Some Generall Historie

History books have been written of Virginia since Captain John Smith’s Generall Historie of Virginia, produced by the London Company of England. He authored books on his travels many years after he retired from exploration.

Smith first voyaged to New England in 1614. He is credited with naming Boston, Massachusetts, as well as several other locations. His initial voyages attracted the interests of the Puritans, who were long persecuted for their faith in the homeland.

Smith didn’t enjoy exploration for long. He was captured by the French in 1615. They attacked him off the Azores. His ship was captured and he was taken prisoner. While he was imprisoned, he authored Description of New England.

A short time later, he seized the opportunity to escape and fled to England. He was given a hero’s welcome in his home country. King James I gave him the formal title of Admiral and he was knighted.

It was in History of Virginia that he told the story of how Pocahontas had bravely rescued him. She was 13 when she appeared at Jamestown and brought the settlers food. From that point forward, she continued to assist the newcomers with adapting to the new country.

Smith was arrested by the Native Americans for an unknown offense, most likely from invading their territory. Pocahontas asked for his release and it was granted, “for her sake.” She was the chief’s daughter and her request held power. Smith grew fond of her and, when she visited England, he requested the Queen show her royal favor because she’d saved so many lives.

Most people don’t know that John Smith returned to England when he was only 30. Not only had he struggled with mere survival for years, he returned to his home country in poverty. There are few records of his life beyond that point. He spent those finally years in London. Eventually, he married and had a family. He died in 1631, at 52. Smith was not without critics, many openly boasted he had, “a prince’s heart with a beggar’s purse.”


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