Corpse and Quioccos

Council of Powhatan, E. Benjamin Andrews, History of the United States, from the Earliest Discovery of America to the Present Time, New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

The Indians are religious in preserving the Corpses of their Kings and Rulers after Death, which they order in the following manner: First, they neatly flay off the Skin as entire as they can, slitting it only in the Back; then they pick all the Flesh off from the Bones as clean as possible, leaving the Sinews fastned to the Bones, that they may preserve the Joints together; then they dry the Bones in the Sun, and put them into the Skin again, which in the mean time has been kept from drying or shrinking; when the Bones are placed right in the Skin, they nicely fill up the Vacuities, with a very fine white Sand. After this they sew up the Skin again, and the Body looks as if the Flesh had not been removed. They take care to keep the Skin from shrinking, by the help of a little Oil or Grease, which saves it also from Corruption. Tho Skin being thus prepar’d, they lay it in an apartment for that purpose, upon a large Shelf rais’d above the Floor. This Shelf is spread with Mats, for the Corpse to rest easy on, and skreened with the same, to keep it from the Dust. The Flesh they lay upon Hurdles in the Sun to dry, and when it is thoroughly dried, it is sowed up in a Basket, and set at the Feet of the Corpse, to which it belongs. In this place also they set up a Quioccos, or Idol, which they believe will be a Guard to the Corpse. Here Night and Day one or the other of the Priests must give his Attendance, to take care of the dead Bodies. So great an Honour and Veneration have these ignorant and unpolisht People for their Princes even after they are dead.

Robert Beverley, The History of Virginia, In Four Parts, Second Edition, London: 1722, p. 185.

Newes from Virginia

Nevves from Virginia.
The lost Flocke

With the happy Arriuall of that famous and
worthy knight Sr. Thomas Gates: and the well
reputed & valiant Captaine Mr. Chri-
ſtopher Newporte, and others,
into England.

With the maner of their diſtreſſe in the
Iland of Deuils (otherwise called Bermoothawes)
where they remained 42. weekes, & builded
two Pynaces, in which they returned
into Virginia.

By R. Rich, Gent. one of the Voyage.

Printed by Edw: Allde, and are to be solde by John Wright at Christ-Church dore. 1610.

* * *

To the Reader.

READER, how to stile thee I knowe not, perhaps Learned, perhaps unlearned: happily captious, happily envious: indeed, what or how to tearme thee I knowe not, only as I began I will proceede.

Reader, thou dost peradventure imagine that I am mercenarie in this busines, and write for money (as your moderne Poets use) hyred by some of those ever to be admired Adventurers to flatter the world: No, I disclaime it. I have knowne the Voyage, past the danger, seene that honorable work of Virginia, & I thanke God am arrivd here to tell thee what I have seene, don, & past: if thou wilt believe me so, if not so to: for I cannot force thee but to thy owne liking: I am a Soldier, blunt and plaine, and so is the phrase of my newes: and I protest it is true. If thou ask why I put it in Verse? I prethee knowe, it was only to feede mine owne humour: I must confesse, that had I not debard myselfe of that large scope which to the writing of prose is allowed, I should have much easd my selfe, and given thee better content. But I intreat thee to take this as it is; and before many daies expire, I will promise thee the same worke more at large.

I did feare prevention by some of your writers, if they should have gotten but some part of the newes by the tayle, and therefore though it be rude, let it passe with thy liking, and in so doing I shall like well of thee: but, how ever, I have not long to stay: if thou wilt be unnatural to thy countryman, thou maist, I must not loose my patrymonie; I am for Virginia againe, and so I will bid thee hartily farewell, with an honest verse:

As I came hether to see my native land,
To waft me backe lend me thy gentle hand.

Thy loving Country-man.
R. R.

* * *

Henricus Hondius, Map of Virginia, Atlas Major, 1630.

It is no idle fabulous tale, nor is it fayned newes:
For Truth herselfe is heere arriv’d, because you should not muse.
With her both Gates and Newport come, to tell Report doth lye:
Which did devulge unto the world, that they at Sea did dye.

Tis true that Eleaven monthes and more, these gallant worthy wights:
Was in the Shippe (Sea-venture nam’d) depriv’d Virginia’s sight.
And bravely did they glyde the maine, till Neptune gan to frowne:
As if a Courser prowdly backt, would throwe his ryder downe.

The Seas did rage, the windes did blowe, distressed were they then:
Their Ship did leake, her tacklings breake, in daunger were her men.
But heaven was Pylotte in this storme, and to an Iland nere,
Bermoothawes call’d, conducted then, which did abate their feare.

But yet these Worthies forced were, opprest with weather againe:
To runne their Ship betweene two Rockes, where she doth still remaine.
And then on shoare the Iland came, inhabited by Hogges:
Some Foule and Tortoyses there were, they only had one Dogge

To kill these swyne, to yeild them foode that little had to eate:
Their store was spent, and all things scant, alas they wanted meate.
A thousand hogges that dogge did kill, their hunger to sustaine:
And with such foode did in that Ile two and forty weekes remaine.

And there two gallant Pynases, did build of Seader-tree:
The brave Deliverance one was call’d, of seaventy Tonne was shee.
The other Patience had to name, her burthen thirty Tonne:
Two only of their men which there, pale death did overcome.

And for the losse of these two soules, which were accounted deere:
A Sonne and Daughter then was borne, and were Baptized there.
The two and forty weekes being past, they hoyst Sayle and away:
Their Ships with hogs well freighted were, their harts with mickle joy.

And so unto Virginia came, where these brave soldiers finde
The English-men opprest with greife and discontent in minde.
They seem’d distracted and forlorne, for those two worthyes losse:
Yet at their home returne they joyd, among’st them some were crosse.

And in the mid’st of discontent, came noble Delaware:
He heard the greifes on either part, and sett them free from care.
He comforts them and cheeres their hearts, that they abound with joy:
He feedes them full and feedes their soules, with Gods word every day.

A discreet counsell he creates, of men of worthy fame:
That noble Gates leiftenant was the Admirall had to name.
The worthy Sir George Somers knight, and others of commaund:
Maister Georg Pearcy, which is brother unto Northumberland.

Sir Fardinando Wayneman knight, and others of good fame:
That noble Lord, his company, which to Virginia came
And landed there: his number was One hundred Seaventy: then
Ad to the rest, and they make full, foure hundred able men.

Where they unto their labour fall, as men that meane to thrive:
Let’s pray that heaven may blesse them all and keep them long alive.
Those men that Vagrants liv’d with us, have there deserved well:
Their Governour writes in their praise, as divers Letters tel.

And to th’ Adventurers thus he writes, be not dismayd at all:
For scandall cannot doe us wrong, God will not let us fall.
Let England knowe our willingnesse, for that our worke is goode,
Wee hope to plant a Nation, where none before hath stood.

To glorifie the Lord tis done, and to no other end:
He that would crosse so good a worke, to God can be no friend.
There is no feare of hunger here, for Corne much store here growes,
Much fish the gallant Rivers yeild, tis truth, without suppose.

Great store of Fowle, of Venison, of Grapes and Mulberries,
Of Chesnuts, Walnuts, and such like, of fruits and Strawberries,
There is indeed no want at all: but some, condiciond ill,
That wish the worke should not goe on, with words doe seeme to kill.

And for an instance of their store, the noble Delaware,
Hath for the present hither sent, to testifie his care
In mannaging so good a worke, two gallant ships: by name
The Blessing and the Hercules, well fraught, and in the same

Two ships, are these commodities: Furres, Sturgeon, Caviare,
Blacke-walnut-tree, and some deale-boords, with such they laden are:
Some Pearle, some Wainscot and clapbords, with some Sassafras wood:
And Iron promist, for tis true, their Mynes are very good.

Then maugre scandall, false report, or any opposition
Th’ adventurers doe thus devulge: to men of good condition.
That he that wants shall have reliefe, be he of honest minde,
Apparel, coyne, or any thing, to such they will be kinde.

To such as to Virginia, do purpose to repaire:
And when that they shall thither come, each man shall have his share.
Day wages for the Laborer, and for his more content,
A house and garden plot shall have, besides, tis further ment

That every man shall have a part, and not thereof denaid:
Of generall profit, as if that he twelve pounds ten shillings paid,
And he that in Virginia, shall copper coyne receive.
For hyer or commodities, and will the country leave,

Upon delivery of such coyne, unto the Governour:
Shall by exchange at his returne, be by their Treasurer
Paid him in London at first sight, no man shall cause to grieve,
For tis their generall will and wish that every man should live.

The number of Adventurers, that are for this Plantation:
Are full eight hundred worthy men, some Noble, all of fashion.
Good, discreete, their worke is good, and as they have begun:
May Heaven assist them in their worke, and thus our newes is done.


Alwaies Pray for the Happy Restauration of Our King

King Charles II, by John Michael Wright or studio, circa 1660-1665; National Portrait Gallery, London.
King Charles II, by John Michael Wright or studio, circa 1660-1665; National Portrait Gallery, London.

Therefore on the whole matter we Conclude: We are resolved to Continue our allegiance to our most Gratious King, yet as long as his gratious favour permits us, we will peaceably (as formerly) trade with Londoners and all other nations in Amity with our Soveraigne: Protect all foraigne Merchants with our utmost force from injury in the rivers; Give letters of Reprisall to any injured within our Capes: Alwaies pray for the happy restauration of our King and repentance in them who to the hazard of their soules have opposed him.

This is unanimously consented to by the Governor, Councell and Burgesses.

The “Vindication” of the General Assembly to a letter published in London in March, 1651/1652 accusing the people of Virginia as “Rebells and Traitors” for their loyalty to Charles II; Mcllwaine, Journals of the House of Burgesses, Vol. 1619-1658/59, pp. 77-78.

Virginia and Geneva

Sir Edwin Sandys.
Sir Edwin Sandys.

One must recognize that there was a very definite purpose and aim in the minds of the leaders of the Virginia Company in giving the name “City” to these raw little settlements [James City, Kecoughtan (Elizabeth City from 1621), the City of Henricus, and Charles City]. In English thought and custom in the seventeenth century, the appellation “city” was never given to a community, however large in population, unless it was the “see city” of a diocese and had a cathedral as the seat of its bishop. As there was not the slightest intention of sending a bishop to Virginia, or of establishing a diocese with a see city, one must look elsewhere than to the authority of English precedent to find the reason for the four “cities” in Virginia.

The explanation seems to be very clear. The group of men with Sir Edwin Sandys as their leading spirit who were formulating the plans and guiding the destinies of the Virginia Company were seeking to create a form of government which would give the greatest degree of autonomy and self-government to the settlers in these new communities, who to so great an extent would be thrown upon their own resources. Regardless of the question of the degree of loyalty of the radical puritans to the monarchial form of government, the settlers in Virginia were removed by three thousand miles of ocean from their king, as the source of civil authority, and from their bishop as the head of ecclesiastical order and government. They must, consequently, for their own protection and the welfare of their settlements, have as large a degree of authority to govern themselves and to make and administer their own laws as was consistent with their loyalty to both king and Church. Certainly it must have been realized that neither Parliament nor any group of officials of the company living in England could wisely enact laws governing local conditions in Jamestown, because they could not know enough about local conditions; nor could any court in England exercise authority there through lack of jurisdiction. Sir Edwin Sandys, and his fellow-members of the “Court” or executive committee of the Virginia Company, had the clear political sagacity to perceive that, if their colony was to develop into anything more than a trading post in a foreign land, its people must have the authority to govern themselves. There was no provision for dukedoms, palatinates or baronies with their political powers and civil courts. The plan later developed by the Caroline kings of granting great tracts of American land to favored groups of proprietors, to whom were given semi-regal authority over their “subject” settlers for the sake of the financial returns accruing therefrom, does not seem to have been conceived when either Virginia or Massachusetts was established. The source of their government and the authority of their courts must be found in the settlers themselves, as the owners of their own land, and not as tenants owing fealty and service to overlords who owned the land, and who, in consequence of that ownership, could make laws and establish courts to enforce their edicts.

Such freedom of self-government of and by the people themselves could not be found in any community in England at that time. The evidence as to the source whence he drew his conception of colonial local self-government is to be found in the words of Sir Edwin Sandys himself. “If ever God from heaven,” quoth that doughty puritan, “did constitute and direct a frame of government on earth it was that of Geneva.”

Virginia’s Mother Church and the Political Conditions Under Which It Grew,
Brydon, G. MacLaren (George MacLaren), pp. 31-32.

God’s Most Merciful Deliverance

That the 22d of March be yeerly solemnized as holliday and all other hollidays (except when they fall two together) betwixt the feasts of the annuntiation of the blessed virgin and St. Michael the archangell, then only the first to be observed by reason of our necessities.

— Statutes at Large of Virginia, I, compiled by William W. Hening.

In consideration of Gods most mercifull deliuerance of so many in this Cuntrie from the treachery of the Indian on the 22th day of March last: the Gouernor with the advice of the Counsell of State hath thought it very fitt, that the 22th day of March both this present yeare and for euer hereafter (in memory of that great preservation) be in this Cuntrie celebrated Holy.

— The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 8. Virginia Records Manuscripts. 1606-1737. Susan Myra Kingsbury, editor. Records of the Virginia Company, 1606-26, Volume IV: Miscellaneous Records.

Being Especiall Souldiers Emprest in This Sacred Cause

First since we owe our highest and supreme duty, our greatest, and all our allegeance to him, from whom all power and authoritie is derived, and flowes as from the first, and onely fountaine, and being especiall souldiers emprest in this sacred cause, we must alone expect our successe from him, who is onely the blesser of all good attempts, the King of kings, the commaunder of commaunders, and Lord of Hosts, I do strictly commaund and charge all Captaines and Officers, of what qualitie or nature soever, whether commanders in the field, or in the towne, or townes, forts or fortresses, to have a care that the Almightie God bee duly and daily served, and that thy call upon their people to heare Sermons, as that also they diligently frequent Morning and Evening praier themselves by their owne exemplar and daily life, and dutie herein, encouraging others thereunto, and that such, who shall often and wilfully absent themselves, be duly punished according to the martiall law in that case provided.

— Article 1.1, Articles, Lawes, and Orders, Divine, Politique, and Martiall for the Colony in Virginea: first established by Sir Thomas Gates Knight, Lieutenant Generall, the 24. of May 1610. exemplified and approved by the Right Honourable Sir Thomas West Knight, Lord Lawair, Lord Governour and Captaine Generall the 12. of June 1610. Againe exemplified and enlarged by Sir Thomas Dale Knight, Marshall, and Deputie Governour, the 22. of June. 1611, as recorded by William Strachey, Secretary of the Colony of Virginia, 1609 – 1611.

At the Least One Godly and Learned Minister

And to the end that the People, both present and to come, may be faithfully brought up in the true knowledge and service of Almighty God, and so learne to frame their lives and conversations, as not onely, not to provoke the Devine indignation, which pursueth the faithless and disobedient soules by sundry kinds of punishment to everlasting destruction: but also by their good example, to allure the Heathen people to submit themselves to the Scepter of Gods most righteous and blessed Kingdome, and so finally to joyne with them in the true Christian profession: We doe hereby ordaine and require, that in every Burrough there be provided and placed at the least one godly and learned Minister, to be chosen in each Particular Plantation by the several Adventurers and Planters; And for the foure ancient Burroughs, to be provided and nominated by us, and our Successors; As also for the Tenants and Inhabitants of the Companies Land wheresoever: Leaving alwaies to the Governour to provide a Minister for his Tenants, and to the Colledge for theirs. All which Ministers and Their Successors, we earnestly pray and require to try themselves with all diligence, to the training up of their charge in the way of righteousness, as the same is now professed, and by Law established in this Church of England, and other his Majesties Dominions, avoiding all factions, and needlesse Novelties, tending onely to the disturbance of peace and unity. And whereas we have ordained heretofore, that one hundred acres of Glebe land be set out and allotted for every Minister, besides other profits out of the Inhabitants encrease: We doe hereby also ordaine, that the said Ministers be furnished, each with sixe Tenants, towards the occupying of his Glebe land; which sixe, for the Ministers belonging to the Publike lands; that is to say, the Governours, Colledges, and Companies Land, shall bee sent and furnished wholly at the common charges of the Company. And for the Burroughs, as well the ancient, as those of Particular Plantations, the Company is content to furnish out at their charges, three Tenants for each, upon condition that the severall Burroughs furnish out three more: which sixe, for each Minister being once so furnished, the Ministers themselves shall be afterwards charged each to maintain that number at the least, and so to leave them to his Successor.

— “Broadside,” or the printed and published letter of instructions sent by the Virginia Company of London to the Governor of the Virginia Colony and his Council of State,
17 May 1620.

So Full of Misery and Misgovernment

From hence in two days (only by the help of tydes, no wind stirring), we plyed it sadly up the river, and the three and twentieth of May we cast anchor before James Towne, where we landed, and our much grieved Governour first visiting the church caused the bell to be rung, at which (all such as were able to come forth of their houses) repayred to the church where our Minister, Maister Bucke made a zealous and sorrowful Prayer, finding all things so contrary to our expectation, so full of misery and misgovernment. After service our Governour caused me to read his commission, and Captaine Percy (then President) delivered up unto him his commission, the Old Patent, and the Councell Seale.

William Strachey on the precarious state of the Virginia Colony in 1610.