The New World Tapestry

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cene Four
    1619 PANEL


The background colours of the shield nameplate for William Cavendish, first Earl of Devonshire and William Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke not only show purple for being members of the London Virginia Company but the pale blue as future members of the Massachuset’s  Bay Company (1630 Winthrop panel). Cavendish is simply a financial backer but Herbert has been deeply involved and interested in settlement overseas. He became a member of the Council for the Virginia Company in 1609, an incorporator of the North West Passage Company in 1612 and of the Bermudas Company in 1615. His interest in the Bermudas is commemorated by a parish on the island being named after him. Now, as shown here, in Virginia, the Rappahannock River is renamed and called the Pembroke River in his honour. Pembroke Castle, his home in Pembrokeshire, is also illustrated.

The Seymours have been interested in overseas development ever since Edward (Scene One) invested money in the Virginia Company’s adventures. (Another Seymour, the Duke of Somerset, made the first stitch in the 1617-18 panel in 1991).

In Virginia the establishment of the first house of Burgesses produces a new spirit of freedom among the white settlers and to one native American. A ship captained by Thomas Dormer arrives from England bringing Squanto the Indian guide back home. Other newcomers are not so fortunate. Far from it. At August’s end a Dutch vessel arrives in the colony and, as John Rolfe will record later ‘he brought not anything but 20 odd Negroes, which the Governor and Cape Merchant (Abraham Peirsey in charge of Stores) bought for victuals (whereof he is in great need as he pretended) at the best and easiest rate they could.’ Whether or not the luckless blacks have been purchased as indentured  servants, in the same  manner as white servants is unknown. What is certain,   however, is that it is the genesis of slavery in North America and Yeardley now has a number of unfortunates among the fifteen-strong workforce on his Hundred plantation. The Hundred’s doing well, producing a good tobacco crop. The House of Burgesses is a real success and, to top his great year, Temperance produces their first child, a daughter. But that’s all very well for the Governor – what about the lonely planters without a woman in the house?


COCK’S-HEAD   Onobrychis flore purpurea.  ‘Therefore the leaves… being drunke in wine they cure the strangerie, and laid on with oile procureth  sweat’. Gerard.

BEECH  Fagus sylvatica    ‘The leaves of Beech are very profitably laid to the beginnings of hot swellings, blisters and ulcers’. Henry Lyte.

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