The documents printed below are from the collection of Virginia manuscripts originally brought together by John Smyth (or Smith) of Nibley, the historian of the Berkeleys, who was born in 1567 and died in 1641. The collection comprises over sixty papers, originals and contemporary transcripts, relating to the settlement of Virginia between 1613 and 1634. This document was authored by Ferdinando Yate and dated 1619.
Yate's Account of a Voyage to Virginia in 1619
John Smyth was largely interested in the plantation of Virginia, an investment he began in 1612. In 1618 he formed a partnership with Sir William Throckmorton, Sir George Yeardley, Richard Berkeley, and George Thorpe, to form a private colony there to be named Berkeley Hundred.
"I was wished by Mr. George Thorpe to take a note of everie daies travail upon the seas; which I haue performe in a true collection althouge not in so good form as I could wish it were therefor I hope you will exceept of it as it is; not looking for anie greater mater in soe mean a scoller the seas were trublesum and manie occation at sea hapeneth to hinder a man from his studie and how wee are ashore wee have worke enuf to follow our daiely husbandtrie sum to clering ground for corne and to back sum to building housses sum to plant vines and mulberie trees and all these must be seen vnto otherwise they will not follow their busines therfor I hope you will consider of vs in whom the charge doth light vpon
A short noote of our time spent at sea and the varietie and change of wind and wether and the extremities that seamen endure and the mercies of allmighttie god to support them in all disstreses
To worshipfull gentlemen of glouc- Georg Thorp of wanswell essquier and John smith of nibley essquier wishing you allmanner of psperitie and espesially in this honorable attempt of planting in this cuntrie which I make noe doubt with gode assistance, wilbe a benifit to yourselves and posterie; a good to the commonwelth of eingland; and in time, a meases to convert these poore faithles Indeans"
your poor servant to his honor
"The .16 day of September anno dom. 1619 this 16 day by the assistance of the allmigtie god our capt John woodlefe sett foorth by the worthy and worshipfull gentlemen of Glou Sr William Throgmarton knight and barannet Richard barkeley Essquier George thorpe Essquier John smith Essquier and our cap Essquier and partner with those gentle men this day abovementioned at .8 of the clocke or ther aboute we sett saile in kingrod in a barke caled the margrett the winde being southwarly we could not make anie great speede one our quorse the seventh day in the morning the wind god bethanked came sumwhat faierer with a smal gale and verie faier weether and with gode assistance proseeded on our quorse about ten of the clocke this day we lost sight of lundie and about .2. a"clock of the same daie the wind rose a little and blue a faier gale at southwest and the wether faier the which I pray god to us vs thankfull for it: the 18th day wee prosseed one our quorse the wind being faier but a verie smalle gale and with gode assistance wee recovered to the southward of eirland this night we were becalmed but only now and then with vncertain winde contrarie to our quors thus waiting vpon the mercies of allmightie god and wavering vpon the wide Seas with vncertaine winde vntle it shall plese god to send us wether to bring vs to our expected port the .19 day being the first saboath day in our viage we were becalmed as the night before but only with a small gale at norwest about .2. a clocke of this daie it pleased god to send vs a faier gale at norwest and soe we held our quors to the sowwest the .20 day we lickwise proseeded on our quors the wind houlding with a strong gale as the day before this day about 2 a clocke the wind came at north with a verie strong gale in so much that when the night came we were driven to strike our topsailes then the wind shifted at est north est and so the .21. day with the same wind wee held our qurs at west sowwest according to our desier and praing to the allmightie god to continue so faier a wind, the .22. day we had the wind southest and held our quors as the day before. Runing with a strong gale as much as our smale ship is able to bere towarde our expected port thus ver (i.e. were) depending vpon the mercies of the all mightie god and desiering him allwais to continue his favorable hand of cumpassion towarde vs without the which we cannot long continue the .23. daie the wind god behtnanke held as the day before and we continued our quors at west-souwest which he hould to be the direct poynt for our port"
"this .23 day at night wee had a shroud storme out of the southest both of winde and raigne which did both annoy mariners and passengers for the time the 24 day in the morning it pleased god to send vs calme wether but the wind uncertaine then about ten a clocke we had a faier gale at est and by south and we held our quorse at westsouwest the .25 day wee had the wind estnorthest and helld our quors as the daie before .26 the wind held at southest and wee held our quors at souwest an by west this day in the afternoone wee had stormes and gustes out of the est and the night following prouev verie tempestuous both with wind and raigne the 27 daie we had faier wether and the wind at estsouthest the .28. daie in the morning we had the wether faier and the wind at southest the .29 daie we had the wind sousouwest contrarie to our quors the .30 day the wind held contrie as the daie before the first day of october we were becalmed with verie faier wether and about the .2 day god be thanked we had the wind at sousouthest and directed our quors at souwest and by west the .3 daie we had a verie great storm from the estsouthest which held from saturday night vntle morndad morning the .4 day it pleased god we had the wether faier but the wind contrie at souwest the .5 day we had the wind southwardly the .6 daie we had the wind at north west."
Ferdinando Yates goes on to describe the weather each and every day of the voyage. They had several very bad storms. It seems they prayed almost constantly for a safe trip.
"the .28 daie being the sabaoth daie we had the wind at souwest, and we bore vp at west and by nore and in the morning wee sounded and had lande at a 11 fathom of water and about 11 a clocke one went vp in the maine top and described land which was noe smale joy to the whole cumpanie, and this night we came to an anker in chespeake baie the .29 daie we had a shroud storm and we endevored to waie anker and our capston brock, which put vs in great disstresse and so we were driven to ride it out vntle the next morning the .30 daie we had our capston mended and waied anker, and in the evening god bethanked we came to an anker at kecketan in a good harbore where my captain went a shore to see sum of his frende and my selfe and his mane with him thus leauing the seas I leave to wright at this time the last of november .1619."
"I need not report anie thing of the cuntie you hauing had soe good enteligenc of it by soe manie worthy gentle men: that i should but loose my labore to wright anie father, but only this I must neede saie, that if I had the eloquence of Cesero or the skillfull art of Apellese I could not pen neither paint out a better praise of the cuntrie then the cuntrie it selfe deserveth."
"we are well settled in good land by the means of the Governer of this cuntrie, and the care and experienc of our Captain."
"our house is bilt with a stoore convenient"
Instructions to Captain Woodleaf, Virginia Papers, 1619Ordinances direccions and Instructions to Captaine John Woodleefe for the gouerment of or men and servants in the Towne and hundred of Berkley in Virginia giuen by vs. S.r Willm Throkmorton knight and barronet Richard Bearkley Esq; George Thorpe esq; and John Smyth gent wherevnto our commission of the date hereof made to the said Captaine Woodleefe hath reference, the fourth day of September 1619 Anno xvij Jac. regis Angliae &c
1 Impr wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perputually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty god. [Note: This is the basis for the claim that Virginia was the site of the first Thanksgiving, a year before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth.]
2 Item wee doe ordaine that the lords day be keept in holy and religious order and that all bodily labour and vaine sports and scandolous recreations be refrained, and that morning and evening prayer (according to the english booke of common prayer) be Dayly read and attended vnto and such other divine exercisses of preaching and reading to be on the said day vsed, as it shall please god to enable the minister for the tyme there being to performe. And that all such other festivalls and holidayes be observed and keept which are authorized and appoynted by the lawes and statutes of thie realme of England, And the rites and cremonies authorized prescribed or apoynted by the ecclesiasticall lawes or channons of this realme of England and booke of comon prayer (established by authority) be in all things observed and keept, according as it is vsed in the church of England.
3 Item wee do ordayne and direct, that you our gouernor and all our people and servants assemble togeather once a day to prayer, immediatly after the forenoone labour ended and before dinner. And that the person then absent (you our gouernor and your assistants hereafter named exepted) shall be punished with the losse of his supp the same evening vnles the minister or your selfe allowe of his excuse or cause of his absence.
4 Item wee will and require that vpon your arrivall in the kings river in Virginia or in any branch thereof that yo take especiall care for choice ofthe place where yo first sett downe and entend for yo settled habitacon, (be it one this side or beyond James towne) that the same be healthy for ayre and accomodate with fresh water and easy for accesse vnto with shipe pinnance or barge rich also in mould and soyle and of most likelyhoode to bring fourth the best commodities of that cuntry either already known or by vs hoped for, And iron oare silke grasse mulbery trees for nouishing of silke wormes, apt for vines, english wheat maize and other virginia corne and for rise, Aniseeds flax oade oyle seeds and the like, rich also inmeadow and pasture for cattell and in timber for shipping and other vses, and alsoe convenient and vsefull for fowle fish and the like, And that you resolue not on the place without the advice of your assistants hereafter named and the assent of the greater number of them. Wherein allsoe wee will you to proceede with the advice of Sr. George Yardley gouernor of that kingdome, deliuering our letters written vnto him in that behalfe, provided that you settle not but where the natiues, (if any be or clayme) are first avoyded by composicon.
5 Item wee doe ordayne and direct that imediatly after the place of habitacon is agreed vppon in manner aforesaid, that you cause forthwith to be erected houses fit for the present shelter and succor our people which as wee suppose, may be for the better expedicon built homelike and be couered with bordes of which we commend to you especiall care the framing of twoo, where of the one for the safe keeping of the tooles implements of husbandry powder, shott, Armor, and victuall, which we wish may be be strongly planted on the inside: And the other for your asemblies at time of prayer and time of diet, and our further direction is, That if the ship shall disburden for lading before the said storehouses for receipt thereof cane be built, That then the same be vnladen into the comon warehouse in James Towne, or the Bermuday granary by the gouernors order and thereevnto first obtayned.
6 Item wee doe ordaine that with all convenient expedicon, yo cause to be inclosed 400 acres (or more) with a stronge pale of seaven foorte and halfe highe whereby such corne grayne seeds vines Tobacco, and the like as shalbe sowen or planted and such cattle as shalbe transported by vs or provided in Virginia, will be more safely preserved.
7 Item wee doe nominate and commend vnto yo as your assistants for your better exection of the authority by vs on yo conferred, fferdinando yeat, John Blanchard, Richard Godfrey, Rowl and Planted and Thomas Coppy, of those seuerall integities and discretions wee hauing made a sufficient triall do therefore ordaine, that in all businesses of import of what kind soever, you take theire advise, and the assent of the greatest parte of them fiue: And that they diet with and as your selfe, at one and the same table togeather. And that alsoe all the rest doe diet togeather, and be equally provided for as nere as may be:
8 Item we doe ordaine, that there shallbe an ordinary Corps dewe gard each night in our towne of Bearkley, to consist at the first officer, to succeede in torne as the company will afford and afterwards as your number shall encrease whereof one to be of the number of those seaven that shall be deputie and called, captaines of the watche.
9 Item for the more decent and compley gouerment and ordering of our famyly wee substitute and appoynt, fferdinando yeat to be antient, and Rowland Paynter Sergeant of the company, And John Blanchard to be steward of the household and clarke of the store of apparrell and beding And the said Rowland Paynter to be clarke of the kitchin, with two or more (as Caters or cuntry Purvires) to be associated vnto him, And Henry Perce to be vsher of the hall and Thomas Partridg now abiding in Virginia (if he mynd vnto to be balyffe to our husbardries, if not, then whone you and your assistants shall thinke meete, and the said fferdinando yeat to take care of our Armor and of all our tooles of husbandry.
10 Item wee doe ordayne that if it shall soe please god that Mr. Woodleefe dye before the Arivall of Mr. Chester, That then the gouerment of our families and of our affayres shall remaine with and vnder those Assistants, and the survivers of them that we haue before associated vnto Mr. Woodleefe and if it shall please god that either Mr. Woodleefe of Mr. Chester shall die after both of them are arrived in Virginia, That then the gouerment of both famylies shall remaine with and vnder the survivor of them ayded with the assistants of bothe families. (Endorsed:)
The expedition was particularly well equipped, probably reflecting Woodleefe's previous plantation experience in Virginia (he had traveled to Virginia in 1608-1609). It included the following for the 36 voyagers:
: Provisions: 8000 biscuits, bread, 160 lbs. butter, 50 lbs. suet, oatmeal, 127 lbs. bacon, horsemeat, two lots of cheese, 5 ropes of onions, 33 lbs. of soap, pepper, salt, ginger, a barrel of vinegar, 11 gallons of oil, 20 bushels of wheet, 60 bushels of peas, 5 1/2 tuns of beer, 6 tuns of cider, 11 gallons of sack, 15 gallons of aqua vitae.
Domestic requirements: suits, shirts, caps and bands, 200 pairs of shoes, stockings, 5 doz. handkerchiefs and falling bands, sheets, bolsters, 586 ells of canvas, 27 ells of dowles for sheets, 145 yards of flannel, almost 2000 buttons, thread, 200 needles, etc.
Kitchen utensils: 48 trenchers, wooden platters, dishes, bowls, spoons, horn cups, skimming dishes and saucers, dripping pans, frying pans, kettles, bellows, pot hangings, pot racks, knives, candlesticks, scales, etc.
Constructional and Agricultural tools: axes and hatchets of many kinds, saws, hoes, shovels, pickaxes, crowbars, reaping hooks, hammers, chisels, pliers, nails, latches, glue, ropes, fishing tools, etc.
Also included were weapons--24 muskets, 3 barrels of gunpowder, 16 swords, armour, two Bibles and several religious books, 6000 beads (for Indian trade), garden seeds, paper and ink.
The preparation for this plantation shows unusual forethought, concern for the establishment of a viable town, and for the spiritual welfare of the settlers. Copy of Instructions geven to Captayne Woodleefe. 4 Sept. 1619
List of Settlers Sent in 1619This list was annotated by John Smyth, giving length of indentures and acreage which would be allotted to them at the end of their indenture, as well as the fate of each settler.
September 1619 A lyst of the men nowe sent for plantacon vnder Captayne Woodleefe governorfferdinando Yate, gent 3 yeares 50 acres
returned 20 martij 1620
John Blanchard gent 3 yeares 50 acres
Richard Godfrey Joyner 3 years 0-0
Rowland Paynter 3 years 50 acres
Thomas Coopy Carpenter
Smythe fowler and Turner 3 years 30 acres
Peerse gent 4 yeares 25 acres
John Cole 7 years 40 acres
Humfry Osborne 3 years 30 acres
Stephen Torslet 4 years 25 acres
Humphrey Plant Sawier &
Carpenter (dead) 3 years 30 acres
Thomas Davis Cooper &
Shingler (dead) 3 years 30 acre
Xpopher Nelme shooomaker 3 years 30 acre
Richard Sherife thelder 3 years 30 acr
Caroenter yt went with
Mr. Thorpe (dead)
Richard Sherife the 3 years 30 acr
yonger Couper (dead
[written & then stricken through]
Willm Clement Cook & 6 years 20 acr Gardner
Thomas Perise for hops & 7 years 30 acr
Xpopher Bourton Taylor 4 years 30 acr
Thomas Molton Cook & 5 years 25 acre
James Cley Joyner 3 years 0-0
Charles Coyle a gunmaker 3 years 40 acr
and Smyth & for fish
pitch and tarre (dead)
Edward Paynter 7 years 30 acr
Walter Hampton 3 years 30 acr
Samuell Coopy 3 years 15 acr
Willm Cole 7 years 30 acr
Willm Parker 6 years 30 acr
John Hurd 5 years 30 acr
Willm Patche 6 years 30 acr
(dead) Thomas Sandford 6 years 30 acr
Willm Stone 6 years 30 acr
(query to him)
John Taylor, als stokeley 6 years 25 acre
John Jones gardner & 8 years 30 acr
Thomas Denton 8 years 20 acr
Thomas Thorpe 7 years 30 acr
For additional information on this voyage, the settlement, and especially the Indian "massacre" of 1622 (in the absence of Captain John Woodleefe), see George Thorpe and the Berkeley Company: A Gloucestershire Enterprise in Virginia by Eric Gethyn-Jones (Alan Sutton, 1982).
Posted by Ann Woodlief