Author: William Strachey

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“Articles, Laws, and Orders, Divine, Politic and Martial for the Colony of Virginia,” (1612)

This excerpt from Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall details the rules and regulations issued in Jamestown beginning in 1610 and 1611. Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall are the earliest extant English-language body of laws in the Western Hemisphere. The laws were orders that the governor, appointed by the Virginia Company of London that settled and managed the colony between 1607 and 1624, issued to regulate the conduct of its members, employees, and servants.

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“Misery and misgovernment”; an excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight by William Strachey (1625)

In this excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight, William Strachey describes arriving at Jamestown in the spring of 1610 to find a colony, led by George Percy, devastated by the Starving Time. After the Sea Venture, the flagship of a resupply fleet, nearly sank in a fierce storm, Strachey and his fellow colonists, including Governor Sir Thomas Gates, spent ten months, from 1609 to 1610, in Bermuda building two new ships. Here Strachey records the first iteration of what became For the Colony in Virginea Britannia. Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, &c. (1612) and speculates on the causes of the famine in Virginia. Addressed to an unknown “Lady,” Strachey’s account is believed to have been important source material for William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (ca. 1610–1611). Strachey’s account was not published until 1625 but likely circulated years before that.

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“Upon Sejanus” by William Strachey (1604)

The following is a prefatory sonnet, contributed by William Strachey, to a 1604 publication of Ben Jonson’s Sejanus His Fall, a play first performed at the Globe in 1603 by William Shakespeare and his company. The journalist John St. Loe Strachey later called the poem “one of the most cryptic things in Elizabethan literature.” William Strachey later served as secretary to the Virginia colony in Jamestown.

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Quitting Virginia; an excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight by William Strachey (1625)

In this excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight, William Strachey describes how the English colonists attempted to quit Jamestown in 1610, only to be turned around by the newly arrived governor, Thomas West, baron De La Warr. Strachey, Governor Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Somers and others had been marooned for almost a year on Bermuda, and when they finally made it to Virginia in the spring of 1610 they found a colony devastated by the Starving Time and an environment not suited to quick food production. Addressed to an unknown “Lady,” Strachey’s account is believed to have been important source material for William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (ca. 1610–1611). Strachey’s account was not published until 1625 but likely circulated years before that.

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Life and Death on Bermuda; an excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight by William Strachey (1625)

In this excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight, William Strachey describes how the routines of life—from birth to marriage to death—stayed true on the islands of Bermuda. After the Sea Venture, the flagship of a resupply fleet en route to Jamestown, nearly sank in a fierce storm, the English colonists, including Governor Sir Thomas Gates, Admiral Sir George Somers, Captain Christopher Newport, the Reverend Richard Bucke, and John Rolfe (the future husband of Pocahontas), spent ten months, from 1609 to 1610, in Bermuda building two new ships. Addressed to an unknown “Lady,” Strachey’s account is believed to have been important source material for William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (ca. 1610–1611). Strachey’s account was not published until 1625 but likely circulated years before that.

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“Fury Added to Fury”; an excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight by William Strachey (1625)

In this excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight, William Strachey describes the great storm that in 1609 wrecked the ship Sea Venture and eventually washed it up on the island of Bermuda. The Sea Venture was the flagship of a resupply fleet en route to Jamestown and carried on it the Virginia colony‘s new governor, Sir Thomas Gates, and Admiral Sir George Somers. Addressed to an unknown “Lady,” Strachey’s account is believed to have been important source material for William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (ca. 1610–1611). Strachey’s account was not published until 1625 but likely circulated years before that.

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“A Dictionarie of the Indian Language”; an excerpt from The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia by William Strachey (1612, pub. 1849)

In this excerpt from “A Dictionarie of the Indian Language, for the Better Enabling of Such Who Shalbe Thither Ymployed,” William Strachey compiled what he believed to be words spoken by the Virginia Indians of Tsenacomoco who lived in the Tidewater when the Jamestown colonists landed in 1607. Appearing at the end of The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia , Strachey’s dictionary consisted of 400 words, of which 263 accurately represent Algonquian-language words or phrases, according to the linguist Frank T. Siebert Jr.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

The Deliverance and the Patience; an excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight by William Strachey (1625)

In this excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight, William Strachey describes how the English colonists marooned on Bermuda built two new pinnaces, or small boats, in order to save themselves. After the Sea Venture, the flagship of a resupply fleet en route to Jamestown, nearly sank in a fierce storm, the colonists, including Governor Sir Thomas Gates, Admiral Sir George Somers, and Captain Christopher Newport, spent ten months, from 1609 to 1610, in Bermuda. Addressed to an unknown “Lady,” Strachey’s account is believed to have been important source material for William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (ca. 1610–1611). Strachey’s account was not published until 1625 but likely circulated years before that.

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