Pocahontas (Powhatan) Rolfe

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

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Amonute Matoaka (Pocahontas) "Rebecca" Rolfe formerly Powhatan
Born about in Werowocomoco Village on Pamunkey River, Tsenacomocomap [uncertain]
Ancestors ancestors
Daughter of and [mother unknown]
Wife of — married in Virginiamap
Wife of — married (to ) in Anglican Church, Jamestown, Virginia Colonymap
Descendants descendants
Mother of
Died in Gravesend, Kent, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Oct 2010
This page has been accessed 32,121 times.

Categories: Descendants of Pocahontas | Famous People of the 17th Century | Powhatan | Jamestown, Virginia Colony | Namesakes US Counties.

Matoaka Amonute Powhatan
Pocahontas (Powhatan) Rolfe is a descendant of Pocahontas.
Join: Descendants of Pocahontas Project
Discuss: pocahontas



Pocahontas was a Native American woman with an incredible amount of mythology surrounding her. Her legacy as a positive influence on early settlers of the Southern United States Colonies remains popular today.

Pocahontas, Playful One

Pocahontas was born about 1596, based on her telling her portraitist in London that she was in her 21st year in 1617.[1] She may have been born in the Werowocomoco Village on Pamunkey River, Tsenacomoco, present-day Gloucester County, Virginia, but the exact location of her birth is not known.[2] Her father was Wahunsenacawh Powhatan.[2][3] Her mother's name was not recorded by either John Smith or John Rolfe.[1][2] Pocahontas was known as one of the Chief's favored daughters.[2] They shared a loving, respectful relationship.[2][3]

At birth Pocahontas was given the name Amonute.[2][3] She later took a secret name, which she did not reveal until after her marriage and conversion to Christianity, which was Matoaka.[2] Matoaka is considered the name given to Pocahontas at birth, though, by some oral Native American histories, and may have meant "flower between two streams."[2]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.[1][2]

Pocahontas and John Smith

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

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.[2][3] Native American histories indicate that he was not in danger, but rather was being initiated as another Brother.[2] A later letter of John Smith's also seems to support this, indicating a meal and interview, nothing dangerous.[3] They also claim that Pocahontas would never have been at such a ceremony, due to her age, but a meal in her father's abode she very likely would have helped serve.[2][3]

The story has been examined for centuries, and no one knows for certain the truth, but it did procure a place for both Pocahontas and John Smith in United States' mythology and history.[2]

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

Despite what transpired, the relations would deteriorate, as the English became more demanding and less grateful.[2] 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.[2] But, Native American history dictates 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 guards knowing she was about.[2][3]

First Marriage - Kocoum

An Englishman, William Strackney, was in Jamestown in 1610 and lived there for about one year.[4] Upon his return to England, he published a book about Jamestown, and in it is one of the only mentions of a first marriage for Pocahontas.[2][3] Native American histories also refer to one.[2] He wrote that she was married to a "private captain named Kocoum".[4][2][3] There is no concrete record of any children from this union, though some oral histories refer to one, and nothing further was recorded about Kocoum.[2][3]

Second Marriage - John Rolfe

In 1613 Pocahontas was captured by one English Captain Argall for ransom, with help from a neighboring tribe, luring her onto an English ship.[2][3][5] Pocahontas was taken to Jamestown, then Henrico, and began learning more of the English culture.[2][5] She converted to Christianity in 1614, was baptized with the name Rebecca, and with Powhatan's blessing, married English widower and tobacco planter John Rolfe in April of that year.[3][2] Pocahontas and John Rolfe had one child, a son named Thomas, born around 1615.[2] He is Pocahontas' only known child.

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.[2][3] They took up residence in rural Brentford for a time.[2] 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.[2][3] Shortly after they began their return voyage, Rebecca became ill and the ship she was on put in at Gravesend, Kent, England.[2][3] Rebecca died on shore and was buried under the chancel of St. George's Church on 21 March 1617. [1][6] John Rolfe returned to Virginia, while young Thomas stayed in England with family.[2]

Little else is known about Pocahontas for certain.[2] 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 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.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Helen C. Rountree, Pocahontas, Powhatan Opechancanough, Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005) 35, 37-8; 176-8.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 Pocahontas: Her Life and Legend, US Parks Service
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 Helen C. Rountree, Pocahontas, Encyclopedia Virginia (https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Pocahontas_d_1617: accessed 6 September 2017).
  4. 4.0 4.1 William Strachney, 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.)
  5. 5.0 5.1 From the writings of Chief Roy Crazy Horse= of the Powhatan Renape Nation, Rankokus Indian Reservation
  6. FreeBMD, “Basic Search,” database, FreeREG (http://www.freereg.org.uk/cgi/Search.pl : accessed 7 September 2017), parish register burial entry for Rebecca Wroth, 21 March 1617, Gravesend, Kent; citing St. George's Church.
  7. "Pocahontas," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

See Also:

  • John Bennett Boddie, Historical Southern Families, Vol. 9 (1957-1980), pgs 191-217 and Southside Virginia. Families, Vol. 1 (2009?), pages 227-331.
  • Wassell Randolph, "William Randolph I of Turkey Island, Henrico County, Virginia, and his immediate descendants," Memphis, Tenn. : Seebode Mimeo Service, 1949. Digital version (Hathi Trust)
  • Wood, Karenne, Ed. , The Virginia Indian Trail, 2nd ed. (Charlottesville, VA: The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2008).
  • Marcus Abbott Haskins, Brøderbund Software, Inc., World Family Tree Vol. 2, Ed. 1, (Release date: November 29, 1995), "CD-ROM," Tree #1060, Date of Import: Jan 16, 1999. (1995), "Electronic," Date of Import: Jan 31, 1999.
  • Microsoft Encarta 98, "Pocahontas".
  • Microsoft Encarta 98, "Rolfe, John", (1998), "Electronic."
  • E. Jay Stith, Brøderbund Software, Inc., World Family Tree Vol. 1, Ed. 1, (Release date: November 29, 1995), "CD-ROM," Tree #5156, Date of Import: Jan 16, 1999. (1995), "Electronic," Date of Import: Feb 2, 1999.

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Images: 9
Engraving of Pocahontas at 21 yrs old by Simone van de Passe
Engraving of Pocahontas at 21 yrs old by Simone van de Passe

Matoka Rolph Image 1
Matoka Rolph Image 1

John Rolfe Wedding to Matoaka Pocahontas
John Rolfe Wedding to  Matoaka Pocahontas

Rebecca Rolfe Image 1
Rebecca Rolfe Image 1

Matoaka Amonute Powhatan
Matoaka Amonute Powhatan

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On 21 Jul 2018 at 01:19 GMT Rhonda Fleming wrote:

Chief Wahunsonacock Powhatan is my 13th great grandfather, and Kaokee Pettus is my 11th great grandmother. She was married to Thomas Pettus, and had a daughter named Christian, who married a man named John Martin. It is way past time for the world to know the truth. I have been in contact with William Pettus, and sent him not only my family link, but also other information about Thomas Pettus. I would be very happy to speak to serious researchers only, to legitimize my claim as their descendant. Kaokee is real, she did exist, and I am here today because of her. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/L87Z-7GN https://old.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=131606355

On 10 Apr 2018 at 14:58 GMT Corinne Morris wrote:

To clarify further, it seems to me an oral source needs named people, and ideally rough dates, e.g. "recollection 10/4/2018 by C Morris of story told her by Jane Morris in the 1960s". It seems to me a lot more information could be added which might help us decide how seriously to take the story. Was the story told only once, or repeatedly? Is C Morris considered good at remembering details like names and dates? (In my case no!) How certain am I of my recollection of the story? Have I had any special training to help me remember it? Are there any non-oral cues, perhaps art, that help me remember part of it? Family stories can be like Chinese Whispers and what we're looking for is reasons to believe the oral information hasn't accidentally been changed as it was passed down.

On 10 Apr 2018 at 14:44 GMT Corinne Morris wrote:

This is a fascinating discussion. I imagine it is a challenging problem to weigh up and compare what seems to be written evidence from settler sources within a century of the events in question, versus oral tradition from indigenous sources. The events in question were in the centre of a conflict/war over land & resources, and as such evoked strong emotions then and now, which could result in deliberate or unintentional disrorting of facts by anyone. At the same time emotionally charged stories may be handed down orally longer than less charged ones. I think the oral tradition shouldn't be discounted, but needs to be explained in as much detail as possible in order to help those of us from other backgrounds to understand why it should be considered as good strong evidence.

On 10 Apr 2018 at 13:56 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Linda, can you provide actual quotes from these sources that make these claims? I went to the link you offered below, and without sources, it's a story, an interpretation. I thought that somewhere, Deyo laid out his case for why he believed Pocahontas had a child by her first husband. I'm hesitant to purchase (or recommend others purchase) the new Pettus genealogy without knowing to what extent the author cites his sources and examines the evidence. Last year, I bought a book that was purported to be a good genealogy, and it was all unsourced-- just a printed version of yet another unsourced online tree. So I'd like to know more about the new Pettus genealogy before purchasing it.

On 8 Apr 2018 at 19:28 GMT Linda (Carr) Buchholz wrote:

Also this email excerpt from Bill Deyo --- I was not at liberty to disclose the particulars until my friend, William Pettus, put the second volume of his Pettus genealogy on the market, and I just received a notice to that effect last night! I would sincerely recommend that you both consider purchasing Mr. Pettus' new book, as he has revised the Pettus genealogy, after consulting with me, to include the connection to Pocahontas. You will see by his book that you not only have a descent from Pocahontas through Mary Martin but also through Josias Fugate, whose mother, Dorothy Pettit/Pettus, also appears to have been a granddaughter of the Indian girl, Ka-Okee, daughter of Pocahontas. It was no wonder that Josias Fugate married Mary Martin, as they were fairly close kin!

On 8 Apr 2018 at 19:14 GMT Linda (Carr) Buchholz wrote:

Jillian Smith - The Other Side of History

Pamunkey Chief Robert Gray

Patawomeck Chief John Lightner

Powhatan Patawomeck Tribal Historian Bill Deyo

Countless council members and tribal members of the 11 Tribes in Virginia, who have been gracious in sharing their stories https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/history/genealogy/true-story-pocahontas-historical-myths-versus-sad-reality/

On 8 Apr 2018 at 12:06 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Linda, please point us to where Deyo makes this case. My memory of this is that this was a theory Deyo postulated based on assumptions but that there is no actual evidence to support a child, a murder, a subsequent marriage or anything other than European origins for Thomas Pettus of colonial Virginia. But let's look at Deyo's actual words. Do you have a link?

On 8 Apr 2018 at 00:13 GMT Linda (Carr) Buchholz wrote:

According to the Patawomeck Tribal Historian - Bill Deyo - Pocahontas & Kocoum had one confirmed child. A daughter by the name of KaHoKee. The English people called her Jane. After Pocahontas' kidnap & Kocoum's murder, KaHoKee was raised by tribal relatives. According to the Tribal Historian, KaHoKee married Thomas Pettus and had children. The one confirmed child of KaHoKee & Thomas Pettus was Christian Pettus.

On 23 Sep 2017 at 21:04 GMT Cynthia (Wilfong) Mangiafico wrote:

Pocahontas Rolfe is 21 Degrees from Cynthia Mangiafico

On 22 Sep 2017 at 15:41 GMT Rebecca Orton wrote:

I am 21 degrees from Pocahontas.

more comments

Pocahontas is 25 degrees from Rosa Parks, 22 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 17 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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