Primary Resource

Petition from Alderman Johnson, et al., to King James I (April 1623)

In this petition to King James I, sent in April 1623, Alderman Johnson charges the Virginia Company of London with gross mismanagement. Johnson was a longtime officer in the company and part of a faction allied against its de facto leader, Sir Edwin Sandys. The Crown soon complied with Johnson's request that a royal commission be established to investigate the company. The king revoked the company's charter in 1624. Some spelling has been modernized.

Transcription from Original

To ye Kings most exellent Maty.

The humble petition of Sundry the Adventurers and Planters of the Virginia and Sumers Ilands Plantacons.

Most gracious Soveraigne:

Amongst the many memorable works of yor Mats gracious Raigne those of the Plantacons of Virginia and the Somer Ilands are not the Least. The beginninge of wch enterprize beinge the first forraigne Colony planted by our nation accompanyed wth soe great a charge to furnish ships andmen and to make yearly new Supplies wthout any present hope of retribucon was sufficient att the first veiwe and computacon to have discourraged ye most resolute and forward Adventurers, butt by God's Assistance and yor Mats gracious encourragemts wch that discreet and mylde Govermt first nomynated and appoynted by yor Matie, all sortes of men were in such kind and frendly manner invited to engage themselves yt notwthstandinge many difficulties that great Accon (wch otherwise had perished in the birth, not onely tooke life and beinge butt pceeded in a moste hopefull and comfortable Course for many years togeather with unity and love amongst ourselves and …… enterteynmnt of those Savadge Indians by wch endeavors sundry of those Infidells and some of emynent sort were converted to Christian Religion, Staple Comodities began to be raysed and imported into this kingdome, as Iron, Sturgion, Caveary, Sope and Pottashes, Masts for

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 Ships, Clapboard, Pipestanes, Waynscott, Wine, Pitch and Tarr and yt most desired work of Silkwormes: These were ye blessings then uppon our peaceable proceedinge.

Butt wee know not howe itt is of late yeares com to passe that notwithstandinge yor Maties subjects have been in great multitude exported to the Plantacons yett ye aforesaid Comodities and other ye fruits of yt worke do not appear as in former times, or unitie and peace att home is turned to Civill discord and dissencon amongst or selves, and to Massacre and Hostility between the Natives and our Colony in Virginia, and divers of ye Antient Aduenturers and Planters conceive themselves many ways injured abused and oppressed. In wch respect fearinge yt ye utter ruine and distruccon of those great works is like to followe without the help of a Supreame hand, and not holdinge itt fitt to trouble yor Sacred ears wth pticular complaints wee are forced for remedy to appeale to yor moste excellent Maty.

Humbly prayinge yt some worthy personages whom yor Maty shall please may be noiated and appointed by comission under ye great Seale of England who by Oath or otherwise by all Lawfull means and waies may enquire and examine ye true state of ye Plantacons att ye time when Sr Thomas Smith lefte ye Goverment of ye said Compa: and all incidents thereunto belonginge, as also what moneys since yt time have been collected for ye Plantacons, and by whome, howe the same have been procured and expended, and what after ye expense of so much money is ye true estate and condicon of ye said Plantacons at this present: As allso to enquire into all abuses and greivances concerninge the former pticulars And of all wrongs and injuries done to any ye Adventurers or Planters and the grounds and

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 causes thereof, and to propound how the same in time to come be reformed and howe the businesses of ye said Plantacons may be better mannaged Soe that all Contentions and difficulties being reconciled, the Authors thereof condignly punished, unitie and peace resettled, and ye forme of Governinge, and dyrectinge those Affaires beinge better established that worke may prospr wth a blessinge from heaven, to yor Mats great honour and proffitt, and to those religious and publique ends for wch they were first undertaken.