Chronology of Early Virginia History 1607-1715

1607 – Jamestown colony founded.

1609 – Based on the voyage of Henry Hudson, the Netherlands claimed the region in what are now the Middle Atlantic States. Their claim extended from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Massachusetts Bay. 1

First Powhatan War (1610 to 1614) coincides with secret Dutch explorations. (See further: The Indian Wars of the Colonists of Virginia)

1611-1614 – The Admiralty of Amsterdam sent four covert voyages to North America.  The ships were captained by Jan Cornelisz Mey and Symon Willemsz Cat. 2 The area between present-day Maryland and Massachusetts was explored, surveyed, and charted.

1613 – “Regular Joes” were seldom recorded by history, especially in an era where nations were ruled by kings and nobility.  There is an exception in the history of New York City. 3 Dominican trader Juan Rodriguez hitched a ride on a sailing ship and then was dropped off at Manhattan Island. He was born in Santo Domingo of Portuguese and African descent. During the winter of 1613-1614, he trapped animals for pelts and traded with the local Natives.  He became the first non-Native American to live in New York.

There is a high probability that if a Dominican would sail all the way to chilly Manhattan to live in a wilderness claimed by the Netherlands, many more freelance entrepreneurs from the Caribbean Basin made their way to the wilderness north of La Florida.  The region was claimed by both France and Spain, but neither nation established formal government there.

1614 – First Dutch trading post established

1614 – A Dutch trading post was established on the Hudson River near present day Albany.  Later that year, Captain Samuel Argall anchored off Manhattan Island, where he required the leader of a handful of Dutch traders to “submit himself and the plantation to his Majesty and to the Governor and government of Virginia.” 4 This was a clear warning to Dutch leaders that even though England was their closest military ally, Virginia officials would not tolerate Dutch colonization efforts on the mainland of North America.

1619 – Two English pirate ships, flying Dutch flags, captured a Portuguese slave ship off the coast of Mexico. 5 Most references say that the sale of African slaves by Dutch ships were the first recorded instance of slavery in English colonies. This is incorrect.  The African captives from Angola had been baptized as Christians, so they were not actually sold into slavery, but auctioned off as 7-year indentured servants. Most, if not all of their descendants would become the first Free Blacks in the English colonies.

Dutch ships soon began trading regularly with Virginia. Soon over half the volume of maritime freight of European nations was hauled by Dutch ships. During the early and mid 1600s, the Dutch were much more involved in the slave trade than the English.

1621 – The Dutch West India Company was founded.  One of the directors’ first acts was to order all private fur traders to vacate New Netherland. 6 The traders included several people of English nationality. In 1621 the only other places these Protestants could go were Virginia or the wilderness beyond Virginia Tidewater settlements.

1622 – Indian Massacre of 1622 – Approximately 347 Virginia colonists were murdered in 24 hours. 7

1622-1632 – The Second Powhatan War began as a devastating surprise attack on outlying plantations and settlements. The Powhatan warriors pretended to come in friendship, bringing food then on a pre-arranged signal killed all men, women and children on sight. John Rolfe, widower of Pocahontas was one of the victims, even though he had always attempted to maintain good relations with the Powhatans.  Jamestown was not ravaged because a young Indian lad warned the fort prior to the attack. 7

1625 – The colony of New Amsterdam was formally established in this year. However, a trickle of Dutch colonists had been coming to North America since 1612.  New Amsterdam thrived during the Second Powhatan War because many settlers were afraid to migrate to Virginia.

1638 -Secretary of State Sir John Coke sent William Berkeley to the Netherlands from Great Britain to persuade the queen’s mother, Marie de Medici, not to visit England for fear that her presence would aggravate the king’s mounting political difficulties. 8 Berkeley apparently spoke Dutch.

1642-1652 – Most North American colonial trade was taken over by Dutch ships during English Civil War. England was being torn apart by war between followers of Parliament and those of King Charles I. Religious tensions were also beginning to build in Virginia.  The plantation aristocracy was generally Anglican, while many Presbyterians were somewhat opposed to both opponents.  The Presbyterians considered the Puritans to be political radicals and the Anglican Church too much like the Roman Catholic Church.  Roman Catholics wanted the Parliamentary forces to crush King Charles, but become so weakened that they would be defenseless against invading French or Hapsburg Catholic forces.

1643-1648 – Within five years William Berkeley was exporting rice, spirits, fruit, silk, flax, and potash from his plantation through an extensive network of English, Dutch, West Indian, and colonial merchants.

1644-1646 – Third Powhatan War – Opechancanough chose a time to drive out Virginia colonists when there was little likelihood that soldiers from England would depart the home battlefields to rescue a colony.  Someone was keeping the brilliant Native leader informed on matters in Europe.  Dutch agents are the most likely candidates, because both Opechancanough and the Dutch hated the Spanish.  It is highly unlikely that Opechancanough would have communicated with Spanish agents.

During the Third Powhatan War warriors of a previously unknown tribe, the Rickohockens (Rechahecrians), living high in the mountains of southwest Virginia, formed an alliance with Powhatan. 7 They massacred all whites that they encountered as they marched down the James Valley.  Over 500 white settlers were killed by the Native alliance, but miraculously the massive estate of Governor William Berkeley on the James River in the path of the Rickohockens was not harmed.  The Rickohockens did much more damage to the non-slave owning frontier homesteaders than to the large plantations. This may have been coincidental or intentional.

The official story is that the Rickohockens probably would have destroyed the capital in Jamestown had not they run out of arrows. It is a fact that the Rickohockens sued for peace at the moment that they were about to achieve complete victory. Did the Native Americans really run out of arrows?  It is not known.

1644 – Governor Berkeley traveled to Great Britain ostensibly to purchase firearms for fighting the Powhatan Indians. 9 He rushed back to Virginia when he saw how the English Civil War was devastating the English landscape and economy.

1646 – On his arrival in Virginia in 1746, Edward Bland traveled to the Southern Appalachians. 10 In the previous year, the governor of La Florida had established a trading post at the head of the Chattahoochee River in the Georgia Mountains. 11 At least this is the official story that survives in the Spanish archives. However, the Spanish had been trading with the Apalache in northern Georgia since the late 1560s.    Bland’s trip had something to do with Bland’s and Berkeley’s personal commercial activities, because Bland’s report was given only to Governor Berkeley.

Curiously, Bland’s family supported the Parliament’s army, while Berkeley was a Royalist. 10  Another unusual aspect of Bland was that his family in England owned extensive business investments in the Canary Islands and Spain.  Bland lived in Spain and the Canaries five years immediately before coming to Virginia. Why would a wealthy Englishman go straight to the southern Appalachian wilderness from Spain?   Had he entered into a business partnership with Spanish entrepreneurs and William Berkeley to exploit the mineral wealth of the Appalachians?  Did he make contact with European colonists in the Appalachians?  Spain and England still were not on the best of terms.  Was the Bland Family Catholic?  These are questions that may or may not be answered in the future.

1647 – Governor William Berkeley signed several trade agreements between his own company and the Rickohockens. 12 They included the purchase of Native American slaves for Virginia plantations and the sales of some of the firearms that he had purchased in 1646 for defense against the Rickohockens.

Only Berkeley’s company employees knew about these agreements.  They caused a bloodbath in the Lower Southeast as the Rickohockens swept through one village after another with their muskets.  The Rickohockens generally killed all adult males in a village, plus anybody else (including toddlers and elderly) who were not able to walk to the coastal slave markets.

Berkeley immediately gained much wealth from the Native American slave raids carried out by the Rickohockens.  The Rickohockens initially raided villages in what is now West Virginia, western Virginia and northeastern Tennessee.  After 1665 they did an ethnic cleansing of the Carolinas.

1648 – The Netherlands defeated Spain and won full independence.

1650 – Edward Bland led an expedition to what is now northeastern North Carolina. 13 At this time they were William Berkeley’s trading partners and allies. Berkeley had been replaced by a Puritan governor, and so had concentrated his energies on the Indian trade in the region west of the plantations. The Rickohockens were upset because the new Puritan government was allowing white settlers to hunt and establish farms on Indian lands in the western part of the colony.  Berkeley secretly backed them.

1656 – The colonists along the James River became concerned that the Rickohockens planned to massacre the whole James River Basin as they did in 1644.  Given their close relationship with Berkeley, it is more likely that the Rickohockens primarily were blocking further settlements to the west, or perhaps were positioning themselves to be allies of the Dutch and Royalists against the Commonwealth.

Virginia’s Puritan government asked Chief Totopotomoy of the Pamunkey to assist the Virginia militia in an attack on the fortified village.  The Virginia militia company was led by Colonel Edward Hill. Apparently, there were far more Pamunkey than English.  The Rickohockens had firearms traded to them by William Berkeley.  Many Pamunkey died, including their leader, Totopotomoy.  This disaster was remembered as the Battle of Bloody Run.

Numerous Cherokee history web sites have substituted the word, Cherokee for Rickohocken, and then called it a great victory for the Cherokees against the English soldiers, who were invading their ancestral lands.  That was not quite the situation.

1660 – As King Charles II promised on his ascension to the throne, William Berkeley, a royalist, was renamed Virginia’s governor.

1661 – A reference to slavery was entered into a Virginia law directed at white bond servants.  It made those who ran away with a black servant in violation of a felony. 14

1662 – Virginia’s Royal Council and House of Burgesses passed a law that made intercourse between a white woman and a Native American or African man illegal. 14 This institutionalized local ordinances that had become more and more prevalent since the 1622-1632 & 1644-46 Powhatan Wars.  If the male was a slave, he would be flogged and castrated. The woman’s offspring would automatically become slaves.  If the male was a free black or Indian, he would also probably be castrated – if they could catch him.  In both cases, the woman would be flogged.  She and her non-slave offspring were banished from Virginia.

Since there was no adjacent colony to the north that would allow the tainted white women entrance, they would have no choice, but to take refuge in the wilderness. The boundaries of Virginia at that time included all of what is now Kentucky, West Virginia and southern Ohio.  The only option for the banished people was to move to immigrate to what is now northeastern Tennessee.

1663 – Governor William Berkeley was named by King Charles II as a Lord Proprietor of the planned Carolina Colony.  The appointment had been in the works since 1659.

1664 – British naval forces captured New Amsterdam and renamed it the City of New York.

1664 – William Drummond was appointed the governor of Albemarle Colony by Gov. Berkeley.  Berkeley could do this because he was also a Lord Proprietor (co-owner) the Carolina Colony. 14

1664 -1667 – Second Anglo-Dutch War – The blockade against Dutch merchant ships lessened the value of tobacco and caused a severe economic recession in Virginia. Dutch tobacco merchants controlled the world market. The fast, efficiently designed, Dutch merchant ships could transport tobacco to the Netherlands for substantially less cost than the shipping fees charged by the inferior English merchant ships.

The combination of a recession and the increasing use of slaves on Virginia plantations caused a severe labor surplus in Virginia. 15 Landless mixed-blood Indians and African mulattos had traditionally done much of the skilled physical labor on plantations. Local and family lore describe bands of families of mixed-heritage people traveling to southwest Virginia and northeastern Tennessee during the late 1600s. These migrants left very little evidence in Virginia archives, but their settlements are shown on 18th century maps and dated as early as 1650.

Presumably, those Virginia migrants who looked the most “Indian” settled in towns such as Itsate, which welcomed new residents.  Itsate was later better known by its nickname of Chote.  Both words are Itza Maya words.  Itsate, pronounced Ĭt : jzhă : tē, the is correct name of the branch of the Creek Indians that occupied most of Georgia, western North Carolina and southeastern Tennessee.  Most readers know them by their Anglicized name, the Hitchiti.

1665 – The Rickohockens agreed to a contract whereby they had exclusive rights to furnish Native American slaves to Virginia plantations in return for being furnished with firearms and guaranteed prices paid for slaves and charged for European products. 16

1670 – A group of colonists arrived in Port Royal Harbor, South Carolina to found the Colony of Carolina.

1672 -1674 – Third Anglo-Dutch War – The war ended with Charles II begging for an armistice before his nation went bankrupt.

1673 – Governor Berkeley organized the defense that prevented Dutch troops from landing on the Virginia coast.  The tobacco merchants in the Netherlands still wanted to own Virginia.

1676 – A feud between a plantation owner and the Doeg Tribe on the Delmarva Peninsula boomeranged into a major Indian war. 17 A militia army commanded by Governor’s Council member, Nathanial Bacon, attacked the peaceful Susquehannock Indians in revenge for the Doeg Indians killing some members of the planter’s family.   Other militia groups used these skirmishes as an excuse to attack the Rickohockens in a section of Virginia where there were no settlers. The Rickohockens struck back at the villages where the militiamen lived, but went no further.  Where they did strike, however, produced devastation.

Governor William Berkeley refused to lead an army to attack his business partners, the Rickohockens.  This caused an insurrection in Virginia among its frontier settlers, known as Bacon’s Rebellion.  The violence shifted from being targeted at Natives to being between the rebels and Governor’s own troops.  Jamestown was burned by the rebels.  Several of their leaders were hung by order of Berkeley. However, when word reached the king about this, Berkeley was replaced and ordered to return to England.

1681 – Cadwallader Jones established trade with Indians beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, even though such contact was discouraged by the British government at that time. 18 Of course, William Berkeley had become extremely wealthy from trading and slave raiding beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains.

1689 – Glorious Revolution – William of Orange, Stadtholder of the Netherlands, became King William III of England, Scotland and Ireland.

1691 – Freed African and Native American slaves were banished from Virginia by the House of Burgesses. 19 At the ratification of this act, manumitted slaves, plus the mixed-heritage offspring of intercourse between white women and Native or African men had limited options for a new home.  Virginia included all of what are now Kentucky, West Virginia and southern Ohio.  The only option was to move to what is now northeastern Tennessee.

1715 – The major tribes of the Southeast simultaneously killed traders from South Carolina in their territories.  Very few, if any, traders from Virginia were killed. 20 The Yamasee Confederacy and its allies in South Carolina and Georgia then attacked settlements and plantations in South Carolina.  At the onset of these attacks, the allied villages in the northwestern corner of South Carolina invited the leaders of proto-Creek provinces in Georgia, southeastern Tennessee and western North Carolina to a diplomatic conference at Tugaloo to discuss whether or not they should also attack the South Carolina colonists.  All of the Creek leaders were killed in their sleep.  This precipitated the 40 year long Creek-Cherokee War.Citations:

  1. Martin, John B. & Mauldin, Margaret M., Dictionary of Muskogee/Creek, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.[]
  2. New Netherland, Wikipedia Encyclopedia.[]
  3. Simon, Ellis, “CUNY Publishes Monograph on New York’s First Resident,” May 14, 2013.[]
  4. New Netherland – Wikipedia Encyclopedia.[]
  5. Rein, Lisa, “Mystery of Virginia’s First Slaves Is Unlocked 400 Years Later“, Washington Post, Sunday, September 3, 2000.[]
  6. Dutch West India Company – Wikipedia Encyclopedia.[]
  7. Frost, John, LL. D. Frost’s Pictorial History of Indian Wars and Captivities, From the Earliest Record of American History to the Present Time; Nearly 200 Engravings from Original Designs, by Distinguished Artists. New York: Wells Publishing Company. 1873. Web. 30 December 2013. The Indian Wars of the Colonists of Virginia.[][][]
  8. Billings, Warren M, Sir William Berkeley and the Frging of Colonial Virginia, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2004.[]
  9. Billings, Warren M, Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2004.[]
  10. Edward Bland (1614-1652) – Encyclopedia Virginia.[][]
  11. “Ruiz de Salazar Vallecilla, Royal Governor of Florida”, Spanish Pathways in Florida, 1492-1992.[]
  12. History of Slavery in Virginia – Wikipedia Encyclopedia.[]
  13. History of Slavery in Virginia – Wikipedia Encyclopedia.)  He called the region, New Britain. Unlike the earlier expedition, the venture was highly publicized.  He recommended New Britain as an ideal location to grow tobacco.

    1652 – A fleet dispatched by the new English Commonwealth removed William Berkeley from office.

    1652 – 1654 – First Anglo-Dutch War – The British captured a large number of Dutch merchant ships in this war, but came out with the “shorter stick” in combat with Dutch warships.  Oliver Cromwell was almost bankrupted by the war.  The end of the war was essentially an armistice, after which both sides began re-arming.

    1655 –   A band of Rickohockens established a fortified village at the falls of the James River. ((History of Slavery in Virginia – Wikipedia Encyclopedia.[]

  14. Billings, Warren M, Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2004.[][][]
  15. Billings, Warren M., John E. Selby, and Thad W, Tate. Colonial Virginia: A History, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1986.[]
  16. Billings, Warren M., Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2004.[]
  17. Anglo-Powhatan Wars – Wikipedia Encyclopedia.[]
  18. Cadwallader Jones – Encyclopedia Virginia.[]
  19. Guild, June & Peters, Joan W., “Black Laws of Virginia,” Fauquier County, VA African-American Association.[]
  20. Ramsey, William L. (2008). The Yamasee War: A Study of Culture, Economy, and Conflict in the Colonial South. University of Nebraska Press.[]

Thornton, Richard. The Appalachian Colonists from the Mediterranean Basin. Digital Rights Copyright 2013 by

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