History Timeline

Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold, Capt. Gabriel Archer, and others voyage to the New England coast.
1603 Capt. Bartholomew Gilbert voyages to Chesapeake Bay; he and four others go ashore (likely on the Eastern Shore) and are killed by Indians.
March 24, 1603
After the death of Queen Elizabeth I, James VI of Scotland becomes James I upon ascending to the English throne.
April 1606
James I issues a charter to the Virginia Company of London for a tract of land on the mid-Atlantic coast. Learn more
December 20, 1606
Capt. Christopher Newport leaves London with the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery bound for Virginia.
April 26, 1607 The three ships arrive in the Chesapeake Bay.
April 29, 1607 The English erect a cross at Cape Henry, claiming the land for James I.
May 14, 1607
104 male settlers land at the site they name “James Cittie” and establish the first permanent English settlement in North America. Learn more
May 1607
Newport, Capt. John Smith, and others spend six days exploring the James River up to the falls. Along the way they encounter numerous Indian peoples.
May 26, 1607
200 armed Indians attack Jamestown, killing 2 and wounding 11.
June 8, 1607
Indians continue to harass the settlers; Gabriel Archer writes “by breake of Day. 3. Of them had most adventurously stollen under our Bullwark and hidden themselves in the long grasse….”
June 15, 1607
James Fort is completed in a triangle shape with three bulwarks sporting artillery; settlers also plant crops in two areas, according to George Percy.
June 22, 1607
Newport sails for England with the Susan Constant and Godspeed, laden with mineral samples that they hoped would indicate the presence of gold.
August 22, 1607
Captain Bartholomew Gosnold:  1607 Jamestown Colony leader recon
Bartholomew Gosnold, one of the principal leaders in the colonization of Virginia, dies and is buried just outside the James Fort palisade. Half the settlers die during the summer and early fall. Learn more
September 10, 1607
President Edward-Maria Wingfield forcibly replaced by John Ratcliffe.
Early December 1607
Smith leads an expedition up the Chickahominy River in search of food and is captured by Opechancanough, brother of Chief Powhatan.
December 29, 1607
Smith is brought before Chief Powhatan at the Indian capital, Werowocomoco. He later claims that Pocahontas, the chief’s daughter, saves his life. Learn more
By the end of 1608 The number of English in Virginia falls to 38.
January 1608
Smith returns to Jamestown and is tried and condemned for causing the deaths of the men on his expedition. Christopher Newport returns on the John and Francis with the “First Supply” of food and about 100 new settlers and halts Smith’s execution. Learn more
January 7, 1608
Fire damages James Fort: “such a fire growing rapidly it consumed all the buildings of the fort and the storehouse of ammunition and provision, so that there remained only three.” The settlers soon begin rebuilding the fort, including the construction of a large church. Learn more
Btwn. January & April 1608 The Reverend Robert Hunt, Jamestown’s first Anglican minister, dies and is buried in the chancel of the newly-constructed church. Learn more
April 10, 1608 Newport sails for England carrying possible evidence of gold, but it will prove to be false.
June 2, 1608 Captain Nelson returns to England with Capt. Smith’s written account Virginia.
June-September 1608
Captain John Smith leads 14 men on a 7-week exploration of the Chesapeake Bay and the Indian settlements along its shores. He makes a second voyage in late July to early September to explore further.
September 10, 1608
Smith elected President of the colony; he will soon issue the edict that “he that will not work shall not eat.”
October 1608
Newport lands with the “Second Supply.” 70 new immigrants arrive, including 8 “glasse-men” of either German or Polish origin as well as two women, Mrs. Thomas Forrest and her maid, Anne Burras.
November 1608
In Jamestown’s first wedding, Anne Burras marries carpenter John Laydon.
End of 1608
Newport returns to England carrying with him “tryals of Pitch, Tarre, Glasse, Frankincense, Sope Ashes….”
Late 1608 or early 1609
Smith orders the digging of James Fort’s first well. Learn more
May 23, 1609 James I issues the second charter to the Virginia Company, which replaces the Council with a Governor who has absolute control.
June–July 1609
Slate tablet
The “Third Supply” of nine ships and 500 immigrants leave England, but a hurricane scatters the fleet and wrecks the flag ship Sea Venture with Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Somers, and John Rolfe on a reef in Bermuda. All 150 on board are saved and begin rebuilding two boats from the wreckage.
August 1609 The ships that survived the hurricane arrive at Jamestown with about 300 men, women, and children and few provisions to feed them.
October 1609
After Capt. George Percy replaces Capt. John Smith as leader, Smith is badly wounded in a suspicious gunpowder explosion and forced to return to England. The ships’ departure is the signal for the Powhatans to attack the English all along the James River.
Winter 1609–1610
Chief Powhatan has warriors lay siege to James Fort, trapping about 300 settlers inside. Settlers eat horses, snakes, rats, cats, dogs, and shoe leather to avoid starvation that kills all but 60 of the fort’s residents by the springtime.
Winter 1609–1610
One of the settlers trapped in James Fort is a 14-year-old girl who arrived on the “Third Supply.” When she dies, desperate settlers resort to survivor cannibalism. Learn more
Winter 1609–1610
Capt. Gabriel Archer, one of Jamestown’s most important early leaders, dies and is the second honored with burial in the church chancel. Learn more
May 23, 1610
Lt. Governor Thomas Gates, John Rolfe, Ralph Hamor, Sir George Somers, William Strachey, and other survivors of the Sea Venture arrive at Jamestown in two ships built in their 10 months on Bermuda, the Deliverance and Patience. They find only 60 starved survivors and the fort in ruins.
May 24, 1610 Gates issues “The Laws Divine, Moral, and Martial,” introducing strict codes of behavior and severe punishments for transgressions.
June 7, 1610
Gates decides to abandon Jamestown. A lot of material is left behind as the survivors pack onto ships to return to England.
June 8, 1610
Gates’s convoy coming down the James River meets the resupply led by Governor Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, who demands a return to Jamestown.
June 10, 1610
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Lord De La Warr orders the settlers to clean up and reestablish James Fort. The church is repaired and new buildings constructed.
August 9, 1610
English launch major attack on the Paspahegh village, executing the queen and her children, burning houses and cutting down corn fields.
John Rolfe experiments with growing tobacco seeds, Nicotiana tabacum from Bermuda; native Virginia tobacco was Nicotiana rustica. Learn more
March 28, 1611
De La Warr and Gates leave for England, leaving George Percy in charge as Deputy Governor with only about 150 settlers left due to continuing problems with disease.
May 1611 Sir Thomas Dale arrives with 300 “men of war.”
June 1611
The English capture three men from a Spanish expedition at the mouth of the James; one of them is Don Diego de Molina, who will be held captive in Virginia for five years.
August 2, 1611
Lt. Governor Thomas Gates returns to Virginia with 280 settlers and assumes control.
September 1611
Sir Thomas Dale leads 350 men to build Henricus upriver near the falls of the James as an alternative to the swampy and dangerous Jamestown.
King James I renews the charter for the Virginia Company and gives it more self-governance. He also authorizes lotteries to raise money for the venture.
The English colonize Bermuda.
John Rolfe exports first crop of improved tobacco. Learn more
April 1613
Pocahontas is captured from a Patawomeck Indian village by Capt. Samuel Argall and brought to Jamestown.
February 1614
Gates departs Virginia, leaving Dale as Deputy Governor.
April 5, 1614
John Rolfe and Pocahontas marry at Jamestown. Learn more
Pocahontas gives birth to son Thomas Rolfe.
John Rolfe records the English population in Virginia, indicating there are 351 settlers at 6 settlements.
May 1616
John Rolfe, Pocahontas, their son, and a group of attendant Indians depart Virginia for England with Sir Thomas Dale. Learn more
June 1616 The Virginia Company institutes the “headright” system, giving 50 acres to anyone who would pay fare and 50 additional acres for each person brought with him. This encourages further settlement by gentlemen and lays the economic foundation for what will become a system of legal slavery.
March 17, 1617
Pocahontas dies in Gravesend, England, just after beginning the return trip to Virginia with her husband and son. Rolfe returns to Virginia but leaves his son to be raised in England.
Governor Samuel Argall orders the construction of a new church “50 foot long and twenty foot broad” just east of the first church building at Jamestown (where Pocahontas and Rolfe were married). This new building will be a wooden church built on a foundation of cobblestones one foot wide capped by a wall one brick thick. Learn more
Powhatan dies. Learn more
1619 George Yeardley brings “The Charter of Grants and Liberties” to form a new government in which white men of property get to pick representatives to make laws for themselves in an assembly meeting at Jamestown.
July 30, 1619
The House of Burgesses meets for first time, in the Jamestown church; its first law requires tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound. Learn more
August 1619 The first Africans arrive in Jamestown, traded off of an English ship, the White Lion which landed at Point Comfort. Some of these Africans are treated like indentured servants and work several years before earning their legal freedom; others likely remained enslaved. Learn more
Ninety young women arrive in Virginia to make wives for planters and stabilize the colony with families; the Virginia Company prices them at “one hundredth and fiftie [pounds] of the best leafe Tobacco.”
March 22, 1622
A massive surprise Powhatan Indian attack planned by Opechancanough kills 347 colonists along the James River, setting off a war that lasts a decade. The residents of James Fort were warned at the last minute and as a result was spared.
Winter 1622–1623
The second “starving time,” disease, and Indian attacks kill hundreds of settlers.
May 1623 Captain William Tucker concludes peace negotiations with a Powhatan village by proposing a toast with a drink laced with poison prepared by Dr. John Potts; 200 Powhatans die, and another 50 are killed.
September 1623 Surveyor William Claiborne lays out the streets of New Towne, a suburb east of the old James Fort. Learn more
May 24, 1624 The Virginia Company loses its charter due to mismanagement and Virginia becomes a royal colony.
March 27, 1625
King James dies, but his son and successor, Charles I, allows Virginians to keep their General Assembly.