Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Third Supply

In June 1609, England's "Third Supply" sailed toward Jamestown. The fleet consisted of nine ships and 500-600 colonists, which included the first group of women and children. Two women had arrived prior to this shipment, but there had been no active colonization previously. During the voyage, a hurricane sank one ship, and wrecked the flagship the Sea Venture on the coast of Bermuda.

Six remaining ships separated and arrived in Jamestown in mid-August. Another ship, the Virginia arrived later in October. Estimates of the survivors are around 300. Approximately 200 colonists that could barely feed themselves greeted the new arrivals. Unfortunately for the colonists, some brilliant decision maker in England had decided to put most of the colony's supplies and all of its leaders on the Sea Venture, which was thought to be lost at sea.

In September, the colonists formed two new settlements in order to take some of the burden away from Jamestown. In October, five ships set sail for England, reducing the numbers even further. Still, the events had been set in motion, and the colony experienced the horrific winter of 1609-10, commonly called the Starving Time.

Meanwhile in Bermuda, most of the colonists aboard the Sea Venture had survived. Many believe the tale was the basis for Shakespeare's The Tempest. Over a nine-month period, the survivors made two smaller ships from Bermuda cedar and what was salvageable from the Sea Venture. The two ships arrived in Jamestown in May of 1610 only to find 60 colonists left. Many had died from starvation, disease, or Indians, over the winter. Others had run off to the Powhatan, and only one of the other groups that had left in the fall still survived.

The 60 survivors were in poor shape, and the colony was considered to be a failure. Everyone boarded the two ships to set sail for England. As the group traveled down the James River, they met another relief ship, headed up by Thomas West, Baron De La Warr. The colony had been saved.

While Lord De La Warr's arrival was timely for those in Jamestown, the new governor's arrival would sadly set in motion another historic tragedy. He later used tactics that he learned in Ireland to annihilate the Paspahegh and Kecoughtan.

Kim Murphy


Edain said...

Great post, as ever! :)

Oh and I've just given you an award:

Enjoy! :)

Kim Murphy said...

Thank you, Edain!