British Captain Samuel Argall kidnapped Native American princess Pocahontas at Passapatanzy, Virginia today in 1613 to ransom her for English prisoners held by her father, the Powhatan Chief Wahunsonacock. Now WE know em


Sir Samuel Argall was born in either 1572 or 1580 in East Sutton, Kent county, England.

He was drawn to the sea, and became a sea captain for the Virginia Company of London at the height of English colonization of the New World.

In 1609, Samuel Argall captained the ship Mary and John. On this voyage, he became the first captain to develop a shorter northern route across the Atlantic Ocean from England to the new English colony at Jamestown, Virginia. This route took only nine weeks and six days and allowed him to avoid Spanish ships. It also allowed Argall to resupply the Jamestown colony with provisions that allowed them to survive the winter.

On his next voyage to Jamestown in the spring of 1610, Argall once again saved the colony from starvation.

Argall’s voyage the next year found the Jamestown Royal Governor Thomas West ill. West sailed back to England with Argall in 1611, leaving Thomas Dale in charge as the Deputy Governor of the Virginia Colony.

Two years later in March of 1613, Captain Argall arrived with new supplies for Jamestown and this time before he returned to England, Thomas Dale asked him to sail his ship up the Potomac River to trade with the local native tribes for more supplies.

The Patawomecks lived in a village they called Passapatanzy.

When Dale and Argall began trading with the Patawomecks, they discovered the presence of the daughter of thier principal Chief.

Chief Wahunsonacock was Chief of the entire Powhatan Confederacy. Argall learned from the local chief Japazaws that her name was Pocahontas and reportedly had been in the native village for only a short time.

As an Algonquian Princess, Pocahontas was well known and had treated the English with great respect.

The presence of Pocahontas created an opportunity in the eyes of Argall.

The Patawomecks held English captives and Argall realized they could take Pocahontas and ask for the prisoners release in exchange for her safe return.

Kidnapping of Pocahontas

On April 13, 1613, Samuel Argall lured Pocahontas aboard his ship with a copper kettle. He then took Pocahontas to Henricus, a small settlement Thomas Dale had founded in 1611 as an alternative to the swampy colony of Jamestown.

Argall then announced his demands in a letter addressed to Chief Wahunsonacock that asked for the immediate release of the English prisoners as well as weapons and farming tools that the Powhatans had taken from Jamestown, in exchange for the release of his daughter Pocahontas.

Chief Wahunsonacock released the prisoners but failed to satisfy the English colonists with the return of the stolen weapons and tools.

A long standoff ensued.

In the mean time, Pocahontas converted to Christianity and took the English name Rebecca.

Samuel Argall was then ordered to raid Acadia to the north, a colony of New France that now includes the modern-day state of Maine. England felt the French settlements were violations of the Charter of the Virginia Company.

Samuel Argall attacked Port Royal, the French capital of Acadia established in 1605. The British force commanded by Argall also successfully eradicated the French colony of Saint Sauveur and then burned down Port Royal, capturing 14 prisoners and bringing them back to Jamestown.

On this campaign, Argall also became the first Englishman to visit modern New York City, where he landed and warned the Dutch of their encroachment upon English territory.

When the opportunity finally arose for Pocahontas to return to her father and her people, Pocahontas/Rebecca chose to remain with the English at Jamestown.

In April of 1614, she married tobacco planter John Rolfe, and in January of 1615, bore him a son, Thomas Rolfe. Pocahontas’s marriage to Rolfe was the first recorded interracial marriage in North American history.

Then in 1616, Captain Samuel Argall sailed back to England with Thomas Rolfe and his wife Pocahontas/Rebecca, their son Thomas, as well as Matachanna (Pocahontas’ half sister) and her Powhatan husband Uttamatomakkin.

In 1617, Samuel Argall became Pricipal Governor of Virginia.

Soon, he was accused of being excessively stern and not having the best interests of the colonists at heart.

In 1618, London sent Lord De La Warr to investigate these complaints, however Warr died at sea on his way to Jamestown.

In 1619, Argall was succeeded by Sir George Yeardley as Governor and recalled to England.

Back in London, Samuel Argall was cleared of these accusations and continued his steady rise at court until King James I Knighted Sir Sameul Argall.

Sir Samuel Argall never married and died at sea on or about January 24, 1626.

His interment was in Penryn, Cornwall‘s St Gluvias churchyard.

Now WE know em


One response to “British Captain Samuel Argall kidnapped Native American princess Pocahontas at Passapatanzy, Virginia today in 1613 to ransom her for English prisoners held by her father, the Powhatan Chief Wahunsonacock. Now WE know em

  1. Pingback: Language love in Colonial Virginia | Loving Language·

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