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Home: Surnames: Pocahontas Family Genealogy Forum

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Re: descendant or not
Posted by: Deena Herod (ID *****6667) Date: January 31, 2011 at 10:08:21
In Reply to: descendant or not by MNew of 1080

Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, the Chief/King of the Pohatan tribe --her mother's name is unknown (as were the names of his other wives).

I was fortunate to be an assistant in research in the 1960's to Grace Steele WOODWARD, author of the book "Pocahontas" (she is probably best known for her book "The Cherokees") I am stilled awed when I think of getting to see and read some of the original resources written by John ROLFE himself, and-of course-John SMITH; I know Mrs. Woodward's sources to be original and her research extensive.

Pocahontas was the second wife of John ROLFE (after her death, he did not remarry). She was given the name "Rebecca" when baptized into the Christian faith. John ROLFE and Pocahontas/Rebecca were married on 05 April 1614 (this date is from the calendar in use at the time, before being changed to the Julian Calendar now used in mid 1700's). As her year of birth is generally accepted to be 1596 or 1597, Pocahontas would have been about 17 or 18 years of age, John ROLFE was 28. The marriage had been opposed--after the fact--by England's James I but was encouraged by the leaders of the Jamestown Colony, who hoped it would help their efforts toward peace. The John ROLFE's had only one child, Thomas, born the next year (1615- ? month) after their marriage.

In June of 1616, John, his wife Pocahontas/Rebecca, their son, and a retinue including about a dozen "Native" Virginians (among them her half-sister Matachanna, who acted as Thomas' nurse) arrived at Plymouth, England. They were met with all the pomp and ceremony befitting the "Lady Rebecca", as she was known to the English. Pocahontas/Rebecca was truly represented to the English King and his subjects as "Royalty"---this being a very real asset to the Virginia Company, trying very hard to populate the "New Country", often made difficult by James I, as he wavered toward placating the Catholic Pope.

Pocahantas died in Gravesend-most probably of pneumonia or tuberculosis-just as the ROLFE family was scheduled to sail home to Virginia in late March, 1617. She was buried in the chancel of St George's Church (since destroyed and rebuilt). And though John ROLFE returned to Virginia soon after his wife's death, he left their young son in England (this would not have been unusual at the time, due to the hardships of colony life and lack of formal educational institutes). Thomas ROLFE did not return to Virginia until he was a young man (1635, I think); John ROLFE was killed in 1622, in one of the few Indian uprisings after his marriage to Pocahontas/Rebecca.

It's a shame that Pocahontas has become so much a legend to many Americans; her true part in establishing the Jamestown Colony (so much more than saving the life of John SMITH) gets lost in myths and 'sound bite' mis-quotes; the real Pocahontas--or Rebecca--was so much more in reality than myth. You shold learn more about her even if you're not a descendant---she may have been very important to your actual ancestors! (Pocahontas and John SMITH never had but the most avuncular of relationships, but he and John ROLFE are sometimes confused.)

I am not a descendant, just an admirer of the real Pocahontas/Rebecca ROLFE.

Deena HEROD


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