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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.’
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.