Captain John Smith

At the age of 15, Captain John Smith (1580 – 1631) was apprenticed in Lynn to merchant Thomas Sendall, later becoming one of the principal movers in the Virginia Company of London. He sailed to the New World in 1606, helping to establish the first permanent English speaking settlement in America, at Jamestown in Virginia. He was captured by Native Americans, and was saved from death by Pocahontas.

Smith published a famous account, Map of Virginia, in which he relates being captured by Powhatan’s men and being saved from death by Pocahontas (however it is likely Smith was involved in a scripted ceremony in which he was symbolically ‘killed’ and then reborn as a member of the tribe). Smith returned to England in 1609, and then in 1614 surveyed the northern coast of ‘Virginia’ which he named ‘New England’. 

On this voyage one of Smith’s captains, Thomas Hunt, captured a Native American Indian, Tisquantum, who he sold into slavery in Spain.  Tisquantum escaped and made his way to London, where he lived for several years until in 1618 he eventually found passage back to his home at Patuxet – only to find his tribe no longer inhabited (killed by disease).  In 1621, Tisquantum (also known as Squanto) was introduced to the Pilgrims and helped them adapt to the New England landscape.

Source: K. O. Kupperman, The Jamestown Project (2007), Deetz and Deetz, The Times of Their Lives (2001)

An image of Captain John Smith

Captain John Smith
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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