In this five part series, explore the events leading up to the 400th anniversary of the first assembly and the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia. Click on the headings below for specific dates and times of the events.
Lord Delaware Departs London for Virginia
Governor General of Virginia—Baron Thomas West, Lord Delaware—prepares to return to Jamestown in early April of 1618. Rumors abound that several officers of the Virginia Company may be involved in a scheme to use the fledging colony as a base to attack Spanish treasure fleets! In the 7 years Lord Delaware has been away from Virginia, his appointed deputies have enforced the martial law he enacted in 1610 and the colony has grown from near collapse to 18 settlements. But now, if the rumored plot is true, then the Spanish could have reason to send a fleet to destroy Jamestown!
“Lo: Delaware was carried thither and buried”
Edward Brewster, the captain of Lord Delaware’s personal guard, and other townspeople lament the recent death of the governor, who died mysteriously on his return voyage to Virginia. Delaware, bringing supplies and soldiers after the “starving time” winter, first arrived in Virginia in 1610. He saved the settlement from abandonment but went back to England the following year, leaving a number of “deputies” to run the colony in his absence. While crossing the Atlantic on his return to Jamestown 8 years after his first trip, West’s ship was intercepted by a ship belonging to Deputy Governor Samuel Argall. Several days later a mysterious “sickness” swept West’s ship killing a number of the crew and Delaware himself. Now having buried Delaware, Brewster must determine what really happened!
“for the benefite of the lady Delaware”
Captain Edward Brewster explores the mystery of the late governor’s missing supplies, which were intended for the benefit of his widow. Before the governor’s death, he instructed Brewster to manage the servants and supplies that Delaware had been bringing to the colony. Brewster began to take inventory of the materials and workmen, but was met with resistance from Argall. As Brewster begins to make further inquiries, he learns why some of the supplies are missing!
“A laudable form of Government”
Newly-appointed Governor George Yeardley and his secretary John Pory prepare for the historic “First Assembly.” The two men arrived in Virginia in April amid continuing rumors that the now-former Deputy Governor Argall had been involved in activities that could have brought a Spanish fleet to bear on Jamestown. Over the past 3 months as they have gained insight into Argall’s activities, the two men have sent dispatches up and down the James River to the eleven largest settlements, instructing them to each elect two representatives called “burgesses.” With only two weeks before the burgesses arrive, the gentlemen will discuss the Virginia Company’s intent to replace the harsh “martial laws” that had stabilized the colony with a representative government. And it is hoped that this, when coupled with the opportunity to own land, will no doubt encourage more settlers to come!
First Assembly Commemoration – “Proceedings of the Virginia Assembly, 1619”
Governor Sir George Yeardley and Secretary John Pory attend the first meeting of the General Assembly to discuss and debate the laws affecting the colony. This interactive program will take place a short distance from the Memorial Church, which was constructed in the early 20th century to protect and memorialize the location of the original church where the first Assembly was convened 399 years ago.
These programs are free with paid admission to Historic Jamestowne. They are part of a series, but can also stand alone.