The First Anglo-Powhatan War Begins; an excerpt from “A Trewe Relacyon of the procedeings and ocurrentes of Momente which have hapned in Virginia” by George Percy


In this excerpt from “A Trewe Relacyon of the precedeings and ocurrentes of Momente which have hapned in Virginia from the Tyme of Sir Thomas Gates was Shippwrackte uppon the Bermudes Anno 1609 untill my departure owtt of the Cowntry which was in Anno Domini 1612,” George Percy describes what turned out to be the beginning of the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609–1614). The excerpt begins with Captain John Smith dispatching Percy and Captain John Martin to bargain with the Nansemond Indians. The account was written in the mid-1620s but not widely published until 1922.


Nott Longe after Capteyne Smithe sentt Capteyne Martin and my selfe with threskore people to goe for Nansemunde, Capteyne Martin’s Lefetenantt leading moste of the men overland and we towe with the Reste followed them by water, where being aryved we inquyred of the Indyans of our men butt they acordinge to their Subtelltyes wold nott aquaynte us therewith. Whereupon I requested Capteyne Martin thatt I mightt goe a shoare to discover the trewthe to the which he wolde nott Condiscende. Neverthelesse the nighte beinge Stormy and wette, I wente on Lande with my Company where I fownde our men by goode fyers in saffety whereof I advertyzed Capteyne Martin the nextt morneinge who presently with his company did Come ashoare unto us. Where after some Consultacyon helde we sentte 2 messengers to the kinge of Nancemonde To Barter with him for an Island righte opposite ageinste the mayne we weare uppon for Copper hatches and other Comodeties. Butt our messengers stayeinge Longer then we expected we feared thatt which after hapned. So Capteyne Martin did apointe me with halfe of our men to take the Island perforce and beinge upon the waye we espyed a Canoe wherein we weare perswaded our messengers to be, butt they perceavinge us Retourned backe from whense they came and we never sett eye upon our messengers after, Butt understood from the Indyans themselves thatt they weare sacrifysed and thatt their Braynes weare Cutt and skraped outt of their heads with Mussell shelles. beinge Landed and acquaynted with their trechery we Beate the Salvages outt of the Island burned their howses ransaked their Temples, Tooke downe the Corpes of their deade kings from their Toambes, and Caryed away their pearles Copper and braceletts wherewith they doe decore their kings funeralles.

In the meane Tyme the Salvages upon the mayne did fall into discencyon with Capteyne Martin who Seised the Kings sonne and one other Indyand and brought them bownde unto the Island where I was, where a shipp Boye takeinge upp a Pistoll accidentyallie nott meaneinge any harme The pistoll suddenly fyered and shotte the salvage prisoner into the Breste. And thereupon whatt with his passyon and feare he broake the Cordes asunder wherewith he was Tyed and did Swimme over unto the mayne, with his wownd bleeding. And there beinge greate store of maize upon the mayne I cowncelled Captyne Martin to take possesyon thereof the which he Refused pretendinge thatt he wolde nott putt his men into hassard and danger. So haveinge seene Capteyne Martin well settled I Retourned with Capteyne Nellson to James Towne ageine acoringe to apoyntementte.

Shortly after Capteyne Smithe sente Capteyne Francis West with one hundrethe and fortye men upp to the falles with sixe monthes victewells to inhabitt there. Where being Reasonable well settled dyvers of his men stragled from their foarte, some of them Comeinge hoame wownded, others never retourned to bringe any Tydeings butt weare Cutt of and slayne by the Salvages. So thatt in a small processe of Tyme Capteyne Smithe did take his jorney upp to the falles to understand how things weare there ordered, when presenttly after his comeinge thether, a greate devisyon did growe amongste them. Capteyne Smithe perceavinge bothe his authorety and person neglected, incensed and animated the Salvages ageinste Capteyne West and his company, Reporteinge unto them thatt our men had noe more powder lefte them then wolde serve for one volley of shott. And so Capteyne Smithe Retourninge to James Towne ageine fownd to have too mutche powder aboutt him, The which beinge in his pocket where the sparke of a matche Lighted, very shreawdly burned him. And comeinge in thatt case to James towne Capteynes Rattliefe, Archer, and Martin practysed ageinste him and deposed him of his governmentt Smithe beinge an ambityous unworthy and vayneglorious fellowe, attempteinge to take all mens authoreties from them. For bothe Ratliefe Archer and Martin beinge formerly of the Cowncell Smithe wolde Rule all and ingrose all authorety into his owne hands, althoughe indede there was noe other certeine appointed governmentt then Sir Thomas Gates had comissyon for who was then in the Bermudes, onely a yerely presidenttshipp to governe by the advyse of the Cowncell. Butt Smythe aymeinge att a sovereigne Rule withoutt the assistance of the cowncell was justely depryved of all.

The place of governmentt beinge voyde the thre busy instrumentts in the plantacyon profered the same unto me, the which att firste I refused in Regard of my sicknes. Butt by their importunetic promiseinge to undergoe the Chefeste offices and Burthen of governmentt for me untill I weare Recovered, att lengthe I accepted thereof and then was Smithe presenttly sentt for England.

George Percy pens "A Trewe Relacyon" describing the events at Jamestown in Fall 1609, the Starving Time during 1609-1610, and the colony's rescue, first by Sir Thomas Gates and then by Thomas West, baron De La Warre.
Lyon G. Tyler publishes George Percy's account of Jamestown from 1609 until 1612, A Trewe Relacyon. Percy wrote it in the mid-1620s as a rebuttal to the more popular version of events published by John Smith.
APA Citation:
Percy, George. The First Anglo-Powhatan War Begins; an excerpt from “A Trewe Relacyon of the procedeings and ocurrentes of Momente which have hapned in Virginia” by George Percy. (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Percy, George. "The First Anglo-Powhatan War Begins; an excerpt from “A Trewe Relacyon of the procedeings and ocurrentes of Momente which have hapned in Virginia” by George Percy" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 18 Jul. 2024
Last updated: 2020, December 07
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