At the same time that the fort is being built a ship ‘of some thirty tonne’
is constructed under the master shipwright Digby, a Londoner. The pinnace will be named ‘Virginia’,
be essential for local work and prove a prudent insurance for the colonists, for the ‘Gift’ and the ‘Mary
and John’ will always be plying between Sagadahoc and Plymouth. In fact, the ‘Mary and John’ will go back
in October, the ‘Gift’ in December.
The great expectations of the autumn are however dashed by an atrocious winter. It
sets in early, is extremely severe and contrary to the colonists’ expectations forces suspension of their plans; they
cannot explore the country, prospect for mines or start up proposed small industrial projects. Though their lodgings are comfortable,
supplies are scanty and some of it unfit to eat. The men’s morale gets lower and lower and with the demise of some settlers
it takes a further knock with the death of their President Popham in February. However, they rally a little under the new
presidency of Raleigh Gilbert and with the prospect of the coming spring and relief supplies from England
hopes rise for better times. Sadly, better times never materialise for though the two relief ships set out from England in
March, arrive in the colony in May with vital supplies, they also bring news of Sir John Popham’s death eight months
earlier. Finally in September the last ship from England arrives at Fort St George with the news of Sir John Gilbert’s
death in Devon. This means their President, Raleigh Gilbert has to return to England as he has inherited the estate. It is
the last straw. The colonists lose heart. They’re going to abandon the colony.
The male Chalk Hill Blue butterfly Lysandra
coridon is shown alongside the caption LITTLE JACK HORNER, the caption referring to the old nursery
rhyme about the Horners of Mells in Somerset.
Jack Horner sat in a corner eating his
He put in his thumb and pulled out
And said “What a good boy am
The rhyme is said to be based on a fictitious story that the title deeds of a property owned by Glastonbury
Abbey ‘the plum’ were sent to King Henry VIII by the Horner who was the Abbey’s steward but were ‘stolen
on the way’. It is now 1608 and today’s Thomas Horner, named here who has invested in the Plymouth Company, is
becoming increasingly worried about its future in Virginia.