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and a picture of King James, and fhould be
accounted his nobleman.

Though this tranfaction paffed whilft Sir
Thomas Gates was at the head of the gov
ernment, and refiding within the Colony, yet
nothing is faid of his aflenting to it, or giv
ing any orders about it. Dale appears to
have been the moft active and enterprizing
man ; and on Gates' s return to England in
the fpring of 1614, the chief command de
volved on him. *

The experience of five years had now
convinced all thinking men, among the En-
glim, that the Colony would never thrive,
whilft their lands were held in common, and



the people were maintained out of the pub-,
lie (tores. In fuch a cafe there is no fpur to
exertion ; the induftrious perfon and the
drone fare alike, and the former has no in
ducement to work for the latter. The time
prefcribed in the King's inftructions for their
trading in a common ftock, and bringing all
the fruits of their labour into a common
ft ore, was expired. An alteration, was then
contemplated, but the firft meafure adopted
did not much mend the matter. Three acres,
only were allotted to each man, as a farm,,
on which he was to work eleven months for
the ftore, and one month for himfelf ; and to>
receive his proportion out of the common
ftock. Thofe who were employed on Sir
Thomas Dale's plantation, had better terms.
One month's labour only was required, and
they were exempted from all farther fervice 5.
and for this exemption, they paid a yearly
tribute of three barrels and a half* of corn
to the public ftore. Thefe farms were not
held by a tenure of common foccage, which
carries with it freedom and property ; but
merely by tenancy at will, which produces
dependance.f It is however obferved that


* A barrel of corn was four tmfhels.
f Chalmers, 34.


tais imall encouragement gave ibine prefent

content, and the fear of coming to wnnt grad
ually difappeared. *

About two years after, (1616) a method
bf granting lands in freeholds, and in lots of
fifty acres, was introduced into Virginia.
This quantity was allowed to each perfon
who came to refide, or brought others to re-
fide there. The defign bf it war. t'o encourage
immigration. Belide this, there were two
other methods of granting lands; One was
a grant of merit'. When any perfon had
conferred a benefit, or done a fervice tcr
the Colony^ it was requited by a grant of
land which Could not exceed two thoufand
acres. The other was called the adventure"
of the pttrfe. Ever" y perfon who paid twelve
guineas into the Company's treafury was en
titled to one hundred acres. f

After fome time, this liberty of taking
grants was abufed ; partly by the ignorance
and knavery of furveyors, who often gave
draughts of lands without ever adually fur-
veying them ; but defcribing them by nat
ural boundaries, and allowing large meafure j
and partly by the indulgence of courts, in a


* Stoth, 132, f Stith, 139.


lavifh admittance of claims. When a maf-
ter of a fhip came into court, and made oath
that he had imported himfelf, with fo many
feamen and paffengers, an order was iflued
granting him as many rights of fifty acres ;
and the clerk had a fee for each right. The
feamen at another court would make oath,
that they had adventured themfelves fo many
times into the country, and would obtain an
order for as many rights, tot'ies quoties. The
planter who bought the imported fervants,
would do the fame, and procure an order
for as many times fifty acres. Thefe grants,
after being defcribed by the furveyors, in the
above vague and carelefs manner, were fold
at a fmall price ; and, whoever was able to
purchafe any confiderable number of them,
became entitled to a vaft quantity of land.
By fuch means, the original intention of al-
loting a fmall freehold to each immigrant was
fruftrated; for the adventurers themfelves,
who remained on the fpot, had the leaft
fhare of the benefit ; and the fettlement of
the country in convenient diftri&s was pre
cluded.* Land fpeculators became pofTerTed
of immenfe traits, too large for cultivation ;


* MS. anonymous account of Virginia, writtep 1697,
page 1 8.



mid the inhabitants were fcattered over a great
extent of territory in remote and hazardous
fituatioris. The ill effects of this difperfion,
were infecurity from the favages j a habit of
indolence ; an imperfect mode of cultiva
tion ; the introduction of convicts from
England, and of flaves from Africa;

The fame year ( 1 6 1 6) Sir Thomas Dale
returned to England, carrying with him Po-
cahontas, the wife of Mr. Rolfe, and feveral
other Indians. The motive of his return,
was, to vifit his family and fettle his private
affairs, after having fpent five or fix years
in the fervice of the Colony. He is charac-
terifed as an active, faithful Governor,* very
careful to provide fupplies of corn, rather by
planting than by purchafe. So much had
thefe fupplies increafed under his direction,
that the Colony was able to lend to the In
dian Princes, feveral hundred bufhels of corn,
and take mortgages of their land in payment.
He would allow no tobacco to be planted
till a fufficiency of feed-corn was in the
ground. He was alfo very ailiduous in rang
ing and exploring the country, and became
extremely delighted with its pleafant and
G fertile

* Stith, 140-

50 D E L A \tf A R fc

fertile appearance. He had fo high ail
Opinion of it, that he declared it equal to
the belt parts of Europe, if it were cultivat
ed and inhabited by an mdujlrious peopk.

oc> SINCE the foregoing fheets were
printed, I have found the following
brief account of Sir GEORGE SOMERS',
in Fuller s Worthies of England ^ p. 282.

" George Somers, Knight, was born in or
near Lyme, in Dorfetfhire. He was a lamb
upon land, and a lion at fea* So patient, on
fhore, that few could anger him ; and on
entering a mip, as if he had aflumed a new
nature, fo paffionate that few could pleafe
him." [Whitchurch, where his corpfe was
depofited, is diftant three miles from Lyme.]



W E have no account of Capt. Argal
before the year 1 609, when he came to Vir
ginia, to fifh for fturgeon, and trade with
the Colony. This trade was then prohib
ited ; but, being a kinfman of Sir Thomas
Smith, his voyage was connived at, and the
provifions and wine which he brought, were
a welcome relief to the Colony. He was
there when the mattered fleet, efcaped from
the tempeft, arrived without their Com
manders ; and he continued to make voyages
in the fervice of the Colony, and for his own
advantage, till he was made Deputy-Gov
ernor, under Lord Delaware.

The principal exploit in which he was
engaged, was an expedition to the northern
part of Virginia.* Sir Thomas Dale, hav
ing received fome information of the. intru-


* The time of this voyage is not accurately mentioned ;
but, from comparing feveral dates and tranfa<5tions, I think.
(with Mr. Prince) that it muft have been in the fummer
of 1613. Certainly it was before Argal was made Dep
uty-Governor, in 1617, though fome writers have placed
it after that period.

A p A L.

fion of the French and Dutch within the
chartered limks of Virginia, lent Argal, often-
fibly on a trading and fifhing voyage to the
northward ; but with orders to feek for, and
difpoflefs intruders. No account of his force
is mentioned by any- writer. Having vifited
feveral parts of the coaft of North Virginia,
and obtained the beft information in his
power, he arrived at the ifland now called
Mount Defart, in the Diftria of Maine ;
where two Jefuits, who had been expelled
from Port Royal, by the Governor Biencourt,
for their infolence,* had made a plantation,
and built a fort. A French {hip and bark
were then lying in the harbour, Moft of
the people were difperfed, at their various
employments, and were unprepared to re
ceive an enemy. Argal at once attacked
the veflels with mufquetry, and made an
eafy conqueft of them, One of the Jefuits
was killed in attempting to level one of the
fhip's guns againft the aflailants. Argal
then landed, and fummoned the fort. The
Commander requefted time for confultation,
but it was denied ; on which the garrifon
abandoned the fort, and, by a private pa

? See Vol. I. page 340,

A R G A L. 53

fage, efcaped to the woods. Argal took
pofieffion in the name of the Crown of Eng
land, and the next day the people came in,
and furrendered themfelves, and their com-
miflion, or patent. He treated them with
politenefs, giving them leave to go either to
France, in the fifhing veflels, which refoited
to the coaft, or with him to Virginia.

The other Jefuit, Father Biard, glad of
an opportunity to be revenged on Biencourt,
gave information of his fettlement at Port
Royal, and offered to pilot the veflel thither.
Argal failed acrofs tfce Bay of Fundy, and,
entering the harbour, landed forty men. A
gun was fired from the fort, as a fignal to
the people who were abroad ; but Argal
advanced with fuch rapidity, that he found
the fort abandoned, and took pofleffion.
He then failed up the river with his boats ;
where he viewed their fields, their barns
and mill ; thefe he fpared ; but at his return,
he deftroyed the fort, and defaced the arms
of the King of France.

Biencourt was at this time furveying the
country at a diftance ; but was called home
fuddenly, and requefted a conference with
the Englifh Commander.* They met in a


* Purchas, v. 1 808.

54 A R G A L.

meadow, with a few of their followers
After an ineffectual affertion of rights,*
equally claimed by both, Biencourt propofed,
if he could obtain a protection from the
Cr.own of England, and get the obnoxious
Jefuit into his pofleffion, to divide the fur
trade, and difclofe the mines of the country ;
but Argal refused to make any treaty, alleg
ing that his orders were only to difpoflefs
him ; and threatening, if he mould find him
there again, to ufe him as an enemy.
Whilft they were in conference, one of the,
natives came up to them, and in broken
French, with fuitable geftures, endeavoured
to mediate a peace ; wondering that perfons,
who feemed to him, to be of one nation,
ftiould make war on each other. This
affecting incident ferved to put them both
into good humour.

As it was a time of peace between the
two Crowns, the only pretext for this expe
dition, was the intrufion of the French into
limits claimed by the Englifh, in virtue of
prior difcovery. This mode of difpofleffing
them has been cenfured, as " contrary to the
Law of Nations, becaufe inconfiftent with


* Stith, 133.

A R G A L;

their peace."* It wavS, however, agreeable
to the powers granted in the 1 charter of 1 609 j
and even the feizure of the French vefTels,
on board of which was a large quantity of
provifions, cloathing, furniture^ and trading
goods, was alfo warranted by the fame
charter. There is no evidence that this
tranfaction was either approved by the Court
of England, or refented by the Crown of
France ; certain it is, however, that it made
way for a patent, which King James gave to
Sir William Alexander, in 1621, by which
he granted him the whole territory of Aca-
dia, by the name of Nova-Scotia ; and yet
the French continued their occupancy.

On his return toward Virginia, with his
prizes, Argal vifited the fettlement which the
Dutch had made at Hudfon's River, near the
fpot where Albany is now built, and demand
ed poffeffion ; alleging that Hudfon being
an Englim fubjecl:, though in the fervice of
Holland, could not alienate the lands which
he had difcovered ; which were claimed
by the Crown of England, and granted by
Charter to the Company of Virginia. The
Dutch Governor, Hendrick Chriftiaens, be

* Chalmers, St.

56 A R G A L,

ing unable to make any refiftance, quietly
fubmitted himfeif and his Colony to the
Crown of England, and was permitted to re
main there. But on the arrival of a rein
forcement the next year, they built another
fort, on the fouth end of the liland Manhat
tan, where the city of New- York now {lands,
and held the country for many years, under
a grant from the States-General, by the name
of New Netherlands.

The next fpring (1614) Argal went to
England, and two years after, Sir Thomas
Dale followed him, leaving GEORGE
YEARDLEY to govern the Colony in his ab-
fence. It had been a grand object with Dale
to difcourage the planting of tobacco ; but
his fucceflbr, hi compliance with the humour
of the people,, indulged them in cultivating
it, in preference to corn.- When the Colony
was in want of bread, Yeardley fent to the
Indians of Chickahomony for their tribute,
as promifed by the treaty made with Dale.
They anfwered, that they had paid his maf-
ter ; but that they had no orders, nor any in
clination to obey him. Yeardley drew out
one hundred of his beft men, and went
againft them. They received him in a war

A R G A L. 57

like poflure ; and after much threatening on
both fides, Yeardley ordered his men to fire.
Twelve of the natives were killed, and as
many were made prisoners, of whom two
were Elders or Senators. For their ranfom,
one hundred bufhels of corn were paid, in.
addition to the tribute. Three boats were
loaded for James-Town, one of which was
overfet in the paffage, and eleven men with
her whole cargo were loft. The natives
were fo awed by this chaftifement, that they
fupplied the Colony with fuch provifions as
they could fpare from their own ftock, or
procure by hunting j and being thus fuppli
ed, the Golonifts gave themfelves chiefly to
the planting of tobacco*

In 1717, Captain ARGAL was appointed
Deputy-Governor of the Colony under Lord
Delaware, and Admiral of the adjacent feas.
When he arrived, in May, he found the pal-
ifodes broken, the church fallen down, and
the well of freih water fpoiled ; but, the
market-fquare and the ftreets of James-
Town were planted with tobacco,* and the
people were difperfed, wherever they could
find room, to cultivate that precious weed ;
H the

* Stith, 146.

58 A R G A L,

the value of Which was fuppofed to be much
augmented by a rtew mode of cure, drying
it on lines, rather than fermenting it in
heaps. The author of this difcovery was a
Mr. Lambert ; and the effect of it was
a great demand from England for lines,
which afterward became a capital article of

To counteract the ill effects of Yeardley's
indulgence, -Argal revived the fevere difci-
pline which was grounded on the martial
laws, framed by his patron, Sir Thomas
Smith ; a fpecimen of which may be feen in
the following edicts. He fixed the advance
on goods imported from England, at twen
ty-five per cent, and the price of tobacco at
three (hillings per pound ;*" the penalty for
tranfgreflmg this regulation was three years
flavery. No perfon was allowed to fire a
gun, except in his own defence, againft an
enemy, till a new fupply of ammunition
fhould arrive ; on penalty of one year's
flavery. Abfence from church on Sundays
and holidays, was punifhed by laying the
offender neck and heels, for one whole night,
or by one week's flavery ; the fecond offence*


* Stith, 147.

A R G A L. 59

by one month's ; and the third by one year's
{lavery. Private trade with the favages, or
teaching them the life of arms, was punifha-.
ble by death.

Thefe and fimilar laws were executed
with fuch rigour, as to render the Deputy-
Governor odious to the Colony. They had
entertained a hope of deliverance, by the ex-
peeled arrival of Lord Delaware, who failed
from England for Virginia (April, 1618) in
a large fliip, containing two hundred people.
After touching at the Weftern lilands, a fuc-
ceffion of contrary winds, and bad weather
protracted the voyage to fixteen weeks,
during which time, many of the people fell
fick, and about thirty died, among whom
was Lord Delaware. This fatal news was
known firft in Virginia ; but the report of
Argal's injurious conduct had gone to
England, and made a deep impreflion, to
his difadvantage, on the minds of his bed
friends. Befides a great number of wrongs
to particular perfons, he was charged with
converting to his own ufe, what remained
of the public ftores ; with depredation and
wafte of the revenues of the Company ; and
with many offences in matters of ftate and


60 A R G A L.

government. At firft, the Company were
fo alarmed, as to think of an application to
the crown, for redrefs ; but on farther con-
fideration, they wrote a letter of reprehen^
fion to him, and another of complaint to
Lord Delaware, whom they fuppofed to be
at the head of the Colony, requefting that
Argal might be fent t England, to anfwer
the charges laid againft him.

Both thefe letters fell into ArgaPs hands.
Convinced that his time was fhoit, he deter
mined to make the moil of it, . for his own
intereft. Having aflumed the care of his
Lordmip's eftate, in Virginia, he converted
the labour of the tenants, and the produce
of the land to his own ufe. But Edward
Brewfter, who had been appointed overfeer
of the plantation, by his Lordmip's order
before his death, endeavoured to withdraw
them from Argal's fervice, and employ them,
for the benefit of the eftate. When he
threatened one, who refufed to obey him,
the fellow made his complaint to the Gov
ernor : Brewfter was arrefted, tried by a
court-martial, and fentenced to death, in
confequence of the aforefaid laws of Sir
Thomas Smith. Se.nfible of the extreme


A R G A L. 61

feverity of thefe laws, the court which had
pafled the fentence, accompanied by the
clergy, went in a body to the Governor, to
intercede for Brewfter's life ; which, with
much difficulty, they obtained, on this con
dition ; that he mould quit Virginia, never
more to return ; and mould give his oath,
that he would, neither in England, nor
elfwhere, fay or do any thing to the dil-
honour of the Governor. On his going to
England, he was advifed to appeal to the
Company ; and the profecution of this ap
peal, added to the odium which Argal had
incurred, determined them to fend over a
new Governor, to examine the complaints
and accusations on the fpot.

The perfon chofen to execute this com-
miflion, was YEARDLEY, his rival, who, on
this occafion, was knighted, and appointed
Governor-General of the Colony, where he
arrived in the Spring of 1619.*

The Earl of Warwick, who was Argal's
friend, and partner in trade, had taken care
to give him information of what was doing ;
and to, difpatch a fmall veflel, which arrived
before the new Governor, and carried off


* Stith, 154.


62 A R G A L.

Argal with all his effe&s. By this manoeu
vre, and by virtue of his partnerfhip with
the Earl, he not only efcaped the intended
examination, in Virginia, but fecured the
greater part of his property, and defrauded
the Company of that reftitution which they
had a right to expert.

The character of Capt, Argal, like that of
moft who were concerned in the colonization
and government of Virginia, is differently
drawn. On the one hand, he is fpoken of
as a good mariner, a civil gentleman, a maix
of public fpirit, aftive, induftrious, and care
ful to provide for the people, and keep them
conftantly employed,* On the other hand,
he is defcribed as negligent of the public
bufmefs, feeking only his own intereft, rapa
cious, pafiionate, arbitrary, and cruel ; pufh-
ing his unrighteous gains, by all means of
extortion and oppreffion. Mr. Stith,f who,
from the beft information which he could
obtain, at the diftance of more than a cen
tury, by fearching the public records of the
Colony, and the journals of the Company,
pronounces him "a man of good fenfe, of
great indufxry an.d refolution," and fays, that

" when

* Smith and Furchas. f Stith, 229.


A R G A L. 63

" when the Company warned him peremp
torily, to exhibit his accounts, and riftke
anfwer to fuch things as they had charged
againft him, he fo foiled and perplexed all
their proceedings, and gave them fo much
trouble and annoyance, that they were never
able to bring him to any account or pun-

Nothing more is now known of him, but
that after quitting Virginia, he was employed
in 1620, to command a (hip of war, in an
expedition againft the Algerines ;* and that
in 1623, he was knighted by King James.

About the fame time that Lord Delaware
died at fea, the great Indian Prince, Powhatan,
died at his feat in Virginia, (April, i6i8.)f
He was a perfon of excellent natural talents.,
penetrating and crafty, and a complete mailer
of all the arts of favage policy ;J but totally
void of truth, juftice, and magnanimity.
He was fucceeded by his fecond brother
Opitchapan ; who, being decrepid and inac
* Stith, 184.

f The fame year is alfo memorable for the death of
Sir Walter Raleigh, \vho may be confidered as the
founder of the Colony of Virginia. See Vol. I. p. 221-

Smith, 125. -Stith, i'.,


64 A R G A L.

tive. was foofl obfeured by the fliperior abil-

itie^ind ambition of his younger brother
Opechancanough. Both of them renewed
and confirmed the peace which Powhatan
had made with the Colony j and Opechan
canough finally engrofied the whole power
of government ; for the Indians do not fo
much regard the order of fuccefrion, as bril
liancy of talents, and intrepidity of mind in
their chiefs.

To ingratiate themfelves with this Prince
and attach him more clofely to their intereft,
the Colony built an houfe for him, after the
Englifh mode. With this, he was fo much
pleafed, that he kept the keys continually in
his hands, opening and fhutting the doors
many times in a day and fliowing the ma
chinery of the locks, to his own people and
to ftrangers. In return for this favour, he
gave liberty to the Englilh, to feat themfelves,
at any places, on the fhores of the rivers,
where the natives had no villages, and enter
ed into a farther treaty with them for the
difcovery of mines and for mutual friendmip
and defence.* This treaty was at the requeft
of Opechancanough engraven on a brafs


* Purclias, v. 1786, 8.

A R G A L,

Jplate, and faftened to one of the largeft oaks,
that it might be always in view, and held in
perpetual remembrance.

Yeardley, being rid of the trouble of calling
Argal to account, applied himfelf to the buii-
nefs of his government. The firft thing
which he did was to add fix new members
to the Council, Francis Weft, Nathaniel
Powel, John Pory, John Ralfe, William
Wickham, and Samuel Maycock. The next
was to ptiblifht his intention to call a General
AfTembly, the privileges and powers of
which were defined in his Commifiion. He
alfo granted to the oldeft planters a difcharge
from all fervice to the Colony, but fuch*as
was voluntary, or obligatory by the laws
and cuftoms of nations ; with a confirmation
of all their eftates real and perfonal to be
holden in the fame manner as by Englifh iub-
jects. Finding a great fcarcity of corn, he
made fome amends for his former error by
promoting the cultivation of it. The firft
year of his adminiftration (1619) was re
markable for very great crops of wheat and
Indian corn, and for a very great mortality
of the people ; not lei's than 300 of whom

I la

56 A R G A L,

In the month of July of this year^ the
firft General AiTembly of the Colony of Vir
ginia met at James-Town.* The deputies
were chofen by the townfhips or boroughs,
no counties being at that time formed. From
this circumftance the Lower Houfe of Aflem-*
bly was always afterward called the Houfe of
BurgefTes, till the revolution in 1776. In
this afTembly, the Governor, Council and
BurgefTes fat in one houfe, and jointly " de
bated all matters, thought expedient for the
good of the Colony.'* The laws then en
acted were of the nature of local regulationSj
and were tranfmitted to England for the ap
probation of the Treafurer and Company;
It is faid that they were judicioufly drawn
up ; but no veftige of them now remains.

Thus, at the expiration of twelve years
from their fettlement, the Virginians firft en
joyed the privilege of a Colonial legiflature,
in which they were reprefented by perfons
of their own election, j* They received as a


* Beverley (p. 35) fays that the firft a/Terribly was called
In 1620. But Stith, who had more accurately fearched
the records, fays that the firft was in 1619, and thefecond
in 1620. P. 1 60.

t Chalmers, 44.

A R G A L. 67

favour, what they might have claimed as a

Online LibraryUnknownAmerican biography: or, An historical account of those persons who have been distinguished in America, as adventurers, statesmen, philosophers, divines, warriors, authors, and other remarkable characters .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 24)