Chief Powhatan Dominates Area

1507 - 1607

Chief Powhatan conquers 25 local tribes and establishes a dominance in the "Jamestown" area just as English are starting to arrive. Chief Powhatan is aware of a prophecy that his tribe will be destroyed by "men coming from the East."

Spanish Fort in St. Augustine


Spanish Mission in "Jamestown" area

1570 - 1579

Spanish Jesuits establish mission in the area and within 6 months they are all killed by local Indians

Roanoke (North Carolina)

1585 - 1590

Spanish Colony in New Mexico


Queen Elizabeth Dies; James I is new King of England


Jamestown is named after King James I

Plague Outbreak in England


Governing council named

April 1607

Governing Council: Captain Christopher Newport, Edward Maria Wingfield, Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, CaptainJohnRatcliffe, Captain John Martin, Captain George Kendall, and John Smith. Wingfield was elected president of the council.

Jamestown Settlers Arrive

May 1607

104 Gentlemen arrive at Jamestown with the intention of finding riches and also exploring for a NW passage. Shortly after arriving, 23 men explore the area and they met Powhatan Indians who were eager to trade and enjoyed their hospitality. They learned of the existence of Chief Powhatan.

Population 104

May 15, 1607

First arrivals

Paspahegh Indians attack

May 26, 1607

Paspahegh Indians attack killing two and wounding ten English. English set about to build a fort for protection from Indians and Spanish.

Fort is Completed

June 15, 1607

The men expend all energy in a furious attempt to comlete the fort in under a month's time. Soon after many fall sick.

John Smith is Captured

December 10, 1607

Smith leads expedition in search of food and is captured by the Powhatan Indians. On December 29, Pocahontas saves Smith's life.

Population 38

December 31, 1607

New Colonists Arrive

January 1608

Captain Christopher Newport, commander of the 1607 Jamestown expedition who had sailed back to England, returned to Virginia in January with 70 new settlers and goods. It was the first of a series of regular arrivals in the colony

Smith returns to devastation

January 1, 1608

Smith returns to James Fort to find a desperate situation; only 38 of the original 104 settlers remain. Over half the colonists died, most from disease and starvation, a few from wounds caused by Indians.

Fire in Jamestown

February 1608

Many buildings and part of the fort were burned down.

Smith Trades with Powhatan

February 1608

Smith takes Christopher Newport up the York River to meet Powhatan. Smith works out an exchange of beads for provisions; "sons" are also exchanged: Thomas Savage goes to live with the Indians and Namontack with the English; they will act as interpreters and liaisons between the two peoples.

Smith elected president of council

September 10, 1608

Smith established new rules including, "If you don't work, you don't eat."

New Colonists Arrive

October 1608

More supplies and 70 additional colonists arrive including the first two women.

Population 200

October 1608

New arrivals

Spanish Settlement in Santa Fe



February 1609 - May 1609

Progress occurred in Jamestown -40 acres were cleared, a well was dug, the church re-roofed, 20 cabins built, a blockhouse built at the isthmus, and a new fort erected across the river from Jamestown. Leadership adopted a more aggressive policy towards the Powhatan people.

Food Supplies Dwindling

May 1609

Smith scatters settlers to forage for food

Population 131

June 1609

Death from disease

More Colonists Arrive

August 1609

A fleet with more than 300 new settlers arrived in Virginia. These men, women and children arrived tired and hungry.

Population 381

August 1609

New Arrivals

Smith Returns to England

September 1, 1609

Smith is badly injured in a gunpowder explosion (which was probably intentional as many colonists did not like his strict policies) and was forced to return to England for medical care. He never returned to Jamestown. When Smith leaves, he writes that food reserves should last 10 weeks.

The Starving Time

September 1609 - May 1610

This winter is often called the “starving time,” when the population of Virginia shrank from about 300 to 90 (60 left at Jamestown). The Powhatan Indians placed the settlement under siege at this time. The siege warfare lasted about four years.

English Dead with Bread Stuffed in Mouths

September 15, 1609

After Smith left, the English increasingly stole food from the Indians. To send a message, Indians began killing any Enlgishmen they found and would leave them dead with bread stuffed into their mouths to show what happens when they try to steal their food. "...others were found also slain with their mouths stopped full of bread, being done as it seems in contempt and scorn that others might expect the like when they should come to seek for bread and relief among them."

Ratcliffe is tortured

September 20, 1609

The Disney version of Ratcliffe in "Pocahontas" isn't at all what the real man was like. Smith said that Ratcliffe traded so generously with the Indians that they would lose all their provisions. On one such trading attempt, Ratcliffe was lured into a trap by a Powhatan Indian and his men were all killed. Poor Ratcliffe was tied to a tree where Indian women scraped his flesh from his bones and tossed it into a fire in front of him. "...when the sly old King [Powhatan] espied a fitting time, cut them all off, only surprised Captain Ratcliffe alive, who he caused to be bound unto a tree naked with a fire before, and by women his flesh was scraped from his bones with mussel shells, and, before his face, thrown into the fire, and so for want of circumspection miserably perished."

Population 280

October 1609

Indian attacks

Martial Law Established

May 1610

Acting governor Sir Thomas Gates and the other survivors of the Sea Venture arrived at Jamestown from Bermuda.He found the fort in ruins and the remaining 60 colonists there “famished at the point of death.” Thirty others at Point Comfort fared much better. Gates established martial law to maintain order. Due to lack of supplies, Gates decided to abandon the settlement at Jamestown and return to England. While sailing down the James River
he heard that Lord de la Warr was arriving with new settlers and supplies from England. Everyone returned to Jamestown where Lord de la Warr soon assumed control as the appointed Governor of Virginia. Gates left for England.

Population 90

May 1610

"The Starving Time"

Jamestown is Abandoned (for about a day)

May 1610

Due to lack of supplies, Gates decided to abandon the settlement at Jamestown and return to England. While sailing down the James River
he heard that Lord de la Warr was arriving with new settlers and supplies from England. De La Warr ordered everyone to return to Jamestown where Lord de la Warr soon assumed control as the appointed Governor of Virginia. Gates left for England.

De La Warr Arrives and Makes Everyone Stay

June 1610

Lord De La Warr arrives and prevents Gates and 250 (?) settlers from returning to England

Population 375

June 1610

New arrivals

Population 250

December 1610

Disease & Indian Attacks

King James Version of Bible Published


Population 152

March 1611

Departures & Indian attacks

Population 462

May 1611

New Arrivals

New Colonists Arrive

May 1611

300 New Settlers Arrive

Population 752

August 1611

New Arrivals

Henrico Established

August 1611

Jamestown is finally healthy enough to branch out and establish a new colony west.

Population 600

December 1611

Indian Attacks

John Rolfe plants Tobacco


Pocahontas Captured and brought to Jamestown


Rolfe Marries Pocahontas


Pocahontas is baptized in English church and marries John Rolfe. This is the beginning of an 8 year peace between the Powhatans and the English.

Population 400


This is the last year that we will see a decline in the population. With the rise of firm laws and rules, tobacco crops, and improved conditions with the Indians, Jamestown finally begins to sustain itself and soon will even thrive.

Pocahontas visits England


Pocahontas (Rebecca) and Rolfe travel to England where Pocahontas is a celebrity and treated like the Indian Princess that she was.

Pocahontas Dies

March 1617

Pocahontas dies (from tuberculosis or pneumonia or smallpox)

Chief Powhatan Dies


Indentured Servant Women Arrive


90 women arrive on a ship with the purpose of working off their servitude by marrying and helping to further the colony. Even after their arrival, the men outnumber women 8 to 1 . Two more ships of women will be sent in 1620 and 1621. There are some reports of English women and girls being kidnapped and put on ships to Jamestown. There are other reports of English men selling their wives to the ship captain.

First Workers Strike


Jamestown was made up of Poles, Dutch, Germans, Italians, and English. The Polish workers demand the same rights as Englishmen and are granted that right. From that first colony at Jamestown, a precedent is set that America is open to all nations and all nations are granted the rights and protection of a free America. Spanish colonies only admitted Spaniards and French colonies only admitted Catholics. English colonies admitted anyone willing to come and work and obey the laws.

House of Burgessess Meets

July 1619

This is the first legislature (elected group to make and enforce laws) in America. Although the first session was cut short because of an outbreak of malaria, the House of Burgesses soon became a symbol of representative government. The 22 members of the House of Burgesses were elected by the colony as a whole, or actually men over 17 who also owned land. Royally appointed councillors (of which there were usually six) and governor rounded out the legislature. The governor was originally appointed by the Virginia Colony and later by the Crown.

First African "Servants" Arrive

August 1619

Slavery does not start for another 40-50 years, Africans and others arrive as indentured servants.

Pilgims land at Plymouth

December 1620

Population 1,240


Indian Raids

March 22, 1622

Pamunkey Indians, disturbed by the rapid growth of the Jamestown colony, attack the English settlement, killing 347 people. Harsh retaliatory raids lead to the deaths of a far greater number of Native Americans.

Plague Outbreak

December 1622

A ship of new colonists brings people and the plague and reduces population to 500.

Powhatans Poisoned

May 1623

Captain William Tucker concludes peace negotiations with a Powhatan village by proposing a toast with a drink laced with poison prepared by Dr. John Potts; 200 Powhatans die instantly and another 50 are slaughtered.

King James names Virginia a Royal Colony


Jamestown Flourishes

January 1625

A muster or census ordered by the Crown was taken, showing a total population of 1232 settlers and including numbers of weapons, livestock, grain, etc.

King James Dies; King Charles I new monarch


Salem, Massachusetts Founded


Dutch Settle New York


Population 2,600


Boston Colony Founded


Indians Pushed Back

1632 - 1644

A period of official peace between the English and the Powhatan Indians was marred by hostile incidents, mainly by the English. With English plantations spreading throughout Tidewater Virginia the Powhatan Indians were pushed west toward the fall line or into marginal areas like swamps. Opechancanough led another uprising of the Powhatan Indians, killing about 500 colonists.War with the Indians continued for nearly two years.

Population 5,200


Population 8,000


Indian Raids

April 1644

Pamunkey chief Opechancanough leads an attack against the Jamestown settlement in a desperate attempt to limit the colony's growth. Five hundred English settlers are killed. Governor William Berkeley will personally lead the Virginia forces that turn back the assault and crush the Indians.

Indian Treaty

October 1646

Governor William Berkeley negotiates a treaty with many of the neighboring tribes, including the Pamunkeys, reducing them to tributary status. In addition to paying an annual tribute to the governor, the Indians are severely restricted to lands on the frontier of the English settlement, and their choice of leaders must be approved by Berkeley.

Charles I Beheaded; Monarchy Dissolved in England


First Indian Reservation near Richmond, VA


Population 15,000

April 1658

Briish Monarch Restored under King Charles II


Great Plague of England