Rebecca (Powhatan) Rolfe
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Amonute Matoaka (Powhatan) Rolfe (abt. 1596 - 1617)

Amonute Matoaka (Rebecca) "Pocahontas" Rolfe formerly Powhatan
Born about in Werowocomoco Village on Pamunkey River, Tsenacomocomap [uncertain]
Ancestors ancestors
Daughter of and [mother unknown]
Wife of — married about 5 Apr 1614 (to 21 Mar 1617) in Anglican Church, Jamestown, Virginia Colonymap
Descendants descendants
Mother of
Died at about age 21 in Gravesend, Kent, Englandmap
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Profile last modified | Created 12 Oct 2010 | Last significant change: 2 Jun 2023
12:49: J. West edited the Biography for Amonute Matoaka (Powhatan) Rolfe (abt.1596-1617). (Minor edit to "do not alter this profile" blurb.) [Thank J. for this]
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flag of the Jamestowne Society
Rebecca (Powhatan) Rolfe is a Qualifying Ancestor of the Jamestowne Society

Pocahontas was a Native American woman of the Powhatan nation with an incredible amount of mythology surrounding her. Her legacy as a positive influence on early settlers of Virginia remains popular today.

Early Life

Pocahontas was born about 1596, based on her telling her portraitist in London that she was in her 21st year in 1616.[1] She may have been born in the Werowocomoco village Tsenacomoco, on the Pamunkey River (present-day Gloucester County, Virginia), but the exact location of her birth is not known. Her father was Wahunsenacawh, chief of the Powhatan.[2] [3] Her mother's name was not recorded by either John Smith or John Rolfe. [4]

Pocahontas had more than one name during her lifetime, which was common for Native Americans. She may have been given the name Amonute when she was born, [5] and she also had the name Matoaka (or Mataoaks) which she did not reveal until after her marriage and conversion to Christianity. The name by which she is best known, Pocahontas, was her childhood nickname, loosely translated as "playful one", "little wanton", or "laughing, joyous one", due to her curious nature.[4][2]

Pocahontas and John Smith

The incident Pocahontas is best known for involved the nearly as famous Captain John Smith.[2][3] The story Smith gave versus the one the Native American histories give vary somewhat.

According to Smith, in the winter of 1607, when Pocahontas was only around 11 years old, John was captured by her brother. In a scene where he believed he was in danger of being executed, Pocahontas stepped forward and offered her life for his, saving him.[6][7] [8]

Some modern scholars suggest that he was not in danger, but rather was being initiated as a brother.[2][3] (A later letter of John Smith's also seems to support this, indicating a meal and interview, nothing dangerous.) It is also suggested that Pocahontas would never have been at such a ceremony, due to her age, but might have helped serve a meal in her father's home.[2][3]

The story has been examined for centuries, and no one knows the truth for certain, but it did procure a place for both Pocahontas and John Smith in United States' mythology and history.

Following the incident, Powhatan informed Smith that he was part of the tribe, and proceeded to trade with him. Powhatan also sent gifts to the Jamestown settlement, which was starving in the winter conditions. Pocahontas served as a symbol of peace to the colonists, and would visit Jamestown frequently, playing with the children there.[2]

Despite what transpired, relations deteriorated as the English became more demanding and less grateful. Smith claimed Pocahontas would again save his life, warning him of Powhatan's plot to kill him, which prompted him and his companions to leave. Native American history again dictates that Pocahontas, being as young as she was, wouldn't have knowledge of such a plan and certainly wouldn't have made it as far as where Smith was without someone's knowledge.[2][3]

Documented Marriage - John Rolfe

In 1613, Pocahontas was captured by English Captain Samuel Argall for ransom, with help from members of a neighboring tribe who lured her onto an English ship.[9][10] Pocahontas was taken to Jamestown, then Henrico, and began learning more of the English culture. She was converted to Christianity in 1614, baptized with the name Rebecca, and with Powhatan's blessing, married English widower and tobacco planter John Rolfe in April of that year.[3][11] Pocahontas and John Rolfe had one child, a son named Thomas, born around 1615.[2] He is Pocahontas' only known child.[12]

Lady Rebecca, Death & Legacy

Pocahontas, now referred to as Lady Rebecca Rolfe, accompanied her husband to England in 1616 on a public relations tour on behalf of the Virginia Company, which included meeting King James I. They took up residence in rural Brentford for a time. It was there that Pocahontas encountered John Smith once more, and confronted him on the behaviors of his company in the colonies.[2][3]

In March 1617, the Rolfes decided to return to Virginia. Shortly after they began their return voyage, Rebecca became ill and the ship she was on put in at Gravesend, Kent, England. Rebecca died on shore and was buried under the chancel of St. George's Church on 21 March 1617.[13] [14] John Rolfe returned to Virginia, while young Thomas stayed in England with family.[15]

Little else is known about Pocahontas for certain. Most that is told was written by others or passed down via oral history, and many families claim a connection to her, though far fewer than claim it can prove it.

Her son Thomas was educated in England, but later returned to Virginia and became an important settler; many prominent Virginians claim to be his descendants.[16]

Profiles for Thomas and his descendants may display the Descendant of Pocahontas sticker, which adds them to the category used by the Descendants of Pocahontas Team (a sub project of WikiTree's Native Americans Project.


There is only one known image of Pocahontas made during her lifetime. Many romanticized portraits and images of events in her life were created around the time of the American centennial, still more at the 300th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, and others done under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. Few, if any, of these images are historically accurate. For a discussion of several images of Pocahontas, see [Browne, Allen C., The Portrait Gallery blog. 3 posts on portraits of Pocahontas: 2015 Dec 15, 2015 Dec 20, 2015 Dec 22 Allen Browne

Research Notes

Disputed Family

An Englishman, William Strachey, was in Jamestown in 1610 and lived there for about one year. Upon his return to England, he wrote a book about Jamestown, and in it is the only mention of a possible earlier, first marriage for Pocahontas. Strachey wrote that she had been married about two years to a "private captain named Kocoum".[5] There is no concrete record of any children from this union, though some 20th century authors refer to one, and nothing further was recorded about Kocoum.[2][3] Note that, based on Pocahontas' own later statement about her age, she would have been 12-13 years old in 1608, the year of her marriage if she had been married for two years in 1610.

Subsequent claims were made in the late 20th century, citing "sacred oral tradition" [17] that Kocoum and Pocahontas had a child named Ka-Okee. [18] [19] Some say Ka-Okee was a son; others say this was a daughter.

There are legends that Pocahontas and John Smith had a child named Peregrine Smith. No reliable evidence has been found to support this theory, which is discussed in more detail on Peregrine Smith's profile.[20]


  1. Engraving, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (NPG), "Aetatis suae 21 An 1616." meaning in the 21st year of her age. Image at NPG Blog
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Pocahontas: Her Life and Legend, US Parks Service
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Helen C. Rountree, "Pocahontas," in Encyclopedia Virginia, ( accessed 6 September 2017).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Helen C. Rountree, Pocahontas, Powhatan Opechancanough, Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005) 35, 37-8; 176-8.
  5. 5.0 5.1 William Strachey, Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania (1612), eds. Louis B. Wright and Virginia Freund, Kraus Reprint Limited, Liechtenstein 1967, p. 62. (In an 1849 edition, the information will be found on p 54.) See also, p 111
  6. Smith John, "True Relation" (1608) , ed Deane (1866), with footnotes, [1]. Smith is taken captive, p. 25. Pocahontas visits the fort, p. 72.
  7. Smith, John or William Symonds. "Proceedings" (1612). Appendix to Smith (1612), Map of Virginia. In Tyler, L.G (1907), Narratives of Early Virginia, p. 119. Smith is taken captive, p. 130. Pocahontas visits the fort, p. 139.
  8. Smith, John, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and The Summer Isles (London, 1624). Books 3 and 4. 1907 edn, Vol. 1. (Book 3) Smith is taken captive, p. 96. Smith is saved by Pocahontas, p. 101. Pocahontas brings food, p. 103. Pocahontas saves Smith again, p. 162. (Book 4) Pocahontas kidnapped, p. 217. Pocahontas married, p. 220 (extracted from Hamor, but with no mention of conversion). Pocahontas in England, p. 235-240 (includes letter to Queen Anne). Book 4 is also in Tyler, L.G, Narratives of Early Virginia, p. 289.
  9. Argall, Sir Samuel Argall, Letter to Nicholas Hawes, dated June 1613, relating the kidnapping of Pocahontas. In Brown, Alexander, Genesis of the United States, Vol. 2 (1897), p. 640. Brown takes it from Purchas, iv, p. 1764, the same source cited by Robertson (1860).
  10. Harmor, Ralph, True Discourse (1615), ed. Harwell (1957), p. 4. Describes the capture, detention and marriage of Pocahontas, as told to the English public in 1614. Hamor was an eye-witness, or close to those who were, but he was also a Company propagandist. Includes the letters of Dale (p. 51), Whitaker (p. 59), and Rolfe (p. 61). (All other publications of these letters are derived from Hamor, as manuscripts do not exist).
  11. Robertson, Wyndham: "The Marriage of Pocahontas", in Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. 31, no. 2 (Aug 1860), p. 81. Explains and corrects the mistaken date of 1613 given by Stith and many other early writers. Also in Virginia Historical Reporter, Vol. 1 (1860), p. 65.
  12. Smithsonian Institution. Do All Indians Live in Tipis? Smithsonian Books, Washington, D.C. 2018. p75-77.
  13. Parish register burial entry for Rebecca Wroth [sic], 21 March 1616/7, Gravesend, Kent; citing St. George's Church; Burial Record. There is no image of the record on this site. The record lists her as the "wife" of "Thomas Wroth", seeming to confuse the name of her son with the name of her husband.
  14. "The Burial of Pocahontas", in Virginia Historical Register, Vol. 2, no. 4 (Oct 1849), p. 187.
  15. Kingsbury, Susan M (1906). Virginia Company Records, Vol. 2, p. 105. Henry Rolfe's petition touching "the Child his said Brother had by Powhatan's Daughter".
  16. “The Ancestors and Descendants of John Rolfe with Notices of Some Connected Families.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 21, no. 1, 1913, pp. 105–106. JSTOR link (First of 10 articles over three years).
  17. Custalow, Linwood & Daniel, Angela.True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History, 2007,
  18. Farris, Phoebe, "Pocahontas’ First Marriage: The Powhatan Side of the Story", Huffington Post
  19. Misinformation on the Pettus Family (Unsourced blog supporting the Kocoum marriage, daughter Ka-Okee and marriage to Thomas Pettus).
  20. Teri Hiatt. Forum. Re: John Smith and Pocahontas, July 13, 2012, reply to Larry Anderson note of the same date. (1) butleigh. org, under Butleigh People for Hiett, Smith; (2),_Richard_(DNB00) Info on Richard Bertie; (3) Info on Peregrine Bertie, John Smith, and Pocahontas; (4) About Dr. John Hewitt (on WayBack Machine) ; (5) Capt. John Smith Capt. John Smith; (6) [ Womens History About Pocahontas]; (7) [ John Smith] (Encyclopedia of Virginia);(8) God Wants You to Colonize Virginia (Blog); (9) Book "Burke's Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage" 107th ed. 3 vol. Wilmington, Del 2003. Accessed 5 March 2020.

See Also:

  • Jamestowne Society: Pocahontas / Matoaka - A6212; died March 1617 Gravesend, England; wife of John Rolfe. accessed 5 December 2020
  • Beverley, Robert, jr., The History and Present State of Virginia, 2nd edn (1722), p. 25-31.
  • Boddie, John Bennett, Historical Southern Families, Vol. 9 (1957-1980), pgs 191-217 and Southside Virginia Families, Vol. 1 (2009?), pages 227-331.
  • Burk, John (1804). History of Virginia, Vol. 1, p. 168.
  • McCartney, Martha W. Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, p. 563.
  • Randolph, Wassell, "William Randolph I of Turkey Island, Henrico County, Virginia, and his immediate descendants," Memphis, Tenn. : Seebode Mimeo Service, 1949. Digital version (Hathi Trust)
  • Stith, Rev. William (1747). History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia, p. 136.
  • Tyler, L.G , Narratives of Early Virginia, Publisher? (1907); p. 25. Smith is taken captive, p. 44. Pocahontas visits the fort, p. 69.
  • Wikipedia contributors, "Pocahontas," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed March 5, 2017).
  • Wood, Karenne, Ed. The Virginia Indian Trail, 2nd ed. Charlottesville, VA: The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (2008).

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Restored birth and death dates; birth date is unknown, death date is known.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes

the tribe's own website says she is wife of Kocoum and mother of Kaokee. they are the only authority and source that should matter on this

posted by Kathy (Thomas) Sexton
The Patawomeck are not a Federally recognized tribe, rather a non-profit entity in Virginia. As such they are not recognized as the defacto experts on the history of Native Americans in the region. Further, there has been mounds of research regarding this topic which is reflected in this long discussion thread:
posted by Ronald Prentice
I still think they (federally recognized or not) are the only authority that matters on their own history, but that is my opinion I suppose.
posted by Kathy (Thomas) Sexton
Unlike the "Patawomeck Tribe" who vanished from records in the 1600's and then reappeared in the 20th century, the actual Federally-recognized Virginia tribes have been in existence and continuously in records since the 1600's and were part of the Powhatan Confederation. Those tribes do not support the many claims regarding additional descendants of either Powhatan or Pocahontas.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Detached duplicate images, changed primary image to the only one created during her lifetime
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Curious as to any changes being considered on her profile since the Patawomeck Tribe, The Pocahontas Project and the Pocahontas Descendants Initiative all believe that she did have a daughter named Ka-Okee by Cocoum?
posted by Michelle Hunt
No changes are being considered; please review this long discussion thread:

posted by Jillaine Smith
All of these claims arose in the 20th century with absolutely nothing to support them. They are theories advanced by people who want to believe they are related to Pocahontas, not facts. Not only are the claims unsupported, one group claims she had another son, another claims she had a daughter. Most of the claims are easily disproven by actual documents.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Michelle, you might also want to read the following review which does a critical analysis of the two works that the organizations you mention are probably relying upon:

posted by Jillaine Smith
Legacy: City of Pocahontas, Randolph County, Arkansas.
posted by Richard (Jordan) J
Pocahontas’ mother is known and documented in the source listed and in others from the IAT. Her name was Pocahontas. She died giving birth to Pocahontas.

Pocahontas wasn’t a nickname, she took it when she married her first husband, which was documented. It needs to be documented here. It is the sources here. I will be glad to fix.


posted by DrO (Pirkle) Olmstead
I’m sorry, but there is no record of the name of Pocahontas’ mother. Only a handful of Powhatan’s wives are recorded by name and she is not among them. Pocahontas’ given names were recorded by the English as Mataoka and Amonoute, with Pocahontas as a nickname. She took the English name of Rebecca when she was converted to Christianity, was baptized and married to John Rolfe.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Go to the works on IAT. Those are researched. European records are just third party oral lore. Native lore documented is the same and should be respected.
posted by DrO (Pirkle) Olmstead
Sorry, but most of those claims have been debunked. The “Sacred Mattaponi History” was invented.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes with its many citations will lead you to the mother of Pocahontas and her death.
posted by DrO (Pirkle) Olmstead
I followed the linked references in the above paper and the reference for the identification of Pocahontas' mother ( does NOT identify her name.

This is another example of why it's so important to look carefully at the footnotes used in a given paper. Do those references actually support the claim they're being cited for? In this case, not.

posted by Jillaine Smith
edited by Jillaine Smith
This links to an image of her burial record. (I could not find anything with the link for source #13.)

The link was working 27 Jun at 4:30. It is a large pdf that took a long time to load with Windows Firefox. Safari on ipad mini was much better. It is necessary to scroll down to image 57. Second page, 3rd from bottom (someone in the past was helpful and put an “x” next to it). Hopefully someone can figure out how to upload the one image with 2 pages. I can try to send the 40 MB pdf as an email attachment if the link won’t work.

posted by M Smith
edited by M Smith
Pulls up blank on Chrome on my iPad.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Legacy: The Town of Pocahontas, Tazewell County, Virginia
posted by Richard (Jordan) J
For your consideration:

The True Face of Pocahontas? Facial Reconstructions & History Revealed.

posted by Richard (Jordan) J
On all of my research, the child, Thomas was left with Lewis Stewkley, aka Stokley! Thomas later returned to America and was given land. I would have to dig it up, I have 2 full boxes, half organized!!!
posted by Kim Stokley
dear profile managers, I just want to say you've done a beautiful job on this profile, kudos!
posted by Danielle Sullivan
Hello. Here is a source that supports the Kocum/Pocahontas marriage/son:

The True Story of Pocahontas, The Other Side of History, From the Sacred History of the Mattaponi Reservation People, Dr. Linwood "LIttle Bear" Custalow and Angela L. Daniel "Silver Star" written in 2007.

posted by Michelle Hunt
That is not a reputable source, it is one man’s personal theory.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Everyone should read that book!
posted by Linda Minner
It's not a history book, the claims are not supported by the tribe.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Well unfortunately, Native history has been on oral history. And just because it is not written in a history book does not mean those stories do not have merit. History is written by the victors. too much about "Pocahontas" and Natives in general has been romanticized. Everything was not so peachy keen as white people choose to believe. "History" in general in the USA has been whitewashed. Starting with the silly stories that the Pilgrims & Natives were such good friends & continuing that slaves were oh so Happy. I stand by my statement that people should read that book & open their minds.
posted by Linda Minner
A portion of a one of many scholarly critiques of Custalow's work review:

"When people cite the True Story version of events in Pocahontas’s life, they invariably say that the information comes from Mattaponi sacred oral history, implying that it carries the weight of a holy book vetted by priests, chiefs and learned individuals from generations past. To accept the book as such is to grant it a level of respect it does not deserve. True Story is indeed the product of oral history, but of the oral history revealed by a single individual, Dr. Linwood Custalow. The “doctor” in the title, as we know, refers to his degree in Ear, Nose & Throat Medicine, not to a degree in history or anthropology. There is a co-author, Angela L. Daniel, but she is not Mattaponi (she claims to have traces of Indian ancestry, “most likely Cherokee”32), and she did not grow up hearing these or any other Powhatan oral traditions, but first learned of them when she began her research and met Custalow in the late 90s. Her function in the True Story authorship pairing was not to transmit or corroborate Mattaponi oral history from personal memory, but to do the hard work of writing, to lend her credibility as a doctoral student in anthropology, and to add historical information and sources where applicable. Her value to the project was that she was willing to put on paper the thoughts of Dr. Custalow and endorse them as “sacred Mattaponi oral history.”

posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Thank you for you comment Kathie.
posted by Linda Minner