Primary Resource

"A Declaration of the State of the Colonie and Affaires in Virginia" (July 22, 1620)

In this pamphlet, published in London on July 22, 1620, the Virginia Company of London summarizes its accomplishments in the past year. Some spelling has been modernized.

Transcription from Original

AFter the many disasters, wherewith it pleased Almighty God to suffer the great Enemy of all good Actions, and his Instruments, to encounter and interrupt, to oppresse and keepe weake, this noble Action for the planting of Virginia, with Christian Religion, and English people: It having pleased him now, contrarily, of his especiall great grace, so to blesse and prosper our late carefull endevours, as well for the repairing of all former breaches, as for supplying of the present defects, wherewith the Colony was kept downe, that it hath as it were on a sodaine growne to double that height, strength, plenty, and prosperity, which it had in former times attained: We have thought it now the peculiar duety of our place, accordingly as it hath beene also ordered by a generall Court, to Summon, as it were by a kinde of loving invitement, the whole Body of the Noble and other worthy Adventurors, as well to the conserving and perfecting of this happy worke, as to the reaping of the fruit of their great expenses and travailes.

And first to remove that unworthy aspersion, wherewith ill disposed mindes, guiding their Actions by corrupt ends, have, both by Letters from thence, and by rumours here at home, sought unjustly to staine and blemish that Countrey, as being barren and unprofitable;—Wee have thought it necessary, for the full satisfaction of all, to make it publikely knowne, that, by diligent examination, wee have assuredly found, those Letters and Rumours to have been false and malicious; procured by practise, and suborned to evill purposes: And contrarily disadvowed by the testimony, upon Oath, of the chiefe Inhabitants of all the Colony; by whom we are ascertained, that the Countrey is rich, spacious, and well watered; temperate as for the Cli-

— page 4 —

mate; very healthfull after men are a little accustomed to it; abounding with all Gods naturall blessings: The Land replenished with the goodliest Woods in the world, and those full of Deere, and other Beasts of sustenance: The Seas and Rivers (whereof many are exceeding faire and navigable,) full of excellent Fish, and of all sorts desireable; both Water and Land yeelding Fowle in very great store and variety: In Summe, a Countrey, too good for ill people; and wee hope reserved by the providence of God, for such as shall apply themselves faithfully to his service, and be a strength and honour to our King and Nation. But touching those Commodities for which that Countrey is proper, and which have beene lately set up for the Adventurors benefit: we referre you to a true note of them, lately delivered in a great and generall Court, and hereunto annexed for your better information. By which and other approved informations brought unto us, Wee rest in great assurance, that this Countrey, as it is seated neere the midst of the world, betweene the extreamities of heate and cold; So it also participateth of the benefits of bothe, and is capable (being assisted with skill and industry) of the richest commodities of most parts of the Earth. The rich Furres, Caviary, and Cordage, which we draw from Russia with so great difficulty, are to be had in Virginia, and the parts adjoyning, with ease and plenty. The Masts, Planckes, and Boords, the Pitch and Tarre, the Pot-ashes and Sope-ashes, the Hempe and Flax, (being the materials of Linnen,) which now we fetch from Norway, Denmarke, Poland, and Germany, are there to be had in abundance and great perfection. The Iron, which hath so wasted our English Woods, that it selfe in short time must decay together with them, is to be had in Virginia (where wasting of Woods is a benefit) for all good conditions answerable to the best in the world. The Wines, Fruite, and Salt of France and Spaine; The Silkes of Persia and ltalie, will be found also in Virginia, and in no kinde of worth inferior. Wee omit here a multitude of other naturall Commodities, dispersed up and downe the divers parts of the world: of Woods, Rootes, and Berries, for excellent Dyes: Of Plants and other Drugges, for Physicall service: Of sweet Woods, Oyles, and Gummes, for pleasure and other use: Of Cotton-wooll, and Sugar-Canes: all which may there also be had in abundance, with an infinity of other more: And will conclude with these three, Corne, Cattle, and Fish, which are the substance of the foode of man. The Graines of our Countrey doe prosper there very well: Of Wheate they have great plenty: But their Maze, being the naturall Graine

— page 5 —

of that Countrey, doth farre exceede in pleasantnesse, strength, and fertility. The Cattle which we have transported thither, (being now growne neere to five hundred,) become much bigger of Body, then the breed from which they came: The Horses also more beautifull, and fuller of courage. And such is the extraordinary fertility of that Soyle, that the Does of their Deere yeelde two Fawnes at a birth, and sometimes three. The Fishings at Cape Codd, being within those Limits, will in plenty of Fish be equall to those of Newfound Land, and in goodnesse and greatnesse much superiour. To conclude, it is a Countrey, which nothing but ignorance can thinke ill of, and which no man but of a corrupt minde and ill purpose can defame.

Now touching the present estate of our Colony in that Country, Wee have thought it not unfit thus much briefly to declare. There have beene sent thither this last yeare, and are now presently in going, twelve hundred persons and upward, as particularly appeareth in the note above specified: and there are neere one thousand more remaining of those that were gone before. The men lately sent, have beene most of them choise men, borne and bred up to labour and industry. Out of Devonshire, about an hundred men, brought up to Husbandry. Out of Warwickshire and Staffordshire, above one hundred and ten; and out of Sussex about forty; all framed to Iron-workes: the rest dispersedly out of divers Shires of the Realme. There have been also sundry persons of good quality, much commended for sufficiency, industry and honesty, provided and sent to take charge and government of those people. The care likewise that hath beene taken by directions, Instructions, Charters, and Commissions to reduce the people and affaires in Virginia into a regular course, hath beene such and so great, that the Colony beginneth now to have the face and fashion of an orderly State, and such as is likely to grow and prosper. The people are all divided into severall Burroughs; each man having the shares of Land due to him set out, to hold and enjoy to him and his Heires. The publique Lands for the Company here, for the Governor there, for the College, and for each particular Burrough, for the Ministers also, and for divers other necessary Officers, are likewise laid out by order, and bounded. The particular Plantations for divers private Societies, are setled in their Seates, being alotted to their content, and each in convenient distance. The rigour of Martiall Law, wherewith before they were governed, is reduced within the limits prescribed by his Majesty: and the laudable forme of Justice and government

— page 6 —

 used in this Realme, established, and followed as neere as may be. The Governour is so restrained to a Counseil joyned with him, that hee can doe wrong to no man, who may not have speedy remedy. Each Burrough, and each particular Plantation, partly hath, partly is bound to have in short time, a sufficient Minister: for whom maintenance is ordained, to each of two hundred pounds a yeere value. Which orderly proceeding there, by direction from hence, hath caused the Colony now at length to settle themselves in a firme resolution to perpetuate the Plantation. They fall to building of Houses, each for his owne private; and the Generalitie to the rearing of publique Guest houses, for intertaining of new men upon their first arrivall. They fall to set up their Ploughes; to the planting of Vineyards; to the pursuing of the Staple Commodities furnished and commended from hence. In summe they are now so full of alacritie and cheerefulnesse, that in a late generall Assembly, they have in the name of the Colony presented their greatest possible thankes to the Company, for the care that hath beene taken for the setling of the Plantation. Neither is it to be omitted, the care which hath beene had here lately at home, for the reducing of all the proceedings and affaires of the Company, to an orderly course of good government and Justice. Wherein to begin with the fountaine thereof, his Majesties authority and pleasure, there hath beene a Collection made of all the branches of the same, dispersed in his Letters Patents, now three times renewed: as also out of other Instructions proceeding from his Majestie. Out of bothe which, together with such other Orders as (authorised by his Majestie) the Company themselves have thought necessary to make, hath beene compiled a Booke of standing Lawes and orders, approved by the generall Consent of all the Company: whereby both the company here, and the Colony in Virginia, have their businesse carried regularly, industriously, and justly, every man knowing both his right and duety, to their generall great content, and the great advancement of the Action. And whereas the Colony likewise have beene often Sutors in effect, to reduce into a compendious and orderly forme in writing, the Lawes of England proper for the use of that Plantation, with addition of such other, as the nature of the place, the nouitie of the Colony, and other important circumstances should necessarily require: a course is likewise taken for the effecting of this worke; yet so as to submit it first to his Majesties view and approbation; it being not fit that his Majesties Subjects should be governed by any other Lawes, then such as receive the influence of their life from him.

— page 7 —

And now to come to that which concerneth the Adventurors in particular, by whose charges, care and labour (next unto his Majesties especiall grace,) this famous Plantation hath not onely beene undertaken, but through so many difficulties upheld and continued: wee should be very greatly injurious to them, if we should not acquaint them with this seasonable time, for the reaping of that benefit and reward which is due unto them. Wee therefore let them knowe, that in this last yeare now ended, there have beene granted by the Company under their legall Seale, eleven severall Patents for particular Plantations; and more are in hand to be passed this next Quarter-Court. It is not unprobable, that upon each of these Patents, divers hundreds of persons will soone Plant in Virginia: there having beene already transported upon the first, above three hundred men. These and other like Planters, having priority of time, will have priority also in choise of the Seat of their Plantations. Seeing therefore the onely matter of retribution to the Adventurors, is by a faire proportion of Land to them & their heires; namely of one hundred acres for every share of twelve pounds and ten shillings, upon a first division; and as much more upon a second, the first being peopled; with fiftie acres for every person, (to be doubled in like manner) which at their owne charges they shall transport to inhabit in Virginia before the 24. day of tune 1625. if hee continue there three yeares, either at one or severall times, or dye after he is shipped for that voyage: It standeth them upon, who are not willing to be the last in the benefit to be partaked, not to be the least in setting forth to the choise and peopling of their Land. Wherein what favour or assistance may by us be given them, they shall be well assured of it, in equall proportion with our selves, as their charges and long expectance have well deserved. And to the end that not onely the Adventurors now living, but the Heires also of the deceased, may take certaine notice of the severall proportions of Land, which ratably to their Adventures in mony are due and belonging to them: And likewise that Posteritie may truely know, by whose charges this Plantation (next under his Majestie) hath beene happily founded, maintained, and continued: Wee have here, according to an Order of Court, set downe in an Alphabeticall Table the names of all the Adventurors, with all their severall sums adventured. Wherein if by error, or other mis-accident, there have wrong beene done to any man; if within one twelve moneth after the date hereof, he give notice and make proofe thereof to the Companies Auditors; hee shall be set right, and the Table reformed: there being not any

— page 8 —

thing more deere unto us, then to doe Right unto them with all Justifiable curtesie, who have beene beginners and continuers of this glorious worke, tending so much to the propagating of the true service of Almighty God, to the adding of greatnesse and honour to our King, and to the benefit of our whole Nation in disburdening their multitude. 22. Junij 1620.