determine who said what and when. Here, in any case, was a social upstart rising in rebellion against the blue-blooded order of things -- a man who had fought for his life against all odds, murdering a slave-labor-camp boss to gain freedom, looking down on a man who had always had some sort of protection or preferred treatment because of chance birth into a family that counted many branches. Gosnold's appeal for peace between them failed, because of his cousin's unyielding sense of superiority. And within a few days he was gone. Perhaps his own helplessness in the boiling-pot of dissension that was Jamestown contributed to his weakness, his inability to resist disease.
The colony, with proper instinct for the man they had lost, honorably buried Bartholomew Gosnold, shattering the silence of the primeval forest with the crackle of volleys of small shot and the thunder of the discharge of all the ordance in Jamewtown Fort.
Somewhere under the soil of Jamestown, perhaps near the statue of John Smith gazing out over the James River, lies the body of him who failed to plant a bit of England in New England, only to succeed in Virginia. He did not live to see it through its most trying times -- John Smith and George Percy did that. But Gosnold's spirit survived, and for many years no one regarded any other man as the prime mover in the establishing of what is now the United States of America than Captain Bartholomew Gosnold.