People


Frances Howard (1590 - 1632) was Duchess of Richmond and Lennox and her first husband was a patron of John Smith. She was responsible for the publication of Smith's major work, 'The General Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles', in 1624.

Frances was celebrated in her lifetime for both her beauty and her lineage. Her father, Thomas Viscount Howard of Bindon was a younger son of the 5th Duke of Norfolk and the grandson of the 3rd Duke of Buckingham.

Her first marriage was to Henry Prannell, a rich wine merchant who died in December 1599, leaving her both a great heiress and free to make a more elevated match.

In 1601 she married Edward Earl of Hertford who was the son of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Protector during the reign of King Edward VI. The marriage was performed secretly at Hertford’s house, without Banns of licence, for which the celebrant, Thomas Montfort, was suspended for three years. Hertford was amused by his wife’s hauteur, and would tap her on the cheek, asking: 'Frank! Frank! How long is it since you married the vintner?'

The Earl was one of two suitors for Frances' hand. Sir George Rodney was the other and on losing the suit he wrote a dying love song in his blood and ran upon his own sword. An act which testifies both to Frances Howard’s beauty and to the extreme conclusion to which Jacobean courtly love could lead.

Two months after Hertford’s death in 1621 Frances married Ludovic Stuart 2nd Duke of Lennox (1574-1624). Lennox was a trusted courtier and servant of his cousin, King James I, and in addition to the offices of Privy Councillor and Steward of the household was in 1623 created Duke of Richmond. Unfortunately, this marriage, which otherwise would seem to be the Duchess’s happiest, was not destined to be long. The Duke died in 1623, predeceasing his wife by sixteen years. When giving instruction for her burial, Frances asked in her will to lie in Westminster Abbey next to the man, 'whose matchless memory and faire needs to me shall ever live with me to the uttermost of affection and dutie, whiles I breathe on earth.'

Robert Bertie, 1st Earl of Lindsey, 13th Baron of Willoughby (1583 - 1642) was Lord of the Manor of Willoughby and John Smith's father was his tenant. Queen Elizabeth I was his godmother, and two of her favourite earls, whose Christian name he bore, were his godfathers. He had been in the Earl of Essex's expedition to Cambridge, and had afterwards served in the Netherlands, under Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. He died fighting for Charles 1 at the battl eof Edge Hill.

The Lindsey Level in The Fens, between the River Glen and The Haven, at Boston, Lincolnshire was named after the Bertie as he was the principal adventurer in its drainage. The drainage work was declared complete in 1638 but the project was neglected with the onset of the Civil War so that the land fell back into its old state.

Philip L.Barbour of Kentucky U.S.A. had a varied life in his younger manhood culminating in work for O.S.S.(???) and in the post-war reconstruction in Germany. He had a great gift for languages and translated some of the Russian classics. 'The Three Worlds of Captain John Smith' which he published in 1964 was the first major biography of the pioneering son of Willoughby, and he devoted his later years to the study of the early Virginia Pioneers. At the time of his death in 1981 he was finishing an edition of 'The Complete Works of Captain John Smith'.


Alexander Whitaker (1585 - 1616) was minister at Henrico, a new settlement 55 miles up river from Jamestown. Born in Cambridge he was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He answered a call from the Governor of Virginia for 'four honest and learned ministers' and sailed in March 1611. He prepared the Princess Pochohontas for Baptism and according to Sir Thomas Dale she 'renounced publicly her country religion, openly confessed her Christian faith stating she desired to be baptised'. Whitaker was drowned in the James River.

Revd Robert Hunt (1568 - 1608) was the vicar for Reculver, Kent, but was forced to leave his wife Elizabeth Edwards and two children, Thomas & Elizabeth, in disgrace in 1602, owing to his wife's adulterous 'seeing too much of one John Taylor'. In 1606, he was forced to leave his second parish, at Old Heathfield in East Sussex, when he was accused of having his own adulterous affair with his servant, Thomasina Plumber, as well as 'absenteeism, and neglecting of his congregation'.

Hunt was 'recruited' by Richard Bancroft (the Archbishop of Canterbury) to be Chaplain of the expedition that founded Jamestown, Virginia and was the first to lift his voice in public thanksgiving and prayer on April 29, 1607, when the settlers planted a cross at Cape Henry, which they named after the Prince of Wales.

Once settled in the fort, the whole company, except those who were on guard, attended regular prayer and services led by the Reverend Hunt. Worship services took place in the open air until a chapel could be erected. Hunt was described as 'our honest, religious and courageous divine.' He was a peacemaker, often bringing harmony to a quarreling group of men. The Chronicler wrote: 'Many were the mischiefs that daily sprung from their ignorant spirits; but the good doctrines and exhortations of our Preacher Minister Hunt reconciled them'.

Hunt's virtuous character was well-known and respected by his fellow settlers. It was evidenced by his behavior both before and after the accidental fire in the fort in January, 1608. The fire burned the palisades with their arms, bedding apparel, and many private provisions. "Good master Hunt lost all his library, and all that he had but the clothes on his back, yet none ever did see him repine at his loss...Yet we had daily Common Prayer morning and evening, every Sunday two sermons and every three months the Holy Communion till our Minister died."

Historians believe that Robert Hunt died in the spring of 1608. His will, probated in July 1608, is the only documented evidence of his death. Scholars suggest that certain conditions imposed upon his bequest to his wife may indicate an unhappy state of affairs in the home, which could have fueled the Reverend Hunt's desire to go to Virginia. However, it seems more likely that his desire to set a good Christian example, rather than his personal problems, motivated him to travel to the new world.

This faithful and courageous priest had nothing to say of himself, leaving no writings and no portrait. All authorities, including Governor Edward Maria Wingfield, First President of the Council at Jamestown, and Captain John Smith, who agreed in nothing else, agreed in praise of this worthy man. They wrote: "Our factions were oft qualified, and our wants and greater extremities so comforted that they seemed easie in comparison of what we endured after his memorable death...."

William Crashaw (1572-1625/6) was born in Yorkshire in 1572, became a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and was ordained in 1597. He was Rector of Barton Agnes in Yorkshire and from 1605 - 1613 served as preacher to the Inner and Middle Temples in London. During this time this religious controversialist built up an impressive library and even went to the expense of extending his official lodgings to house it. In 1615, however, due to tensions between himself and his employers, he was forced by his financial and family circumstances to move away from London. After offering his books to the Temple and to the Royal Library, some 200 manuscripts and 1,000 early printed books were lodged with the Earl of Southampton, also a Johnian, who oversaw the gift of the collection to their old Cambridge College. It was the size of this donation that precipitated the building of the Old Library at St John's. Crashaw eventually died of the plague in the parish of Burton Agnes. His son Richard went on to become a well known poet.

Matthew Sutcliffe (1550 - 1629) was a Fellow of Trinity College and became Dean of Exeter. He was a wealthy man who helped John Smith with funds for fitting out the New England Venture. He founded a college at Chelsea for polemical writing against the Roman Church but despite the support of King James it never became permanent.

Samuel Purchas (1577 - 1626) was born at Thaxted in Essex. He became Vicar of Eastwood near Southend in 1604. Philip Barbour has suggested that Purchas' interest in exploration may have been due to meeting George Berkeley, a friend of John Smith, and also Andrew Buttel of Leigh. He obtained many of Hakluyts papers on his death and built upon them to produce 'Purchas his Pilgrimes', a massive work which is one of the major sources of our knowledge of 16th and early 17th century voyages.

William Symonds (1556 - 1616?) was Curate of Halton Holegate in Lincolnshire and had Lord Willoughby as his patron. He was also familiar with John Smith. He became a preacher at St. Saviours, Southwark, and was the editor of the first account of the proceedings of the English Colony in Virginia which was published in 1612. There were six contributors to this volume of whom the most substantial was John Smith.

Peregrine Bertie Knight of the Bath. As a youth in 1599 he travelled to France as companion to John Smith, this being the occasion of Smith's first venture abroad. Peregrine was on his way to join his brother Robert on a continental tour and Smith only stayed with them for a few weeks. He later met the brothers again near Sienna in Italy where he found them 'cruelly wounded in a desparate fray, yet to their exceeding great honour'.

Richard Hakluyt (1552 - 1616) was born near London to a well connected family of Welsh extraction. He is best known to history as a writer and supporter of the English colonization of Virginia. Orphaned at age five, his uncle of the same name, who also read law at the Middle Temple in London, saw to it that the child received a quality education.

From boyhood he expressed a strong interest in cosmography and maps and after completing a Master of Arts at Christ Church, Oxford, where his focus was the study of recorded voyages and discovery, he began giving public lectures in geography. Later he undertook study in divinity. His first publication was 'Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America and the Islands Adjacent unto the Same, Made First of all by our Englishmen and Afterwards by the Frenchmen and Britons'. This work caught the attention of members of government and others interested in establishing a colony in the New World and Sir Walter Raleigh was impressed enough to commission a further study written by Hakluyt, entitled 'A Particular Discourse Concerninge the Greate Necesittie and Manifolde Commodyties That Are Like to Growe to This Realme of Englande by the Westerne Discoueries Lately Attempted, Written in the Yere 1584'. This important work was lost for centuries but it resurfaced and was published for the first time in 1877. Both Raleigh and Hakluyt felt the work was important enough for Hakluyt to present to Queen Elizabeth I herself, in an attempt to gain her support for expeditions to the New World.

He wrote 'Discourse of Western Planting' during a five year term of office as chaplain to the English Ambassador in Paris and on his return to England he published what is considered his most significant work, 'The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation'. This work was later expanded to three volumes. The second volume was dedicated to Sir Robert Cecil, Hakluyt's patron. The dedication strongly encourages Cecil to use his influence to colonize Virginia as soon as possible. A few copies of the set also include a rare map based on the principles of Edward Wright. Hakluyt's great opus is considered by many scholars and cartographers to be the standard for the era in which it was written.

Hakluyt was one of the major forces in founding the Charter of the Virginia Company of London in 1589. He was one of the chief proponents of a petition presented to King James I for letters patent to create a colony in Virginia. Scottish historian William Robertson wrote that, 'England is more indebted [to Hakluyt] for its American possessions than to any man of that age'.

Hakluyt married twice, and over his lifetime gathered a small fortune, which was unfortunately squandered by his only son. He was buried in an unmarked grave Westminster Abbey.



Captain John Smith (c. January 1580–June 21, 1631) Admiral of New England was an English soldier, sailor, and author. He is remembered for his role in establishing the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Virginia, and his brief association with the Native American girl Pocahontas during an altercation with the Powhatan Confederacy and her father, Chief Powhatan. He was a leader of the Virginia Colony (based at Jamestown) between September 1608 and August 1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.


His books and maps may have been as important as his deeds, as they encouraged more Englishmen and women to follow the trail he had blazed and colonize the New World. He gave the name New England to that region, and encouraged people with the comment, "Here every man may be master and owner of his owne labour and land...If he have nothing but his hands, he may...by industrie quickly grow rich." His message attracted millions of people in the next four centuries.


John Smith was baptized on 6 January 1580 at Willoughby near Alford, Lincolnshire where his parents rented a farm from Lord Willoughby. He was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth.


After his father died, Smith left home at age 16 and set off to sea. He served as a mercenary in the army of King Henry IV of France against the Spaniards, fought for Dutch independence from the Spanish King Phillip II, and then set off for the Mediterranean Sea where he engaged in both trade and piracy, and later fought against the Ottoman Turks in the Long War.


Smith was promoted to captain while fighting for the Austrian Habsburgs in Hungary, in the campaign of Michael the Brave in 1600-1601. After the death of Michael the Brave, he fought for Radu Şerban in Wallachia against Ottoman vassal Ieremia Movilă.


He is reputed to have defeated, killed and beheaded Turkish commanders in three duels, for which he was knighted by the Transylvanian Prince Sigismund Báthory and given a horse and coat of Arms showing three Turks' heads.


However, in 1602 he was wounded in a skirmish with the Tatars, captured and sold as a slave. As Smith describes it: "we all sold for slaves, like beasts in a market-place". Smith claimed his master, a Turkish nobleman, (presumably hoping Smith would be a tutor in the short term, and a payer of a ransom in the long term) sent him as a gift to his Greek mistress in Constantinople, who fell in love with Smith.


He was then taken to Crimea, where he escaped from slavery and left the Ottoman lands moving through Muscovy and on to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He then traveled through Europe and Northern Africa, returning to England during 1604.


In 1606, Smith became involved with plans to colonize Virginia for profit by the Virginia Company of London, which had been granted a charter from King James I of England. The expedition set sail in three small ships, the Discovery, the Susan Constant and the Godspeed, on December 20, 1606. His page was a 12-year-old boy named Samuel Collier.


John Smith was apparently a troublemaker on the voyage, and Captain Christopher Newport (in charge of the three ships) had planned to execute him upon arrival in Virginia. However, upon first landing at what is now Cape Henry on April 26, 1607, sealed orders from the Virginia Company were opened. They designated Smith to be one of the leaders of the new colony, forcing Newport to spare him. The search for a suitable settlement site ended on May 14, 1607, when Captain Edward Maria Wingfield, president of the council, chose the Jamestown site as the location for the colony.


Harsh weather, lack of water and attacks from Algonquian tribes of the Native Americans almost destroyed the colony. In December 1607, while seeking food along the Chickahominy River, Smith was captured and taken to meet the Chief of the Powhatans at Werowocomoco, the chief village of the Powhatan Confederacy on the north shore of the York River. Although he feared for his life, Smith was eventually released without harm and later attributed this in part to the chief's daughter, Pocahontas, who, according to Smith, threw herself across his body "at the minute of my execution, she hazarded [i.e. risked] the beating out of her own brains to save mine; and not only that, but so prevailed with her father, that I was safely conducted to Jamestown".


Smith's version of events is the only source, and since the 1860s, scepticism has increasingly been expressed about its veracity. One reason for such doubt is that despite having published two earlier books about Virginia, Smith's earliest surviving account of his rescue by Pocahontas dates from 1616, nearly 10 years later, in a letter entreating Queen Anne to treat Pocahontas with dignity. The time gap in publishing his story raises the possibility that Smith may have exaggerated or invented the event to enhance Pocahontas's image. However, in a recent book, Lemay points out that Smith's earlier writing was primarily geographical and ethnographic in nature and did not dwell on his personal experiences; hence there was no reason for him to write down the story until this point.


Henry Brooks Adams, the pre-eminent Harvard historian of the second half of the 19th century, attempted to debunk Smith’s claims of heroism. He said that Smith’s recounting of the story of Pocahontas had been progressively embellished, made up of “falsehoods of an effrontery seldom equalled in modern times.” Although there is general consensus among historians that Smith tended to exaggerate, his account does seem to be consistent with the basic facts of his life. Adams' attack on Smith, an attempt to deface one of the icons of Southern history, was motivated by political considerations in the wake of the Civil War. Adams had been influenced to write his fusillade against Smith by John G. Palfrey who was promoting New England colonization, as opposed to southern settlement, as the founding of America. The accuracy of Smith’s accounts has continued to be a subject of debate over the centuries.


Some experts have suggested that, although Smith believed he had been rescued, he had in fact been involved in a ritual intended to symbolize his death and rebirth as a member of the tribe. However, in Love and Hate in Jamestown, David A. Price notes that this is only guesswork, since little is known of Powhatan rituals, and there is no evidence for any similar rituals among other North American tribes.


Whatever really happened, the encounter initiated a friendly relationship with Smith and the colonists at Jamestown. As the colonists expanded further, however, some of the Native Americans felt that their lands were threatened, and conflicts arose again.


In 1608, Pocahontas is said to have saved Smith a second time. Smith and some other colonists were invited to Werowocomoco by Chief Powhatan, (his cope is displayed at the Ashmolium museum in Oxford), on friendly terms, but Pocahontas came to the hut where the English were staying and warned them that Powhatan was planning to kill them. Due to this warning, the English stayed on their guard, and the attack never came.


Later, Smith left Jamestown to explore the Chesapeake Bay region and search for badly-needed food, covering an estimated 3,000 miles. In his absence, Smith left his friend Matthew Scrivener, a young gentleman adventurer from Sibton, Suffolk, who was related by marriage to the Wingfield family, as Governor in his place. When he returned, he discovered that Scrivener wasn't cut out to be a leader of the people, and so Smith was eventually elected president of the local council in September 1608 and instituted a policy of discipline, encouraging farming with a famous admonition taken from the New Testament (II Thessalonians 3:10): "He who does not work, will not eat."


The settlement grew under his leadership. During this period, Smith took the chief of the neighbouring tribe hostage and, according to Smith he did, "take this murdering Opechancanough...by the long lock of his head; and with my pistol at his breast, I led him {out of his house} amongst his greatest forces, and before we parted made him [agree to] fill our bark with twenty tons of corn." A year later, full-scale war broke out between the Powhatans and the Virginia colonists. Smith was seriously injured by a gunpowder burn after a rogue spark landed in his powder keg. He returned to England for treatment in October 1609, and he never returned to Virginia. He was succeeded as governor by an aristocratic adventurer, George Percy.


In 1614, Smith returned to the Americas in a voyage to the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts Bay, and named the region "New England". He made two attempts in 1614 and 1615 to return to the same coast. The first ended when a storm dismasted his ship, the second when he was captured by French pirates off the Azores. Smith escaped after weeks of captivity and made his way back to England, where he published an account of his two voyages as A Description of New England. He never left England again, and spent the rest of his life writing books. He died in the year 1631 in London. He was 51 years of age.


Saint Helena(ca. 250 – ca. 330), also known as Flavia Iulia Helena Augusta, Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was consort of (though may have been married to) Constantius Chlorus, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I. She is traditionally credited with finding the relics of the True Cross.


Many legends surround her. She was allegedly the daughter of an innkeeper. Her son Constantine renamed the city of Drepanum on the Gulf of Nicomedia as "Helenopolis" in her honour, which led to later interpretations that Drepanum was her birthplace. Constantius Chlorus divorced her (c.292) to marry the step-daughter of Maximian. Constantine became emperor of the Roman Empire, and following his elevation she became a presence at the imperial court, and received the title Augusta in 325.


She is considered by the Orthodox and Catholic churches as a saint, famed for her piety. Her feast day as a saint of the Orthodox Christian Church is celebrated with her son on May 21, the Feast of the Holy Great Sovereigns Constantine and Helen, Equal to the Apostles. Her feast day in the Roman Catholic Church falls on August 18. Her feast day in the Coptic Orthodox Church is on 9 Pashons. Eusebius records the details of her pilgrimage to Palestine and other eastern provinces (though not her discovery of the True Cross). She is the patron saint of archaeologists, Colchester and Abingdon.


At the age of 80, Helena was said by some accounts to have been placed in charge of a mission to gather Christian relics, by her son Emperor Constantine I, who had recently declared Rome as a Christian city. Helena travelled the 1400-plus miles from Rome to Jerusalem. The city was still rebuilding from the destruction of Hadrian, a previous emperor, who had built a Temple to Venus over the site of the Jesus' tomb, near Calvary. According to legend, Helena entered the temple with Bishop Macarius, and chose a site to begin excavating, which led to the recovery of three different crosses. Refusing to be swayed by anything but solid proof, Helena, according to the story, touched pieces of the crosses to the sick; when a woman touched by a cross suddenly recovered, Helena declared the cross with which the woman had been touched to be the true cross. She also found the nails of the crucifixion. To use their miraculous power to aid her son, Helena allegedly had one placed in Constantine's helmet, and another in the bridle of his horse. Helena left Jerusalem and the eastern provinces in ca. 327 to return to Rome, and after her journey to the East Helena died in the presence of her son Constantine. Some of the relics which she had located were then stored in her palace in Rome, which was later converted into the Abbey of Santa Croce.On St. Helena "poopoo day" the custom of walking across burning coal is still honored in northern Greece and parts of Bulgaria.


In Great Britain, later legend, mentioned by Henry of Huntingdon but made popular by Geoffrey of Monmouth, claimed that Helena was a daughter of the King of Britain, Cole of Colchester, who allied with Constantius to avoid more war between the Britons and Rome. Geoffrey further states that she was brought up in the manner of a queen, as she had no brothers to inherit the throne of Britain. Monmouth and Huntingdon's source may have been Sozomen. However, Sozomen doesn't claim Helena was British though he does claim in Historia Ecclesiastica that her son, Constantine I, picked up his Christianity there. There is no other surviving evidence to support this legend, which may be due to confusion with St. Elen, wife of the later Emperor, Magnus Maximus. At least twenty-five holy wells currently exist in the United Kingdom that are dedicated to a Saint Helen or Elen.