Primary Resource

Letter from the Council in Virginia to the Virginia Company of London (1607)

In this letter, dated June 22, 1607, members of the Council of Virginia, now settled at Jamestown, update their masters at the Virginia Company of London on their landing in Virginia. Some spelling has been updated and contractions expanded.

Transcription from Original

We acknowledge our selves accomptable for our time here spent were it but to give you satisfaccion of our industries and affeccions to this most honourable accion and the better to quicken those good spirritts which have alreadie bestowed themselves heere and to putt life into such dead understandings or beleefes that muste firste see and feele the wombe of our labour and this land before they will entertaine any good hope of us or of the land:

Within lesse then seaven weekes, wee are fortified well against the Indians, we have sowen good store of wheate. we have sent yow a taste of Clapboard, we have built some houses, wee have spared some hands to a discoverie and still as god shall enhable us with strength wee will better and better our proceedinges.

Our easiest and richest commodity being Sasafrax rootes were gathered upp by the Sailors with losse and spoile of manie of our tooles and with drawing of our men from our labour to their uses againste our knowledge to our prejudice, wee earnestlie entreate yow (and doe trust) that yow take such order as wee be not in this thus defrauded, since they be all our waged men yett doe wee wishe that they be reasonablie dealt withall so as all the losse neither fall on us nor them, I beleeve they have thereof two tonnes at the leaste which if they scatter abroad at their pleasure will pull downe our price for a long time[.] this wee leave to your wisedomes. The land would Flowe with milke and honey if so seconded by your carefull wisedomes and bountifull hands, wee doe not perswade shoote one Arrowe to seeke another but to find them both—And we doubt not but to send them home with goulden heads[.] at leaste our desires, laboures and lives shall to that engage themselves.

wee are sett downe 80. miles within a River [actually about fifty-seven], for breadth, sweetnes of water, length navigable upp into the contry deepe and bold Channell so stored with Sturgion and other sweete Fishe as no mans fortune hath ever possessed the like, And as wee think if more maie be wished in a River it wilbe founde, The soile [is] most fruictfull, laden with good Oake, Ashe, wallnutt tree, Popler, Pine, sweete woodes, Cedar and others, yett without names that yeald gummes pleasant as Franckumcense, and experienced amongest us for greate vertewe in healing greene woundes and Aches, wee entreate your succours for our seconds with all expedition leaste that all devouringe Spaniard lay his ravenous hands uppon theas gold showing mountaines, which if we be so enhabled he shall never dare to think on:

This noate doth make knowne where our necessities doe moste strike us, wee beseech your present releiffe accordinglie otherwise to our greatest and laste greifes, wee shall against our willes, not will that which we moste willingie would:

Captaine Newporte hath seene all and knoweth all, he can fullie satisfie your further expectations, and ease yow of our tedious letters, wee moste humblie praie the heavenly Kings hand to blesse our labours with such counsailes and helpes, as wee may further and stronger proceede in this our Kinges and Contries service

James towne in virginia this 22th of June. Anno 1607.

Your poore Friends

Edward Marie Wingfeild

Bartholomew Gosnold

John Smith

John Rattcliffe

John Martine

George Kendall