Ambassador to England

1616-1617

Sir Thomas Dale sailed back to London in the spring of 1616 to get more financial support for the Virginia Company. To boost publicity, he brought with him about a dozen Algonquian Indians along with Pocahontas, her husband, John Rolfe, and their infant son, Thomas. Thomas was born in Virginia in 1615.

The arrival of Pocahontas in London caused a sensation. And through a series of plays, balls, and other public events, Pocahontas “did not only accustome her selfe to civilitie, but still carried her selfe as the Daughter of a King, and was accordingly respected.” She was presented to King James I and the royal family.

Also in London at this time was Captain John Smith, whom she had not seen for eight years and whom she believed was dead. According to Smith, at their meeting Pocahontas was at first too overcome with emotion to speak. After composing herself, she talked of old times. At one point she addressed him as “father,” and when he objected, she defiantly replied: “Were you not afraid to come into my father’s Countrie, and caused feare in him and all of his people and feare you here I should call you father: I tell you I will, and you shall call mee childe, and so I will be for ever and ever your Countrieman.” This was their last meeting.

During this time the Virginia Company commissioned a portrait of Pocahontas—the only image we have of her made from her direct appearance. In the portrait her expensive clothes, fine lace ruff, and tall hat proclaim her to be a wealthy Englishwoman dressed in the latest fashion. After seven months Rolfe decided to return his family to Virginia, and in March 1617 they set sail. But Pocahontas was deathly ill from pneumonia or possibly tuberculosis. She was taken ashore and, as she lay dying, she comforted her husband, saying, “all must die. ‘Tis enough that the child liveth.” She was buried in a churchyard in Gravesend, England. She was 22 years old.


Exhibits