1: John Rolfe was baptized May 6, 1585 in
Heacham, Norfolk, England. Baptism usually
occurred 3 days after birth, but no birth
records were kept, unlike Baptism records.
Fact 2: John Rolfe was the son of a farmer and
small landholder in Norfolk, England.
Fact 3: The parents of John Rolfe were John
Rolfe and Dorothea Mason.
Fact 4: John Rolfe was a farmer and a
5: In 1606 King James I of England granted a
charter to the Virginia Company to establish
colonies in Virginia - refer to Charter of
Virginia. In view of the massive land potential
in America King James 1 issued a Second Charter
of Virginia in 1609 which covered lands from
Jamestown, extending all the way west to the
Fact 6: John Rolfe decided to try his luck in
the New World and in June 1609 and his wife
sailed for America aboard a ship called the Sea
Venture. The Virginia Company expected the
colonists to start industrial enterprises in
Virginia that would return profits to the
Fact 7: John Rolfe had managed to obtain tobacco
seeds to take with him from a special popular
tobacco strain being grown in Trinidad and South
America. These tobacco seeds were so valuable
that Spain had declared a penalty of death to
anyone selling such seeds to a non-Spaniard. If
he was successful in raising tobacco he would
obtain wealth from the export of tobacco as a
Fact 8: The Sea Venture was the flagship of a
seven ship convoy of 500 - 600 new settlers. The
purpose of the convoy was to re-supply and
revive the failing colony at Jamestown,
Virginia. The convoy carried livestock and
provisions to last a year. The convoy is known
as the Third Supply Mission from England.
Fact 9: The earlier colonists were badly
prepared and equipped for a self-sufficient
lifestyle, many of them were out-of-work
"gentlemen" with little knowledge of farming.
One of the early colonists was one of the few
capable men, John Smith. Unlike the previous
colonists this fleet of ships carried skilled
workers: shipwrights, carpenters, fishermen,
masons, and farmers, like John Rolfe who were
capable of sustaining a self-sufficient
Fact 10: On July 24, 1609 the convoy was within
seven days of landfall when they were hit by a
hurricane. The badly damaged Sea Venture reached
land and the passengers were cast away on the
uninhabited island chain Bermuda.
Fact 11: The colonists, including John Rolfe,
worked hard and built two new ships from Bermuda
cedar and the scavenged remains of the Sea
Venture to continue the voyage to Jamestown. The
new ships were called the Patience and the
Fact 12: The colonists stayed in Bermuda for 10
months but there were casualties. Among those
left buried in Bermuda were John Rolfe's wife
and his infant daughter, Bermuda Rolfe. Some
people stayed in Bermuda and founded the British
colony there but John Rolfe decided to travel to
Virginia as he had originally intended and set
sail on 10 May 1610.
Fact 13: May 1610: The two ships, the Patience
and the Deliverance, arrived at Jamestown. They
found only 50 survivors of the 'Starving Time'.
These were the only colonists who are left out
of more than 500. The Powhatan Native Indians
were hostile and had stopped trading with the
colonists in an attempt to starve them out. The
colony was engaged in the Powhatan War with the
Powhatan Confederacy of Algonquin tribes.
Fact 14: Very few supplies from the Third Supply
had arrived because the same hurricane that
caught the Sea Venture badly affected the rest
of the fleet.
Fact 15: On June 7, 1610 the decision was made
to abandon the colony and everyone boarded the
Fact 16: On June 8, 1610 Lord de la Warr, the
first governor of Virginia arrived at the
colony. De La Warr and his pilot, Samuel Argall,
had brought with them a year's supply of food,
so everyone was ordered to return to Jamestown.
Fact 17: John Rolfe was eager to start farming
in the new colony. The conditions were difficult
due to the hostile Native Indians. The number of
colonists were depleted due to the troubles of
the voyage and morale was not good. The arrival
of Sir Thomas Dale would bring the colony into
Fact 18: John Rolfe started to experiment with
tobacco. He had the sweet Spanish tobacco seeds
and John Rolfe was the first to commercially
cultivate Nicotiana tabacum tobacco plants in
Fact 19: John Rolfe named his Virginia grown
strain of the tobacco "Orinoco", possibly in
honor of Sir Walter Raleigh's expeditions in the
1580s up the Orinoco River.
Fact 20: By 1612 John Rolfe and others were
exporting substantial quantities of the new cash
crop to England.
Fact 21: John Rolfe knew there was profit to be
made in the production of a cash crop. Cash
crops (as opposed to subsistence crops) were
specialized crops that were grown to be sold for
profits and not used for personal use.
Fact 22: In 1612, John Rolfe established Varina
Farms, a tobacco plantation on the James River
about 30 miles (48 km) from the Jamestown
Settlement and across the river from Sir Thomas
Dale's settlement at Henricus.
Fact 23: Pocahontas: In 1613 Samuel Argall
captured Pocahontas, the daughter of Chief
Powhatan, and she was held for ransom.
Pocahontas was taken to Jamestown where she
converted to Christianity and took the name
Fact 24: Pocahontas: During her captivity
Pocahontas became pregnant. There were rumors
that Sir Thomas Dale might have been the father
but she was to marry John Rolfe.
Fact 25: Pocahontas: Pocahontas was sent from
Jamestown to live in Henricus.
Fact 26: Pocahontas could have met John Rolfe in
either Jamestown or Henricus.
Fact 27: Pocahontas: The following dates appear
to confound the rumor about Pocahontas and Sir
Thomas Dale. Pocahontas married John Rolfe on
April 5, 1614. The wedding ceremony was
performed by Reverend Richard Buck. Her son,
Thomas Rolfe, was said to have been born on
January 30, 1615, although there were no written
records kept to confirm this date.
Fact 28: Chief Powhatan gave his daughter
Pocahontas, and her husband John Rolfe,
thousands of acres of land.
Fact 29: John Rolfe was Pocahontas and John
Rolfe traveled to England aboard the Treasurer,
in 1616 with their baby son. Sir Thomas Dales
also returned to England on the same ship.
Fact 30: Pocahontas became a celebrity and was
widely received as visiting royalty and
addressed by the title of Princess Pocahontas.
Fact 31: Pocahontas and John Rolfe visited with
Queen Anne and were formally presented to King
James I. Whilst she was in London she also met
with John Smith which was a great shock to her
as she thought he was dead.
Fact 32: Pocahontas and John Rolfe toured
England for several months.
Fact 33: John Rolfe and Pocahontas prepared to
return home to Virginia and boarded a ship at
Gravesend in Kent. On board ship Pocahontas
became gravely ill with pneumonia, or possibly
Fact 34: Pocahontas was taken ashore and died on
March 21, 1617, at Gravesend, England. She is
buried at St. George's Parish Church in
Fact 35: John Rolfe returned to Virginia in 1617
Fact 36: Thomas Rolfe, the son of Pocahontas and
John Rolfe, stayed in England when his father
returned to Virginia.
Fact 37: In 1619, John Rolfe married Jane
Pierce, the daughter of a colonist. They had a
daughter, Elizabeth, in 1620.
Fact 38: His house, on his tobacco plantation
Varina Farms, was destroyed during an attack by
Fact 39: John Rolfe died on March,22 1622. It is
presumed that he died during the attack,
although his body was never found.
Fact 40Thomas Rolfe returned to Virginia in 1635
at twenty. married a Virginia wife, Jane
Poythress, and became a tobacco planter, living
as an Englishman.