1613-1615

Pocahontas may have married an Indian “pryvate Captayne” named Kocoum in 1610. She lived in Potomac country among Indians, but her relationship with the English colonists was not over.

When English Captain Samuel Argall learned she was in a village near his trading expedition, he devised a plan to kidnap her and hold her for ransom. Iopassus (Japazaws), lesser chief of the Patowomeck Indians, was involved in helping Argall lure Pocahontas onto his ship in the spring of 1613. A copper kettle was given to the chief’s wife, in recognition of the exchange. Pocahontas was told she would not be allowed to leave the ship, and she “began to be exceeding pensive and discontented.” Argall sent word to Powhatan that he would return his beloved daughter only when the chief had returned English prisoners he held, the arms and tools that the Indians had stolen, and some corn. After some time Powhatan sent part of the ransom and asked that they treat his daughter well.

Argall returned to Jamestown in April 1613 with Pocahontas. She eventually moved to a new settlement, Henrico, where the Rev. Alexander Whitaker began teaching her the Christian faith. She also met successful tobacco planter John Rolfe in July 1613. After almost a year of captivity, Sir Thomas Dale brought 150 armed men and Pocahontas into Powhatan’s territory to obtain her entire ransom.

Attacked by the Indians, the Englishmen responded by burning many houses and killing several Indian men. Pocahontas was finally sent ashore to meet two of her “brothers,” whom she told that she was treated well but also that she was upset that why, if her father loved her, he valued her “lesse then old Swords, Peeces, or Axes.”

Powhatan agreed to pay the rest of the ransom, but Pocahontas was destined to stay with the English and marry Rolfe. Rolfe was a religious man who agonized for weeks over the proposition of marrying a “strange wife,” a non-Christian “heathen.” After Pocahontas converted to Christianity, Rolfe married her “for the good of the plantation, the honor of our country, for the glory of God, for mine own salvation….” She was baptized and took the English name Rebecca, “mother of two peoples.”

Powhatan gave his consent to this peace-making marriage and sent Opachisco, Pocahontas’s maternal uncle, and two of “his sons” to witness the ceremony held in Jamestown’s church on April 5, 1614. A general peace and a spirit of goodwill between the English and the Indians resulted.


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