Primary Resource

The humble Petition of Jane Dickenson Widdowe (1624)

In this petition to Virginia governor Sir Francis Wyatt and members of the governor's Council, dated March 30, 1624, Jane Dickenson pleads for her release from indentured servitude. Having been taken prisoner by Pamunkey Indians following Opechancanough's attack in 1622, she was ransomed by Dr. John Pott, to whom she then owed service for both herself and her husband, who was killed in the attack. Some spelling has been modernized and contractions expanded.

Transcription from Original

To the honorable right Worthy etc. the Governor and Counsell of Estate in Virginia.

The humble Petition of Jane Dickenson Widdowe

Most humblie sheweth that whereas her late husband Ralph Dickenson Came over into this Cuntry fower Yeares since, obliged to Nicholas Hide deceased for the tearme of seaven yeares, hee only to have for himselfe & your petitioner the one halfe of his labors, her said husband being slaine in the bloudy Masacre, & her selfe Caried away with the Cruell salvages, amongst them Enduring much misery for teen monthes At the Exspiration it pleased God so to dispose the hartes of the Indians, that for a small ransome your petitioner with divers others should be released, In Consideration that Doctor Potts laid out two pound of beades for her releasement, hee alleageth your petioner is linked to his servitude with a towefold Chaine the one for her late husband's obligation & thother for her ransome, of both which shee hopeth that in Conscience shee ought to be discharged, of the first by her widdowhood, of the second by the law of nations, Considering shee hath already served teen months, tow much for two pound of beads.

The promises notwithstanding Dr Pott refuseth to sett your peticioner at liberty, threatning to make him serve her the uttermost day, unless shee procure him 150[?] waight of Tobacco, shee therfore most humbly desiereth, that you wilbe pleased to take what Course shalbe thought just for her releasement fro' his servitude, Considering that it much differeth not from her slavery with the Indians, & your peticioner shalbe bound to pray etc