Statues of The East End.....No12 The First Settlers Monument

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Statues of The East End.....No12 The First Settlers Monument

Postby ladyDeWint » Sat Apr 14, 2007 3:35 pm

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On the banks of the Thames at Blackwall stands a monument to a cold December day in 1606 when three small ships set sail from this spot, aboard were the first settlers setting out for the New World since those who had vanished after landing at Roanoake ten years before. It was also fourteen years before the Mayflower made it’s epic journey.

The passage wasn’t an easy one, and it wasn’t made easier that most on board weren’t experienced sailors but merchants who had never been to sea before. At one point they became becalmed in the Irish sea and tempers began to fray during which Captain Smith was accused of wrongdoing and was put under shipboard arrest for the rest of the journey which took months.

Towards the end of April 1607 they came within site of their destination, by then it was discovered that Captain Smith had been wrongly accused. By now many of the men and boys were exhausted by the long and arduous trip, and by sickness, one young man had died on the journey, so as they sailed up a river, which they named after King James, they decided to tie up in a shady bend to recuperate.

A month later the settlers began to establish the Virginia English colony on the banks of the James River 60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in which is now Virginia, almost immediately the settlers came under attack by the Algonquian indians, so for security they set about building a fort. Legend has it that Captain Smith was captured by the Algonquians and his life was saved by Pocahontas the daughter of Chief , but this is thought now to have been much romanticized.

Disease, famine and continuing attacks of neighboring Algonquians took a tremendous toll on the population so that by 1609 only sixty of the original two hundred and fourteen settlers survived, but then came the arrival of Lord De La Ware, who had been appointed the governor of the settlement now called Jamestown, with him came supply ships and the colony was able to survive.

The following year saw the arrival of a certain Captain John Rolfe, he had been shipwrecked off the coast of Bermuda but had somehow managed to find his way to the settlement bringing with him tobacco seeds, which thrived in the Virginian climate so that in just two years he was the owner of a sizeable plantation, as the demand grew in the coming years it became responsible for Virginia’s future economy.

It’s here in 1613 that Pocahontas enters the story again, during yet another dispute with the Algonquians she was kidnapped by the settlers and taken to the fort she was held as ransom for the English prisoners being held by the Indians, and also some arms which had been stolen by them. She was in her late teens or early twenties, and it was here that she eventually met Captain Rolfe, she was held in captivity for nearly a year, though she was given free run of the fort. When she was finally released she is said to have told her two brothers that she was in love with John Rolfe. What follows is somewhat unclear but the outcome is that within a year the two were married, whether it was a love match or a means of keeping the peace between two warring factions we shall never know.

Their marriage took place after Pocahontas was converted to Christianity and christened Rebecca, for John Rolfe was by all accounts a deeply religious man who debated long and hard about the decision to marry this ‘strange’ young woman, then the decision was made on the grounds that it would be "for the good of the plantation, the honor of our country, for the glory of God, for mine own salvation ..."

Pocahontas gave birth to a son they named Thomas, and the couple seemed happy enough so that when John returned to England in 1616 his wife and young son came with him. When they arrived in England they went to London to be received by the King, and Pocahontas became the toast of high society, it was here she met Capt Smith again who had left the colony in 1609, on seeing him she is reported as being unable to speak for she thought he had died, but she soon recovered and together they spoke of the old times, this was the last time the two who would forever be linked together by history would meet.

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Seven months later it was time to return to America, but it became clear that Pocahontas was seriously ill, it was agreed she should be taken ashore but sadly all efforts to save her failed, during her stay in England she had developed tuberculosis. She was buried in the vault of St George’s Gravesend. In 1727 the church was destroyed by fire, and when it was later rebuilt all remains, including those of Pocahontas, were reburied in a communal grave. However a statue of her now stands in the churchyard. John Rolfe and their son returned to Virginia.

Relations between the settlers and the Algonquians had always been an uneasy one but in 1622 it spilled over into hostility leaving over 300 settlers dead, but somehow the fort survived. King James used this opportunity to revoke the Charter of the Virginia Company which had run the fort up until 1624 when it became a royal colony. The fort remained in existence until it gradually grew into Jamestown and gradually the fort disappeared, as did the following Jamestown.

The first monument marking their departure was unveiled in 1928 and was topped with a figure of a mermaid, some time later the monument was vandalised and the mermaid was stolen, the existing statue was unveiled by the American Ambassador in 1999.

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Original monument before it was vandalised.
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Postby marilyn » Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:29 am

Excellent - thanks m'lady!
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Postby ladyDeWint » Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:55 pm

An article in todays newspaper completes this story.

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A mermaid statue made to commemorate the first British settlers in America has turned up at an auction in Billericay after going missing for 50 years.

The bronze was commissioned in 1950 to mark the spot in Docklands from which three boats set off for the New World.

Then a power station was built nearby, the area became neglected and the mermaid disappeared from its plinth.

This week it reappeared at the auction of dealer Alan Marks's entire collection. He bought the near lifesize statue from a man in Hatfield Heath 15 years ago and since then it has sat in his back garden.

Mr Marks decided to sell it because he was moving but it failed to reach its £1,500 reserve.

Barratt Homes redeveloped the area into Virginia Quay and spent £90,000 rebuilding the monument, commissioning a bronze mariner's astrolabe in place of the mermaid.

The builder said: "We'd be interested in looking at the mermaid for historical purposes but after building a new monument we won't want to replace it."

Evening Standard

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Postby Barryoneoff » Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:45 pm

Shouldn't he be nicked for handling stolen goods? :whis:
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Postby ladyDeWint » Sun Oct 14, 2007 12:07 pm

Only if he knew it was stolen when he bought it and that is debateable.
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Postby jo » Sun Oct 14, 2007 12:50 pm

very intersting mlady
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Postby The Goddess » Sun Oct 14, 2007 1:43 pm

very good :-)
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Postby marilyn » Tue Oct 16, 2007 3:28 am

That is interesting - well spotted m'lady :-)
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Postby ladyDeWint » Tue Oct 16, 2007 3:01 pm

:-)
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Postby tabbynera » Tue Oct 16, 2007 5:29 pm

Just would like to mention as a member of the "International Relf Society" (also includings Rolfes and a few other derivations) I found the report about Pocahontas and John Rolfe quite interesting. The Society actually visited Gravesend a couple of years ago for their annual meeting which usually lasts a long week-end. I would have liked to have been with them, but it was a bit too far at that time.
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Postby ladyDeWint » Wed Oct 17, 2007 11:37 am

Glad you enjoyed it Tabby :-)
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Re: Statues of The East End.....No12 The First Settlers Monument

Postby Smiffy » Fri May 02, 2008 10:15 am

Milady... youve dunnit again... So enjoyable.. The Mayflowers home port was Rotherhithe.. I think I have mentioned that during the late 1889s my great grandpa William Pead was beadle of St Marys church where the Mayflower crew worshipped before setting sail....
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Re: Statues of The East End.....No12 The First Settlers Monument

Postby SteveDoyle » Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:43 pm

The little town that the Mayflower passengers settled is still there. Susan & I often vacation there.
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Re: Statues of The East End.....No12 The First Settlers Monument

Postby Jockney1 » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:16 pm

Here's the blackwall memorial

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Re: Statues of The East End.....No12 The First Settlers Monument

Postby Smiffy » Wed Feb 04, 2009 8:37 am

What a brilliant photo Jockney... I used to love watching the sailing barges on the river as a little kid
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