Jamestown, England’s first real foothold in the New World, was fraught with danger — from starvation and disease to violent skirmishes between colonists and the native populations. Mortality rates were impossibly high: Six out of seven settlers died within the first few years. How clear these and other perils were made to the fifty-six young women who left their homes and boarded ships in England in 1621, nearly fifteen years after Jamestown’s founding, is not known. But we do know who they were. Their ages ranged from sixteen to twenty-eight, and they were deemed “young and uncorrupt.” Each had a bride price of 150 pounds of tobacco set by the Virginia Company, which funded their voyage. Though the women had all gone of their own free will, they were to be sold into marriage, generating a profit for investors and helping ensure the colony’s long-term viability.
Author: Jennifer Potter