The only child of Pocahontas was born today in 1615. Now WE know em

(c) King's Lynn Town Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Thomas Rolfe was born January 30, 1615 in Virginia. Thomas was the only child of Pocahontas by her English husband John Rolfe. His maternal grandfather was Powhatan chief Wahunsunacock.

In 1616, Thomas traveled to London with his parents.

They were about to embark on a return trip to Virginia when his mother Pocahontas suddenly died March 21, 1616. His father intended to take Thomas to Virginia but by the time they had buried Pocahontas, infant son Thomas became ill and became clear that he would not survive the voyage.

His father appointed Sir Lewis Stukley to act as guardian of Thomas in London and John Rolfe returned to Virginia.

There is a Virginia Company letter dated August 23, 1618 indicating that  “…Opechankano and the natives had given the country to Mr. Rolf’s child . .”  Possibly meaning that Thomas should succeed to chieftainship of the Powhatans.

John Rolfe died in 1622 at his Virginia plantation. John’s will left land in Virginia to Thomas (believed to be “Smiths Fort”).

Thomas lived with his uncle Henry Rolfe for several years in London before striking out on his own.

Thomas married Elizabeth Washington September 13, 1632.

They had a daughter named Anne Rolfe in 1633, with Elizabeth dying shortly after Anne’s birth.

Around 1635, Thomas left his daughter Anne with a cousin and returned to Virginia to claim his inheritance.

In Virginia about 1640 Thomas Rolfe married Jane Poythress. Thomas had a second daughter Jane October 10, 1650.

In 1641, Thomas asked the Governor of Virginia permission to visit his kinsman Opecancanough. Thomas discovered that he had inherited a tract of some 2,000 acres, across from Jamestown.

After the 1644 Indian attack on the colony, four forts were established to defend the frontier: Fort Henry, Fort Royal, Fort James, and Fort Charles.

Fort James was to be under the command of Thomas Rolfe, for which service in 1646 Thomas was granted four hundred acres of land at the site of the fort:

“And it is further enacted and granted, That left.[Lieutenant] Thomas Rolfe shall have and enjoy for himselfe and his heires for ever ffort James alias Chickahominy fort with fowre hundred acres of land adjoyning to the same, with all houses and edifices belonging to the said forte and all boats and amunition at present belonging to the said ffort; Provided that he the said Leift. Rolfe doe keepe and maintaine sixe men vpon the place duringe the terme and time of three yeares, for which tyme he the said Leift. Rolfe for himselfe and the said sixe men are exempted from publique taxes.”

On August 8, 1653, Thomas Rolfe patented 525 acres, “…lying upon the North side of Chickahominy river commonly called and known by the name of James fort…”, apparently including the 400 acres he had received in 1646.

Daughter Jane Rolfe married Col Robert Bolling in 1675. On January 26, 1676 Jane gave birth to a son John Bolling. Jane died in 1676 but many Americans are descended from Pocahontas through Jane’s son John.

There are no records of Thomas Rolfe’s death other than a document showing the Fort James land – was repatented by William Browne on April 23, 1681. The tract was described in the patent as “formerly belonging to Mr Thomas Rolfe, dec’d”, thus establishing that Thomas Rolfe had died before that date.

Thomas Rolfe’s daughter Anne back in England married a Peter Elwin. Through that line many people claim descent from Pocahontas.

In 1698, John Bolling claimed to be Thomas Rolfe’s grandson when he released to one William Browne his rights in the Fort James land, in a deed in which Bolling is identified as “…son and heir of Jane, late wife of Robert Bolling of Charles City County, Gent., which Jane was the only daughter of Thomas Rolf, dec’d…”

Legacy

Pocahontas did not leave any Native American descendants. However, many non-Native people in the United States still claim descent from Pocahontas through Thomas Rolfe’s daughter Jane. Moreover, many people in Great Britain also claim descent from Pocahontas through Thomas’ first daughter, Anne.

 Now WE know em

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