Author: John Rolfe


A True Relation of the state of Virginia Lefte by Sir Thomas Dale Knight in May Last 1616 (1617)

John Rolfe wrote A True Relation of the state of Virginia Lefte by Sir Thomas Dale Knight in May Last 1616 while in England with his wife, Pocahontas, and their infant son, Thomas. They were there to promote the interests of the Virginia Company of London, whose investors were discouraged by the colony’s prospects; this manuscript, first published in 1617, appears to have had the same purpose. The current transcription comes from the June 1839 edition of the Southern Literary Messenger, the editors of which claimed to have “carefully transcribed” a version archived in the British Museum. The two are not identical, however.


“Twenty and odd Negroes”; an excerpt from a letter from John Rolfe to Sir Edwin Sandys (1619/1620)

In this excerpt from a letter to Sir Edwin Sandys, treasurer of the Virginia Company of London, the Jamestown colonist John Rolfe describes events in the Virginia colony. These include the first meeting of the General Assembly, a murder trial, and a controversy involving the Indian-language interpreter Captain Henry Spelman. He also notes the arrival of “20. and odd Negroes,” the first Africans in Virginia. In greater detail he recounts a visit to Jamestown by a Patawomeck elder Iopassus (Japazaws), who in 1613 had been responsible for delivering Rolfe’s since-deceased wife Pocahontas into the hands of Captain Samuel Argall. Now Iopassus appeared to be engaging in diplomacy independent of Powhatan, Opechancanough, and the Indians of Tsenacomoco. The letter is dated “January 1619/1620,” the two years reflecting both the Old (Julian) Calendar and the New (Gregorian) Calendar. Some spelling has been updated and contractions expanded.