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Ralph Hamor's A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia

A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia

This is the title page of the first edition of Ralph Hamor's A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia, published in London in 1615. The book reports on the status of the Virginia colony up until June 18, 1614, when Hamor, who served as a secretary of the Virginia colony, probably departed for England. The title page indicates that among the subjects Hamor covered in the book are the christening of Pocahontas and her marriage to the Englishman John Rolfe—the first published accounts of these events.

Citation: A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia, and the successe of the affaires there till the 18 of June. 1614. A 1615 .H35. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Original Author: Raphe Hamor

Created: 1615

Medium: Title page

Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections

The Chickahominy Become "New Englishmen"

At the conclusion of the First Anglo-Powhatan War in 1614, the English captain Samuel Argall, seated on the mat, negotiates a separate treaty with the Chickahominy Indians, who were independent from the Powhatan paramount chiefdom. One of the elders speaks to the assembled Chickahominy about the terms of the treaty. As part of the peacemaking process, Indians in the background bring tribute and trade items to the colonists; likewise, a dead deer and several birds are presented at right.

This engraving is from a 1619 Latin edition of Johann Theodor de Bry's Americae, Part 10, which includes an illustrated version of Ralph Hamor's True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia, a firsthand account of life in the colonies that had been published four years earlier in London without any images. Hamor described the scene that took place on the "Chicohominie, an arme of our river some seaven miles from James Town" where the assembled Indians awaited the English. Among the conditions for peace, the Indians agreed to "take upon them … the name of Tassantasses or English men, and be King James his subjects, and be forever honest, faithfull and trustie unto his deputie in their countrie." In addition, the Indians agreed to deliver a yearly supply of corn as tribute; in turn, they would receive a certain number of tomahawks or small hatchets. The entire assembly agreed to the terms "with a great shout, and noise," according to the author.

Johann Theodor de Bry followed in the tradition of his father, Theodor de Bry, whose engravings had accompanied Thomas Hariot's A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588), a firsthand account of the Roanoke colony. Hariot had traveled there with the artist John White and approximately 600 colonists in 1585. Both de Brys based their images of Indians on the watercolors made by White during that expedition; the engravers, however, also added European elements in their depictions.

Original Author: Johann Theodore de Bry

Created: 1618

Medium: Engraving

Courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society

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  • A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia

    This is the title page of the first edition of Ralph Hamor's A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia, published in London in 1615. The book reports on the status of the Virginia colony up until June 18, 1614, when Hamor, who served as a secretary of the Virginia colony, probably departed for England. The title page indicates that among the subjects Hamor covered in the book are the christening of Pocahontas and her marriage to the Englishman John Rolfe—the first published accounts of these events.

    Citation: A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia, and the successe of the affaires there till the 18 of June. 1614. A 1615 .H35. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

    Original Author: Raphe Hamor

    Created: 1615

    Medium: Title page

    Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections

  • The Chickahominy Become "New Englishmen"

    At the conclusion of the First Anglo-Powhatan War in 1614, the English captain Samuel Argall, seated on the mat, negotiates a separate treaty with the Chickahominy Indians, who were independent from the Powhatan paramount chiefdom. One of the elders speaks to the assembled Chickahominy about the terms of the treaty. As part of the peacemaking process, Indians in the background bring tribute and trade items to the colonists; likewise, a dead deer and several birds are presented at right.

    This engraving is from a 1619 Latin edition of Johann Theodor de Bry's Americae, Part 10, which includes an illustrated version of Ralph Hamor's True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia, a firsthand account of life in the colonies that had been published four years earlier in London without any images. Hamor described the scene that took place on the "Chicohominie, an arme of our river some seaven miles from James Town" where the assembled Indians awaited the English. Among the conditions for peace, the Indians agreed to "take upon them … the name of Tassantasses or English men, and be King James his subjects, and be forever honest, faithfull and trustie unto his deputie in their countrie." In addition, the Indians agreed to deliver a yearly supply of corn as tribute; in turn, they would receive a certain number of tomahawks or small hatchets. The entire assembly agreed to the terms "with a great shout, and noise," according to the author.

    Johann Theodor de Bry followed in the tradition of his father, Theodor de Bry, whose engravings had accompanied Thomas Hariot's A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588), a firsthand account of the Roanoke colony. Hariot had traveled there with the artist John White and approximately 600 colonists in 1585. Both de Brys based their images of Indians on the watercolors made by White during that expedition; the engravers, however, also added European elements in their depictions.

    Original Author: Johann Theodore de Bry

    Created: 1618

    Medium: Engraving

    Courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society