True Relations – Pamunkey Religion and Ceremonies

The river of Pamaunke is not pass twelve miles from that we dwell on, his course northwest, and westerly, as the other Weraocomoco is upon salt water, in breath two miles, and to keep this course without caring some twenty miles where the parting of fresh water and salt water. It divides itself in two parts, the one part to Goughland is as broad as Thames, and navigable with a boat threescore or fourscore and with a ship fifty, exceedingly crooked and manly low ground and marshes, But is inhabited with Abundance of tall warlike people. The country of Youghtomam is no less worst, although it is lower and all the soil is fertile sandy ground. Above Manappcumter there are many sandy mountains. By the river there are many Rocks, seeming if not of several pines. The other branch a little less breath and extends not as far, nor so well inhabited, some what lower with a white sand and white clay soil. Here is their best Terra Sigillata. The mouth of the river as I see in the discovery of it with Captain Newport is half a mile broad and within four miles not above pistol shot. The channel exceeding forward good and deep, and the river runs straight to the Sea, Kiskirk the nearest Nation to the entrance.

Their religion and ceremonies I observed was this. Three or four days after my taking seven of them in the house where I lay, each with a rattle began at ten o’clock in the morning to sing about the fire, which they stood in a circle of meal, and about a foot or two from that and at the end of each song, they would lay down two or three grains of wheat, then continuing this order until they have included five to seven hundred in a half circle and after that three to five more circles in like manor and a hand breath thrown at her that done each song. They put between them two, three, or five grains and a little stick, counting as an old women her Pater Noster.

One disguised with a great skin, his head hung round with little skins and seashells and other vermin, with a crown of feathers on his head and painted as ugly as the devil, and at the end of each song he will make many signs and demonstrations with strange and vehement actions. Great cakes of dear suet, hair and tobacco he cast into the fire. Until five o’clock in the evening their howling would continue and as they would depart. Each morning in the coldest frost the principal to the number of twenty or thirty would assemble themselves in a round circle, a good distance from the town. This is where they told me where they consulted where to hunt the next day. So well they fed me, that I doubted if they intended to sacrifice me to the Quiyoughquosicke, which is a superior power they worship to and a more uglier thing cannot be described and the one they have sacrifices, which also they call Quiyoughquosick to cure the sick, a man with a rattle and extreme howling, showing, singing and making such violent gestures. And antic actions over the patient will suck out blood and flame from the patient and out of their unable stomach or any deceased place, as no labor will tire them. Tobacco they offer the water in passing in fowl weather. The death of any they lay with great sorrow and weeping. Their Kings they bury between two mats within their house with all their beads, jewels, hatchets and copper. The others who die are place in graves like ours. They acknowledge no resurrection. Powhatan has three brothers and two sister. His three brothers succeeded the other for the crown, their heirs inherit not. but the first heirs of the sisters, and so successfully the women heirs. For the Kings have as many women as they will and the Kings subjects two and most one.


Kiskirk, Youghtomam,


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