"The mighty deeds and' dreams that they have locked Into gray volumes of the prisoned past."
The history of Virginia contains so much of romance and tragedy, adventure, pathos and humor, the writer finds himself embarrassed in any attempt he may make to cover each phase.
We have studied the tragic experiences of the settlers from the very hour they landed at Jamestown.. until the terrible massacre of 1622. Perhaps it would be best for the sake of continuity, to discuss the effect of the massacre and the defection of certain members of the company and colony, in order that we may best understand the excuse that James I. gave as reason for justification in annulling the charter of the London Company, and placing the colon`- directly under control of the Crown.
But, before going into this discussion, let us, for the time being, as it will lead up to one of the reasons given as a cause of dissention, follow the adventures of Captain Samuel Argall and his famous ship, the Treasurer. This vessel with its adventurous commander, had much to do with the success of the Virginia Colonial Enterprise, and the Treasurer's career should he as familiar to the boys and girls-aye, the older people--of Virginia, as is the Mayflower to the people of New England. [A ship called the "Mayflower" was making regular voyages between England and Virginia in 1641.]
On August 2, 1612, the Treasurer, Captain Samuel Argall, commanding, sailed from England, and arrived at Point Comfort, September 27, following. On this voyage the ship brought over sixty-two colonists. It had been ,commissioned to come to Virginia and "drive out foreign intruders," who might attempt settlement within the boundaries of the patents of James I. Argall had been specially instructed to investigate the report that Louis XIIL, of France, had granted a patent to Madam de Guercheville (a lady of honor to his Queen), to all that part of North America extending from the St. Lawrence River to Florida, and that she was seating colonists within the bounds of the Virginia grant. The charter of the Treasurer stipulated that the ship was to be "wholly employed in trade and other services, for relieving the colonie," and to be in service one year. The ship was owned jointly by Lord Governor West, Lord Rich, Argall and others, and was chartered by the London Company. Lord Rich, above mentioned, was afterwards created the Earl of Warwick, and his connection with this ship in the later days of its piratical career will be mentioned later.
The Treasurer's battery consisted of fourteen guns, and she was manned by sixty musketeers, "trained for sea service," one of the requirements being that they should be adept at boarding the prizes, and putting their defenders to the sword. The first adventure of the Treasurer in Virginia waters was an expedition against the Indians along the Nansemond River. Governor Dale accompanied Argall on the trip, and "escaped killing very narrowly" in one of the attacks on an Indian village. It was reported that this expedition procured a quantity of corn for the colony.
In December of the same year Argall sailed the Treasurer up the Pembroke (Rappahannock) and Potomac Rivers, where he traded with his friend, the King of Pastancy, and obtained' 1,400 bushels of corn. He exchanged hostages, and on February- 11, returned to Point Comfort.
The next month (January- 1613) the Treasurer ascended the Rappahannock River as far as the falls. There Argall explored into the country, where he reported seeing many buffaloes, and claimed he discovered "sundry mines."<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1
Prior to 1565, Indians brought buffalo skins down the Potomac River to trade with the Spaniards. Some of the skins were transported by canoes, along the coast, as far North as St. Lawrence River. It is recorded in old Spanish manuscript that, in 1564-5, six thousand skins were traded in this way. See p. 19.">
It was while on this trip Argall learned that Pocahontas was visiting the King of the Patowomacks, and resolved to secure her by strategy "for the ransoming of so many Englishmen as were prisoners of Powhatan.' . . . Descending the Rappahannock, he entered the Potomac, and through bribery of Japazaws,<a href="#2" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 2
A Copper Kettle was the Bribe."> persuaded her to go aboard the ship and refused to permit her return. In the Treasurer, Argall delivered his prisoner to Gates at Jamestown. Returning to Old Point he superintended the building of a frigate and a fishing boat. After selecting a number of the crew to fish off Cape Charles, "for relief of the men at Henrico," the Treasurer sailed along the eastern side of the hay in search of good harbors for boats and barges. There Argall found "great store of fish, both shellfish and others."
It was in July of this year that the Treasurer sailed for the coast of Northern Virginia in search of French settlements. Mount Desert was captured and several ships taken, along with a number of French prisoners, among them being Captain La Saussaye, the commander. A ship of 100 tons, a barque of twelve tons, supplies and fifteen prisoners, were brought to Jamestown, the commandant and fourteen others having been placed in a small shallop, with permission to sail for France. It seems almost miraculous that they succeeded in reaching their mother country- after a voyage of tyro months across the ocean.
When the Treasurer returned to Jamestown there were already Spanish and Indian prisoners quartered there, so we find that they had quite a variety of nationalities confined in their keep. The Treasurer returned to the northern coast in October and destroyed several more. French settlements. The two French ships accompanied Argall on this trip, the larger one being commanded by Turner, his lieutenant. He destroyed St. Croix and Port Royal eliminating every "token of French names and French claims as he had been commanded to do." At each of these places he set up a cross, upon which was carved notice of English ownership of that section.
The ships began the return voyage on November 9, and Argall experienced the first miscarriage of his hitherto well-laid plans. A great storm sank the barque and the ship commanded by Turner was apparently lost, though it arrived in England, in a much battered condition, the following January. The Treasurer succeeded in weathering the storm, and Argall entered Chesapeake Bay- three weeks afterward. Notwithstanding the fact that he had suffered the loss of the other two vessels, en route, he anchored the Treasurer off 'Manhattan Island,<a href="#3" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 3
Now site of New York."> and required the Dutch Governor, seated there, to "submit himself, companyand' plantation to his Majesty and to the Governor and government of Virginia," thereby acknowledging that the Jamestown Colonly had priority- of claim to the territory. It was in March following that the Treasurer sailed up the Pamunkey<a href="#4" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 4
First called Charles by the English. Gloucester Point was called Tyndall's Point."> (York) and anchored off Wereowocornoco. On board, Argall had as guests Sir Thomas Dale the Lieutenant-Governor, Ralph Hamor, John Rolfe and Pochahontas. It is said that the intention of the voyage was to induce Powhatan to pay a large ransom for the surrender of his beloved daughter, but Argall and Dale were not aware that the little god, Cupid, was a passenger, and a romance, later to become famous in the annals of American History-, was being enacted in their very presence.
Ralph Hamor, having been taken into the secret, was commissioned by Rolfe to inform Dale of his love for Pocahontas, and his desire to marry her. Dale was greatly pleased with the news, Pocahontas permitted to acquaint her people of her bethrothal and the Treasurer again returned to Jamestown, with the happy couple on board. Can you not picture the proud old ship, sailing up the James; her flags flying; her arrival off Jamestown with fanfare of trumpets and boom of guns; the cheering of the officers and men, amid their drinking to the health of the happy couple? The marriage was solemnized on or about April 15, a few days after the return of the ship. The ceremony took place in the little church, while the Treasurer, in gala attire, rode at anchor in the James, nearby.
On June 23 this ship sailed for England, with the news of the marriage. Captain Argall was accompanied by Ralph Hamor and three of the French prisoners. Can you not picture the delight of Argall and Turner when they- met again; each having thought the other dead? What a joyous time, that first reunion in the cabin of the Treasurer must have been.
The ship again returned to Virginia, leaving England in February, 1615. Having visited the fishing grounds en route, Argall did not arrive at his destination until the early summer. The next account we have of the ship was a voyage to England, May, 1616. On board as passengers, were Sir Thomas Dale, Captain John Martin, John Rolfe, his wife and little son, Thomas (the child is supposed to have been named after Sir. Thomas Dale, who acted as godfather). On board there were also a. number of young Indians of both sexes "to be educated in England." Dale reports that he left the colony "in great prosperity and peace, contrary to anye mens exspectatyons." Captain Yeardley remained in Virginia as deputy-governor.
The Treasurer arrived in England on June 13, 1616, and safely landed all of its distinguished passengers, with the exception of one, Francis Landrye-who with Done Piego Molino, and a companion, had been taken prisoners when they- visited Algernoune Fort (Old Point) in July-, 1611-he had been hung from a yardarm en route to England. This man was a pseudo-Spaniard, suspected of being a deserter from the British Navy. He had denied his British nationality so persistently during the five years of his captivity, that it had been impossible for his captors to prove his guilt as he was seconded by Molino in this contention.
He and Molino (who masqueraded as a common sailor, through afterward proved a grande of Spain), had been a continued source of trouble to the Jamestown authorities, having conducted a secret correspondence with Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador to England. In their correspondence they had endeavored to persuade the King of Spain not only to invade, but to destroy the Virginia colony-. They, even sent samples of rich silver ore to incite his cupidity-, claiming that rich mines were located within Virginia. Evidence was secured, while en route to England, that enabled Dale and Argall to execute the British traitor.
At the Michaelmas term of the Quarter Court, November, 1616, Captain Argall was selected deputy-governor of Virginia; Captain Ralph Hamor, vice-admiral; Captain John Martin, master of ordnance, and John Rolfe, secretary and recorder. This hastened Argall's return to the colony-, and he did not, therefore, wait for the Treasurer, but sailed in the "George" on March 31, 1617. Pocahontas was to have returned on this vessel with her husband and child, but owing to her death Rolfe left the young Thomas in England, and sailed on the vessel, in order to assume his new duties. Ralph Hamor also returned at the same time.
The command of the Treasurer, though the ship was still owned in great part by Argall, was given to Captain Daniel Elfrith. The ship, after taking Dale and his party- to the mother country, apparently, did not return direct to Jamestown in Way of that year. Before leaving, Elfrith had received' a commission from Charles Emannuel I. (Duke of Savoy) granting him the right to prey upon the shipping of Spain-with the James River as a place of retreat. England being at peace with Spain, such a commission could not have been legally obtained under English registry, and so the Count Scarnafissi, the duke's ambassador in England, was bribed to obtain this commission from the great Duke of Savoy (Savoy was in Southern Italy).
The Treasurer was supposed to have cleared, laden with provisions and fishing tackle, while in reality she was loaded with arms and ammunition. - It has been charged that the commission from the Duke of Savoy was obtained by Lord Warwick, who, with Lord de la Warr and Argall, teas part owner of the ship. The Treasurer was manned with some of the ablest men of the colony, as soon as it reached Virginia and, provisioned. it sailed for the Spanish dominions in the West Indies. Here she immediately- began depredations along the coast, and is known to have taken a large Spanish ship prior to Way 1619.
The Treasurer returned to Jamestown in September, 1619 in consort of "a man-of-war of blushing." The arrival of these two ships and the cargo they brought with them have been the cause of many speculations and incriminations. Evidently the Treasurer is the ship alluded to as a "Dutch man-o'-war" that brought the first negroes to the colony-. The man-o'-war of Flushing no doubt must have been the Hopewell, commanded by Captain John Powell. The last named ship had previously been reported to have turned pirate and joined the Treasurer. There was every reason to suppress the names of the two ships that were permitted to land their cargoes at Jamestown, and both Powell and Elfrith were hardadventurers who did not hesitate to carry out the wishes of their employers. The report that these ships were Dutch was in keeping with the general report on all ships that had turned pirate. Brown, in his "First Republic" states, "The reports sent to England were evidently written more for the purpose of concealing the facts than of revealing them." It is not known ,when these two ships again cleared from Virginia waters, but at least twenty- negroes were left at Jamestown.
The first news received in England regarding the adventures of this ship was sent by Abraham Pearcie, the cape merchant, who reported to the London Company in a letter sent over on the Gift of God. "There was a constant report in Virginia, and that not without many apparent probabilityes, that the ship [the Treasurer] was gone to rob the King of Spayne's subjects by seeking pilliage in the West Indies, and that this was done by direction from my Lord of Warwick."
John Rolfe, and other officials of the colony, being friendly to the Warwick party, tell nothing of the piracy of the ships by name. On one of the expeditions of the Hopewell, a cargo of hides was captured, and landed at Somers Island, but the Governor, fearing he would be called to account, re-shipped them to Jamestown, and reported that they had been destroyed.
By May 1619 the Spanish ambassador to England had heard of the piratical voyages of the Treasurer and made complaint to both the Company and the Crown, and shortly afterwards Sir Edwin Sandys received a letter from Sir George Yeardley, with a full account of the pirates escapades. The communication was read to the council after the name of Lord Warwick had been blotted out, though Captain Argall's had been left. Everything was done to prevent Warwick's name being mentioned in the affair, for it was thought it would not only prejudice the King against him, but ruin his estate. It seems very strange therefore, notwithstanding the fact that Sandys used his best endeavor to protect Warwick from being known as connected with the piracy of the Treasurer, a feud should have broken out between these two noted men, which leading to a new alignment of factions within the Company, continued in bitter opposition to the time of its dissolution. It seems that Warwick tooq offense at Sandys' taking any notice whatever of the charges and it is said that it was Warwick who sent a fast ship from England to Jamestown to -,yarn Argall and give him passage home before he could be apprehended under a warrant sent out for his arrest. It is also known that Yeardley arrived at Jamestown only a few days after Argall escaped. Brown quotes Rich as saying, "when the Lords of the Privy Council wished Sandys to be wary of the court, he in open court said `that now the business must lie wholly upon Alfred (Elfrith) who -vas and is, and intends to continue Pyrate accurst, and at ye same time told ye councill that if he were hanged for his labor, were no matter.'" And he further quotes the following entry in the Privy Council Register of March 7th"This day Sir Edwin Sandys, Governor, and others of the Virginia Company, represented unto this Board that whereas a shipp called the Treasurer sent out to the West Indies at such tyme as Captaine Argall was Governor of Virginia, and had committed offenses against the Spaniards, and that by Publique Letters from the colonye that act was by them disavowed. So likewise, the Councill and Companie of Virginia here joined in the letter disclay ming of the same of which their especiall care to give unto his Majesties friends and allies no offence their letters gave good allowance and approbation." It appeared also by the letters produced at the Board, that the Spanish Agent here residing hath received satisfaction for the offence aforesaid."
At the time of this writing the Treasurer `vas at Somers Islands, still engaged in piratical cruises against the Spanish, and is known to have delivered fourteen negroes to the Governor of the Island. The career of this ship created a commotion not only in Virginia, England and Spain, but naturally also in the Netherlands, owing to the claim having been made that she was a Dutch man-o'war.
What became of the Treasurer after the arrival of Nathaniel Butler, as new governor of Somers Islands, and his report to England of her continued deprecations, the writer has not succeeded in ascertaining, but may we not rest in expectation that some noted Virginia writer may, use the adventures of this ship as the basis for a story of the sea? The career of the Treasurer should be as familiar to the boys and girls of Virginia as any ship of colonial or modern times.