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

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 about 5 Apr 1614 (to 21 Mar 1617) 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 53,445 times.
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Pocahontas (Powhatan) Rolfe was a Native American member of the Powhatan tribe.
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Contents

Biography

flag of the Jamestowne Society
Pocahontas (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 on Pamunkey River, Tsenacomoco (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]

At birth, Pocahontas was given the name Amonute.[5] She later took a secret name, which she did not reveal until after her marriage and conversion to Christianity, which was Matoaka. 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." 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 a bit.

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]

Native American histories indicate that he was not in danger, but rather was being initiated as another Brother.[citation needed] (A later letter of John Smith's also seems to support this, indicating a meal and interview, nothing dangerous.) 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.

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, the relations would deteriorate, 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. 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]

Documented 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.[9][10] Pocahontas was taken to Jamestown, then Henrico, and began learning more of the English culture. 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][11] 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. 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.[12] [13] John Rolfe returned to Virginia, while young Thomas stayed in England with family.[14]

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 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.[15]

Matoaka Amonute Powhatan
Pocahontas (Powhatan) Rolfe is a descendant of Pocahontas. Here is the trail.
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.

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 was married 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]

UPDATE: A wikipedia entry questions the existence of Kocoum:
Since 1614 is certainly when she [Pocahontas] married John Rolfe, and no other contemporaneous records even hint at any previous husband, it has accordingly been suggested that when Strachey wrote of the "private captaine called Kocoum" he was mistakenly referring to Rolfe himself, with the reference being later misunderstood as one of Powhatan's officers. In addition, the date of Strachey's original statement has been widely disputed by numerous authors [who?] attempting either to make the case, or refute, that Pocahontas had been previously married."[16][17] Given this, Kocoum has been detached as a first husband.
Subsequent claims were made in the late 20th century, citing "sacred oral tradition" [18] that Kocoum and Pocahontas had a child named Ka-Okee. [19] [20] 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.[21]

Sources

  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 Pocahontas: Her Life and Legend, US Parks Service
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Helen C. Rountree, "Pocahontas," in Encyclopedia Virginia, (https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Pocahontas_d_1617: 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. Parish register burial entry for Rebecca Wroth [sic], 21 March 1616/7, Gravesend, Kent; citing St. George's Church; digital image at "FreeReg" database, (http://www.freereg.org.uk/cgi/Search.pl : accessed 7 September 2017). [Can we get a link to the actual image?]
  13. "The Burial of Pocahontas", in Virginia Historical Register, Vol. 2, no. 4 (Oct 1849), p. 187.
  14. 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".
  15. “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, www.jstor.org/stable/4243251. (First of 10 articles over three years).
  16. Wikipedia authors, Patawomeck, Wikipedia, citing Warner, Charles Dudley, The Story of Pocahontas, 1881.
  17. Letter from "Philo" which theorizes that Kocoum = Rolfe. In Virginia Historical Register, Vol. 4, no. 1 (Jan 1851), p 36.
  18. Custalow, Linwood & Daniel, Angela. The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History, 2007,
  19. Farris, Phoebe, "Pocahontas’ First Marriage: The Powhatan Side of the Story", Huffington Post
  20. Misinformation on the Pettus Family (Unsourced blog supporting the Kocoum marriage, daughter Ka-Okee and marriage to Thomas Pettus).
  21. Teri Hiatt. Genealogy.com 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) en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bertie,_Richard_(DNB00) Info on Richard Bertie; (3) zipworld.com.au/~nbdds/home/smythwinchester.htm Info on Peregrine Bertie, John Smith, and Pocahontas; (4) rotherhamweb.co.uk/h/jhewett.htm About Dr. John Hewitt (on WayBack Machine) ; (5) Capt. John Smith Capt. John Smith; (6) [https://womenshistory.about.com/od/mythsofwomenshistory/a/pocahontas.htm Womens History About Pocahontas]; (7) [https://encyclopediavirginia.org/Smith_John_bap_1580-1631 John Smith] (Encyclopedia of Virginia); (8) John Smith, Pocahontas (CappyZeb); (9) God Wants You to Colonize Virginia (Blog); (10) Cockacoeske and John West (Teens Library Point); (11) 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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Comments: 62

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dear profile managers, I just want to say you've done a beautiful job on this profile, kudos!
posted by Danielle Sullivan
Hi there profile managers!

We plan on featuring Pocahontas alongside AJ Jacobs, the Example Profile of the Week, in the Connection Finder on January 6th. Between now and then is a good time to take a look at the sources and biography to see if there are updates and improvements that need made, especially those that will bring it up to WikiTree Style Guide standards. We know it's short notice, so don't fret too much. Just do what you can. A Team member will check on the profile Tuesday and make changes as necessary.

Thanks! Abby

posted by Abby (Brown) Glann
Thanks for the head's up, Abby; last time she was featured, we discovered a slew of problems with her descendants and relations. But I think she's in pretty good shape now. I did ask for some help on a few of her descendants, several generations down. In any case, be prepared that someone will likely surface claims that have been debunked.

um... why AJ Jacobs? :-)

posted by Jillaine Smith
Ha! He's the featured profile because he's the first challenger in the WikiTree Challenge, the year-long accuracy comparison challenge. We are featuring some notables he mentioned in his "It's All Relative" book alongside him, and Pocahontas was one :-)
posted by Admin WikiTree
Oops, and that's Abby replying. "Working" right now!
posted by Admin WikiTree
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
Patawomeck-10 and Powhatan-3 appear to represent the same person because: Bad dates, but there was only one Pocahontas.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Can we work on this profile so that all facts are accompanied by primary/contemporaneous sources? Compilations and “writings” of modern people should be in the “see also” section. It may take a little effort, but writers like Rountree provide sources for all the facts they cite, so it’s not as daunting as it might seem. I've added a couple but did not move the modern sources.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
edited by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
I'm all for making this profile more accurate. But where are we lacking sourcing? My review of this seems to indicate most things are sourced. What do you want better cited and/or moved, Kathie?
posted by Jillaine Smith
I think the profile would be improved if facts were sourced to the documents created in or near her lifetime rather than modern books. Some already are, but others aren’t.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Hi Jillaine

Ran across this source in ... Douglas Richardson. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham (Salt Lake City: the author, 2013), Vol II, pp 583-584 FILMER #20.i

This source is cited well, and connected to Powhatan-3 in the profile of Samuel Argall, but I did not see this source listed to Powhatan-3 under sources, or in 'See Also' of her biography.

Just thought it interesting and that you might like to have it listed in her information.

Thank you for all your work in WikiTree.

Best Regards Bettye Holland-3338

Bettye, what does this source have to say about Powhatan-3?
posted by Jillaine Smith
Jillaine, "Douglas Richardson. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham (Salt Lake City: the author, 2013), Vol II, pp 583-584 FILMER #20.i" says ...

i. Samuel Argall, Knt., adventurer, deputy Governor of Virginia, born about 1580. He married ____ . They had one daughter, Ann (wife of Samuel Perceival). In 1611 he was selected to expel the French from soil claimed by England. He set out in 1613 for Mt. Desert, captured the missionaries who had established themselves there and at St. Croix and Port Royal, and carried off the priests to Virginia. The previous year he likewise captured Pocahontas, and carried her off to Jamestown, where se was detained. She was converted to Christianity, married John Rolder, and accompanied Gov. Dale and Argall to England in 1616. In 1617 he was appointed deputy governor of Virginia. He was subsequently recalled to England to justify his conduct. In 1620 he was in command of the Golden Phoenix, which ship was attached to the English fleet in the Mediterranean. In 1625 he was an admiral in a naval force which sailed from Plymouth and succeeded in capturing [Pound mark]100,000 worth of prizes. He became a member of the New England Royal Council and was knighted for is services. Sir Samuel Argall, died testate on shipboard in March 1626.

D.A.B. 1 (1928): 345-346 (biog. of Sir Samuel Argall). VMHB 59 (1951): 162-175. Raimo Biog. Dict. of American Col. (?) Revolutionary Govs. (1980): 466-467 (biog. of Sir Samuel Argall). Filmer Filmer Fam. Notes 1 (1992): 63-77.

Actually, I just took a look here: https://books.google.com/books?id=8JcbV309c5UC&pg=RA1-PA165#v=onepage&q=samuel%20argall&f=false

Thanks, Bettye, for the head's up. I'd be curious to see what others say, but my sense is that it does not add significantly to this profile (it's really more about Samuel Argall than about Pocahontas), nor does it cite its sources for Argall's encounters with her; I think we have better, more contemporaneous sources pertaining to those encounters already here on the profile.

posted by Jillaine Smith
Kathie, I've attempted to improve the citations; I moved John Smith's contemporaneous work up from "See also" to actual citations. If you or others can help improve other citations, please feel free to do so.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Can someone let me know how to add this profile to my family tree? She is my 11th grandmother through my father's side of the family. Thank you in advance
posted by LaQuita Holland
LaQuita, you work your father's line back, generation by generation, sourcing each connection as you go, until you reach her only known son, Thomas Rolfe. Then he's connected as are you.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Thank you for your help Jillaine. I tried this but it says something about being project protected(?) and no matter what I tried, it wouldn't let me add her.
posted by LaQuita Holland
It is true that you cannot attach new profiles / relationships to project protected profiles. What profile are you trying to attach to Pocahontas?
posted by Jillaine Smith
Powhatan-289 and Powhatan-3 appear to represent the same person because: Same years, same last name, same nickname, same husbands and son's name.
posted by Judith Robinson
Powhatan-289 and Powhatan-3 appear to represent the same person because: Same years, same last name, same nickname, same husbands and son's name.
posted by Judith Robinson
Removed Elizabeth Rolfe as child of Pocahontas.
How did Pocahontas get a second child?
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
I do not feel that I am qualified to merge Powhatten-1 and Powhatten-3
posted by Wesley Doughman
Powhatten-1 and Powhatan-3 appear to represent the same person because: Duplicate of Pocohontas found (thanks Mel).
posted by Jillaine Smith
Powhatan-283 and Powhatan-3 appear to represent the same person because: Powhatan-283 is a duplicate profile. please merge
Thanks, Jilliane. I appreciate that feedback. Though I'm a long-time genealogist, I'm new to WikiTree so I'm still finding the boundaries. I don't want to step on anyone's toes. I guess the project protected notice does say "significant" changes.
posted by Jeff Gentry
Done. (Btw, this is a minor change you could have done directly.)
posted by Jillaine Smith
There is now a Category: St George's Church, Gravesend, Kent category (without the period). Please switch to it at your convenience. The other category will be deleted. Sorry for the inconvenience. I'm a big dumb American with the habit of putting periods after the abbreviation for "Saint".
posted by Jeff Gentry
I actually create the category specifically for this purpose so that's why she's the only one. I'll go look for someone else buried there just so she has company. You are correct about the period. It should not be there. My bad. I'll go inquire with the cemetery group on how to correct that. Thanks to adding it.
posted by Jeff Gentry