As We All Learned In School

As we all learned from grade school on, the English Virginia Company of London transported adventurers and settlers to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. 

According to the Encyclopedia Virginia

                “The company established a settlement at Jamestown in 1607, and over the next eighteen years, the Crown granted the company two new charters …. What began as an enterprise of investors seeking a dividend was funded a decade later almost exclusively by a public lottery.  By 1618 the company had found a way to use its most abundant resource – land – to tempt settlers to pay their own passage from England to the colony and then, after arrival, to pay the company a quitrent, or fee, to use the land. Still, the Virginia Company and the colony it oversaw struggled to survive.  Disease, mismanagement, Indian attacks, and factionalism in London all took a toll until, 1623, the Privy Council launched an investigation into the company’s finances.  A year later, the company’s charter was revoked and the king assumed direct control of Virginia.”

excerpted from Encyclopedia Virginia

According to Brandan Wolfe’s contributed article to the Encyclopedia Virginia website:

                “In 1606, James I issued a royal charter to ‘adventurers’ (a term that referred to both investors and settlers) in the Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock company, ‘to make habitation, plantation, and to deduce a colony of sundry of our people into that part of America commonly called Virginia.” He continues with “The Virginia Company actually consisted of two groups of investors: The Virginia Company of Plymouth and the Virginia Company of London.  The king authorized the latter to settle on the American coast between 34 and 40 degrees latitude, while the Plymouth investors were directed to lands to the north.  The Virginia Company of Plymouth planted a colony at Sagadahoc in present-day Maine in August 1607, but it was abandoned the following spring.”

A second charter for the Virginia Company of London was issued on May 23, 1609.  Jamestown had been established back in 1607 and by 1609 the colonists were facing attacks by the Indians of Tsenacomoco as well as starvation.  Sir Thomas Gates was appointed the governor of the colony of Jamestown.  Sir Gates “finally arrived in the spring of 1610, only to discover a few ragged survivors of the Starving Time”

By 1618, Sir George Yeardley was appointed the new governor of the Virginia Colony.   Rather than sell stock or on lotteries to fund the company’s debt as they had done in the past,

                The “officials hoped to find a way to entice settlers to pay their own way to Virginia, thus relieving the company of one of its chief expenses.  They found it in the headright system, through which the company promised fifty acres of land for each person who paid his or her own passage or another person’s passage to Virginia.  The settler then agreed to pay the company a quitrent of one shilling per year for every fifty acres.”

The system of selling “Headrights” became the ‘norm’ for getting “Adventurers and immigrants” to the American colonies.  By 1618 the Virginia Company of London had two top officials – Sir Thomas Smythe and Sir Edwin Sandys.  A pamphlet came out in 1612 called “For The Colony in Virginea Britannia.  – Lawes Devine, Morall and Martiall”.  This pamphlet hurt the company’s reputation because of its strict set of rules for the colonists.  By 1619, there were many reforms to the colony’s rules and regulations.  Several investors in the Virginia Company of London felt that the colony’s primary purpose was to be a port of protection for ships, because many were raided by Spanish galleons sailing in the Caribbean.  Piracy was very prevalent in the area of Jamestown.  The Spanish as well as the English conducted raids on each other’s ships.  The ship The Treasurer arrived in Virginia with a cargo of enslaved Africans that they had stolen from a Spanish Galleon.  ‘The Treasurer’ was owned by the third earl of Warwick.

By 1622, the Virginia Indians had formed a mutual alliance lead by Openchancanough (of the Powhatan nation).

                “On March 22, 1622, an alliance of Virginian Indians … launched a series of attacks against English settlements along the James River, killing as many as 347 colonists, or about a quarter of Virginia’s colonial population. Samuel Wrote, an investor and (Sir Edwin) Sandys’s enemy, called attention to the alarming set of figures.  He estimated that Virginia’s population in 1619, when Sandys took over the company, was 700.   Another 3,570 men, women, and children had entered the colony in the subsequent three years, adding up to a population of 4,270.  But after Opechancanough’s attacks, which resulted in the deaths of 347 colonists, only 1,240 settlers remained.  What, Wrote demanded, had happened to the other 2,683?  Most of them, it turns out, had died of disease.”

All of the above was sourced from the website – Virginia Company of London – Encyclopedia Virginia

That brings me to why I have included this information on my website.  I came across this information while researching my ancestors.  According to my research, my earliest ancestor to land in the English colonies was John Marvell Sr,

John Marvell Sr. was born on 04 Aug 1632 in Melbourne, Cambridgeshire, England. He died on 29 Jul 1707 in Accomack, Virginia.  John married Ann West daughter of Jonathan West and Catherine in 1663. She was born in 1632 in Accomac, Accomack, Virginia. Ann died in 1710 in Somerset, Worchester County, Maryland.”   John Marvel, entered land in the registry in 1652 and again in 1653. The land registry was made in Northampton County, where the land office was located. Accomack County is next to Northampton County and was made a separate county in 1663.”

I had read that a Marvell family member had been on the Mayflower that landed in the New World in 1620.  After searching the database of those on the Mayflower (List of Mayflower passengers – Wikipedia), I could not find any listing for the name Marvell or any variation.  

I thought that they may had made a mistake.  Then, I found several articles on the founding of Jamestown and the surrounding area.  In doing so, I found the name Robert Maruel/Marvel listed as one of those killed in the Massacre of March 1622.   I found the listing of the 347 colonists that were massacred on this website:

–  1623 Lists of Living & Dead – Jamestowne Society.  (The following is transcribed from “Colonial Records of Virginia”, R.F. Walker, Superintendent Public Printing, Richmond, VA, 1874, Clemmitt & Jones, Printers, pp 38 – 68.).

The following is the section that lists the location of Robert Maruel/Marvel and the names of his fellow at the time of their massacre. 

At Charles-Citie and about the precincts of Capt. Smith’s Company.
Roger Royal,   Edward Heydon,  Thomas Jones, Robert Maruel, Henry Bushel

According to Wikipedia –Indian massacre of 1622 – Wikipedia

“The Jamestown massacre, took place in the English Colony of Virginia, .., on 22 March 1622, John Smith, though he had not been in Virginia since 1609 was not an eyewitness, related in his History of Virginia that warriors of the Powhatan ‘came unarmed into our houses with deer, turkeys, fish, fruits, and other provisions to sell us.’  The Powhatan then grabbed any tools or weapons available and killed all the English settlers they found, including men, women, children of all ages.  Chief Opechancanough let the Powhatan Confederacy in a coordinated series of surprise attacks, and they killed a total of 347 people, a quarter of the population of the Virginia colony.”

Robert Marvel is listed on page 480 in the book –“Virginia immigrants and adventurers. 1604-1635: a biographical dictionary” by Martha W. McCarney , 1937.

According to, a Robert Marvel was listed in “the U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s.”   They used the same source as above – 1623 Lists of Living and Dead. lists Robert Maruel as arriving in Virginia in 1622.  Another listing on has Robert Marvel arriving in Virginia in 1622.  This time it lists the source as ‘ Lancour, A Bibliogrpahy of Ship Passenger lists, (and it gives various dates)  Lancour’s information was indexed by Carl Boyer in 1979.  His work is listed as – Boyer, Carl, 3rd, editor Ship Passenger Lists, the South (1538-1825). Newhall, CA: the editor, 1979. 314p. 4th pr 1986. Reprint Family Line Publications, Westminster, MD, 1992

So that means that I must dig further into the passenger lists of 1600 to 1625.

I was having trouble reading some of the old texts listed about until I found the following website:  Early modern English pronunciation and spelling | Oxford English Dictionary (

According to the Oxford English Dictionary – “At the start of the sixteenth century the main systematic differences in spelling from present-day English were as follows. (Examples are taken from the Ordynarye of crystyanyte or of crysten men, printed by Wynkyn de Worde, 1502.)”

1)-  u and v were graphic variants of a single letter. The form v was used at the beginning of a word and u in all other positions, irrespective of whether the sound was a vowel or a consonant. Example: Marvel was also listed as Maruel.

ii). Similarly, j was only an extended form of ii was generally used for both the vowel and for the consonant sound (as in jam) in most positions in a word: its capital form, which resembles J, was beginning to be used in initial position for the consonant sound.

iii). The final ‘silent’ –e was much more commonly found, not only as a marker of a ‘long’ vowel in the preceding syllable (as in take), but with no phonetic function, and sometimes after an unnecessarily doubled final consonant.

v). The letter y was commonly used for the vowel i, especially in the vicinity of ranging or ‘minim’ letters such as mn, and u.

v). Double e (ee) or e..e was used for two different long front vowels: the ‘close’ vowel of meet and the formerly ‘mid’ vowel of meatmete (the significance of this is now obscured since in most words the two sounds have become identical). The spelling e..e was gradually restricted to the latter while additionally ea was beginning to be introduced as an alternative spelling.

vi). Similarly o (oo) or o..e were often used for two different long back vowels: the ‘close’ vowel of moot and the ‘mid’ vowel of moatmoteo..e was gradually restricted to the latter and, during the 16th century, oa was introduced on the analogy of ea.

vii). Instead of t in the ending now usually spelt –tion the letter c was frequently used.

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