The House Of Burgesses

The first legislative assembly for North American elected representatives was the Virginia House of Burgesses. This House was created by the Virginia Company as a way to encourage English craftsman to come to North America and settle. It was also created so that its current habitants could have more favorable conditions.

The House of Burgesses worked together with the colonial council and the colonial governor. It was the representative branch for Virginia and it remains so from 6019 to 1776. In 1776 the colony of Virginia became the independent Commonwealth of Virginia. At this same time the House of Delegates was established and replaced the House of Burgesses.

The Virginia Company founded the Colony of Virginia under a royal charter. The early governors of Virginia provided the harsh judgments and stern leadership that was required for a new colony to survive its many difficulties. Early difficulties included disease, famine, insufficient skilled labor, a need to establish cash crops, insufficient committed labor, and issues with the Native American people. For this new colony to grow and prosper it would require an influx of responsible settlers.

The Virginia Company’s owners made a charter that would encourage responsible settlers to come into Virginia. If you paid your own way you would receive a parcel of 50 acres of land. The inhabitants of the colony would be able to represent the colony at the newly formed House of Burgesses.

On July 30, 1619, there was a six-day meeting at a church on Jamestown Island. It was the inaugural legislative assembly in the Americas and it was styled after a European legislative assembly. There was a Council chosen by the Virginia Company who would become the governor’s advisers. Along with these chosen advisers there was also 22 representatives who were locally elected and met as the new House of Burgesses. The Council and the members of the House of Burgesses would constitute the newly formed Virginia General Assembly.

The very first session was on July 30, 1619. Unfortunately, it did not accomplish very much as there was an outbreak of malaria. Some of the 22 members included Capt. William Powell, Samuel Jordan, William Capps, Lieut. John Gibbs, Walter Shelley, Capt. Thomas Graves, Thomas Pawlett, and Capt. Christopher Lawne.

As mentioned previously, in 7076 the House of Burgesses was terminated. It was replaced by the House of Delegates. At this time the colony of Virginia became the independent Commonwealth of Virginia.

Biography: Governor William Berkeley

Gov. William Berkeley lived during the years of 1605 to 1677. He was one of the Colony of Carolina’s well known Lord Proprietors as well as a colonial Governor of Virginia. King Charles II of England considered Berkeley as one of his favorites and therefore appointed him to these two posts.

As the owner of a plantation in James City County, he tried various experimentations such as growing silkworms as a way to expand the tobacco-based economy. He also was well-known for the friendly policies that he displayed towards the Native Americans. These policies were the primary result of the Bacon Rebellion which was a revolt in 1676 by fellow plantation owners.

Berkeley was born in Bruton in 1605. When he was 12 years old his father died and left his son was some land in Somerset. At a very young age, young Berkeley showed signs of an ability for broad learning and he had a very quick wit. Berkeley’s informal education was simply a matter of observing his elders. This careful observance allowed him to learn the various attributes that contributed to governing a large English society.

He also was keenly aware of agricultural practices because of his English country gentry. This agricultural knowledge would benefit and influence his actions and policies as the governor of Virginia. Even though his father died in debt, Berkeley was able to secure a proper education. At age 6 or 7 he entered grammar school where he became literate in English and Latin. At age 18 he entered Oxford.

In 1641, he replaced Sir Francis Watt as the new governor of Virginia. As the governor of the colony of Virginia, he had two terms from 1660 to 1677 and 1641 to 1652. His main initiative soon after becoming governor was to promote the diversification of Virginia’s agricultural products. He did this by making himself an example for other plantation owners and by passing various laws.

After he was given a second administration term as governor he continued to work towards diversification. This made Virginia very prosperous because of free trade, a diverse economy, a close-knit colonial society, and complete autonomy from London. To support his views on a diversified economy he used his own plantation as an example.

Berkeley had a bitter hostility towards Virginia’s Quakers and Puritans and other minority religions. He also strongly opposed public education. Berkeley died on July 9, 1677 in England.

A Brief Biography of John Rolfe

John Rolfe was one of the earliest English settlers in North America. He successfully cultivated tobacco in the Colony of Virginia, aiding the profit of this area. He was also the man to become husband to the Native American princess, Pocahontas.

Rolfe was born and baptized in Norfolk, England, during the year of 1585. At this time, Spain held the monopoly on the highly lucrative tobacco trade. However, John Rolfe was one of the first to see an opportunity to pull some of Spain’s control over tobacco out from under them. Jamestown, the capital of the Colony of Virginia at the time, became the perfect place to do just that. Despite Spain’s penalty of death on any individual selling tobacco seeds to a non-Spaniard, John Rolfe was somehow able to acquire a portion of these seeds, which he brought with him when he arrived at Jamestown escaping personal injury.

There was a problem with the tobacco that was being produced in Jamestown. Not only did Spain enjoy settlements in the Americas that had climates better suited for the cultivation of the crop, the tobacco being produced natively in Virginia was not well liked by the English. However, John Rolfe was able to help Virginia produce sweeter tobacco using the seeds he brought with him that quickly gained popularity. He called the tobacco that his seeds produced “Orinoco” tobacco. This tobacco strain helped bring significant profit to the Colony of Virginia.

But aiding Jamestown’s revenue was not the only beneficial thing Rolfe did for Virginia’s capital. In the year of 1614, he married the daughter of the Native American chief Powhatan, Pocahontas. Pocahontas had previously converted to Christianity, changing her name to “Rebecca” at the time of her baptism. This marriage brought peace between the English settlers of Jamestown and the Native Americans they shared the land with for several years. In fact, a man by the name of Ralph Hamor wrote that trade and commerce were friendly not only with Chief Powhatan but his subjects as a whole.

After his wife Rebecca’s death in 1617, John Rolfe remarried. However, land that had been given to Rebecca and himself by Chief Powhatan was willed to his young son, Thomas, who had been produced during his brief marriage to the Native American princess. He died in the year of 1622, at the age of 37. But even though he only lived for a short time, he passed away leaving behind a legacy as a man who had provided invaluable help to Jamestown and the Colony of Virginia.

Pocahontas; Her True Identity

Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, chief of the tribe of native Americans in Colonial Virginia. She was born in the year 1596 and named Matoaka at birth, and later known as Amonute. Children born to this tribe were often given several names with different meanings during special occasions. Her first name, Matoaka, was a secret and translated “secret stream among the hills”. Pocahontas was a nickname given during her childhood that meant “playful one”.

It was said that when Pocahontas was 11 years old she prevented her father from killing the Englishman, John Smith who had been captured by the natives. This account was retold by Smith, and there is some skepticism as to whether the story is true.

In the year of 1613 hostilities broke out between the Indians and the English settlers, and Pocahontas was taken captive and held for ransom. During this time Pocahontas became a Christian convert and changed her name to Rebecca. In April of 1614, she was married to John Rolfe who owned a tobacco plantation, and their son Tomas was born the following January.

In the year of 1616, the Rolfe family traveled by ship to London, England where Pocahontas (Rebecca) was presented as an example of a civilized savage to English society. It was hoped this would spark interest in the Jamestown settlement among English businessmen, and they would be willing to invest in the new American colony.

Pocahontas became very popular in England and quickly gained celebrity status. Her social experience included a masquerade ball held at Whitehall Palace, which must have been quite a thrill for her.

Unfortunately, Pocahontas was never able to return to Virgina since she died unexpectedly at Gravesend soon after setting sail for home. She was buried in a church located at Gravesend, but the name and exact location of her burial place is not known.

The marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe helped to create a climate of peace between the natives and the English settlers. Unfortunately, after the death of Pocahontas and her father Powhatan a year later, the “Peace of Pocahontas” began to unravel.

Pocahontas is remembered as a positive influence who smoothed relations between the native people and the Jamestown settlement. Her childhood action of preventing the death of John Smith may have been an indication of her peaceful nature. The fact that she converted to Christianity while she was in captivity also supports the idea.

The Founding Of Virginia: What Was The Second Virginia Charter?

There’s so much amazing history throughout the state of Virginia that it’s nearly impossible to take it all in. After all, the Virginia Colony was one of the founding colonies of the United States. It would only make sense that much of the birth of the United States happened within the colonial borders!

If you’re not a history buff, then you may not have any idea how Virginia Colony became the State of Virginia other than “American Revolution” in Albany. If you’ve done a little bit of research, you may know that the Virginia Colony was founded by the Virginia Company and eventually became a Crown Colony. But unless you’ve looked into it specifically, you may not have any idea that there was an entirely different company involved!

The First Virginia Charter

Also known as the Charter of 1606, this is the original document signed by King James 1 in order to allow the Virginia Company the right to settle and develop the land. However, it was more specifically the Plymouth Company and the London Companies, both divisions of the Virginia Company, who would do the actual administrating. Much like all colonies, the agreement was that the Company could develop the land as they saw fit, provided the Crown got a cut of the profit.

The Second Virginia Charter

The Charter of 1609 didn’t change much in terms of overall management. The Virginia Company still owned the charter, and the crown still got a cut of the profit. However, the Plymouth Company was dissolved due to the failure of the Popham Colony.

Since an entire division of the parent company had been dissolved, this left a large section of land essentially without any kind of management. So King James 1 signed a second charter, the second charter of Virginia, in order to put the land under control of the London Company.

Ultimately, the second charter didn’t change much. It shook up the exact people in charge, but the truth was that the Virginia Company was incapable of properly managing the land either way. Jamestown only survived thanks to the sudden arrival of more settlers and supplies, and it wasn’t until 1612 that the colony began producing tobacco that was worthwhile as a cash crop.

Still, without the Second Virginia Charter, who knows what might have happened. The colonies might have fell to ruin far more quickly, and the United States may never have gotten off the ground.

The Achievements Of Martin Pring

Martin Pring resided in Bristol, England before taking on the role of explorer. Living from 1580-1626, he began his first expedition the North America in 1603 at only 23 years old. With the expressed intent of determining what potential the new lands had when it came to commerce he captained the ship and its crew.

During his first expedition he visited Cape Cod, New Hampshire and Maine. He named what is now called Plymouth Harbor and an adjacent hill Whitson Bay and Mount Aldworth, respectively. He did this in honor of two of the men that had financed his expedition. These were later renamed when they were colonized. While it is disputed, many believe that his crew was the first to travel on the Piscataqua River that came from the east.

He is also known for traveling to the area once again in 1606 to make accurate maps of the coast of Maine. Soon after he was hired by East India Company as a shipmaster. During his hire with them he was employed to block other nations from trading in East Asia as well as exploring and mapping the area for future reference. He become the commander of their entire fleet in 1619 and then returned to Europe in 1621.

Shortly after his return to Europe he was inducted into the Virginia Company and rewarded with land. He then left the East India Company in 1623 and took on the role of being a privateer. In that role he was able to capture enemy ships in return for a portion of the bounty.

There is very little know about his early life, but given the fact that he embarked on his first expedition as captain at the young age of 23 it is assumed that he took an early interest in sailing. His first sailing to the Americas was on the Speedwell, which had been licensed by the well-known Sir Arthur Raleigh. His ship held 60 tons and had a crew of 30 men. They had an escort, which is a sign of a well financed voyage in its day.

They spent the months of June to early August exploring a great deal of coastline, often traveling inland on various rivers. At one point they encountered natives who attacked but were fought off thanks to the dogs on board waking the craw. His journey is credited for encouraging the voyage of the Plymouth 17 years later.

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Information On Batholomew Gosnold

Born in 1571, Bartholomew Gosnold was a famous English lawyer and was well-regarded for his work in the exploration of North America. He was also an explorer who took time to build out the Virginia Company of London while going out for an expedition in the region.

According to history experts, Bartholomew Gosnold was one of the prominent figures in American history and had a major role to play in the colonization of Virginia at the time.

Here is more on what Bartholomew Gosnold’s life had to offer.

Private Effort

Bartholomew Gosnold displayed a passion for privateering, and it was evident as he went out to purchase equipment and boats.

He wanted to explore, and this meant he needed friends, funds, and directions. This was all pieced together in England, and he was able to gain the trust of those around him. All of it was done privately, and he was not funded by anyone for his passion.

He was able to convince the British to go ahead and colonize the land they were exploring.

He felt it was appropriate as an economic stronghold for the nation and something they could rely on in the region.

Cape Cod

One of his famous expeditions involves Cape Cod.

He was sent to explore New England and ended up heading west from his targeted route. This was when he was able to land at Cape Elizabeth. During the same time, he started to head over to Provincetown Harbor, which is when he decided to name the area “Cape Cod.”

While he was able to set up a post in the region, this didn’t last long due to the lack of funds and resources.

Settlers decided it was best to leave before the winter hit hard in the New England area. At the time, he had more than 32 settlers with him as they explored Cape Cod.

Fort and Colony

As he set up the Virginia Company of London, he was able to design the fort and surrounding areas too.

He felt it was appropriate to have this as the stronghold for Britain instead of the suggested areas by other settlers. He felt those were unsafe and not as practical in the long-term.

His efforts along with Matthew Scrivener remain a large part of colonial history in the region and how it was developed over time. In 1607, Bartholomew Gosnold passed away in his mid-30s. The causes remain unknown to experts.

The Plymouth Company In Colonial Virginia

Set up by King James 1, The Plymouth Company was established in 1606.

The premise of the company was to act as a “joint-stock” company meaning it would establish settlements. The target region for these settlements was near North America’s coastline. The company was set to do all of the work for the monarch and make sure it was established as necessary.


How was it set up?

The Plymouth Company was built on the shoulders of merchants who were funding the enterprise. The goal was to get a financial setup in place that would be offered to settlers. These settlers would then head over to the North American coastline on behalf of the monarch.

How were the merchants making money from this and what was the incentive on their side?

The benefit of doing this for the merchants had a lot to do with the money they would receive from settlers once they started earning in North America. Those settlers were taxed on any income they made, and it was sent back to the merchants similar to what a venture capitalist would do nowadays.

Since the profits were high at the time, it was easy for settlers to send over funds and still make a lot of money for themselves.

Revival in 1620

For a while, the company was asked to stop, and it was no more until it was revived later on. It was in the year 1620 when it was decided The Plymouth Company would be established again and run like it was before. However, this time it would be named The Plymouth Council for New England.

It was able to get 40 merchants to sign up and invest as a part of the project, and it did last for four years before dying out again.

By the year 1624, The Plymouth Company was no more.


Where was this company housed in North America?

According to modern maps, it was near the Chesapeake Bay or the Us-Canada border. They made sure to set up a colony named “the Popham Colony” near modern-day Maine. This was the heart of their operations and where all of their assets were established at the time.

The newer company that was revived later as The Plymouth Council was moved to Plymouth, Massachusetts until it died out. Most of the attention was pushed towards Great Britain’s ventures in other parts of the world.

Biography: Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh is widely considered by historians to be among the more notable figures of Britain’s Elizabethan era. A 2002 BBC poll placed him among the 100 greatest Britons throughout the island nation’s millennia of history.

Very little is known about the circumstances of his birth, which is assumed to have taken place between 1552 and 1554. There is some debate about the specifics. He was many things in the course of his life, including writer and poet, soldier, spy, explorer, courtier, and politician. According to legal software, notable relatives of his included a younger half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and a cousin, Sir Richard Grenville. Raleigh is interestingly known as the man who popularized tobacco across England.

It is known that he was born in Devon, to a Protestant family. He was named after his father Walter Raleigh, and his mother was Catherine Champernowne. Not much is recorded regarding his youth, although it’s known he spent a bit of time in Ireland. Here, in Killua Castle of Clonmellon, County Westmeath, he took part in suppressing in local rebellions, eventually participating in the noted Siege of Smerwick. He would later become a landlord over land and property that had been confiscated from some of the native Irish.

He eventually gained the personal favor of Queen Elizabeth I, and rose rapidly in status, getting knighted in 1585. He served an instrumental role in the British colonization of the North American continent, even receiving a personal royal patent for the exploration of Virginia, leading to later settlements. His influence on that region is reflected by the fact that North Carolina’s capital city is named after him.

In 1591, he married Elizabeth Throckmorton, who happened to be the lady-in-waiting for the Queen. The marriage was done in secret and without the permission of the Queen. The married couple were locked up inside the infamous Tower of London. He did get eventually released, and the two retired to his Sherborne, Dorset estate.

Not long after, he heard about a South American ‘city of gold’ and set sail to find it. He published accounts of his experiences, but they were exaggerated, helping contribute to the ‘El Dorado’ legend. He was locked up in the Tower again following Queen Elizabeth’s death in 1603 for supposedly plotting against King James I, who did not approve of him. His second release came in 1616 to lead another expedition in search of El Dorado. On that trip, men with him on the expedition found a Spanish outpost and ransacked it, which violated both a peace treaty with that nation and his own pardon terms. He came back to England, where authorities appeased the Spanish by arresting and executing him.

Why the Roanoke Colony is Known as “The Lost Colony”

One of the earliest mysteries in North American history is that of Roanoke Colony, better known as “The Lost Colony.” Roanoke Colony was established in the year of 1587 in what is in the state of North Carolina today. This venture was an attempt by the English Queen Elizabeth the First to establish a colony in the Americas, founded by one Sir Walter Raleigh.

After Sir Walter Raleigh and the colonists accompanying him arrived at the colony’s location, John White, a close friend of Raleigh’s, was chosen to become the governor of Roanoke Colony. Later in the year of 1587, the colonists persuaded John White to return to England for fresh supplies and to bring back help for the settlement. When he departed, he left behind 115 men and women, including his newborn granddaughter who was the first English child to be born in North America.

John White sailed for England, although during the time of his travels it was considered risky to cross the Atlantic Ocean. When he arrived in England, he was just in time for the attack of the Spanish Armada, and the Anglo-Spanish War that followed. Queen Elizabeth required the use of every available ship during this time, which made John White’s return to Roanoke Colony impossible for some time.

In 1588, John White was able to acquire two vessels that were small but able when it came to sailing across the ocean. He then began the trip to Roanoke Colony. However, the two ships were captured and their cargo seized before they could successfully make their way back to the Americas. With nothing left to deliver the colonists, the decision was made to direct the ships back to England.

Finally, John White was able to travel back to Roanoke Island, arriving at the site on what was his granddaughter Virginia’s third birthday. However, he was unprepared for the sight that awaited him. Roanoke Colony was completely deserted.

There was no trace of desertion, nor was there any evidence that the men, women, and children left behind had been attacked. All that was left behind was the word “Croatoan” that had been carved into a post that had made up the fence that surrounded the village. “CRO” had also been carved into a tree nearby. While there have been many theories as to what happened to Roanoke Colony, the mystery surrounding it has lead to its other name – The Lost Colony.