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cene Five
    1619 PANEL


Captain John Mason from King’s Lynn in Norfolk, member of the Virginia Company is pondering the reports from Jamestown where the lack of female marital companionship, help and understanding brings increasing problems of drunkenness, indecent behaviour and crime among those plantation owners who are bored, single and/or sex-starved white or black. So, even with the new freedoms those who get uppity or out of line and even worse, complain, their punishment is ferocious. One such, who is stupid enough to protest, a white servant named Thomas Garnett, suffers the horrendous penalty of being nailed by the ears to the pillory for four days and publicly whipped on his bare back. It is done as an example to others for indentured servants outnumber the free men. So much for Merrie England transported to America.

In any event the main problem for Virginia remains the lack of family life. Too few children.  Fatherhood therefore is a priority.  Cradles must be filled. The problems of frustrated batchelors be recognised back in England, attended to and solved.  Reports are sent to London. The Virginia Company listens, then finally acts. The record of their meeting on November 3 states that ‘Lastly he (Sandys) wishes that a fitt hundreth might be sent of woemen, Maides young and uncorrupt to make wifes to the Inhabitants and by that meanes to make the men there more settled and less moveable who by defect thereof (as is credibly reported) stay there but to get something and returne for England which will be a dissolucon and so to an overthrow of the Plantacon. These woemen if they marry to the publiq ffarmors to be transported at the charges of the Company.’

Thus, 90 women emigrate to Jamestown of their own free will, guaranteed to have their personal choice of planter husband. They are infinitely luckier than indentured servants, many of whom have been literally kidnapped from England, a crime still rife there. The new potential wives, on the other hand, are free and worth their weight in gold, or in their case, 120 lbs of tobacco, for that’s what each future husband will have to pay the Company for them. It’s brides for baccy.


WOOD-RUSH   Luzula campestris.  ‘The seede of the common Rush parched, and steeped in wine, stoppeth the laske, but to be given in too great a quantitie, it causeth headach. Henry Lyte.

ORCHIS  Orchis mascula.    Introduced to New England as a love potion in the 17th c where it ‘wrought the desired effect’. Chronicler.

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